Sunday, April 08, 2018

End Of Moosetracks

In 2016, I quit cross posting the blog to Facebook when I started a new job -- here is that entry, and the key paragraph.

Yes, the reason for stopping the cross-posting is the potential that "someone would be offended" relative to the new job. We live in a time where Christian, conservative, Constitutional, etc views are offensive to many. While I believe in people in the United States being able to have any view they want short of "pledging allegiance to ISIS" as in the case of the shooter this week, our current nation seems OK with ISIS supporters, but often offended with those who support Christ or the Constitution.
I realize that when I started the blog in 2005, I never posted my reason for blogging, so I will now.

My father was and is a very capable debater. So were his brothers, and I gather his dad, my grandfather who died when I was like 3. One story of my grandpa that I heard from dad more than once was of him taking dad to a county or town board meeting as a kid maybe 12 years of age, Dad was disturbed by everyone arguing so loud and seemingly angrily that he thought they could not be friends.

When the meeting was over, everyone went out for pie and coffee with no problems -- his dad was on the board, and instilled in my dad that being able to discuss / argue / debate with passion and still shake hands afterward was an important part of living in a democracy.

So I learned that lesson well -- early on with some tears or stomping anger, however my dad assured me that "I would grow up", and so I did -- perhaps just a little too well, as is common with such lessons.

Cowgirls may well not cry, but this moose certainly does -- pretty much every time I listen to that song as one small case, as well as sometimes when I witness the wreckage of our nation in broken families, addiction, suicide, and meaninglessness.

The lesson of making my case with dispassionate debate would serve me well through my schooling in those days. In the 1970's America was still a place where diversity of thought was honored, and there were no such things as "safe spaces" where freedom of speech was not allowed, certainly not in universities. The ACLU in those times even defended Illinois Nazi's right to march through a Jewish neighborhood -- freedom of speech meant freedom of even (especially) very unpopular speech. The IBM of the late '70s and most of my career was also a place where it was critical to "get your ducks in a row" and put together the right "pitch" to get your ideas implemented in systems.

By 2005 however, the US was sliding rapidly away from honoring diversity of thought. W was a pariah to the elite and "progressives", and it was important to not speak up in most cases when people would make some statement about how stupid he was, how he ought to be impeached, how Iraq was lost, how he was a "war criminal", etc.

While I was always more than able to hold my own in a discussion, the net result was likely be anger from the anti-W speaker that anyone would dare stand up for W, and even more anger when the person who intiated the attack felt that they were not actually able to defend a position they thought was "obviously correct". One of the "values" of the left became that people that did not agree with them were uneducated, only listened to "Fox News and talk radio", not very intelligent, etc -- feeling that they "lost" a debate with such a low life was just plain embarrassing. It usually meant that in an odd return to a practice of religions like the Amish, they would "shun" the person who stood up for such a terrible person as W.

The blog allowed me to continue to listen to NPR, read the NY Times, WaPo, and even see clippings from Huffpo, Slate, New Yorker, and a broad range of media on both (or many) sides of issues and "talk about it in the blog" without having  other people be hurt, angry, or embarrassed. The assumption was that people that did not like what they read would just "change the channel" -- as Christians were to do with the NEA funded "Piss Christ" and many other things.

In the back of my mind, there was always the dream of "discovery" -- some folks would probably just be kind to me and say "you ought to have a column" or "you ought to be on the radio". Over the years, my readership went from none to a few thousand a month ...

It's always been a labor of love -- I enjoy writing, it comes easy to me, and the blog was a way for me to keep track of thoughts, articles, book reviews ( 185 was the final count), travel, etc with some good discussions from some people over the years as a bonus.

As I look back on Holy Week 2018, Good Friday 2005.  stands out as a post from the early days that I'm glad that I was able to share -- and go back and read.

The post from when I quit cross-posting to FB gives some hints on how the blog is organized if you want to poke around. As those of you that know me are well aware, the blog both is and is definitely NOT "me". It' was an "outlet" for instant reactions to events and media reactions to those events -- so those reactions were less likely to be discussed at work, family events, church, social events, etc. I read broadly and more the kind of person who knows "nothing about everything" as opposed to "everything about nothing" -- the sad choice required of we very finite humans and our limited minds.

The blog is less me since 2016. In 2016 I started my new career as a Certified Peer Support Specialist ... I learned about DBT, Motivational Interviewing, and that validation is not agreement. I learned both the Mindfulness skills to stay "in the moment" during discussions as well as a number of other skills that are critically important during "difficult conversations". Some of these skills are well sumarized in this post on an excellent book; "The High Conflict Couple".

If you liked the blog and miss it, send me an email ( with ideally your google mail -- my new blog is going to be limited to my approving your access, and since I'm using blogger to start,  I'm not sure the google id will work. Depending on interest, I may look for other solutions.

Thank you for those that have read over the years, and especially to those who have engaged in discussion with me on posts. I still firmly believe that freedom of thought and speech, as well as the willingness to engage with those who think differently from us, was at the very core of what once made America an exceptional country. It was a nation under God with a written Constitution that was honored, and a free nation where independence, especially of thought, was a primary value.

As I wrote when I largely left FB and quit watching the NFL, we now live in a nation where there is no value that is agreed on by supermajority of people within our geographic borders. Since America was a nation founded on ideas, NOT ethnicity, religion, or territory, I assert we really no longer have a nation.

It will certainly not be me that fixes that (if it is to be fixed), and the costs of having a semi-public opinion that is easily ignored have now gotten too high as the costs of speaking up in public did in 2005. There is no way to know who is reading, not interacting, and just becoming more and more angry as they do. There is no way to discern a reader in "Emotion Mind" so I can use validation skills rather than simply "making a case".  I'm not going to fix what has happened to America -- it is not worth the price to keep publicly speaking to all. The "desire to read" may be a desire primarily to be angered and justify attacks on myself or my family. Thinking differently is now something that needs to be done "in the closet" ... hopefully this move to a closet of only approved readers will work.

For ALL those who have or will read my blog or other writings, especially those who most strongly disagree with me, I believe that love and free will are the two sides of an ultimate eternal value. To love is to allow free will, and only in freedom can we return love. God is love and light -- only he can truly love even those that reject him with all their hearts, however I promise to do the best that I am able to follow his example.

 I pray that you let God's love work it's miracle in your life and we have eternity to work out the nuances of our differences.
May the Lord bless you,
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you,
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you,
and give you peace

Shore Lunch With Jesus

What do we want on our tombstone? For a long while I've had the thought of "Gone fishing with Jesus" based on John 21:

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together.3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 
4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”“No,” they answered.
6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.  9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. 
10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
The earthy incarnation of the Lord of the universe, AFTER his death and resurrection in his glorified body, cooking shore lunch for his disciples! It is a picture that always makes me smile and often gives me that little shiver of eternal awareness.

My father has often told me of he and his dad out fishing on Upper Turtle Lake in NW WI in the dark with cane poles and minnows in 8-10' of water while the sounds of a local dance hall drifted out over the water and WWII raged across the seas. Both his brothers where in the army, but dad's blood pressure was too high to be drafted ( he is 91 now, he lived longer  than either of his brothers who also lived into their late 80's).

I'm familiar with the lake, and have often fished it myself -- In later years, after my dad had some health scares, I occasionally have a dream of sitting in a row boat with my somewhat younger dad in the dark as music drifts over the water while we fish for walleye with cane poles. A couple of times, it vaguely seems the sun has been coming up and there is a man on shore with a fire ...

As we prepare our home for sale and contemplate our residency move to the Iowa lake place and an an apartment in Rochester "3 days a week", the reality of "stages in life" is very real. Our boys were just kids as we moved into this house in '95, now they are grown with the oldest having kids of his own. My dad was lucky enough to live to see not just his grandchildren, but his great grandchildren. The blessings of this life can be great, however certainly at my dad's age, and increasingly at mine, we begin to seriously contemplate the next.

My soul says that I can trust a risen Saviour that not only cooks shore lunch for his disciples, and even tells them the right way to catch an abundance of fish (153)!

I have no idea of heaven  (other than it being wonderful) -- and I strongly suspect it will NOT be as this vision is, however, it is comforting to me. Fishing for walleye with my dad on a warm summer night looking forward to shore lunch with Jesus.

How do you think of your eternal home?

Disinformation, Ion Mihai Pacepa

For those that care, the end of the USSR gave us an open window into Communism, the  USSR, and the culture of Russia, which still lives on today. One of the authors, Pacepa, was a 3 star general in Romanian security who was privy to the absolute top of the Soviet KGB. He worked with Kruschev and Soviet leaders after him up until he defected in 1978 ... he was a personal advisor to Romanian dictator Nicolae CeauČ™escu, and accompanied on all his trips abroad.

The book is required reading for CIA personnel, and the title tells us what readers of this blog certainly have known for a long time -- the ability to dupe the west via "disinformation" has been a cornerstone of Soviet and now Russian operations since Stalin. The art of creating fake stories and getting the rest of the world to see them as "facts" is an art form honed to precision and used effectively by the USSR.

As Churchill said about Russia in a 1939 broadcast, it was then and seems will always be "A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma". The idea of the "Potemikin Village" and the "Russian Dolls" of close to infinite regress is core to Russian culture and history. It is no accident that Russian Chess Masters are some of the greatest ever.

Among he "big lies" of Soviet Disinformation are it's numerous framings of Popes and Cardinals as "Hitler's Popes" or other lies involved in their war on religion. Keeping the world view of Jews as "Zionist puppeteers" pulling the strings of any non-communist governments is another of the ongoing Disinformation programs.

The book makes the case that Lee Harvey Oswald provided the KGB with critical espionage on the U-2 that allowed it to be shot down -- there is also more detail on Oswald's connections to the USSR, and the likelihood that we ended up knowing that the USSR was behind killing JFK, however LBJ thought the risk of nuclear war to great to admit what was done. Pulling strings behind the curtain and leaving the West with a bunch of wispy conspiracy theories has always been a Russian favorite.

Surprising to nobody that has read much at all, "Ramparts" magazine and later "Mother Jones" were KGB funded to influence politics in the US -- David Horowitz, was raised as a "Red Diaper Baby" (a child raised in the US whose parents were communists dedicated to overthrow of the US government) and was later editor of "Ramparts" until the Black Panthers (also with KGB connections) killed one of his friends and he became a supporter of the US and conservative principles. I read his book "Radical Son" long before I started blogging.

It is a hard read -- there is a LOT of detail, and a lot of the names are Russian / Eastern European, so it is hard to keep track of it all. I found too much time spent on only marginally successful attempts to claim the Catholic Church supported Hitler ... yes,  there are a number of people on the left that like to make that claim because of the importance of making it seem that "National Socialism" was an ideology of the RIGHT ... I cover this in detail here.

Data Mining Evil Genius

The article does a great job of explaining what anyone with a moderate level of memory remembers about 2012...
What, exactly, would Obama be doing? According to The Guardian, Obama’s new database would be gathered by asking individual volunteers to log into Obama’s reelection site using their Facebook credentials. “Consciously or otherwise,” The Guardian states, “the individual volunteer will be injecting all the information they store publicly on their Facebook page — home location, date of birth, interests and, crucially, network of friends — directly into the central Obama database.”
Naturally, that was "genius, innovative, etc".
Facebook had no problem with such activity then. They do now. There’s a reason for that. The former Obama director of integration and media analytics stated that, during the 2012 campaign, Facebook allowed the Obama team to “suck out the whole social graph”; Facebook “was surprised we were able to suck out the whole social graph, but they didn’t stop us once they realized that was what we were doing.” She added, “They came to [the] office in the days following election recruiting & were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side.”
Is there even one of us that doesn't TOTALLY understand this? What is good for "our side" is GREAT, what is good for "the other side" is TERRIBLE! Human nature, as natural as breathing -- what CULTURE was once to do was modify human nature to allow that culture to survive and flourish above tribalism, the natural state of man. To understand that "the rules" were there for ALL ... not just "our tribe".

"The Hill" is a slightly left of center media bias rating ... apparently, for a mostly center media outlet, the contrast was just too recent and too glaring to not notice and they gave at least some lip service with the article.

These sorts of dichotomies are nearly daily issue on NPR. Trump had the audacity to congratulate Putin on his victory! Horrors. Naturally Obama congratulated Putin on his victory in 2012 and it was not a problem. That is what it means to be tribal -- when your tribe does it, it is fine, when the other side does it, it is a crime. Oh, and memory is the first thing to go.

At this point, I believe something over 70% of the population understands that we are politically tribal today  -- however my contention is that something like 90% of those people believe that "their tribe is right" (meaning correct).  They are wrong ... and any that still believe we have not fallen to tribalism are also wrong.

I voted for Trump because he was the most non-party / non-tribal candidate possible to win in 2016   -- however he is FAR from non-tribal enough to get us out of the mess we are in. And naturally, a new tribe of rabid supporters has formed around him.

  1. Nobody in Washington, and very very few people nationally have any idea of what it meant to be "America" -- I cover this here.
  2. Those that don't have shared transcendent values can only have tribalism -- so they fight, often at great cost to their selves, families, and even their own tribe, because they have no measure of "the good". Life is a constant tribal argument.
  3. As we see in the recent budget agreement, people see a victory" when "everyone" gets "something", even though what they "get" is charged to their children and grandchildren, and many parts of the "get" are things they don't even want, but some other tribe does.

I'm a God/meaning loyalist -- the budget "deal" was terrible. The "Stormy Affair" isn't as bad as a boss having sex with an employee at the office (especially the Oval Office), but it is also just one more sign that we are in Sodom and Gomorrah territory -- but we have known that since Chappaquiddick.

The choices are actually very simple. We will either return to a point where "70-80%" of people in this territory agree on a set of values that transcend tribe / party, and thus have something like what America was, OR, one of the current, or some other tribal view will "win", and exterminate, re-educate, etc the "losers" as happened in the USSR, National Socialist Germany, Mao's China, Vietnam,  etc and those of the "victorius" tribe will live on in something like "The Lives of Others".

Naturally, none of the tribes study history, so they are absolutely certain that if THEY win, they will do it "right" this time!

Sullivan, Intersectionality

Is Intersectionality a Religion?:

I find Andrew Sullivan to be an extremely interesting thinker. I'm guessing the number of people that agree with him on even a majority of his thoughts approximates zero, somewhat because of the variance and originality of his thinking, somewhat because it has a tendency to move around a lot.

In this article he points out the obvious similarities in methodology between Intersectionality, Trumpism, and religion. He has a tendency to provide comfort to almost none -- which is pretty standard for direct intellectual critique. The whole article is worth reading, but I found this to be the heart.

Then this: “Science has always been used to legitimize racism, sexism, classism, transphobia, ableism, and homophobia, all veiled as rational and fact, and supported by the government and state. In this world today, there is little that is true ‘fact.’” This, it seems to me, gets to the heart of the question — not that the students shut down a speech, but why they did. I do not doubt their good intentions. But, in a strange echo of the Trumpian right, they are insisting on the superiority of their orthodoxy to “facts.” They are hostile, like all fundamentalists, to science, because it might counter doctrine. And they shut down the event because intersectionality rejects the entire idea of free debate, science, or truth independent of white male power. At the end of this part of the ceremony, an individual therefore shouts: “Who is the enemy?” And the congregation responds: “White supremacy!”
Ah, "facts", one of the toughest questions in one of the toughest areas of philosophy -- epistemology. How can a being who can not explain the operation of their own (self assumed) "intelligence" be relied upon to explain anything else?

It is a topic often returned to in the blog -- look for entries with religion or philosophy and especially both as tags and you can follow the trail of this chimera -- I rate the best and most reachable place to start as "The Reason For God".

Sullivan was heavily influenced by Michael Oakeshott, yet another author that I have barely sampled and seek to become more familiar with.

'via Blog this'

Political Tribes, Group Instinct And the Fall Of Nations

Found the subject book by Yale professor Amy Chua to be a quick,  easy, and worthwhile  read. It seems such a perfect book to show up just as I'm closing Moose Tracks.

On page 40-41 she does a good job of quickly covering the basic science that we already know -- "our brains are hardwired to identify, value, and individualize in-group members, while outgroup members are processed as interchangeable members of a general social category".

"Humans aren't just a little tribal. We're VERY tribal and it distorts the way we think and feel".

"The key to ethnic identity is that it is built around the idea of shared blood; ... For most human beings, the family is primal".

Readers of this blog know all that, and they also know why destruction of the family is key to destruction of a culture!

She wisely spends a lot of the early part of the book discussing the US inability to recognize tribalism in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Venezuala. I was completely unaware of the degree to which the Vietnamese had been fighting against a Chinese minority that owned most of the wealth of Vietnam for a thousand years -- and we ignored that fact.

On page 46 she introduces the critical idea of a "market dominant minority" which the Chinese were in Vietnam, and are in Indonesia today: "in Indonesia the Chinese comprise 3% of the population but control 70% of the economy".

At this point it would seem easy to understand where she is headed -- something over 90% of the wealth in the US is controlled by an elite of well less than 10%, with something over half being controlled by a 1% who largely attended ivy league schools, live on one of the coasts in very large cities, and share a set of establishment values at odds with the have-nots of any color -- Asian, Hispanic, Black, White, etc.

Pretty much, she doesn't go there -- she goes to race.

On 166 she says "The Left believes that right-wing tribalism -- bigotry, racism -- is tearing the country apart. The Right believes that left-wing tribalism -- identity politics, political correctness, is tearing the country apart. They are both right."

From 21-33 she asserts that we became a "super-group" in "1965" after the Voting Rights Act, and defines a super-group on page 22 to be "a group in which membership is open to individuals of any background, but at the same time binds it's members together with a strong,  overarching, group transcending collective identity". To the extent she defines that "identity", it is "The American Dream" ... simplified to the idea that everyone can economically surpass their parents.

What she doesn't focus on much is that Christianity as the prototype super-group -- the strong overarching goal is serving Christ and others, and everyone, regardless of background is a "blood brother/sister" in the blood of Christ. Galations 3:28 "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Obviously, her objective is a SECULAR super-group, which she thought the US had from 1965 to the election of Barack Obama. She notes as I have on previously page 165 that 1965 was also the year when an historically unprecedented wave of immigration, much of it non-white,  started -- this was not an accident. The elites at that point felt that America was too slow to change, so they would just change the population. Brilliantly, they also told us that Americans should avoid having children because world hunger was the "end of the world issue" of that day, similar to "climate change" today.

On page 181, she spots a little problem with identity politics ... "The demand is not for incluson within the fold of universal humankind ... nor is it for respect "in spite of" one's differences. Rather, what is demanded is respect for oneself as different."

So much for "everyone being created equal" -- try each individual being "evolved" different and special, AND demanding to be SPECIALLY respected for being different! Everyone a star! Sacrifice? Tolerance of those who do not share your particular differenc?

Not the values of identity politics!

She spends a good deal of time on things like "The Prosperity Gospel", "Sovereign Citizens", the WWE, NASCAR and a few other things to it is not clear what end -- something like a few on the left doing a "Safari to America" after Trump was elected. Clearly she, being on the left, would like to focus on the tribalism on the right.

 By the most scary estimates the FBI or the Southern Poverty Hate  Center" could come up with were "as many as" 300K members of apparently highly feared "Sovereign Citizens" ... I'd never heard of them, I've never met one even though I'm a denizen of gun clubs and crazy conservative meetings. Apparently no web site exists for this dangerous group ... was expired. There were LOTS of web hits on how much of a threat they are however. It's on the Internet, it must be true.

Would NPR listeners be a "tribe" like "NASCAR"? Since I'm a regular "spy listener", I'd certainly say so -- very much a secular humanist world view with recent movement toward "intersectionality". How about BLM? At a minium, they seem to have a lot more web presence than the fearsome "Sovereign Citizens". Amy is right about tribalism ... even if you DO have a transcendent value beyond your tribe, seeing your OWN tribe is HARD --  we just assume our own tribe is just the normal, reasonable, decent, intelligent people!

So once we had a country that Amy believes was a secular super-group, a goal of at least hers  -- and then came Obama, the proof of the existence of that super-group, and "poof" it was gone. So how do we get it back now that we are no longer going to have any dominant majority group? However, we will apparently continue to have a very elite coastal ivy league "Market Dominant Minority" of the 1% that own all the wealth?

I'd argue that even with lots of minority problems, we were much more of a sectarian (Christian) super-group than she gave us credit for well before 1965  ... that Federick Douglass could rise to the prominance he did as an ex-slave in the mid 1800's shows that much of the country held merit to be a much greater factor than race even at that time. Something about America -- I'd assert it to be our written Constitution, was enough for people to fight and die for even though we remained far from a "perfect super-group". As she points out, nobody else on the planet even sees that as a goal.

The book is a good survey of the prevalence and problems of tribalism -- it does not in my opinion acknowledge how far the generally Christian Western civilization had risen above tribalism by the apogee of America post WWII 1945 - 1965. It does show that our higher level educated "elite" no longer subscribing to the values embodied in our Constitution, and certainly losing Christianity as a common glue, has resulted in what most students of civilization and culture would assert to be a fully expected descent into tribalism ... Darwin's Cathedral is one post/book that goes into more detail here.

She provides a hugely hopeful story on page 205. A young  Mexican American Yale student, "Giovanni" lived in a poor trailer park in rural Texas near "the Joneses", who were extremely kind to his family. In 2016 he thought that due to their social media posts, they must be "racists". He told the author however, that the "Joneses exemplify a critical paradox that progressives often overlook or dismiss, to their own detriment." Despite their racist attitudes (determined by Giovanni based on social media posts), "they treat our family with nothing but love and respect, in fact, they treat my sister and me to be their adoptive grandkids".

She goes on; "I found Giovanni's story to be striking first because he was talking about racism in a way that is completely taboo among progressives (the group he identifies with). Among progressives, once someone is deemed racist, that's it. You can't talk to them, you can't compromise, and you certainly can't suggest they might be decent people just because they are nice to a few minorities.".

Perhaps Giovanni is an Easter Person (Christian)? Somewhere in his heart might he imagine that his judgement is less than ultimate, and that ALL are redeemable? For me, the saddest part of Hillary's deploreables comment was that she judged them (us?)  "irredeemable". As a Christian, it isn't the Joneses works that make them redeemable -- nor mine, nor anyones. If it were, then Christ would not have needed to die because ultimate redemption would be a matter of meeting some standard of works (vs proper social media posts as judged by "progressives"). "Morality" would  be a matter of "keeping up with the Joneses"!

We have exchanged a dominant culture where all people were at a minimum "redeemable", and at least the standard was that as a practicing Christian we were  bound to not only not judge them, but to even LOVE them! For a "progressive" culture where worth can be judged via social media posts, redemption from such posts is not possible, and such posts define your worth even beyond repeated actions! Giovanni is a rare person -- rare enough for his Yale professor to call out his behavior in not cutting off people that have been kind to his family for years on the basis of social media posts to be an "amazing hopeful sign" in this tribal nation of BOistan!

As I wait for the potential of yet another major spring snow storm, I reflect on where our culture has moved over my lifetime. In my youth and even up to middle age, it was considered wise to believe in a set of transcendent values  that included a created world with a loving God showing us how to live happily not only in this life, but eternally, and feeling gratidude to be blessed to be  living in a nation with a written Constitution, exceptional among all nations on the planet, insuring our right to think and live freely in peace with our neighbors.

We traded that for a world where this short life is all we have, the whole of Western culture is nothing but a terrible tale of oppression, and the avowed purpose of our nation is to insure that there will be nothing recognizeable in the future save "accelerating change" toward an unknown, but promised to be "progressive" future. We are required to believe in this, rather than anything we might see with our own eyes -- lest we be judged "irredeemable deplorables" by the elites driving this "progress". Oh, and "nonbelievers" in the "progressive" mantra are to be pitied -- for it is guaranteed by the elites that the "future beyond the future" is CERTAIN to be even more wonderful! What a brave new world!

Have we not been to this movie before? Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

Why The West Was Won, Victor Davis Hanson

A worthy final book review for the end of Moose Tracks. I regularly have blogged on articles by Dr Hanson who writes regularly for National Review, where I find his thinking always of merit and with whom I am typically in agreement with. The depth and scholarship of this work of 455 pages is amazing, even more so when I look at the giant list of books by Dr Hanson -- although an avid reader, I could spend years just catching up with Hanson's writings, let alone a sampling of the classic writers that he often references.

My lack of any training in Greek or Latin makes many of the historical names difficult for me -- Dr Hanson is one more reminder of my lack of historical and classical education.

The book can be summarized fairly simply -- it is a series of battles that bring to light the way of Western warfare. Hanson argues that because of the relative democracy, freedom and private property rights of Western peoples from Greece onward, the west developed the unique character of attacking in mass with a disciplined and cohesive force, and then pressing the attack until the opposition was no longer able to make war. A world of private property and advancement of personal and family fortunes was the way of the West ... and that made WINNING and STOPPING war a priority!

In a recent case that we are familiar with, Japan never imagined that by attacking Pearl Harbor, the US would declare total war on them with no thought of any "negotiations" to come before unconditional surrender. For the Japanese, and other imperial, "god as emperor/king" cultures, wars had elements of symbolism, martial artistry, "honor", and ritual -- they were not simply about getting the bloody task over with as quickly and efficiently as possible. War was an important part of their very culture.

For the West, no matter how great the slaughter on the battlefield, it was seen as "moral" compared with the mutilation of prisoners, women and children. The culture of the west up to recently was in line with the character in this clip from the unforgiven -- if you want to take the west on in battle, you better arm yourself.

In a slight measure, the book is a response to "Guns, Germs and Steel" which Davis finds to not make it's case -- western armies, even with superior weaponry were defeated by native forces on a number of occasions. Cortez was defeated and barely escaped with his life from Tenochtitlan in the summer of 1520, only to amazingly return and win in the summer of 1521! "Germs" affected both sides. What the non-Western adversaries lacked was the ability to form proper formations and successfully fight using them with discipline and resolve, even when leadership was killed.

The story of Western military dominance according to Hanson is one of strong independent individuals at all levels of the force who are drilled and BELIEVE that staying in rank, maintaining the line, and no running are the ultimate best way to stay alive and WIN. Without democracy and private property, it is not possible for a nation to hold this advantage, even if they purchase Western armaments. Western culture could not be bought ... but unfortunately, as with Rome and Britain before it, it has certainly been squandered.

The section on Midway makes that case exceptionally strong. Yorktown returns from the battle of the coral sea to Honolulu heavily damaged with repair estimates of 3-6 months. Admiral Nimitz says he MUST have Yorktown at Midway, and he himself is in hip boots under the hull assessing damage before the dry dock is even drained. Because of the ability of the American workers to operate  without close supervision and know exactly what needed to be done, they worked around the clock and she steamed out of the harbor with the last of the workers still finishing up as she headed into battle 68 hours after she came into port!

The Japanese carriers damaged or losing many planes at Coral Sea -- Shokaku and Zuikaku with FAR less severe damage, sat in their repair port of Kure during Midway battle. Reverse this picture, and the US goes up against SIX Japanese carriers with TWO, rather than the 3 on 4 which resulted in the Japanese losing all 4 carriers and thus the initiative in the war only 6 months after their victory at Pearl.

The tales of the battles are detailed and BLOODY -- on all sides. The book gives some real insight into what battle and life was like for soldiers of Greek and Persian empires, the Romans, the Spanish Conquistadors, the British Empire, etc.

While Vietnam and subsequent anti-war protests have possibly weakened the Western resolve to win, and most of all to do it quickly and efficiently, Hanson maintains that as long as democracy, personal freedom and basic private property continue to exist, so will the Western way of war.

Interestingly, the orginianl Star Trek, right during the Vietnam war had an episode called "A Taste of Armageddon" about two civilizations that had been "at war" for a very long time where "attacks" were carried out by computer simulation, casualty figures totalled up, and people filed into "disintegrators" as war casualities -- very tidy, no loss of costly infrastrucure. When the Enterprise is computer "collateral damage", Kirk decides to give them the option to negotiate or engage in real actual very messy war.

A worthy read if you want to know about western military tradition and some of the key battles of history.

Billy, Not Bill, Graham

I have been derelict in commenting on the passing of Billy Graham. I always hated being called "Billy" myself ... proof that I lacked the humility of Rev Graham. It is fitting my Bible reading has just taken me through Joshua, so I've been reading a lot of Moses, the most humble man in the OT, having been offered the chance to be the new Abraham by God multiple times, as God sought to destroy Israel and raise up a new nation with Moses as the father. And each time, Moses talked him out of it. (which is one of my favortie things to ponder relative to God, God being willing to have his mind changed by mere man)

On the Red Rocks link, you should find the sermon that one of their ministers did honoring Rev Graham.  Red Rocks mission statement is "Making Heaven More Crowded", which was what Billy was up to as well. I'll let you know there is a really nice surprise at the end of the sermon that adds more to understanding the humility of Billy Graham -- it's your present for listening to the sermon, and I found to be a good one.

The NY Times piece is about what you would expect -- they wanted Billy Graham to be a social justice warrior for their view of what that concept might be, rather than preaching Jesus Christ crucified  to make Heaven more crowded. The NY Times mission is about creating a "heaven on earth" built to their own exacting specifications for "heaven". They closed their article as followes ...

The memory of Mr. Graham is rightly honored by those who shared his values and the goals for which he mobilized evangelical Christianity. But the rest of us can surely be forgiven if we remember him differently.
In a Christian civil society, we could honor and even love people who we disagree with while living, let alone when dead. We are admonished not to judge them while they live, and certainly once  the ultimate judge is taking care of judgement, we can honor even those who had many values that we disagreed with.

Martin Luther King Jr was a conservative Republican Christian minister who fought for civil rights, and who was a friend of Billy Graham, including joining him to speak at a Crusade in NY in 1957., The following quote is from the Washington Post, supporting MLKs conservative bonafides. I suspect even the NY Times, while they would no doubt do their best to re-write the "conservative Chrisitian, Republican" part of MLK's legacy, would still praise him more than his co-worker with Christ, Billy Graham.
“My friends,” Dr. King said in his Detroit sermon, “all I’m trying to say is that if we are to go forward today, we’ve got to go back and rediscover some mighty precious values that we’ve left behind. That’s the only way that we would be able to make of our world a better world, and to make of this world what God wants it to be. . . .”

Billy certainly would love to see ALL "the rest of us" forgiven, however the forgiveness that counts is from God, and that requires that we humble ourselves to God, not saying that we can "surely be forgiven". When judgemental language shows up in our DBT class, we sometimes refer to this ...

Christ also had VERY little to say about the Roman Empire, which was not all that much of a "kinder and gentler" sort of government. Christ and Dr Graham agreed that the important kingdom is "not of this world" --- eternity makes the mere lifetime of the universe ( 14 billion years so far, maybe 5 to go ) into one of those milli, micro, pico, femto. plank kinds of parts of a second that are way too short for us to register.

As a personal aside, by an odd happenstance, I stood and talked to Billy Graham's future daughter in-law as she was wearing her "slip" -- talk about "old times"!  A "slip" was a piece of women's clothing that a woman would wear over her other undergarments, basically a "white sun dress". As I stopped by the shared apartment to pick up the woman who would eventually introduce me to my wife (she was getting ready, imagine that!), one of her roommates stood and chatted with me, but seemed to be getting more and more red / flustered.

Those that know me are aware that I talk "easily" and my degree of being "observant" could be better. She finally blushingly tittered "I'm just wearing my slip" and ran off! ... not that it mattered, but this was a house of really conservative Christian women. She later went on to marry one of Billy's sons ... I'm not certain which. Sometimes memorable things happen while "waitin on a woman". In over 30 years of marriage, it is something I have some experience with ..

Many Baptist Churches were broken up by Billy Graham. The reason is because Billy was pretty much willing to stand on a stage with anyone -- no matter how liberal their theology, and all Christian churches have some level of "separation", a very tricky topic. I tend to see all of human life as having AT LEAST two ditches, and we are to seek to "drive" (live) on the road. Living in any ditch means that we have fallen into the perils of one side or the other. Being on "the way", means we are following Christ, however it is narrow.

In one ditch,  we have the problem of  separation / law  -- if there isn't anything different about Christians, then how will anyone know you are Chrisitan?  Matt 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet."

In the other ditch, we have the problem of legalism -- a problem that we could quote MANY verses on, and Christ himself was WAY harder on than sin --  go read the "7 woes" in Matthew 23 for one example of just how hard. It seems the "worse ditch" is this one based on our pride, and the idea of personal "virtue". Satan fell because of pride, Judas failed to repent because of pride, and it is pride that leads to unbelief that is the unforgiveable sin.

While the essence of Christ and therefore, practicing Christians, is to love and to serve, this ditch says that "our church / tribe / world view / ideology / etc" has it "right / correct / smart / just / etc" and WE must put others in "judgement / separation / punishment / isolation / etc".

As Christ said to the rich young Jewish ruler in Luke 18:19 "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone."

For Christians, this would seem to preclude our judgement of ourselves as "good". Dangerously, outside of Christ, men find their views to be superior and thus "good".  Even when those they disagree with leave this mortal coil, they still find them not worth of honor since they didn't share THEIR values.
The way of Billy Graham was one of humility, as was that of Martin Luther King Jr and Jesus. How does man find humility outside of Jesus?

What Does It All Mean? The Beginning of the End

This post starts the final series of posts for Moose Tracks. Some of the remaining are just "standard posts", however I made a promise to end the blog, and I didn't want anyone watching to see posts keep dribbling out -- the end should show up virtually at the same time as this series.

There are over 4600 posts in the blog, so I'm the not a moose of few words. In conversation however, I have often summed up the meaning of it all with the stolen anecdote, "Jesus loves me, this I know". Here is the proof of that oft repeated anecdote.

According to the best accounts of the incident I have heard (many have taken on weird additions), Karl Barth was at Rockefeller Chapel (really a Gothic cathedral!) on the campus of the University of Chicago during his lecture tour of the U.S. in 1962. After his lecture, during the Q & A time, a student asked Barth if he could summarize his whole life’s work in theology in a sentence. Barth allegedly said something like “Yes, I can. In the words of a song I learned at my mother’s knee: ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” That is the simple, unadorned story. Many tellers have adorned it with additions of their own (in sermons, etc.).

Karl Barth is considered by many to be the most important theologian of the 20th Century. Life is short, eternity is long -- it's good that the truly important things are simple! There is nothing simpler nor more profound than "Jesus loves me, this I know".

What did the Jesus who loves us have to say about what is important? Matthew 22:37-40

7 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

God, Family, Friends, Vocation, and Study are where my life focus remains as I close on the age of 62 this fall. 

The solo trip that I took on the Wing back in 2104 was something that I enjoyed putting on the blog -- the final entry from that trip is "I Hold On".  It was an advanture that I was blessed to be able to have. It was not profound, it was self centered, it served no purpose but being a fun adventure. I believe life is more than that, however having such things in your life can make it a little richer. If our life is "about fun", that is a concern. It does not however make "having fun" wrong! To everything there is a season!

As long time readers know, I love putting in little song or video clips in the blog. I like doing it mostly because it anchors sometimes nebulous or dry information in a modern idiom at least for me. It is also one of those things that we CAN do with a lot of ease in a digital blog medium that is not possible on the paper printed page.

The most profound work I read in the last year was "The Divine Conspiracy" by Dallas Willard, while the most daunting was "The Secular Age" ... both of them relate to the same common theme that I return to again and again. The conviction of my soul that this "stuff", this mere matter is not all there is, and the dull dread that if Western civilization continues it's fall from Metaphysical Realism to Nominalism, there will be nothing left for Christians to do but to hide out to maintain a remnant in some sort of "Benedict Option".

And so the end begins.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Power Of Now, Eckhart Tolle

I'm guessing that I read this book for the first time in like 02-03. I remembered it, found it interesting, but very very off the wall and impractical at that time.My copy exists somewhere in the manifested universe (as opposed to the unmanifested (spiritual)), but I could not find it, so I manifested a new paperback version from Amazon to lend to someone that I believe it might resonate with.

When I first read it in I found Tolle to be "From a Galaxy Far Far Away". Fast forward past a number of personal and family crisis, meditation, lots of more mystical (and ancient) Christian teachings and DBT (especially Mindfulness), and it seems a good deal less "out there" ... perhaps "Pluto". Who knows, another couple decades and ....

The statement in the book that resonates most with me is on page 190, "I have lived with several Zen masters, all of them cats." While sometimes I find Tolle taking himself a bit too seriously, that line redeems a lot of mileage for me! One of those masters graces our home today (Ferocious Cabadocious)  -- past masters include Tiger and the ineffible Dobson, sometimes fearsome sage of terrible wisdom.

His best philosophic statement is on 15; "The philosopher Descartes believed he had found the most fundamental truth when he made his famous statement: "I think, therefore I am". he had in fact given expression to the most fundamental error: to equate thinking with Being, and identity the real YOU with your mere thoughts that have far less substance than passing clouds.

If you can learn to sit quietly, observing your breath, and as your mind chatters incessantly, and and you merely OBSERVE IT -- do not judge it (and don't judge the judging which will certainly happen to some degree, at least for a time)!

Treat your chattering mind gently, like a puppy or a toddler -- ACKNOWLEDGE what thoughts are flowing by, and calmly return to focusing on your breath.You will experience Descartes error.

 If you are a "natural", after a "few times", the chatter will slow and you will EXPERIENCE that you are NOT YOUR MIND!!! You HAVE a mind, and a body, and emotions -- but they are not YOU. YOU are spirit ... or consciousness if you prefer.

It is a great way to debunk one of the greatest minds in history in a slightly more metaphysical version of Dr Johnson's "Appeal to the stone".

If you are an UNnatural like me, that experience may take like "100" tries -- the early ones being Panic Attacks, or near so, with LOTS of mind shouting, THIS IS ***NOT*** working! This is stupid!  Satanic!  insane! dangerous! a waste of time!  etc, etc

We Westerners tend to live in and identify with our minds -- it is where our ego resides. My mind was nearly my only residence for my whole IBM career and a few years after. I agree that the EXPERIENCE of being a little "i am' watching your breath, your mind and your emotions is significant, and to a degree "transcendent", possibly even "enlightening" with a very little "e", but I find that Tolle oversells anyway -- much in the same manner as a lot of other marketing.

I'm NOT saying that he is "lying" ... he may well completely believe in all he says. He IS after all Oprah Approved!,  so marketing or truth, it has certainly worked. My advice would be to try DBT first -- it has a lot more research and science behind it, however if Tolle speaks to you, go for it. Scotch, Bourbon, Irish, Canadian ... it's all Whiskey (or Whisky, hard to agree on anything!)

Oh, and getting out of your mind isn't quite enough -- the "real you", the spiritual you, must learn to live in full acceptance of NOW ... this moment and ONLY this moment which is where we ALWAYS exist, AS IT IS! Not as you wish it, believe it "should be", etc, etc. It is here you stand to have the leverage to change the future -- or decide NOT to change the future. The past? Well, the past you are not going to change no matter how much you invest in it. In DBT, we call that Radical Acceptance.

p154, "If you stop investing it with "selfness", the mind loses it's compulsive quality, which is basically the compulsion to judge, and so resist what IS, which creates conflict, drama and new pain." ... a little farther on, "... the greatest catalyst for change in a relationship is complete acceptance of your partner [or anyone you deal with] as he or she is, without needing to judge or change them in any way."

The best reason for doing that is because the nearly 100% probability is that you CAN'T change that other person! You might bludgeon them physically or emotionally into "compliance", however unless THEY wanted to change (or they are already less "living in their minds" than you), you will only create pain and damage.

Just as in DBT, many people take this all as "giving up", or "not caring'. Not so -- in fact, you nearly MUST be outside of your mind to actually care, because otherwise, pretty much all you are doing is feeding your own ego. Your mind will continue to have lots of thoughts on lots of things -- you can share them, talk about them, carry signs for them, etc, you will just realize that they are not YOU. You are MUCH more than those things!

YOU are "not of this world" ... you have no reason to invest your ego in this world. In fact, as much as possible, your ego is to be DEAD ... either crucified with Christ, or vanished into Tolle's "unmanifested'. Your ego is your mind talking -- it's your "old address' ... like "666 Gray Matter Parkway", vs "The Now, The Kingdom of Christ -- Infinity Drive'.

While Tolle either believes, or simply wants to maximize his audience, he tries to make this book accessible to any or no religion  -- although on this read, I was surprised by how much semi-New Testament he actually does include.

It's a book worthy enough at least to have someone else buy it and lend it to you!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Boundaries, By Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend

This book is one of the highest rated books on the topic of boundaries, and it is very Bible based. I DO recommend the book On page 61 they do the definition:

"Functional Boundaries refer to a person's ability to complete a task, project or job."
"Relational Boundaries refer to the ability to speak truth to others with whom we are in relationship"

Simple, huh?

Due to my contrarian nature, ll start with a critical thought: 

I find the term "boundaries" to be misleading. I understand the reason for the term, and the book does a great job of telling the people that REALLY need to develop some boundaries about how important they are, and how they "should" go about establishing them -- usually putting their foot down, standing 100% firm, and often taking the consequences -- loss of relationship, maybe violence or attempted violence, huge angry outburst, etc.

Obviously, if you are worried about a violent response, the person you are setting this boundary with walking out and never speaking with you again, giant anger, etc, then certainly, you REALLY need "boundaries" -- really best called "walls" in the context the book often talks about. To my mind, a WALL is something put up by one party (like the Berlin wall), and enforced with force -- maybe even "deadly force" as in "comply or this relationship is permanently over".

If I do my version, it will be called "loving contracts", or "good fences make good neighbors", or something of the like. My point is that there is a BIG difference between a neighbor going over to his neighbor and saying "I'd like to put up a fence -- dog issues, kid issues, your 16 year old daughter sunbathing naked is distracting my 13 year old boy, etc ... can we talk together about height, styles, etc over a beer" and you suddenly putting up a 20' lime green monstrosity and telling him "it's on the property line, get over it".

I think they wanted to cover this with page 66, "Don't even try to start setting limits until you have entered into deep abiding attachments with people who will love you no matter what".

Page 156 was important to me. "People don't make other people angry. Your anger has to come from something inside of you". Later; "Problems arise when we make someone else responsible for our needs and wants, and when we blame that person for our disappointments".

Bottom line, we all have to own our feelings -- we are ALL selfish, and we ALL seek to get our needs met by others (and for some needs, have to). In close relationships, that means that we deal with conflicting wants, and we need to NEGOTIATE ... which is much better than slapping up a 20' wall without consulting our "partner'.

Chapter 10, "Boundaries and your Children" needs to be made required reading for those seeking a license for having children. Oh, there isn't such a license? Damn.

"Discipline is an external boundary, designed to develop internal boundaries in our children. It provides a structure of safety until children have enough structure in their character to not need it". Later; "Discipline is not payment for a wrong. It is the natural law of God: our actions reap consequences. Discipline is different from punishment because God is finished punishing us. Punishment ended on the Cross for all those who accept Christ as Savior". 
I grew up on a farm. Hard work was as much a part of life as breathing, and I was a VERY lazy kid -- I still drew breath and worked. I also attended church, often with LOTS of bellyaching -- it was just the way it was. Fast forward to today -- unless parents have the intestinal fortitude to work HARD to insure their children learn responsibility and the fear of God, all bets are off. The Ten Commandments have been removed from most public buildings and certainly from the schools. "Honor your father and mother" is pretty much  considered a matter of discredited "mythology" rather than the only commandment with a promise. "Work" can be nigh on inaccessible at home given "convienience", while the Internet, video games, marketing, social media, etc are INTRUSIVE!

In the middle of 174, "The freedom of the Cross allows us to practice without having to pay a terrible price. The only danger is consequences, not isolation and judgment." .. THANKS BE TO GOD! Paul said in Timothy 1:15 "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst." ... he is right about Christ, he is wrong that he is the worst -- I've won that race in personal failure after personal failure for which I am most grievously at fault,

As I've been able to study more an more theology after retirement, the following becomes more and more clear, and more and more scary -- page 260:

"God gives a choice and allows the people involved to make up their minds. When people say no, he allows it and keeps on loving them. He is a giver. And one of the things he always gives is a choice, and like a real giver, he also gives the consequences of those choices. He respects boundaries." 

We live in a world where many people believe that "someone" or "some thing" can allow radically free choices, yet remove the consequences.  They often believe that their choices OUGHT to be free of consequences. People really "ought" to be able to do whatever they want and never suffer the consequences.

On page 121, the authors provide a ray of hope to those injured by "boundaries" that were really walls or 20' ugly fences with no consultation.

"If you set limits with someone and she responds maturely and lovingly, you can renegotiate the boundary. In addition, you can change the boundary if you are in a safer place". 
It is a worthy book, again, I highly recommend it. Just don't go out and put up a 20' chartreuse fence with your neighbor and expect them to bake you a cake ... and if they do, don't eat it!

Monday, March 12, 2018

The High Conflict Couple, Alan E Fruzzetti, PHD

While this book is written to "couples", it will be of nearly equal value to almost anyone that has conflicts in relationships. In today's world, that has to come very close to 100% of us, with the conflicts generally being more nasty and longer lived.

Since the 1960's we have consistently pushed for each of our views, values, wishes, visions, desires, etc to be of ultimate importance, while the old shared values of "God, Country, Family, Church, Community" are now of much less to often even no importance at all to many.

So there are less shared values, more conflict, and one of the ways that many hope to deal with it is to "ignore it and it will go away' ... I find this paragraph from page to 11 to be as true, direct, and scary as pretty much anything I've read in books of this type:

" Unlike the other patterns, in the engage-distance pattern, there is an imbalence between the partners: one moves one way, the other goes in a different direction. That is one person wants to discuss or pursue a topic and be together, but the other person, at least in that moment, does not want to discuss a topic further, or perhaps not even be together, and instead seeks some alone time. What makes this pattern particularly tricky si that the engager or distancer can start out doing so in either an effective or a constructive way or a more destructive, aversive, or avoidant way, but reguardless, the pattern ends up being a disaster." 
Typically, the "avoider" is conflict averse and  REALLY wants it to "just all blow over", or "maybe things will get better on their own" -- they don't. What it leads to is anger in the relationship ... sooner and later. Anger is a valid emotion -- we all have it. The problem with it in relationships is discussed on page 25  " ... there is a very corrosive aspect to anger in close relationships that often overshadows any possible benefits".

"...feeling angry means having increased negative emotional arousal; this in turn churns out judgements. Judgements then increase arousal, which produces more judgements, which leads to inaccurate and ineffective expression of emotion and desires, which then results in misunderstanding and conflict and rarely leads to effective changes. Thus, angry feelings and angry expressions in close relationships almost always create distance, and distance is the enemy of closeness and intimacy ..."  
Page 46 has even worse news:
"In addition, being together passively can be risky: partners may begin to focus a lot of negative attention on each other inside their own heads, running a list of negative past deeds or anticipated future deeds through their minds, privately judging or criticizing the other,  becoming upset and eventually going on "red alert" waiting for the other to do something and then snapping at him or her ..." 

So what are we to do? The big picture  in the book is "DBT" ... of which I have a website here with lots of videos and charts if you are interested.

DBT goes out of it's way to NOT be "Christianity" -- in fact, it is based on Buddhism. However,  the big messages -- "BE STILL!  ... "BE PRESENT" ... "Observe, do not judge", "ACCEPT", "Let go and let God" (or "release your attachments" in the Budhist perspective) are quite similar.

What is important is for both people in any relationship -- "intimate", or other, to follow the principles of DBT as they discuss issues they have -- hopefully as quickly as possible. More "simmering" just tends to insure that everyone gets at least "scorched", if not fully burned.

DBT is like excercise for your mind and emotions. We ALL have BOTH "Emotional Mind" and "Rational Mind" -- if we practice and observe, we get the gift of "Wise Mind". Modern people tend to spend a lot of time trying to talk reason to people in Emotion Mind (totally useless). Here is a link to these pictures. 

"Why we can't communicate" is because we are speaking different languages. For those of us raised in an era where there were more assumptions that emotions are often invalid, and EVERYTHING can be solved by reason, we can be "very good" (in a scientific lawyerly sense) of "making the case" why the emotional position "loses" -- and usually the relationship is what REALLY loses!

Wise mind is a solution to getting on the same page -- at least one party has to "give" and be willing to take the risk of reaching out, AND often accepting some INvalidation, anger, judgement, etc without "giving as good as you get" ... and thus break the cycle and insert hope.

Wise Mind demands being unhurried, being respectful and non-judgemental. It demands Acceptance -- even of things that we really don't like.  We do not have to LIKE or "agree with" things  to accept them ... we can be a parapalegic for life, radically accept it, and not "like" it! Our son can join a cult that worships space aliens, and we can accept it ... and even validate it "I understand how you find the group you joined to be supportive" without AGREEING with him.

Many in our society even encourage denying acceptance of reality in order to not "normalize" some facet of reality. I really like this video of Marsha Linehan, the creator of DBT on that topic ...

I believe that the book is of "use" without the PRACTICE of DBT, however it is going to be FAR more powerful with a daily practice of at least Mindfulness and Radical Acceptance (Interpersonal Effectiveness and Emotional Regulation are good as well).

Everyone that reads this blog knows that I believe that Christ is what we really need to restore our broken world full of increasingly broken, addicted,  and too often, suicidal people, often at each others throats. For those that are not going to go there, DBT can help -- you may not learn to love your neighbor, or even your spouse, however you are much more likely to be able to tolerate them -- and even yourself.

 Needless to say, I HIGHLY recommend the book, and or course DBT -- I've become somewhat of a zealot on that topic. I'll leave you with this last video -- there are many more out on the DBT Site link above.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Back When Entertainers Were Funny And Politicians Laughed Together

I'm on too many lists and too many people send me stuff ... I really enjoyed this. I used to think my folks were completely dim when they talked of "the good old days". They may have been ... and that just means I'm just as dim now. In case you are wondering, he DOES juggle as well as do comedy.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

NPR, Straight Up Gridiron

At Gridiron Dinner, Trump Trades Jabs With His 'Opposition Party' : The Two-Way : NPR:

 This is worth a read -- I'd rate it 100% down the middle straight up unbiased reporting from NPR. I complain when I see them as telling us how to think vs reporting, I need to applaud them when I see them doing well.

My belief is that some of the major fault our general modern glumness is the 24x7 news stations where everything is "Special Report", "The Crisis in ... (our minds?)", "ALERT!" ...

We are on this rock for "three score and 10" give or take, and pretty much ALL of us take ourselves WAY too seriously for WAY too much of that time. At least by age 60, we have all generally had broken parts of our body, our lives, our plans, our dreams and lots of embarrassing, even humiliating experiences ... social, medical and otherwise. My belief is that one of the tasks the Good Lord gives  us in this life is to realize that ALL of it is in the blessing column ... maybe especially the parts that we judge to be "bad".

As Joseph told the brothers who sold him into slavery in Genesis 50:20 "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today."

Or even better (on laughter) ... God promising Sarah she would bear a son in Genesis 18
Then they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” 10 He said, “I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will  have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. 12 Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” 13 And the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?’ 14 “Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” 15 Sarah denied it however, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you did laugh.”
How impossible it is for old Abram becoming "Father Abraham", the root of the Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam? We are created in God's image, so we know that the Lord of all knows and understands laughter.

The linked isn't very long, and "feels nice" ... a flavor:
There was Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a favorite object of Trump's biting comments on Twitter, getting one this time in person: "You know, it's weird, I offered him a ride over — and he recused himself!"
'via Blog this'

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Snow / Cold Batters Europe

Heaviest Snow in Decades Batters U.K., Ireland and the Continent - The New York Times:

Europe is being battered by winter weather ... the UK, snow in Rome, cold on the French Riveara. This is of course WEATHER,

Naturally, this cold and snowy weather is due to ACC  (Anthropogenic Climate Change) the settled science formerly known as AGW ... as is all current weather according to the concept of "settled science".
The cold weather in Britain and northwestern Europe is to some extent a mirror image of the “sudden stratospheric warming” in the arctic, experts say, referring to a disturbance in the polar jet stream that has alarmed scientists and forced some to reconsider even the most pessimistic forecasts for climate change.
 The main science that has been settled relative to climate is that "carbon dioxide determines climate".

The cycles of CO2 in the atmosphere over the last 400K+ years have been determined through looking at air trapped in ice cores from Antarctica. ... you can spend the rest of your life studying ice core data if you are interested ... it all looks similar in some ways -- roughly 100K year cycles of lots of cold and glaciers  punctuated by relatively tiny warm interglacial periods of 10-20K years like the one that we and all of human history are in ... the Holocene.

The when coupled with temperature, the charts certainly show a CORRELATION between temperature and CO2, but as any High School statistician will tell you, correlation is NOT causality -- ice cream sales and drowning deaths are definitely correlated, but that is do to a common causal factor (warm days) rather than one causing the other. The correlation between CO2 and temperature could run either way -- warmer temps release more CO2 from oceans so number goes up, OR "something else" ... more animal life, termites, ocean life, fires, SOMETHING raises the CO2 levels to cause the temperature to rise.

Freeman Dyson and myself are the sort of idiots that point out that unless one postulates past human carbon burning civilizations at roughly 120K BC, 240K BC, etc, warming can clearly happen without human causes, so ACC is WAY short of an "explanation".

There is however one rather large object 93 million miles away that just possibly might have some effect on temperature cycles on earth. Strangely, that object ALSO appears to have variation in it's output and we are heading into a projected 500 year low in solar output.

From the linked article quote above, it is clear that climate scientists ASSUME that warm temps at the N pole show that we are still warming. Since the N pole is ocean, the best we can hope for as a proxy is cores from Greenland -- interestingly, it appears that the oldest core data from Greenland is only aout 150K years old  ... meaning that when it gets as warm as it did in the last interglacial, the ice on Greenland melts.

Since record keeping humans have never lived through the ending of a warm period, the LONG period of cold and continental glaciers, followed by the start of a new warm period in 100K years or so, my assertion is that the ONLY thing about climate that is actually "settled" is a lot like what is settled about the Stock Market ... "it fluctuates".

While everyone else is apocalyptic about the perils of a few degrees of extra warmth, I've long had a fascination with what it will be like the next time the planet leaves the interglacial we are in now and enters a new glacial. My best guess is that the  weather will fluctuate wildly and we will begin to see more events like what we see in Europe right now -- in my mind, solar output is likely a LARGE factor, along with ever greater and longer lasting snow cover on the continents. For a good long while, the oceans might actually remain or even increase in warmth -- thus keeping the N pole ice free while the continents start to develop larger and larger continental glaciers.

When I was in college in the '70s, concern about an upcoming ice age was the primary "climate issue", although it was much more a pure science discussion ... the ice core data shows that we SEEM to be "overdue" for an ice age, however, given the length of these cycles, we don't really know if the last "million years" are "typical" relative to frequency and length of glacials / interglacials. Geologists think we have been in an "ice age" for the last 60 million years or so, meaning that there is SOME ice on the planet, which there isn't in the truly warm periods.

Although it will no doubt make a LARGE change in human life on the planet, I must admit that even though it would certainly be WAY more challenging than warming, living through something like the "Little Ice Age" where lakes in this part of the world stayed mostly frozen year around ... back in 2014 we had ice floating around Lake Superior in the middle of June ... events like that and this one in Europe fit my idea of what early cooling might look like.

Other than my religious faith, I tend to enjoy things that are NOT "settled"!

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Friday, March 02, 2018


Depth Of Russian Politician's Cultivation Of NRA Ties Revealed : NPR:

I'm old enough to remember when breathless NPR reporting on the superb conditions inside the USSR was a standard -- it was important at that time for Americans to recognize the benefits of the Soviet system, especially for labor -- May Day was an important holiday, a day for "Workers of the the world to unite!".

Connections between the USSR and international labor unions were well known and well understood ... the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) as well as other other union organizations regularly and openly interacted and openly declared their goals to be "communist".

As an aside, I have been attempting to listen to the audio book version of "Enlightenment Now" by Steven Pinker on my travels of the past couple weeks. Pinker is at far reaches of atheist scientism, however because his "rule" is numbers, he finds the fall of communism was a gigantic boon to mans well being.

“The collapse of communism and a recognition of its economic and humanitarian catastrophes took the romance out of revolutionary violence and cast doubt on the wisdom of redistributing wealth at the point of a gun.” (Pinker)
It will be interesting to see how the various leftward forces of socialism and environmentalism shake out on Pinker's paean to "it's the best time to be alive!" Sure we are dying soul-less chemical reactions in an entropic universe, but hey, science shows you how to grab for all the gusto you can in ways never before dreamed in human history!

Just because society threw away the old morals doesn't mean it is that easy to come to agreement on new ones ... as the linked review of the book makes very clear.

The "proper NPR view" on Russia has certainly changed since 2012 when BO chided Mittens that "the 1980's called and wanted their foreign policy back". Mittens mistakenly thought Russia was an adversary, BO had to condescend to let him know they were now wonderful allies (2012) ... and must have still been in 2013 when Russia became a "diplomatic ally in Syria" as BO's "Red Line" on chemical weapons was "enforced" via Assad receiving a stern talking to from the Russians. It was also 2013 when the Clinton Foundations receipts of 10's of millions of dollars resulted in the consummation of the Uranium One deal, providing Russia with 20% of the N American uranium reserves.`

One would need a scorecard to keep track of approved NPR attitude toward the Russian Bear if you assumed they were a "news" vs a political organization. So far, given my assumption  that NPR is an arm of the Democrat Party, it is pretty easy -- interaction with Russia approved by, or benefiting a Democrat? Interaction positive, no problem!

Any form of interaction with Russia by Republican? "Collusion", very likely treasonous.

I'm guessing that since NASA is part of the Administrative State, and since the Administrative State retains it's war footing with Trump, the planned launch of BOistan Astronauts to the ISS this summer will meet NPR's test for legitimate interaction with Russia ... as long as Trump doesn't comment on it!

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Benedict Option, Rod Dreher

Link to The Benedict Option, "A strategy for Christians in a post-christian nation".

About 1/3 of the way through the book I realized that I had read another book by Rod Dreher, "How Dante Saved My Life". I enjoyed that book, and my wife actually enjoyed and made it through it as well, which is RARE for "Moose Books". I hope to blog on that book in the future as well, however this one is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL for anyone who believes that they are a Christian to read.

Rod agrees with me, and I think millions of Christians in the US that we are officially and totally in a post-Christian nation, as well as post Western civilization. This is a new "Dark Age", and as St Benedict, born in 480 decided sometime around 500 as he journeyed to the shadow of once great Rome, now ruled by barbarians, it was time to found a "remnant" to keep the core of the faith, which he did at Norica, and in his "Rule of St Benedict".

As Dreher says; "Professing orthodox biblical Christianity on sexual matters is now thought to be evidence of intolerable bogotry, Conservative Christians have been routed. We are living in a new country" ... one which I label as "BOistan", but the label makes no difference, it is a barbarian nation.

On page 154, Rod quotes from Phillip Reiff: "Barbarians are people without historical memory. Barbarism is the real meaning of contemporaneity. Released from all authoritative pasts, we progress towards barbarism, not away from it.".  I've covered this fact a number of times ... "Closing of the American Mind", "Ideas Have Consequences", and others. Technology is not "advancement", it is just giving monkeys nuclear weapons without theology, philosophy and history. The beginning of wisdom is humility ... and barbarians have none of that!

One of the topics that is explained very well in this book is nominalism, as opposd  to metaphysical realism (see pages 26-29). Metaphysical realism tells us that EVERYTHING that is created has MEANING -- as Charles Taylor would say "It is Enchanted" ... or in philosphical terms "teleological".

This ought not be so hard for us to understand today ... one by one, from phones, to watches, to locks on doors, to thermostats, to labels on products (RFID), more and more of our "objects" have built in "smarts", and are often even "connected". Does it REALLY seem so "magical" that an all powerful God can and does imbdue his creation with sacred meaning ?

Well, everyone thought that was reality up until William of Occam in the 1300s. Strangely, Occam thought he was "letting God off the hook" because being linked with his meaningful universe of laws "limited him" ... so Bill (William) decided that the Christian God was to be like the Muslim "god" ... able to call evil good and good evil at his whim -- an issue covered really well (and a bit ironically) in a great book based on a speech by Pope Benedict, "The Regensburg Lecture".

Occam convinced the west that "matter is just matter" -- it has no meaning except that imposed from outside it, so "parts is parts" ... matter (including life) only means whatever we decide -- and as we became atomized individuals, each supposedly "the measure of all things", we arrived at; "my view is just as good as yours" and of course I think BETTER, so I'll call it whatever I want -- cells, tissue, a baby, etc ... it's ALL UP TO ME!

This book is WAY too rich for me to cover the MANY great points that are well made, so a couple key points ...

  • We are in a post-Christian, post-virtue post-civilization age. A "dark age", likely to be FAR worse than the previous one. The World Wars and the Holocaust are likely just "warm ups" -- the ONLY thing our "culture" worships is gratification of the self!, and that has never ended well.
  • "To live "after virtue", then is to dwell in a society that not only can no longer agree on what constitutes virtuous belief and conduct, but also doubts that virtue exists. In a post-virtue society, individuals hold maximal freedom of thought and action, and society itself becomes a collection of strangers each pursuing his own interests under minimal constraints". (p16)
  • People feel they MUST "do things" ... have an affair, have a same sex relationship, etc because they would not be "true to themselves" if they did not. "It is in carnal desire that the modern individual believes that he affirms his individuality. The body must be the true 'subject' of desire because the individual must be the author of his own desire". (p43) 
In the end, this book also gives us at least the start on a "blueprint" to save Western civilization. We don't need to worry about saving Christianity ... God will do that. It just may well not be in "the west' -- as I increasingly believe from books like "The Divine Conspiracy". 

God REALLY means that we have free will! He is NOT going to be giving this or any other generation any huge "signs" to save us -- he gave us Christ and the Bible, as well as his divine and teleological creation pregnant with meaning. If we seek him, we WILL find him -- because as long as we are not actively turning our back on him as our current civilization is, it is absolutely not his will that ANY should perish -- UNLESS THEY ABSOLUTELY WANT TO! ... and it seems abundantly clear that the bulk of the people in the west DEARLY want to perish on their own terms, and in many cases, as rapidly as possible! 

I'll reluctantly close with this from page 234 ... 

"The mind of technological man cannot resist his heart's desires, because he has been trained by his culture not to question them. .... The Christian must rebel against this. The only impregnable fortress is metaphysical, the conviction that meaning transcends ourselves and is grounded in God. There are boundaries beyond which we cannot go if we want to live." 

We Christians need to build a lot of small communities following something like the Rule of St Benedict. Please read this book, contact me, and let's try to be the leaven ... Dreher gives us many ideas on on existing heroes of God already doing this work.