10.11.2014

10-11-2014 | Sunday Sermonette



"Because he is riveted to the news, the citizen rejects the truly fundamental problems, remaining attached exclusively to outmoded and useless terms and images such as 'Right and Left,' 'capitalism and communism,' and really believes that the fundamental political problems are located."

-- Jacques Ellul, The Political Illusion

9.28.2014

09-28-2014 | Sunday Sermon

"For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath." - Mark 4:25



The poor man, on the contrary, is ashamed of his poverty. He feels that it either places him out of the sight of mankind, or, that if they take any notice of him, they have, however, scarce any fellow-feeling with the misery and distress which he suffers. He is mortified upon both accounts. For though to be overlooked, and to be disapproved of, are things entirely different, yet as obscurity covers us from the daylight of honour and approbation, to feel that we are taken no notice of, necessarily damps the most agreeable hope, and disappoints the most ardent desire, of human nature. The poor man goes out and comes in unheeded, and when in the midst of a crowd is in the same obscurity as if shut up in his own hovel.

The man of rank and distinction, on the contrary, is observed by all the world. Every body is eager to look at him, and to conceive, at least by sympathy, that joy and exultation with which his circumstances naturally inspire him. His actions are the objects of the public care. Scarce a word, scarce a gesture, can fall from him that is altogether neglected. In a great assembly he is the person upon whom all direct their eyes; it is upon him that their passions seem all to wait with expectation, in order to receive that movement and direction which he shall impress upon them; and if his behaviour is not altogether absurd, he has, every moment, an opportunity of interesting mankind, and of rendering himself the object of the observation and fellow-feeling of every body about him.

This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments....We see frequently the vices and follies of the powerful much less despised than the poverty and weakness of the innocent.

--Adam Smith

9.22.2014

09-22-2014 | Family Relations



Compared with chimpanzees, which are highly excitable, orangutans seem far more sober and considerate. They move deliberately and often spend a good deal of time silently watching before deciding how to act. At Camp Leakey, the orangutans had plenty of opportunity to observe and imitate people. They soon developed a habit of stealing canoes, paddling them downriver, and abandoning them at their destinations. Even triple and quadruple knots in the ropes securing the canoes to the dock did not deter the apes. Over the years, they have also learned to brush their teeth, bathe themselves, wash clothes, weed pathways, wield saws and hammers, and soak rags in water in order to cool their foreheads with them. And they have done all of this without any instruction.

For a time, the deftness of orangutans living near people was puzzling, because they did not seem to display such acumen on their own in the wild. More careful observation revealed otherwise. Scientists now know that wild orangutans use sticks to search for ants under tree bark, make hats and umbrellas out of large leaves, and sometimes drape themselves with lianas—forest vines—as if donning necklaces. When they need to cross a river that is too deep to ford safely, some orangutans bend saplings into bridges and twist several tree-anchored vines into a rope for extra support.

--from "An Orangutan Learns to Fish"

9.19.2014

09-19-2014 | Colder Nights



Their chiefs and wiser ones shall know
That here was a wastrel race, cruel and sordid,
Weighed and found wanting,
Once mighty but forgotten now.
And on our last remembrance stone,
These wiser ones will write of us:
They desolated their heritage,
They wrote their own doom.

--"A Lament" by Ernest Thompson Seton

8.26.2014

08-26-2014 | Gathering Storms



We have seen weird Times in this country before, but the year 2000 is beginning to look super weird. This time there really is nobody flying the plane ... we are living in dangerously weird times now. Smart people just shrug and admit they're dazed and confused. The only ones left with any confidence at all are the New Dumb. It is the beginning of the end of our world as we knew it. Doom is the operative ethic.

The autumn months are never a calm time in America. Back to Work, Back to Football Practice, etc....Autumn is a very Traditional period, a time of strong Rituals and the celebrating of strange annual holidays like Halloween and Satanism and the fateful Harvest Moon, which can have ominous implications for some people.

Autumn is always a time of Fear and Greed and Hoarding for the winter coming on. Debt collectors are active on old people and fleece the weak and helpless. They want to lay in enough cash to weather the known horrors of January and February. There is always a rash of kidnapping and abductions of schoolchildren in the football months. Preteens of both sexes are traditionally seized and grabbed off the streets by gangs of organized perverts who traditionally give them as Christmas gifts to each other to be personal sex slaves and playthings.

Most of these things are obviously Wrong and Evil and Ugly — but at least they are Traditional. They will happen. Your driveway will ice over, your furnace will blow up, and you will be rammed in traffic by an uninsured driver in a stolen car.

But what the hell? That's why we have Insurance, eh? And the Inevitability of these nightmares is what makes them so reassuring. Life will go on, for good or ill. But some things are forever, right? The structure may be a little Crooked, but the foundations are still strong and unshakable.

Ho ho. Think again, buster. Look around you.

-- HST