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Tuesday, February 22, 2005



I seem to be coming down with my second cold in the last month. I dislike being sick, but there's not a whole lot I can do about it at this point.

On Sunday, the friend who has been giving me rides to church was asking various kinds of economic questions on the way home, and invited me over to continue the discussion. Apparently his son is in the Model UN program in High School, and he wanted help understanding some of the issued being discussed. We had a wide-ranging discussion for several hours before he brought me back, so I missed a Sunday update.

Then, Monday, the library was closed for President's day. I'm not sure what the point is in having a holiday if there aren't any public events associated with it; besides a President's day sale at the local car dealership, that is.

Someone commented to me that my approach to finding work and employment is definitely not the usual one...he thought I was being slow and thorough about it.
That's a definitely more insightful and rather more charitable opinion than I'm used to hearing. I'd even call my pace glacial, and I'd be happier if I could speed it up without abandoning it entirely. I get weary of playing

Lately I've been rereading David Drakes's Isle series. I've also encountered Tamora Pierce, whose work is classified as young adult, but it's still pretty good. I may mention others from time to time.

I also mean to extend some of my comments on the connections between government and economics, but I'll have to save that for later.

Friday, February 18, 2005



A subject that I don't see often discussed is the relationship between economics and religion. I may have mentioned that during the modern period, since the 16th century, at least in Western civilization, there has been a general shift away from Christianity to secularist beliefs. Most corporations are very distinctly secular in their structure and outlook, as they concerned as they principally concerned with making money for stockholders, with little concern for the sacred or other-worldly.
Likewise, many religions are concerned largely with these things, with a tendency to leave material well-being in the hands of the business world.

Yet, for the same reasons that government and religion cannot be separated, economics and religion also cannot be separated. Businesses rely on the honesty of their employees and suppliers and cannot flourish in a climate of utter selfishness, violence, and deceit, and people's spiritual welfare is manifestly affected by their economic circumstances; A society in which a few wealthy people live in luxury while most struggle for the necessities of survival is neither just nor healthy. The choice of whether to go to work or to church can be framed in either economic terms, or religious ones, but is increasingly faced by worshippers in an increasingly secularized society.
Likewise, in a society where pornography, drug use, and various forms of dishonesty are increasingly tolerated, it can be a sacrifice for people who believe these things are morally wrong to find employment that avoids them.

Monday, February 14, 2005


I know this story

I haven't made a big point of it, but I'm a lover of science fiction & fantasy. However, not all of it is equally good, and I'm running out of authors that have good stuff; they can't keep up with me. Lately, I've been frustrated with the quality of the stories I've been seing. They don't have enough depth to them.
For years I've been kicking around ideas for my own story, and have started a couple of versions, then set it aside to stew some more.

When I finished my story Friday, I decided it's time to check on the stew. One of the various authors I've read before suggested as a source, "The Hero of a Thousand Faces", by Joseph Campbell, and that suggestion has been sitting in the back of my mind for some time now. I finally went to the library to look it up. I was amazed.
I KNOW this story. I think I can tell a heroic fantasy as well as any of the big names in the field and better than some. But it won't be an overnight thing: small, daily steps is the key, just as the work on my knowledge base.

I have a sketch of a resume, but I need to take half a day at a word processor and craft it so it looks satisfactory. I had an appointment to do just that, but it fell through. It's on the list, though.

Sunday, February 13, 2005



I've been thinking about varying the theme of this blog a little.

What do you say when someone points you to a highway that doesn't take you where you want to go? I find myself, so to speak, bushwhacking up the side of a mountain instead of taking the road.
I started writing an essay on the subject of self-education versus conventional education a while ago. A school education is like taking a group tour along a well-traveled road. Self-education is going cross country, wrestling with treefalls, underbrush, wasp nests, sharp sticks, thorny bushes, uneven ground, mudholes, foul weather, and the like.
One of the difficulties with my finding employment is that most jobs, and most companies don't seem to be going the direction I want to go with my life. So, I've been trying to build my own road. It's not a well-traveled and hasn't been an easy one: A lot of false starts, unfinished tries, discouragements, and some rest stops (When you're up to your ahem in alligators, it's hard to remember you were trying to drain the swamp).

Two things I intend to be working on are improving my social skills, and articulating, or verbalizing, my idea of what I want to be doing with my life. I've noticed a few of my habits that work as conditioned, defensive, self-protective reflexes that could very easily be getting in the way of what I need to be doing.
I'm not wandering aimlessly, though it may seem to be so to some. Rather, I'm following a vision that's not clearly visible to anyone else, and not even acceptable to some. But I think I'm close enough that I can see it more clearly and start describing it better.

Saturday, February 12, 2005


Back to government

The ongoing attempt to wrestle my knowledge base into usefulness continues. I've mentioned before that the middle parts are under-represented, and at present the social institutions are badly underdeveloped.

Within that category, historical analysis demands that I give attention to government, although all the others have a claim on my attention.

I've been adding pages and notes throughout government, but I'm most interested in particular governments, and using these as a basis for any theorization. I categorize governments by levels, including international, national, and sub-national governments. International governments include worldwide agencies, particularl the UN (which has severe weaknesses as a "government"), and regional bodies, such as the European Union or NATO. But these aren't my primary focus. National governments are still more important on a world basis, and I'm most interested in the United States government. I've been watching the West Wing on Wednesday nights, so I may begin commenting on it. I particularly noted last week the subplot on the proposed constitutional for Belarus, and their note that while the US has the president as Commander in Chief, it is Congress that has the power to declare war. This, of course, is part of the system of "checks and balances" that were intended to keep one particular branch of government from becoming too powerful. The comment that the US "lucked out" isn't just luck; it comes from the fact that George Washington was a man of integrity who both refused to be made king and refused to use the army against the Continental Congress, and his precedent endured. Presidental governments in other countries have from time to time been afflicted with presidents who have been less scrupulous about their use of the military against other bodies of government. How to prevent such a takeover, if there is a serious danger of such, is one of the things that would need to be addressed.

I am also which includes things such as US State, county, and municipal government, and I can start making notes on those that are closest to me.

Friday, February 11, 2005


Orwellian tale

I had intended to examine the connections between religion, government, and economics a little more closely, but another project intervened.

A couple of months ago, I started writing a short Orwellian political fantasy. This morning sat I down and finished hammering it into the shape I want. It's only about 2 handwritten pages long, (I should probably count words), but I do need to practice on things like this.

Besides that, I've been kicking around an idea for a much longer novel. The advice I see from successful writers is that I need to WRITE, on a daily basis. Well, I can do that, pretty much, for my knowledge base: a little bit at a time, but stories are something else again.

Then there are some of the habits I've been conditioned with that it's about past time I start breaking: such as being overly agreeable to do things I'm asked or told, and underly willing to follow through.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


Government and religion

I mentioned something about a religious basis for modern government. I've identified four major varieties of religious belief, the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism), Asiatic religions, pagan religions, and secularism.

One of the unsolved problems of political theory is how to balance the roles of religion and government. The solution adopted in medieval Europe was a close alliance of Christianity with government. This led to persecution of heretics and unbelievers, as disbelief in the state religion was equated with political rebellion, as well as a perception of corruption in the church, as high officials accumulated wealth and political power and ignored many of the teachings they professed. The same tendencies are visible in other religions.
In the United States and a few other countries, religious tolerance and pluralism are practiced. The US is constitutionally prohibited from establishing or recognizing a state church. However, this does not and cannot prevent informal mingling of religious and political belief. Social agreement on rights and wrongs of behavior is addressed both by religious belief and law, and on an individual basis, neither clergy, public officials, nor anyone else is in the habit of clearly separating religious from political belief in the areas where they overlap. This has led to a widespread tacit, informal agreement in the US on Judeo-Christian fundamentals, which tolerates secularism as well.
The problems come when atheism, irreligion, and secularism are not recognized as a variety of religious belief. Whether or not those with secular beliefs have an organization comparable to a church, they are just as capable of proposing laws which favor their beliefs as the most fanatical of believers.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005



I had an interview this morning at Mountaineer Temporaries (the WVU Temporary service). I'm supposed to report for orientation with my work documentation and so forth next Thursday. It would have been this Thursday, except that I have a couple of medical appointments. Apparently what they have right now is food service and janitorial positions. I'm willing to take those if that's what available and needs doing, but they don't fill me with enthusiasm.

I'm no expert on political science, and I haven't liked political science textbooks. The subject isn't nearly as well organized as the "hard sciences" of physics and chemistry; there is a lot more idealogy and philosophy mixed in with factual information that I don't want to deal with. So, I'm looking at a historical survey and a worldwide survey of particular governments. It's easiest to get information on present governments than those of the distant past. To begin with, I'm picking the US government, the UN, and then doing comparisons of these with other governments. At the same time, I'm working on connections with their structure, activities, law, and connections to other areas of study. Before long, these will start branching into other areas of study I need to look at. But I can do that. One area I want to look at is the religious basis and connections.

Monday, February 07, 2005



I'm still wrestling with the problem of balancing priorities; the "scheme" I was using isn't workable.
Going on intuition, I still have a tendency to focus overly much on one area, and the Facts on File has a lot of information, but it isn't organized the way I would like it. It has rather too much detail, so I've been working on summaries at monthly, quarterly, annual, 5-year, 20 year, and 100 year intervals. I can only do so many of these before my notes pages are all connections and no content, which is a sign that I'm focusing too much on history.
Without going throug the details, I took another look at my "Peoples" section, and decided that I need to work more on this than on history proper. Then I reviewed my institutions section, and that needs even more attention. So, I expect to be looking at the modern history of Western government.

Saturday, February 05, 2005


Finer focus

I'm still struggling with the balancing of priorities.

In the areas of history, I've been aiming toward current events, using the print version of Facts on File as source material. This lags current events about a month, but is reasonably comprehensive. I'm taking one week at a time and going backward in time. Each page of my notes starts with a very broad, general outline. Each time I go back to that page, I add a little bit more detail, depending on which areas I judge most important to it.

In areas I call sociology, the most detailed areas of focus are successively peoples of the world, Western civilization, english speaking peoples, North America, the United States, the Northern states, the northeast, and West Virginia in particular. In the process, I need to give some attention to neighboring cultural areas. These are connected to history. One of my goals is to connect sufficiently fine detail in history with sufficiently fine detail in place, such as Monongalia County in the past week.

Connected to this is work on institutions. Although I am very much interested in religion, there isn't as much public information available on it in historical or other sources. Government and political affairs are more easily traced, and so far these aren't as finely broken down as the other areas I've mentioned.

But I'm getting a bit closer to where I can start applying this better.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005



I've been suffering a nasty cold since last weekend, which has slowed things considerably. I have a job interview next week at Mountaineer Temporaries, where WVU gets its temporary employees.

Continuing with the review, a great deal of human life and activity is in the area I call culture. This has three major divisions, associated with things, behavior, and ideas. This includes but isn't confined to the fine arts.

Things or artifacts, including buildings, vehicles, books, dress, food, tools and machinery, artistic objects, and numerous other categories of objects are an important part of human society. Especially in the past century and in Western civilization, the development of these areas has considerably influenced human society in varioys complex ways.

Behavior includes customs, hobbies, occupations, performing arts, sports and games, and other things that people do. This is another very broad, general area, since many of these topics are highly specialized.

Still another category includes things such as philosophy, applied science, mathematics, literature, graphic arts, and language. I tend to treat philosophy a bit warily, because much of it is speculative and disputable. Applied science includes things such as engineering, accounting, measurement, and other areas that don't go with the natural science, but involve applications of mathematics. Although mathematics is often categorized as a science, it has closer affinities with language than the things and events of nature.

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