Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Problems of Philosophy

Bertrand Russell

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble
Bertrand has written on many different subjects and many of his books can often appeal to the general reader. This book is for those interested in philosophy and who enjoy esoteric arguments. It is for the person with and average philosophical interest and not necessarily the Ph.D. candidate. It is not a difficult book but some of the problems discussed seem rather unimportant from my perspective ... but?
The first problem is Appearance and Reality. This gets into the Bishop Berkeley school of thought which has never much appealed to me. I realize that appearances can be deceiving but to jump to the notion that reality and matter really do not even exist is a little much for me. To start talking about things only having existence in the mind of God when no one can establish that a God exists and if he did exist how he could possibly have a mind is out in right field to me.
The chapter begins by asking if there is any knowledge in the world which is so certain that no reasonable man could doubt it. The chapter ends telling us that Leibniz believes that matter is a community of souls and Berkeley tell us that matter is an idea in the mind of God and sober science tells us that matter is a vast collection of electric charges in violent motion.
The conclusion is that maybe matter doesn't exist after all, and is really only a matter of appearances.
The second chapter discusses the Existence of Matter. We immediately get into Descartes discovering himself and expand into the notion that maybe only Descartes exist and all else is the product of his imagination.
Bertrand then tells us that if we wish to become philosophers we must be willing to tackle the absurd. Obviously! By the end of this chapter the author assures us that there is something in the universe besides our comprehension of ourselves and our dreams. There does seem to be "reality" or matter even if it is perceived differently or inadequately by each of us.
The next chapter discusses the Nature of Matter. As we try to figure out what matter is we discover that we cannot separate ourselves and our methods of perception from the investigation. This problem has led some philosophers (i.e. Berkeley and Leibniz) to conclude that matter really does not exist and is more a case of mistaken identity. Bertrand disagrees and promises us his reasoning on the matter in the future chapter.
This chapter is entitled Idealism. Bertrand once again warns us about dismissing the apparently absurd. I wonder why? But from my perspective to say that something does not exist because I am not viewing it correctly or with total objectivity or accuracy is rather absurd. But we will persist.
Bertrand goes on to tell us that the Bishop Berkeley made valid arguments that confirm that our sense data cannot have an existence independent of us. (Yeah? But the object of our senses can exist in and of themselves whether we can sense them or not.) Berkeley then concludes that matter can then only exist in the mind of the observer or some Infinite observer. Once again, in my opinion we are back to the absurd and a rather advanced egocentricity. Bertrand then explains that the Bishop has confused the thing apprehended with the act of apprehension. No kidding! It seems that Mr. Berkley thinks that his seeing something gives that something its existence. I'm sorry - is this really worth all this discussion? Isn't this just foolishness?
Bertrand then states that Berkeley's notion that the objects apprehended must be mental has no validity whatsoever. I agree but then why are we wasting so much time on Mr. Berkley? I guess that it is because if we want to be philosophers we must not dismiss the absurd.
Sartre also spent a lot of time and space analyzing this confusion in his book Being and Nothingness. After a while he also boarders on the absurd. The trouble with discussing things that are absurd is that eventually you will also become absurd and very possibly irrelevant.
In the next chapter we get into knowledge and how we learn things. We learn of Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge by Description. This seems rather basic - you know something because of your personal experience with that thing or you know of it because it has been described or explained to you.
In the next chapter we get in learning by induction or inductive learning. This is predictable expectation based on past uniformity. The sun will probably rise tomorrow because of our knowledge of what the sun has done in the past. No guarantee but a good indicator.
Next we discuss experience and a priori knowledge. Some things we know because of our experience and others we know because of general principles - nothing can both be and not be; whatever is, is; everything must either be or not be.
Bertrand then states that Immanuel Kant is generally regarded as the greatest of the modern day philosophers. I didn't know that.
How a priori knowledge is possible is the next discussion. This is somewhat difficult when we start analyzing two plus two but that something either is or it isn't seems clear enough. When we get into "numbers" I have a problem. Numbers are not "things" they are contrived representations of quantities of things. To state that mathematics is a priori knowledge of some sort is confusing to me. Obviously this a priori and synthetic stuff is an area where I need to read more. Numbers are all contrived as far as I am concerned. And any relation between them is learned or gained by previous induction episodes of learning. That numbers or mathematics has some sort of a priori significance, I don't get.
When we get into universals and Plato we seem to be returning to Berkley and the realm of the absurd. Universals can be confusing but once again when we start believing that there actually exists a universal concept of a head or a chair or a wall or a dog or whatever we are going bonkers. What exists is my head, your head and his head not a head. This is another area that has been problematic to philosophers but not to anyone else.
Now we come to intuitive knowledge and things that are self-evident. This chapter I don't understand. Self-evident seems simple enough - something is there or it isn't there. Intuitive knowledge?
Now we come to truths and falsehoods. But for my dollar truth is what is. But I'm talking "matter" and fact. Bertrand wants to talk about statements. This statement is true and this statement is false. In which case truth depends on some correspondence between belief and fact. As we all know this can get very complicated and debatable. "The greater part of what would commonly pass as knowledge is more or less probable opinion," says Mr. Russell.
The next chapter deals with those that think that we can know more than we actually can know and with those who think, on the other hand, that nothing is knowable - Hegel in the first case and Hume in the latter.
Finally we come to the nature of philosophy and its value. Philosophy deals in questioning the unknown and once the unknown becomes known it is no longer called philosophy but science. So philosophy has a rather nebulous list of achievements. Bertrand closes this book with this final paragraph:
"Thus to sum up our discussion of the value of philosophy; philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind is also rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good."
Well that, of course, states the case better than anything that I could say but for my part I must offer something.
I have always been attracted to philosophy because the philosophers were asking the questions that seemed important to me and by reading and studying their answers I always felt that I was learning how to think and reason intelligently and logically. By being able to think intelligently and logically I felt that I was then better equipped to solve the problems of life - my life in particular.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Berkeley (1685-1753 A.D.)


By Richard E. Noble

If belief in God is “to the right” and atheism “to the left” then the Reverend Berkeley must be considered as far to the right as it is possible to go.

Berkeley's thinking goes something like this: if matter is admitted; then God must be matter; God is not matter; therefore matter does not exist.

To Berkeley matter exists only in our minds or imaginations through perception. Now you see it; now you don't. He actually went so far as to say that “real” things are not really there. For example a tree is only a tree because someone is looking at it. And the proof is that if that person closes his eyes the tree disappears. But why then, the critic asks, if with my eyes still closed I walk towards the supposed tree, do I bump into it? That is because someone else is still perceiving that tree, answers Berkeley. But what if nobody is watching that tree? Have no fear, God is always watching, says the Reverend.

Well, there you go. Existence is in the eye of the beholder.

The first question that came to challenge the Reverend was, Well then, who's watching God? Or, since God can't be perceived, does that mean that He isn't? The Reverend wanted to silence the atheists, once and for all, but as you can see, he simply gave them more wood for their fires.

I wonder, if things aren't really there but take their existence from my perception, could I carry this one step further and through the power of my imagination could I bring things into existence that aren't really there and have never been?

I think this is the key to the Reverend Berkeley's philosophy. They say he only drank Tar water, but he was Irish. Like my father, and everyone else Irish that I have ever known, I'll bet the Reverend was spiking the Tar water with a little Irish whiskey. And walking home some nights he probably saw his share of pink elephants, leprechauns, little people, and Tinker Bells. He closed his eyes and they all disappeared, and then reappeared, and then disappeared etc.

Many people before me have asked, "Is he kidding or what?"

But the fact was that he was a professor at some big university in Dublin, and he wrote some very confusing books that nobody could understand, so everybody concluded that he must be smart.

We still have this problem with a lot of intellectuals today. But as the Reverend Berkeley has so aptly pointed out ... appearances can truly be deceiving.

Friday, July 25, 2008


The Hobo Philosopher

Mexico and NAFTA

By Richard E. Noble

We hear so much talk about NAFA most Americans still don't know if it was a good idea or a bad idea.
One of my favorite world economic writers is William Greider. Here are a few excerpts from his book One World Ready or Not.
I will begin at page 259. The chapter is entitled El Barzon - the yoke of debt.
"The case of Mexico is the most vivid - and tragic - example among many others in recent years, of how supposedly learned people can be swept up in the enthusiasms of financial investors and led to accept a quite fanciful version of what another country is really like, what is happening there ... the North American Free Trade Agreement between the two countries in 1993 ... despite the supporting data, almost none of it turned out to be true.
"Two years later Mexico was in ruin, its economy contracting by a devastating 7 percent, its domestic commerce frozen by a banking crisis that was devouring both financial institutions and industrial firms. At least one million jobs were destroyed, probably many more. Wage incomes fell in value by nearly one third. With incomes shrinking, as many as one in five Mexicans fell dangerously behind on their loans for cars, homes, businesses. More than eight thousand firms failed.
"The reformers turned out to be corrupt themselves. Former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari was in disgraced exile (though still serving on the board of the Wall Street Journal). His brother was in prison, accused of stealing hundreds of millions in state assets and of complicity in murder ... Salinas's handpicked presidential nominee was murdered ... an armed uprising in the southern state of Chiapas provoked heightened paranoia ... The U.S. government ... evidently discovered what its investigative agents had always known - namely, that a major sector of Mexican commerce was involved in drug trafficking protected by highly placed patrons in the PRI ... Instead of prospering ordinary Mexicans formed a swollen new wave of immigrants, heading north ... the Mexican boom of the early
1990s was mainly confined to its financial sector, not its real economy of domestic production and employment. It was fed by borrowed money and selling off state assets.
"Rather than political reforms, the financial boom was fundamentally driven by a single fact of global finance: the opportunity to arbitrage the differences in interest rates between the U.S. and foreign financial markets. By borrowing in New York's money market where interest rates were comparatively low, an investor could buy Mexican stocks or short term government notes and capture the spread between returns of 5 to 6 percent in America and 12 to 14 percent in Mexico.
"As more investors were inspired to do this, the price of Mexican stocks naturally soared and the Bolsa de Valores index doubled, tripled, even quadrupled during a span of only three years. Smart investors (including major Mexican banks) reaped fabulous returns - as much as 80 and 100 percent - by borrowing in America and buying Mexican financial assets they might hold no more than a few weeks or months. Dumb investors thought it would last forever.
"The Mexican bubble popped in December 1994 - a harrowing collapse in financial values when the foreign investors panicked and fled en masse. The proximate trigger was the Mexican's governments dwindling reserves of the foreign currencies needed to redeem the mounting short term debt paper held by the overseas lenders. When this condition became critical, the government was compelled to devalue the peso, which for several years it had propped up at overvalued levels to attract the foreign money. The global investors felt betrayed and rushed for the door, all at once, dumping Mexican assets of every kind. Something like $25 billion flew out of the country. Instead of modest devaluation, the national currency collapsed, losing half of its purchasing power during a few frantic weeks ... The Clinton administration, without acknowledging any embarrassment for its own misplaced hopes, took the lead in assembling an international bailout - $50 billion in immediate credit to staunch Mexico's hemorrhage and reassure the capitalist adventurers."
Well, there you go. The successful NAFTA Trade Agreement - we need a couple of more like that. Some smart billionaire financial wise guys skimmed the cream off the Mexican currency, bankrupted millions of poor, struggling Mexicans and all under the guise of putting poor Mexicans to work and nobody goes to jail. This is not criminal. It's capitalism and capital financial currency speculation. I think that it is time to put a stop to this. Just like drug dealers, these monetary speculators have to be rounded up, their fortunes confiscated, and their butts thrown in an "international" jail cell - no water boarding though.

Hobo-ing America and A Summer with Charlie are books written by Richard E. Noble, a freelance writer who has lived in Franklin County for over thirty years. Both books are now available on Amazon.com. If you would like to stock his books in your store or business, contact him at 670-8076 or e-mail him at richardedwardnoble@gtcom.net

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Leibniz (1646-1716 A.D.)


By Richard E. Noble

Leibniz's desire for fame and recognition, and though praised and admired by many, it seems to me has led him to be characterized in the history books pretty much as the Milton Berle of philosophy. Some anthologies of Philosophic thought don't even list him, and others make only passing reference. I think this is because nothing that he has to say is new, and his greatest achievements are, as with Uncle Milty, said to have been stolen from others (most notably, his Calculus from Newton, but other things from Spinoza, Descartes and possibly others.)
Leibniz was a 'want-to-believer' of the first order. He came from a family of theologians, and like many others (Thomas Aquinas, Descartes, Isaac Newton, Spinoza and possibly even Albert Einstein) wanted very much to substantiate the notion that the universe was the product of an organized intelligence. There are those, like Leibniz, who consider God and His universe to be a combination of order, form, design, intellect and perfection, and those who look upon the universe as having been created by Rube Goldberg. In other words, the universe being a thing containing a myriad of interconnected moving parts, but no discernable function, purpose or reason, and God as a kind of well meaning tinkerer whose greatest of mistakes can be observed by most everyone by simply looking into a mirror.
Leibniz is reminiscent of Robert Service's Compensation Bill. If you tell him that your nose just fell off, he counters by telling you it is probably for the best because now you wont have to smell all the 'poop' in the world. Voltaire carries this criticism to the extreme in his Candide 'which is actually a satire on Leibniz's notion that this is in fact, “the best of all possible worlds.”
Leibniz, a man who wanted to put order to the universe was incapable of organizing his own papers. He could never find anything and consequently wrote things over and over. He is credited by his Butler as not having the capacity nor desire to kill even a fly, but yet he suggested in his diplomatic capacity that the British should be allowed to plunder the French in order to collect German debts, and that the French and the Germans ought to get together and attack Egypt rather than fight among themselves.
Bertrand Russell and others say that Leibniz was a great man but most agree, not a nice or pleasant man. He is also made out to be, if not a liar, at least a hypocrite by others - a man who said one thing in his public papers, but wrote a completely different story in his personal unpublished material.
All attempts at the justification of God must contend with the notion of Evil. Leibniz tried to justify evil by compensation, or the notion that a good end would justify a bad means. This attempt brings Leibniz back to my Milton Berle analogy. This is not only ludicrous, but childish. By even earthly standards hugging and kissing one's wife all night long will not make up for brutalizing and beating her all day. You will still go to prison. An eternity of contrition will not compensate a mico-second of injustice. Philosophically, evil can not be compensated or rationalized, it must be denied entirely (Spinoza), or proved not to exist (no one). Leibniz, as Voltaire points out, is a joke.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mein Kampf Chapter 15

Part 2

By Richard E. Noble

"... Among a hundred so-called speakers there are hardly ten who would be in a position to speak today with the same effect to an auditorium composed of street sweepers, locksmiths, sewer cleaners, etc.., and to give on the following day a lecture of necessarily the same intellectual content to university professors and students. But among a thousand speakers there is perhaps only a single one who is able to speak before locksmiths and university professor alike in a form which is equally satisfactory to both sides or even impassions them towards a sweeping storm of applause. But one must keep before one's eyes that if it is to spread even the most beautiful thought of a sublime idea, it has to make use of small and smallest minds..."
Well, golly gee, don't you feel privileged that Adolf needs both university professors and you of the small mind? Or are you of the 'smallest' mind category? Or are you a part of the elitist club who agrees with this statement, and understands exactly what Adolf is saying here? Obviously those of us of the 'small' mind, and the 'smallest' mind category do not see ourselves as such, but only view our unfortunate brothers and sisters to be of this category. I have never read of any protestors carrying signs out side of the German beer hall where Adolf was speaking, reading--We of the small and smallest minds of Germany object! But why should they? Didn't Adolf say that he needed them?
I feel in truth, and it is why I have taken on this research, that it was not a coalition of small and smallest minds that were responsible for Adolf's success. As the foot note on this page points out -- These assertions may be correct. On the other hand, it is also possible to assume - as many do - that Hitler's triumph was not due to the 'stupid masses' which come to hear him speak, but to the intellectual reconstruction which the nationalist intelligentsia placed on Pan-German Socialism --
On a personal note, this is another insight into Adolf's personality. There is no doubt in my mind that, as I have said earlier, Adolf was stage struck after that first speech. He is really tooting his own horn here. He claims here, not only to be a genius who has the ability to communicate to the noblesse-noblegee, but he also has the 'common' touch. Well, I don't know. He is certainly no Tom Paine in my book. His message overall, certainly isn't to the common minded. He is an unabashed elitist, courageously championing the opinions and ideas of the rich and famous, and powerful, one of which he would very much like to become. This seems obvious.
His message to the poor and small minded, I think, was very simple. He told them that they were being screwed; he told them who was screwing them; and that if he were given the power they would be back to work in the blink of an eye; and that their country would be restored in the eyes of the world to its rightful position of dignity and honor.
I personally think that the feelings of the poor can be summed up simply. They want food on their table, a roof over their head, and a position in life that will provide them with hope for the future, if not for themselves, for their children. The nation that can meet this basic requirement will be able to maintain itself internally.
"...The goal of the political reform movement will never be reached by a work of enlightenment or by influencing the ruling powers, but only by the gaining of the political power..."
This seems to me to be a 'stab in the back' to the very people who have been and will in the future pave Adolf's path to infamy. But, maybe at this stage of the game Adolf's path is still in the hands of the common stupid masses.
"...The young movement is anti-parliamentarian, that means in general, it rejects a principle of a decision by the majority, by which the leader is degraded to the position of the executive of the will and the opinion of the others..."
Where did it ever creep into my mind that Adolf was a populist, or a man of the people? Right here he discredits the main tenet of the principle of Democratic rule. For my vote, if there is anywhere that our American democracy has gone wrong, it is in the area of too little democracy, certainly not too much. But Adolf sees it in entirely the opposite direction. He sees it ... one man, one rule. Opposition should not be coddled but destroyed. And if the one man ruler turns out to be wrong, he should be destroyed by his people. If they are able to get him, I might add. I don't know about you, but if I have learned anything from this study, it is that I do not like the notion of a one man power structure. This even begins to make me question the notion of our presidency. How many unfortunate incidents, I wonder, in the American past can be traced to an over zealous and too powerful president, or single government official? This would be an interesting topic for investigation.
"...He who wants to be the leader bears, with the highest unrestricted authority, also the ultimate and the most serious responsibility. He who is not able to do this or is too great a coward to bear the consequences of his activity is unsuitable to be the leader. Only the hero is chosen for this..."
I have two criticisms of this statement. Adolf didn't act too heroically in his bunker on that day when he blew his brains out rather than, stand up in the name of his people and 'their' cause and defend his principles to the very end, as did many other great historic leaders. If the ultimate test of a man's leadership and courage is his bravery in standing up to the consequences of his acts and leadership, and taking the responsibility for his failures as well as the credit for his victories, Adolf certainly can not be considered a hero even by his own standards. He should have been standing at attention and saluting his colors in the face of his enemy an immanent death, as Anwar Sadat. Or with his pistol drawn and his sword brandishing over his head right up until the allies shot him down. But rather than face his conquerors like a man of courage and leadership, he hid himself in an underground shelter and timorously blew his brains out rather than face the public rebuke of the world and its peoples, who by his own principle of 'might is right' had proved him to be in error and not worthy of the crown of world conqueror that he had so vociferously placed upon his own head.
My second criticism, I've made before, but I will make it again. I think the principle of leadership is a fallacy in this regard. If because of your inadequate leadership men have died, even your life is not sufficient payment to such a debt or mistake. In other words, such responsibility of leadership is not within the jurisdiction of any would be leader. As a leader, you can only live with, or die defending your mistakes. No amount of contrition or sacrifice will repay even one parent the loss of a son or daughter caused by your inadequacy. So a boast of accepting such a responsibility as a prerequisite or requirement of one who seeks power or authority is idle and more or less pure bravado. Such responsibility is really not available.
"...Progress and the culture of mankind, however, are not products of the majority, but they rest exclusively upon the genius and the energy of the personality..."
Here again Ayn Rand might be in agreement, but I have doubts. Even most men who are responsible for some of the greatest discoveries of the human species have a more humble view of their circumstances than this elitist concept. This whole idea may in fact be the product of misguided endeavors or interpretations of History as recorded and advanced by historians themselves. I am, myself, a great fan of biography and autobiography and certainly such personalization is advantageous in stimulating interest in a topic or subject matter, but to say the whole direction of the world was the product of one man at one point in any given time would be hard to defend. Even harder to defend is the notion that mankind is making progress at all. What we often call 'great' and 'genius' in our evaluations, I would call 'alternative'. Most of Mankind's 'progress' I would term as alternative or lateral as opposed to truly dynamic and vertical. In other words, with all of our so-called greatness is mankind, as a whole, any better off than it was at the time of the Roman Empire? Are there fewer people starving today than there were then? Is there less killing and murder today as then? Do fewer people die today needlessly than was the case then? Is the state of world governments any better than it was then? Has the character or spirituality of man become more sophisticated and mutually advantageous to the human race than it was then? Even if we take into account population increases, and deal in percentages, are these things any better than they were then? I think not.
"...An ingenious idea originates in the brains of a man who now feels himself called upon to transmit his knowledge to the rest of mankind; he now preaches his views and gradually he gains a certain circle of followers..."
Is there any doubt here who Adolf is talking about? So Adolf has an ingenious idea, and he is transmitting it to us. I feel so privileged. How could the German people tolerate this obnoxious son of a bitch? We are now on page 481 of book one of Mein Kampf, and I am still asking myself, what is the brilliant idea that Adolf is trying to transmit? I've heard all about the Jews but, this is not new and certainly not ingenious. This is certainly not Einstein's theory of relativity. This is not Euclid and his new geometry. This is not Pasteur and 'germs'. This is not Newton and gravity, or calculus. This is not even the Hula Hoop. What the hell do we have here?
Basically what we have here is really my inspiration for tackling this challenge - a challenge to which I felt that I was suited. We have an average man, of average abilities, average intelligence, and below average income tackling the philosophy, teachings, arguments and problems of the entire world - a task for which neither of us is or was equipped. A more intelligent man than I would never do what I am doing here, and he would not do it for the very reason that he is too smart to lower himself to debate on this level. I certainly respect any intelligent man who feels this way, but arguing with the Adolfs of the world has been my life. I've lived in the streets, in the woods and under the bridges. I've worked in the factories, in the backs of the fancy restaurants, and I've swept, and swabbed the decks and mopped the floors and emptied the garbage all over America. And my conclusion is that the Adolfs are everywhere. Everywhere! And it isn't enough to simply say - you're wrong about that, man - You've got to take this big mouth page by page, word for word and push every stupid statement back down his throat. But you can't be crude about, or you show the 'class' that you come from. So let's go on analyzing the self proclaimed German Genius.
He has just discovered in his brain an ingenious idea, and is transmitting it to us, the stupid and more stupid, because he needs us to begin and proliferate his revolution - for it is us of the ranks of the ignorant and stupid masses that will form the basis of his revolution.
It is interesting to note here that in his time in Germany almost every time that there was a turn in the economy for the better Adolf and his German Nationalists took a turn for the worse. We might also add that wherever economies are weak, Communism is strong. The moral of this story seems to me to be - give a man a job that puts a roof over his head, food on the table for himself and those he loves, and thus put the sparkle of hope in his eye for his future or possibly the future of his children, and you might not change the bitter rhetoric, but at least the bone chilling rattle of death will be removed from his breathless voice. That seems to me to be step number one in basic government 101 - a step that we still have not come to grips with here in the U.S.A.
Another interesting 'idea' from the ranks of the poor and stupid. If you the social Darwinist Capitalist go into a poor village or even confront a poor unemployed laborer living under a bridge, and you say to him or them that the reason that they are in the position that they are is basically because they are genetically less equipped than their more prosperous brothers or fellow citizens; and that really they deserve no better than what they presently have because what they have is exactly what their abilities have proven that they deserve; and that they and their life position is living proof that God is truly in His heaven and all is right with the world; why are you surprised when they take up arms with the Communist and try to blow the hell out of the likes of you?
The communist philosophy says to these people, don't worry we will not have a class of obnoxious, overbearing Capitalist social Darwinists. We will have one class and we will all work together to satisfy the needs of all of us. We will take from each according to his ability, and we will give to each according to his need. Freedom? What is freedom to those who are starving? Freedom? What is freedom to those who are dying? Freedom? Freedom is only important to those who still have something to lose. Freedom? Freedom has put your sons into the disgrace of poverty and unemployment and your daughters into prostitution. What do you want, freedom for the few or food for everyone? Does it take a Solomon to make this decision?
Again here Adolf with all of his talk of loyalty and his need of the common man and the masses, what did he do when it came to choosing between his loyal brown shirts and the German Army regulars? When the big boys, the Junker Generals, the industrialists and bankers, the powerful at the top told him that either he gets his band of para-militarists under control or he looses his opportunity to become one of the potential ruling class. Well, it is simple; he has a gangster style massacre. His old friends and associates who in the beginning bounced the Commies out of the beer halls where he was speaking; the men who had worked at no pay; the guy who had gotten the scars and the broken noses on Hitler's behalf, were executed. Even his good buddy and war hero veteran Rhoem was arrested, thrown into a cell, given a gun and told to shoot himself by the Fuhrer himself. Winston in his "The Gathering Storm" says that Rhoem gave Adolf back his gun and told Adolf to do his own dirty work. He was then machine gunned to the point of non-recognition. So much for Adolf and his German style loyalty.
Next Adolf decided that if he is going to have a movement of any serious consequence, like the Roman Empire had Rome, and other religions had their Mecca and Jerusalem, his movement must have a symbolic city, and that city would be ... Munich.
"...Formation of local groups only after the authority of the central leading group in Munich may be looked upon as unconditionally recognized..."
O.K., now we have the official Mecca, what comes next?
"...Just as an Army has no value in its organizing without its officers, thus a political movement is just as useless without the appropriate leader.
For this there are two ways:
A) The movement has at its disposal the necessary financial means for the training and schooling of able heads for the future leadership.
This is the easier and the quicker way; but it requires great financial means, as this leader material is able to work for the movement only if it is paid.
b) The movement in consequence of lack of funds, is not in a position to instill appointed leaders, but has to depend on honorary officers at first.
This is the slower and the more difficult way.
The leadership of the movement must leave large fields uncultivated, provided there does not emerge from the followers a head who is able and willing to put himself at the disposal of the leaders, and to organize and to lead the movement in the particular field..."
Well, this seems obvious to me, Adolf needs a few good men. He has beat Kitchener and Uncle Sam to the poster board here. Adolf needs you, and if you happen to be rich and powerful, we have a position waiting for you in our officers’ corps. Apply to me, your basic natural born leader, to find out if you are acceptable. This line of persuasion can only have an appeal to the militarist, and authoritarian minded, and revolutionary. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't work very well. We use the same appeal for our R.O.T.C., and military Academy candidates. But we are in category (a) we have the funds to pay.
"...The leadership proper not only demands will power, but also ability, whereby one has to ascribe a greater importance to will power and energy than to genius itself, and most valuable is a combination of ability, determination, and perseverance..."
This has got to stand out as one of the funniest lines in the book. Adolf is basically saying that he doesn't really need the best and the brightest for his new movement. You don't have to be a 'genius' to be a Nazi. Besides, the movement already as one genius, how many geniuses does one movement need, anyway? So, if you know how to do anything, or would like to learn how to do anything and you are willing to provide it or yourself to my movement free of charge, and you are willing to take whatever bullshit we are willing to hand out, you too can become a Nazi.
Again, this appeal is nothing new. Watch your TV. You will see and hear the same message, daily. So then, is the message wrong? Or is Hitler simply using a proper technique to foster a wrong cause? I am not of the Militarist inclination, but it had its appeal to me at one time. I've recently read a book by General Colin Powell. He basically said that he joined the R.O.T.C. and from that moment on was enthralled with the pursuit of leadership, and the military way of life. General Swartscoff expressed pretty much the same opinion. In this country we pay allegiance to the Military, Authoritarian, and for lack of a better word, Totalitarian minded, but we place our ultimate trust in a civilian, democratic government. The ultimate decision of this government will outweigh all of the decisions and opinions of all of the Military Generals. Truman fired MacArthur and we fired Truman. I don't know about you, but I like it that way.
"...The future of a movement is conditioned by the fanaticism, even more the intolerance, with which its adherents present it as the only right one and enforce it in the face of other formations of a similar kind..."
This point with fanaticism and intolerance, Adolf makes constantly throughout the book. This forceful type of domination is a basic part of Adolf's genetic make up or he has seen over and over that it works. He is not only going to fight fire with fire, he is going to fight fire with fire and a brick. He uses the words fanaticism as if it is a positive attribute, and without any question he does think that it is. Obviously Adolf, unlike Tom Paine, does not believe that he has the power of rightful reason on his side. An intelligent debate does not necessarily produce an intelligent result. So, bring a baseball bat to the podium or the audience.
Reflecting on the times during the 20's, it is hard for those like me to understand. There was constant turmoil in the street. Fights, poverty, and gunfire in the streets were the everyday circumstance. From what I have read Gandhi would not have found many followers in Munich or Berlin. Every day was a constant fist fight for those inclined. If you weren't inclined, you had better be ready to duck, hide and dodge.
Of course the 'other formations of a similar kind' is for the most part the Bolshevik movement.
"...The greatness of every powerful organization as the incorporation of an idea in this world is rooted in the religious fanaticism with which it intolerably enforces itself against everything else, fanatically convinced of its own right. If an idea is right in itself, and if thus armed it embarks on the struggle in this world, it is invincible and every persecution will lead to its inner strengthening..."
Well if this is true Adolf, merely telling everybody about it should be enough. What is with the baseball bats and bullets?
"...The greatness of Christianity was not rooted in its attempted negotiations of compromise with perhaps similarly constructed philosophical opinions of the old world, but in the inexorably fanatical preaching and representation of its own doctrine..."
Well, I think that Adolf and I read different history books. From what I can see Christianity is or has evolved exactly as he says that it didn't. What is curious to me about Christianity is 1) how did it go from a basically peaceful non-violent group, to eventually comprising over fifty percent of Constantine's army? 2) How did it go from a humble persecuted minority to a dominant persecuting majority? The story of Christianity is certainly not one of persistently repeated principle. 3) How did the religion of the peasantry and the poor under-class succeed in replacing the religion of the dominant Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians? Another question of interest to me is at what point in the history of Christianity did Christ shed his humanness and become God? To me the message of Christ changes when Jesus enters into the world of the divine. When he becomes divine the salvation of the human race becomes one of the next world, and his life ceases to be an example for salvation of the human race in this world, or is less important.
Much of today's Christianity is almost devoid of any legacy of Jesus in relation to politics, or revolution, or personal social conduct. All that one has to do, according to many a modern day Christian is accept Jesus as God, and he will be saved. The example of Christ's life, his principle of behavior, the philosophy of his beliefs, the meaning for his actions, even the sacrifice of his life is transformed from an example to mankind of proper behavior and philosophic and social thought, to a primitive sacrificial blood right to the one true God. Jesus is no longer a man of ideas, a theologian and philosopher, a social reformer and thinker whose behavior should be studied as a guide and example for the behavior of future generations, but a lamb being brought to be martyred in a sacrificial rite offered at the temple to reestablish the Church as the door that one must pass through in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. So somehow, Jesus the radical or not so radical Church reformer was re-incorporated into the orthodoxy proper. For my money Jesus went from being a poor man picketing outside the temple for organized religion to take a position of decency and respect for the common man, and do away with much of the formality and hypocrisy of its temple managers; to a statue or icon placed on the alter inside the temple now to be once again worshiped in the good all fashioned way. So Jesus lost, and Organized Religion and dogmatic temple worship, won. How did this happen? And I wonder will they one day be able to do the same with science, and bring us back to those glorious days of yesteryear, where new discoveries in the world of science will have to be explained fitting under the umbrella of religious thought, and dogma, and those who do not conform will be burnt at the stake.
"...The movement has to promote the respect for the personality by all means; it must never forget that the value of all that is human is rooted in the personal value, and that every idea and every achievement are the results of the creative force of a man, and that the admiration for the greatness is not only a tribute of thanks to the latter, but that it also winds a unifying band around the grateful ... the person can not be replaced..."
Once again, let me point out that contrary to the mass of ever present propaganda the accomplishments of man are none that great. To get oneself all in a lather about electricity as opposed to the candle, or the pistol as opposed to the machine gun or the atom bomb while we still live on a daily basis with poverty, curable disease, death and suffering, a class of super wealthy living in luxury while millions of poor adults and children suffer for the want of a crust of bread; war disease, starvation, murder, suicide, rape, torture, and a constant string of never ending wars, a human must consider in practical explanation, that this is the ultimate in human rationalization and ego-maniacal thought and propaganda. Talk about schizophrenia? My goodness, sometimes I can hardly believe my ears. If man is going to survive into the future his socialization and morality and justice of thought will have to some how catch up and surpass his penchant for technology. Not only will man's aggressiveness need understanding and temperance in the future but so will society have to deal with the human ego and its propensity for rationalization and self-righteous ego enhancement.
So mankind has two big problems as I see them. He is not only belligerent, hostile and once engaged in combat destructive to the point of self annihilation. He is also pompous and haughty to the point of being an almost totally blind, ego-maniacal homicidal manic and from all practical moral and ethical evaluations, totally insane.
As a second point. Those of you who are proponents of the Ayn Rand School. You must see Adolf as a junior professor, or senior professor in this school of thought. I guess the question here is: was Adolf really a capitalist or a socialist? Obviously when it comes to 'individuality' Adolf is Capitalistic and Western. But what happens when Man's ingenious need for creativity and individuality challenges the 'State'? The State rules according to Adolf. The State rules even above religious right and beliefs. Is this a principle of Socialism, or democracy?
We here in our democratic state say that there must be a separation of Church and State. And if the Church brings its argument to the Supreme Court and loses, the State rules. I guess that the difference is that we, living in a democracy, consider that we are in effect the State. So when the Supreme court rules, we accept their verdict as the will of the people or the majority. A lot of these lines that we draw are academic aren't they? If we say that the opinion of the State rules over business. In other words, if the State has the last word, then this is Socialism. But this has been the way of even our government since the beginning. The Whiskey rebellion, the Civil war, anti-monopoly legislation, the Wagner act, the injunction. Hummm, I think that this is the material for another book.
"...If human hearts break and human souls despair, then the great conquerors of distress and worry, of shame and misery of spiritual bondage and physical coercion, look down upon them, out of the twilight of the past, and offer their eternal hands to the despairing mortals!
Woe to the people that is shamed to seizing them!.."
Boy, my first reaction here is to say is this poetry? - The twilight of the past, their eternal hands, hearts break and human souls despair. I'm telling you, he's got it, doesn't he? Again one would have to look in retrospect and ask one's self what Adolf knew about the heart break of others; about the millions that he murdered and placed into concentration camps. The great conquerors of distress? Who the hell are they? There are people in the past who conquered distress, worry, shame misery, spiritual bondage and physical coercion? This guy is talking about religion. Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Buddha and the like. But these people also conquered spiritual bondage, and physical coercion? This is it isn't it. Hitler is proclaiming himself the new Messiah, one with the greatest of all times. But, "woe to the people that is shamed of seizing his hand."

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Eastpointer

Dottie the Dumpster Diver

By Richard E. Noble

Dottie lived in Eastpoint for a number of years. We don't know exactly when she got into Dumpster Diving but she developed a serious addiction.
If you have never done any Dumpster Diving yourself you wouldn't really understand.
My older brother became a chemist and he worked for a guy who owned a smelting plant. The man who owned the plant where my brother worked was the son of a ragman. Kirk Douglas wrote a book entitled The Ragman's Son. But my brother's boss was really a sophisticated ragman. Professional ragmen and scavengers of all types brought their collected radiators and bicycles and water heaters and copper wire to the plant where my brother was employed. My brother supervised the smelting process and turned the scrap metal into ingots that his boss sold to somebody. The ragman’s son who my brother worked for was a multi-millionaire.
Carol and I did a little Dumpster Diving when we were out in California Hobo-ing the U.S.A. We dove into the dumpsters looking for aluminum cans that we crushed and stored in a canoe that we had anchored to a rack on top of our van camper. We gave it up when we noticed that we had our own colony of flies following our camper wherever we went. We were like that kid in the comic strip that had a dark cloud hovering over his head.
But Dottie was retired and she started Dumpster Diving for aluminum cans and a few extra pennies originally. After a few "dips" she found, just as Carol and I discovered, dumpsters had all sorts of good stuff in there - especially if you go to dumpsters in better neighborhoods. It is amazing what some folks throw away. We sometimes found brand new items that had been stuffed back into their original boxes just because the person who had bought the item couldn't figure out how to put it together. It was amazing and somewhat shocking.
Every time we drove by a dumpster we would see Dottie's car parked beside it and Dottie's head bobbing up and down from inside the dumpster. She had a nice new car. She wasn't really a poor person.
It wasn't long before Dottie had ventured out into distant lands. First we saw her in Port St. Joe, then in Panama City. We saw her in neighborhood dumpsters and behind shopping malls. Her whole appearance began to change. Gradually her wardrobe got shabbier and shabbier. She bought some white rubber boots like the fishermen and oystermen wore. She had a knit cap pulled down over the top of her head like the boys in the hood. She wore a long overcoat. Her complexion got darker or maybe it was dustier. Her whole personality changed. Needless to say she no longer had her nails and hair done on a regular basis. She had a little Toy Poodle. It was white ... then off white ... then a dusty gray. It was something to see how dumpster addiction could affect the whole family.
Dottie became rather detached. She stopped talking to people ... well maybe people stopped talking to her. She was always carrying black garbage bags in and out of her house. Very soon she had them stacked up against the outside walls of her trailer.
The neighbors were affected also. Every time a neighbor came home they stood staring over at Dottie's place for several minutes. Finally they would shake their heads and go inside.
Dottie went from diving to collecting. Dottie had always been a thrifty, penurious type individual and when she stumbled onto this parking lot gold mine, she got the habit. Dottie now had a “dumpster on her back.” She couldn't resist picking up anything of value, even if she didn't know what to do with it.
We would visit her occasionally and we noticed that her doublewide was getting smaller and smaller - and harder to find. First she filled the spare bedroom; then her bedroom; then she started stacking boxes along the walls; then out on the screened-in porch; pretty soon you could barely get up to or into the house.
She started filling her yard with storage sheds. She had her own yard sale business. We never went because ... well we knew her "suppliers." There was also a rather distinctive odor emanating from the area.
One day Dottie just disappeared. We don't know what happened to her. Her lot was cleaned up and her doublewide was replaced. Our guess was that Dottie was finally called to that big dumpster in the sky where one person's trash is another person's treasure and the streets are lined with dumpsters of gold.
Garbage had become Dottie's life but unlike the Ragman's Son Dottie never learned how to market her garbage. There is a moral to this story somewhere but I guess you will have to find it for yourself. I have no clue.

Hobo-ing America and A Summer with Charlie are books written by Richard E. Noble, a freelance writer who has lived in Franklin County for over thirty years. Both books are now available on Amazon.com. If you would like to stock his books in your store or business e-mail him at richardedwardnoble@gtcom.net

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Crisis of Global Capitalism

By George Soros

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

This is my first exploration into the mind and thinking of George Soros. This book was not difficult to read. Mr. Soros is not a deceptive writer.
It seems that Mr. Soros is one of the richest men in the world. He made his money in the international financial marketplace. Today he is out of the speculation business and characterizes himself as a philanthropist.
His educational background is in economics and philosophy. Being familiar reading philosophers, I feel safe in saying that he writes, thinks and explains himself like a philosopher.
This would make him difficult for some to understand. I understand his philosophy and his philosophical references. I understand his overall economic theories. I understand the problems that he outlines in this book. I do not understand his global financial solutions or his proposed international rules and regulations.
Many critics consider Mr. Soros a liberal or an apologist for the "socialist, communist" left. I think not. Mr. Soros is first a Capitalist. He is willing to admit the short comings of the capitalist theory and his notions are similar to the notions of "innocent fraud" outlined by the economist John Kenneth Galbraith. Neither Soros nor Galbraith believes in the divinity of the guiding hand when it comes to the marketplace. Soros states categorically his disbeliefs - and it does sound strange coming from such a successful capitalist.
He does not believe in the "equilibrium" notion which proposes a self-adjusting world. An unregulated financial world may very well destroy itself, he admits. But yet he believes in An Open Society. It is really difficult to see much difference in Mr. Soros' Open Society and the fundamentalist capitalist society. I would say the only difference that I can see is that Soros' idea is more reasonable and contains a dream of hope and morality. But Soros, like the fundamentalists, has no method or suggestions for how hope could replace the fundamentalist cynicism or how morality could be injected into the world marketplace - at least not in this book.
As I see it, George Soros is a capitalist to the core. Like John Maynard Keynes before him, I understand him to be a pragmatic capitalist personally engaged in the task of expanding and attempting to move capitalism along positively to a globally successful economic system. He accepts that capitalism has gone global. He doesn't resist globalism but realizes that without restraints and rules and regulations it has a possibility of collapsing upon itself.
This book was published in 1998. For those who ask, Who could have seen this mess that we are now experiencing in the year 2008, one may safely answer - George Soros.
But he has not been alone. William Greider and others have been writing about such problems and possibilities for years. Greider's last book the Soul of Capitalism could be considered as a college workbook for Mr. Soros philosophical analysis and theoretical propositions.
Soros's solutions are in my opinion the philosophical convolutions of a capitalist investment broker. Sort of a Meditations by Marcus Aurelius - but in international financial investment. It was a real struggle for Marcus Aurelius to maintain his philosophical inclinations and at the same time, authoritatively and often ruthlessly, rule the Roman Empire. It is equally difficult for George Soros to balance his philosophical and moral character with his necessary ruthless an amoral behavior in the gruesome world of international finance. But like Marcus, George gives it an honorable attempt.
Mr. Soros states that he may be an idealist but that he is not naïve but in my understanding of the historical circumstance surrounding capitalism, I think Mr. Soros is being rather naïve.
Capitalism and the capitalist have gone global partially in response to the capitalist aversion to rules, regulations and the restrictions placed on them by national governments. The Capitalist has been at war with labor, wage increases and benefits, environmental constraints, anti-monopolist and trust-busting attempts and national government taxation policies. The whole new Globalism economic concept has resulted because of the capitalist’s desire to escape to the wild west of globalism where they would be free from the interference of national governments, workers and democratic voter morality. For Mr. Soros to suggest a global governmental type agency to counter the perils of the unregulated marketplace seems extremely naïve to me. That is exactly what the capitalist has been fleeing. And to get a world organization to accomplish what smaller nation states have been incapable of doing seems totally naïve.
The solution in my opinion is a retreat from the globalism concept and a reigning in of the ‘amoral’ capitalist inclinations. Many speculative amoral capitalist should be going to prison not to the Riviera. In fact Mr. Soros may be one of them. If he doesn’t belong inside a prison, he could certainly be doing some community service. Actually, that is probably exactly what he is attempting with his philanthropic endeavors – as was the case with Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, and many other of our past unscrupulous economic giants.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Eastpointer

Health, Happiness, and a Hot Fudge Banana Split!

By Richard E. Noble

This petite, well dressed, shapely middle-aged woman stepped up to one of my ice cream cases. She scanned the varieties of ice cream like she was looking over a whole table of dead fish - blood, guts and everything. I had seen the type over and over.
Standing behind her is a red faced, jolly man, sporting a double chin and a good sized pot belly.
His designer wife hems and haws. She just can't make up her mind. Her decision is not perplexed because of all the different flavors being offered at Hobo's Ice Cream Parlor – now Hog Wild Bar-B-Q in Carrabelle. Her actual decision is whether she wants to go on starving and punishing herself or if she should indulge in the perversion and lust of ice cream.
"Do you have any sugar free ice cream?" she stumbles, hesitantly.
"Yes, I do. I have three different varieties."
"Do they taste good?" she peeps.
"I don't know. I don't eat that stuff," I tell her. "But people, who are diabetic or dying of some other incurable disease, tell me that it is pretty good."
The "Hey Norm" type guy standing behind her is still smiling but getting a little fidgety.
"Could I try a little taste of that one right there," she says pointing.
I get a plastic spoon and I proceed to get her a sample portion.
"Oh ... oh, you see that dab of strawberry lying there in the chocolate that I have chosen. Would you please remove that?"
I spoon out the dab of strawberry and also grab up a portion of the chocolate - just to make sure that I get it all."
As I remove the spoon from the tub of ice cream Norm says, "What are you going to do with that?"
"I'm going to throw it into the trash can," I tell him.
"No, no, no!" he says, shaking his head vigorously. I'll eat that." I pass him the spoon.
"Is it possible to get a half scoop, or do I have to get a whole scoop?" little miss Slim & Trim asks.
"Well, I will gladly give you as little as you want but the lowest price will be that of one full scoop."
The poor, troubled woman sighs deeply. "Okay, give me half a scoop of the sugar free chocolate."
"You want that on a homemade waffle cone or a regular cone?"
"Does the homemade cone have sugar in it?"
"Lady, everything in here has sugar in it except the sugar free ice cream that you ordered. And only god knows what that stuff has in it in place of the sugar. I'm sure some research scientist is injecting rats with it in some secret laboratory as we speak. Choose your own poison, lady."
"Can you put it in a cup?"
"And what about you, sir?"
"Yeah, I want the largest banana split that you have. I want it filled with the richest chocolate ice cream you have but instead of the usual toppings I want it drenched in hot fudge and covered with a ton of whipped cream - and don't skimp on the nuts."
"No problem."
The little lady almost has a heart attack. She tish, tish, tishes and shakes her head in total disgust.
"Don't yell for me when you are rolling around on the floor clutching your chest. It is your life! You are a big boy now."
I look at Norm. He smiles.
"Don't forget, I like whipped cream. And could I get three maraschino cherries - one on each stack of ice cream."
"You know sweetheart, I just recently read in Eat Right and Never Die magazine that maraschino cherries don’t digest in the human body."
"Well, what the heck happens to them?" asks Norm.
"They putrefy and then rot out your small intestine."
"I don't think I have a small intestine. Everything I have is big. So don't worry about it, honey."
"I'm not worried! Do I look worried? Your life insurance is all paid up."
"Honey, you will die of anorexia and I'll be living on an island in the South Pacific with a village of native beauties who all think that fat men are beautiful."
"We'll see."
"No Honey, unfortunately you won't - but I will!"
After Norm got his hot fudge banana split, they strolled out onto the little porch that looked out onto highway 98. She was snuggled up next to him and whispering into his ear. He was shaking his head negatively. Finally he said, "Oh all right! Go get another spoon."
When I next looked out at the couple she had tossed her sugar free in the trash can and they were each taking turns spooning into his giant, all chocolate, hot fudge banana split with lots of whipped cream and three maraschino cherries.
On their way out I said, "Well now with a little luck, you both might die simultaneously."
"Yeah, having sex I hope!" said he.
"Oh shut up!" said she.

Hobo-ing America and A Summer with Charlie are books written by Richard E. Noble who is a freelance writer. He has been a resident of Franklin County for over thirty years. Both books are now available on Amazon.com. If you would like to stock these books in your store or business call 1-850-670-8076 or e-mail me at richardedwardnoble@gtcom.net.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

Isaac Newton (1642-1727 A.D.)


By Richard E. Noble

Isaac had a rough start. His father died before he was born, and his mother dumped him on the relatives and ran off and married some Minister or something. This may explain why Isaac never married and supposedly died a virgin. How anyone could possible know that Isaac died a virgin is beyond me, but I have read this now in several Isaac Newton biographies, so take it for what it is worth.
Isaac was a very religious child, and a defender and seeker of religious inspiration throughout his life. In fact, it is my personal opinion that Isaac, like Thomas Aquinas and many other true believers before him, actually devoted his life to proving or trying to prove the existence of God. In fact, I think that Isaac's 'Principia' and its consequent description of the forces of gravity is Isaac's attempt at establishing God's existence. To Isaac, God had cast the stars and planets into space by hand (space being another attribute of God himself) and then manipulated their course through this Godly space by emanating an unexplainable, mystical controlling power that Isaac named - gravity.
He went on to prove that there was such a controlling, manipulative mystical power by deriving the orbits of planets and stars, and comets, the moon and even the tides on earth mathematically, according to this unexplainable, unseen force called gravity. To Isaac, Gravity was the invisible guiding hand of God constantly at work keeping everything, rotating, making elliptical or predictable orbits, and floating around in space. When asked to further explain this force, Isaac declined, saying that the knowledge of such a Power was sufficient, and the fact that he could demonstrate, mathematically, the physical effects of such a force was proof enough that such a force existed. Isaac had proved, at least to himself, through the 'fact' of Gravity that there was a God.
Strangely enough, if it weren't for Halley (the Halley of later comet fame) there would probably have never been any Principia. Halley not only encouraged but paid for the publication of Newton's monumental work.
It is said by many that Isaac Newton may be the brightest man who has ever lived. Yet as an adult, he nearly poked his damn eye out with a stick while doing an experiment on himself deflecting light rays through his cornea. He nearly blinded himself staring at the sun all day, another experiment with light, seeking a pattern in the spots appearing before his eyes. And then finally he ended up having a nervous breakdown - some suspect caused by his habit of identifying chemicals used in his 'Alchemy' experiments by tasting them.
A religious enthusiast to the last, he spent his old age, analyzing the Bible, and writing "A Short Scheme of the True Religion" a failing attempt which he wrote and re-wrote to prove the essence and truth of Religion. But with all his Biblical endeavors he did not believe in the Trinity, nor in the divinity of Jesus, nor in the authority of the Church. He held the Lucasion Chair at Trinity College, Cambridge, was elected to Parliament, and appointed Warden of the Mint of England.
I don't know, but between nearly poking his eye out with a stick, Alchemy and never having sex, he certainly couldn't have been all that bright. So he liked math, is that any reason to make the guy a Knight, I ask you?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Millard Fillmore (president from 1850-1853)

U.S. Presidents

By Richard E. Noble

Millard Fillmore, vice president, took over after Zachary Taylor died from a bad case of gas. Slavery was the main issue. Millard signed Henry Clay of Kentucky's compromise but it really wasn't much of a "Great" compromise, because nobody liked it. The South didn't like it because it allowed the Federal Government to be sticking their nose into everybody's business. The North didn't like it because it demanded that they had to return run-away slaves to the South. Immediately thereafter Millard was forced to send troops into Charleston, South Carolina to quell the riots and threatened the same action in the North if they refused to adhere to the provisions of the Fugitive Slave Act.
Fillmore was a member of the anti-Mason wing of the Whig party or movement - whatever that was about. Fillmore expanded the railroad, avoided a war with Spain over Cuba, and expanded the Monroe doctrine to cover the Hawaiian Islands against the French, but slavery was still the big problem at home.
By the end of his presidency the Whig party was just about out of business. The newly established Republican Party was anti-slavery and strong Union. So Millard went with another new group called the Know-Nothings.
The Know-Nothings were just the opposite of the anti-Masons with whom Millard had started. This group was a secret group that originally stemmed from an anti-Catholic group known as the Star Spangled Banner society. They didn't like the pope, or foreigners, especially Germans and Irish and they had a strong antipathy towards that new radical political philosophy, Marxism. They hired plug-uglies to man the polls and "plug" anybody with a carpenter's awl who attempted to vote and didn't know their Know-Nothing password. Which was, of course ... I know nothing.
This group got Fillmore nominated for president in the 1856 election. Democrat James Buchanan won that election in 1858. Franklin Pierce had won the election for the Democrats in 1854.
Millard then married a rich widow named Caroline Macintosh, and tried to live happily ever after. But the next thing you know he got involved with that trouble maker Abraham Lincoln.
By 1864 he was convinced that the Republicans not only knew nothing but meant nothing but trouble for the nation. He disavowed the party. He was then labeled as a traitor (probably a communist) and withdrew entirely from public life.
Slavery was the prominent issue of the day and Millard, like all those to follow him before the Civil War, didn't have the answer. He tried his best to promote compromise and understanding between the North and the South but neither side was having any of it. The South stirred on by men like Calhoun, Douglas and Fremont felt that this was an issue to be decided by each state on an individual basis. The North engrossed and inflamed by Harriet Beecher Stowe's, Uncle Tom's Cabin, wanted the horror of Slavery abolished. There are those who say, even today, that a Civil War was the only answer, but the truth of the matter is that the Civil War didn't resolve the problem.
Slavery was not really abolished but only replaced by the Klu Klux Klan, segregation, oppression, hatred, viciousness, cruelty, prejudice and violence. If we look upon the Civil War as a failure rather than a solution or victory, what was the real answer to this problem, I wonder?
The Hobo Philosopher

New Column

When Right = Wrong

By Richard E. Noble

Everyone from my generation will say that the schools that they were educated in were not the most sophisticated but at least they all learned right from wrong. I used to think that was a big cop-out. Everyone knows right from wrong. Schools should be responsible for teaching a bit more than simply distinguishing right from wrong, I once thought. But in today world and our own society, distinguishing right from wrong seems to have gotten lost somewhere.
Osama bin Ladin and his followers think that it is all right to kill civilians in any country that they understand to be at odds with their religion or philosophy. They have blown up innocent children and women who have no idea what Osama and his friends believe or think about anything. For centuries this has been considered wrong by just about everybody anywhere - even small children once knew this.
I was just reading the confessions of a political advisor. It seems he has just been released from prison and has written a book about how his advice to political candidates ended him up in the slammer. He confesses that he never thought that he was doing anything wrong. He had even consulted attorneys beforehand to assure that he wasn't doing anything illegal. He says that he only found out that what he had been doing was illegal when a jury convicted him and sent him to prison.
One of the largest accounting firms in America was recently closed down because the college graduate accountants and their bosses and supervisors didn't know an asset from a debit. It seems that they put assets in the column where the debits should have gone and the debits where the assets should have gone. Some of them said that they knew that what they were doing was wrong but Congress had passed a law saying that it was right to do what they knew to be wrong - so they did it anyway. Consequently because the Congress had declared wrong to be right no one has to go to jail. This is kind of like a mini Nuremberg Trials situation here. "I was just following orders, sir."
We have bankers and loan officers who don't know a legitimate loan from a false (lying) loan - and they are the one's who wrote up, approved and lied about these loans.
And we have Federal Reserve experts and stock brokers and analysts who can't figure out why bankers who falsified loan applications and then hid them in a batch of "real" loans and sold them to foreign investors who trusted their integrity should even be prosecuted. One TV expert said these poor bankers are being punished for simply being good capitalists. George Will says that the Democrats are just looking to blame somebody. It seems that good old George also thinks that corruption is just a positive part of capitalism and its invisible illegal guiding hand.
It goes without saying that we have politicians who don't know right from wrong - but today their constituencies don't know either. We the people keep reelecting politicians who act illegally and immorally even when their crimes are laid out before us in the newspapers and in book after book by their own people - occasionally even on the TV.
Big businessmen have always been short on character, after all they have the bottom line to consider - but they once understood that conspiring for a profit at the expense of their own country and its people was not being patriotic - and in some cases even treasonous. In today's business colleges it seems that treason is just an appendix under the chapter explaining Supply and Demand and patriotism comes under the chapter on Bankruptcy.
We used to think that monopolies were wrong. A monopoly was one big company with enough money and power to control a particular industry. A monopoly isn't a company that is so big that they can control just about anything and everything anymore - that's General Electric, CitiBank and Standard Oil. Today it is all right to control anything and everything so long as your money is coming from non-related and integrated sources. In other words you are not necessarily a monopoly just because you own all the peanut butter factories in the world. Throw in a couple of jelly and jam factories and you are not a monopoly - you are now just a conglomerate. A conglomerate can do all that a monopoly ever dreamed of and more but it is not a monopoly so whatever it does it is legal and okie dokey.
Coming closer to home it seems that we are having a new spree of virgin births among teenagers. These pregnant girls can't explain how it happened or who is responsible. All around the country their high school chums are voting these little chubby ladies Prom Queen or Coming Home Princess. How sweet.
Dead people are also resurrecting just like in Biblical times. Many dead people have revived their interest in politics - a lot of them seem to be voting in local and national elections. Obviously being dead isn't as peaceful as it used to be.
Dead people are voting, collecting Social Security, getting jobs and working, spending lavishly with their new credit cards, talking to many people in the movies and on TV. We used to call people who talked to dead people wackos and lock them up in nut houses. Now we call them movie stars, TV celebrities, inspirational authors, orators and even evangelists.
The unborn and the dead are getting lots of attention but the alive and still kicking seem to be the silent majority. I can't understand it because the unborn and the dead don't even pay taxes.

Richard E. Noble is a Freelance Writer. He has authored two books: "A Summer with Charlie" and "Hobo-ing America" which are both listed on Amazon. Most recently he completed his first novel "Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother" which will be published and on Amazon soon.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Eastpointer

Turnstyle Bridge

By Richard E. Noble
There are certain people who are particularly concerned with the question - "what's important?" Philosophers, writers, and talk show hosts are a few. As an aspiring "internationally famous writer and author" for most of my teenage and adult life, this has always been one of my particular concerns. Not too many hopeful writers become internationally famous writing about things that really aren't all that important. So every time that a writer takes pen in hand or puts finger to keyboard he must ask himself, "Is writing about the fact that I was born with six toes on my right foot really all that important to the rest of mankind; or is the fact that every time I eat a peanut butter sandwich I get indigestion more gripping?"
Over the years this dilemma has perplexed me for endless hours. But in recent years this problem has disappeared. Now that I have become an "old person" overnight, I have no problem in figuring out what events of my past are important enough to write about. It is relatively easy these days.
I figure that if I can still remember this particular happenstance from my ancient past it must be important. I mean I have already forgotten more than most young people have learned the first thirty years of their life. Actually I consider this to be one of my biggest achievements to date.
Mark Twain once said something to this effect; "My memory has now gotten to the point that the only things I remember for sure are those things that never really happened at all." And I must say I do resemble that remark.
Strangely enough our first day here in Eastpoint and Franklin County is still vivid in my memory's eye.
We came plowing through main street Apalachicola in our Chevy Van towing our Airstream Trailer on Seafood Festival celebration day. That surprise was almost as thrilling as the day we arrived in Mena, Arkansas on the annual celebration day of Lum and Abner.
We were thrilled by all the excitement. We were gawking every which way until we got to the Apalach Bridge. Some contraption like a railroad crossing gate came tumbling down in front of our truck and the middle of the bridge turned sideways. We didn't know what the heck was going on. I now know that type bridge was called a "turnstyle" bridge.
We peeked around and watched some of the other vehicles that were backed up behind us. Many of them turned off their ignitions, left their vehicles and began wandering around on the bridge. We decided to do likewise. A few Gulf shrimp trawlers were lined up waiting to pass through the turnstyle.
There was a bridge operator sitting in a glass room high up on the bridge and she waved to the shrimp boat captains as they slowly floated through the newly made temporary hole in the bridge. The shrimp boats looked older and even more antiquated than the bridge.
Since Carol and I were hoboes with no particular place to go and no certain time to be there, we just stood on the bridge and watched. It took quite some time for the few shrimp trawlers to get clear of the bridge and on their path out to the Gulf.
Neither of us mentioned it but I know we were both thinking how truly un-American this whole deal was. Can you imagine in New York City or Boston or Chicago if a bridge split open every so many hours and tied up the traffic for fifteen minutes to a half hour? Why my goodness, there would be riots in the streets.
But here in Apalach everyone turned off their ignitions, left their vehicles and stood around on a bridge pointing, gawking, giggling and chit-chatting.
I really didn't know what to make of it. I mean in a world where every day was go-go-go and time was money, here's this bridge that opens up in the middle of the afternoon, stops all the traffic and commuters and most surprising of all - nobody is complaining. They're all acting as if this is an everyday type thing - and, of course, it was. It was hard to believe.
We immediately decided that we had to stay here for a day or two and check this strange community out. There may have been other places with bridges like this but in all our travels we never saw another.
We found a little campground right on the water for $25 a week rent and then we ran over to another bridge and fished off the "catwalk" - not too many places had catwalks either. We caught the biggest flounder that I had ever caught in my life and a great big red fish.
It was a memorable day. And now 25 to 30 years have passed and we are still here. To be honest there has not been a week that has gone by in all this time that I haven't thought of hitting the open road once again but yet I haven't. Someone once said to me that once you get some of that Eastpoint sand in your shoes, you just can't get rid of it. So far that seems to be the case.

Hobo-ing America and A Summer with Charlie are books written by Richard E. Noble. They are both for sale on Amazon.com. Richard Noble is a freelance writer and has been a resident of Eastpoint for 30 years. If you would like to stock his books in your store or business he can be contacted at richardedwardnoble@gtcom.net.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Ford, Dearborn, River Rouge, 1941

Striking America

By Richard E. Noble

It is difficult to believe, but 1941 was one of the highest years ever for strikes in America. Only 1919 and 1937 held more labor disturbances. One in every twelve workers went on strike that year. Strikes were so prevalent that the War Department put out bulletins showing man-days lost and critical items affected at various industries. It was not just consumer goods that were involved; it was planes, ammunition, blankets, wheels, tanks etc.
So much for those who chant about the good old days, when Patriotism bloomed and America was "one." It seems quite clear that America was never “one” at any point in its history, whether during peace or war. Presuming that all workers are Americans and believe in their own self-preservation and undoubtedly in time of war would be working towards victory, we see the magnitude of these Labor/management conflicts. It seems quite clear to me that this issue (labor/management conflict) has been probably the most important issue in America for the last one hundred and fifty years. This certainly makes one wonder why it has not gotten more serious historical, literary attention and analysis. Possible explanations could be guilt, shame, repression, denial, or suppression by those who would gain from the absence of truth and exposure on this matter. Most likely, it is a bit of all of the above.
In World War I we saw the enactment of the Sedition and Espionage acts to handle such outrageous behavior, but in 1941 a new voice was emerging. Eleanor Roosevelt in her column asked why it was always Labor who was asked to make sacrifices in extended hours and wages while nothing was expected of Management in terms of prices, profits and excessive, executive salaries.
Well, well? There is a strange voice in the wilderness. How "unpatriotic" of Eleanor. Was this new attitude due to the simple evolution of time and years? Or, was it a result of the leadership? It seems that management was using the War and its natural upsurge in patriotism to intensify its century old campaign against labor. And why not? It had worked in previous wars and conflicts.
The Ford employees in Dearborn, Michigan at the River Rouge plant, the largest automotive plant in the world at the time, began to walk off the night shift on April 1, 1941. Eleven union workers had been fired. By 3 A.M. nearly eight thousand workers were out in the streets in protest. Service department head, Harry Bennett, had been building a goon squad at the Dearborn plant for years. He had filled the plant with ex prize-fighters, jailbirds, small time gangsters and fired policeman. Their job was to spy on the employees and keep union membership at a minimum. Two huge production contracts had been awarded to Ford. The Auto Unions considered this to be a slap in the face. The Ford Motor Company had miserable relations with Labor. Ford was considered by many to be the country’s biggest violator of the Wagner Act of 1935 which guaranteed Collective Bargaining. For years Ford had also hired Negroes as a part of his anti-union, anti-strike vanguard. The blacks were ready to fight for Henry. They were up on the roof of the plant throwing metal buckets down onto the strikers below, and they were rushing picket lines with clubs and metal bars in the streets below. A race riot was in the making. The Republicans accused the Unions of taking up with Hitler. This is certainly strange talk when it was Henry Ford who held the German Cross and even refused to give it up after the bombing of Pearl Harbor; when it was Henry Ford who inspired Hitler with his anti-Jew rhetoric printed in his Dearborn newspaper originated for that purpose and then circulated about the world at his personal expense under the title “The International Jew”; when it was Henry Ford who hired Charles Lindbergh who was also awarded a German Cross by Hitler and Herman Georing for help in modernizing the German Airforce. He also refused to give up his German Cross after the bombing of Pearl Harbor; when it was Henry Ford who refused in 1940 to manufacture Rolls-Royce engines because they would be used in British Spitfires; when it was Adolf who busted the unions in his own country and confiscated their treasuries immediately after taking power. If there were any Nazis in the Ford Motor Company, they were certainly not in the labor rank and file. One can certainly not make the same claim for that possibility with regards to the owner and management.
At the advice of his son Edsel, Henry capitulated with the union demands.
The Unions were happy but the general public was not. Most people were not happy with the idea of workers striking during war time. Some states wanted laws against striking initiated. Georgia wanted workers who struck during war time to be tried for treason. They, of course, didn't have those same patriotic inclinations after they had seceded from the Union and were in truth - traitors.
Shortly thereafter in Inglewood, California the workers went on strike at the North American Aviation plant. F.D.R. sent in twenty-five hundred federal troops. The strike was over. So much for F.D.R. and his bonding with the American Labor Movement. It would also be interesting at this point to have an intellectual investigation into the Morganthau files. Morganthau was supposedly in charge of keeping records on war profiteering and businesses who were trading with the enemy during World War II. Roosevelt wanted to hold such an investigation until after the war for fear that exposing such prominent businesses and champions of American industry during the war would destroy the morale of the fighting man.
I think that it is also interesting to point out that in a strike situation, it takes two to tango. Who is the greater traitor in time of War? The worker who walks off his job or the boss who refuses to negotiate? If the boss were to merely break even during a war and a worker merely to sustain his life and provide for his family's basic needs, would this not be patriotic? When the bosses refuse to negotiate during war time, is that because they fear that they will go out of business? I would hardly think so. I would like to see the profit and loss statements. I have a strong suspicion that you all know what will be found in an examination of such records.

"No Ordinary Time", Doris Kearns Goodwin.
“No Ordinary Time”, Doris Kearns Goodwin, pages 225-231.
“The Arms of Krupp”, William Manchester.