February 28, 2007

The Spirit of Markland

For Knavery, Licentiousness, Thievery, Pillage, Arson, Drunkenness, Looting, Running Away, Cheating at Dice, Avarice, Duplicity, Drunkenness, Telling of Falsehoods to Maidens, Monarchism, Klotting with Orcs, Drunkenness, Spreading Falsehoods of Plague, Spreading of Plague, Dueling, Not Dueling, Carrying of Weapons, Poaching, Drunkenness, Paganism, Witchcraft, acting to spread fear and Chaos, Keeping of Vermin, Eating of Vermin, Consorting with Vermin (You know who you are), Treachery, Acting the fool, sinking Atlantis and killing Cock Robyn.
If you have seen this man, do not attempt to approach unless you are well armed and bear tokens of Fealty(a good single malt should do the trick). Fleeing Felon is rumored to have changed his appearance by enchantments which make his hair to appear white and his bearing to be that of an older man. He is rumored to have retreated to his estates in Salisbury, and with his wife intends to raise a squadron of Kavalrie. He was last spied by Muninn at the realm sirbarchan@juno.com . We shall invite him to defend and explain his bizarre behaviour here at "Quoth The Raven". He is best known as Barchan the Kipchack, slayer of the Turk, defender of the nine realms, Lord of Markland, etc... and is also known to travel under the alias..."Greg". Caution is advised.
~Muninn out.~

February 22, 2007

The Mother of Us All

Recently, we passed an important holiday without much fanfare.
February 12th was Darwin's birthday. The persecuted author of "Origin of Species" has brought us so much entertainment over the years and given so much to the mass media industry that failure to even recognize his contributions is, if you will pardon the expression, a sin.
Back in the years B-911, in the year 2000, a team of international geneticists traced mitochondrial DNA through several populations and "determined" that our most recent common ancestor was a woman who lived in Africa some 143,000 years ago, the so-called Eve.
Of course, that is just a PR designation. And since she was probably "human", she herself had ancestors, if Chuck D was correct. Her many-times-great granny would have been an Australopithecus afarensis (such as the lass above). And HER name (if she had one) was probably the plains ape equivalent of "hot hips", since she survived to reproduce at least a few some offspring.
As to tracing the genes of humanity back to these "common ancestors," of course that is just a statistical game, and probably irrelevant.
We all had two parents. Well, maybe not ALL of us, but for the sake of argument and statistics, let's say "all." So, we all can claim four grandparents, eight great-grands, and so forth. By the time you go back 30 generations (about 600 years, give or take), you've got over a million antecedents. A bit further (though not much), and the number of your ancestors outnumbers the total population of humanity. That's total population. All of humanity on the planet.
So we're all related? Achmed the Mad Bomber is my cousin? I should have gotten an invite to Dubya's nuptials? Not really.
Some of us are related along multiple lines. All of us may be related distantly along a line or two. Follow it back far enough, and if Darwin was correct, and if the subsequent "Out of Africa" theory is true, there HAD to be a first human-like female on the Dark Continent whose genes came forward.
Interesting concept.
But by that same logic, we are "related" to chipmunks, being all "mammals" who must have had a common ancestor. And, certes, we could trace our ancestry back to those first lungfish that crawled out of the crowded cretaceous seas. Head back another few hundred million years and we are all the descendants of a puddle of goo, since we all came from the same primordial chemical soup in the oceans of pre-life Earth. Reductio ad absurdum, let's trace it a bit further back, say a billion or so years, and we are all related to the Sun, since the same cosmic dust that coalesced into Old Sol also made up Earth and the comets and other planets in orbit around him.
As Karl Sagan used to say (bless is soul), "We are all star stuff."
Yeah, we probably are all related to Eve the Monkeygirl from the plains of Afrique, thanks to Charles Darwin for pointing it out (blush). But to the same degree, we are related to the rocks and soil beneath our feet, and/or (if you are so inclined), the stars in the heavens, as well.

February 21, 2007

"Fightin Words"

Country Music Video of the Year
Click on the title at top of page. It will take you to You Tube Where you can see Trace Adkins new video"Fightin Words" It is the Best!
P.S. Sorry about the scary picture. Loki made me do it!

February 18, 2007

Decadence Pt.V

Children of Decadence

The family is the foundation of human society. This is true for all cultures regardless of race, language, location or millennia. Marriage is recognized universally as the institution that binds male and female for the purpose of procreation and raising children. Contemporary society has construed marriage to include a variety of ancillary benefits such as emotional security, domesticity, and sexual gratification. The incidental benefits of the union do not negate the fact that all cultures through time have recognized that child-rearing is performed best by a partnership between male and female. The extended family and polygamy offer variants on the covenant of marriage whithout detracting from its essential character as a child-rearing institution. Humans are compelled by a recognition that children are the future to provide a system by which succeeding generations are properly socialized, educated, and integrated into the overall structure of society. The initial steps begin at home and are gradually extended to include the more complex relationships of the individual to the community and nation.

Marriage in contemporary America is a system in default of its basic obligations. Divorce rates have soared over the past fifty years to a rate above fifty percent. The trend can be blaimed on the belief that the ancillary benefits of marriage take precedence over the obligation to provide for progeny. Only childless couples can make this claim. Once children enter the relationship, the fundamental reason for marriage must become paramount. The current situation is aggravated further by the increase in out-of-wedlock births. The recognition of marriage as the basis for a healthy society has been deeply compromised by easy divorce, and defied outright by feminists who denigrate men in general, and the value of fatherhood in particular. The stigmas formerly associated with divorce and bastardy have been dismantled in the name of "compassion". But absent a social mechanism to enforce the former norm, our society has tumbled down a slope into self-gratification and illiberality. The current situation is surely a mark of our decadence that we take the welfare of our children for granted.

I know that historians have been complaining about the youth of their day since Herodotus, but our contemporary youth have embraced a cultural ethic all their own. Never has so much been given to a generation with so little expected in return. Today's kids have become the ultimate consumers, always demanding the latest gadget or fashion trend, without ever contributing a dime of their own through wage labor. Material goods like cell phones, Ipods, and even automobiles come as if by right. Today's generation believes they are entitled. This regardless of what they might be achieving in school. I have a roster of failing students, kids who will never graduate high school, who drive brand new vehicles provided by parents. There is no quid pro quo, no demand that good grades are a prerequisite, no insistence that things must be earned. The perks simply arrive at the appointed time, and always for the asking. How is this possible?

Consider now that the "family" for many children consists of mom and her boyfriend, dad and his new fiancee. Such parents tend to be self-absorbed, more intent on finding self-fulfillment in a "relationship" than they are with their responsibilities as parents. There's no time for kids. It's easier to bounce them between homes in shared custody situations than to establish a loving and disciplined household. The children of such couples quickly learn that mom and dad will compete for their affections by bestowing material goods rather than quality time. In my opinion, this tendency is a measure of parental guilt for the divorce and subsequent neglect. In my day, when I asked mom for something, the request was usually met by "what did your father say?". In today's household the kids call the shots: "If you won't give it to me, dad will." Or to put it in the words of one of my students: "We're very good at getting what we want." Indeed. But from where comes the character building lessons in learning to do without? Instant gratification has become the norm. Where is the quid pro quo, as in "you'll get a cell phone when I see straight A's."? When nothing is demanded from home, nothing is given at school. It's a one-way street. Everything is due, nothing is expected in return. To quote again one of my students: "When you get bad grades long enough, your parents eventually get used to it." There are never any consequences for poor grades, so why bother putting in the effort?

I would be content with the knowledge that some of these kids are going to get a rude awakening someday. But for too many this is not the case. Many of these children are planning to become life-long dependents of their parents. "What will you do when you get older?" I ask them. "My parents have money," they answer without a shred of shame. So they drop out, hang out at home, party when they feel like it, and are generally incapable of holding a job. You might recall a Hollywood film last year called "Faliure to Launch". When such attitudes reach the movie screen, you know the tendency is already endemic in the culture. Such attitudes are the result of learned behavior, and the expectations continue into adulthood. This nation cannot survive the current generation. They are lazy, demanding, entitled, dependent and utterly without virtue. The behavior is a sign of our societal decadence. Today's kids know only a life of grab and grasp. A recent incident related to me by a parent illustrates the point. He hired two boys to spread a pile of mulch. At the end of the day, nothing had been accomplished. When he refused to pay the two, he was met with outraged howls: "But we were here!" Do they expect to get paid for nothing? Apparently they do. What a pitiful generation. What a pitiful generation of parents who raised them.

February 10, 2007

Reclamation of First Principles

" Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security — "Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence.
Our government, whose current behavior emulates and indeed vastly exceeds the criminal practices which precipitated the colonial rebellion against their Monarch and King has shewn itself, through its deliberate actions and omissions, to be the very reflection of Despotism, magnified and enlarged by this centuries Faustian bargain with technology, that so provoked our forefathers to stand athwart history and proclaim"Enough!" The details of all charges to bolster this claim would require a report so much more complex than could be easily comprehended by the vast majority of our citizenry, whose business is the production of Capitol and not the study of legal and historical minutia, that we can only here provide a summary of the most egregious examples of tyranny's perfidy.
The matter of taxation is of paramount import. There is no provision in our constitution which authorizes expenditures from the public treasury for what can only be described generally as works of charity. Such expenditures must be excised from the political conscience as one cannot ennoble the poor by extorting the wealthy. All notions of so called progressive taxation are merely the scheme by which corrupt and ignoble politicians mean to re-distribute the wealth of our nation for the sole purpose of purchasing their own constituent votes with monies appropriated by force of law(and thereby force of arms) from those whom by right are the true owners of said wealth by virtue of their own thrift or industry.
The primary goal of our government as enunciated in the above referenced Declaration is that it guaranty unto the citizens of this country the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In this, it's main goal and duty, it has become derelict. The lives of our citizens at home and abroad have been subject to every type of hideous murder and terror for decades, yet the government remains ineffectual, unable or unwilling to do what is necessary to ensure the most basic safeties of our people.
Another crime common to the present government and the former King is the inability or unwillingness to define the laws that designate one as a true Citizen of this country. The founders regarded it as one of the creators greatest blessings upon the original colonies that we were possessed of a people with a common language, a common heritage, and an established respect for law and custom. The privileges of Citizenship today are diluted by an unrestricted wave of mass migration from around the world. Many of our forebears paid that full measure of sacrifice to preserve these United States as a single unified nation with but one set of laws, one language, and a common vision of how society should of necessity be ordered. To discount their sacrifice and to distribute their patrimony amongst any and all who may arrive upon our shores without knowledge, appreciation, and respect for or claim to such an inheritance is to desecrate their graves, their sacrifice and such veneration as they by right ought to deserve.
The government is complicit in the crime of denying to it's citizens the protections provided by the creator, and enumerated in the Bill of Rights, which documents inclusion was essential to the subsequent approval of The Constitution itself. The guaranty of religious tolerance has been replaced by a policy of suppression against nearly any non-private display of Christian heritage. Despite the distribution to the several states of vast sums of money collected by the National Treasury from it's citizens and dedicated to Homeland Security, hardly any state has used these funds to properly regulate, arm or equip any of the various state militias. The governors of various states and municipalities, as well as the Federal Government have sought to negate the individuals right to keep and bear arms of sufficient military usefulness as enumerated in the second amendment.
The congress of these United States has been derelict in it's prosecution of Traitors to this country. The first amendment, which enumerates the right to free speech is being abused by those who would willingly and knowingly give aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war. Certain politicians, reporters, and people in the public domain have illegally given information to our foreign enemies that has directly resulted in the deaths of American soldiers. The right of free speech should be no shield against the prosecution of treason.
The factionalism apprehended by the founders as the most serious challenge to a republican form of government has grossly exceeded even their dire assessment of of what damage partisan politics might achieve. The National interest is threatened and undermined by politicians who care for nothing but the accretion of their own personal power and influence. Through avarice or indolence on the part of our elected representatives, the citizens have had their justly derived right to govern themselves usurped. Over two centuries ago, through clash of arms and ideals, with the notion of liberty as our godhead, we showed to despotism the limit of American endurance. Does that forge still exist to manufacture such steel. Do we still remember the manual of arms necessary to renew those freedoms. We do. We must.

Decadence Pt.IV

Vice and Virtue

I will admit to a certain preoccupation of late. I am convinced that Western Civilization has succumbed to the sort of decadence that precedes a fall. The theme is still developing in my mind which is why the essays are somewhat disjointed and lacking coherence as a single idea. I haven't even touched the historical record, an easy task, but that essay is still percolating on a backburner. I hope to put it all together by summer's end.

I find the works of two philosophers particularly useful at the moment: Marcus Aurelius and Confucius. The two men, separated by race, language, culture, and seven-hundred years of history are, nevertheless, so similar as to be almost identical. Marcus is the more introspective and personal, Confucius the more general and holistic. Yet both are deeply concerned with the nature of virtue. The word "virtue" is no longer fashionable in western society, habituated as we are to a life of self-gratification. I offer this quick list of original aphorisms to illustrate my point.

Freedom is a societal virtue. It can only exist amongst a disciplined people who understand the necessity for self-restraint and voluntary compliance with the law and social mores. Modernity offers in its place only license. We have become creatures of appetite, libertines all.

The ability to see and speak the truth is a virtue. Yet our public discourse is dominated by sophists who declare there is no truth. Relativism is a mire of shifting sand upon which no structure will stand for long. To abandon truth is to live in a land of falsehood.

Struggle is a virtue. Man must always be challenged. Ease and leisure are the earned rewards of hard work, not ends to be pursued.

Self-control is the mark of disciplined men. It's opposite is promiscuity, a siren call to personal destruction.

Patriotism is the recognition that society is worth defending, if necessary with martial vigor. Its opposite is faux pacifism, a type of treason masking itself as moral superiority to disguise its cowardice.

Material comfort is a virtue. Aurelius and Confucius agree. But the Chinese sage admonished that poverty must be overcome by right means or otherwise endured. Modernity offers us only consumption, a fool's paradise of self-indulgence at any price.

The wise man seeks contentment with his station in life. The egoist desires power.

Saving is a virtue. Borrowing is a vice.

Manliness is the virtue of a society on the ascendancy. The decadent society is weak and effeminate. The Greeks knew this about Persia and the end was preordained.

A healthy society requires sacrifice from its citizenry as a means to create a vested interest in the whole. Selfishness is the mark of a society in decline.

A wise society understands the need for an educated populace. A society that values entertainment over substance is doomed to fall.

Public manners are a measure of societal rectitude. Vulgarity is a symptom of a society in moral retrograde.

Public service is the duty of a genuine aristocracy, but those who covet power should never be allowed near the reins of government.

Hard work is a virtue in its own right. Public subsidy of idleness corrupts the body politic and saps the spirit of a nation.

Philosophers are men of moral and intellectual substance. A preference for fashion is the characteristic of a fool.

Virtue is universal and timeless. Ask Marcus, ask Confucius. Simple truth is best. Look closely at my aphorisms. Tell me now that we are not set for a fall.


February 07, 2007

Starting at Shadows

As the Link above recounts, some folks evidently found Prince's rain-drenched halftime show at the Superbowl this weekend "offensive" because of the phallic appearance of a shadow cast by the diminutive rocker's symbol-shaped guitar on a large sheet of cloth.
One has to ask what rock these concerned individuals were living under to be surprised that a ROCK STAR's GUITAR is a PHALLIC SYMBOL!!??
Well, "Duh."
Every rock musician worth his salt carries his guit-fiddle at hip level and whales at it while bucking suggestively. Pete Townsend took the string-stroke to new levels decades ago. So-called "heavy metal" bands adopt costumery and make-up worthy of a Havanna S&M show. The instruments of Rock&Roll are props, and the music is about sex ... always has been.
Of course it's a phallus. It's never been anything else since Elvis started his spasmodic routine.
And what did they think they were getting with Prince? This is the guy who wear's butt-less pants. This is the guy who humps the stage, and the stage hands, as a part of his regular show. It's his schtick, man.
So one has to be surprised at the surprise. In a moderately restrained show (perhaps because of the drenching downpour), Prince did an admirable job, and at the very least wasn't lip-synching the performance.
Pretty impressive.
In a completely heterosexual, non-phallic kind of way.

February 05, 2007

Baby, Its Cold Outside

Romney, Eastern Panhandle, Feb.5th 2017
As you can see, winters around here can be a little trying. God I wish I still had my John Deere Tractor with it's 4 foot snowblower.Of course They took that away in 2012 when they outlawed private ownership of Gasoline powered " Recreational Vehicles". I guess it doesn't really matter much cause I'd never be able to afford enough gasoline to run the thing. After they enacted That $10 per gallon carbon tax, its a wonder I can afford enough to still run the chain saw. If they pass that new law prohibiting 2 cycle motors we will be in deep doo doo for sure. Today me and a few neighbors all chipped in and drove one of our "agricultural" tractors into town. We all bought shovels and the biggest trailer we could find. Seems some of the local boys who used to be in the coal mining business before it was shut down have secretly re-opened one of the shafts and have a warehouse full of the stuff in town. Cant say exactly where, but word gets around if you know the right people. We plan on getting as much as we can carry (or afford). It didn't used to be so hard to find fuel in the old days, but by around 2014 or so we had logged out most of our trees for firewood. I still keep a few around the house for a wind break and because they are truly beautiful in the fall, but they may eventually have to go as well.Almost got into trouble with the tax assayer this winter. They only used to come around every other summer, and I told them I did not have the basement finished yet or the fireplace done. Now they come twice a year and when they showed up in January and saw smoke from the chimney, the jig was up. They inspected the wood stove and gave me a $1200.00 carbon emission fine for not having a catalytic converter in the flue. I told 'em I wasn't working just now and couldn't pay. They could see I was a little long in the tooth and asked what kind of work I did. I kinda looked at the floor and told them that I had spent my life mostly in the automobile business. That kinda made 'em get a little quiet and they shuffled their feet a little and one of 'em asked kinda quiet"You ever see a NASCAR race?" I told 'em about the time I saw Dale Earnhardt race at Daytona once. Came in second place that time. We started to chew the fat a bit about when even private folk could own their own cars, and I finally offered 'em a drink as my fire was really only big enough to keep the pipes from freezing and it was +1degree Fahrenheit outside. Time passed and they turned out not to be such bad guys as you usually meet in the CSC (Civil Service Corps) these days. One even allowed as his dad used to be a mechanic (and still made a little side money doing unauthorized engine repairs). Eventually, they just gave me a verbal warning to get a Cat Converter on that pipe and they would see me again in the summertime. As Their bio-diesel was pulling out, one of them handed me the picture they took of me shoveling snow that their security camera routinely takes on rural approaches. I brought it into town with me and e-mailed it to y'all from the public Internet connection that is still working at the post office. Cost a small fortune, but I know we are not likely to be able to afford to meet in person again as the carb tax makes any kind of long distance travel extravagant.Hope some of you still have your personal PC's. I had to give mine up when the owner fee went to $500.00 per year, and you know the Internet is down to only 16 (official) channels last time I checked. Well, I gotta go shovel me some coal.I guess we should count our blessings and know that we have saved the planet from certain disaster through global climate change. As far as I can see, it hasn't changed one bit. Mission accomplished! God bless Chairman Gore!
Your old friend-Svinrod the Snowbound

February 04, 2007

Painful Choices

Pain is nature's way of instructing organisms of little or no intellect in the art of survival. Imagine for a moment a lowly snail without pain receptors in its foot. The snail arrives on your barbeque and attempts to cross hot coals oblivious to the affects of pain. Pop! Exit one snail. Pain is a survival mechanism necessary to the continuation of a species. The human animal is no different in this regard except in his capacity to use a superior mind to anticipate painful consequences, and thus avoid them without going through the agony of experience. At least sometimes.

The son of my colleague at school was recently convicted for a series of armed robberies. The judge in the pre-trial hearing decided that the boy was a continuing menace to society. Bail was demanded at an unattainable level. The boy spent four months in the slammer awaiting trial. So traumatized was he by the experience, that he has emerged as a model citizen. At least he appears so. A heavy sentence of twenty-seven years hangs over his head should he repeat his earlier folly. I commend the judge for both compassion and wisdom. The boy is young, but he has a second chance to make good. He knows the consequences now, a lesson driven home by the truly painful experience of time behind bars amongst genuine savages. Did the boy need the experience? Apparently he did. The basic rules of citizenship, like a respect for the law, were never internalized within his consciousness during his formative years. Anticipation of consequences was either absent or suspended during his crime spree. For such people society has recourse to one final method of instruction. We might not be able to make you think anything, but we're quite certain we can make you feel something. Pain is instructive.

I understand that Californians are debating whether or not to outlaw spanking. You have to hand it to California, always on the cutting edge. But I would like to know from the wise men in the state legislature how to impose the necessary lesson in self-control on the person of a cranky three-year-old? At this age the child has little in the way of reasoning faculties. Nor has the child yet a capacity for moral discrimination. I am not recommending the brutalization of children. But it seems to me that a smack to the backside does little harm, while driving home a lesson the only way possible. Call it cellular memory. The little tot will remember the consequences of his behavior. Corporal punishment of children is not cruel. Allowing them to grow into spoiled brats with criminal proclivities is a type of folly that will produce more cruelty than society has a need to endure. But what can you expect from a state legislature dominated by juvenile minds?

I also understand that in Britain it is illegal for a victim of crime to fight back. After all, someone could get hurt. Why make the situation worse by adding physical pain to the equation? I will tell you why. It is because pain in the form of a violent reaction from the victim is the only thing the perpetrator can understand. If the felon had a grasp of ordinary morality, his conscience would veto his behavior. If he could anticipate consequences, he would choose a wiser course. By outlawing pain as a deterrent, nothing is left that might cause the predator to think twice. But pain is cruel. Does anybody speak to the cruelty inflicted on the victim? This policy is morally obtuse, and destructive to the social order. It would seem that the British are well ahead of their American cousins down the road of decadence.

Violence between nations should be unnecessary and rare. Surely no dispute is so beyond reason that negotiation cannot work out a compromise. Did the hijackers of 911 have such a grievance against the United States that they had to make their point by murdering three-thousand innocents? Was this justified? What could possibly justify such a crime? Can't we talk it out even now? No, we can't. Our enemies hold to such a primitive morality that a massive amount of pain is the only detterent they understand. Apparently some people, Gaza comes to mind, have a rather high tolerance for pain. After a time, a sort of national masochism becomes the norm. The Gazans seem to revel in it. There is one detterent even more effective than pain. But it's application carries with it a certain finality. Then again, extinction has a place in the natural order.

The problem with liberal theology, and the word is fully intended, is that it too often attempts to mitigate against pain. But pain was evolved by nature as part of a survival strategy. Primitive though it is, pain is a mechanism for behavioral modification. And for those who understand nothing else, pain is the final warning shot that just might inform miscreants that the next step will have lethal consequences. So why outlaw it? Pain is good for you.