May 21st, 2017

May 22, 2017

The best definition I know for environment was Bucky Fuller’s..

Environment must be
All that is that isn’t me
Universe in turn will be
All that isn’t me, and me!

This beauty of this definition is that it puts the emphasis on the “me.” Where it should be!

When all is said and done, unemployment us a far gloomier fate for most people than lead paint dangers, carbon dioxide in the air, or dying coral reefs. Which in turn is why Trump is quite right in favoring economic growth over environmental regulation. (I know, I know. Trump remains controversial as President and I promise to tackle this phenomenon head-on next week.)

The point is environment is important but not all-important. “Me” is if anything more critical. Saving coral reefs, reducing carbon dioxide, and installing non-lead pipes or using non-lead paint are all fine ideas so long as they do not lead to more unemployment. That’s because unemployment, as well as welfare without work, lead to greater tragedies—like alcoholism, drug addiction, homelessness, terrorism, crime, and suicide—than any environment issue can do.

Nevertheless environmental challenges can be serious. I agree with Teddy Roosevelt, and in modern times with The Nature Conservancy , that conserving prime ecosystem land and water is the most important task for Green activists. Solving pollution problems comes in a distant second. (In a preview of coming attractions this does mean that President Trump is surely right in favoring economic growth to trump both environmental and safety regulations.)

All that said environmental health is indeed very important in cultural, literary, artistic, scientific, and philosophic ways. We would indeed be poor caretakers of our Spaceship Earth if we couldn’t enjoy and benefit from Sophocles, Shakespeare, and Wordsworth’s poetry. Or Beethoven and Brahms or Bach’s music. Or Michelangelo, Monet, and Picasso’s paintings. Or Newton, Pasteur, and Darwin’s science. Or Aquinas, Russell and Dewey’s philosophy. Or Jefferson, Reagan, and FDR’s politics. Or for that matter Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Steve Job’s business enterprises. (I’m aware that I’m leaving out quite a few worthies here.)

Greens do have a good point. Science, Art, Music, Politics, Business, Ideas, and Philosophy are all important human pursuits. And they all depend at rock bottom on a healthy and rich environment.

What does this mean in practice?

Take them one at a time.

Science: the biggies here of course are climate change and evolution (bell curves for example). According to Bill’s Law #1 (see Bill’s Blogs, pp. 8-12), bad ideas in Science have a half-life of about ten years. Science years ago supported sexism, racism, opposition to evolution and germ theories, and was crazy about eugenics but no longer does support these antiquated ideas. Climate change may have a few more half-lives to go. Whether GM foods, lead in paint and drinking water, alar on apples, organic and natural fads, nuclear power, and radiation dangers have similar short half-lives remains to be seen. Ditto to rejection of evolution’s bell curves when they are applied to human beings. To my mind, these beliefs will all have short life spans.

The Arts: My hunch is that Abstract and Happening art and politically inspired literature have had their day. Gutsy, beautiful, and meaningful realism in painting, sculpture, poetry, and fiction is long overdue for a comeback.

Music:Here I have to plead ignorance since I am hearing handicapped and can’t understand the lyrics in most popular music. (I’m old too and can’t really appreciate the melodies in pop songs. I not-so-humbly ask, does modern music, classical or pop, really have any catchy tunes?)

Politics: Remember Bill’s Law # 2. Bad political ideas have a half-life of 100 years or so. Socialism, after its sad failure in the Soviet bloc, China, India, Venezuela, and Cuba, and is definitely on the down slope of the political bell curve. Democracy and freedom, on the other hand, seem to be on the rising slope, but without prosperity may also have a short life span.

Business: is doing fine although major and minor corporations are threatened by counter-productive and excessive taxation, onerous environmental and safety regulations, and anti-efficiency demands for affirmative action as well as PC advertising. But they do have a president on their side now and business may well be on the rising side of those PC incorrect but science bell curves.

Philosophy: My specialty though I do admit I’m not up-to-date professionally. Nevertheless I do urge you to read and take seriously my Big Ideas and “Bill’s Laws,” whether you call them philosophy, science or art. In addition I predict further trouble, if not seriously bloody violence, in our relations with the Islamic world. Bill’s Third Law says religion’s bad ideas have long half-lives of 1000 years. (Muslims have not had what Christians have already had—a violent and very bloody Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment.)

As readers know I also do not take seriously Progressive/Green fantasies about the demise if the Modern Age, whether due to conservative, libertarian, or environmental fascism—or environmental end-of-the-world catastrophe.

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President, Hawkhill

P,S. For more details and evidence please buy and read—Twilight or Dawn: A Traveler’s Guide to Free-Market Liberal Democracy, East Gilman Street, or Bill’s Blogs.

Embarrassing Moment

May 14th, 2017

May 15, 2017

Skip this one if you are squeamish about sex.

Privacy is a problem with me since my office has been moved up from the basement to the 1st floor. The reason for the move was clear and compelling. After my hip operation, I did have trouble climbing the stairs. Even though it has led to a host of problems with shipping DVDs and paying bills in my new office, I am usually able to grudgingly manage.

Last Saturday evening I had a very embarrassing moment. I slipped off my wheelchair in front of my computer and ended up a helpless clump of flesh and bones on the floor. Jane and Sam helped me get on my knees and this was enough for me to raise myself up into the walker and make it into bed. Luckily I did not suffer any physical injuries but I was embarrassed.

I hesitate to tell you why (Jane especially) but it’s said to be good for the soul, so I better confess up.

I fell watching some pornography on the computer screen. Worse, nudity may have been still obvious on the screen after I fell. Neither Jane nor Sam seemed to see it. At least they didn’t mention seeing it.

I’m not proud. For that matter I’m not ashamed either. I think that actually Jane, who is older than me, would like me to still make love to her still. But after a good run of sex in our lives, the awful truth is that at 90 I can’t maintain a decent erection. Despite experiments with Viagra and Cialis (and pornography too) I remain incompetent for sex activity of any kind, shape, or form. I am sorry about that. Sex in my younger years was important if not vital, not to mention the source of much pleasure. At least it was, and no longer is for me, notwithstanding the hoary jokes about the alleged potency of 100-year-old men.

I understand pornography on the Internet is very popular with both men and women! To my jaded senses, it is just short of boring. But the prospect is still fresh enough that I admit to keep trying to nurture it. Alas, with embarrassing results last week!

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President Hawkhill

Be careful what you wish for

May 7th, 2017

Be careful what you wish for; you might get it!

Which could be good. Or not.

I wished for more responses in my last blog. And I did get more, many more.

One of the most sensible came from my son, Andrew.

“Hi Dad, my feeling is that people are reading your blogs, and agreeing or disagreeing, but it takes time to compose intelligent responses to it. And since most people have busy lives or are just trying to make ends meet, a response to the blog has a very low priority…I.n any case, as with any marketing, a response rate of 1% is probably GOOD!”

He’s right. I’m 90 and retired. Semi-retired at least—I still fill a few DVD orders for Hawkhll. I spend a lot of time and energy on these weekly blogs. To expect readers to spend an equal lot of time and energy on a response is absurd. He is right too on the marketing…We used to routinely send over 100,0000 Hawkhill catalogs to schools each fall. If we got 1000 orders we’d be delighted.

Nevertheless, I used to have a few Progressive/Green friends who would regularly challenge my comments about reactionary Democrats. I miss them.

Onesuch fried, Cary, did respond to my recent request with length and fire.

“If I had more time, I would be reading every Blog post thoroughly, as you present some scintillating ideas that I respect. However, you also present some ideas to which I do not agree, and you seem unwilling to yield at any time, in any way, to my…. objections.

“After all, I HAVE lived 70 years, I’ve done some stuff, I’ve been immersed in STEM and in philosophical and historical ideas, I’ve read many books, and many of the…”important” ones. I’ve seen many NOVA and American Experience shows. Therefore, I may have some ideas that are worthy of considering, even if counter to those you hold.

“No, I have not read your nooks…But I DO get your Big-Ideas and anthropological periods. And I agree on your meme-theory. A lot of it can be found in the writings of Joseph Campbell, anti-Semite that he was.(I don’t know what he means here. My ideas, big or small, don’t have much if anything to do with Campbell’s myths and philosophy.)

Cary goes on to give a detailed critique of my recent blog. He strongly dislikes my views on climate change, equating socialism with liberalism, guaranteed minimum incomes, and in general he seems to recent my, to him,  dismissive and even arrogant attitudes. He writes in despair an end piece and a follow-up email…

“WHAT the friggin’ fuck has happened to the Human Race? You will be outa here soon, and I will soon follow along with all my cousins and sister. I don’t wish to leave this mess to them, but that’s the way it is.

“ Donald Trump is an abomination! He is rude, he is a liar, he is manipulative, he is ignorant, he is arrogant—What he is is smart, and that makes him so darn dangerous! But wait until the blue-collars realize that he is of no help to them—maybe a year or so into his administration, if he is not impeached before that. I think of JFK and Camelot—bringing art and culture to the White House. Woodrow Wilson, the college president, I need not make a list; they each had their flaws but Trump??—a charlatan! And Pence?—a sycophant!”

I’m not that sure myself about Trump. But Cary, for all his erudition (he has a Ph.D. in chemistry and is a brilliant teacher) knows little about past presidents. JFK, for instance, for all his wit, intelligence, love of arts and culture, and tragic end, was also a serial adulterer, plagiarist, and a failure as president. Woodrow Wilson, for all his Princeton scholarship, was also a fan of the KKK. an unapologetic racist, and led us into a meaningless bloody WW1. Not small ”flaws.”

I got other responses, some short and sweet, like “I read it every week. Keep writing!” and “Agreed.” Or, “I agree with 99% of your ideas and as a result I don’t feel the need to straighten you out on how the world works. So I don’t respond to your blog, but I enjoy reading it.”Or simply, “You blog on Big Ideas was excellent.”

And some that were puzzling…

“Bottom Line: I think that Donald Trump is perhaps our most dangerous president since Lincoln. (not sure I understand this judgment);  “Liberal,”  “Populist,” and “Conservative,” have lost their original meanings. I am neither, but a combination of all three. (I am too!)

My friend Pierce also introduced me to a Danish philosopher-poet, Piet Hein. Piet did many things in his long life (now has a

hotel and fashion company named after him). He is most famous for his Groots. Here are samples…

“Those who always
know what’s best
a universal pest.

Living is

a thing you do
now or never –
which do you?”
A longer one…

Go on a starlit night,
stand on your head,
leave your feet dangling
outwards into space,
and let the starry
firmament you tread
be, for the moment,
your elected base.

Feel Earth’s colossal weight
of ice and granite,
of molten magma,
water, iron, and lead;
and briefly hold
this strangely solid planet
balanced upon
your strangely solid head”

I got one very welcome response from a reader I didn’t know before. She sent me a good joke too!

“Here, here! I have only replied on a very few occasions (this might be number three), because I invariably ‘get it’ and agree.

“My father used to tell a joke:

  • · “This family has a little boy. He was a toddler and he wasn’t talking. They took him to the doctor who advised giving him a little time. Time passes; he is still not talking.  Back to the doctor who advises seeing a specialist. After numerous tests, the specialists cannot find any physical problems…. Life goes on and the little boy still isn’t talking. One evening, while the family is drinking mugs of hot chocolate, the now 9-year-old boy says ’This cocoa’s no good.’ The entire family is speechless! Finally, Dad says, ‘After all these years, all those tests, all those doctors, you never spoke!  Now the first thing you say is, ‘This cocoa’s no good?’ The little boy says, ’Up till now everything has been good.’

“Cocoa is still good, sir.”

Thank you one and all for your strangely solid, and kind, responses.

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President Hawkhill

P,S. For more good reads see my books—A Little While Aware, Twilight or Dawn: a Traveler’s Guide to Free-Market Liberal Democracy, East Gilman Street, and Bill’s Blogs.”

A Big Flop

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!

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?”