Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all

For all my friends and family who understand the importance of talking to each other, and discussing all matters about family and friends, and religion and politics and nutrition, and who know how to disagree reasonably without becoming disagreeable - I give thanks that you are in our lives!
  • I am thankful for the ability to make an error.
  • I am thankful for the desire to correct it.
  • I am thankful for living in a Nation founded upon the understanding that all Men must be free to do both, in body and soul.
The Western world didn't catch on because of its answers... those are still being argued about more than 3,000 years on... but because of its people being willing and able to ask the right questions, with the willingness and desire to compare their answers to reality, and to pursue the questions which those answers will lead to. 

Some questions that will give you so many reasons to be thankful, are:
  • What is real and how do we know it?
  • What is Good? Why should we care?
  • How can we recognize what is not Good?
  • What is a Good life?
  • What is Happiness?
  • Should what is Right and Wrong, guide our actions?
  • What is Beauty?...What is Truth?...What is Justice?
  • What does it benefit a man to gain the whole world, yet lose his soul?
Ask the right questions, with those who are willing to question their own answers, and let the Good Lord and reality do the rest.

Question - not doubt, mind you, but question, what you assume to be true, and then what you know, and give thanks for the life you are blessed to build upon that, for it will surely be one that's well worth giving thanks for.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Stuff your pardons, eat the damn turkey, and give thanks for it!

I long for the day when we might have a president again who will look upon such a fine bird and say
"That's a fine looking turkey, thank you"
, promptly wring its neck, and send it to the kitchen to be cooked.

Presidents since JFK, Reagan too, have been 'freeing' the turkey, and since Bush 41, officially pardoning the damn bird... just... WTH?!

Pardon me, but stuff your pardons, eat the damn bird, and give thanks for the opportunity to do so!



Friday, November 11, 2022

For Our Veterans on Veterans Day - Thank You For Persisting 'The Harder Right', Across Time

Commemorating Veterans Day once again, on the “11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month”, with two earlier memories; one from seven years ago now, which was itself remembering this day from 5 years before that, and doing so recalls what persists across time on this day, our fellows who choose 'the harder right' by volunteering to serve in our military. No matter where they may end up being stationed, when they volunteer to serve, they are volunteering to put their lives on the line, period. There is no assurance that they won't at some point be sent to physically put their lives at risk, be injured, or be killed. None. Whether their service ends up being given entirely stateside in administrative duties, or repeatedly at hazard in war zones, the worst case is risked by all at that moment when they sign their lives on the dotted line. In pledging their lives to support and defend our Constitution, they serve to secure to us the ability to live lives worth living (should we choose to).

To all of our Veterans - Thank You.

[And now, back to 2015:]
For Veterans Day this year, I'm going with a re-post from four years ago, which isn't - for me or others - the typical Veterans Day post, but for me it really goes to the heart of the occasion. This post came back into mind a couple days ago when a 'Memories' app popped up some pictures from the 2011 Veterans Day parade in St. Louis that I took part in with Chris & Dana Loesch, "Patch" Po/ed Patriot and our kids [Patch just confirmed my sketchy pictureless memory, Stacy Washington was with us too). The memories were a nice tug - I mostly only see Patch online now, and the Loesch's have since moved to Dallas (catch "Dana" on the BlazeTV), but more than the sentimental value, was the point of this post, well-illustrated in the movie clip, of the importance of choosing the Harder Right - not only in the sense of putting your life on the line for it, but the importance of choosing the harder right to a life worth living, and that is what I associate most with our Veterans.

Our Veterans volunteer their lives onto the line, and in pledging their lives to support and defend our Constitution, they serve to secure to us the ability to live a life worth living, should we also take the harder right, and choose to.

To our Veterans - Thank You.

[And now, back to 2011:]
For Veterans Day, a clip that doesn't at first appear to have anything to do with Veterans or Veterans Day. It's the climactic scene of a movie that's really grown on me over the years, The Emperor's Club. In this, the point of not only an Education, but of a life well lived - or squandered - is conveyed in just a few moments.

The now aging Mr. Hundert, a Classics Professor, is found in the restroom after a debate competition, by his former student, Sedgewick Bell, who is now grown and launching a campaign for the Senate. Bell was a student he'd tried far more than he should have to help, and Hundert has realized that Sedgewick has yet again cheated in the "Mr. Julius Caesar" debate, which Mr. Hundert was moderating.

He lets his former student know that he knows he tried to cheat, again...
Mr. Hundert:"I'm a teacher Sedgwick, and I failed you. But I'll give you one last lecture, if I may. All of us, at some point, are forced to look at ourselves in the mirror, and see who we really are, and when that day comes for Sedgewick, you'll be confronted with a life lived without virtue, without principle - for that I pity you. End of lesson."

Sedgewick Bell:"What can I say Mr. Hundert? Who gives a shit. Honestly, who out there gives a shit about your principles and your virtues. I mean, look at you, what do you have to show for yourself? I live in the real world, where people do what they need to do to get what they want, and if that means lying, and cheating... then so be it.
So I am going to go out there, and I am going to win that election Mr. Hundert, and you will see me EVERYwhere! And I'll worry about my 'contribution' later.
(Sound of a toilet flushing, stall opens, Sedgewick's little boy comes out, stares at his dad in disgust)
Sedgewick Bell:"Robert? Robert...."
(Robert turns and leaves)
Sedgewick stares after him, stares down, glances at Mr. Hundert, and leaves.
What Mr. Hundert has, he has without need of power, position or wealth... what Cedric threw away, he can't replace through any amount of power, position or wealth.

The best things in life are free... but you've got to earn them, and sometimes fight for them; and some worthy few even choose to risk their lives for your chance to enjoy them.

Thank you to all those who chose the harder right, and especially the Veterans who agreed to risk their lives for it, if need be.

UPDATE - Pictures from the St. Louis Veterans Day Parade
Special thanks to Dana Loesh for inviting us to march with her crew in the parade, my daughter & I were honored to show our support.

Dana Loesh (in a strep throat burqa), Me, Patch Adams and Chris Loesch , ready to roll

... coming around the corner... (pic swiped from Patch Adams)
Parading past Soldiers Memorial
The best message of all!

Patch posted a video that should be an alarming shame in contrasts to all. For those who did turn out for the parade yesterday, thank you, your quality isn't questioned, but for the quantities of others who couldn't be bothered, shame on you.

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

The Real Red Wave

Without wasting more time on the yet to be 'decided' races, the nature of the candidates, or their supporters, the fact that these supposedly deeply divided elections are coming down to mere percentage points of differences, indicates that the real battle is less at the ballot (or mail) box, than the classroom.

More to the point: Our political battles are rooted between the ears of every American, in the soil of what they understand that 'being an American' means. If the tree of liberty that should grow there is not healthy, then you can be sure that a very real red wave is coming, and in more ways than one.

And if you think that battle can be won politically, you'd best be prepared to be swept away.

If you really want to 'do something!' to help, spend some time considering what 'We hold these truths to be self-evident' actually means, and how 'We The People' are to live under a Rule of Law that respects and reflects that - and most importantly, find others to consider and discuss that with.

Our Foundational Documents aren't magic talismans folks, they are the expression of a particular set of ideas, and if we forget their meaning, nothing built upon them can possibly remain standing.

Way it is.

Thursday, November 03, 2022

Educational talk in Washington MO

If you're in the Washington MO area this weekend, I've been invited by We The People of Franklin County to speak on SEL, Common Core, and how our educational system got to this point.

Come on out this Sunday Nov. 6th, from 5:00-7:15 p.m., for a good discussion, dinner, and a raffle - if you're in the area, I hope to see you there!

Moe's Restaurant
499 Grand Ave, Washington, MO

Wednesday, November 02, 2022

How important is how you know what you know, to what you know?

Here's an odd question: Do you think that knowledge is relevant to Education? Odder still, how you answer that question puts you on one side or the other of a wide Grand Canyon-like divide in epistemology. Epistemology being:
"...the study or a theory of the nature and grounds of knowledge especially with reference to its limits and validity."
And if you hadn't noticed that there was a divide, allow me to point out that if you think that 'Knowledge' indicates something that can be objectively known to be real and true, that puts you on the traditional side of that divide, and then way, way, over on the other side of that divide - where your schools are - are claims such as this:
"...Given that the transmission of knowledge is an integral activity in schools, critical scholars in the field of education have been especially concerned with how knowledge is produced. These scholars argue that a key element of social injustice involves the claim that particular knowledge is objective and universal. An approach based on critical theory calls into question the idea that “objectivity” is desirable, or even possible..." Sensoy, Ozlem, and Robin DiAngelo. Is Everyone Really Equal?: An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education, first edition. Teacher’s College Press: New York, 2012, p. 5, then 7
SoOooo... the Woke believe that 'Knowledge' matters, that it matters how it's 'produced', and that it is unjust to teach that knowledge has an objective meaning (a meaning that is objectively true for you, true for me, and true for anyone else, no matter their feelings or prejudices) to your kids, in our schools.

The Epistemological Drama
Do you think that that matters? To put the matter in a more familiar context, here's a statement that depends upon a traditional epistemology:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"
, and here's a very different claim that depends upon a very different epistemology than that of our Founders:
"We support Diversity, Equity and Inclusion"
These two examples represent two entirely different epistemologies, and they are entirely incompatible with each other - each is a refutation of the other - don't you think that you should understand whether either of those statements are true, or false, and how to justify one or the other?

If you know nothing about epistemology - yours or theirs - how are you going to argue the point?

Note: The question is not 'should you use an epistemology?', but rather 'Are you aware of the epistemology that you are using?!' You are using a form of epistemology in evaluating what is 'claimed to be known', and in justifying what you think is worth knowing, but if you aren't at least somewhat familiar with the uses and misuses of how such matters are justified and verified, then your thinking will be muddled, and the other side will roll over your 'b...b...buh..but!'s like a tank.

What does it mean to say that something is justifiable? Ironically, even asking the question means assuming the existence of the same objective truth that the Woke despise, but handily enough for them, denying it also 'frees' them from any such logical concerns, yet it doesn't do away with the fact that the traditional view is not only what our nation was founded upon, but is the True North which our ideas of Education were once rooted in and oriented around. And neither position frees you from the responsibility of consciously considering whether or not "... that particular knowledge is objective and universal...", and whether or not understanding that it's true "... is desirable, or even possible..." - and evaluating how to understand and affirm or deny those questions, is what epistemology does.

The fact is that epistemology sets the tone for every claim - sensible or nonsensical - in our culture, politics, law, and the education of those who go into each of those fields. Sound epistemology is critical to being able to identify and orient towards True North, and unsound epistemology is what we all use to justify wandering off of the straight & narrow, whether that be the sloppiness of slightly astray, or the deliberate thumb in the eye of a 180* turn in the opposite direction.

Speaking of which, as we like to look back on the 1940s and 1950s as being fairly solidly patriotic decades in America, have you ever wondered how it was possible that John Dewey's people were able to send an official invitation to the members of the Marxist Frankfurt School, to come to America and set up shop at Columbia University (more on that invitation in coming posts)? Do you suppose that their cool German accents charmed everyone and got them a free pass? Or... was it that those at the heart of our school systems who were exceedingly familiar with the meanings and justifications of epistemology, even then, understood and welcomed such a radically incompatible set of Marxists into America, knowing that their intention was to undermine and subvert the ideals that America was derived from, and confident that they could get away with doing so?

And yet most Americans, and certainly most students, were unable to recognize what those beliefs meant to their own lives, and to the lives of their children, and grandchildren, and because they didn't recognize the threat, and wouldn't have been able to defend their beliefs against them if they had, we are in the position we are in today where it's not only Academic America that is rabidly and openly anti-American in their beliefs and actions.

If we don't learn to recognize and defend the ideas of those truths that we hold to be self-evident, from the supporters of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion who mean to eradicate them, what effect do you suppose that will have upon your children, and grandchildren, and nation tomorrow?

The fact is that the values and rules of behavior that a society develops, are based upon what they're able to agree upon as being right and wrong, and for that to be possible, they first need to be able to say that something is (which is Metaphysics), and from there we must give consideration to how we know what does and does not qualify as knowledge of it and how to verify it (Epistemology), because only then can anyone have anything meaningful to say about what is right & wrong to do in light of what is known to be true (which is Ethics).

When arguing with someone (which does not mean either fighting or debating) who disagrees with you, you're engaging in a process of reasoning with them by identifying what each of you see from your varying perspectives, and then comparing your initial mental sketches to what you both can see of the actual landscape, and that often involves (and requires) congenially directing and shifting your vantage points this way & that to see things from the other person's point of view so as to compare and find what landmarks you can agree upon - or the lack of them -between your wordscapes and the actual landscape that you both inhabit. Progress in an honest argument isn't marked by a win or a loss, but by finding that your sketches have revealed something clearer - whether that be a mere glimpse or full scenic view - of what can be agreed upon between you, and better understood about each other, and verified, as being real and true, and that is employing and practicing the epistemological process that was implicit in the traditional reasoning that our Founder's era was familiar with.

Under that traditional view, notions typical of its adversary in Social Epistemology, such as 'what's true for you, may not be true for me', would be dismissed out of hand as being unserious and potentially dangerous sentiments that undermines and outright attacks our ability to reason together towards some mutual understanding. It's not looking for an honest (meaning what?) argument, even as it demands the results of one with your agreement (or compliance) without its cause: having reasoned towards a mutual understanding of what is real and true. What they want to avoid at all costs, is an honest argument. Statements such as that are not a call for truce, but a passive/aggressive attempt to verbally overpower your moral objections to their position, which gives them a foothold in your own mind, from your having implicitly legitimized their falsehoods by accepting them as possibly *true* (meaning what?), when in fact what is real and true, are obstacles to the wordscapes they expect you to either accept, tolerate, or submit to. When you nod along with such statements, you're missing the fact that whatever you had thought was important to adhere to, has been reduced to their level as a now meaningless *truth*, as you've surrendered the epistemological battle you didn't even realize you were fighting.

Solzhenitsyn's call to 'Live not by lies' is truly meaningless, if you cannot recognize or defend what is and is not true.

Prior to modernity, the process which epistemology now refers to wasn't seen as being so distinct, intricate, or confusing enough, to warrant being designated as a distinct field of study, as other than a handful of outright cynics and skeptics which most reasonable people generally dismissed out of hand, the fundamentals of philosophy - metaphysics, logic, ethics - already covered what could be known and how we could know it, as naturally followed from Aristotle's first rule of thought, from his metaphysics, essentially that:
a thing cannot both be, and not be, at the same time and in the same context.
, the ability to give reasonable consideration, and the ability to apply the logical method, follows from understanding that, and through that understanding, a person can be expected to reliably come to know the nature of what they do and do not know, and to understand how they know it, which forms an informal epistemology of how 'you know what you know', and the ability to logically verify it. As a result of attempting to deny that first rule of thought, we now have not only a field called 'Epistemology', and something called 'epistemic adequacy' (that you know that 'it is what it is'), but wildly divergent systems of epistemology which accept and justify 'concepts' that are in conflict with that first rule of thought, and any thought which follows from it. That is of course still the basis of a valid epistemology, and any claim that denies, or attempts to spin that statement, is invalid and an unjustifiable epistemology, as are those ideals and ideologies that are built upon them. And yes, if you know that, and know that their claims are based upon invalid epistemologies, all you need to do is expose that, and their game of ideological Jenga comes tumbling down.

A good first step in that direction: 'What do you mean by 'True'?

We tend to marvel at people not being reasonable today, but anyone who fails to engage in reasoning without anchoring their effort in the reality below their thinking, and with truth as the star above that guides it, cannot reasonably be expected to maintain even the appearances of being reasonable for long. Without a regard for what is real and true, the need to find mutual understanding and a connection to what is true, all 'arguments' and statements must devolve into either conveniences of mutual admiration, or confrontations which can only be 'resolved' through some contest of power, whether that be by tallying up the quantities of 'likes' and 'dislikes' for it, or by physical force or the threat of it, and as Thrasymachus put such notions of 'Might makes Right' to Socrates:
'...I proclaim that justice is nothing else than the interest of the stronger'.
Reason without truth is ideology, its aim is power, and its means are the politics of force, which require that the laws of right reason be transformed into arbitrary rules to be obeyed without question, or else. We'll begin taking a deeper dive into what this is, and isn't, and how your ability to know can be undermined, in the next post.