Thursday, May 12, 2022


The opening statement of the review is: 

To believe the universe is embedded in a teleological matrix -- an overarching design that houses an implicit and eventual end point, with the human race having a transcendental destiny in which shopping is unlikely to play any part -- is widely regarded as a quaint delusion, of relevance only to religious fanatics, pastoralists in retreat from materialism and the mad. And yet here is Robert Wright, who patently falls into none of these categories, arguing that human history is not ''one damn thing after another,'' but has a direction, purpose and, by implication, a goal. To be sure, in his scheme shopping is not necessarily excluded, but ''Nonzero'' remains a book of potentially major significance.

Before you begin, it may be good to take a look at "The Prisoner's Dilemma" if you need a refresher., on that rather famous example of the potential for nonzero interaction ,,, it is one of the foundations of the books arguments. 

If there can be communication between the prisoners (not allowed in the classic Prisoners Dilemma), then the "right" solution becomes just staying mum, which benefits both with a lesser sentence. Of course, even with communication, there is always the question of cheating. Which is why at least the "concern" of an all powerful God and ultimate judgement might lower the odds of cheating somewhat ... and thus show why that idea may be temporally adaptive at a minimum, even if it isn't eternally of ultimate import. 

This book goes into a lot of discussion on essentially this in the context of biological evolution, and cultural evolution ... either of which, you may or may not believe in, but the ultimate question is "does the universe have a "direction/purpose", therefore meaning? Easy to understand why I slogged through it -- it is another case where meaning might be understood , bur wistfully without with A LOT less discussion of various tribes, slime mold, etc. -- sadly, there was a lot of "slime" in an effort to show how there might  just be the illusion of teleology provided by the dogma of natural selection without  "being" defining that teleology. (random teleology)

While the author courageously states the thesis of the book up front, he seems intent to obfuscate the obvious as he moves through it. The thesis:

The more closely we examine the drift of biological evolution and, especially, the drift of human history, the more there seems to be a point to it all. Because in neither case is “drift” really the right word. Both of these processes have a direction, an arrow. At least, that is the thesis of this book.

An "arrow" would tend to indicate an "archer" ... one with universal power to create a purpose, a direction for all of biological and human cultural  -- "progress". The more we learn, the "comforting" idea that this is all one huge purposeless random accident seems less likely. (see "Purpose and Desire") This comes dangerously close to indicating a "god".  The author hedges this bet any way he can ... even the "seeded by a more advanced civilization" ... a classic case of kicking the can down the road. Although post "The Matrix" and Elon Musk theory that "we are living in a simulation" , a technological "kick the can" seems more "high tech". Whose "computer" might the simulated "us" be running on?, and how did the builder(s) of that "computer" come to be? The can of "why" rolls on. Did they have a "random impulse" to seed new life around the universe? 

The NY Times puts it thusly: 

The central problem is, will we inherit a world worth having and will it have any meaning? Wright has an almost unlimited faith in the power of ''information.'' For him it will be the magic glue to bind all humanity, and the Internet will be the actual realization of Teilhard de Chardin's famous, and famously fuzzy, idea of a global mentality, the noosphere. But how this will happen is equally hazy. It is perhaps ironic that when Wright comes to speculate on consciousness, he declares himself flummoxed; yet, in principle, is the tangle of neurons that makes up our brain any different from the spreading electronic Web? For those wedded to materialism, presumably not, and to refer to ''the mystery of consciousness'' will be dismissed as a monumental evasion. It may be, of course, that a mysterious unfolding will occur whereby on a given date and time every computer in the world simultaneously prints out the electronic equivalent of the Code of Hammurabi. However desirable (or undesirable) such a ''world brain'' might be, the philosophical underpinnings of this adventure seem deeply suspect.

Materialists have an extreme problem with "why"? Why is there anything? Why does there seem to be a "conscious ME, that is asking this question"? Why would I ask if I am just "stuff"? If there is a "me", do I have any free will? Was the fact that I asked this question wired into the Big Bang, and thus determined "forever" at least in the context of our 4 billion or so "old" universe?

 It is a bit hard to pull any firm position out of this book ... probably because Mr Wright does not want to be seen to be cosmically wrong and stupid in the today's godless materialist nihilist world. 

Of course, one difficulty with pinning any hopes on religion is its much-discussed ongoing erosion at the hands of science, an erosion that is one alleged source of modern and postmodern nihilism and ennui. But one point of this book has been to challenge the conventional belief that science really has dispelled deep mystery and all evidence of purpose

One of the reasons that book spends so much time on primitive cultures is that it wants to make CERTAIN that there is absolutely no connection between the fact of Western civilization seeming to "win" the race to modernity, and the  Judaeo/Christian underpinnings of the culture. He does realize that the issue of trust, and dealing with free riders is critical, and an all powerful God knowing all you do can be a restriction to  both cheaters/liars and sluggards. 

Somehow, this fear of being cheated must be overcome for things to work out well.

Although ignored in this book (other than to claim it is racist/eurocentric), it is hard to miss the idea of an all knowing God that will insure ultimate justice as a goad to establishing something like "thou shalt not bear false witness". Laws are a nice adjunct to that,  but it is better to have it built into the "wetware" (the physical brain). 

Randomness has increasingly fallen on hard times figuring out how even ONE ordered cell showed up in the primordial soup (and God knows they have tried A LOT of things). In the 1970's, it was assumed that once we could map the Genome, it would be "easy" ... kinda like indistinguishable from human intelligence AI. It turns out that mapping the genome just helped open the truth that randomness in a single universe had mathematical odds of getting to where we are on the order of 10 to the 100th against. Maths way of saying NO!

 So materialists have moved to the "many worlds theory" ... perhaps there are 10 to the 100th universes, and we are just EXTREMELY lucky, which would explain why the scientific "near certainty" that the SETI project would observe proof of many intelligent, radio and other emissions indicating we were far from alone in our universe, "soon". Like HAL 9000 level AI, "soon" is a very long time. 

"Purpose and Desire" is an easier read, and I think more convincing indication of there being something more than mere matter in operation in our world and universe,

Saturday, May 7, 2022

After Birth Abortion

People are busy and distracted these days, so what happens if you really wanted to kill your baby, but just didn't get around to it? As long as  murder in some states right up to the point the baby is coming out of the birth canal, why would anyone be so cruel to force a woman to care for a screaming, demanding baby until it can survive on its own?  When the comfort and convenience of women is your prime goal and you have no set of fixed moral values, why not? 

Thankfully,  the "progressives" are working hard to help you get rid of this inconvenient oversight. 

A little while ago I highlighted a shocking Maryland bill that would essentially decriminalize neglecting an infant to death in the “perinatal” period — i.e., through the first 28 days after birth — by preventing investigations and prosecution of such deaths that resulted from “a failure to act.”

Shocking? Let's face it, all life is "tissue", why be restricted by any arbitrary distinction like "birth"? We don't even know what a women is,  it MAY be a "birthing person",  midwives are being taught how to deliver a baby from a biological man. (I would prefer not to know the details of how this might be done)

The thing about "progressivism" is that it MUST "progress", or it would no longer be a valid ideology.  As with gay "marriage", Democrats will proclaim loudly that killing babies in the first 6 weeks or so is is "just talk",  it will NEVER happen. You can trust them. 

Here are BO and Hillary in 2008.

So post birth "abortion" up to 6 weeks is under consideration. It's simple progress! If you support and even celebrate the killing of 60 million plus in the mother's womb, why not kill them 6 weeks after birth? Moloch has always liked to hear some screams as humans are sacrificed on his alaer -- the post born will be even more to his liking. 

Even if the unconstitutional horror of Roe is overturned, that just sends it back to the states. The blue states may well have "kill your kid" trips with federal funding (age is really hard to determine)  -- or maybe greenies will just fund it. Kids are bad for the environment after all, and we have a planet to save while we enjoy cocktails and maybe a few underage children and our beachfront palaces. Jeffrey Epstein, Prince Andrew, Bill Gates, etc have already shown us how that works. 

This quote is a bit off since Nazi Stands for "National Socialist", but the progression is what is important. 
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
I'd rewrite it today as: 
First they came for the babies in the womb, but I was born so I did not speak out. 

Then they came for the recently born, but I was an adult, so I did not speak out. 

Then they came for those who stood up for any sort of morality, so I did not speak out. 

Then they came for the Christians, and I decided I was not a Christian. 
As Christians, we are to be faithful even unto death. Might it not behoove us to stand up a bit earlier? Is there NOTHING that shocks us enough to get angry and ACTIVE! 

Rest assured, the Democrats are set to go to GREAT lengths to protect their sacrament of abortion ... they are already encouraging violence by publishing the addresses of SCOTUS justices likely to return the country to a Constitutional Republic (prior to Unconstitutional Roe). The beat goes on ... packing the court, abolishing the Filibuster, etc ... so far they haven't murdered Clarence Thomas, but it would not surprise me at all. 

Is there any point where Christians and people who have any idea of morality declare NO MORE, or at least "This Far and No Farther"?  

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Reasonable, Rational, Elon Musk

I ran into this wonderful quote from Benjamin Franklin;
"So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for every thing one has a mind to do."
Reason and rationality are bosom buddies.

There are a lot of quotes that essentially say "Man is not a rational animal, but rather a RATIONALIZING animal". Jonathan Haidt covers this extremely well in his book "The Righteous Mind". He uses an excellent elephant and rider for conscious/unconscious brain that explains an important part of our nature very well.

I love this quote from Blaise Pascal: 
"There are two kinds of people one can call reasonable: those who serve God with all their heart because they know him, and those who seek him with all their heart because they do not know him."

We all have our own "god" -- that which we perceive to be the highest good. Wealth, fame, sexual gratification, family, true love, winning the Super Bowl, etc . 

Realizing what our god really is can be quite difficult. I was a Christian for a long time before I realized that while I claimed (and believed) that I worshipped the one true God, my life showed that career, security, and money were really my god. 

Fortunately, even though I had the mistaken idea I had found him, he found me by Grace.

I throw this one in from Bertrand Russell, because I think it is a good bookend to the Franklin quote I started with. 

“It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.”
― Bertrand Russell

For each of us,  reason and rational are something we think we know when we see it. Like Potter Stewart in Jacobellis vs Ohio, 

“I have reached the conclusion . . . that under the First and Fourteenth Amendments criminal laws in this area are constitutionally limited to hard-core pornography. I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”

For those who believe that science can answer everything, please show me an algorithm that could be used to define "hard core pornography", or admit that it is "in the eye of the beholder", therefore, subjective rather than objective. 

The reason I went off on this little excursion is because I find many people in life and especially on Twitter or other media, declaring that some opinion/person is "unreasonable, irrational, etc". Like most labels ... "that is a conspiracy theory", "that is crazy", etc, such labels don't move our understanding of whatever issue is being discussed forward. 

The Socratic method is much more productive. 

Can you tell me a little more about why you believe that? 

Well ... not always. 

Thursday, April 21, 2022


The "Fact Checkers" have ruled, Biden was NOT shaking hands with air! 

So you have a choice between believing your lying eyes vs the "Fact Checkers". 

Now, OTOH, we KNOW that BUSH brazenly put up a "Mission Accomplished" sign on an Aircraft Carrier when the Iraq war was far from over ... oh, and Trump mocked a disabled reporter

If there was such a thing as an unbiased media. both the W and the Trump claims would be "mostly false". 

All of these cases are like a close call in sports, there is not an obvious "truth". The problem is that MSM reporting is like the fans of the home team evaluation the close call that goes against them. To them it is NOT a "close call". they were ROBBED by clear biased play calling! 

Anybody with even a marginal exposure to sports knows how that works. 

The problem here is that the MSM is largely one sided, the home Democrat team. Sure, now there is Fox, with a somewhat equivalent bias to the Republican team, but they lack the resources and the widespread support of the population in even "Purple States". 

So in fractured America, we each have our "home team", with the Democrats having a top team, and the Republicans have "The Bad News Bears" .... oh, and the platforms like Twitter and Facebook censor even their relatively weak attempts show that most news has at least two sides. 

Monday, April 18, 2022

Martin Luther, By Eric Metaxis

This review of from the NY Times, "Slaying The Dragon Of The Dark Ages" is pretty good.  As is said in that review, " ... warned his students that more books had been written on Luther than on any other figure in Christian history, save for Jesus Christ. Add to this colossal bibliography the scores of huge tomes filled with Luther’s own writings in German and Latin, and the effort required for summing up his life and work will seem even more daunting.". 

The review linked at the top may even be better. 

Luther was a brilliant and complex man. He is often derided by non-Lutheran protestants who focus on a quote REALLY  taken out of context ... "sin boldly". The original origin of the quote was because of a statement made by his confessor Staupitz while Luther was a monk, and a very dedicated Catholic. Luther continued to confess and confess because he took the Catholic doctrine of the requirement for all your sins to be confessed to a priest, because all your contact with God had to be mediated through a priest and the Church.. 

Staupitz became frustrated the frequency of needing to listen to Martin's confessions and said "Look here, if you expect Christ to forgive you,  come with something to forgive -- parricide, blasphemy, adultery instead of all these peccadilloes". 

Luther has a similar reaction to one of his main partners in the Reformation, Philip Melanchthon. Melanchthon was paralyzed by preaching boldly in Christ, and Martin channeled his old Staupitz incident with possibly the only Luther quote that many non-confessional Christians know ,,, "Sin Boldly"! This is covered well in this short article

Paul comes very close to this same statement in Romans ... sin still has power over us, but Grace has exceedingly more power, the link gives a good critique of "once saved, always saved" ... a fairly common belief for modern "Christians In Name Only" -- those that missed the parable of  the sower, and were seed on rocky ground, or victims of thorns.

It is also somewhat like Christians dealing with the fear of death. We are prone to fear it, and it is actually going to happen to both us and our loved ones, yet if we let faith work, we can say with Paul -- 

I Corinthians 15:55-57 NKJV
“O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

By the accounts of Luther's death in the book, he was comfortable dying, but during his life he certainly had bouts of fearing death as well sinning ... although "falling away" for even a short while did not seem to be a factor.  

My personal oversimplification of  points of interest in the book: 

  1. On the first page he explains why and African American pastor, Michael King, officially changed his name to Martin Luther King, and thus we have Martin Luther King Jr ,,, he was very impressed by the legacy of Luther as he visited Germany.  
  2. The book makes very clear just how huge a change in history the Reformation was. It made the Biblical doctrine of the believer having a direct relationship with God through the Bible, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, rather than the need for there to be "the church" as a mediator.
  3. This truth led to pluralism, for good and evil. Many denominations, the (false) idea that everyone can have their own truth, democracy vs the divine right of kings, and much more. 
  4. The issue of Luther's anti-semitic writings late in his life vs some of the strong support of the Jews early in his life, and the exploitation of some of his later remarks by the Nazi's. I see the case as presented even handedly, allowing each to make up his own mind -- something Luther was generally in favor of. 
  5. The journey from his early extreme Catholic devotion to his extreme anti-Popish views in later life is well explained and again, the reader is given both sides and decide for themselves. 
  6. As is proper for a biographer, Metaxis tries to avoid bringing his personal belief into the book -- but like Christians and sin, he somewhat fails.
  7. He says very little about the original and modern Lutheran Church and the stark difference between especially the ELCA and LCMS denominations. He also leaves a lot of Luther's clarity on "Baptism now saves you", and the importance of the regular taking of the Body and Blood as having real power in the Christian life.
  8. He is very clear about just how "earthy" Luther was, but fair about the difference between the time of Luther and our time. Bodily functions, privacy, and what we moderns would consider "propriety" was different, because living conditions were very different. Did he go into "TMI" on things like Luther's struggles with constipation? Personally, I would say yes, but reality is reality. 
For a non-liturgical Christian and even a Catholic, this is a good introduction to Luther and just how important a figure in history he really is. Would someone else have been able to actually just reform the Catholic Church as Erasmus was trying to do? Possibly. 

The worlds of "what if" are infinite ... this is an excellent work for history for all. It is not preaching Lutheranism. 

If you want to understand Orthodox Lutheran Theology. There is no substitute for "The Book Of Concord". 

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

IgnoringThe Perfect Viral Beast

Some quotes from the linked:

... The proposal directs $599,000 of the total grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for research designed to make the viruses more dangerous and/or infectious — and its author acknowledged the danger associated with such work. 
... the “documents make it clear that assertions by the NIH Director, Francis Collins, and the NIAID Director, Anthony Fauci, that the NIH did not support gain-of-function research or potential pandemic pathogen enhancement at WIV are untruthful.”

So they funded enhancement of a Coronavirus to make it at least more transmissible ... if not. other "useful" features, and then they lied about it.  Fauci lied, people died.  At this point, what difference does it make? 

Why did Fauci fund making a virus more lethal? Doesn't anyone care? Are humans no longer generally curious, or has the cost of curiosity become too high? Perhaps, like feline curiosity which sometimes "kills the cat",  are scientists and governments afraid to be curious? Should I be more afraid? Just because I'm not paranoid doesn't necessarily mean that they may not come to get me..

Why would not every government in the world (other than China, and maybe the US)  not be demanding to see the complete documentation of exactly what that lab was working on, which protein, why that protein,  what steps were performed, what kind of "failures" happened during development (too lethal? Not transmissible enough? Not enough selectivity in lethality? Not certain enough mutations to insure long term effects? )  and what kind of "enhancement" were they seeking as a goal? It appears they may have "succeeded", but do we know? We can't because we don't know their goals, and nobody is curious about them. 

Could the lack of investigation be  because the Davos elite told them NO! When a handful of people hold more wealth than half the population of the world, it may mean we have a concentration of power in the hands of a small group of people whose interests don't necessarily align with the rest of us. Perhaps if we knew what was going on, they would have to kill us. (or I should say, more of us) 

Initially, the idea of Covid-19 spreading as the result of a "lab leak" was considered a "conspiracy theory", now it is at least a (and many say THE) likely source -- and that is from CNN and the Biden administration, so we know it comes from competent and eminently trustworthy sources!

It seems like the virus mutates a lot. Is that part of the "enhancement"? If I was amoral and wanted to create a "useful" virus, killing old people first, making sure it is really contagious, injecting billions with a "vaccine" that may not work very well against the original virus (but made me a lot of money for the "right" people), BUT, perhaps it "switches on" something much more "effective" for specific purposes. Say ebola? Might strike me as a "good" idea, depending on my amoral motivations. 

I'm guessing that after a few 10's of millions of ebola deaths, giving pretty much everyone a chance to see a few of their loved ones bleed, defecate, etc until death,  some sort of high priced treatment would be in decent demand. Just follow the money. 

Talk about "crazy talk"! The Western nations that killed 100s of millions via war, plus at least 100 million via abortion, would NEVER find anyone so evil!  -- well, maybe Trump or Hitler (same thing) ... Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot were not really such bad guys -- just misunderstood! Our advanced universal scientific amorality would simply not allow it, and we have had nothing but trustworthy leadership across the globe for decades. Nothing to worry about! 

Reports of "Russian Disinformation" regarding US funding of biolabs in Ukraine, have been repeatedly "debunked" ... as more "far right conspiracy theories".  

According to this US State Department site: (wonder how long this stays around)

BTRP has upgraded many laboratories for the Ministry of Health and the State Food Safety and Consumer Protection Service of Ukraine, reaching Biosafety Level 2. In 2019, BTRP constructed two laboratories for the latter, one in Kyiv and one in Odessa.

BTRP supports many collaborative research projects through which Ukrainian and American scientists work together.  A few recent examples are:

  •  “Risk Assessment of Selected Avian EDPs Potentially Carried by Migratory Birds over Ukraine”
  • “Prevalence of Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever virus and hantaviruses in Ukraine and the potential requirement for differential diagnosis of suspect leptospirosis patients”
  •   “The Spread of African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) in Domestic Pigs and Wild Boars in Ukraine – Building Capacity For Insight into the Transmission of ASFV through Characterization of Virus Isolates by Genome Sequencing and Phylogenetic Analysis”
  • “ASF Biosurveillance and ASF Regional Risk Assessment: A Field to Plate Survey

It gives one comfort to see that the US is funding dangerous research in foreign countries -- especially "friendly" ones like China, and those right next to Russia is a debunked far right conspiracy theory.

One type of virus being "studied" in UKraine is "Viral Hemorrhagic Fever  -- Ebola, being one you may be familiar with. It would make a great bio weapon if it spread like Omicron, rather than only by contact with bodily fluids. 

The minimally curious person might wonder why? Of course if you do even wonder, you have been taken in by Russian and Chinese disinformation

Deep down, we all know people are basically good! Why be curious? Just binge watch something mind numbing. Pay no attention to Hannibal Lector knocking at your door.


Monday, April 4, 2022

Being Like Bruce Willis

This is intended for those with a personal interest in me. The link is a good intro to aphasia in general. 

I don't have his looks or wealth, but unfortunately due to a brain infection  three years ago in early May, I do have aphasia in common with Bruce. So far, mine doesn't seem to be degenerative, but might be. 

 The evidence is that the damage from my brain infection/surgery causing seizures/aphasia are irreversible,  but hopefully not progressive. From my study/experience so far, each seizure is a “crapshoot". The wires got crossed by the initial damage, the ongoing seizures have a largely undefined effect as to how the brain attempts to compensate for the old damage AGAIN. The subsequent seizures  don’t seem to have any effect on the actual physical “wetware”, but there seems to be “software” running on that wetware … they obviously screw up that software right away, which is why the immediate effects are bad … like not remembering your name. “The dice” are rolled, during software “reboot” and so far it comes up with similar to the existing symptoms. 

I'm on lots of drugs to prevent the seizures ... last time, I went a year and 2 weeks before having another, so we added a drug and hope to break that record. Seven months and counting this time. 

Two weeks ago, while ending a spontaneous table prayer, I "brain locked" on "in Jesus name, amen." It was in my head, I just could not say it. It seems that the key ongoing symptoms are that inability to vocalize, or execute well known actions. A month ago, I mistakenly thought I needed to press two buttons on my ice auger to drill. I KNOW that right button is drill, and both buttons are reverse, but once I got the wrong idea, it was locked in ... I thought the auger was stuck in reverse, and had an embarrassing trip to the dealer.

I've had similar incidents since my first surgery, I imagine these will continue. 

At this point I have "incidents", but so far they are transient, and fairly infrequent.  Reading is still fine, typing is impaired, though not seriously so far. They don't seem to be getting more frequent, although that isn't that exact either. With each seizure there is some discernible loss.

The linked contains this possibly hopeful statement:

It isn"t only strokes that can cause aphasia. The disorder can come on gradually because of a brain tumor or a degenerative condition. It can also occur in temporary episodes brought on by seizures or, as I have reason to know, by severe migraine headaches.

So are my incidents due to the brain damage from the infection/surgery, or are they just "normal seizures" due the trauma of the infection/surgery? Probably a combination ... the HOPE was that I would have no lasting effects from the infection/surgery, but it wasn't a complete surprise that seizures resulted. The next assumption was that they would be "easily treatable" ... so far they have roughly been averaging every 6-8 months, but the last interval gives hope that we are zeroing in on the massive amount of meds to suppress them (near max dose of Keppra, plus Klonopin and Lamotrigine)

I totally echo this quote from the linked; 

The very worst attacks, the ones I have always found especially alarming, also cause transient aphasia. I suddenly find that I cannot summon basic words. I am unable to understand the meaning of anything I try to read and struggle to string together even the simplest sentences. Fortunately, these episodes of aphasia usually retreat within two or three hours, but they are intensely disquieting while they last. In the back of my mind there is always the panicky thought: What if this time the symptoms don"t subside?

My episodes of this scary set of symptoms are usually more like 24-48  hours after a seizure ... improving as the hours go by. "What if" is a common and generally unhelpful thought.

Since two of my primary enjoyments in life are reading and writing, the potential this is degenerative is scary. At this point, I have, and to the degree that anyone "understands" the gifts of the Holy Spirit ... the blessings of Holy Preaching, Communion and Christian Fellowship which I can understand and appreciate. Eternally they are more than sufficient ... life is but a vapor. 

When I was at the point of not knowing my name the first time, my Pastor offered me Communion. I started crying and stumbled through saying something like, " I know I need to believe something to take Communion, but I'm too mixed up to know what it is, maybe I shouldn't" ... or at least I think that is what I said. The Pastor said, "It is Jesus, not you that matters  ... it is a gift, it isn't about your condition, it is about him, and he knows your heart".

That was an extreme comfort to me. 

When I'm not having an "incident" (or of course a seizure) I seem "normal" ...  not able to remember names of people, books, etc ... but not so badly it seems "abbynormal (Young Frankenstein). My sentence structure may seem a little bit "off" at times, I may mix some words up, but so far nothing alarming. 

Enough rambling, even for those who care. I've had more than a blessed life -- "whatever will be will be".  

Thursday, March 31, 2022

M Stanton Evans, Conservative Wit, Apostle of Freedom

As per usual, this lazy moose links to a more complete review above. 

I'm a bit of a Steve Hayward groupie ... having read the Reagan books, listener to Powerline Podcasts, and  "Three Whiskey Happy Hour", so that lack of objectivity should be considered. 

Like the rug in "The Big Lebowski", this book really ties the conservative movement from the time of GAMAY up to the tragic regime of Obama together, in a manner as entertaining as this kind of serious book really can. The curtain of the "back room" of conservatism in America is lifted and we see some of the "sausage" of conflicting ideology, personality quirks, infighting, and egos. The reality of human interaction. 

The personal anecdotes made Evans more real. I especially enjoyed his affection for Hardees, a prime example of fine American cuisine. The concept of finding a town with a Hardees at each side of town so a balanced diet could be maintained by alternating between them cemented his genius in my mind. 

The anecdotes and aphorisms alone are really worth the low price of admission, I have already used the "They say you tend to lose your sense of hearing as you get older, and one other thing that I can't recall ..." a few times to great effect.

The "behind the scenes" insights were crucial for me. I will admit to not being at all aware of the ACU, and thus Evan's involvement in the creation of CPAC. 

Page 241, "in other words, a bigger problem than ideological bias is simple incompetence". Yes! I highly recommend "Excellent Sheep" for deeper insight into why that is an increasing problem ... the tragic human choice of "knowing everything about nothing vs nothing about everything" is especially important in our age of "experts". 

As a reader of "Witness", some of the McCarthy insights mostly just refreshed ... however "refreshment" is always important, 

The writing is excellent, the insight into the subject is on par with better biographies. While Evans may not be a person who is known to you, the statement on p 219 that "Without Stan Evans, it is quite likely there would have been no Ronald Reagan in 1980",  is more than enough to explain his importance. 

Given his statement of faith in the epilogue, I look forward to sharing a beverage in Heaven, where time constraints are likely to be significantly reduced. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Maps Of Meaning

I'd recommend following the link for a better review of the book than I'm likely to do 

I'd also recommend reading "12 Rules For Life" and to a lesser degree "Beyond Order, 12 More Rules for Life"

In any case, this book would be down the list -- not because it is "bad", but primarily because it is much longer than it needs to be to get it's points across. 

From the linked:

The Basic Structure Of Myths

Myths from different places of the world have some common characteristics because of shared human nature. Whether it is the story of Homer’s Odyssey, the Passion of the Christ, stories of creation in Mesopotamia or Egypt, they all have one commonality – the journey of a brave hero and his triumphant return from the unknown.

The primal forces of nature form the basis of most myths. They represent the unknown, from wherein all life originates. Its creative and destructive nature is mostly represented as feminine. For example, according to the Mesopotamian myth of creation, the unknown is a ferocious Mother Dragon Tiamat from whose pieces the cosmos was created. In Sumerian creation myth, the sea goddess Nammu birthed the sky and the earth.

The feminine, often the mother, is portrayed as either ‘great’, or ‘terrible’, where the terrible unknown is shown in forms of an evil monster, a stepmother, or a storm; the great, or promising unknown is often characterized by a fairy godmother, a treasure or a magical place.

In mythology, the opposite of the Great and Terrible Mother, is the Great and Terrible Father. The father represents the structured, known territories of culture that man has built for protection. The father is most often represented as an old, wise king – great when he is just, protective and wise, and terrible when he is oppressive, tyrannical, or evil.

Finally, the hero of the story is the brave explorer, trapped between the unknown forces of the Mother and Father – or nature and culture. He is the one who fights the negatives of nature and culture and wins by bringing out the positives, proving to be a role model for humans.

We live by "stories", the more profound and meaningful reach the status of "myth". Are they "true"? Often not in the sense of scientific or legal "evidence", but perhaps more "true" in the sense that they speak to our nature and are much more meaningful than a listing of "facts".

We tend to look at science as "true", yet it as well is based on a faith narrative that goes something like "The universe was randomly created in a "Big Bang". Luckily for us, 100s if not thousands of physics variables just happened to be "set" (randomly) to values that allowed our existence. Even better, there happened to be a planet in the "Goldilocks zone" (not too hot, not too cold), and "somehow" life happened. That "somehow" would appear to be vanishingly unlikely, however it retains a place in scientific mythology."

"Maps" makes an attempt to explain more about "universal myths" than you really wanted to know. The excerpt above gives a flavor, the not so long linked review is probably all you need rather than reading the book. 

Friday, March 11, 2022

Atheism Not Working As Promised

I've done a mind numbing amount of reading and writing on this subject. My writing is always too long for a modern audience, and the sad fact is that I'm not very good at. it anyway. Perhaps some others can save the day?

The following quote is from Niall Ferguson, a well respected intellectual. 

I know I can’t achieve religious faith . . . but I do think we should go to church. We don’t have, I don’t think, an evolved ethical system. I don’t buy the idea that evolution alone gets us to be moral. It can modify behaviour, but there’s just too much evidence that in the raw, when the constraints of civilisation fall away, we behave in the most savage way to one another. I’m a big believer that with the inherited wisdom of a two-millennia old religion, we’ve got a pretty good framework to work with.

He is right that HE can't achieve religious faith ... as Luther put it:

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. 

Smart people are looking around at the "Post God" world and coming to the obvious conclusion that things aren't working as advertised. It is yet another case of "mail order bride arrives in wrong shape and color". 

I may not ever look physically like Arnold Schwarzenegger, or spiritually like Jesus Christ (not in this life, I will in Heaven), but I'm way better off if I go to the gym and church anyway!