My Snobbery

Presumably, it is apparent that I live in the American West.
Columbus

The other day I was in a store and a fellow came in with a gun on his hip. I suddenly found myself reacting strongly in a cold rage. Not because he had a pistol, but what kind of idiot buys a Zinc pistol?  A zinc pistol in .25 ACP? And carries it in a cowboy style rig? Perhaps, his whimsy eludes me.

I am not a firearms maven, but I know enough to recognize such stupidity. All the legal liability in a gun best described as ‘Don’t shoot anybody, they might notice.’ He bought a gun that corrodes sitting on a shelf. And he put this tiny gun in a quick draw hip holster. It would be like an NBA player driving an MG Midget. And 25 ACP is a combination of the least powerful cartridge made in the most expensive manner.

I had not recognized this snobbery in myself. The last time this happened I was in Boston and decided to walk up the Charles River. It dawned on me that I would see no river banks because they didn’t exist. Concrete or brick. At least that is how I remember it. I hope some one has reclaimed the river.

I am not a cowboy. I have never been mistaken for one. But I know my culture and have relatives who are. There are urban people who move out here and try to fit a culture that is not what the television has taught them. Many buy expensive boots and try to tuck jeans in to them. Then they complain that the jeans are cut wrong. And the temerity of calling the jeans ‘boot-cut’ angers them. Practical people don’t tuck the jeans into their boots out here. The jeans go over the boots. Otherwise one’s boots become buckets to collect sharp grass seeds or water. Perhaps that is how it is done in places where rich folk ride over groomed meadows. Some new folks have taken to wearing spurs in their cars. This is like wearing a hard hat to the movies. Worse, a couple of newbies I know wore their spurs upside down so they curve into the ground – or away from the horse when in the saddle – and constantly grind away on the sidewalk and cut the carpet. On quick fellow took off the rowels. Cleverness in pursuit of foolishness.

I will come to terms with this snobbery. I just hadn’t realized its depth.

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Trustworth

janus_1

Ted Cruz announced today that he will stand for president. Already I hear people oppose him because he is too religious. Religiosity qua religiosity seems beside the point. I believe that a functioning democratic republic demands the ability to argue honestly.

I remember working with a man named Joe. [Not a pseudonym; there really are people named Joe.] Joe was not a friend. Joe’s personal life was a mess. Joe was, intentionally, a jerk. Our taste could not have been more dissimilar. I loved working with Joe. He was rational, if often wrong. He told the truth. Joe would punch your face, but he would never stab you in the back. He had integrity. That’s all it took. We could trust each other. His parents came from the same town my father was raised in. Once he told me that we may have a family feud. He told me to my face. He would look into it and get back to me. I do not know if there was a feud on his part and it would be prosecuted outside of work. Or if he found he was mistaken. Were it to be a problem he would have told me.

That’s how I feel about political discussions: I can work, or honestly oppose, anyone who is honest and integral.

I can vote for Ted Cruz because he has appeared honest for years. What I cannot vote for is a two-faced liar. In these days of kitman and taqqiya, I find an honest person a relief. Alas, also an exception.

Anyone can lie. People do in all groups. There are a few groups that teach not to lie. I have decided to only vote for people in the following groups.

Christians
Jews
Sikhs
Buddhists
Accountants
Physical Scientists
Mechanical Engineers
Civil Engineers
People who repeatedly demonstrate their integrity

These are people who have it beat into their heads that they cannot lie. Any group with esoteric and exoteric literature is immediately suspect in a republic.

I am taking nominations for other people to vote for. Do I have suggestions?

Apologia Pro Su Lingua

Variedades_principales_del_español

Long ago in Spanish class we all had to choose two countries and write reports on them. Some chose Mexico – an important and near country. Spain and its then recent conversion from dictatorship to monarchy was popular.

I chose Wales and Switzerland.

Not until years later did I realize I may have appeared a jerk. I now wonder and for a long time have wondered what Mr. Stratton, our teacher, thought of my choice. Nor could I, at the time, have expressed my thoughts well. So do I now explain myself.

There were calculating devices for years before Alan Turing.  They could do one or two things. But a Turing machine could solve ANY problem. Yes, theory was well ahead of practice and still is. In English I could think about any subject. [Sapir and Whorf show the problems with that, but in theory….] It would appear matronizing to Spanish or any other language to limit it to just talking about itself. Would I really know Spanish if I could not use it to discuss the tragedy that is Ukraine? Could I respect a language that only can discuss it’s own cuisine and culture. Or must I idolize it so all I wish to talk about are tapas and Falangistas? A language should be a Universal Thinking Machine.

It seems infantilizing to study a language and then hobble it so. I still remember outraging my class when we were playing Password for vocabulary drill. We had to make the other side understand the word ‘truck.’ Lorry for the British. My prompt was diesel. Everyone else in the class said I was cheating. Mr. Stratton, a wise man, overruled them. Diesel, with the proper pronunciation, is the Spanish word for Diesel. After all it is the English word but started out in German.

I was not a very good student of Spanish, but an odd thing happened: After a few years some unconscious process made it work better in my brain The peculiar ‘D’ that is somewhere close to a theta became easier. Of course, I still am afraid to say the word for ‘comb.’ I have even had a couple of dreams in Spanish. Oddly, I awaken from them sweating. Speaking a foreign language in one’s dreams is hard.

And my approach paid well. Once I left a Chinese restaurant and was home before I realized I had not paid. By the time I got back in the middle of the afternoon the only fellow who was there could not speak a word of English. I had at the time, perhaps, two words in Mandarin. Always whimsical, I tried Spanish. [ I said I was something like a jerk.]

We both spoke Spanish. We had a fascinating conversation. Not easy though. I was working hard to even remember any of my Spanish.

It turned out that he had never imagined coming to America. He studied South America in university and skedaddled when the Tienanmen Square protests devolved into a minor bloodbath. Could I have even spoken to him, had I never learned the Spanish word for China? Or heaven? Or military tank?


Oh, a caveat. I once met a very nice Absaroka lady named Janet Littlelight. She ran a small art gallery in Downtown Billings. I thought her Spanish perfect. She thought mine the best she ever heard.

We knew this could not be true. It seems that in a different forum, her Spanish instructor was also John Stratton. We realized that we hadn’t so much learned Spanish as Spanish a la Stratton. Fortunately, Stratton Spanish is not too dissimilar to the Platonic ideal. And there are many visions of any Platonic Ideal.

Never depend on a single teacher, however good.

The Missing God Tiu

This comes with a shout out to Dr. Jacob Jones.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—

Die_Nornen_(1889)_by_Johannes_Gehrts

I know a secret.

At this point I am forcefully reminded of my Uncle Milt. He loved and valued me, but sometimes his opinion vacillated from ‘How do you know these things?’ to ‘Why would anybody know these things?’

We all know an interesting mnemonic for the chief Anglo-Saxon gods:

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
Tiu’s day, Woden’s day, Thor’s day, Freya’s day.

Who the devil was Tiu? More, why don’t we know him?

Tiu was the chief of the Germanic gods. To give the game away, two other ways of spelling his name are Jupiter and Zeus. The old proto-Indoeuropean ‘Day father’ of war and the bright sky. Proto-Germanic Tiwaz developed from PIE dyeus. The newer sources have quit claiming this, but the older sources said that ‘teutonic’ meant ‘those of Tiu.’ At any rate, Thousands of years ago his position was unimpeachable. By 100 AD Tacitus describes the three major gods of the Germanic people as Mars, Mercury, and Hercules.

I don’t suppose I need to explain the identification of a big, strong ethnic hero with a heavy hammer as Hercules.

Before Woden was the chief god he was the messenger of Tiu. Hence Sleipnir, his incredibly fast eight-legged horse. His depiction as a hatted and cloaked wanderer. The important thing is that at this time Woden was the psychopomp; Woden lead the souls of the dead to the after life.

Ardre_Odin_Sleipnir

One thing to remember is that the Danes were not that different From the Angles, Saxons, or Jutes. Depending on who occupied Funen, the Danes and the Angles and Jutes were fifty to a hundred miles apart. Almost sibling societies.

250px-Angles_saxons_jutes

The Romans thought of Mars as more than a war god. He was also an agricultural god, As the father of Romulus he was an ethnic deity and father to them all. Much like Tiu, the Day Father, to the Teutons.

When the Romans retreated from Britain the wily Angles, Jutes, and Saxons slipped right into the power vacuum. Tiu was still the primary god and was named before Woden in the days of the week. The Ango-Saxons were by no means pacifists, but they were not ravening, blood-thirsty monsters.

There are movies about Odin and Thor. Cosplay for the Germanic Mercury and Hercules. Who mourns for Tiu?

At this time something drastic happened. To this point there is very little I’ve said that is in the slightest controversial. The followers of Dumezil may claim that the three top gods were co-equal representations of the tripartite estates, but that’s about it.

Now for my hypothesis:

The Frankish kingdom had an agreement with the Church in Rome. Under Charlemagne the Franks carried Christianity on sword and fire and francisca to their northern relatives. In the 700’s the Saxons in the continent were nearly decimated. In one session 4,500 Saxon pagans were beheaded at the Blood Court of Verden. In those days of low population that was almost a genocide. Saxony was nearly conquered by Charlemagne’s death. The Angles and Danes were next in line. Where could they find help? Their cousins in Britain were, by then, Christian. Their relatives to the north were not numerous. They were alone and knew it. Extreme stress implies rapid evolution.

I suggest that their religion was discredited in a religious war. Tiu, their war god, had failed them. If Tiu was gone, it only made sense for Woden to take his place. This left a problem: If Odin was unavailable to escort the souls of the dead to the after-life, who would take up this function? I find no references to Valkyries qua Valkyries before 900 AD. The Valkyries were how you got to the afterlife. Sure, half of the dead went to Freya, but we know what the desirable outcome was – Valhalla. And you didn’t get there by being a good person. Nor by recognizing the gods. Nor by following your duty. One reached Valhalla by dying in battle and taking as large an honor-guard of dead enemies with you as possible. Thus was a blood-thirst ignited which would not burn out for seven centuries. A pagan religion was converted into a battle religion. This is why the blood-thirst of the Danes so shocked the Anglo-Saxons; it was something new from a people they had once counted as kin.

I once thought that some of the actions of Odin were reminiscent of Christ, but now I see them an adoptions from Christianity during the process of enlarging Odin into a Chief god. One example: Odin hung himself on a tree for three times three days. “I sacrificed myself to myself.”

Veit ec at ec hecc vindga meiði a
netr allar nío,
geiri vndaþr oc gefinn Oðni,
sialfr sialfom mer,
a þeim meiþi, er mangi veit, hvers hann af rótom renn.  
I know that I hung on a windy tree
nine long nights,
wounded with a spear, dedicated to Odin,
myself to myself,
on that tree of which no man knows
from where its roots run.
Við hleifi mic seldo ne viþ hornigi,
nysta ec niþr,
nam ec vp rvnar,
opandi nam,
fell ec aptr þaðan.
No bread did they give me nor a drink from a horn,
downwards I peered;
I took up the runes, screaming I took them,
then I fell back from there.[6]

Crucified on a tree, sacrificed by himself to himself, before an apotheosis. I think this is appropriated from Christianity. More, I think this idea is when Odin became the first of the Gods to the Germanic peoples.

If I am right it only took thirty to fifty years to convert a population to a rabid, battle religion.

woden