December 12, 2018

Television On Gas Pumps-
The Enemy of Decent Civilization

A pet peeve is defined as "something that a particular person finds especially annoying." For example, in my case, I would say tattoos, body piercing (noses especially), and the widespread  public proliferation of the F-word are things I find especially annoying.

To that short list I am now adding television on gas pumps. 

I have seen screens with advertising on gas pumps, but the speaking television presentation is something new to me. I encountered it at my local gas station earlier this week, and I took the photo above at that time.

I don't want to be confronted with news, weather, sports, games, and whatever else gas-pump television has to offer. But I can not turn it off or turn the volume down. It demands my attention and offends my sensibilities.

I like to look around when I'm pumping gas. In my hometown gas station I can look at the sky, the Owasco Valley hillsides, the state park entrance across the street. Those things speak to me in a subtle, pleasant way, unlike the intrusive television.

I like to look at the traffic going by, the people pulling into the gas station, the other people pumping gas, the people coming out of the convenience store. 

I have lived in this small rural town for 46 years. I never go to town without seeing people I know—people I can at least give a passing wave and a smile to. Or, better yet, engage in brief conversation. Such exchanges enrich my life. The gas-pump television does not do that. It is a loud, rude stranger, verbally and visually accosting me for the entire time I am pumping gas. 

I dare say, this gas-pump television is worse than an interloper. It is an enemy. It is an enemy of decent civilization.

Oh, how I loath gas-pump television!

December 11, 2018

Metaphor For
A Successful Marriage

A Facebook friend of mine posted the above video and asked a friend who once had draft animals if she thought it was animal abuse. The friend's reply...

"No, not abuse - our mules seemed to enjoy doing the work Tom asked of them. If this team were falling onto their knees, and / or couldn't actually move the truck, then I would think abuse."

From my own point of view, I immediately saw something entirely different. The video presents a beautiful metaphor for marriage. My comment...

"This is a metaphor for a good and lasting marriage. Two, harnessed together, working together, pulling in the same direction, to achieve a common goal, and often pulling uphill."

I could write more on this subject, but the beauty of metaphors is that they don't need a lot of words to convey their message.

December 10, 2018

Thank You
Earl Hamner

Earl Hamner and John-boy Walton
It is winter and that means it is time for me to start assembling and adjusting Classic American Clothespins. It's monotonous work but I can do it in my house while watching YouTube videos and online movies. That's how I came to watch The Homecoming yesterday.

I assume most everyone is familiar with The Homecoming. It's a Christmas story, and the precursor to The Walton's television series. Both are based on Earl Hamner's early life, growing up in a small rural town in Virginia during the Great Depression.

As far as I'm concerned, The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie were the two best television shows ever produced. Both centered around and celebrated traditional, down-to-earth families and  small-town communities.

I don't watch television any more, but in the early 1970s, when those shows were on primetime, I was an avid watcher. Both shows presented fathers that were responsible, hard working family men. As a teenager, I considered them role models. 

When my boys were young, I bought the videos of both television series, and we watched them as a family. I'll be watching them myself this winter... as I make clothespins.

As for The Homecoming movie, I must admit that I never thought much of it. Mama, Daddy, and Grandpa Walton were played by different people than in the television series. They were fine actors but not as endearing as their replacements.

As I watched The Homecoming this year, I appreciated it more than in the past. I now think it's on par with It's A Wonderful Life, which I've long loved (and I have written about HERE).

After I watched The Homecoming on YouTube (see below), I started watching several YouTube movies about The Waltons and Earl Hamner. THIS ONE does a good job of telling the story of Schuyler, Virginia and Earl Hamner's family (the real Waltons). 

Earl Hamner died in 2016, at 92 years of age. I was pleased to see (from This Obituary) that Earl and his wife were married for 62 years!

That obituary ends with this insightful quote from Earl Hamner...

“What has inspired my work has always been the family and neighbors I grew up with back in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia during the Great Depression of the 1930s. They were decent, God-fearing, patriotic people. Like most Appalachian folk, they were frugal, proud and self-reliant.

To write about such people, it was inevitable that such stories deal with love and honor, pity and pride, compassion and sacrifice. And so much of my writing became a celebration of those traditional American values.”

I like that. God-fearing, patriotic, frugal and self-reliant. Those are, indeed, traditional American values. They are the values that made America great. They are the values that can make America great again.

December 8, 2018

Watching The French Uprising

I sympathize with the French yellow-vest demonstrators. Not the rioters, but the demonstrators. From what I've been able to determine, they are primarily the working-class French. They are the producers. The middle class and lower middle class. The ones who pay most of the taxes, which go to support the non-producers, as well as an increasing number of foolish government globalism schemes (like taxing fuel to fight climate change).

The poor pay no taxes and the rich pay proportionately fewer taxes. The middle class is the tax-producing herd that government systematically milks. All such herds will only take so much before they jump the fence and stampede.

Thomas Jefferson knew this. He referenced it 242 years ago in his brilliantly worded Declaration of Independence...

"...all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

According to This 2016 Article France has the highest taxed population in Europe. "Tax Liberation Day" for them is July 29. That means the average worker in France must work 210 days a year just to pay his taxes.  That's a considerable demand on a person's time and life force, just to pay the perpetual demands of an overgrown government.

Does the government in France serve the people, or do the people serve the government?

Here in America, "Tax Freedom Day" is April 19. The average tax-paying American must work 109 days a year to pay his taxes. 

Personally, I'm sure I work longer than 109 days to pay my taxes. As a self-employed person I'm responsible for paying twice as much social security taxes than the taxpayer who is an employee.

Most of my income comes from selling products that I make with my hands. I invest time and a lot of monotonous hours into producing things. If I don't produce, I don't make money. And when I write out a check for my federal and state taxes every quarter, it not only makes me angry, it discourages me greatly. 

Approximately half the people in America do not pay any income taxes at all. Near as I can tell, it is about the same in France. The poor don't pay, and the wealthy pay proportionately less. I have a friend who owns a larger and much more profitable business than me and he tells me he pays very little in income taxes. There is something seriously wrong with a country in which half the population is expected to pay all the bills. 

As an American producer who pays dearly and disproportionately with my time and energy to support the growing socialist welfare state of America, I'm ready to protest in the streets. I mean that sincerely. 

The French middle class has been much more patient and "disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable" than I am. 

I wish them well.


By the way, those yellow vests are a story in themselves. Every motorist in France is required by law to have two such vests in their vehicle at all times. Taxes are only one burden inflicted by an overbearing bureaucratic technocracy.  

December 7, 2018

New York State
Veers Hard Left

This is the New York State assembly chamber.

I live in New York State. My state is a politically liberal state. However, N.Y. State government has not been as liberal as it could have been. For example, N.Y. has not been as politically left as California, and this has been the case for one big reason... 

Democrats have pretty much had total political control of California for more than 20 years. But that has not been the case here in New York. For more than 25 years, the N.Y. Senate has been in the control of Republicans and the Assembly by Democrats. There was a two-year exception in 20009-10, when Democrats briefly gained power over both houses, but it was a tenuous hold and they couldn't keep it.

It has been Republican control of the N.Y. Senate that has prevented the very worst of liberal, leftist, and progressive legislation from being passed. 

But with the election last month, Democrats now have a large Senate majority, along with control of the other branches of government. They now have the power that California liberals have had for decades.

The reality of this hit me when I recently read a letter from New Yorker's Family Research Foundation, a Christian organization that lobbies NY legislators in an effort to influence political outcomes. I've financially supported their lobbying arm (New Yorker's For Constitutional Freedoms) for many years.

While other lobbyists seek to influence legislation for financial gain. NYCF lobbies to influence for righteous outcomes. What a novel idea. Do other states have this? 

Here is how the letter started...

There is no positive spin regarding this year’s election results in New York.

Across the nation, the “blue wave” didn’t amount to as much as many suggested it would. In the Empire State, however, it was a blue tsunami. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand won with over 64% of the vote. Governor Andrew Cuomo pulled in nearly 58%. Democrats swept the statewide races retaining control of both the Attorney General’s and Comptroller’s offices as well. The State Assembly remains virtually unchanged with the Democratic Party maintaining an easy supermajority in that chamber. The real change is coming in the State Senate, though. Election Day hit the Senate Republicans like a Nor’easter. Prior to November, Republicans controlled the chamber 32-31, but after the electoral avalanche, it will be a 40-23 Democrat-controlled State Senate when legislators return in January.

Our lobbying arm, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, has historically had tremendous success blocking legislation in the upper house, but with Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) at the helm in 2019, there will be little chance for these types of continued legislative victories. I don’t want to sugarcoat it. Legislatively, it’s going to be ugly in New York for the foreseeable future.

"Ugly in New York" is not a hopeful message, but the letter goes on to make the case for continued perseverance in the face of seemingly hopeless odds. 

All of which brings to my mind the dichotomy between Christian obedience and worldly success. Simply stated, Christians are not expected by God to be successful in every endeavor. They are, rather, called to be obedient to what God calls them to do. Such callings may result in utter failure from the human perspective, and that can be profoundly disappointing, but it is beside the point. The point being, that obedience is more important than success from God's perspective.

That's something to think about, and the letter concludes with something more to think about...

This Christmas, as I sit before the tree, I will look at the manger scene and take strange solace in the knowledge that human government will always ultimately fail. Yes, it is instituted by God for our good, but at some point, it will always disappoint. Why? Because government is led by people born with an inherent sin nature...

That quote illustrates a fundamental human understanding that all the founders of our American form of government understood very well. They did not believe for a moment that mankind was fundamentally good, especially when it came to government power. They knew that power was a corrupting force on sinful humans. And that is why they set up a government structure with divided powers, along with layers of checks and balances.

As New York state government takes a hard left turn, I'm holding on tight. 

December 5, 2018

Children & Manners
Circa 1951
(part 2)

Marlene recently found an obscure comb-bound book from 1951 titled, Your Household Guide. It was originally given out by the Etna Grange No. 387, Ithaca, New York

The book is full of useful tips and information,  most of which are outdated. For example...

"When storing linens, leave them unstarched as the starch rots them."


"Good Cheap Liniment: Break end of one egg open. Put the egg in a glass bottle. Fill the shell with turpentine. Also fill it with vinegar. Put both in bottle with egg and shake well. It is ready for use."

Perhaps in a future blog post, I will share more of these historically curious bits of household advice. But for now I want to focus on the CHILDREN'S SECTION, which begins with several manners that I assume were considered good and appropriate for 1951. Here they are...

1.  Always greet the members of your family when you enter and always bid them goodbye when you leave.

2.  Always rise to a standing position when visitors enter, and greet them after your elders.

3.  Never address a visitor until he has started the conversation unless he is a person of your own age or younger.

4.  Never interrupt a conversation. Wait until the party talking has finished.

5.  Always rise when your visitor or your elders stand.

6.  Never let your mother or your father bring you a chair or get one for themselves. Wait on them instead of being waited on.

7.  If you leave or cross the room you should say "Excuse me."

8.  If a visitor should say, "I am glad to have seen you," you should say, "Thank you."

9.  Never run up or down the stairs or across the room.

10.  Talk in a low, even voice. It denotes refinement.

11.  Always give way to the younger child. It is your duty to look after them instead of fretting them.

12.  Never retire without bidding the members of your family good night.

Follow these suggestions and you will assist in making the members of your family happy as well as in benefitting them in many other ways.

I was born in 1958. I don't recall ever being taught manners like these by my parents. I well remember being taught certain table manners, and some of the above manners were naturally assimilated, but not specifically taught.

My mother did, however, have an Emily Post book on etiquette in the bookcase, and I remember looking through it as a youngster.

I think it's safe to say that here in 2018, basic good manners are still taught to young children by their parents. The most obvious example being to say "Thank you" when given something. But advanced manner teaching is rarely ever taught in a deliberate way.

This lack of manners appears to be sorely lacking in our culture these days. 

Personally, I think my own manners can be improved on by more intentionally following the manners advice in the 1951 Grange book. 

I'm wondering.... 

Do you remember being taught manners like those above as a child? 

Do you have a book of etiquette in your home?

December 4, 2018

Millennials And The
Continuing Failure Of
Government Education

The above video discussion is well worth watching. It is profoundly insightful, and profoundly disturbing. I could disagree with a couple points that Simon Sinek makes, but it isn't constructive to do so. 

Instead, I'd just like to make the point that the government school system has been incredibly successful at preventing children from maturing as they should, and that is actually one of the objectives of government education.

For those who disagree with that observation, I offer the following quote from John Taylor Gatto for your consideration...

Theorists from Plato to Rousseau to Frederick of Prussia knew and taught explicitly that if children could be kept childish beyond [their] term in nature, if they could be cloistered in a society of children without any real responsibility except obedience, if their inner lives could be attenuated by removing the insights of history, literature, philosophy, economics, religion, if the imminence of death and the certainty of pain and loss could be removed from daily consciousness, if the profound reflections on one’s own death could be replaced by the trivializing emotions of greed, envy, jealousy and fear, young people would grow older, but they would never grow up, and a great enduring problem of supervision would be solved, for who can argue against the truth that childish and childlike people are much easier to manage than critically trained, self‐reliant ones.

Amazingly, it appears (from the video discussion above) that the government school system has been too successful, at least in regards to preparing young people for occupational employment. Instead of cranking out immature, easily managed employees it has produced immature, difficult-to-manage employees. 

In another quote from Gatto's essay, he states that our government "educated" population is, "deliberately dumbed‐down and rendered childlike in order that government and economic life can be managed with a minimum of hassle, it’s that lowdown nitty‐gritty common purpose. Not Marxist grand warfare between classes and greedy captains of industry, it’s simply so that management will have a minimum of hassles."

Thus it is that now, even at its most clandestine and fundamental purpose, government-directed, taxpayer funded education is a failure.