Friday, September 30, 2011

Keeping Women Down

When I was young, and a young witness to the social revolutions occurring in our country, it was my assumption that (radical) feminist would win their campaign, and that the country, for good or ill, would enter an era when "gender equality" would be the norm, whether or not that comported with our natures.

I no longer worry about that.

Instead, what's occurred is that women are now more repressed, in real terms, than ever before. And that's becoming worse every day.

The reason for this is the disturbing trinketization of women that has been occurring at an every alarming rate over the past few decades, starting with the publication of the first issue of Playboy magazine in 1953.

Allow me to state this bluntly.  In this electronic age, as long as our society in general, and women in particular, tolerate pornography, women are never going to achieve equality in anything.  Rather, with each increasing day, they're becoming more and more disposable chattel, not to be taken seriously.

Women and men are not wired the same way. There's a shocker I know, but proponents of absolute liberty of publication, and proponents of feminism, either don't know that, or refuse to acknowledge it.  This is true in an entire host of things, but is particularly true in regards to sex.  In regards to sex, men are very visually triggered.  Women are not.

Prior to 1953, "girly magazines" were largely nasty trash.  Sure, they existed.  And there have always been women willing to prostitute their images to appear in them.  Indeed, prior to 53, they very often were in fact prostitutes.  If a woman is selling her body, selling her image isn't a great leap in action.

The first issue of Playboy came out in 1953.  Contrary to later legends, the genius of Playboy was not in issuing a rag with the publication of nudes in it.  That had been going on for a long time.  The genius of Playboy was marketing.  The magazine was slick, included some legitimate articles, and was packaged up as part of a phony philosophy.  Earlier magazines made no such effort.  They might have articles, but they were all about illegitimate sex.  Playboy, however, pretended that what it was about was the life of the sophisticated male, who was too much about town and in the world to marry, which would only drag such a sport down, but who could have limitless sex with well endowed young beauties. 

Some commentators on Playboy have argued that the magazine also argued that "sex is fun for women too", and by that they meant "unmarried women in their late teens and 20s". But that's bull.  Playboy has never had any interest in women as human beings, bur rather only in women with big boobs, nice faces, and no brains.  These women, the magazine suggested, were willing to hop into bed at a moment's notice.  Moreover, even though the secondary female characteristics the magazine focused on are those which, in part, serve to help keep the infants produced by sex alive (shocker, boobs are mammary glands, curvy hips are a product for ease of child birth) the magazine essentially also suggested that all such women were sterile.  They not only were craving sex, but nothing would ever be produced by it.

That started to be somewhat true in the early 60s, when a means of making women temporarily sterile or spontaneously abort came about in the form of the pill.  Birth control now meant that men could demand that women live down to the Playboy standard as they would probably not get pregnant, or if they did, they'd likely spontaneously abort (that latter aspect of the pill being a fact, but a very rarely noted one).  The widespread adoption of the Playboy mystique by men, their increasing demands on women, and the pill combined to break down conduct society wide, confuse people on what sex actually is for, and gave us the current sorry situation.  Now libertine sexual conduct is regarded as the norm and, as crude as it may seem, women in their teens and early 20s are expected to "put out".

This has lead to psychological misery for women.  Beyond that, it's destroyed the image of the serious female.

If a woman is expected to yield to a sexual demand based upon nothing more than the provision of a cheap meal, that means that our society has retreated all the way back to the most primitive societies, where that is also the rule.  Thousands of years of societal development are stripped away, and at that point, women are toys.

What women are not is powerless.  Not yet.  But until they exercise that power and condemn such behavior, and condemn it most particularly amongst their sisters, this trend will only continue.  Indeed, it is continuing as we speak. Soon, television will feature the glamorization of the "Playboy Club".  If women are serious about being taken seriously, they'll speak up and that won't be around long.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Success and Failure

I've been thinking a lot recently about the meaning of "success". What does it mean?  And who defines what it means.

There's a bunch of reasons I've been contemplating this, but it is an interesting question in a way.  I wonder if, individually, we're satisfied with the societal definition of success, and whether as a society of over 300 million, we're capable of really tolerating the individual definition of success?  The answer to the latter is, I think, yes, but it's not a clear matter.

We only live once, in spite of what Hindus may assert, so this go around is it.  Given that, our time on earth is quite short compared to eternity, and our own definition of success hardly matters. Even the most successful amongst us ends up dead and forgotten.  Who remembers the individual rich in Rome?  Not many.  I'm sure you could find some of their names if you were of an academic bent, but by and large, all secular success yields to the Roman Maxim that "All Glory is fleeting."

On that scale, the only success is a life worth living on a metaphysical scale, a standard that is not likely to get you much accolades, and even fewer physical items, than any other sort of success, but which is still a true success.

But, while keeping that in mind, let's consider the smaller definitions of success.

In this day and age in the United States, the only real standard of societal success is considered the accumulation of money. That is, you are a success, society will hold, if you make a lot of money, both annually, and over a lifetime.  This has always been somewhat the held up standard in the United States, but it is virtually the only standard right now.  It's the standard that schools aim for in education.  It's the standard that is talked about in the news.  It's the standard that Americans are supposed to shoot for.

This cannot be overemphasized.  Individuals are expected to leave home and family to achieve an education that allows them to achieve this.  They're expected to follow that brass ring where ever it goes.  If that means leaving a small town and ending up in a string of big cities, you are expected to do it.  It means that perhaps you are supposed to end up in a wealthier subdivision of a sweltering hot southern US city that you will virtually never leave during the average week.  If you are female, it means you are to postpone marriage and children for a career, and when you marry, you are to marry based on wealth, not on any other factor.

And some people do indeed crave that sort of life.  I guess they are the societal models.

The problem is that it is quite well established that this sort of life doesn't lead to personal happiness, and actually tends to destroy it, for most people.  Money and trinket acquisition generally doesn't make people happy, but people are sacrificing everything to get it. Why?

Well, partially they do it because it's an instinct.  Back in our early, aboriginal, days, acquiring what you could was good insurance against the coming lean periods.  That was true for many people many millennia later as well.  Of course, in those days you couldn't acquire on credit, so acquisition really was a hedge against starvation.  Say, the lean times come and I need to get some food for my family. . . will you take seven horses?  So it made sense at that time.  Now, of course, as the Seven ATVs and the Condo in Ft. Lauderdale were acquired with credit, that won't work.  The instinct remains, however.

Partially do that, however, as modern society schools us accordingly.  Study hard, go to a good college (on credit) get that good paying career, and follow it.  Postpone marriage, children, and live where they send you.  People are taught this, and most people are very obedient to what they are taught.

This was not always the case.  Really, up in to the 1950s there were entire sections of the population, perhaps even a near majority of the population, that was taught to emphasize family.  People didn't feel compelled to uproot, or to force their offspring to uproot, for a job.  People often found local work, married relatively young, and didn't move much. Family, church, and local society tended to be their focus.  They were likely much happier than people generally are today.  Get in close with people living "the dream" and you find many are not very happy.  Indeed, entire occupations and demographics are bitterly unhappy, mostly because they ended up where they are by focusing on career and money.

But now, with our current society, do we even have a choice? The American economy is in trouble, we all know. But it depends on this model.  Basically, our economy depends on the sale of really cheap goods manufactured overseas, and sold by those making low wages, which the rest of us buy through money acquired by our careers.  If we don't focus on career, who is going to buy the condos, the Lexus cars, the ATVs, etc. etc?  So, we are making ourselves largely miserable in order to support a system of misery.  Our entire modern economy depends on it.  In order to escape working for the Walmart Empire of Doom you need to be educated to fit into a career that will free you from the lowest economic level, seriously, which will tie you into a career of economic slavery and nomadism.  The economy truly depends on it.

Not all societies are as enslaved to this system as we are.  Even today, Europeans, particularly those European societies currently being dumped on, are not.  We seem to irrevocably be, however.

What you reall need is a Holley Carb. . .

I've come to the conclusion that those who work as computer geeks today are drawn from the same section of the population that once went into small shop mechanics.

Back in the 70s and early 80s, before computers invaded the automobile world and changed auto repair from a trade into a computer lab project, there were many small auto mechanic shops staffed by men in their 20s who wanted to mess with your car.  No matter what your problem was, when you contacted them about the repairs to your car, you were soon confronted with the "performance" changes that they wanted to make to it, or worse, already had.  "Man. . . this baby needed a Holley Carb!  I just ripped that old stock carburetor off and . . ."

At that point, you were doomed.  No aftermarket performance part so installed ever worked, and at best, with enough tinkering, your car might get back to the original state of performance, more or less.

Computerization of automobiles ended that.  So now, the same people go into computer programming.

If you work in an office, you know this is true. The moment your system is really working well, you are going to face an "upgrade", or worse, and entire new system.  If you are lucky, after days of messing with it, and hours and hours of lost work, you'll get a system back that is close to what you had.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The disappearance of the Federal Courthouses

Presently Wyoming has four Federal Courthouses. One in Casper, one in Cheyenne, one in Jackson and one in Yellowstone National Park. The Casper and Cheyenne courthouses have sitting judges and are by far the most active. Wyoming has three active sitting judges.

At one time, not all that long ago really, the state had a lot fewer judges, but a lot more active courthouses. This is, suffice it to say, an odd turn of events.

At least Green River, Lander, and Sheridan Wyoming all had federal courthouses, even during the era when we had a single Federal Judge. Sheridan's nice Federal Courthouse, now in private hands, was built in 1918. Green River's and Lander's appear to have been built about the same time. The much larger Casper courthouse was built in the 1930s. The current Cheyenne courthouse is much more recent, it was probably built in the 1970s.

Why the change? I don't know, but I suspect it was because of changes in transportation. At the time the older courthouses were built, the judge likely traveled a circuit to these regional courthouses. And at first he likely traveled it by train, probably up from Cheyenne. As transportation improved, this ceased to be the case and by the 1940s these courthouses may all have been basically disused, save for the Cheyenne court. The Casper courthouse was rebuilt in the early 80s, when population increases necessitated the use of that large courthouse, but the others have been sold off or rented out. Now only great distances from Cheyenne, or major populations centers, merit their own Federal courthouse.

It's a shame, really. The Lander, Green River, and Sheridan courthouses were all very nice, if small, Federal courthouses, and it's a shame that they aren't receiving their original intended use.

See also, What One Building Says About the March of Time.

A great number of military installations.

I was in Sheridan Wyoming recently, and took the opportunity to run up to the VA hospital and view the grounds of old Ft. Mackenzie. The grounds are really impressive, to say the least, and it is a very well preserved old Army post, still in use as a modern VA hospital.

Some scenes of the same are posted above.

What struck me about this, however, is that this post wasn't built until the very late 1890s. It was converted into a military hospital, after more or less being occupied since 1913, in 1918.

It's really surprising, as the SMH thread above notes, that the Army was building posts as late as 1899 in Wyoming. What could their purpose have really been? But not only were they still building, but up through the first quarter of the 20th Century there were a surprising number of military installations in Wyoming that either existed, or had just been closed.

Here we seen Ft. Mackenzie, but not all that far away there had been a Ft. McKinney, which had only been closed in 1894. Ft. Washakie, which is not near this post, was still open when this one built, and remained open until 1909. Ft. D. A. Russel was open, and has never closed, as it later became Ft. F. E. Warren and is now Warren AFB. Its one of three military installations that now exist in Wyoming, the others being the substantial Army National Guard installation at Camp Guernsey and the Air National Guard base in Cheyenne. Ft. Laramie had only been abandoned as of 1890. Ft. Fred Steele had closed in 1886.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Today's readings from the Roman Missal:

First reading:

Teach and urge these things.
Whoever teaches something different
and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ
and the religious teaching
is conceited, understanding nothing,
and has a morbid disposition for arguments and verbal disputes.
From these come envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions,
and mutual friction among people with corrupted minds,
who are deprived of the truth,
supposing religion to be a means of gain.
Indeed, religion with contentment is a great gain.
For we brought nothing into the world,
just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it.
If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that.
Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap
and into many foolish and harmful desires,
which plunge them into ruin and destruction.
For the love of money is the root of all evils,
and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith
and have pierced themselves with many pains.

But you, man of God, avoid all this.
Instead, pursue righteousness, devotion,
faith, love, patience, and gentleness.
Compete well for the faith.
Lay hold of eternal life,
to which you were called when you made the noble confession
in the presence of many witnesses.
From:  1 Tm 6:2c-12

Second Reading, from the Psalms:

R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Why should I fear in evil days
when my wicked ensnarers ring me round?
They trust in their wealth;
the abundance of their riches is their boast.
R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Yet in no way can a man redeem himself,
or pay his own ransom to God;
Too high is the price to redeem one's life; he would never have enough
to remain alive always and not see destruction.
R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Fear not when a man grows rich,
when the wealth of his house becomes great,
For when he dies, he shall take none of it;
his wealth shall not follow him down.
R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Though in his lifetime he counted himself blessed,
"They will praise you for doing well for yourself,"
He shall join the circle of his forebears
who shall never more see light.
R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Jean Jacket

Does anyone know where a person can get a good Levis jacket, or Lee jacket, if they are still made.  Not the weenified metrosexual version that Levis now makes as a "trucker jacket", but the real deal, the old heavy denim one.

I lost my Levis jacket, and my old Lee jacket doesn't fit.  I'd like to get a new one, but the Levis jackets I've seen around are all prewashed and cut slim.  Pathetic.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Aldo Leopold on Farming

There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.

Aldo Leopold

Friday, September 9, 2011


The Bible counsels us that workmen are to receive their just wage.  It also warns that the wages of sin is death.  And soldiers are specifically counseled to be content with their wages.

Politicians are long on a "fair days wage", and things of that type.  Marxist claimed that working men were "wage slaves" and that each was to receive according to their abilities and needs.  Apparently their political class had more ability and needs, as they received more than others. . . funny how that worked.

Anyhow, wages are an interesting deal in a lot of ways, not the least of which is how people perceive their wages, or rather their income.

A real oddity, and one that I've become particularly conscious of, is that people generally spend to their income level, if they receive a middle class or upper income.  Not everyone, to be sure, but a lot of people, and seemingly most people.  Almost everyone in the middle class and even the lower wealthy class believes they struggle to get by. And some really do.  I admit that at my present middle class income, I really wonder how those making less get by.  Of course, I'm the only breadwinner as well, which means that if I split my income in half and pretended that it came from two people, we'd still be two middle class income earners, but not doing spectacularly well.

But even those people who make to upper middle incomes in a household will often expand out.  People acquire, I guess. I do as well.

By the same token, some will invariably spend more than they make, no matter what their income is.  I'm not sure why, but they will.

Making a "decent income" is a big deal with Americans.  Of course, it should be, but it's so much of a big deal, that it's often the only focus some people have.  "What's it pay?" is frequently the only career question that somebody asks before launching off on a life altering path.

Because a certain income becomes something a family, if not an individual person, becomes acclimated to, a wage can become like a shackle.  That's extremely common.  Even if the wage earner is prepared to abandon a certain income level, his family may not be, and that's effectively a jail cell.

These random comments amount to nothing more than a casual observation.  I'm not arguing for anything.  But I note it somewhat in the context of this line from a Man For All Seasons:

Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... but for Wales?

Parking Lot

It's common to hear that everything about aging is bad, and believe you me, having seen a lot of the things that come at the end of life, for a lot of people there are some pretty rough spots. Frankly, a lot of those rough spots come in middle age, when you're dealing with the impacts of aging on your relatives and probably have job concerns and a youngish family.  You're pretty busy. Generally, according to statisticians, the middle years are the most displeasing to people.

But, not everything about being a middle aged married male is bad by any means.

Here's an odd example.

Almost every work day, when I pull into my work parking lot, there is a very beautiful young woman (say 20s, I'd guess) who arrives at the same time.  I don't know her, and I never will. That's okay with me.  Occasionally I say hello, and she often has some wry comment and seems to have a really dry wit.

What does this have to do with the comment above?

Well, this.

When I was younger, say single and closer to her age, this would be on my mind a lot. She's stunning really.  I'd wonder if she was single, could I strike up a conversation, maybe meet and get to know her.

But I don't worry about any of that. She's just another interesting human being I see in a very disconnected casual situation.  I can take her for what she is in that context, somebody I don't know, will never know, don't need to know, but who is sort of funny in a unique way.

That's a good deal. As we age, unless we manage to stay juvenile forever, it's actually much easier to know people as people.

There are a lot of other things that are like this.  You become much less concerned with how people will react to your opinions, if they will react.  If you aren't vain, you become almost entirely unconcerned about what people think about your car, and other trappings. All that is good stuff.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


In the film rendition of Band of Brother, the Dick Winter character (the central figure) notes in a voice over that, after D-Day, he promised "himself and God" that if he survived the war, he'd find a piece of land somewhere and "live a quiet life".  The book, which does depart from the film somewhat, also notes that.  I haven't read the book in some time, but if I recall correctly, what he actually desired to do was to find a farm somewhere.

In actuality, Dick Winters did find a farm, but not until after the Korean War, some years later.  Between World War Two and his farm purchase, he was in business and in the Army, a second time, during the Korean War.  When he entered farming, he also started a successful business selling animal feed.

The Ambrose book on his unit somewhat overemphasizes his post war business career, underplaying his later farming life.

I note that as I think Winters desire and the portrayal of his desires gives us an interesting insight into the bipolar nature of the American psyche.  On one hand, a lot of people desire a quiet, rural, life.  ON the other, we're constantly bombarded with the message that our goal in life should be "success" in a "career".  It's an interesting dichotomy.

This has always been the case, but earlier on, before World War Two, the big "success in a career" stories were really exceptions to the American rule.  While we aren't living in that era, and while it was very imperfect, what seems to largely have been the case is that the primary concern for most men and women were family related concerns.  Most men and women married, and most of them worked towards a quiet family life.  You don't really find a large number of "success in a career" type stories.  Even businessmen of the pre 1940 era often had fairly low key lives, and were basically middle class.  If a person was in the middle of the middle class, the were regarded as quite successful.  Family, church, community, and the local life was typically a big deal for them.

Somehow, and increasingly the case, after World War Two "success in a career" really became a big deal.  Now it absolutely dominates, and beyond that a "successful economy" is a huge deal.  A successful economy is supposed to mean an ever growing economy.

What this means is that we now expect our children to go through college (and they nearly have to, I'm not saying otherwise), pick a "career", and do whatever it takes to succeed in that career.  If that career is a "high powered" career, so much the better.  This is supposed to mean that you'll move wherever the job takes you, go from town to town and city to city, and like it.  You'll be compensated by one measure only, that being money.  The more money the better.  As this type of career means you will have no roots, or even connections, in where ever you are temporarily working, you'll are free to buy a parcel of property and a house that the local infrastructure cannot support long term, and which is actually destructive to any rural base the local community has, or once had.  No connections with family, church, or community are expected to be predominant, or even exist.  All relationships, even those between man and woman, are merely temporary and expedient, all designed to support your "career".

Indeed, the entire economy is now supposed to support this goal.  We are told that the continued importation of immigrant labor is "necessary in order to support growing our economy", even at a time when we have an effective unemployment rate of  14%.  We are told that the development of land is necessary to support the housing industry, a "key sector of our economy".  We are told that the exportation of jobs that were once solid middle class jobs here, to foreign nations, is necessary in order that we can "grow the economy" by replacing production jobs with consumption jobs, with "low priced" consumption" itself necessary to this economy, as in the end, people don't really need all that much and can otherwise get along with a lot less.

This is largely the antithesis of the general culture before 1940, somewhat.  There was, to be sure, always a lot of movement in the American society, but what seems to be the case is that people basically aimed for stability in economics in order to support their families, which were central to their lives.  We've exchanged that for a system that is obviously self restricting at some point.  For real lives in a real community that we're really connected with, we've substituted lives based on principally on the acquisition of money.  Deep down, however, most of us know that this isn't satisfying, which is amply evidenced by the desire to try to satisfy that gaping hole by getting more, and more.  We still yearn for the life our economy left behind.  But that won't work, as what most, or many, of us really want, is that "quiet life".  Indeed, in film portrays, we interestingly sometimes still portray things that way, but not always, of course.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Long Ago Hunt

Interesting look at a 1881 hunt in the Sweetwater area:

Part 1.

Part 2.

Part 3.

A difference in cultures

I haven't been following the Amanda Knox trial at all, but I'd note that on this morning's news, appellate arguments, or some sort of appellate proceeding, resumed upon the Court's return from its August holiday.

The court shut down for a month.

An entire month.

This isn't uncommon in southern European cultures.  The country shuts down for a month.  Americans make much of their Protestant Work Ethic, but in the final analysis, I"m not sure that gets us too much other than being overworked.  I can't imagine, fwiw, the entire country taking a month off, but I wish I could imagine it. 
Of course, knowing me, I wouldn't take the time off anyhow, actually.