Tag Archives: musings

Pondering the dearth of cumulative human wisdom

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read. 

I’m still muddling along with God Knows, by Joseph Heller, but he’s got me thinking about a lot of things somewhat unrelated to his own theme.  So what’s below inevitably has roots, both in the OT, and in Heller’s recreation of Hebrew history and the Bible through the eyes of King David.

So this is going to be me, Old Jules aka wossname, Jack, mulling this over.  Not King David, not Heller, not even God in the sense you’re most likely to define the concept.

I’ll get into this thing about cumulative human wisdom, but first I’d just like to confide to you how much better I’d feel if God weren’t so sneaky and cagey about his real name in his dealings with those old time Hebrews.  What the hell is that all about?  Who is He afraid they’ll find out he really is?

I'm not pushing the idea He was Roy Rogers, mainly because Roy was a fairly consistent, courteous human being, though daft.

I’m not pushing the idea He was Roy Rogers, mainly because Roy was a fairly consistent, courteous human being, though daft.

And if they did know who God really is, how’s He scared they’d think less of Him in the knowing of it?  After all, it ain’t as though God was putting on any airs in his dealings with them.  Never makes any attempt to explain himself, elevate himself in the eyes of his Chosen People. 

Just go back and read the OT.  How he treats Moses, sheeze, Job,  King David, Adam and Eve, even Cain and Abel.  And inconsistent, uneven-handed so consistently as to assure nobody’s going to acquire any wisdom from any of it.

Call me paranoid, but I think there’s more to this side stepping and dodging the true identity with a name stamped into the dogtags than those ancient Hebrews imagined, that anyone since has explained sufficiently to argue He might have been Anyone, but particularly some located in the vicinity of Greece and Rome before too much more time passed.

So you end up with an ancient religion and storybook to accompany it preserved from a language with a vocabulary of 88 words, 17 of which are pseudonyms for the name of God, and not one of those 17 believed by those using them in spoken words to be the actual name of the party of the first part.

But I’ve digressed. 

I was going to muse on why human beings are unable to acquire cumulative wisdom similarly to the way technical knowledge assimilates.  About how it happens all these centuries have sneaked by and the King Davids are still capable of becoming so captured by passion as to compromise, destroy themselves.  About how Adonijahs then until now, rhetorically next in line for their thrones, their power, their wealth, still rape their sister Tamars and [at least] risk destroying themselves in the doing of it.  About how the Joabs all these centuries have coldly murdered in the name of governmental authority anyone standing in the way of their ambitions, always maintaining the moral high ground.

But I’ll have to save all that for another time, I reckons.

Old Jules aka Frank C. Riley

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Bummer if that thing went off (from the drafts)

Enjoying a day out after the hospital stay last week.

Enjoying a day out after the hospital stay last week.

Ever noticed how many people hang around discussion boards of every description watching for things they can tell other people NEVER to do?

NEVER play with matches! NEVER ride a bicycle with no brakes! NEVER point an acetylene torch at your face when you light it! NEVER try to get inside a tree shredder while it’s running!

I think there must be something about typing a command about never that feels validating, self-affirming. Telling people what they’ll either have better sense than to do anyway, or who will pay no attention and will do it anyway.

And the fact is, it could as easily be said in ways people might listen to because it wasn’t so offensive and presumptuously downtalking. How about, “Sure would be a big bummer for a person to get his hair caught in that fanbelt.” Something along those lines.

About the only response I can think of appropriate to the NEVER command is “NEVER say NEVER!”

Old Jules
====================================================
Hi folks, Jeanne here.  That was from the unpublished drafts files…although it’s still possible that it was published and I just didn’t find it. So if it sounds familiar, let me know and I’ll be more careful pulling things out this way. There are 945 published posts on this blog, so I suppose you could just hit “random” and find something entertaining.

Fact is, Old Jules has an unstable phone line right now and can’t keep a connection long enough for the internet. It’s difficult to talk to him for more than a few minutes, although the breaks in the connection get fairly predictable. There’s a lot of repeating and frustration involved with a five minute conversation. But he did approve my putting up this old draft and an update.

Yes, but how is he, you ask.  Well…he’s not in the hospital. He sounds real good.  He’s got almost zero energy.  Drinking Caisse’s tea. Blood oxygen level normal. Blood pressure fluctuating. Reading a lot, generally staying warm and fed. Trying not to get dehydrated or winded. Although he’s isolated, Gale and his neighbor check on him from time to time and some others of us call him frequently and freak out (me)  if for some reason he doesn’t answer the phone (usually it’s on the charger).
I suspect it was pneumonia that caused things to deteriorate to the point where he went to the hospital. While treating him for that, they found other stuff to alert him about, and he’s tackling those in order of importance as he sees it.
A couple of us are standing by to take care of the cats if he decides to, or needs to, go back in for the rest of the recommended testing. Gale is out of town on a fairly frequent basis, so we are trying to make sure some satisfactory solution is found for them. I would just drive down there and get them, but 800 miles doesn’t allow for him to get them back easily when things settle down, so that’s not the first choice.
So basically, he’s resting a lot and trying to get his energy back, and I’m preoccupied with keeping tabs on him and passing on updates as needed.
When I can keep my head on straight, I’ll see if I can’t pull some posts out of the drafts from time to time, but I think my own blog is on hiatus for now.
Thanks, C.P., for sending the photo from last week.
And thanks again, everyone,  for all your kind thoughts.
Jeanne

A morning on the VA medical launchpad

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I don’t know a lot more about my health this afternoon than I knew when I awakened this morning, but I know a good deal more about other interesting matters than I once did.  Went through the television interview with some people somewhere else asking about various health issues.  This evidently resulted in checkmarks going to a file telling them what testing to do afterward in the lab.

Judging from the tests the interviewers weren’t discounting a hyperfunctioning thyroid, though they  were closed-mouth about any opinions they formed during the interview.  They did hint at the possibility I might want to take it easy and not do anything particular until I’ve seen the doctor on the 20th of December.

But hanging around that waiting area was worth the price of admission.  Discovered what a huge percentage of the circa 1965-1975 US Army, AF, Navy and Marine Corps who end up getting health treatment from the VA have discovered they were point-men infantrymen, snipers, and other non-company clerk in Danang, personnel or supply clerk, cooks, or motorpool monkeys in Siagon [folks comprising 90+ percent of the Vietnam jobs of the time].

Which is to say, when you’re an old bastard and find your life hasn’t been sufficiently interesting, you can sit in the waiting room at the VA and blow smoke up the asses of a lot of other old guys.  And if you do, some others will crawl out of the wood work to provide an atmosphere of reciprocity and mutual ex post facto revisions of history.  I’ve got a feeling the non-vet practice promiscuously using phrases such as, ‘fought for our freedoms,’ or ‘fought in Vietnam’  brings the incentive.  If you were in Vietnam and never heard a shot fired in anger along with almost everyone else in Vietnam, how do you reconcile it with someone accusing you of ‘fighting for our freedoms?’  Or, ‘fought in Vietnam’?

Lordee what a needy bunch of sons of bitches we Americans are in our dotage.

Old Jules’

Joined at the hip

Good morning readers.

Hanging around an RV during a week-long ice storm is a good time for a person to boil down blessings and scrape them off the bottom of the pot.  I’d been doing a lot of reading nights before the water froze, but reading requires a level of involvement I was decreasingly able to maintain what with various uncertaintainties nagging for my attention.

So when I went in to Andrews to get my new tires put onto the ground I swung by an Alco store, which is the be all and end all in Andrews for certain types of purchases.  Bought a box of movie DVDs called Nifty Fifties for a few bucks.  50 movies from back when.

Nights if my attention span doesn’t feel up to reading I watch a movie.  Saw one a few nights ago with Sydney Portier and Eartha Kitt, him being an African firebrand leader named Obam, which was worth the price of admission.

But last night I saw Chained Forever, or something of the sort.  Two sisters joined at the hip, a Vaudeville singing act, trying to make lives of themselves in a world where the rules of behavior assume a lot about the rule-followers not being joined at the hip.

One of the sisters ‘falls in love’ with a marksmanship act guy who might have returned her affection had it not been for the party of the third part they’d have to drag along.  All manner of difficulties with laws, also, trying to get marriage licences for the party of the first part and the party of the second part while ignoring the party of the third part without any bigamy issues.

Fun movie, though daft.

Fact is, being joined at the hip just ain’t that uncommon.  Jack and Bobby Kennedy became joined at the hip at some point during the late 1950s and nobody even noticed.  George Bush Sr. and George Bush Jr. were joined at the hip similarly but it mostly just manifested itself in wars in Iraq and other matters.

Hillary Clinton, Janet Reno and Bill Clinton were all joined at the hip though nobody noticed until the Army, National Guard, FBI, and a million television cameras bunched up around Mount Pleasant outside Waco, Texas.  The joined-at-hip condition became more obvious afterward at Ruby Ridge, various real estate shennanigans, CIA importing cocaine into Arkansas airstrips for the trio, etc.

In fact, when you think of it a lot of modern life is dedicated to snooping out people who aren’t yet joined at the hip to something, or someone, and getting the knot tied to reduce the amount of trouble anyone’s likely to cause.  Sending them off to penal institutions for certain factions, joining the military for others, becoming rabid fans of this or that celebrity, music genre.

Time was joining at the hip was simpler.  People just got married.  But that was back before the age of enlightenment and marriages tended to last longer.  Now for any duration the joining at the hip has to cut a wider swath.

The way the Democrats and Republicans have blazed the trail for joined at the hip inclusiveness might well be the wave of the future.  Imagine.   Everyone finally agreeing at the bottom of things they’re just following the mandate of their hips, pulling the same direction despite themselves.

Old Jules

Shooting 50,000 unsolicited words at the Universe

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Jeanne tells me November’s going to have several thousand people grinding out first drafts of immortal prose again.  Poor old Universe will be ducking and dodging new characters, events, plots, subplots, trying to keep track of what’s really happening, and what someone dredged up from the imagination and stuffed into 50,000 words packed into the month of November.

I’ve wondered about this phenomenon for a longish time, several years, and honestly can’t quite figure it.  Probably tens of thousands of November novels written in past years nobody but the authors ever laid an eye to all the way through.  Pages, electrons on the screen, characters floating around in the ether wondering what the hell happened, why their pent-up events just ground to a halt.

All I can figure is those people doing that are trying to shoot down the Universe and know it’s going to take a lot of ammunition.

If a person were looking for a worthy project that would be less likely to damage the Universe he might consider taking the JRR Tolkein Lord of Rings trilogy and working it up into a second draft, which wossname, Tolkein failed to do.  At least not the part about say, cutting about 2/3 of the extraneous immortal prose, working it around so it’s tight, a pleasure on the tongue of the Universe, rather than just something out of some fast food joint.

Maybe someone everyone does what he says will think of this sometime and tell them they ought to do that instead of picking out targets of opportunity trying to shoot down the Universe.

Old Jules

Furshlugginer trailer lights

power supply

Sheeze.  These old original equipment lights on this trailer Gale abandoned forever ago appear to have had the problem of a short in the license tag light.  But the harnass was cut off up front I’d guess because it was blowing his fuses in the vehicle, and he’s been using add-on magnetic held lights.

harness

So what I’ve got is four wires up at the tongue, a brown, white, green and yellow.  The white’s ground as nearly as I can tell.  The green and brown are both somehow significant because combinations of them with one another and each of them with the yellow will do things.

left bottom trailer light

One combination lights all four tail-lights, one lights both bottom ones, one lights right-bottom, one lights left bottom.

Your average 21st Century man ought to be able to conclude something from all that besides the fact the lights get juice from the tongue to the rear and that all of the bulbs are good.  Ought to be able to say, ahh.  Now I know where to go from here.

But I’m damned if I’m that 21st Century man.

Old Jules

Wossname Bush dynasty looking out for US interests

Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read.

Two members of the Extended Family of US Presidents are scared the US will get into trouble if big oil companies and producers can’t export crude instead of refining it inside the US.

There’s no telling what sorts of awful things might happen if those big companies aren’t allowed to send natural resources to places where the profits are higher and where the labor and other costs of refining can be done in backward places where workers get paid a dollar a day.

Isn’t that nice?

George W. Bush Institute – U.S. Export Restraints on Crude Oil Violate International Agreements
Posted by Alan M. Dunnon September 11, 2013

http://www.bushcenter.org/blog/2013/09/11/us-export-restraints-crude-oil-violate-international-agreements

The U.S. current policy of restricting crude oil exports is fundamentally at odds with binding U.S. commitments under a number of international agreements. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT, is the foundation agreement for the World Trade Organization, WTO. Among the principle GATT commitments adopted by all WTO member countries is a prohibition on the imposition of quantitative restraints on exports. There are exceptions to this prohibitionbut they are narrowly construed and apply only to certain, and very limited, circumstances.
Crude oil and natural gas, like almost all other products, are subject to GATT disciplines on trade. These same disciplines apply to crude oil and natural gas under U.S. free trade agreements, FTAs, such as the NAFTA, as well as numerous bilateral investment treaties, BITs, most of which also incorporate the GATT prohibitions on restricting exports.
The Prohibition on Export Restrictions Is Enforceable
GATT obligations prohibiting export restrictions are enforceable in binding proceedings under the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding, DSU. These are the very same procedures recently used by the U.S. to successfully challenge China’s restrictions on exports of raw materials and coerce Chinese compliance through the DSU mechanism. Currently, the U.S. again is using these procedures to pursue a second challenge to China’s export restraints on rare earths, tungsten, and molybdenum.
Importantly, some of the Chinese export restraints that were found to violate the GATT are comparable to the U.S. export restrictions on crude oil and natural gas, including:
• Quantitative restrictions;
• Additional requirements and procedures vis-à-vis the quantitative restrictions; and
• Delayed licensing requirements on exports.
Other U.S. international agreements incorporate the GATT obligations and prohibitions either by reference or direct recitation, and most of those agreements also provide a right of action by which parties may challenge violations to the agreements, typically in international arbitration and sometimes in the courts. For example, bilateral investment treaties and trade and investment facilitation agreements, TIFAs, often incorporate the GATT obligations and provide rights of action under arbitration.
U.S. Statutes Regarding Oil Export Licensing Should Be Interpreted By the Agency and the Courts to Avoid Conflict With GATT Rules
The current U.S. export control regime on exports of crude oil are rooted in a complicated web of U.S. statutes and implementing regulations that give the U.S. president and/or various executive branch agencies sufficient discretion to grant exports of crude oil or gas if the export would be consistent with the U.S. “national interest” or “public interest.” Basic rules ofstatutory interpretation dictate that the executive branch and the courts must resolve any ambiguity in interpreting these statutes in a manner that is consistent with the GATT and other U.S. international agreements. For example, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that:
[A]n interpretation and application of [a] statute which would conflict with the GATT Codes would clearly violate the intent of Congress.
Conclusion

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, Article XI, prohibits U.S. export restrictions on crude oil and natural gas to other GATT/WTO member countries, except under very limited exigent circumstances. The limited exceptions to the basic prohibition on export restrictions are narrowly construedand reliance on these exceptions to the GATT prohibition would require the U.S. to impose onerous restrictions on domestic U.S. production and consumption of crude oil and/or natural gas. In addition, even delaying exports under protracted export licensing schemes have been found to be violations of the GATT.
These well-established rules of international trade are incorporated in numerous binding international agreements to which United States is a party. The WTO and other agreements have enforcement mechanisms that enable the parties to these agreements to compel U.S. compliance.
For all of these reasons, the current U.S. policies and procedures restricting exports of U.S. crude oil and natural gas are highly vulnerable to legal challenges in WTO as well as other international forums and the U.S. courts.

Alan Dunn served as Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce during the Administration of George H. W. Bush and as one of the lead U.S. negotiators in the multilateral GATT Uruguay Round negotiations, which established the World Trade Organization (WTO). He also served as a lead negotiator in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations with Mexico and Canada. He is a partner at Stewart and Stewart and has been practicing international trade law for 30 years. This guest post is in conjunction with the Bush Institute’s September 12 conference, Energy Regulation: Lessons about Growth from the States, the Nation and Abroad.

If a person can’t tell where the interests of a family hide when they’re inoffice, it’s nice to be able to see it by hindsight.

Old Jules