In praise of the “unknown” guitarist and the bands.

How can someone this good be so little known? If you’re in your 60’s or 70’s, and are fans of Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, BB King, and you want to hear an amalgam of all their styles made uniquely his own, you need to listen to Dave Clempson, known as Clem Clempson. The best known band he was part of was Colosseum, and he is on most of their albums. Go to YouTube and search on Clem Clempson, or Colosseum. There is an entire Colosseum concert in the Rockpalast, in Germany. The Germans really get the blues. In between numbers, drummer Jon Hiseman explains how the song came to be. It’s living blues history.

Or go to his official website, clemclempson.com https://www.clemclempson.com/other-works/and listen to some of the tracks, but especially So Many Roads! If you like blues, the licks will blow you away. On YouTube there are also lots of videos showing Clempson playing with Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Billy Cobham, Chris Farlowe, Jeff Beck, et al. Go ahead and listen, you’ll thank me.

You may think this doesn’t apply to you…..

hope for our future

Nate Wilson, son of my favorite blogger and preacher Doug Wilson, has formulated a rule that more boards and committees should be aware of. He has said that “in any meeting that lasts over twenty minutes, someone will propose something which, if implemented, will ruin everything.” Don’t I know it.

I was on the board of a private Classical and Christian School, modeled after the principles expressed by Dorothy Sayers, in her book The Lost Tools of Learning, and of Doug Wilson’s update, Recovering The Lost Tools of Learning. My oldest daughter was part of their first class, and my other two daughters followed her a few years later. We started with the most marvelous of conditions, or so we thought. The entire board, faculty and student body were composed of members of two compatible conservative Christian churches. Our small town was located in central Washington, more conservative than the eastern and especially the western parts of the state. The superintendent of the public school system in town was a member of our church, as was the principal of the school that our church held services in. His daughters also attended our school, and the superintendent would have sent his children if allowed, and was supportive. All we lacked was sufficient money to pay our teachers what they were really worth, but they loved being there anyway, since in the beginning, those who had children enrolled them in the school.

It should have been perfect. For a few years, it was. But the progression of the school’s, if not downfall, at least dilution, followed that of virtually all organizations. That’s why this tale is relevant to anyone. The following is taken from Pastor Wilson’s blog post, because it is about general principles that apply to private schools, yet it describes our school exactly.

“A successful school will have hundreds of people involved in it. Lots of people going in all kinds of directions. It is an organization of people, and if it is organized well, it will function like a body. As a body, it will have lymph nodes, and when a cancer arrives, it will go for the lymph nodes. When you enroll your kids in a thriving Christian school, you may not know a third of the board members, and you may not know (yet) half of the teachers. And depend upon it, when you have a school that size, somebody is up to no good. The school may be great for five years, okay for two, and mediocre until your third kid graduates. It may be great the entire time. It might be steadily improving. But if it is steadily improving, it is because somebody is doing it on purpose, not because that kind of thing happens all by itself. What do you need to do to get a garden full of weeds? Absolutely nothing, that’s what.  

“So somebody gets elected to the board because they have money, and they also have a tenuous understanding of the importance of Latin. A couple parents clash with the Latin teacher, the one with an over-inflated view of Latin. Naturally. The clueless Latinist on the board takes up their cause. One of the board member’s kids is a premier pill, and no discipline ever seems to land anywhere near her. The state legislature passed a “let’s-bribe-all-the-Christian-schools” bill, and you have talked to a couple board members who don’t seem all that concerned. In short, something bad is always developing. So if you have your kids in a Christian school, it is no sin to ask questions. And it is usually some kind of sin not to.”

Take out the word Christian, and you still have a cautionary tale for all organizations: loss or lack of vision; mission drift; factions; money priorities; power; competing temptations. I will address each of these realities, what I call artifacts of the people store. If you have people, you will have these realities. Pastor Wilson says “when cancer arrives”, not if cancer arrives. Cancer is basically a disease of uncontrolled cell division. Its development and progression are usually linked to a series of changes in the activity of cell cycle regulators. For example, inhibitors of the cell cycle keep cells from dividing when conditions aren’t right, so too little activity of these inhibitors can promote cancer. Cancer progresses from early organ-confined disease to metastatic disease. So, cancer starts within the body, rather than by an attack from outside organisms, and if not isolated and excised from the original site will spread, making treatment more dangerous, and might eventually kill the body.

Loss of Vision: A cooperative human venture–an organization–whether a school, corporation or team, comes into being via a vision of accomplishing something long term. The vision helps shape the missions of the organization. In my case, the vision was of an education grounded in the Bible as the standard of truth, with all subjects taught faithfully in relation to God’s purpose for our existence. If we lost that vision, subjects would be taught by rote.

Mission drift: The vision shapes the primary mission, which was to produce a community of students who applied God’s truth to all questions of life, and whose relationships reflected God’s love. But money was always lacking, and other missions, such as fundraising, started to expand.

Factions: In every group, the “people store” will produce factions, no matter how clear the vision and mission statements are. We had those, plus a statement of faith that all stakeholders agreed to, plus we had detailed written bylaws and procedures for everything we could think of. It wasn’t enough to prevent factions. I’m not sure anything is.

Money priorities: I believe the statement, “there’s never a money problem, there are only idea problems.” Sometimes the problem isn’t a lack of ideas, but too many, which dilutes efforts.

Power: Even in our environment, the power to control others could raise its head. We had a rule for board meetings, which was no idea can be implemented unless we come to unanimous consent. The power problem got manifested in the increasing length of the meetings, because most of the board members, brilliant and dedicated all, wanted their complete say. As Nate Wilson said, eventually things got implemented which began ruining the whole. We should have placed a strict limit on the time each board member could give their opinion.

Competing temptations: This affected succeeding classes more and more. When the school was tiny, and the kids were young, academic and behavioral goals were enough. As they got older, and the school grew to include more churches and even some students whose family had no church identification, and our kids would see their public school friends playing sports and enjoying many social activities, those temptations became greater priorities. That’s probably inevitable.

The greatest mistake: Despite all those challenges, I believe we could have maintained our vision and mission and our healthy culture, but one fateful board meeting produced a disastrous decision. That decision set us on the wrong path, which is another way of saying we weren’t seeing ourselves clearly, and got our priorities backwards. I will explain this decision in some detail, because it is what breaks most organizations eventually. For the first four years, we had two marvelous headmasters, who really embraced the vision and mission. The first headmaster was one of the three founders of the school. The second was a retired executive from Hewlett-Packard, who brought real leadership concepts and also embraced our vision and mission. But both these men embodied something even more important. It will sound like something uniquely Christian, but that’s just semantics. Each of these men embodied grace, rather than law.

Here’s the distinction that is relevant to every organization. “Law” is teaching obedience to the standard, “grace” is teaching love for the standard. In the Bible, the ultimate purpose of the law is to demonstrate your complete inability to follow it; it illuminates your sin. Grace is unmerited salvation from the burden of the law. How this concept applies to organizations is this: law-oriented leadership is adherence to rules, external pressure to obey, sending soldiers into battle while hanging out a safe distance away. Grace-oriented leadership is “servant leadership.” Jesus summed it up: But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:25-28

When He said “slave”, he didn’t mean a literal slave, but someone who is driven to please the only real master, God. A servant leader is in front of the troops, not relaxing in their well appointed office. Our disastrous decision was hiring, for our third headmaster, the very model of law-oriented leadership. We were blind to the fact that we didn’t even understand the two forms of leadership, nor recognize what really made our previous leaders great. After this hire, board meetings became even longer, since headmasters attended the meetings to report to the board, though this new hire, rather than just reporting, thought to make policy, the prerogative of the board. The loving, patient culture rapidly changed to one of rules and emphasizing outward appearances, rather than a selfless internal spirit.

We replaced him after a year, but by then the damage was done. Competing temptations became stronger, our culture less attractive. I haven’t had any direct contact with the school since 2013, when my kids were out. Judging by their website, which contains links to their statement of faith, blog, board policy and other interesting things, nothing has changed for the worse. The headmaster we hired after the mistake is still there, so I hope that means the listing ship has righted. The current board members are people I know, who have the same vision. Maybe our school learned the right lessons. If so, thank God they are in a small town that the major media doesn’t care about.

 

Transgenderism, the Emperor’s New Clothes

the big lie

E = MC2. Energy equals mass times the speed of light, squared. This is one of the most famous formulas in the world, illustrating special relativity. It shows that energy (E) and mass (m) are interchangeable; they are different forms of the same thing. The theory of special relativity explains how space and time are linked for objects that are moving at a consistent speed in a straight line. One of its most famous aspects concerns objects moving at the speed of light. Simply put, as an object approaches the speed of light, its mass becomes infinite and it is unable to go any faster than light travels. This cosmic speed limit has been a subject of much discussion in physics, and even in science fiction, as people think about how to travel across vast distances. And now for something completely different…..

There’s another form of special relativity, actually more of a disease, which human beings manifest to varying degrees. I call it “you don’t understand, it’s different for me…” Most of the time, this phrase is the outward expression of rejection of objectivity, denial that what is real for most others applies to you, justifying a lack of effort, and fostering the expectation that, since you can’t change or accommodate reality, the world must change to accommodate you. As I have explained in previous posts, your biological sex is the very first thing that the world outside of you notices about you. It’s even apparent in an ultrasound taken before birth. It’s inescapable whenever you look in a mirror. “You don’t understand, I feel like the other sex.” How can you know what the other sex feels like? “I meant, I don’t like, or I don’t want to be, the sex that I appear to be.” That too shall pass, unless…..

If you are gender confused or conflicted, by the magic of this kind of special relativity, others around you demonstrate their obeisance to your feelings, or your statement of your feelings, and arrange drugs and surgery to to “transition” or “transform” you into the sex you think you want to be. But it can’t stop there, because the rest of the world isn’t in on the game, or whatever it is. Changing your appearance isn’t enough, because ignorant saps who knew the biological you will not be fooled by a mere change of appearance. Every time they call you by your original name, or refer to you using the pronoun of your biological sex, it reminds you of the pure subjectivity of your feelings. Even worse, the world is full of ignorant saps who stare at the “transitioned” you, not sure how to address you, or describe you, and even more ambivalent about sharing a bathroom with you.

Therefore, they all need to change. The problem with that formulation is that if they don’t want to accommodate your mental illness–for that is what hatred or disgust for your natural, biological sex is–either they must be forced into affirmation, or you must get help to understand and triumph over your pathology. Perfectionist Progressives, the chattering class, the Mediated Reality Establishment, Democrats…..have the resources to force or pressure affirmation. The rest of us will, hopefully, resist.

Resistance isn’t about harming you, it’s about loving you, which is getting you the help you need. Forcing affirmation of your pathology is about demonstrating the power to control the majority, shaping their opinions through creating a new vocabulary: deadnaming, transphobia, trans-exclusionary, transgender pronouns like Xe, Xer. Forcing affirmation of your pathology is about demonstrating the power to control the majority: threats, trolling, doxing, getting people fired from their jobs for using male and female pronouns….

This demonstration of naked power reminds me of the fable, The Emperor’s New Clothes, is a short tale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, about two weavers who promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that they say is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent – while in reality, they make no clothes at all, making everyone believe the clothes are invisible to them. When the emperor parades before his subjects in his new “clothes”, no one dares to say that they do not see any suit of clothes on him for fear that they will be seen as stupid. Finally a child cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!” 

We all need the innocence of that child, unafraid of what others think, especially when they clearly don’t.


	

Prisoners of the moment

instant gratification

Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YikYak, Instant Messaging (iMessage), Venmo, Vine, Tinder, and so on. What are these? If you guessed–the things aliens would say instead of “take me to your leader” if they crash landed their spaceship into a high school–you’re on the right track. They are apps very popular with millennials, who are believed to have very short attention spans. They are for spouting off your opinions–Twitter, iMessage and YikYak–capturing the moment–Instagram and Vine–erasing the moment–Snapchat–getting paid instantly–Venmo–accepting or rejecting a date instantly–Tinder. The moment is everything with them. For a slightly longer attention span, there’s Facebook, YouTube and Amazon, for airing longer opinions and sharing your everything, watching everyone share everything and instantly shopping for everything. Most of the aforementioned activities are done either on Apple or Google (Android) products.

Facebook owns Instagram, Google owns YouTube and the Android operating system, Twitter owns Vine, Apple owns iMessage, Amazon owns……everything? Eventually perhaps. What are the most valuable companies in the world by market value of their stock? Apple, Amazon, Alphabet (Google parent), and Facebook. Could there be any cause-effect relationship between their market value and the users–the rest of us (?)–not just millennials, being prisoners of the moment? When I was in 6th grade, I had a history teacher whose favorite expression, repeated daily, was “the only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history!” I guess he meant, we seem to keep repeating the same mistakes. Why is that? I say it is part of human nature to be prisoners of the moment. The formal name for that state, in behavioral psychology, is recency bias.

“Recency bias” is the phenomenon of a person most easily remembering something that has happened recently, compared to remembering something that may have occurred a while back. Example: A fictional 24 hour sports network has a year-end special called the “Greatest Sports Plays of All Time”. The show features the best ever plays from sports like football, baseball, basketball, etc. The show polls fans to develop a list of the best ever plays. Each year, plays that occurred over the past year dominate the show. Did 70% of the greatest sports plays of all time really occur just over the past 12 months? Definitely not – this is an example of “recency bias”, as we tend the best remember the events that have occurred most recently. Another aspect of the same phenomenon is the tendency to project recent events into the future, rather than looking to a long term historical record, which will demonstrate the wisdom of King Solomon’s “there is nothing new under the sun, all is vanity.”

Except, you say, “technology is new, apps are new, the four most valuable companies in the world are new.” True, technology is new, but human nature is not, and that is what Solomon was referring to. Recency bias, being prisoners of the moment, is old as can be. It is self deceiving as can be. On demand, whether food, video, opinions, or conclusions about the future, makes you a prisoner. The only antidote I know of is, read, read, read: timeless wisdom, truth, the Bible and books by thinkers. Then test what you can. Strive to be free, or remain a prisoner. Unlike being in jail, you actually do have a choice.

 

A monument to life rises, then celebrates death.

The new World Trade Center, rising from the wreckage of the worst terrorist massacre my country has ever suffered, was meant to be a monument to the value of life over death. At the base is a memorial, included in which is the inscription to 11 unborn children also killed on September 11, 2001, when their mothers were either incinerated or jumped, choosing either the faster death or the slower death. What then, to make of lighting up the tower in January, 2019, to celebrate death over life (the passage of the Reproductive Health Act, the new ultimate euphemism, now that the final solution has been discredited…. by a world war.

“Today we are taking a giant step forward in the hard-fought battle to ensure a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her own personal health, including the ability to access an abortion. With the signing of this bill, we are sending a clear message that whatever happens in Washington, women in New York will always have the fundamental right to control their own body,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo after signing New York’s Reproductive Health Act on Tuesday night.

“Control their own body?” By killing their baby? Aborting her baby is “making a decision about her personal health?” Self deceived is still deceived!

 

 

Dazed and Confused! Or was that a movie? Yes, and also the state of the Perfectionist Progressives.

This entire post is an excerpt from the brilliant and perspicacious Victor Davis Hanson, writing for National Review:

The old Democratic party championed the working classes, wanted secure borders to protect middle-class union wage earners, and focused generous federal entitlement help on the citizen poor. Civil rights were defined as equality of opportunity for all. That party is long dead. An updated Hubert Humphrey or even Bill Clinton would not recognize any of the present “Democrats.” Even the old wing of elite liberals is mostly long gone, with its talk of legal immigration only, opposition to censorship, pro-Israel foreign policy, let-it-hang-out Sixties indulgence, and free speech.

It was superseded by grim progressives who are not so much interested in a square, new, or fair deal for the middle classes, as an entirely different deal that redefines everything from the Bill of Rights and the very way we elect presidents and senators to an embrace of identity politics as its first principle. The new socialism is also attributable to ten years of anemic annual economic growth below 3 percent, massive student debt, open borders, changing demography, and radical new approaches to marriage and home ownership that have radicalized the younger electorate. Young people have the patina of affluence, with an array of electronic appurtenances and lifestyle choices, but not so much else when it comes to finding good jobs, affordable homes, and freedom from debt — especially tragic when so many got so little from the university in exchange for their borrowed money. As a result, millions of young people have redefined adulthood as prolonged adolescence in “Life of Julia” and “Pajama Boy” style. Urban hipsters, hook-up culture, childlessness, and studio apartments have replaced the traditions of marriage, child-rearing, and home ownership before 30. Among today’s youth, one’s twenties are consumed with student debt and urban sybarite singleness, not changing diapers and patching the roof or refinishing the kitchen table.

The new, new Left questions not the operation of American democracy but the very premise of American democracy. When the selection of the Senate leads to something abhorrent like a counterrevolutionary majority, then the Founders are proven wrong after all, and senators should not be apportioned two to a state but by population at large. The Electoral College should be ended entirely, to reflect the reality that America is the urbanized corridors of the East and West Coasts where the right people live. The Bill of Rights, especially the First and Second Amendments, is considered an impediment to social justice.

What explains this accelerating transformation of so many liberals into progressives, and so many progressives into hard-core leftists, socialists, and who knows what next? The reasons predated Trump Derangement Syndrome.

The subtext of these charades is that 28-year-old socialist Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (who won her Democratic primary with 15,897 votes and with that victory an assured congressional seat in a gerrymandered Democratic district) is the new Robespierre — warning that the earth as we know it will end in twelve years, ICE must be disbanded, all student debt abolished, wealth taxes levied, and Medicare provided for all. And her political guillotine awaits any progressive with lingering stains of the Ancien Régime.

The new big fortunes of America are now mostly in high-tech, media, and finance, not in the old conservative and muscular corporations centered in farming, manufacturing, or oil and minerals. And the new zillionaires are left-wing, and they are activist: Bezos, Bloomberg, Buffett, Gates, Zuckerberg, the Google and Apple teams, Soros, Steyer, and a host of others. Through grants, foundations, purchased media, and super PACs, astronomical amounts of money flow into federal, state, and even local midterm election campaigns, and into voter harvesting and issues from global warming and late-term abortion to open borders, gun control, and identity politics. The 2018 midterms were a mere precursor of things to come.

The new mega-wealthy envision an America in a way that satisfies identity politics while exempting their own monopolies, trusts, and billion-dollar fortunes from the ramifications of their own ideology. Unencumbered by personal consequences, they pursue boutique agendas — sort of like a few of the White Russian aristocrats who hoped to continue on by subsidizing and supporting the Bolsheviks, or the Jacobin bigwigs of the French Revolution who thought they could guide the deserving rich people into the national razor. In such a bizarro world, there is nothing wrong with tech employees forced to sleep in their cars near Silicon Valley monopolies -— as long as the owners wear T-shirts and flip-flops and rail at Trump in internal memos.

The media are not just becoming left-wing (they’ve always has been); they’re no longer even a news-gathering operation. Reporting is synonymous with editorializing. Fake news — whether the latest BuzzFeed myth or the Covington charade — is simply a word for thirtysomethings who believe that they have a duty to promote race, class, and gender agendas that they were spoon-fed in college. They too often define accuracy as the higher Truth that transcends the fossilized idea of truth predicated on obsolete ideas such as evidence, facts, and empiricism.

In terms of electronic media, the way the news is delivered through Twitter, Facebook, and Google is itself massaged to censor, aggravate, and impede conservatives and conservative thought. Orwellian selective censorship, the warping of Internet searches, and the banning of political opponents insidiously magnify progressive influence, and to such a degree that leftists are now the biggest defenders of monopolies and trusts, given the power that accrues from them to progressive causes.

We are also reaping the fruits of the new university run by hard-core leftists who have indoctrinated a generation with progressive envy and anger, while offering them little education. The resulting ignorance and arrogance make a lethal combination. Professors now in their late sixties can remember old-fashioned liberals of the 1970s and 1980s whose politics were incidental to their professional expertise, but there is now almost no one left in the academy who recalls such dinosaurs.

Instead, after the early 1980s, now-tenured progressives sought to produce leftists who took over and produced socialists. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a valuable reminder of how university education results in self-importance coupled with witlessness.

A word from me: Sounds hopeless, but God is on the throne and all sovereign; maybe we will have a revival, maybe a revolution or a revelation. Who knows? At least there is the blogosphere.

The REAL intersection: individuality, identity, and stolen valor.

Another idiotic idea is in vogue with the Perfectionist Progressives: Intersectionality. It’s perfect for its intended purpose, justifying attacking people for the supposed sins of their group. How do they know your group? The hierarchy goes like this: first, skin color; tied for second, religion and sex/gender; tied for third, income and residence address; fourth, sexual preference. Or maybe I have third and fourth place in the wrong order, but not to worry, the order is fluid, it can change with the latest fad. The latest fad, if the half-assed major media machine’s feeding frenzy over the “smirk seen ’round the world” is any indication, is Facecrime, which is the wrong kind of person–white, male, Private school privilege, presumably heterosexual and cisgender, Catholic and Southern–adopting the wrong facial expression at the wrong time. But three wrongs seem to make a right for the MMM to exploit.

The official definition of intersectionality is: the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage. “Regarded as creating…..” Regarded by whom? Gee whiz Batman, is that “I’ll give you three guesses, the first two don’t count?” Okay, I’ll bite….the Perfectionist Progressives? Who else?

I don’t regard any so-called “social characterizations”, each person to me is an individual, with their own unique set of experiences, perceptual apparatus, genetic makeup, culminating in their unique responses to any set of circumstances. Jonah Goldberg, writing for National Review, had an interesting take, which inspired my title. Identity is the new individuality. In his words: “Identity,” Leon Wieseltier once suggested, might be thought of as “the solution to the problem of individuality.” If one fears to be judged on your own merits because you know, deep in your soul, you’ll be found wanting, you’ll attach yourself to some abstract identity that gives you meaning you did not earn. The man who never served who claims to be a veteran, the veteran who never saw battle who claims to have fought bravely, the loser who falls back on his white skin to claim to be better than others, the minority who blames his failures or bad luck on the innate evil of the majority, the young activist who insists she must be listened to solely because she was born more recently than her more-informed elders: Women are more liberated than ever before, but they grow louder about their oppression. White supremacy has been erased from most hearts and from the law books alike, but we are told that this has only freed the menace to grow.” Why do the aggrieved howl louder as they have less to be aggrieved about?

My explanation is, prosperity brings leisure but often at the cost of meaning, so to inject more meaning into a life of more leisure, we seek causes to champion, but at minimal personal sacrifice, i.e. cheap grace. The more aware we become that our causes have either been already won by those who were willing to really sacrifice, or that progress itself has removed the reasons for most of the grievances, the more vociferous those seeking meaning, and feeling guilty about their unmerited blessings, become about their chosen causes. Thus intersectionality is born, because instead of howling about one grievance at a time, the PP’s can combine grievances and howl louder, while making solutions, if actually needed, far more complex and difficult to achieve, which allows the howling to continue apace.

When I mustered out of the Army in 1970, I was easy to identify as a Vietnam veteran, because I had the face and arm tan, the cropped hair, the jungle fatigues and boots, and it was well known in the area that these guys leaving Oakland Army Base were coming from Vietnam. Back then, we were greeted with derision, slander and scorn. I never would have guessed that in 2019, a guy like Nathan Phillips would claim identity in that group, in order to enhance his status, stolen valor they call it these days. We wanted to be treated as individuals, we were treated as members of a toxic group, and now some individuals claim membership in that group to get better treatment. Go figure.