Monthly Archives: July 2014

Back soon

I will be visiting family in Utah for the next week, so no posts are scheduled.

I’ve been trying to move a little bit more into 21st century technology with a tablet computer and a new cell phone. I don’t expect these to actually make me smarter, and it will certainly take me a little time to get used to all the features.

Mostly I’ve been working on the Knowledge Base. I started to expand on the history of mechanics, as the lowest level are, which is showing up some weaknesses in the development of history, especially modern history.   I spent a couple of days developing the low level connections of centuries of modern history, which are now starting to reach the point where I have connections to specific historical figures. I have been looking forward to reaching this point for some time, because major figures help provide landmarks in history. Knowing who was important in a given period helps determine what was important.

Sharp pointed words

Just because I often don’t say much doesn’t mean there is nothing on my mind. I learned early on through painful experience to be careful what I said, because there were often people standing by, ready, willing, and able to do it.  Other times, if I spoke my mind too freely, what I said was foolish and painful (either to others, or myself). It’s even worse if I’m in an emotionally stressful situation.

I had been participating on blogs, and I found that my comments were getting starting to get snarky and a bit nasty, and I didn’t like it: so I quit. It doesn’t benefit much to be the first to say something foolish, and I have other and usually better things to do with my time than compose lengthy rants or trade insults with fools.

“Be careful of the words you say,
Keep them short and sweet.
You never know, from day to day,
Which ones you’ll have to eat.”

Walk the walk

I just recently recalled that ten years ago, I was on my walk from Nebraska to West Virginia.  It’s not something I ever need to do again, or something I would particularly recommend that anyone else do, but I’m glad I did it once.

Several times in my life, I had wanted to take a long trip by myself, for reasons I didn’t fully understand. Part of it was the need to get away from the constant pressure to do something. Part of it was the need to set a challenging  but doable goal of my own choice and finish it. Part of it was that I was tired of always zooming by places at speed, and wanted to really see the country.  Part of it was the constant mostly silent disapproval of my choices in life by others around me, and I wanted more independence.

The most valuable thing I learned from that trip is, persistence. One step at a time, one mile at a time, one day at a time.  Easy or hard, uphill or down, hot or cold, wet or dry, exciting or boring, rested or tired,  like it or no …add them all together, keep doing, and eventually, you reach your goal.  Dreaming grand dreams is one thing, but doing the work to bring them into reality is something else.


It was something I hadn’t quite understood before, and I don’t think I could have. I had to  walk the walk first.

Pioneer Day

July 24 is a Utah State holiday which commemorates the entry of the Mormon pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. In spite of  not being from Utah, this was part of my own heritage because I was raised in a southern Arizona town which was settled by descendants of those pioneers. There was at the time one congregation for the entire town of about 1,000 people. Practically the whole town turned out for the annual Pioneer day parade, and I participated in it once or twice. It was as big an occasion as the 4th of July.

Although I knew I had Mormon pioneer ancestors who “crossed the plains”, I was under the impression that most of them came later than the original pioneer group.  It was not until a few years ago that I learned that one of my ancestors, Levi Jackman, was in Brigham Young’s pioneer company. My father may have known it, but he never spoke of it.

I grew up singing a hymn written by Ida Romney Alldredge, a great aunt to Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, “They, the Builders of the Nation“. I always considered it to apply to many of the early American colonists as well as the Mormon pioneers, who likewise fled religious persecution.  The ordinary, accessible, human courage of those pioneers in facing the extraordinary hardships of their day has long been an inspiration to me.

SKB Progress #1

I had been restricting my topics on the old version of the “From the Ground” blog to comments on the progress of my Knowledge base, which I found and decided weren’t very interesting. However, now that the newer version is up and since I am spending most of my time with it, I want to add a few more comments.

The most useful progress has come with shifting the emphasis (again) towards the lower level topics of science, personal studies, anthropology, and culture. In the process of straightening these out, the whole process of construction has become more orderly.  I have also been reviewing the histories of major topics and have a few more summaries to work with.

For science in general, I have a review of history through classical and medieval times, although not much detail yet. This should become more interesting when I get to the scientific revolution in modern times. The particular sciences are  still being connected to religion, government, and economics.

For Personal studies, I have a similar review.  Studies of  the human body and psychology were not very advanced before modern times, but there is some raw source material in writings of classical and medieval times. Biography is a special case: I have fewer than a dozen individuals, but these major figures  will be useful later on.  The subdivisions are being connected to areas of culture.

For Anthropology, the historical review up to modern times doesn’t reveal much, because the information on human social fundamentals is mixed and scattered throughout the source  material. I am starring to connect the divisions of anthropology to each other, which is a good thing because they are closely related.

Culture is such a broad area that the highest level divisions are still too abstract and almost meaningless. and the summary of history not very revealing. But these divisions are starting to connect to their roots in social and individual behavior.

For the social institutions, I am currently working on a review of how social structure and change can be applied.  The individual institutions are starting to be connected to elements of psychology and the human body and the sciences.  For religion and government I am starting to work with particular subdivisions.

I am thinking of renaming sociology to society. This is being connected to details of culture. Social structure and change is being taken through a historical overview, which is still not as informative at  this level of abstraction as I would like. Communities are well enough connected that I can begin adding and connecting them at greater rates than I have been able to do in some time. For Peoples of the world in general, I am reviewing the application of social structure and change.  I now have nations well enough connected to other areas that I can now  resume addition of smaller ones.  The major groups of peoples will be connecting more to the developing lower levels.

For history in general, I have been developing and connecting the connections to sub-continental sized pieces of human geography. I have also begun improving the connections of the divisions of history to lower level aids.

That’s all for now.

Lawless government

One of the most disturbing trends of the Obama Administration is its policy of ignoring the law when it is politically inconvenient.  After shoving through a massive healthcare reform bill, as soon as the governments web site fizzled on launch, Obama started saying “Never mind the deadlines”. When the NSA started collecting information on citizens, the policy was “ignore the law if it’s inconvenient”. When the IRS started discriminating against political groups based on their political leanings, the approach taking by the administration was to stonewall and defy Congressional investigation, because the House of Representatives is controlled by the political opposition. When unaccompanied children children and teens began crossing the border in large numbers, the approach was to refuse to enforce immigration law.

This sets a dangerous precedent of selective enforcement, in which the law is ignored for if it harms one’s political friends and but may be used as a cudgel to oppress one’s enemies. This is poisonous to a society based on the idea that all people should be ideally equal before the law, and sets up an unofficial class system of the privileged and non-privileged that is nevertheless backed by government force.

A tale of ends and means

Once there was a man who had three sons. He was well read, honest and truthful, and a dutiful provider for his family loved their mother. He was greatly pained when she came to him and said that the boys would not obey her and help in the housework.

The man became angry and whipped his sons for their disobedience. He sang to them that they were good-for-nothing lazy shirks and mocked their tears at his harsh discipline. He preached industry , initiative, and virtue, and then, exhausted from his labors, retired to his room to read. This continued week after week, year after year, and his sons respected the wisdom of his words and the example of his duty, but feared to anger him.

One of his sons became practically a hermit, and took refuge in books.

One of his sons attempted to dominate his brothers with harsh words, mockery, and ridicule.

One of his sons hated his father, and as soon as he was able, withdrew from all contact.

When they were grown and the parents grown elderly and sickly, which of the sons helped their mother in the house?

Thirteen grand larceny

A couple of nights ago, a man I know recounted that he had recently dislocated a finger. He didn’t want to pay a huge medical bill, since at the time he didn’t have insurance. He tried to set it himself, but since he lacked the knowledge and was making the injury worse, finally went to the hospital. The bill came to $13,000.  That is simply outrageous.  That’s over a year’s pay for a single person living at the federal poverty line. For a person working a minimum wage job, that ‘s  80% of an entire year’s gross income.  Wrong,  wrong, and wrong. This is neither sane nor just. How did our society come to such a state, and what can we do about it?

Grim prophecy

I was already an adult when I first heard a version of this as a camp song and thought it was cute. But that is only because the accounts of Noah’s flood has been so faded by the passage of time that few educated people accept it as reality, and the notion that Noah preached impending disaster to a people who were so consumed with violence and selfishness that they ignored his warnings and were swept away has been sanitized out of it.

I’m well aware that biologists and earth scientists have determined that the Biblical account is mythical. I’m not so sure that it was. I’m prepared to consider the possibility that the Flood was not actually universal and didn’t cover the entire earth, or even a large fraction of it: If it was a real event, I’m not prepared to suggest the when or where or how.

I am convinced to my bones that there are disasters and calamities brewing, because of the conditions of society. The signs of libertine conduct, hate-mongering, religious persecution, political and institutional corruption, and shadowed conspiracies, and assorted evils that are repeatedly described in scripture as preceding and causing destruction are everywhere present. I hear people in the streets and shops talking about the possibility of civil war. I read blogs by astute observers who assert that things that cannot continue, won’t, and agree.  I see the leaders of society, instead of taking sober warnings seriously,  reveling in the worship of sex, power, and money while they attempt to pacify the people with platitudes and empty promises and plan little but more partying.

I have never been particularly popular, eloquent, or influential. That matters less and less as the signs of distress multiply.  I think I would rather be a stormcrow than someone who  mistakenly thought I did not need or cravenly did not dare to speak of what I see coming.

No man’s land

One of my goals in this new version of the blog is to put up something interesting and meaningful every day, even if it’s short. This is, as many have discovered, harder than it sounds.

I have alluded to the huge disconnect between the account of human origins given in the Bible and the reconstructions of modern archaeologists and anthropologists. Rather than take one side or the other, I find myself trying to reconcile these views. This is made somewhat easier by the assumption on the one hand that there are huge gaps in the Biblical record, and on the other that there are a great many unknowns and things not yet discovered by archaeology. I confess my ignorance.

There is a great deal of information given in the Book of Moses which supplements the Biblical account of events before the Flood,  some of which addresses long-standing questions and controversies among Christians, and some of which hints at possible reconciliations with secular science. It is not to discuss these in detail, although I may return to the topic in some future post or other.