Archive for January, 2018

Fiction or non-fiction?

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

Jan, 29, 2018

Jane and I hsve a marital problem. She prefers fiction, like M*A*S*H or Seinfeld reruns or old TV movies, and I prefer news and sports. We usually bow to her wishes and stream some fiction shows from Netflix or Amazon after supper.  In what amounts to a fair exchange I get to watch Fox News, with her and a gin or whiskey cocktail, before supper. As for sports I can often convince Jane that the Bay Packers (she is a big fan of Aaron Rodgers), UW football or basketball, the Milwaukee Brewers, or the Bucks would provide an interesting evening.

These conflicts are common and instructive.

Aa for popular appeal the prize goes overwhelmingly goes to fiction. Booksellers as well as literary judges routinely give fiction writers best selling priority and Nobel prizes. Ayn Rand, whatever  you think of her ideas, got her fame and many readers and fans from (in my opinion) grossly inferior novels like The Foutainhead and Atlas Shrugged rather than her heavier philosophy books. Miss Otis Regrets has been sung far more times than have watched the OJ Simpson or the Jean Harris trials. A famous director of both fictional stories and documentaries said he prefers fiction, even science fiction, because it is closer to reality! I must admit he is right ninety percent of the time.

On the other hand non-fiction appeals to a little more sophisticated tastes, and more learning!  How can you enjoy or understand the evening news about new trade rules or immigration or welfare policies if you don’t know anything about Adam Smith or Karl Marx, socialidm, and capitalism, or even what continent Shenzhen, Venezuela, and Libya are on. Even worse from my point of view if you don’t understand how or why the Hunting/Gathering and Agricultural Age memes and genes relate to modern problems. Lots of liberal Clergy, especially, (OK, lots conservatives too) are in that camp, Or you don’t even know what I’m talking about here. Sad to say, many regular readers don’t.

If you fall into that last group I do have a suggestion–see the P.S. below.

If  sports and puzzles  appeal or are your specialty, I can’t help much. Good luck to you and your teams and happy times with your crosswords, Sudocus, and other puzzles.

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President, Hawkhill

P.S. For the curious looking for gift for people have everything but who do care about ideas, devout Catholic to left-liberal clergy to conservative libertarian. I suggest you buy, give, and read yourself one of my recent books (cheap and, in my opinion, good reads. Sorry, I don’t have any fiction!)—Twilight or Dawn? A Traveler’s Guide to Free-Market Liberal Democracy, East Gilman Street, or Bill’s Blogs. Or view some good ideas on science, religion, capitalism., and society streamed free on YouTube.

RELIEF

Sunday, January 21st, 2018

Jan, 22, 2018

Glad to report some relief of my recent maladies. I am very grateful now to be supported by my children, my friends, and my government. When I was young I thought old folks talk was boring in the extreme. All they seemed to talk about was pain and maladies. Perhaps needless to say but I will confess it, when I got old I changed my mind.

Of course there is relief and then there is government charity. When I got older I learned both the benefits and hazards of both. I also learned that old chestnuts have a germ of truth. For instance: if you are not a socialist when you are young, there must be something wrong with your heart. If you are still a socialist when you get older there must be something wrong with your brain. I should add that it took me longer thsn ht mot toto get older.

The benefits are obvious enough. The homeless, many minorities, single mothers, veterans like Jane and I, the handicapped, and in general the poverty-stricken families are dependent on government nowadays for food, shelter, healthcare, and many more benefits. Personally, I do think more of do-good non-profit workers in healthcare, education, environment, and all branches of government should realize they are also totally dependent for their salaries, wealth, very livelihood on workers, bosses, and executives in profitable agricultural, industrial, and fossil fuel energy companies. I myself used to be a left-liberal socialist but now I realize that’s Donald Trump territory. I hope you see that too.

I am as compassionate as most citizens to approve of that kind of relief. In fact I think we should do more. We could pass legislation that would guarantee all families a minimum middle-class income. We can afford it (Stimmig or GMI, see Bill’s Blogs, pp. 131, 135). If we radically and drastically cut the clergy-odminated middleman (or woman) that are no ddoubn needed to administer our present charity system. Which, incidentally, we did inherit charity-wise welfare in memes from the religion-dominated Agricultural Age (Bill’s Blogs, pp. 4, 18). The left-liberal clergy can be counted on to oppose this radical idea. After all, they are the ones who benefit most from our present system of government charity.

On the one hand, the recipients of this kind of government charity only too often suffer from side effects. Like gambling and drug addiction, sexual abuse and dysfunction, dependency, unemployment, crime, young-men-with-nothing-to-do, prostitution, pimping, violence, despair, and suicide. The recipients of big government relief are often severely handicapped by one or more of these maladies.

On the other hand (the left!) the side effects are fine and dandy. The clergy includes many well-paid consultants and non-profit social workers, teachers (I was one once), professors (I was also, briefly, a teacher in college), government bureaucrats, democratic-–and republican–representatives and senators, and non-profit administrators of all varieties.

Adding to the effects are more liberal immigration policies that adds young legal and illegal people (DACA) to beef up democratic and socialist voter rolls.

Let’s be real. I don’t expect we will end this kind of charity relief soon. If ever.

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President, Hawkhill

P.S. For the curious looking for gift for people have everything but who care about ideas and want to know more about a life-long journey through the idea swamp, from devout Catholic to left-liberal clergy to conservative libertarian. I suggest you buy, give, and read yourself one of my recent books (cheap and, in my opinion, good reads)—Twilight or Dawn? A Traveler’s Guide to Free-Market Liberal Democracy, East Gilman Street, or Bill’s Blogs. Or view some good ideas on science and society streamed free on YouTube.

Still in a Bad Mood

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

Jan 15, 2018

I’m still in a bad mood. And I still don’t feel responsible. For anything.

Apparently to my relief I don’t have gout. My doctor ordered x-rays and found I broke some bones in my foot. Like gout, a broken toe is very painful too. Especially when I’m trying to sleep. He did prescribe some new pain-killer pills, so I am grateful.

And I still want to keep that special place in hell for the Microsoft programmers of Word More than ever! The program still gives me fits.

As for pet complaints, I still have a few. Prominent is the still common view of that I call the left-libersl clergy against profits. They also have a separate place in hell for people who earn “profits”nstad of “doing good.”

I wrote last week that I suggested Cuba, Venezuela, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, or Chairman Mao’s China as a more fitting places than hell for the clergy that consider profits as evil. That opinion deserves some expansion. Please pay attention. This is crucial!

Go back to my historical contribution; in the Agricultural Age land, gold, and slaves were wealth. Those memes of the Agricultural Age are still dominant today even in the Wes. But the Modern Age is really very different. The memes of the Agricultural Age, unfortunately, are still with us in most parts of the world. Technology, science, and free-market capitalism have  triumphed in the West but in most parts of the world things like land, oil, and all other “stuff” are still given credit for wealth. This despite the facts that Switzerland, Japan, and all the countries of Scandinavia don’t have all that much “stuff” (natural resources) but are among the richest countries, while Russia, China, and most countries of Africa and South America are among the poorest. (Some Muslim countries are among the poorest and most backward despite their oil wealth.)

China is special. It has changed a lot since the days of Mao. When Jane and I visited China around the turn of the century, we were amazed to see for ourselves the super-highways, first-class hotels, shopping malls, markets overflowing in vegetables, fruits, and meat, good schools, and fine hospitals. Street activistsin the poorest provinces were now singing, “It’s great to be rich,” instead of chanting socialist nonsense.

Speaking of nonsense, The Capital Times in my hometown, Madison WI, is a good example. The editor, Paul Fanlund, used to read my blogs. He gave up. I’m obviously not his cup of tea. I judge that by a recent column where he raves and rants about a Washington Post opinion piece that states flat out President Trump, Governor Scott Walker, and most Republicans are rabid racists. Fanlund dotes on Trump’s alleged racism and broadens it to include “hard-working people…not all, but many stay devoted “not because they think he will actually make difference in their lives but because they hate the rest of us. Got it!”

Fanlund does have some points. But he misses some too.

The points he misses can be summed up by citing the left-liberal clergy. This clergy is very politically correct. Donald Trump won the presidential election mainly by being very politically incorrect.

I don’t know if Trump is a racist. It depends on your definition of racism. If you mean automatic rejection of an individual based on their skin color I don’t think He does hsve a few black Support like the Secretary of Housing Ben Carson,

If you call people racist when you mean they notice the differences in all individuals, notably blacks, then Donald Trump, I, and many other scientists and perceptive observers are indeed racists.

I’m aware racism has an ugly history. My family never used the word “nigger” or for that matter any other insulting word like “Wop,” ”Jewboy,” or “Pollok.” My mother would have washed our mouths out with soap if as kids we did say such nasty words.  (As well as many other naughty nasty words that today are common in movies and entertainment.)

The point is Politically Correct is relative. But to call a person a racist today is a serious insult.

I consider Donald Trump a racist only in the sense that he notices differences, as all intelligent people do. He, for instance, is aware that Barack and Michelle Obama or indeed Oprah Winfrey have little in common beyond skin color (I agree skin color, unfortunately, does matter in all too many cases) with the teenager who loots a convenience store when he or she gets the chance in a racial riot. Or the welfare queen who gets rich on government grants.

Or, for that matter, the hard-working but intellectually challenged technical guy or girl who is plainly in over his or her head and is woefully inefficient.

Unfortunately, the last example is by far the most common, as well as the most tricky to deal with, compassionately, effectively, and efficiently. And here is where Donald Trump fails. He is at home with efficiency and profits. Which is fine and good. Compassion is not his strong suit. No CEO worth his lofty salary (profits) can afford it.

Lincoln was the one and only president who could manage both. Even he had troubles with his Generals until he found Grant. Grant brought death to thousands of Union, and Confederate, soldiers. But Grant and Lincoln combined did effectively end slavery!

I really think Trump needs to find a compassionate partner if he’s going to make America great again.

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President Hawkhill

P.S. Looking for a gift for people have everything but who care and want to know more about a life-long journey consider a trip through the idea swamp from devout Catholic to left-liberal clergy to conservative libertarian. I suggest you buy, give, and read yourself one of my recent books (cheap and good reads)—Twilight or Dawn? A Traveler’s Guide to Free-Market Liberal Democracy, East Gilman Street, or Bill’s Blogs. Or view some good ideas on science and society streamed free on YouTube.

Bad Mood

Sunday, January 7th, 2018

Jan 8, 2018

I’m in a bad mood today and don’t feel responsible for much of anything.

I have gout. It’s very painful. Especially when I’m trying to go to sleep. Someone once said, (I think it was Will Shakespeare), “There never was a philosopher who could patiently endure a toothache.” That goes double for gout.

And to increase my bad mood, I want to reserve a special place in hell for the Microsoft programmers of Word!

With every update they have made it so complicated I totally can’t cope anymore. For instance I spent most of the day last Sunday trying to find my Miss Otis Regrets blog, that I was certain I did save, only to find after hours of frustration that I had to convert it to Print version first!

And then whenever I try to type anything at all (I realize I often goof in my hunt and click typing) the program shifts my blog into a weird format that totally baffles me! I realize the programmers are trying hard to improve Word for sophisticated users but they don’t think of us poor slobs who just want to write simple blogs. If readers know of a much simpler word processing (horrible phrase) program, let me know soon before I kill myself trying to cope with the complex and absurdly ultra-sophisticated details of Word.

It reminds me of two other pet complaints. Number One is the drift that a good restaurant shows when it changes location or upgrades its menu. It never seems to fail. The new location or new menu, in my experience, never is quite as good as the old one. A good example: a dear friend called me the month before she died. She wanted to take Jane and me out to dinner in the “best restaurant in Madison.” We chose “Le’Toile,” based mainly on its chef’s national reputation for gourmet dishes. It is expensive. Jane and I had eaten there a few times before the founding chef, a woman, sold it to a former chef she trained in her kitchen. The new chef promptly moved the restaurant to a classier location. The long and short of the changes were a disaster. Our four main dishes, which we all sampled (a fourth guest later joined our party), were all disappointing, to say the least.,
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Perhaps needless to say at this point, all this gripping goes double for improvements and upgrades in computer software.

The second of my complaints is not nearly as clear-cut. In fact, I hesitate to mention it for fear that I will be called a racist. I do sympathize with black people who in the deep dark past have been pretty much left out of the TV advertising and movie world. But no more! If I notice one more national car or whatever ad or movie or TV sitcom that doesn’t feature black professional doctors, lawyers,  and ordinary middle-class happy, friendly, non-violent citizens—I haven’t watched much TV or seen many movies—give me a break! It’s all so phony and blatantly dishonest I worry it might backfire at any moment.

I recognize the writers of the ads and movies are trying their best to make up for past neglect but I worry that the sudden abundance may be necessary but not sufficient. The average black person is not a doctor, lawyer, professional, or even an ordinary middle-class citizen. If you doubt this harsh judgment check your local newspaper for crime and poverty n statistics.

For my money, expansion of Social Security and Medicare into a guaranteed minimum national income (Stimmig or GNI—see Bill’s Blogs, pp. 131, 135) the only welfare system with a chance to work and not lead to more dependency and inefficiency. With GNI (guaranteed national minimum income), and the abandonment of most traditional charity welfare, every family in the US would be economically middle-class. Whether that would translate into middle-class behavior and values I admit is problematic but in my judgment possible.

My third gripe is the problem the left clergy has with profits–an absolute necessity for any and all progress. For instance, a college friend from Antioch recently wrote me, ”I feel little to be ‘happy’ about. We have costly climate events in the form of several damaging hurricanes, and dreadful fires here in CA.  Yet the USA is still bowing to the fossil fuels propaganda barrage to assure their profits with less regulation and fewer environmental concerns.”
I am tempted to reply, “Maybe you should take up residence in Cuba or Venezuela or better yet bring back the massacres, prison camps, and famines of Mao’s China or Pol Pot’s Cambodia where they don’t have to worry about profits.
Incidentally, what do you think about the current deep freeze? Personally, I am waiting for global warming to rescue us.”
Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President, Hawkhill
P.S. For the curious looking for a gift for people have everything but who do care about ideas and want to know more about a life-long journey through the idea swamp, from devout Catholic to left-liberal clergy to conservative libertarian. I suggest you buy, give, and read yourself one of my recent books (cheap and, in my opinion, good reads)–Twilight or Dawn? a Traveler’s Guide to Free-Market Liberal Democracy, East Gilman Street, or Bill’s Blogs. Or view some good ideas on science and society streamed free on YouTube.