Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ask Richard

It's like an open forum, but with Richard 'stead of Fiery.

Have at 'im.

;) But be gentle, it's his first time.

51 comments:

Traceytreasure said...

I would like to know why you put "crummy High School student" in your profile.

And, also what is it about the Bible that makes it one of your favorite books?

If you don't want to answer, I'll understand. It's none of my business anyway! I'm just curious!

Thanks for this Fiery, I love reading Richard's comments at your site!

Protium said...

Richard would you be able to give a talk at my Atheist Meetup in Perth?

Richard said...

Okay, this is a surprise... Fiery didn't even warn me, I never volunteered either, but it should be fun!

Richard said...

TraceyT,

I would like to dismiss the Bible question first...

Here is the full context of its listing on my profile. It has a hint that should answer it.

"Despicable books: Voltaire's Bastards, Silent Spring, Handmaiden's Tale, Bible"

;-)

Traceytreasure said...

My Bad! Thank you, Richard! One more question please?

Why don't you have a blog?

I really wish you did!
Thanks!

Half rabbit said...

Who is the dog and child in your new profile picture?

Richard said...

TracyT,

Thank you for the accolade... it always helps!

My High School story explanation would barely be meaningful if it were not told as a part of my Education story. So, I will tell it with good reason, which I identify explicitly at the end. However, and with no apology, it is going to be damn long.

It never ceases to amaze me how I came to where I am today.

My highest grade average in the five years I spent from Gr.10 to Gr 13 was in the last year, a mere 63.2% Yet, I was accepted into a University program where the minimum mark was 75% if it came with recommendations.

The reasons for my low grade are numerous, starting with going to 11 different schools from grade 1 to grade 6.

In Gr. 3 I lived in N. Ontario for one school year. The school had eight grades, in eight rows, and only one teacher.
The Indians sat in the back seats of each row, and the teachers desk was set up behind them. We never knew what he was watching!

The school was closed quite often, because, when the outdoor temperature dropped below -40, the wood stove could not heat it to 10 deg Celsius (50 F). We played outside of course :-)

When the temperature was above -40 the older Indian boys had to come to school early to fire up the wood stove. Then, when us Whites, and the Indian girls & little Indian boys arrived, two hours later(!), the school would be comfortable.

I had a strong English accent, that the teacher construed as arrogance towards him. If I pronounced words like "tall" and "fast" in my English accent, as I spoke to him, I would get ridiculed in front of the whole class, and I even got the strap a few times.

That teacher was just one bully among many. I was bullied constantly at recess and wherever the bullies encountered me alone on the streets. The bullying carried on right into my first year of High School.

Of greater consequence was my inability to understand the arithmetic that teacher taught. Again, he would ridicule me publicly, or give me the strap if my score on his tests was under 50%.

He told the whole class that it was his job to give us the strap if we performed badly. He said if our parents found out they would be even angrier with us --a big threat for us whites, and a massive threat for the Indian kids! Significant beatings were not uncommon, especially on the Reservation.

It was not until late May that one boy had enough guts to tell his Mum. The town (Gogama) let the teacher finish the year, and for that last few weeks of school, no one got the strap. Not even the Indians.

To this day, 48 yrs later, nothing buries me more than accounting...

To jump ahead for a moment, I struggled with Statistical Analysis courses that I made myself take as an undergrad. I parroted my way through with B- grades. Then, during my M.Sc. I made myself understand Statistical Analysis by analyzing the three top Stats texts in parallel --seeing how each author explained the same concepts until I understood them for myself. I even did the exercises.

I learned it so thoroughly that, as word got out, grad. students from various Departments would come to me for help. In my last two years, a few professors, including my thesis adviser even began coming to me for advice.

The point is not how good I was at stats, but that I could surely do accounting if my damn brain would shake the mental confusion that takes over when I try, thanks to that Gr. 3 teacher.

In my last year of Jr. High School (Gr 9) the vice principal arranged a counseling meeting with my mother and me. Straight to my face he told us I was too stupid to even take the two year course in high school, but that I should try the one year Grade Ten Basic (read "dunce") Course and then find a job. I felt the same hate for him that I felt for that teacher in Gr. 3. By that time I wondered why anyone went to school!

About 6 weeks before the winter exams in Gr. 10 I had a significant 'bruising' injury to the tops of my tibias, just below the kneecap. It resulted in my spending 5 weeks in hospital (largely due to misdiagnoses). Sure enough, I flunked grade ten.

I think that saved me intellectually! I was allowed to repeat Gr 10, and since it was a repeat, I was put into a full University Stream class, likely as an attempt to flunk me out.

I did not excel, only managing a 62% with no mark under 55%. My kind Geography teacher explained to me that the standards and degree of difficulty in that Stream was considerably harder than what I experienced in my first yr of Gr 10. She encouraged me to keep going and to try harder. With some kicking and screaming (actually it was begging) the school allowed me to continue with that group.

I struggled along in each grade, still wondering why the dickens we had to learn such crap. I couldn't remember French, and was even worse with History. In Gr 12 Mr McGaughy said he would change my final mark from 36% to 55%, if I promised I would never do anything with History again. I sure took that offer!!! English made no sense to me whatsoever, and Math... good grief. But I was okay at geometry and good at programming in Fortran, no less... my school was the first one in Ontario to have a computer! We typed our own punch cards, it read them, and printed out the program and its output. I could manage in the sciences, especially biology and geography.

In my first year of grade ten I shot up to 6' but weighed 118 lbs. I was scrawnier than a runway model. In my second year of Gr 10, because of bullying, I decided to get stronger so, my knees now better, I joined the track team, the swim team AND a competitive swimming club that ran about third place in Canada.

I ran well, but knew I had to really work at swimming. I never ate in the morning and afternoon until after my training hours. Nonetheless, on a completely empty stomach, I puked almost every morning at the school workout, and puked again every evening at the club workout. From the sheer effort I put out I would reel from lack of oxygen between repeats, my face felt like it would blow up, and my limbs would burn as surely as if I had put my muscles, all of them, in a microwave on "High". My heart rate was continuously pounding at well over 200 bpm, the highest I knew of was 210 bpm. We had no swim goggles back then, and my eyes poured tears all morning from the chlorine. But, it started to show results. In my first swim meet I swam faster than 'Tarzan' --Johnny Weismuller, who held the 1940s world record for 100m front crawl, except this was 1968.

One year later I was 165 lbs, held several high school regional records, and two Ontario records --as anchor man for my swim club's National Group medley and freestyle relay teams. Making the National Group was, to me, like getting a 99% average. My music teacher came to one of my workouts at school. Later, in front of my music class he said, "You know, Richard, if you put 1/10th the effort into music that you put into swimming, you could make the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in three years." I didn't want that, but I got the point. The trick was knowing how to apply it to my mind.

By grade thirteen I had boxes of trophies and medals, and my club's relay team had set a Canadian record, in which my personal time tied the Canadian record for 50m freestyle. My high school swim team beat all Ontario high schools every year in the provincial championships. We were thee team everyone knew about.

My high school coach was a math teacher. At my last high school provincial championship he made me sit in a University classroom near the pool where the championship was taking place. I did math for four solid days, and he coaxed me, explained to me, repeated to me and generally showed me more patience and trust that I would learn than anyone ever had. I tried as hard as I could, but memorized more than understood.

In all those years of struggling in swimming, for whatever reasons they had, my parents only came to two, of the hundreds of swim meets I competed in. This was the second time. I set a new Ontario record, only to have it snatched from me by Lance Peto, a swimmer from California who had joined his school's team only a month earlier. He was 6' 3", 210 lbs of muscle, with hands the size of ping pong paddles. My hands were like those of a 5'6" girl.

That said, OMG...I got a 66% in the math exam three days later!! I knew which was more important, to me, the record or the Math mark. Only 55% in English, but a 73% in biology. Can't remember the other six marks, but the average was 63.2%

I was awarded high school athlete-of-the-year. But something far far more important also occurred. My coach, my biology teacher (who prompted me, "if one has half a brain" to start reading Scientific American, which I did, from cover to cover for the next fifteen years), and the high school principal persuaded both the University of Toronto and Guelph University Admissions people, along with the University swim coaches, to admit me for one semester, on probation. [I have to admit, I am so grateful to them, that just writing about this has me literally crying, and I can hardly type.]

The Guelph Univ. deal was that I had to get 65% with no marks under 55%. So, except for swimming and running with the X-country team, I did nothing but go to class, study and work 15 hours a day; the rest was eating and sleeping. I never went home (45 min away) on weekends. I figured if I worked like I swam that, as hopelessly dumb as I was, I might be able to justify those letters from my high school coaches, my bio teacher and principal, and the money my parents paid in tuition.

It is important to mention that, in that semester, one lecture in the Intro Physics course inspired me further. Did you know that electrons that are standing still produce no magnetic field? You think that's trivial? It is not! Think of static electricity, where the average movement of electrons is zero. No magnetic field is present, none! But a physicist put a VanderGraaf Static Electricity Generator, the one's that make kids' hair stand on end, on a rotating arm. Fully charged, the generator had no magnetic field, but when the whole thing was spun on the rotating arm, a magnetic field appeared! No one yet knows how or why! What are the electrons interacting with, when they move?

Space, as in the space between atoms, is apparently NOT nothing!!! "That totally blew my mind, Man", --it was the seventies you know. "Holy Sh_t, Science really doesn't know everything, and that is absolutely amazing!" Above all, education to me was no longer a matter of just satisfying social conventions and 'The Man', after all. It really was something that even I needed. I HAD to know.

That first semester I got 69%, with my lowest mark being 58%, in Introductory Mathematics of course. "Introductory??" I would think to myself, "What the f_ck was all that math in high school about???"

In the second semester I came down with mononucleosis, quit training for both teams. Then I swam the University Provincial Championships and matched all my best times, AND my final average was 73%! WOOOHOO. I might make this afterall.

I kept working that way for seven more semesters (two per yr).

By third year I was getting A's with a 98% in a Computer Programming Course. In a Biochem course I, and many others, blew a fairly significant test. We were given the opportunity to wipe it off our transcript if we exceeded 80% on the next one. Among other things, we had to fully know, the molecular structures (and names of enzymes) of the two complex metabolic pathways (pw) that are essential to most forms of life: the Tricarboxylic Acid pw, and Photosynthesis-- and several peripheral metabolic steps as well. And we had to be able to explain them in writing. I holed up in an empty classroom for three days, writing them out from memory on the blackboard again and again. On the Monday of the test, at 1:00 am I still did not think I had it, and collapsed in tears. I stayed up the rest of the night... 92%. I did it.

Around exams I was even cutting swim workouts short to make damn sure I did well.

People would come to me for help, and make comments like, "this is too hard for me, but you're really smart so I thought maybe you could help me". These comments always made my brain feel like it had been slammed into a vice of disbelief: "I am not 'smart' you ass, I just work my own ass off!"

In fourth year, I had no choice but to take a course from one of the two most dreaded professors in all the Biological Sciences. Our biggest assignment was given in two sentences:
"Perform a complete wildlife and habitat assessment of the Guelph University Arboretum. Any submissions after 10 am Monday, the dd/mm, will be completely ignored, and you will be given 0/15 final term marks."

I was stunned, what the hell is a "habitat assessment"? Is he going to teach it to us? Crap, I have three major tests the same week! "Screw waiting for him to teach it, I have to get it done or I am TOAST! I'm hitting the library!"

Several days later I was in the arboretum, identifying plants, seeking animal sign, counting and plotting everything on little maps I made. Two weeks later I was making it all presentable in a written report with tables, maps and lists. I even included certain animal and plant diversity indices for the different habitats. Thank-Me that I did it early and handed it in. Like everyone else in the course, I had serious Stats, Physics and Limnology exams looming in the same week it was due. With that out of the way I could study for them.

On the Friday of the second week before it was due, dozens of students of the 80 in that course, were shouting and swearing (!!!) at the professor for not having taught them how to do it. He let them go on for about ten minutes. Then he said, "When you are working for some businessman, academic, or ministry official, would this be your response when assigned some job you were unfamiliar with?" Without pausing he launched into his lecture for the day. He proceeded so quickly someone said, "could you please slow down." -> "Your classmates wasted this time, I cannot afford to." He completed the lecture in spite of the lost time. My writing hand hurt like hell, and the dent in my index finger stayed for an hour after I left his class.

The Monday a week after the assignments were handed in, in class, he announced that Richard Bxxxx was to come to his office at 7:30 am tomorrow. You could have heard a pin drop. For the rest of the day people I did not know were commiserating with me in sympathy and fear.

The next morning I was there, sitting in front of his desk. My assignment was on it, face down. Aside from "good morning, he said, "My secretary's date stamp indicates that you handed this in two weeks early. I just wanted to know who you were, without the rest of the class around you". He briefly asked why I was in biology and what I wanted to do. I parroted to him the Career Goals I put on my resume: "A) Discovering knew knowledge is probably the most valuable thing a man can do... B) Teaching knowledge to others is the other most valuable thing a man can do."

The next Monday he came to class with all the assignments and dumped them, save one, on a desk. "The highest mark on that desk is the highest mark I have ever given for this assignment in the past: 12/15. Today, I have a new highest mark. You may pick your assignments up at the end of the lecture." Immediately, he began lecturing, but as he did HE, the GOD and TERROR of Wildlife Biology walked to ME, at my seat, and gave me my report, face up so I could read the mark on the front. 15/15! Suddenly I was a god to the rest of the class. As we left the lecture theater, I was surrounded. I showed my friends, and ran.

It was Fred Gilbert who recommended me to McGill to pursue a Wildlife Biology M.Sc. Now he is the President of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Once again, a decent and Objective man had spurred me to redouble my intellectual efforts.

My M.Sc was 125 pages. I only allowed my thesis director one edit, and then submitted it to the Graduate Faculty without his permission. It garnered 2 Excellents and one Good'+'. Two years later McGill University allowed M.Sc. students to convert to Ph.D. programs if they could qualify. I knew I could have had that doctorate, but there was no way I was going to repeat the process, grovel through the terrible examples set by so many of the professors. McGill did not extend that opportunity to past M.Sc. grads. Furthermore, I didn't need it... I knew I could do whatever I wanted as long as I thought hard, read hard, and worked hard.

I spent fifteen years as a Research Biologist for the Ontario Government. and had a brief and stifling stint as Assistant Curator OF Mammalogy at The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. Then I read, and then studied Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism with the same determination to understand. The impact of gaining a proper understanding Objectivism, by literally reworking the way my mind used concepts, was the most important intellectual achievement of my life. But, I can proudly say, it fit the trend line I set myself, when I began swimming, AND refused to leave that University stream high school program. I became a high school biology teacher for half the pay.

What's the hardest thing to learn? What goes on in the heads of others, ...and when you can or cannot rely on them. That conundrum has been disastrous to me... I have to think harder still!! Still, even if I was living in a cardboard box under a bridge, I would be proud of myself. No man should settle for less.

Why did I write all this?

Because NO ONE should EVER, EVER give up on their mind, nor give up on the mind of any child, EVER!

******

This is a poem about a boy, trying to find his own mind, while under the tutelage of priests. You may consider "priests' to include the 'intellectuals' and teachers of public educations, as the meaning of the poem applies just as accurately. Read it with care, and its meaning will jump out at you as sharply as if you had suddenly sliced open your hand in the kitchen.

A Little Boy Lost

Nought loves another as itself,
Nor venerates another so,
Nor is it possible to thought
A greater than itself to know.

"And, father, how can I love you
Or any of my brothers more?
I love you like the little bird
That picks up crumbs around the door."

The Priest sat by and heard the child;
In trembling zeal he seized his hair,
He led him by his little coat,
And all admired the priestly care.

And standing on the altar high,
"Lo, what a fiend is here!' said he:
"One who sets reason up for judge
Of our most holy mystery."

The weeping child could not be heard,
The weeping parents wept in vain:
They stripped him to his little shirt,
And bound him in an iron chain,

And burned him in a holy place
Where many had been burned before;
The weeping parents wept in vain.
Are such things done on Albion's shore?

(William Blake 1757 — 1827)

Albion (white) is the popular name given England back then. The best signal perspective of England was derived from its Southern shores: the White Cliffs of Dover, which were made of chalk, and struck the eyes of mariners from many miles off shore.

Richard said...

Protium,

I'd be there on time, and ready with an entire speech totally memorized, if I could. And
I would be proud to meet you too. However, as I ended my last comment, the hardest thing is knowing what is going on in the minds of others.

I could only do it if ALL expenses were paid, even though I'd pay to do it if I could!

Why?

In 2001, at the recommendation of a marriage councilor, who saw that my wife was wrecking our marriage, and to my wife's face, I was advised to divorce my wife of twenty years. 9/11 reduced the value of our home by $80,000.

The greatest pain? We had adopted two wonderful girls, now 9 & 13, on the grounds that our relationship as stable parents was unassailable.

The next woman in my life, Melanie, arrived about a year after my divorce. She was a paragon of virtue and honesty. She was brilliant in studying Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. She understood and discussed more articulately than a Richard Dawkins, the morality, the romance and all the rest of Objectivism. How I could go on about, what was for ME, her remarkable perfection!

In spite of having been married and in love before, this was utterly new. I was Objectively in Love; she was my spiritual image, my perfect desire, my most tender affection, my ultimate work of Art and, unbelievably, I could watch her every day, every minute, while she lived with me. It wasn't her beauty (she could be runway stunning), it was who she was! I would have gladly thrown myself in front of a train if it would ensure that SHE could live.

She proceeded to go, I now know, literally, nuts (likely, Borderline Personality Disorder and she ripped me off for the last $50,000 I had, even as she was earning $85,000/yr as a veterinarian. It has been 17 months since she left me, and SHE is still the most overwhelming thing in my thoughts, even asleep it is her as she was when I fell in love with her, each night, as if I never slept. I wake with her, and fall asleep with her, I clean my car for her, plant seeds in my garden for her, and fold my clothes thinking of ironing and folding her clothes.

Imagine that your 15 year old son, academically brilliant, courteous, thoughtful, entertainingly humorous, never angry, is suddenly found, irrefutably, to have raped and nearly killed a 12 year old girl. Such is my pain.

In Canada, the courts do not give a damn if you are male in such situations. If the genders were reversed, I would have easily been awarded $100,000 for [her] actions. A small compensation at best, but unavailable.

From 2003(!) I have been struggling to set up an Internet business (not yet to be revealed, but Fiery may tell you in person). My very best friends' son took on the website design and programming, confident that it could be done in six months or so. How could I refuse? Except he and a programmer he works with have now taken six times the six months he said it would take. The site and its back-end database structure requires quite a lot of difficult coding and structure.

Paying for my home, my kids, Melanie, etc. over those years is about to bankrupt me. Can't even retire. I need an entrepreneurial "angel" who does not require 51% of my business.

Man, would I love to fly to Perth and give a talk to a group of atheists, but I can hardly afford to drive to the Leash-Free Dog Park (see my next response) each day.

Wheres's the Brandy?

Richard said...

Dear HalfRabbit,

Did you know that the movie, Rabbit Proof Fence, is a crock of sh_t? Every Aussie should!

Read Keith Windschuttle, an Australian Historian who has kicked the intellectual BS out of the academic historians who argue that whites have trashed aborigines. Not only in Oz, but in N. America too! His best book? "The Killing of History".

Windschuttle is a brilliant and honest, independent, mind... so very rare.

As for your question...

Melissa, in the picture, is my younger (9) adopted daughter. I was Mr. Mom for her, for three years, before and during my divorce.

My parenting approach to a baby?

Let her play by herself, but drop in on her regularly to be sure the needs she cannot manage herself are met, while leaving her to solve her other interests. Slip toys and interesting objects into her field of view, without her knowing they came from ME. Leave the room but peak in every few minutes, from around the corner, and periodically drop right in **for fun with Melissa time**.

She is now in grade three at a Montessori school, where she began at 2.5 yrs of age. Every year her teachers are effusive as to how perfect a "Montessori child" she is. She is so effective, that she needs only wonder, aloud, to her classmates who are not working effectively, or who are disturbing others, why they "would want to do that". The kids to whom her comments are directed, immediately focus on their work. The teachers repeatedly remark that with her in the class there is no need for discipline; the whole class eventually 'gets it'. They say, with Melissa in the class, they have never had an easier year. How much I love that child.

In the picture, Melissa, is playing with Jayda, who loves Melissa as much as she loves me, even though Jayda sees Melissa two days in two weeks. I love that.

Jayda is 1/2 Border Collie, 1/4 small German Shepherd and 1/4 Greyhound!. She runs with obvious joy, outstripping every dog, save for actual Greyhounds. Other dog owners actually clap their hands with joy as Jayda peels about the park, or leaps 5 feet in the air to catch a Frisbee.

Jayda was found by a farmer, in one of his fields, so starved that she could barely stand. Two weeks later, in August 2007, my daughters and I 'adopted' her from an SPCA. Now she is 45 lbs, and her ribs still stand out! Her weight, when the farmer picked up a staggering, ragged, wreck of a dog, in his arms, was 30 lbs!! My vet (not Melanie) figured she was about 2 1/2 yrs old.

I have had a number of pure-bred dogs: a Labrador Retriever, a Bouvier des Flandres, a pair of Scottish Deerhounds, a Golden Doodle (with Melanie), and though I loved all of them, Jayda is incredibly better. Jayda is delightful with kids, quick to learn (though she knew 'zip' when we adopted her), funny because she 'talks' to us using growling, yowling, whiny sounds that make one laugh, the best Frizbee catcher, the best obstacle course runner (learns in three tries), and the most attentive dog of the hundreds that frequent the Leash Free Park, she sits on a 'Stay' even when three dogs are jumping on her head and snuffling her groin! Imagine that April!

Even though I spend the most time with her, who does Jayda choose to play with at the LFP? Melissa! It makes perfect sense!

As for the picture. It is the first snowfall in the fall of 2007. I have had Jayda for four months. Jayda is utterly focused on Melissa. If you look closely, you may see that snow flakes dot the image. The two don't care. It's just them in the World! How wonderful is that? ..for a Dad. Oh my G_d I love them so.

Oh, I have to tell you how I came by her name. I had named my Scottish Deerhounds Brady and Jenna, and Jayda popped out of my subconscious before I had brought her home... If you can see the emphases: Brady and Jenna make Jayda.

So where's the fun?? Jayda Pincket is Will Smith's wife. And! ...I have a have a canary with some green amongst its yellow feathers, so I named it "Willow". Willow is Will Smith's daughter! Now I need a pet I can name Jayden, and another I can name 'Will', and his whole family will be 'honoured' by my pets! Hah.. :-)

Richard said...

Tracy T

I may start one that is in the philosophical direction of my internet website business intention. That latter site is the important thing in my productive life, This is practice. :-)

Richard said...

TrceyT.

I meant to say, innocent errors are not your "bad". They are jewels, because they are opportunities to get something right. Wish for more of them.

Richard said...

Kee...rihst
it's after 5:00 am! The morning radio show I listen to has already started! I started answering you guys nine hours ago!

Sooooh...typos in the above comments may be attributed to the hour. My apologies for sticking to responding so fully to your questions, when I'm so beat. No wonder I 'lost it' that night I was memorizing metabolic pathways in respiration and photosynthesis.

You 'guys' are great. Good night/morning.

P.S. ...ask me harder questions, I'd love trying to do them justice...

firm handshake or XOXO's as appropriate.

Moi.

Half rabbit said...

Did you know that the movie, Rabbit Proof Fence, is a crock of sh_t? Every Aussie should!

Yes I knew that, the comments by the girl the movie was based on was especially interesting.

Read Keith Windschuttle, an Australian Historian who has kicked the intellectual BS out of the academic historians who argue that whites have trashed aborigines. Not only in Oz, but in N. America too! His best book? "The Killing of History".

Windschuttle is a brilliant and honest, independent, mind... so very rare.


Another book to read that's not in the local library system. I will fill the interlibrary loan forms out when I finish a few of the books in my reading pile. I can't comment on the above mentioned debate but I just finished a early Australian history course and the amount of times b******t was mentioned regarding what is taught and thought of as Australian history was too numerous to count.

In Gr 12 Mr McGaughy said he would change my final mark from 36% to 55%, if I promised I would never do anything with History again

I hope that didn't have to do with self learning as you just demonstrated you broke it ;)

Traceytreasure said...

Richard, Why haven't you written a memoir or a manuscript? I thought that I had lived an "interesting" life but you've got me beat. I find you so fascinating with all of your trials and tribulation. You are so brilliant and some of your writings bring me to tears. I've only been clean and sober for 10 years. I was on a mission most of my life to kill most of my brain cells and I think that I may have succeeded most days. I only wish that I'd killed some of my memory. Thank you for this! I appreciate your honesty and if I don't sound very smart, now you know why! Best wishes and warm regards!

Richard said...

Dear TraceyT.

Memoirs? I do not think my life is sufficiently unique. And I still have a lot to do.

And, yes, a blog is part of my Internet business plan, but it will be oriented to that business.

Tracey, you still have more than enough brain cells ;-) You write clearly and thoughtfully, with good diction.

It is a myth that brain cells stop growing and arranging themselves by our late teen years.

It is true that those at risk of Alzheimer's disease dramatically stave it off, or even prevent it, by actively engaging their minds in abstract thinking Even regular use of difficult crossword puzzles makes a big difference, though there are better ways to invest one's time. One must just make the time and produce the necessary effort to do so.

I read, in what I recall as being a reliable source (but now I can neither cite it nor verify it), that serious students of Objectivism substantially raise their IQ by some 10-15 points.

To repeat myself:
"NO ONE should EVER, EVER give up on their mind ... EVER!"

I wish you, and everyone here, Right Premises, and the integrity to act upon them.

Richard said...

Dear 1/2Rabbit,

You quoted me,

"In Gr 12 Mr McGaughy said he would change my final mark from 36% to 55%, if I promised I would never do anything with History again."

And remarked,

"I hope that didn't have to do with self learning as you just demonstrated you broke it." ;-)


Yes, I have in a sense, however I believe the terms of that contract were first broken by him.

History is useless if one does not understand that it is driven by the dominant ideas of each era and region in which significant events occur. History is driven by philosophy.

I learned that, whereas he, and the large majority of teachers and academics of History have not. They thereby ruin the subject for 99.9% of their students; the rest just love the facts and events.
But they will not properly understand the reasons they occurred, and will eventually teach and act on History in the same way their teachers did.

A case in point: history shows that negotiation, compromise and appeasement of murderous tyrants only benefits the tyrants. Blasting the hell out of them and their support systems (incl. people) returns their part of the World to something human. America did that with Japan and Germany in five years. Since then America's leaders --supported by academics and citizens-- have only made things worse, for having woefully failed to learn from History.

Richard said...

Go here , scroll down and look. Just had to share it.

Traceytreasure said...

Those pictures were amazing, Richard! Thank you very much for sharing those! Hope you have a great weekend. Thanks again for everything!

Half rabbit said...

Offtopic: Fiery here are some buttons for you. Now you can annoy people to make them put them on their blogs. If you like them tell me any changes you want made.

http://halfrabbit.blogspot.com/2008/05/buttons-for-fiery.html

Protium said...

Well Richard. You've made me laugh, you've made me cry, you've made me respect you more than I already did AND you've made me respect me and my own brain.

What more could anyone wish for. Thank you for all your words :)

I'm trying to think of a hard question for you.

Poodles said...

I suppose my life has been boring in comparison... Trying to come up with an interesting question...I got nuthin'. I will keep thinking.

Richard said...

Here are some topics while Fiery flies:

don't recycle, dictatorships have no right to self determination, United Nations seeks World domination, romantic love, rain-forests are not the "lungs of the Earth", unlimited population growth, unlimited dumps, homosexuality, state lotteries, child rights and pedophilia, compulsory education (truancy laws), anti-drug laws are immoral, copyright is essential, aboriginals didn't know squat, pets vs meat, rational charity as selfish, terrorism is by nations, why Atlas Shrugged, 'rape in The Fountainhead, how to read, homosexuality is not a moral issue, legalizing illicit drugs, roads and laissez-faire capitalism, censorship & pornography, funding government without taxation, photography is not art, Libertarianism cannot succeed, America was not founded on Xtianity: Plymouth Rock vs Jamestown, why socialized medicine hurts the people who need it the most, violence against women is of little concern, alternative medicine, privatize the oceans, 'Green' energy production cannot work, open immigration, only nuclear energy, let children know swearing, privatize air space, privatize all waterways, oil spills are good, put men in space: ban NASA, no such thing as a nuclear waste problem, genetic modification is only good, laissez-faire monopolies are good, how to tell your kid you and your spouse are divorcing, protected elephants die off faster than hunted elephants, real conservation, multiculturalism is racist, concept formation, objectivity vs subjectivity -explained, growing baby's mind --exposure, independence, reading, and play; foreign policy, Santa Claus is real, Environmentalists against the environment, racism is a Black thing, why women shouldn't have the vote, Europeans did not take land from the Indians, Hiroshima was good for Japaneses citizens, OSS has a place, but it is not an ideal, MacDonald's advertising is not responsible for child obesity - parents are, guns don't kill people do.

Half rabbit said...

So we are meant to interrogate you about all those topics?

I'll start with what do you mean by "Santa Claus is real."

Johnny said...

Romantic Love - It is always heartbreaking, usually more for one half than the other, when loves labour is lost(my apologies Bill). Straight up it hurts like fuck! A hurt that, unlike physical hurt, lingers and is hard to get over, because you give yourself and most importantly your trust(when one truly falls) in all matters of your life. As in a lot of things involving the human condition the paradox is that one grows from this pain and those who have never really experienced heartbreak, personally I think it would be fewer than more, know less than those who have. I am sorry for your heartbreak Richard. In your case it seems more than I have experienced, bad enough that someone should fall out of love with you or, some might think worse, not to have been there in the first place. To have that person then commit a malicious act against you thereby displaying contempt or hatred seems worse. I am alludng to being ripped of to the tune of 50 grand, especially someone you had seen as a paragon of virtue and honesty. You briefly mention Canadian law, had you not been able to apprehend her to get into court to recoup the stolen money or did the deflation of a lost love leave you unable to act? I know this would probably be the case for me. I hope this is not too intrusive.

Richard said...

"Santa Claus is real" **

I met him, so I know! I have commented on how I know, here.

[Thanks for the Google Search plug-in, fiery!]

I have mentioned Gogama a couple of times on this blog. This Google satellite image shows where it is. Zoom out until you can see the east shores of L. Superior.

When I was there (1959-60), Hwy 144 was a narrow dirt road with a lot of ruts. You can see that to this day there are no other towns within a 100 km (60 miles). To my surprise, there is a wiki about Gogama. I have a vague memory of both buildings in the picture. I think the square dancing lessons, that my parents signed me up for, were upstairs in the building on the right.

Depending how you look at it, Santa Claus, done well, is real as a character in a play. I now believe 'he' should only be presented as a play character to children. Of course, Half Rabbit, the way he is usually presented is an impossibility... but for a time the mystical Santa was very real to me.

I think the usual presentation of Santa significantly contributes to children also accepting the existence of Jesus and then God. It is an intellectual fraud perpetrated on one's own children.

More about Father Christmas's visit:

One of the things in the stockings, that Xmas in Gogama, was a block of chewy, brown, sweet 'stuff' wrapped in cellophane. The only label on it was a gold sticker that had a camel with two small palm trees, done in simple red lines. Martin and I started calling it "camel meat". It was really good to eat, but our parents, who seemed to be doing something else, had started laughing hysterically. They collapsed into the chairs with tears in their eyes, and just could not stop laughing. Oh well, who knows what parents are thinking?

Every Xmas for the next five years we found "camel meat" in our stockings. The fourth Xmas, Martin showed the camel meat to my austere Aunt, who had not been in on the joke. She said, "What do you mean, 'camel meat' from Father Christmas? That's ridiculous, those are just dried and pressed figs." She admits to this day that she could never understand what to do with children.

Well, the dried figs came the next Christmas too. I was thirteen. It was not until the next fall that I realized Father Christmas was not real.

...


** I actually stuck "Santa Clause is real" into the list to see if anyone was really looking at it... and it was the first thing picked off! :-)

Richard said...

Johnny,

Three different, well established, female lawyers made it clear to me that I could get not get enough to be worth the time, let alone to pay for them! One had tears in her eyes for me.

All three said they see it far too often, and that the judges are the problem. If Melanie's and my genders were swapped, I could have sued her for two or three times the amount and had a good chance of being awarded more than what was taken from me. However, being the male I would be lucky to get $10,000 and it would drag out considerably.

Apparently, the judge would argue that I just wanted money to get my business going, so that I would not have to work. I asked, what if I got a full time job? Then, said the lawyer, the judge would argue that since I have a full time job so I would make the money up in no time. [Observe the utter disregard for the Right to property in that thinking, by our court system!]

I also believed that something in my business plan was going to take off, so I abandoned pursuing the issue. The business event fell flat because the major bank I was dealing with took three months, instead of the promised three weeks, to set up credit card accounts.

Since then, I have heard dozens of similar stories. The news media always makes a big deal out of the wrongs men commit to women, as if women can do no wrong. The fact is that violence by men against men enormously exceeds violence against women. But somehow the former is more acceptable, even understandable!? But many women are verbally abusive, some are violent too, and deserve to be punished, but their victims have little chance in court.

Half rabbit said...

Apologies for messing your topics up. You had so many I couldn't choose and just wrote my thoughts on them(if my thoughts were only a sentence long) Also I missed some things as I *cough* ate some chicken and have to make a trip somewhere every few minutes. :)

don't recycle: understand your point, but if it makes you feel good and you understand the cost in transportations/processing etc then meh. (thank you urban dictionary)

United Nations seeks World domination: Do you believe or disbelieve that? Explain

rain-forests are not the "lungs of the Earth"; sure they are, that's why we would cut them all down except two, the rest are just evil clones.

unlimited population growth: heck yeah, a couple more billion[trillion] people and I'll be sure to find someone gullible enough to date me

unlimited dumps: I love dumps (cemeteries too, you can tell so much about a culture in them), but I add the provision of me being allowed to roam them

homosexuality: no comment

state lotteries: yep, national lotteries all the way ;)

child rights and pedophilia: no comment

compulsory education (truancy laws): agreed lock em' all up in jail... er I mean school

anti-drug laws are immoral: agreed

copyright is essential: agreed again, though I think they shouldn't be as long as they currently are

aboriginals didn't know squat: Canadian, Australian or both?

pets vs meat: My bet is on pets. I mean a non moving hunk of meat vs a pet dog.

rational charity as selfish: Yep, but nothing wrong with that

terrorism is by nations: no comment

why Atlas Shrugged: just send my a free copy

rape in The Fountainhead: send a copy of that too

how to read: Is that a book, or are you proposing a new system of learning

homosexuality is not a moral issue: agreed

legalizing illicit drugs: But then I'll be out of business ;)

roads and laissez-faire capitalism: ooh, a new word to learn. 3.2.1. interesting

censorship & pornography: no comment

funding government without taxation: I see what your saying but I'm not sure if 'I'm' there yet

photography is not art: but, but, that website you posted before says it is :) About the subject I would more say it is capturing the art in a bottle. Kind of like trapping a rare snow leopard and stuffing it.... or maybe not

Libertarianism cannot succeed: not sure about that, I still have much to learn and study

America was not founded on Xtianity: never thought it was

Plymouth Rock vs Jamestown: no idea what it's about but I have enough common sense to leave it alone(o.k it's not a sporting rivalry like I thought is it)

why socialized medicine hurts the people who need it the most: I understand the argument but I'm not sure if I would want different

violence against women is of little concern:

alternative medicine: ooh, do tell more

privatize the oceans: no comment

'Green' energy production cannot work, open immigration, only nuclear energy, let children know swearing, privatize air space, privatize all waterways,

oil spills are good: they are?.... are you one of those people who siphoned it off into your car for free?

put men in space: ban NASA noooooooooo (get rid of it if you must, but don't ban it)

no such thing as a nuclear waste problem: agreed, just use it to sell irradiated water to people

genetic modification is only good: well technically it can be bad depending on your perspective (poor insects :) )

laissez-faire monopolies are good: I'm half, half on that one

how to tell your kid you and your spouse are divorcing: with a puppet show of course

protected elephants die off faster than hunted elephants: didn't know that.

real conservation: no comment

multiculturalism is racist: no comment

concept formation, objectivity vs subjectivity -explained, growing baby's mind --exposure, independence, reading, and play; foreign policy, Santa Claus is real, Environmentalists against the environment, racism is a Black thing, why women shouldn't have the vote, Europeans did not take land from the Indians,

Hiroshima was good for Japaneses citizens: No comment

OSS has a place, but it is not an ideal: The ideal is?.... a mixture?

MacDonald's advertising is not responsible for child obesity - parents are: parents, and time traveling space goats with mind rays

guns don't kill people do... and robot squirrels with guns

Half rabbit said...

I think the usual presentation of Santa significantly contributes to children also accepting the existence of Jesus and then God.

It could also work the other way. Finding out that your parents lied to you about one, might make you question the other.

It is an intellectual fraud perpetrated on one's own children.

I personally couldn't do it if I ever have children, but I also don't tell my younger brothers "the truth", so I suppose I would be half way.

Richard said...

Johnny,

You are right about the pain one experiences when the 'perfect' One proves to be calloused and indifferent. Ten days before she walked out, she gave me a $1,000 white gold necklace and said it was because we were "forever".

The man she moved in with, shortly after, was a troll. She left him six months later. I felt I had knives in my chest & brain for 9 months. Now (17 months) she is still on my mind most of every day.

I know that I treated her at least as well as any man could, and a lot better than most men ever could. In a moment I could list ten or fifteen unusual things I did, often regularly.

You must understand that Melanie studied Objectivism with me, and some friends, for three years, before we had any other specific relationship. She clearly understood the primary virtues, knew why they were valid, and lived by them with great consistency. Those virtues are (from memory):

* rationality —man's only means of survival.
* independence —as no man can breathe for you, no man should think or act for your sake.
* productivity —because it takes an effort to live
* honesty -recognizing that the unreal is unreal (so my money in her hands is still my money, no matter how much she pretends otherwise)
* integrity —living by and acting on rational principles without compromising them.
* justice —treating men in accordance with their true nature (Melanie often accused me of taking advantage of her!)
* pride -knowing you deserve to live, your mind is efficacious, and you are capable of achievement.

Because she clearly valued and lived by the above virtues, I believed I had found the best possible woman. She was brilliant intellectually, and scrupulous as a veterinarian. Because she was smart, I believed that we could work out differences, as she often said we would. Later, she seemed unwilling to talk about anything that was wrong, and seemed to carry on as if nothing was.

While with me, she paid off several substantial loans, bought a newish Accord, an expensive ($2000) dog, and a $4,000 aquarium —she always called them "ours". She even got a really remarkable $8,000 breast augmentation!

She insisted she would share all expenses, and she would periodically work on them using Quicken.

I always showed her I loved and cared for her, in ways that I think most women would find both romantic and wonderful, right down to surprise ironing her pajamas, warming her side of the bed when she was chilled, opening the car door for her no matter where we were (even after four and 1/2 years together), scraping snow and ice off her car in winter (often while she was in the bathroom getting up), frequently surprising her with cooked breakfasts and dinners; if she was working late I would bring dinner to her clinic; I read stories to her in bed at night; I did her laundry and folded & put away her things in the right places when she was not expecting it, and so forth.

Because I was starting a business, I did not pour money into things for her.

My actions were not slavish adoration. In a proper relationship the woman would be working just as hard in other ways. Relationships require that kind of 'work', and engaging in them is an entirely selfish effort to make life happy. Why wasn't it working, with someone like her?

Well, as my money reserves declined, she had only contributed sporadically, and not very much either. In our last year together I often lay awake at night wondering what on earth she was thinking.


Even with all that showing, she was shockingly temperamental, and I was always careful with how I brought things up for discussion or how I expressed displeasure over certain improper behaviors.

Nonetheless, she would often blow up over the littlest things and accuse me as being the cause. I even watched her do it once when I complained to her that she always stopped washing dishes when she got to the pots.& pans. Plainly leaving them for me to do. I cooked dinners, remember. With me saying nothing she talked herself in to a screaming and swearing fit —all directed at me— that lasted over an hour. In one such fit she kicked a 2' diameter hole in the bedroom dry wall. Later she was all apologies and flowers.

From then on I had to watch her carefully, and restrain her at times, which she would then construe as me abusing her. What the hell was wrong with her, that she could not see how wildly irrational and unjust that was? I even had to hide her car keys during these fits, because she once took off in her car, in a rage, and nearly lost control of it right outside the house. The conundrum: should I throw her out, or will she sort it out?

I am now convinced she was steadily developing something called a "Borderline Personality Disorder. Her actions fit all the symptoms listed, except for three subcomponents — suicidal, drug or alcohol abuse, and promiscuity (well, I hope not promiscuity).

BPD is somewhat treatable, though others have said the best thing to do is to stay away. Perhaps if I had understood this earlier I would have known how to handle her, and maybe obtained psychiatric help. It is very difficult to 'cure', but it can be handled.

Knowing this now in some ways makes it emotionally worse for me. Her actions were that of someone mentally ill, so the Melanie I truly loved, and completely committed myself to, had been taken from me. That pain must be similar to that of a parent on learning that their child has been abducted by a trusted but ultimately perverted family member.

Her departure was followed a few months later by the break up of our closest friends' marriage. He and I get along still. Although his wife did not take money from him, she was otherwise just as vicious --the antonym for virtuous-- in her actions as Melanie. The result is that he and I, when together, just bring back painful memories. Melanie also told other people I knew, that she owed me nothing and that she was afraid I would be violent toward her (no less!). Not knowing what was going on with her, they now look upon me with suspicion, not knowing if they should take one side or the other. So, in addition to the death of Melanie's character, I also had to deal with utterly unsupportive friends.

Once, musing to Fiery, before I knew about the BPD, I talked about trying to get Melanie back. Fiery had a brilliant response:
"She nearly killed you! Do you want her to finish the job?"

Good point.

(And that was the short version of the story!)

Richard said...

1/2bit wrote:
"It could also work the other way. Finding out that your parents lied to you about one, might make you question the other."

That's a good point that I have sort of had in my head too. Except that would be the way for parents to actually go about teaching their kids --by deception.

There's enough deception for kids to see anyway: movies, advertising, other kids, school textbooks, mainstream media, the fabulous prize on the back of the cereal box --send proof of purchase to-- ...and so on.

Richard said...

As for 1/2rab's list,
I can't really deal with the whole thing.

I put up my list just to see if it would nudge anyone towards something they wondered about, even if it was not actually named on the list, but they still thought was worth raising.

Traceytreasure said...

Richard, did you throw Santa in the list to see if I was reading the entire list since I missed the Despicable book section in your profile section of favorite books? I did read the entire list Richard. So many topics so little time. I am a child of parents who lied to me about Santa, Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. When they divorced, they told me that I wasn't to blame for the divorce but I didn't believe them because they lied to me before. If you have any questions for me, see my Green Eyed Mama post labled Ask Tracey. I will not be able to spend 9 hours answering any questions though. I'd rather send you a copy of my manuscript, so keep that in mind, please! Thanks!

Richard said...

Hi TraceyT,

Na. I was not thinking of you. The Santa thing is a variation of an old trick. When you picked it I realized I had plenty to say about it. The real version is for submissions to faculty thesis examiners. In the most boring part of your thesis you slip in a sentence that says:
"You know, if you show me this sentence I will give you a bottle of quality wine. Red or White?"

Quite a few grad students have done that and have never been taken up on it.

As for the list, I just rattled off the various issues as quick as I could type. When I ran out, I put it up. There was nothing more to it than that.

As for your manuscript, check out Editorial Anonymous, particularly her archive. The blog is by the editor of a children's book publisher. Nonetheless, you may find it interesting and perhaps even useful.

Ccough, coff, smoking at 7, you must have quite the husky voice. You seem happy with hubby and kids, and that's the most important thing.

Traceytreasure said...

Thanks for the link of that blog!

I don't have a husky voice but my lungs did give out at 31. I had to quit or die. I chose quitting even though it was one of the hardest things I've ever done!

Yes, I'm happy that I survived it all today!

Thump Thump Eyes said...

Dearest Richard, the story of your life is amazing. My heart went out to little Richard being bullied and seemingly uncared for, my admiration grew and grew for big Richard as he battled through the huge ups and downs of life and succeeded against all odds.

Which all just totally confirmed for me what I already thought, that you are one AMAZING person!!!!

Richard said...

Thank-you so much TTEyes.

I'm keen to find out what comes next :-)

Richard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard said...

Johnny,

Your comment on Romantic Love got me thinking.

When one is in love, the object of that reaction is wildly different from one's reaction to a friend. There may be many similarities on a day-to-day basis, but the person who elicits a romantic response has something about them that differs from any friend.

A lot of people think love is just a higher level of friendship, but I would argue that if that is all they are experiencing then they are not truly in Love.

The person truly loved elicits a unique response that one, of course, feels emotionally. But emotions are not some weird 'thing-of-the-heart', as is so often said. Emotions are instant reactions to an experience in the present that arises as a result of past experiences and judgment.

Consider a small child that sees two dogs that are fighting or appear to be fighting. Seemingly all teeth, drawn back lips and snarls, they seem very threatening. The child that sees such canine behavior as scary will be wary of, and even afraid of, the situation and of the dogs.

If the child generalizes that experience to all dogs, then each time he sees a dog he will experience the emotion of fear. He may not even remember the original frightening situation that is the source of his fear. But he has experienced fear. That renewed fear will likely reinforce his basic fear of dogs. Repeated experiences with dogs solidifies his emotional response, which may well stay with the child for life.

Something similar, but in a positive way, seems involved in romantic love. However, we are now considering humans who have had some fifteen years of life. It is much more complex. They have had a lot of experiences with both sexes, at a social level.

They have been judging what kind of person they like most physically. They have been making character judgments based on the actions made by each person they meet: their manner of moving, the nature of their smiles, what makes them smile, the expression in their eyes, how they speak, how they react to others, how they deal with ideas and issues and, more importantly, how they approach their lives, and their 'selves'. But all those things, and more, stem from each person's deepest response to life itself.

The ones that stand out as potential romantic lovers have a response to life that approaches one's own ideal! This is where it becomes a matter of one's soul.

One's soul is not some mystical thing, as Plato and other mystics believe. It is the full collection of one's deepest judgments of, and approach to, their Life, their World, and the people they have experienced.

I think I saw, having seen my two daughters as newborns, that the soul starts forming at, or perhaps (?) even before, birth. How the child feels at birth, and perhaps his experiences in the womb, and how he reacts to it, may well be the earliest reactions that signal the making of his soul. Was the mother experiencing health issues that effect the child's health, so that the child was not so comfortable in the womb; was she an alcoholic, a smoker, and so forth? Was the birth a shock to the newborn, perhaps in ways we cannot tell, or did it go smoothly, in terms of the child's mental experience.

Then growing up, was the child spoiled, catered to, treated as or allowed to be dominant to the parent, or was the child expected to be subordinate?

All these things, and more, shape the child's Sense of Life...and influences their soul. He reacts to events and makes his choices on the basis of how he developed that wordless Sense deep within his mind. We adults may see the child as timid or fearless, as whiny & demanding, or as quiet & independent, etc.

As adults, children may find relationships that mesh with their Sense of Life, or they may have an ideal in mind that does not match that Sense. Choosing a life partner will be very difficult in either case. The neat freak who loves Life may admire the happy go lucky person because they project a similar love of life, but ultimately s/he cannot be happy with him or her, if messiness constantly grates. His approach to the World is actually quite different.

To love someone else each person must know themselves to make a wise choice. To do that, they must introspect, observing how they approach and do things themselves. Then, on being struck by the appearance and manner of the opposite sex, they have to take the time to objectively appraise their potential romantic partner to see if their actual behavior reflects deeper differences and potential lasting conflicts.

Finding the combination of character qualities, manner, and to some degree physical appearance that is your ideal, is like finding a living work of art, for YOU.

Rand defines actual Art as, "a recreation of reality according to the artist's metaphysical value judgments". That is a very tight description, but it refers to the same "metaphysical value judgments" as I have been addressing, above. These are the things, in another person's soul, that we respond to much as we do to a fabulous work of art. Except, they are not a recreation, they are an embodiment!

You want the person who possesses those qualities in your life, because that person embodies your ultimate ideal. No friend is such a person.

I have a long time friend who, in the last year asked me, point blank, why she and I could not become a couple. Though it was clear she admires me greatly, she is far too staid and withdrawn for me, and is not the 'style' I like in a woman. I 'fight' with things that are difficult, I pursue values in spite of fatigue and opposition, and I get annoyed by passiveness (which she often shows). I know she would not suit me, but she had not grasped that I would not suit her.

Romantic love can, and should be, approached rationally and cautiously. Even then it can still go wildly wrong, depending on how well we understand the nature of the other person and, above all, ourselves. "Following one's heart" throws such matters to the wind, and leaves one trusting in luck.

We hear stories of couples where 'following-one's-heart" has worked, but the ~50% divorce rate says it is far from the norm. On top of that, there is the next ~30% that struggle along in a relationship, not quite happy, not understanding why not --but determined to "make it work".

Real marital success occurs when that romantic ideal is met for both partners, as 'soul mates' (a cliché used far too loosely). Such a couple, quite naturally, makes the effort to coordinate with each others' changing interests and tribulations. Their decision to stick with their partner, as they wrestle with issues along the way, comes easily, because their partner's fundamental qualities --which they so adore-- remain through it all. The decision is almost automatic because that partner is a truly unique reflection of the other's deepest values.

Sex with such a person is dramatically heightened as the mutual, joyful expression and celebration of those values. It is nothing at all like the religious view of satisfying 'needs'. That notion comes from the horrible Platonic view that the body is a base and earthly thing and that the pure soul comes from heaven. Instead, in the real world, body, mind and soul are one. With the right love, two bodies and two souls do become one, each selfishly possessing and adoring the other.

T&A said...

"America was not founded on Xtianity: Plymouth Rock vs Jamestown,"

Richard, how do you think America would be today if the settlement at Plymouth has completely failed, and Jamestown was the soul surviving settlement?

Thump Thump Eyes said...

"I'm keen to find out what comes next :-)"

I hope good things come your way really soon dear Richard. You've been through the worst, prepare yourself for the best, it could be just around the corner :)

I think true love only comes when we finally work out who we really are inside, and you cant find that out until you've been hurt by love and knocked around by life and had to deal with it and eventually managed to heal yourself after it. Only then can the real search begin, because now you know what to look for, how to recognize the wrongness of somebody, how to trust the 'gut' feelings, and how to make yourself happy with yourself....this is of course a very short version of the long road.... :-)

Johnny said...

Richard, thank you for the elucidation.
I personally never use the word soul, I hate it and it's connotations!
We certainly have no immortal soul. I am fully aware that you did not mean that at all and I pretty much agree with what you described as a soul I just wouln't use the term.
When I use(d) the term heart I specifically use it to mean core. I am definitely not refering to the mechanical pump that sits slightly left of centre in our thorax.
Our core (soul*shudder*) is an intrinsic part of our physical (specifically our brain) make up there is nothing extrinsic whatsoever there cannot be, interesting actually that Fiery put up that last post. If a billboard like that was put up in public in Australia I would be absolutely fucking outraged, you just don't see them. Although there is the same pro life/ pro choice arguments here specifically in relation to the law there was a nice T-shirt/bumper sticker going around "Keep your rosaries off my ovaries" which I thought was rather amusing but very different when one personally displays their beliefs, after all cross/hajib/Yarmulke etc... wearers abound.

I agree that we probably start developing this inner self before birth. Personally I would think it would be closer to birth, I wouldn't have thought as an embryo, even though nuerogenisis is underway at about 6 weeks, it is not even enough to promote movement this begins around the 8th week and the start of the feotal stage. But I could be wrong :)

Richard said...

T&A,

I think an understanding of what a soul really is, is important. If someone wants to call it a core, or a soul or a heart, that is just fine, so long as they understand that 'core' evaluation of life and reality that I am discussing.

For e.g. my soul is what motivates my love of the- "Melanie-that-was"; my soul motivates my commitment to understanding genuine relationships in reality; my love of life keeps me alive, regardless of how the other factors are destroyed.

Do the clinical professionals understand that?

I doubt it.

Richard said...

Great T&A!

This is an issue I wish all Americans better understood. Yep, I put a lot of effort into it, so I hope you find it interesting. Please let me know.

A Preamble:

In the late 1980s, I attended an amazing lecture on this very topic by Dr. John Ridpath, an economic historian at York University, and a member of Ayn Rand's student group who facetiously called themselves "The Collective". Dr. Ridpath had learned that authoritative descriptions of historical events frequently diverge very far from the truth.

On one trip he visited Jamestown, and at the museum saw the hearth where the original settlers began experimenting with making glassware (I have seen it too). Yes, it was glassware! That plus other facts one can easily learn at the museum, prompted his interest in the motivations and success of this particular group of colonists.

The more he investigated the more he began to wonder just who were the true successful settlers of America. He spent weeks at the Smithsonian, and at the Library of Congress, examining original documents.

As he suspected, those documents had been misrepresented by historians, most of whom had a pro-Christianity, anti-Capitalist, anti-American view. Of course, I can only give the sparest explanation here.

I would like to, at this opening to the subject, point out that I have read some 57 carefully chosen letters by Captains to the merchants who owned their ships, in Voyages and Discoveries by Richard Hakluyt ("Hak-loit"). These extraordinary letters cover a period from 890 Common Era to 1596 CE. It is not commonly known that sailors were fishing up and down the East coast of America for nearly 100 yrs before colonization began. The fishing crews only landed to replenish fresh water and other provisions before returning to sea. The Indians were known to be terribly unreliable, trading peacefully one visit, and then killing visitors on the next.

Another book, A Voyage Long and Strange by Tony Horwitz, details the events between the arrival of Columbus and the establishment of Plymouth Rock (which some people call the "Plymouth Pebble"). I have not read it, but based on the synopsis provided at the link, I suspect it is terrific.

Here are some generally unmentioned characteristics of the two colonies. The moral differences are quite significant. The fundamental is that trade is the only moral means for men to deal with one another. England's colonial growth was based on trade, at a time when few nations or peoples could be trusted. Violence was commonplace, and of course plenty of Englishmen did not understand the trader principle, even as they were supposedly on trading missions.

*****

First, there were earlier attempts at colonizing the East Coast --notably, two in New England, at Cuttyhunk, 1602, and Popham,1607, -- for the purpose of establishing trade. Both were initiated by The Virginia Company of London and both failed, but their purpose is relevant here. The Virginia Company's commitment to, and investment in, opening up America, which then was referred to as "Virginia" after Queen Elizabeth 1 (the "virgin Queen") for trade was remarkable.

Eventually the Company managed to initiate two successful colonies on the Virginia coast, one in the south, Jamestown, 1607, and one more northerly New Plymouth, 1620, were also established at the behest of The Virginia Company. The company's main purpose was to produce glassware in the New World for export to England and elsewhere, and to find other goods and materials, such as furs, for trade. The glassware trade was planned because wood, the fuel they used for glass-making, was becoming too scarce in England --except in the King's untouchable Forests. The plan was to produce glassware in America and ship it back to England.

Since the Jamestown and Plymouth colonies survived, they get the most attention, but the focus is always on the superficialities of hardship, Indians, deaths, buildings, crops, and Pocahontas, rather than on motive. Over the last thirty years it has even been politically correct to leave out, or downplay, the nature of the Algonquian Indians under chief Powhatan. (Most historians and history teachers should be fired.)

The colonists at Jamestown were primarily interested in business and the hope of finding gold. They consisted of craftsmen, farmers, sailors but nearly half were gentry who reportedly were hoping to get-rich-quick. (I am very suspicious of this claim, because the hardship was well known, and easy wealth much too rare.) They landed at Jamestown on May 14th, 1607, and three days later were attacked by 200 Indians! Can you imagine being there, and facing that? Powhatan's warriors had been watching them explore the coast, and had been plotting.

Of course, the colonists at Plymouth were true pilgrims, escaping persecution in England. They landed in 1620, 13 years after the Jamestown group began! Ironically, though the Plymouth colony is touted as being the first American colony. In fact, its location was chosen as a result of a survey of that more northern coast by Captain John Smith. (Most historians and history teachers should be fired.)

The Plymouth colony, like Jamestown, was supposed to be establishing business, through funding from The Virginia Company and a London company called Merchant Adventurers, (an understatement for what their ships' crews faced). Amazingly, |Merchant Adventurers is believed to have been founded in 1216 CE! Unfortunately, the pilgrims were much more interested in establishing a religious community based on the religious views of John Robinson, a Separatist Puritan.

At Jamestown, the colony initially sought to look after themselves by division of labor. The farmers were to provide food, the craftsmen were to erect buildings and to surround them with a palisade etc. However, the gentry did little, and the farmers became disenchanted, and lost that sense of initiative that makes the difference between success and failure. Starvation resulted, exacerbated by lack of potable water. The lack of water arose because, although the colony was 60 miles up the James River, the water was still too salty to drink. On top of that, the Indian threat frequently confined the colonists to their fort for weeks and months... 2/3rds of the colonists died. After a year, more ships arrived, but the extra mouths needing to be fed created more hardship. Hundreds died. Glass-ware production was abandoned.

John Smith was eventually put in charge. He was more cautious in dealing with the Indians, and ensured the colony was better prepared to withstand attacks and sieges. At times, and quite justifiably, it was 'shoot the Indian first, and ask questions later'. That is a policy I fully endorse, whereas modern re-writers of history have, idiotically, called these actions "genocide"!

Captain Smith's practical approach to the situation in Jamestown, put the responsibility for food production directly into the hands of the settlers... those who produced food got to keep it, and those who did not would starve. That "individualist solution" largely solved the starvation problem, because everyone focused on keeping themselves alive.

Some re-writers of history ridicule the Jamestown colony for being "clueless" fortune seekers. This is partially true of the gentry on the expedition, but the context and social standards of that time were wildly and dramatically different from what the re-writers believe. Not only were the beliefs of the average European man more barbaric, but the Indians were even worse!

Also, the botany of the new land was completely foreign, so the colony was at a loss as to what was useful. The winters were dreadful, matching those that today are experienced 700 Km further North. Yes, the colonists were clueless, but that is to be expected!. It was not the significant weakness those with several hundred years of hindsight seem to suggest. What is important is that the people in Jamestown stuck it out, and figured it out in spite of unbelievable adversity.

When John Rolfe arrived in 1612 he brought with him a species of tobacco, Nicotanus tobaccum, that was much more appealing than the species used by the Indians, Nicotanus rusticus. The Jamestown colonists finally had a crop they could ship to England.

Tobacco was well received by many Englishmen. So, before the pilgrims ever left Europe, Jamestown had a business and had become fully self-sustaining. It's population grew rapidly, in spite of regular conflicts with the Indians. Perhaps one factor in that growth was the mail order brides that came to Jamestown, their passage paid for in bales of tobacco.

The Pilgrims first landed at Provincetown, Cape Cod, and two days later sixteen men (complete idiots) found and robbed Indian graves and a cache of corn. Then, fearing Indian retaliation (do ya think?), the pilgrims moved to Plymouth. Sometime later, one of the boys in the colony was abducted by Indians, under Chief Massasoit, whose graves and corn the colonists had robbed. The colonists wisely repaid the Indians and managed to bring about a more positive relationship. This tribe proved to be more peaceable than the Powhatan Algonquians. The pilgrims were able to establish a trading business in furs, but furs were not as lucrative a product as Jamestown's tobacco.

The Plymouth Rock colony grew very slowly. They suffered hardships similar to the colonists at Jamestown, but they did not develop so effective a trade as Jamestown's tobacco --it is likely that tobacco could have been grown just as well in their region but it may not have been permitted. Fur trading brought the Pilgrims into greater contact with the local Indians and was perhaps used as a means towards converting them to Christianity. A great many Indians were given English names, so I suspect there was a missionary motivation in Plymouth. Later, ship building became significant to the region, because of the availability of suitable wood.

The Puritans believed that God and the Devil interfered in every aspect of human life, in every injury, illness, discovery, harvest and so on. In one recorded case a man drowned when he fell out of his canoe. The canoe was burned on the belief that it had become possessed and would not do the man's bidding! The following standards of the Plymouth colony have been white-washed by religious re-writers of history:

* Healthy colonists who missed three consecutive days of Sunday worship faced lashings. (One source suggests execution was a possible penalty in some colonies, but that is not clear for Plymouth).

* Capital punishment was mandated for murder, witchcraft!, arson, sodomy, rape, bestiality (one instance reported), and adultery.

* Parents, whose children were unruly or who did not attend Sunday worship, were pilloried.

* The children were subject to public corporal punishment for resisting their parents.

* Other failures to observe religious practice were punished by public lashings.

* Women were considered to be the "weaker vessel", and were subjects of their husbands

* In case parents spoiled their own children, at the age of eight they were 'fostered out' to other homes for more 'objective' discipline.

* Children were not considered "free" until the age of 21, but some terms of indenture could be even longer.

Because of the greater business potential, new immigrants to America were more interested in Jamestown than in Plymouth Rock. This is reflected in the starkly different population growth of the two colony's:

Yr...Jtown .PR
1620 ..400 ..99
1622 1,249 ..85
1629 2,600 156
1632 3,200 300.
1635 5,200 300.

By 1700 the populations of the towns began to be similar in size, but the issue is moot. There were now over 250,000 Americans living and trading in the thirteen colonies. By 1770 there would be 2.5 million.

In the 1730s there was a strong Christian revivalist movement that began in New England and spread widely. I suspect this revival successfully promoted the Plymouth Colony Pilgrims as founders of the American spirit and belief system, and the myth that they were the 'true' beginning of America.

*****

So, the big T&A question is, "How would America be today if the settlement at Plymouth had completely failed, and Jamestown was the soul [sic ;-)] surviving settlement?"

Obviously such predictions in themselves do not mean much, because there are so many possibilities.

Given the above historical information, I think it is pretty clear that, for nearly 300 years, academics, historians, priests, ministers, and grade school teachers have elevated the events of Plymouth Rock far above what they deserve. They have ignored Jamestown (except for the Pocahontas element), primarily because of their religious lenses. That bias alone, has influenced most American citizens to more readily accept the false notion that America was founded as a Christian nation.

Few, if any, American children have been spared this distortion of reality. Regardless of the particular version of Judeo-Christianity, the children are taught to see America as a product of believers who were aided by God. The modern day, religious Republicans, are severe betrayers of the original Jeffersonian Republicans.

In 1776, the key Founding Fathers were NOT Christian, they were Deists. They specifically held that some sort of Deity was needed to explain Existence (i.e. the presence of matter, space and time), but they also held that humans, once here, were not subject to the whim of this Deity. Humans had to make their own way using the laws of Nature, and the Nature of Man.

The Founders' Deism has also been distorted by the Xtians, by conflating the different way each group defines 'God'. Of course, the conflation was 'shifted' toward the Xtian view. Both sides may have used the name "God", but they had very different views as to the nature of God.

***

Therefore, if the Plymouth Rock colony had been a complete failure,

* religious Americans could not have used it for political gain and in disregard of the Founder's intent.

* the Jamestown colony would be properly revered for its business orientation & Americans would recognize it as a crude capitalist beginning.

* Americans would have had a more positive view of the nature of business and trade, and would have more fully resisted government intervention in private choices.

* more southern blacks would have become businessmen, seeing it as the "American", and not the "White", thing to do --quite possibly preventing the present black poverty issues.

* America and Americans would be more wealthy in general.

* Government itself would be a fraction the size it is today, and there would be little or no taxation.

* Growth in any realm regulated by government would be far ahead of where it is today --oil & gas, agriculture, medicine & pharmaceuticals, scientific research, and so on-- to everyone's benefit.

* The altruism of religion would not motivate political decisions, so most of America's international affairs would have been handled quite differently. E.g. the Arab nationalization of American oil fields and refineries would have met with the same forcible resistance that the British colonialist used against Indian raiders, and the who Mid-East conflict would likely be quite different!

If Jamestown was THE founding colony, would there have been a depression of 1929? Would America have mired itself in World War 1? Would FDR have been successful at starting Welfare with his New Deal? Surely Nixon would not have been able to abandon gold as the standard upon which the U.S, dollar was fixed. Wouldn't that mean gas would still be 20 cents a gallon, and cars about $600 dollars?

Republicans would rabidly oppose all state intervention in citizens' lives, and though Democrats would still support rule by popular vote, they would rarely gain power. Americans would understand better understand that business requires freedom and that "tyranny of the majority" means tyranny over themselves.

America and Americans, if not the World, should know that Jamestown was the true start of America.

Traceytreasure said...

Thank you for the Jamestown comment Richard. I have learned more from you than I ever learned in school.

Richard said...

You are more than welcome, TraceyT, it was my pleasure.

How long did it take you to read it? Was it 5 minutes or so?

Traceytreasure said...

Honestly, 3 times, 10 minutes each. Darn kids are always hungry or needing something! :) When I get some ink I'm going to print it out for them! Many thanks!

Fiery said...

Richard that was Johnny who talked of the souls not T&A.

Richard said...

Fiery,

Yes. I saw that a bit after I hit "Publish", and I rather figured that each one would grasp who had made the point and who had not.

Fiery said...

So that type of accuracy isn't important to you. That bit about remembering who you are talking to. ok. I'll note that in my Richard Contradictions log. Richard doesn't need to remember who he is talking to, but we damn well better remember who we are talking to when we speak to him.

Right.

This comment was directed at Richard B. who lives in the suburbs of Toronto Canada. That clear enough who I'm talking to or should I put up your google earth address?

Richard said...

Johnny,

I'm sorry I did not delete the comment to re-publish it with your name in place of T&A's. I had put some time into the Jamestown comment and had T&A on my mind. But before publishing it, I thought I would quickly respond to your soul comment.

Had I deleted my response to you and republished it, it would have appeared after the long Jamestown comment and at the time it did not make sense. It was already after 11pm and I had to get up at 0500, so I just wanted to get it done and go to bed.

Fiery, I really should have deleted both comments, corrected the Johnny error and re-published them, or at least posted a comment apologizing, but I was falling asleep in my chair.

Two nights before I had already stayed up the entire night responding to people's questions in this thread, then I was pretty late on the next night, all at your surprise behest.

Joyce said...

Richard,
I think about you often you have made a mark in my life. There are things I would like to talk to you about, and thought I could email you. I have discovered you did not post your email address. If you have the mind to please contact me via email.

Peace, <><