Thursday, August 06, 2009


I was just commenting on a post about the recent uproars in townhalls across the country. In general, I cheer on my fellow citizens in going directly to their representatives and asking questions and demanding to be properly represented. However, I am dismayed to see how often it turns into a shouting match. I know people are upset. I know they have a lot to be angry about. But once you give in to those feelings, and you harrangue your debate partner, you have already lost. They will not listen. You are not presenting yourself well.

While it feels good in the short term, and you feel you have won the battle, you may be sacrificing the war for your own momentary personal feelings of glee. Show some self-discipline!

One of the greatest persuaders ever was my buddy, Benjamin Franklin. He studied and practiced long, long hours to hone his skill. He writes about some of it in his Autobiography:

From The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin

While I was intent on improving my language I met with an English grammar (I think it was Greenwood's) having at the end of it two little sketches on the arts of rhetoric and logic, the latter finishing with a dispute in the Socratic method; and soon after I procured Xenophon's Memorable Things of Socrates, wherein there are many examples of the same method. I was charmed with it, adopted it, dropped my abrupt contradictions and positive argumentation, and put on the humble inquirer. And being then, from reading Shaftesbury and Collins, made a doubter, as I already was in many points of our religious doctrines, I found this method the safest for myself and very embarrassing to those against whom I used it; therefore I took delight in it, practiced it continually, and grew very artful and expert in drawing people even of superior knowledge into concessions the consequence of which they did not foresee, entangling them in difficulties out of which they could not extricate themselves, and so obtaining victories that neither myself nor my cause always deserved.

I continued this method some few years, but gradually left it, retaining only the habit of expressing myself in terms of modest diffidence, never using, when I advanced anything that may possibly be disputed, the words certainly, undoubtedly, or any others that give the air of positiveness to an opinion; but rather say, I conceive or apprehend a thing to be so and so; It appears to me, or I should not think it so or so, for such and such reasons; or, I imagine it to be so; or, It is so, if I am not mistaken. This habit, I believe, has been of great advantage to me when I have had occasion to inculcate my opinions and persuade men into measures that I have been from time to time engaged in promoting. And as the chief ends of conversation are to inform or to be informed, to please or to persuade, I wish well-meaning and sensible men would not lessen their power of doing good by a positive assuming manner that seldom fails to disgust, tends to create opposition, and to defeat most of those purposes for which speech was given to us. In fact, if you wish to instruct others, a positive dogmatical manner in advancing your sentiments may occasion opposition and prevent a candid attention. If you desire instruction and improvement from others, you should not at the same time express yourself fixed in your present opinions. Modest and sensible men, who do not love disputation, will leave you undisturbed in the possession of your errors. In adopting such a manner, you can seldom expect to please your hearers or obtain the concurrence you desire.

When was the last time you changed your mind because someone shouted a slogan at you? Or kept you from responding? When was the last time you thought to yourself, "Wow! You just humilitaed me and harranged me -- I think you're so right!"

It is very hard to remain jovial, curious and pleasant when you feel your fundamental rights are being trampled on and stimped into the dust. But you must keep your goal in mind and figure out the best way to get there. No one ever said it would be easy.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Climate Change Hysteria

A very eloquent and accessible essay about Resisting Climate Hysteria, by Richard S. Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Health Care

Yea, I'm against "Universal Health Care".

Why should there be one system? We don't have a system of food-delivery, yet that's arguably far more important than health care. Without food, you'd never live long enough to need a doctor. We have a variety of food stores to cater to what people want. If someone wants to spend a ton of money on caviar and organic whatever, we let them. If someone would rather live on rice and beans and ramen, and save money for something else, we're all too happy to let them have their choice.

Why should it be different for medical care?

One argument is that it will save money, or that we should trust those in Washington (particularly the President) to make a great new system. I don't understand that. Does that mean we should go and see if he likes Coke or Pepsi and then just get rid of the other one? He chose the best soda, why waste resources on the other one? We should find out what cheese he likes, and eliminate all others. If we only have one cola and one cheese, think of all the advertising those companies would save, and the price of cheese and soda would fall! Heck, we should find out his favorite grocery store, and make that the only one.

Well... except there's no competition... And too bad if you have different priorities and tastes than him. It doesn't matter. It's For The Children! (TM)

When does one size fits all ever fit anyone?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Voting By Shopping

Lately, quite a few bloggers have been noting that "Atlas Shrugged" spent a few weeks on Amazon hovering around the #50 spot on the list of most popular books. (Once I saw it in the mid 30s).

I figure I should do my part in promoting some other books I always wanted to read, and maybe vote with my wallet a bit, so I just picked up Milton Friedman's "Freedom to Choose", and Hayek's "Road to Serfdom". I've read other things by both, watched Friedman's TV programs and such, but I feel I should also have them in print and maybe strew them about for the family. ;)

Probably will go on the same shelf as my copy of "Liberal Fascism"...

I've been interested in the home front of WWII ever since I did a report on it in school. I also, oddly, took Japanese, German, and Russian in school, so I studied a lot about it just in those classes. (Though, I have to admit, I stopped taking German after three years due to Nazi burnout. I just couldn't read another horrible story about it.)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Scientist as Rebel

One of the books I'm reading right now is The Scientist as Rebel by Freeman Dyson. For those of you who have never heard of him, he's a very interesting guy. He's a physicist and a mathmetician, and he talks a lot about political, economic, and social issues. Neat guy!

Anyway, I finally got around to reading it and I was so pleased to see the first two words of the preface: "Benajmin Franklin". Ah! My heart sang! And he really captures why Benjamin Franklin is one of my favorite people.

Anyway, jsut reading the preface lifted me and helped me realize that I need to stop doing things that I don't love. I don't mean I should not change poopy diapers or anything, but I realized I was doing things that I "thought I should do" that we not making my life any better.

One example is just that I have a mailing list I'm on. I originally joined it so that I could have pleasant conversation with people in the same field I'm in. The problem is that in the 8 years since then, a lot of us have changed jobs a bit. And, mostly, the list has just because a giant raging political argument. I admit that I fanned the flames from time to time, so I'm just as guilty. But as I was reading about Franklin, I realized I had diverged from where I wanted to be and who I wanted to be.

I remember reading about Franklin's ideas for discussing thins that people disagreed on. And he always stresses remaining calm, and non offensive, and always phrasing your points in a very soft way. You say "Well, I think, perhaps, that..." and whatever. You dont just come out and say, "You're wrong. I'm right" or anything of hte sort. And I have been doing that.

I know why I have. I have always lived in a little cocoon where I hide away my true self. I apparently have a huge fear of rejection -- not surprising after being ostracized in school. Always on the edge. But when I had my children, I changed. I think a lot of it was the hormones and the crankiness. I just didn't have hte time or patience to pretend I was a happy nice person who had a timid opinion. Partly it was the project I was on, where I had to fight a lot to keep us on task. And partly, it was all part of my journey to find myself again -- which eventually led to my decision to homeschool.

But I think I went too far. I kept swinging that metaphorical pendulum of my personality too far to being outspoken and confrontational. And after thinking about my buddy Ben, and reading about him through Dyson's eyes, I realized I want want to be that confrontational person.

So I dropped off the list. I need to do productive things that make me happy. Not argue with people I wish would be friends or aqiuaintances, just because I think that's what I'm supposed to want.

And now I need to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. And be a rebel.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I Apparently Don't Read My Own Comments

Sorry to everyone who has commented, and had their lovely comments dissappear into the black hole void that my blog became. I'm hoping you'll understand! It's been a heck of a year of adjustment, from quitting my job, to taking my kids out of daycare, trying to figure out homeschooling, then getting another job part-time flex-time job. My husband is on boss number nine in just over two years of working at his company, and each boss is a rather major adjustment.

I guess I'm trying to say, I wish I had had time to answer your memes and comments -- I truely treasure having bloggers I read come to my little site! And now I'm trying to get right back into it. :)

Go Up, Young Man

I was reading Instapundit this morning, and he was discussing bloggers who were thinking of moving if a different guy than they want wins the election. The update used the phrase "Don't go east, go up!". Glenn takes this to mean Canada... but I believe the other blogger meant space. And that's what I thought of too, before I read the linked blog. We need a new frontier to explore.

I'm the kind of people who likes to be on the cutting, but not bleeding, edge. I don't want to be the first one there, but if a very loose organization exists, I'll go charging in and help them out. I used to do it at work all the time -- I wasn't there to found a new team or new thing, usually, but once something promising got a toe hold, I was there in a heartbeat to help it go. It's just a more fun place for me to be. I wanted to move away from the places where people were getting into boring details and setting up permenant camp. And I think the same is true in real life. There are just people who want to settle down and trade in risk for security, and they don't really care how. And that's not really me. I want to live a bit on the edge, and be free.

Maybe we need a new frontier. Mars, for instance. Let the frontiersmen start a colony up there for people like me who don't want 30,000 new laws, but want to live, dare I say it, a bit more like cowboys. Sure, it sounds a little crazy, but I do think there are people who just thrive in a frontier and they don't really have one right now, and they bristle at the incoming shakles of a civilization they don't particularly want thrust on them.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I Ran Three Miles!

Okay, okay, not all at once. And I guess I didn't run it all either. But last week I did manage to get on the treadmill three times, running at or over a mile each time. Well, walking, jogging and running, actually. Anyway, I love how I feel after exercise. The only problem is, when do you find time with kids around?

Luckily, last week my husband was taking an online class for work, and they let him take it from home. So he could keep a little eye on the kids during his lunch hour while I ran. It was nice.

How am I going to continue this though? Does anyone have an idea for how to get exercise in while the kids are around? I'm talking little kids -- 4 and 1. I can't have them near the treadmill without one of them trying to hurt themselves on it, and I can't have a relaxing run while the baby is shrieking in baby jail (her playpen. She hates it).