As most of you know I officially “retired” from regular blogging here earlier this month. But my announced intention was to return here on this day and on the last day of each successive month, to post a little update. Thus, here I am. I must say it is good to be back, even if for this brief visit.
First, My Thanks
I sure do appreciate the comments many of you left on my good-bye blog, The Ruminations End. And I am equally appreciative of the e-mails that some of you sent me. Thank you all!
You might be wondering what I’ve been doing with all those hours of freed-up time that I would have otherwise been using to write blog essays. Well, mostly, I just sit alone and stare blankly into space, my mouth slightly agape, only occasionally blinking, thinking about what I would be blogging about, if only I were still blogging.
Such thoughts used to spark freely along the synapses and flow through my dancing fingers, out into the vast and bustling cyber-realms, there to be discovered (and mostly appreciated) by a precious few. Now, however, the sparks only short-circuit and ricochet about in my cranium. Marlene says my head has developed a slight Parkinson-like tremor.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m enjoying the retirement. It just takes a little getting used to. It is surprising, really, how much of one’s identity can get wrapped up in a blog.
Taxes & TEA Parties
In retrospect, April would have been an absolutely delightful month were it not for income taxes. Once again, I was shocked at the amount of money the government demanded from me. Once again, I was dejected and angry over the situation. Once again I questioned whether it was worth the effort to have a part-time business.
I am working the second business, Whizbang Books in order to make and save enough money to buy a section of land—debt free. That is the dream. That is the goal. I felt like I had made significant progress towards that goal last year. Then I got my taxes figured. Silly me.
America has not always had a graduated income tax system. It came into existence in 1913. (You Can Read a Short History Here) The country got along just fine for 137 years without this oppressive, immoral system that destroys personal initiative, creativity, and enterprise.
Yes, I went to my local TEA party on the 15th. The TEA parties are a populist movement founded on and united by righteous indignation. I got plenty of that inside me.
The Inside Scoop On Government Education
Almost as insane as the income tax is the government school system, which is used so very well to indoctrinate America’s youth by spreading the propaganda of statism and powerful special interests, not to mention promoting the secular humanist religion.
My state (NY) continues to spend ever more astronomical amounts of taxpayer dollars on education, even though the student population has been in decline for several years. It is yet another government scam perpetuated on the taxpayer under the guise of being good for children. I say all of this as introduction to a revealing book titled The Nightmare That is Public Education, written by Dr. Renato C. Nicolai, a former teacher and school principle that was involved in government education for 40 years.
The good doctor is to be commended for bringing to light flaws in the system. He has ideas for fixing government schools and improving government education. Personally, I’m all for the separation of school and state.
I decided to read that iconic book, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I assumed that it dealt with cultural, sociological, and political matters, which it does, but I didn’t realize it was a science fiction novel. I’m not usually a novel reader. And I’m especially not a science fiction novel reader. But I gave it a try.
I waded about a third of the way through the book and I just couldn’t force myself to read any more. I can sum Brave New World up in three words: goofy, perverted, bizarre.
In all fairness to Huxley, I suppose that his novel (written in 1913) is intentionally goofy, perverted, and bizarre—that being the whole point of a world taken to the totalitarian extreme. Huxley’s Brave New World is the epitome of applied industrial thinking to all aspects of life and culture. Such a world is carefully designed to pacify the masses.
What is most curious about it all is that centralized control over the masses of carefully ordered classes is maintained not by force, but by pleasure. Sexual promiscuity, gratuitous entertainment, vacuous amusements, and copious amounts of the tranquilizer-like “soma” are effectively employed to pacify almost everyone.
Brave New World Revisited
26 Years after the publication of Brave New World, Huxley published a series of essays under the title of Brave New World Revisited. This small book (thankfully, it is not science fiction) was more interesting to me. I’m persuaded that Huxley was, in his personal life, something of a misled kook, but there are elements of his essays that are powerfully prescient. Here are just a few:
Many historians, many sociologists and psychologists have written at length, and with a deep concern, about the price that Western man has had to pay and will go on paying for technological progress. They point out, for example, that democracy can hardly be expected to flourish in societies where political and economic power is being progressively concentrated and centralized. But the progress of technology has led and is still leading to just such a concentration and centralization of power.
...a new Social Ethic is replacing our traditional ethical system—the system in which the individual is primary.....It’s basic assumption is that the social whole has greater worth and significance than its individual parts, that inborn biological differences should be sacrificed to cultural uniformity, that the rights of the collectivity take precedence over what the eighteenth century called the Rights of Man.
...no people in a precarious economic condition has a fair chance of being able to govern itself democratically.
They did not foresee what in fact has happened, above all in our Western capitalist democracies—the development of a vast mass communications industry, concerned in the main neither with the true nor the false, but with the unreal, the more or less totally irrelevant. In a word, they failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.
But even in Rome there was nothing like the non-stop distraction now provided by newspapers and magazines, by radio, television and the cinema.
The methods now being used to merchandise the political candidate as though he were a deodorant positively guarantee the electorate against ever hearing the truth about anything.
Under a scientific dictator education will really work—with the result that most men and women will grow up to love their servitude and will never dream of revolution.
This month the discussion over at the Yahoo group, WhizbangChickenPluckers turned to “plucking pigs,” with this post entry:
“We were processing a few of our piglets this weekend for our customers and some of them wanted them with "skin-on" which means we had to figure out how to remove the hair. Now this CAN be a VERY bothersome task, but I decide to apply the principals of chicken plucking and by GOSH, it WORKED! We killed, bled, scalded and then put it into the plucker. What a MAGNIFICENT job it did! Those 15lb piglets came out SHINY! A few scrapes with a knife blade to remove the rest of the residual hair and the piglet was done!”
New Whizbang Cider Essay
I made apple cider this last month so I could test out some new ideas. The ideas worked VERY well and I posted an essay about them here: New Techniques For Whizbang Cider Making
If you have purchased my book, Anyone Can Build A Whizbang Apple Grinder & Cider Press, you absolutely must read the essay.
Planet Whizbang Wheel Hoe Update
I just did a Google search of “wheel hoe.” The number-one link was my essay titled, Introducing The Planet Whizbang Wheel Hoe. That’s amazing. I love Google.
I had hoped to have the Planet Whizbang Wheel Hoe Web Site fully functioning by now. But these things take time. The tutorial photos have been taken and I am in the process of writing the text. I’m also working to get the parts kits together and ready to ship out. Here’s a picture in my workshop of my metal bender and some bent parts.
I expect to have everything ready and online by the end of next month. Hopefully sooner. And, for those who would like to purchase the metal parts kit from me, I will be offering it at a significant discount for the first month. Stay tuned to the web site for details.
I Survived The Flu
Yesterday I came home from work feeling terrible. My head ached. My joints ached. I had chills. I had a fever. I had Swine Flu, or so I surmised. I managed to get through the long winter without getting even a cold, and now that it’s springtime, I got hammered by a virus.
I told Marlene that I loved her, and that we had a lot of good years together, and that she shouldn’t sell the Whizbang Books business for less than a quarter million dollars (I was delerious too). Then I went to bed to await my end.
But I decided to try something radical. I drank a whole four-ounce bottle of Nature’s Sunshine Silver Shield, which is an exceptional product made by American Biotech Labs. I sipped it down over a period of about four hours. And I stayed in bed with a heating pad and lots of blankets on me. To my amazement, I felt good enough to go to work when I woke up this morning. No fever. No chills, No aching joints. I felt like I had been through the proverbial wringer, but I was no longer sick. Did the colloidal silver do it? I don’t know. But I’m buying some more bottles.
I am just getting underway with the garden. I have spinach planted. Copra onion sets came in the mail yesterday. Marlene has tomato seedlings started. And I bought one hops plant from Territorial Seeds. Just one. It’s in the garden now. I’m anxious to see this plant grow 15 to 20m feet high. I’ll post pictures through the season.
Too Old For Arm Wrasslin’
My 18-year-old son challenged me to an arm wrestling contest this last month. Father vs son. He is young and strong. I am not. But I was once young and strong and I liked to arm wrestle. Though I was more on the nerd side in high school, I could hold my own when arm wrestling many of the jocks. If they couldn’t overpower me immediately, I could beat them. My secret? I didn’t give up. It might take 15 minutes, but the other guy would eventually give in. I arm wrestled a guy in college and it was a full half hour before he threw in the towel.
I attribute my pit bull wrasslin' tenacity to the remnants of Scottish blood that flow in my veins.
So I accepted the challenge from my son. With elbows bent across the kitchen table, we locked hands and began the contest. It was just him and me. No onlookers.
At first, we held steady at the 12:00 position. He asked me if I was trying my hardest. I replied that I was (I lied). He poured it on. My arm went to the 2:00 position before I was able to hold fast. That I was able to hold him back surprised me.
Back and forth we went for maybe a minute. Maybe two. I would power him to 10:00 for a few moments and he would drive me back to 2:00. At one point, my son said to me, with concern: “Dad, your face is really red.”
It occurred to me that, at 51 years old, and being out of shape, I really should not be arm wrestling this kid. But I sensed that he was running out of steam. I was too but I didn't let on. I powered him to 10:00 and held him there.
Then I gave the Rebel Yell.
When your opponent is on the defense, and tired, and you give the Rebel Yell, your face distorts into a most ugly grimace, your eyes become like those of a madman, an untapped wellspring of strength flows into your muscles, and hopelessness floods into your opponent’s consciousness; his will to win withers.
That is the story of how I beat my son at arm wrestling.
It was a good feeling. A very good feeling.... until, that is, the adrenaline surge subsided and my arm began to ache. It has not been the same since. I strained my arm to the point that I am now crippled. Two weeks after the glory of my victory, I am unable to employ my right arm to any significant degree without the pain flaring up.
Worse yet is the nagging suspicion that he let me win.
There will be no rematch.
Quote Of The Month
"We get too soon old and too late smart."
A woman stopped by our house and took a picture of our front door. She was from the census and said she was taking pictures of everyone's front doors. This is very strange. Has anyone else had this experience?
Lord willing, I shall return to post another letter here on May 30, 2009. I hope you will stop back at that time.