Find Their Wavelength

My father has had hearing loss as long as I’ve known him. It especially affects high frequencies. At dinner over Christmas in a crowded restaurant my brother, Charles, was having good success in talking to Dad.

Charles said that in his first job an old engineer had given him good advice: Find the wavelength of the person to whom you are speaking. It was meant as metaphor, but as a good engineer, Charles applied it literally. He observes what pitch people can best hear and uses that register. In Dad’s case he pitched his voice low, and Dad heard him.

This makes me rethink much. In a sense baby talk makes sense. The miniscule ear canal resonates to a much higher pitch. I had always thought it silly. The thing that makes me feel most foolish is that I never notices Charles doing this.

That’s why it is good to spend time with my brothers. I learn new ideas and humility.


A Small Christmas Present

A few years ago Terry brought home almond butter. My lovely and talented wife understands my interest in omega-3 fats. Alas, it isn’t very good as a peanut butter substitute. What was I to do with these 32 ounce jars of almond butter?

My solution was almond butter cookies. These seem to be very popular.  Three years ago a web search showed no such recipes. Herewith is my recipe:

Mark V Almond Butter Cookies

Mark V Almond Butter Cookies

1             Cup    Almond Butter
1/2        Cup    Margarine
1/2        Cup     Sugar
1/2        Cup     Brown Sugar
1            Egg
1/2        tsp       Vanilla
1 1/4    Cup      Flour
1             tsp       Baking Soda
1/4        tsp       Salt

Oven 375 F

Cream together the almond butter, margarine, and sugars. [I use ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.’]
Mix in egg and vanilla.
Add in flour, baking soda, and NaCl.
Form into 25 mm balls and cook at 375 F for 12 to 13 Minutes. [For those who dislike Fahrenheit try 835 Rankine.]

Makes about 40.

A century ago the Renaissance Civilization died.



A popularly controversial statement:

A century ago the Renaissance Civilization died. Or rather the War of 1914 to 1919 dealt a fatal blow. It took most of a century for the civilization to totter off and be replaced by whatever it is we have now.  The civilization that had in half a millennium conquered the world destroyed itself in a bloody pointless war that was less a crusade than a suicide pact. In many countries the fathers were lost and the grandparents were shorn of any moral authority. Not so much a chain that was broken as a maille with almost an entire row of links taken out. And twenty years later another row severely damaged. Much was lost. Much more forgotten or rejected. In many ways the United States is an outlier. It was not so singed passing between the two fire of the World wars.

This seems obvious to me, but it can be demonstrated by a few examples:

In 1900, with one and a half exceptions Western nations were monarchies. Now the few remaining monarchies are poor lost things. [I count France 1900 as half because it had changed back and forth several times and there were probably more monarchists than republicans. The monarchists were split, though, between the followers of the old monarchy and those claiming Napoleon.]

1900 massively practicing Christian. 2000 most Western countries are full of empty churches and Atheists believe themselves to be the future.

1900 We were very racist. Whites were viewed as better than Blacks. Aristocracy was better than commoner. Royalty was believed to be paramount.
2000 Even the expression ‘Old Family’ seems nonsensical.

1900 The upper classes were expected to serve in the military. It was viewed as the price of their status or as expected from those who REALLY constituted society.
2000 The richer sort of folk eschew military service. A candidate for high office in the US can say, ‘If you don’t study you will get stuck in Iraq.’
1900 Things were built to last. Durable goods such as furniture and buildings were expected to last as heirlooms. Firearms were maid of forged and milled steel and walnut and finished in ways that people are still trying to duplicate.
2000 With much better knowledge goods are considered disposable. A computer is thought to be obsolete before it is used. Data from a decade ago is hard to read. Software continuity is considered a problem. Apple products do not even have replaceable batteries. The Li-Ion cells aren’t expected to last a decade. Firearms are made of cheap alloys and plastics. Not a bad idea, but even the people making them don’t describe them as the best materials. In short engineering has gone from the permanent to the inexpensive. I don’t say this is bad, but it is a change. Then again, I don’t know if I want a 2000 AD engineer designing a dam.

1900 Educated people are expected to learn Latin. At least enough to fake. They view themselves as an international elite. Law pleas and doctrine are often in Latin. No Lo Contendere, Caveat Emptor. Medicine was in Latin or Greek. Homeostasis. Arthritis. Neurology.
2000 The Latin an Greek are washed away. American and German physicians communicate in English if at all.

Arts and traditions became vulnerable to subversive and silly memes.
1900 Literature is considered  to be authors trying to express ideas.
2000 Deconstructive criticism considers the author’s opinion of the meaning of the work to be pointless, even misleading.

1900 For thousands of years poetry has been popular and consists of meter, rhyme, and alliteration. Tricks for memory and elocution.
2000 Poetry has become prose with pretension. It lacks meter, rhyme, and alliteration. Free verse used to be unrhymed iambic pentameter. Now it is just text. For that matter. When was the last great American poet? Frost? Sandberg? They were born before the catastrophe.

1900 Marxism was not taken seriously.
2000 Marxism is taken seriously after causing the deaths of, what, 2e8 people? Many governmental fads flourished when the hidebound but stable forms showed their flaw in self destruction.

More is easy to show, but it grows tiresome.

I don’t think the previous civilization was ideal or even better than ours. In many ways ours is heavenly in comparison. I just want to show how they differ. It is important to see how a civilization commits suicide in ways that seem impossible. Charles used to say war was impossible because it made no economic sense. Nonetheless it happens. We poured trillions into Iraq for what I deemed a foolish strategy. No we pour trillions into Afghanistan for no discernible strategy. Is it so hard to believe that foolish leaders could march us into a new conflagration? This is why World War One is important.


Uncle David

Thoughtful Heresy


Every thinking person is in some way a heretic. Socially, culturally or scientifically.

We develop simple quotable rules for running complicated lives in a complex environment. The rules cannot fit, yet we are attracted to them.

When I was in high school we had a fifty-five mile per hour speed limit to save fuel. It was imposed on the states by federal coercion because the government didn’t have the authority to do so directly. Every one knows that drag goes up with the square of the velocity. Less energy is used. Simple and obvious. And wrong. Cars and trucks were geared to operate at higher speeds. So we were operating below design specifications.  The highways were at the time designed for seventy-five miles per hour. In some places energy was saved, but on the whole there was little effect. Except that people ignored the law more. I drove outside of Chicago at the time in an old car that would make about seventy-five miles per hour at a safe maximum. I was nearly driven off the road. I was exceeding the speed limit by almost fifty per cent and was still the slowest driver on the road. Were all these good, Democratic voters heretics to the Democratic party line? Yes. But they may have been rational.

On the same trip I was in Pennsylvania. Safe and easy traffic at seventy-five miles per hour though narrow valleys. The roads were nearly full. Slowing traffic would have backed up things for miles and caused accidents. It would also have required energy and money to increase the roads by fifty per cent to keep up with traffic. The police were enforcing political orthodoxy by stopping random cars for speeding and giving five hundred dollar tickets. [At least that’s what the signs said the fine was.] A negative lottery doesn’t instill belief in justice. [ In retrospect I feel I was immune to these revenue generating tickets; I was driving safely and my car advertised that they would have a hard time getting much money from me.]

Morally, everyone has heard of the problems with simple and obvious rules such as ”Thou shalt not kill.” OK, murder. Killing in  the service of one’s country is not murder. At least in the Army. And defending yourself. Or your wife. Or children….

Conservationists have outlawed the traffic in elephant ivory. We are saving the elephants. A fine and noble goal. Alas, the poachers are not affected. And without the income from ivory the farmers on whose land the elephants live have no incentive to feed or encourage the elephants. They have become frightfully large pests. Pests that cannot be fenced out. They obviously clever law doesn’t seem to work. he elephant has a smaller range every year. A range enforced by poor counties.

Also there are the self-appointed upholders of the proper order. They cannot be reasoned with. Some people enjoy rules because the rules grant them a power they do not possess in themselves. Such people take a glee in running other’s lives. A glee that does not consider logic or burden.

Simple clear laws might be nice if they did what they purport to do. It’s like they old puzzle of projecting a globe onto a flat map. It sort of works. The only people really happy about it are the ones who are too oblivious or simple to see the errors. Blinders can be so comforting.

Any thinking being comes to his own conclusions. Most will not fit any dogma or party line. Thinking begets heresy.