Reviews

A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Potpourri

Yes, sports fans! It's tabclearingday, when the gallimaufrey of tabs accumulating on the TOFian browser gets blown off with short shrift.

1. Quotes of the Day

a) Our [religion] is assuredly the most ridiculous, the most absurd and the most bloody religion which has ever infected this world. Your Majesty will do the human race an eternal service by extirpating this infamous superstition, I do not say among the rabble, who are not worthy of being enlightened and who are apt for every yoke; I say among honest people, among men who think, among those who wish to think.
-- Voltaire, Letter to Friedrich II, k.von Preussen
b) The clergy successfully preached the doctrines of patience and pusillanimity; the active virtues of society were discouraged; and the last remains of military spirit were buried in the cloister: a large portion of public and private wealth was consecrated to the specious demands of charity and devotion; and the soldiers’ pay was lavished on the useless multitudes of both sexes who could only plead the merits of abstinence and chastity.
-- Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall, ch.38.

And how will the New Republic treat the inferior races? How will it deal with . . . those swarms of black, and brown, and dirty-white, and yellow people, who do not come into the new needs of efficiency? Well, the world is a world, and not a charitable institution, and I take it they will have to go. . . . And the ethical system of these men of the New Republic, the ethical system which will dominate the world state, will be shaped primarily to favor the procreation of what is fine and efficient and beautiful in humanity — beautiful and strong bodies, clear and powerful minds. . . . And the method that nature has followed hitherto in the shaping of the world, whereby weakness was prevented from propagating weakness . . . is death. . . . The men of the New Republic . . . will have an ideal that will make the killing worth the while.
-- H.G. Wells  The New Republic

 Voltaire pointed out that enlightenment was only for the enlightened, like himself; not for the basket of deplorables unworthy rabble. More than a tough of Hegel, there.

Gibbon was evidently a proto-Nietzsche, based on what he praised and what he disparaged. Patience, chastity, charity... Boo. Military spirit, Yay!

Neither of them yet had the vocabulary to evoke the Superman or the Woke. but the thought-cliche of the special aristocracy -- the Enlightened, the Illuminati, the Brights, the Vanguard -- runs through it. As for the rest of us, remember that phrase "apt for every yoke" and bend over to welcome your new masters.  In the end, though, the Morlocks eat the Eloi. (Remember, Wells thought that a bad thing; but I hear they taste like chicken.)

2. Food for Thought
Speaking of chicken. At the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Medieval Academy of America, the Middle Ages were roundly defended from the Dead White Males like Voltaire and Gibbon, who had relegated them to the 'midddle' between the enlightened ancients and the enlightened 18th cent. (i.e., themselves). However, that defense was mounted without a single reference to Christianity, let alone to Catholicism; so it appears the likes of Voltaire and Gibbon have been victorious after all.




But the vanishing of theology from the schools has not led to 'no theology,' but to 'bad theology,' and as Chesterton noted, the man who believes in nothing will eventually believe in anything. Or as Midgley said, those who claim no metaphysics are usually enslaved to some outdated form of it. It is no surprise then that the absence of virtues so derogated by Gibbon -- charity, above all -- has ended with road rage, school shootings, and campus riots against heretical speakers. The surprise rather is that no one has remarked that these things are connected.

3. And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side

An essay on the destructiveness and irrationality of the latest fascination to sweep the intelligentsia, reminding one of the Tiptree story,


4. Intension and Extension

What a term contains differs from what it covers. Siris considers the matter here, using the term "teacher" to show the difference. It might be that much of the current rancor in the public square stems from a failure to appreciate the distinction.

5. Blind Spot

A couple of physicists and a philosopher walk into a bar.... and notice that science has a great big blind spot. There are things that it just cannot see. Just as a person who relies exclusively on a metal detector will never find wood.


6. Speaking of Physics

Sabine Hossenfelder wonders at the reasons there has been nothing really new in basic physics since the great paradigm shift of the turn of the last century. It's all i-dotting and t-crossing. So far, the Standard Model stands strong!

7. What to Do with Surprise Medical Bills.

The Manhattan Contrarian says: Don't pay 'em.

8. Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are.

Several of the swarm of Democrats vying to challenge the Donald have promised to implement Health Care For All, for example by extending Medicare to everyone.  TOF thought this had been settled by the Affordable Care Act, but no one seems to want to mention it any more. ACA is in hiding. This Act, in the spirit of all slapdash government 'programs' has made health insurance less affordable, hurting the poor most of all, as usual, The Manhattan Contrarian notes that these new proposals will work for sure, no foolin'.

Monday, June 17, 2019

A Blast from the Past

A post from Sunday, March 6, 2016, still has some timely elements. Of course, back then the Republicans had a massive primary field of 16 candidates, some of whom were competent. That is not so this time. The last time we had a herd of candidates, we got Trump.The comments below deal with the 2016 election. Perceptive Reader may judge which are timeless.

Notes from the Untergang

Dr. Boli gave us the following observation by
In debating his opponents, Mr. Trump uses a particular style of argument that is enormously effective on the third-grade demographic:
OPPONENT. I believe you are mistaken in your inference.
TRUMP. You’re ugly.
OPPONENT. What I mean is that there is overwhelming scientific evidence to support my assertion that vaccines do not cause autism.
TRUMP. I mean, seriously, who puts a face like that on network TV?
Because it is not usually encountered outside the playground, this rhetorical figure does not have a common name. Dr. Boli will therefore give it one, and call it the argumentum ad vultum, the argument against the face or countenance. 
A reminiscence of the Marge:
Some years ago, when the Incomparable Marge took our daughter to see The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center, she found herself two rows behind the Donald and his then-wife. They spent the performance necking and smooching and engaging in serious PDsA, pretty much ignoring the dancing on-stage until his daughter came out with the other children dancers. 
You know what that means?

That's right, sports fans, it's Political Season once again! For those who supposed it had always been political season, 24/7/365, well, now it's Prime Time. OK, Primary Time. TOF will now share some random thoughts of golden wisdom, some of them his own, and some of which (not necessarily his own) he may agree with.

1. Candidates should hold debates. They haven't done so since 1960.
No, really. Remember debate club in high school or college and how debates were carried out? Position, rebuttal, and all that? What we have now are joint press conferences, with reporters holding the whip. But as regards reporters, remember the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect, as enunciated by Michael Crichton:
"You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know."
Republican debate
These maestros specialize in asking questions designed to create drama, because the news paradigm of an election is the horse race. Or a boxing match. (Or in this year, a Battle Royale Cage Match.) 
2. The media's purpose is to sell beer and shampoo, and that means eyeballs in front of the tube, and that means scandal and drama.
So don't expect them to show many moments of candidates making cogent policy points or proposing important positions. Don't believe it? When was the last time they featured remarks by John Kasich on the news? They always lead with Trump for the same reason your local news always leads with a fire or a car wreck. Sooner or later, candidates looking for all-important tube-time give in and give the media what they want. The Democrats are more arch with their internecine put-downs, but they too are out to entertain the media.
3. Trump is popular because he takes on the media and political correctness.
People are sick and tired of being hectored, chastised, and condescended to by special snowflakes and all the rest. Trump does not back down and go all apologetic when called out. Hooray. Finally someone is talking back! Of course, Chris Christie was like that, too; but he was not a rich, coiffed Manhattanite cocktail partier. The problem is that political correctness is like Trump's Wall. In an effort to keep out the drug smugglers and terrorists that might mix in with the unregulated immigrants and refugees, Trump seeks to bar the everyone. And in an effort to bar genuinely hateful speech, political correctness tries to ban even the hint of a possibility that anyone might take offense.
4. Exit polls of Democrats on Stupor Tuesday revealed that the most frequently named characteristic looked for in a candidate was "caring." We are apparently electing an emo-in-chief. Among the uncaring Republicans, it was "competence."
TOF believes it should also matter what a candidate cares about and what he is competent at. The top Republican contender at the present time is a real estate wheeler dealer who, except for the real estate deals, has not been notably successful in his business ventures, so the definition of competent may be fluid. And what does it mean to "care" if the result of raising the minimum wage to $15/hr is that inexperienced youth will be unemployed from higher paying jobs?
Newlyweds Donald Trump Sr. and Melania Trump with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bill Clinton at their reception held at The Mar-a-Lago Club in January 22, 2005 in Palm Beach, Fla. At the time, Trump was a Democrat and supported Clinton over Bush. In 2008 he would write that Hilary Clinton would make a great president. (Maring Photography/Getty Images/Contour by Getty Images)

5. Beware of politicians who want to be Leaders.
For that to happen everyone else must become Followers. Besides, we tried Leaders in the 30s and 40s and that did not work out very well.The idea that the Man will come and kiss our boo-boos and they will all go away is crazy. Yet in country after country, the answer to corruption or the perception of corruption has been the Man on Horseback on one horse or the other. Remember when "This is the moment when the oceans stopped rising"?
6. The Tea Party and the Occupy This movement are the same movement.
They both object that powerful money interests control the government. The answer of the Occupy movement is to give the controlled government more power. The answer of the Tea Party movement seems to be electing the money interest to be the government.
Off topic: What is the difference between occupying Wall Street and occupying an Oregon bird sanctuary during the off-season? Ans. In the former case a woman gets raped; in the latter case, an occupier gets shot dead.
7. Donald Trump claiming not to know who David Duke is was ludicrous in the extreme. That the media did not know that Donald Trump had denounced David Duke a decade and a half ago is not ludicrous only because a) the media are pretty much ignorant of anything that happened more than a week ago and b) it does not fit the narrative into which they want to shove Trump.
In 2000, Trump stated that he was leaving the Reform Party because of the involvement of "David Duke, Pat Buchanan and Lenora Fulani. That is not company I wish to keep." ("What I Saw at the Revolution," The New York Times OpEd, February 19, 2000), as per Wikipedia.
8. Trump is not part of the Republican Establishment.
True dat. According to Wikipedia, he was a Democrat until 1987; then he was a Republican from 1987 to 1999. He then switched to the Reform Party from 1999 to 2001. After a presidential exploratory campaign with the Reform Party, he quit because of the involvement of David Duke and others. From 2001 to 2009 he was a Democrat again; he switched to the Republican Party again from 2009 to 2011. An independent from 2011 to 2012, he returned to the Republican Party in 2012. Asked to name the best president of recent years in 2015, Trump picked Bill Clinton; and in 2008 he said that Hilary Clinton would make a good president or vice-president. 
So he is definitely not part of the Republican Establishment. But he is one of the Forbes 500 and definitely part of the Northeast Establishment.
9. Heard elsewhere: 'A frustrated public agrees that this election “absolutely calls for a really futile and stupid gesture to be made on somebody’s part. And we’re just the guys to do it.”'
Yes, it's the Animal House election!
10. Also heard elsewhere: 'Trump's entire campaign is “let’s get even with Obama and make America great again”. Many followers seem only interested in the first part. Of course, that's how we got Obama—hatred of Bush.'
In other words, this is about more hope and change.
11. Also heard elsewhere: 'Trump’s signature issue–and the only one he really needs to get Normal-Americans on-board–is “BUILD THE WALL.”'
The French built a wall, too. They called it the Maginot Line. How'd that work out for them? He says he will get Mexico to pay for the wall. Really? If Mexico could afford to pay for a wall, she could afford to pay her workers enough to employ them at home. In problem-solving, we teach managers to address the root causes, not the symptoms; but Trump is not a very good manager.
One way to help Mexicans stay at home and build their own country is to stifle American demand for drugs that go to enrich the gangs that terrorize Mexicans into fleeing. We're looking at you Wall Street and Hollywood. 
BTW, ya like that hyphenate 'Normal-Americans'? TOF remembers when True Americans were trying to keep the Irish refugees out.
12. What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun! Even the thing of which we say, “See, this is new!” has already existed in the ages that preceded us. (Eccl. 1:9-10)
In the 1800 election, Jefferson's supporters described President Adams as a "hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman." In return, Adams' men called Vice President Jefferson "a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father." As the slurs piled on, Adams was labeled a fool, a hypocrite, a criminal, and a tyrant, while Jefferson was branded a weakling, an atheist, a libertine, and a coward. When TOF was researching his family tree, he had cause to read the Washington (NJ) Star of sometime in 1864 whose front page was headlined WE SUPPORT MCCLELLAN AND THE ENTIRE DEMOCRATIC SLATE and referred in the body of the "article" to "Abe the Ape, King of the N*****s." Only they did not use asterisks.
In case you think the media today is biased.
 13. Heard elsewhere: "There’s no use charging Trump with 'populism.' Direct election of the president is by definition populism.
Is it coincidence that Trump's major attacks have been on conservative news organs and he has boycotted conservative forums and been disparaged by conservative magazines and papers? Something is going on, and those who persist in thinking in terms of 'liberal' and 'conservative' may be missing an important realignment taking place. In the FIRESTAR series, TOF postulated two new parties: American and Liberty (the former nationalist/populist; the latter, libertarian) at right angles to the Democrats and Republicans and originally comprised of members of both.
14. Mass rallies of screaming fans are more appropriate for rock concerts than for politics.
But it is the tenor of the times. Cf. the audiences on the Tonight show compared to those of Carson's day; or the audiences on the plaza of the Today show. Nowadays, they cheer the monologue, more than they laugh at it. They are cheering and screaming for themselves and that they are being televised. Self-adulation is carrying over to these political rallies. A certain amount of rally behavior is supposed, but one should recall the rallies in Weimar Germany and proceed with caution.
15. Bernie Sanders has the peculiar superpower of actually enunciating policy positions through the media news blender.
Of course these positions are a caution. He wants to nationalize health care so that health care can flourish the way education and marriage have flourished since government has taken those in hand. He also favors the $15 minimum wage, which would effectively price low-skill workers out of the market. There is a difference between ideas that sound good and those that do good. See Venezuela for details.
16. Hillary still doesn't get it.
The question behind the email server is not whether sensitive material was leaked. It's why  the heck was she taking her work home at all? That's just basic poor judgment. 
17. Who knows but that the best candidates may not have dropped out?
Martin O'Malley on the Democrat side; Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie on the Republican. All of these had experience actually governing a state. Of those presidents that history has judged best, most had previously been governors or generals; or those judged worst, most have been senators or representatives. There are exceptions to every rule -- Zachary Taylor was not so hot while LBJ was very effective -- but the presidency is an executive job, not a collegial one and the skill set required to make one a successful senator may not work too well in the executive chair.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Happy Father's Day

I Am
In the long line of fathers, one stands out. But insofar as the Flynn are concerned, we start with:

1. Martin Flynn of Loughrea (c1806-1873)

who raised a family through the Great Hunger, sent his sons (and likely his daughters) off to the New World and followed, only to die shortly after.
He was the father of

2. John Thomas Flynn (c.1843-1881)

who emigrated around 1865 and became a citizen. He worked in the railroad repair yard, where he was crushed between two coal cars. He was the father of

3. Daniel Joseph Flynn (1871-1944)

 He worked as a shoemaker when his father died, and then as a blacksmith in a

foundry, He was the father of

4. Francis Thomas Flynn (1900-1977)

He ran the dining cars for the Lehigh Valley Railroad, then was assistant manager for the Hotel Easton. When the Great Depression ruined his plans for running his own hotel, he went on the road, worked as an accountant at a construction site and sent money home. He was the father of

5. Joseph Francis Flynn (1924-2018)

After serving in the Marine Corps in WWII, he came home and became a pressman, then superintendent in a printing house. He was the father of

6. Michael Francis Flynn (1947-??)


He was the first Flynn to graduate college, majoring in mathematics. He worked as a quality engineer, then as a consultant in quality management and statistical methods. He is also the author of a bunch of science fiction stories and novels. He is the father of

7. Sara Margaret Flynn and Dennis Michael Flynn


neither of who, though for different reasons, is a father.
For fairness sake, we mention the fathers of the Incomparable Marge.

1. John Ransom White (1806-1884) 


who was born in NC moved to TN then in 1847 to Fannin Co. TX. He was a farmer, and the father of

2. George Washington White (1839-1895)

who came to Fannin Co, Texas with his family in 1847 and farmed. He was the father of

3. Jasper Moses White (1879-1937)

who was imprisoned in Texas, then moved to Arkansas and Louisiana and started a new family, He had been the father of

4. Claude Lee White (1897-1967)

who with his brother Dick was raised by his mother in Ft, Towson, Choctaw Nation. He worked as an armored car driver in Tulsa and after his wife died, raised his daughter, the Incomparable Marge, as a single dad.


































Whoa, What's This?

adam amateur theology aphorisms Aquinas argument from motion Aristotelianism art atheism autumn of the modern ages books brains breaking news captive dreams cartoon charts chieftain clannafhloinn comix commentary counterattack crusades culcha dogheads easton stuff economics eifelheim evolution factoids on parade fake news fallen angels Feeders fir trees in lungs firestar flicks floods flynncestry flynnstuff forecasts forest of time fun facts gandersauce gimlet eye global warming glvwg headlines henchmen high frontier history home front how to lie with statistics humor Hunters Moon hush-hush hypatia in the house of submission irish Iron Shirts irrationalism january dancer jihad journeyman kabuki kool letter lion's mouth lunacon maps mayerling medieval metrology miscellany modern mythology moose zombies music new years nexus odds odds and ends paleofuture passing of the modern age philosophy philosophy math poetry politics potpourri psyched out! public service quality quiet sun quote of the day razor's edge redefinition of marriage religio reviews river of stars scandal science science marches on scientism scrivening shipwrecks of time shroud skiffy skiffy in the news skools slipping masks some people will believe anything stats stories stranger things the auld curmudgeon the madness continues the new fascism the russians are coming the spiral arm the writing life thomism thought for the day thread o' years tofspot topology untergang des abendlandes untergang des morgenlandes up jim river video clips vignettes war on science we get letters we're all gonna die whimsy words at play wuv xmas you can't make this stuff up