Saturday, November 29, 2008

Having noted a pattern I have recently set down in no small detail (and that I have every intention of following on this humble weblog), here is another of the poems written earlier this year. Unlike an eight line stanza variation posted recently, this one a haiku but like the aforementioned poem, I had to use someone else's last line as the first line of my own poem. Without further ado...

dreaming sets you free
dont tell the government lest
they tax your slumbers
[Written on 2/13/08]

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skipping through rain drops
have you ever seen the rain
John Fogarty asked
[Written on 11/29/08]


Points to Ponder:

Habits of mind or of a person's general disposition take time to form and they are thus not going to change as quickly as we might like them too. But if the right approach is set down in advance and a proper strategery undertaken, the odds of success will be much greater in whatever the area of intended improvement happens to be. Just keep in mind the determination that you will succeed at whatever your goals are and do not let setbacks be anything but temporary delays.[Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa January 2, 2006)]

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

On Thanksgivings Present and Past and What We Are Thankful For Now:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

As it sits right now, I have been sidetracked with my post election commentary though a significant revisiting of a key subject was recently issued{1} which will now be able to only briefly be touched on when that commentary is finished and ready for posting. It is an important issue most certainly but with Thanksgiving upon us, it seems appropriate to touch at least briefly on this and to mention the tradition of Thanksgiving presidential proclamations as well as reflect upon what we are thankful for here at Rerum Novarum. I noted briefly last year the first such proclamation as issued by President George Washington in 1789 and how often it referenced Almighty God; in fact, before moving onto what I want to do this year I need to revisit what I wrote last year on the matter so without further ado:

I also want to remind readers of President George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789. It is not that long a text indeed the previous sentence contains a link to it. But notice if you will how many references in the text are to God -fourteen in three paragraphs counting the signature of President Washington on a public act of the President of the United States. So those of you who are buying into that canard about the so-called "separation of church and state"[...] which has been paraded about in recent decades that dog will not hunt. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa November 22, 2007)]

This matter will be revisited later in the present posting but first I want to muse a bit on the subject of Thanksgiving and how my views on it are different this year than in any year of the millennium thus far.

To start with, it may come as a surprise that I have not written much on Thanksgiving at this weblog during its existence and not because of a lack of things to be thankful. However, on several fronts in recent years there has been no shortage of obstacles impeding my having a genuine sense of thankfulness by my own admission -areas I have gone over at times before but will simply note here briefly before moving on with these musings. Essentially, every Thanksgiving since 2000 was one where I had some anger at God for what had been taken from me that year or the previous one -though in the case of the one from 2000 it was looking back the best of a bunch{2} spanning from rotten to defective for a long time with the worst of the bunch (by far) being the one from 2001 which in so many ways was the worst year of my life.

And despite wishing readers a Happy Thanksgiving in 2002, I was not feeling thankful myself for that year or the previous one. 2003 was a little bit better year indeed on some levels that Thanksgiving was surprisingly pleasant as I noted at the time but it was still somewhat defective. 2004 was ok all things considered -I was too busy writing a post-election commentary at the time to comment on that year's celebration. (I note it here because it contains elements of the subject covered in more detail in the first footnote of this posting.)

I do not remember much about the one from 2005 because it was overshadowed with the news of my childhood best friend's passing away and that was something that will forever mar that year as far as I am concerned. 2006 was a pretty decent Thanksgiving -certainly the best one since 2003- I did not write on it at the time but it was spent at my sister's place eating food and playing board and card games. And last year's Thanksgiving was okay though it was marred a bit by my missing of one of my best friends who had recently exited my life.{3} That particular Thanksgiving also happened to be not long after I had finally decided definitively what I was long musing on insofar as a goal I wanted to attain{4} and making more solid efforts to go about it.

I know my friend's departure in the week prior to last year's Thanksgiving was the final tripping switch for me but in retrospect, I was moving inexorably towards that point at the time bit by bit. Nonetheless, on the evening of the day she left Seattle, I sat down and drafted in nearly one take the lions share of the blog posting which I later put up on the weblog announcing in outline both our intentions as well as the indefinite blogging priorities to be officially implemented at this humble weblog. To quote the pertinent parts of that posting at this time:

Readers may recall that a year and a week ago last Wednesday, we wrote on the subjects of the then-coming year (2007), a bit on foundational presuppositions, on warmer climates and the like. The post itself[...] was far more systematically laid out than the brief description just given but we want to touch very briefly on those key elements here as they play no small factor in what has been prevalent in our mind to a more explicit degree as last year unfolded.[...] They contribute to a proper understanding of what the future of this weblog's activity will involve from this point on in perpetuity...

The idea of living part of the year in a warmer climate[...] as far as being put on track towards being a practical reality took some time to jell into a cohesive plan. Nonetheless, as of roughly July of 2007, the outlines have finally solidified for us to make that desire a reality at some point in the new year.[...]

What has also formulated within the present writer is the steely resolution to make this happen. Little by little, steps have been taken to set that plan into concrete motion including the critical assessing of our current business templates which once everything is taken care of with the state compliance-wise will aid greatly in achieving our intentions in this area. Everything will be overhauled essentially and made a lot more efficient and productive along the lines of what was noted back in an October 2007 weblog post touching on Vilfredo Pareto's principle of economic efficiency. [Excerpts from Rerum Novarum (circa January 11, 2008)]

When those words were written initially, we had decided definitively on what we were going to do but it was not until the following month that a significant opportunity to expedite those goals fell into our lap which enabled us to begin really pushing towards the goal at hand. For one thing, the new business venture required the assistance of one of the few people we trust for key aspects to be tended to; ergo, our friend returned to Seattle to aid in that respect in early February of this year. However, the wheels fell off of that cart later this year when some unexpected and unforeseen disasters took place.

The fallout created a period of drift for my friend and I which required that things be salvaged if the plan was to eventually happen as we both want it to. Towards that end, additional research was conducted by yours truly, and my friend and I put together a completely new plan of action which I eventually had codified into precise steps to facilitate the desired outcome.{5} However, the problem with reformulating the plan was it delayed by at least a year the realization of the goal which when the posting of January 11, 2008 was put up was seen as being about six months in the future.{6}

And though the process itself has had to be shelved temporarily to tend to more immediate matters of importance, it will be resumed before Christmas so that the mission is realized at some point in 2009.{7} So with those factors in mind and how the work we have put into this goal has gotten to the present point, I can actually say I am thankful this year and mean it. The combination of the goals being on target to be achieved is only part of it though, there are others too such as being thankful for good health, etc. Another reason for being thankful in my mind is my reflecting in spare moments the losses of the new millennium and how time has to some extent healed many of the wounds albeit not completely{8} -but significantly enough to where we can have a real appreciation again for many things.

We are thankful for being alive and for the most part remarkably together considering all we have faced in recent years. We are also thankful for family which we still have even those for whom things are not without their tensions. We are thankful for our friends both those of longstanding and those who we have been able to reconcile with after rougher times in years past. And of course we are thankful for being born into and able to live in what is still the greatest nation on earth.{9} And with those feelings of gratitude in mind, I want to return to the subject of presidential Thanksgiving proclamations which was touched on earlier with the revisiting of the first as issued by President George Washington.

President Washington issued a Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789 and another one in 1795 though at the time there was not a fixed national holiday on the matter so they were issued at different times of the respective years.{10} President John Adams issued Thanksgiving proclamations in 1798 and 1799 -presumably the struggles for trying to achieve a peaceful settlement to the Undeclared War with France at the time coupled with a rather bitter election year combined to sour President Adams on making a Thanksgiving proclamation for the year 1800. President Thomas Jefferson was elected that year and for eight years he broke with the precedent of Washington and Adams by not issuing a single Thanksgiving proclamation.

The practice was revived briefly by his successor President James Madison who issued proclamations in late 1814 and early 1815 corresponding to a successful ending to a war that was a near-disaster for the nation's very existence.{11} But presumably because of the great successes of America as a growing nation both in riches as well as power subsequent to 1815, there was not the same perceived need to have days of Thanksgiving. For that reason perhaps, the practice fell into disuse after 1815 and there was not another proclamation of thanksgiving issued by a president until President Abraham Lincoln issued one in 1862 when the nation was at war with itself.

However, President Lincoln was not following precisely in the footsteps of his predecessors with the issuance of such proclamations in 1862 and early 1863 because they were issued giving thanks for specific victories at war rather than for more general blessings of God upon the nation. So strictly speaking, they do not constitute a resumption of the Washington tradition. It was with a second proclamation issued in late 1863 which restarted the annual tradition of such presidential proclamations thanking God for the blessings He has bestowed upon the nation. And with 1864, we have President Lincoln affixing the annual celebration as a national holiday on the last Thursday of November every year which has remained so unto the present day.{12} And I want to close these musings by recalling the 1864 Thanksgiving proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln issued at a time of tremendous struggle for the very soul of the nation; incidentally, many might claim we are at a similar crossroads today. But without further ado...

It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to use new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards. Moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions :

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 20th day of October, A.D. 1864, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-ninth.

May you all have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!!!


{1} Revisiting the Subject of the Underlying Weltanschauung of "Language Control" (circa November 25, 2008)

{2} Looking back though, I would take twenty more Thanksgivings like it compared to the ones I have been through since because it was the last one I spent with my father before he died.

{3} Thankfully she was to return a few months later.

{4} One of the plans for the new year (though not officially a resolution) is to figure out a way to live part of the year in a warmer climate. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa January 2, 2007)]

{5} It will have to be revised and expanded when what is set in place is completed but I have set down in business flow chart format all the required steps as well as the initial costs for start up to get this business operating.

{6} This is a long story and not one I want to go into at the present time.

{7} There is not a precise date for the completion of the plan, only certain financial milestones that need to be met as well as certain target profit goals of the business before the planned move can take place. At a minimum by current projections, it will happen in July of 2009 but it is possible even if what is required to meet that target goal occurs on schedule that we may postpone it a bit longer and leave in September of 2009. (Though if things go at a faster than predicted pace, we are not above shooting for a June 2009 departure though admittedly that would probably not be feasible the way things are looking right now.)

{8} I doubt they ever will completely heal.

{9} I say this despite an acute awareness of the actual (as opposed to the fictitious) historical warts on this country's past.

{10} In October for 1789 and in January for 1795.

{11} I refer here to The War of 1812 which spanned from June 18, 1812 to March 23, 1815.

{12} This year's presidential Thanksgiving proclamation was issued by President George W. Bush on November 21, 2008 and can be viewed here for those who are interested.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Revisiting the Subject of the Underlying Weltanschauung of "Language Control":
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

[Prefatory Note: I decided to handle this matter in its own posting so it does not make my planned election commentary any longer than necessary.]

I have discussed this subject at sundry times and in divers manners in years gone by{1} and have decided the time has come to touch on the matter again. The circumstances are not exactly the same as some of the times I have explicitly{2} gone over this before but the value of timeless principles is that they are admitting of a variety of applications depending on changed circumstances.{3} For that reason, I want to precede the election commentary I am working on with a revisiting of the subject of language control to avoid having to quote large chunks of other postings in that commentary in the form of footnotes.{4}

To start with, I have as long as I can remember resisted being typecast by the many who have tried in one form or another. One reason for this is my views are not easy to categorize into any one "school of thought" in part because while there are degrees of systematization to how I view various issues; there is also a good degree of what could be called "cross-pollination" as a result of the amount of study I have done in my life on a panoply of subjects. But to it seems not a few people, something I have written or a view I would appear to concur with even if only in part is presumed to be my view. This kind of approach is more than a bit deceptive and persons who make such presumptions are thus inexorably wrong and often stunningly so. Or as I have said in a multiplicity of ways over the years including quite recently{5}: similarity is not the same as identity.

What does all of this have to do with "language control" is something probably crossing the minds of many who read these words. Well, for one thing, when you have the combination of seriously misunderstanding someones view coupled with the tendency most people have towards trying to find easy ways to categorize things, it can involve no small degree of miscategorization. And while this would not per se be a problem in and of itself, it can very well be if you also have in the mix those who try to define the terms of categorization in a way to give the impression that those so categorized should have their views{6} dismissed without fair consideration. This is the methodology of the propagandist after all. Any cursory reading of history should open one's eyes to the various ways people can have their humanity reduced in the eyes of others by means of varied forms of propaganda and this does not only apply to totalitarianist viewpoints of the most explicit and horrifying kind. It also applies to those who in a variety of ways fit the bill for what the late Senator Barry M. Goldwater called "those gentler collectivists who ask our permission to play God with the human race" though they do not often merely ask for such permissions anymore.{7}

Such persons will always find a foe in those such as your humble blog host who take seriously not only the concept of ideas but actual ideas themselves and recognize their power both in potentiality as well as actuality{8}, the importance of controlling the terms of identification if you will becomes in my mind pretty self-evident for those who ponder this matter syllogistically.

Or as has been noted on this weblog in years past in various ways{9} engineering of a social nature in whatever area one seeks to do it is always preceded by an engineering of a verbal nature. The reason for this is because in order to engineer things in actuality you first have to engineer them abstractly or in the realm of ideas for everything that is or ever will be starts with an idea. So if engineering requires precedence in the area of verbality before being manifested in actuality, then to fight the former with the greatest likelihood of success you must take a stand on the latter.

Because the moment we allow those who would seek to enslave us to coin their own terminology in reasonable sounding prose is the moment we give them the pretense of nobility for whatever nefarious scheme they are seeking to push onto us. Thus we get euthanasia promoted under terms such as "death with dignity", homosexual liaisons promoted by an attempted hijacking and redefinition of the term "marriage",{10} etc. -all of which provides the cultural wolves the cover of sheep's fleece to cloak themselves in to more easily hoodwink the unsuspecting masses. They want to control the terms of the battle because they can thereby put their opposition at a significant disadvantage positionally. And that is the first step towards putting their God-given rights at risk in reality; ergo they need to be fought positionally and on principles and not be allowed to set the terms for any debate.

This is why I have long said that I will not allow others to control the terms of any subject matter I am involved in{11} and my opposition at times can be pretty strident on this. Even if the subject involved may appear trivial to the casual observer, the underlying issue is where the matter of principle is with me my friends. Hence though the circumstances can differ, the principles behind my actions in a panoply of situations remain unchanged.

To give two examples of seemingly inconsequential subject matters, I was at one point quite strident in battling the attempt to typecast me as a writer of certain theological views characterized as "traditionalist" in nature. I have also steadfastly refused to allow people to caricature me as a Republican or in any way as a spokesman for the outgoing administration of whom I have had nearly as much disagreement with as agreement{12} over the years. Both of these do not seem significant but part of the reason was my concern to try and head off these matters in their most embryonic of stages before things developed further. And while on the former I have been quite successful, the latter has taken a bit more work and I am not so sure "victory" has been achieved there yet though the overall signs have been generally quite positive as I see them. But that is neither here nor there.

The principle I refer to in the above examples also extends to my reasons for demanding at times that users of certain buzzwords define said terms or cease using them altogether as "definitions are the tools of thought" (cf. M. Mentzer); ergo thought cannot be well cultivated in an environment where the words used are not given workable meanings. The failure to do this philosophically leads to what I call rational nominalism{13} which is a form of the epistemological fallacy of solipsism.{14} Theologically this principle manifests itself in what was once misappropriately called modernism.{15}

It also bears noting that often those opposed to a particular view will caricature it in a gross manner and those sympathetic often react to this by seeming to embrace and magnify the caricatured elements both of their own side as well as the other side. I do not and never have liked this kind of polemics{16} because it does not serve the cause of truth well however the latter is perceived by the parties in question.{17} And it does advertise well the lesser angels of our natures when those are the kinds of writings which get the most attention oftentimes to the detriment of ones where serious points of reference are put forward for potentially productive dialogue.

Yes in one sense it is a war of words but as I firmly believe that everything including our very existence as persons started with an idea{18}; ergo principles and ideas are of the utmost importance to me. People have fought for ideas and even died for them since the dawn of time. I do not feel therefore that ideas deserve to be treated as anything less than what they are which is merely the first points of contact with something that is of tremendous power potentially before it can be effectively realized in reality. That makes ideas quite powerful and therefore deserving of our respect in how they are interacted with -certainly a hell of a lot more respect than most people care to accord them in this day and age of increasing barbarity but I digress.


{1} To note some stuff from the archives in past years in order from oldest to most recent pertaining to this subject:

On the Underlying Weltanschauung of Language Control (circa August 30, 2003)

On the Use of Labels -A Rerum Novarum Miscellaneous BLOG Posting (circa August 30, 2003)

On Workable Remedies for Society's Problems -Dialogue With Kevin Tierney (circa March 31, 2004)

[That] I recognize (for tactical or other reasons) certain exceptions is an indicator that there is no such thing as an immutable rule on these matters. There are however principles that construct my rule of discourse if you will and one of them is not ceding to opposing viewpoints the right to define the terms of dialogue. It might sound arrogant but I insist on defining those terms myself or (at the very least) relegating that to a stalemate in finding terms that each party can concur with. It sounds petty but propaganda is a matter of language and perceptions which are generated by images or concepts play a strong role in the matter. I am not saying that I am a propagandist of course[...]; however, as one who knows how propaganda works, I do what I can to not allow myself to be so caricatured by those who disagree with me. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa June 2, 2004)]

Since at least the point in 2004 where the above example was blogged up to the current posting, to my knowledge, all of the examples of my noting this principle in various subjects and circumstances on this weblog have come more from actual implementation of it rather than calling attention to it explicitly as was the case in the other links noted above.

{2} Rarely has it been discussed directly at this humble weblog but often it has been addressed in implicit or less recognizable ways.

{3} [A] subject as a rule needs to be of contemporary significance to be of interest to me in its discussing. This can take many forms including but not limited to (i) something that interests me that I have a reasonable degree of knowledge about which I may not have discussed before and want to discuss for some reason, (ii) that someone emails me on a subject previously discussed and I am predisposed for some reason to discuss it again at or approximate to that time, (iii) contemporary events which provide for the opportunity to in some fashion expound on timeless principles pertaining in some fashion or another to the subject so discussed, (iv) something I recall from reading which is of interest to me at a given moment in time, or (v) a situation whereby some additional threads can be added to the mosaic of subjects which have been of interest to me at various times as a way of further refining through development my views on a given subject matter. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa November 27, 2006)]

{4} I did promise brevity to the extent that would be possible of course which is part of what makes a posting like this an opportune one at the present time.

{5} On "Consequentialism", "Proportionalism", and a Lesson in General Norms of Interpretation, Theological or Otherwise (circa October 6, 2008)

{6} Or should I say, their views in the manner in which they have been often misrepresented by the one doing the categorizing thereof.

{7} No, they have gone from merely asking to do these things to trying through a variety of perversions of law and government to impose themselves onto others to deprive people of their fundamental God-given rights in the name of what they call "progress." As a fundamentally conservative person (but not a fundamentalist: again similarity is not the same as identity), I find this to be appalling but history proves the corruption that power oftentimes has in proportion to the amount it is possessed.

{8} [A]s far as I am concerned, arguing for a position on its intrinsic merits or lack thereof utilizing the tools of reason and logic is a serious business and far too many of a sophistic bent either do not realize this or they fail to take seriously the principle that ideas are serious things.

People have fought for ideas, they have died for ideas, and this has not only not changed in the present but these things still occur. Therefore, what someone is willing to involve themselves in (should they set foot into the arena of ideas) should be focused on primary or serious matters and not secondary or ancillary griping. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa June 28, 2006)]

{9} I for my part want nothing to do with this scuffling nor will I allow others to label me - even if they attempt to do so as a kind of "reference point" in a discussion.[...] Again, I either control the vernacular or we relegate it to a stalemate. The moment I as a rule allow others to do so[...] is the moment that I begin to give control of the arena to someone else. And that my friends is (i) not something I have ever done and (ii) it simply is not going to happen at any time in the future. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa August 30, 2003)]

{10} However, wherever, and whatever pretext one might use in defining this term, the variety of forms marriage has taken since the dawn of time have one constituent element to them that is the same: that marriage is between human beings of the opposite sex. To propose an application to this term of an arrangement that does not involve this constituent element is to do violence to the principle of words meaning things and with a concept that is the root and matrix of civilization itself.

{11} I have always recognized that at times concessions are required in this area, the underlying principle is to control the terms used in the arena of ideas as much as it is possible to do. Or as I noted to Charles de Nunzio when discussing this in the context of so-called homosexual "marriage" back in mid 2004:

[That] I recognize (for tactical or other reasons) certain exceptions is an indicator that there is no such thing as an immutable rule on these matters. There are however principles that construct my rule of discourse if you will and one of them is not ceding to opposing viewpoints the right to define the terms of dialogue. It might sound arrogant but I insist on defining those terms myself or (at the very least) relegating that to a stalemate in finding terms that each party can concur with. It sounds petty but propaganda is a matter of language and perceptions which are generated by images or concepts play a strong role in the matter. I am not saying that I am a propagandist of course[...]; however, as one who knows how propaganda works, I do what I can to not allow myself to be so caricatured by those who disagree with me. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa June 2, 2004)]

{12} Plus that I have not been affiliated with any political party for over a decade now explains my motivations in part with matters of a political nature.

{13} Proposing for Use and Future Definition the Terms "Rational Nominalism" and "Selective Rational Nominalism" (circa October 21, 2007)

{14} Defining the Term "Solipsism" -A Rerum Novarum Miscellaneous BLOG Post (circa February 7, 2004)

{15} I say "misappropriately called" because the term itself has a deeper concept that the presumption of applying it only to the modern age misses the forest for the trees on. (I may go over this another time if asked about it and if I am inclined to want to discuss it at the time but it is one of those factors under the surface which is of no small significance and yet rarely recognized as such -at least explicitly.)

{16} I will not claim to be without fault in this area myself at times in the past of course.

{17} As no one's philosophical. sociological, theological, political, or any other views exist in a vacuum, the foundational presuppositions that people operate from in seeking to perceive what is true can vary and sometimes quite dramatically.

{18} To really take it all down to brass tacks.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Points to Ponder:

If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence, you have won even before you have started. [Marcus Tullius Cicero]