Compleat Idler, Education, Homeschooling, Technology, Tool user

Complete idler — reading suggestion

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

10.12! That is the October 2012 Popular Mechanics. The question as I wander by the magazine rack is “Should I buy this or hope someone else does?” And I looked at the cover, and it featured stealth aircraft which will turn off most of my friends. The technology of stealth fascinates me because it represents a game of camouflage—sort of like the scout patrol that wore woodland camo pants and called themselves the Camo Gators: “We’re the Gators! You can’t see us.”

But I look at the contents. Jay Leno’s Garage. Okay, it is coming home. I will never afford the car collection he has—the Powerball never gets that big. But I have been fascinated by cars ever since we did the work on my grandparents’ LaSalle. That an engine works that way was a mystery to a five year old that bordered on magic. And since I realized I could read about third grade, what was in the magazines around the house was fair game.

And when I had mumps or other long illness, I would get a stack which included Field and Stream, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, and sometimes Popular Photography. I was corrupted from a young age. I also snuck a look at my uncle’s True.

So check out the October issue. Especially with homeschoolers check out the squishy circuits and LED projects. On Lew Rockwell, Karen de Coster is fighting for incandescent bulbs as opposed to CFLs. The bad news is that incandescents are going by government decree (and the Administration also killed the Crown Vic). The good news is that in five to ten years CFLs, which have mercury as well as a tendency to break in my hand, will be history. LEDs are cleaner and require much less power.

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Education

Western Civilization

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

In the category of the decline of education, I got news the other day regarding the University of Kansas where I took baccalaureate work more years ago than I care to remember. The College of Liberal Arts and sciences is discussing eliminating the requirement of the “reading heavy” Western Civilization discussion course which also included a four hour comprehensive examination (I really hated Rousseau).  There is a statement that the course is not going away but that there will be “other options” for the bachelor of arts degree. The College also awards a bachelor of general studies degree that eliminates onerous requirements.

As I recall, the discussions and the works were sometimes long and, from a 20-year-old point of view, not really relevant to the world of 1964. They did cut into study time for other courses, not to mention pool playing, but the discussions could be very interesting. Why did I need to read The Communist Manifesto although it was considerably more readable than Marx’s Capital? What did long dead philosophers have to do with the gritty world of the 20th Century with its “new” ideas and problems. And we still ask the same questions in discussion groups that are more voluntary in nature. Forty years makes a lot of difference in perspective. If someone wants to discuss political ethics, I start with recommending Plato’s philosopher king and work through Aristotle, Machiavelli (The Discourses as well as The Prince) and even Bonhoeffer—if you want a heavy discussion you do heavy reading.

It is 2012. And we still have arguments flying around as “new” and innovative.  And, unless we are required to the majority of us do not discuss the historical and philosophical underpinnings of Western culture.  I hear people talking about defending western civilization from people who have no clue as to what they are defending and what are the consequences. Hint: Our political and social system owes more to Greece and Rome than to the Bible.

New needs to be tested and sometimes there is no substitute for heavy reading.

 

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Compleat Idler, Preparedness

GUNSHOWS

(c) 2012  Earl L Haehl Permission is granted to redistribute this in whole as long as credit is given.  Book rights are reserved.

It has been some time since I went to a Gunshow. According to the folks in Washington and New York these shows are a hotbed of illegal weapons sales. I have made personal purchases from other customers—sometimes a trade. But every dealer has to go through the NICS process.

I very seldom buy weapons but I check prices which are driven by demand.  And a key factor in demand is regulation and rumors of regulation.  Back in the early nineties there was a rumor that ATF would require that primers have a shelf life of no more than six months.  While this is possible, the chemical process would be iffy–the shelf life starts at the point of manufacture.  Existing primers shot up in price and disappeared.  Also, semi-auto weapons have had ups and downs depending on the political climate.

Also there are knick-knacks and coins as well as Pakistani swords and knives for the RenFest crowd.  I brought home some t-shirts for the family that said, “PETA People Eating Tasty Animals.”  There are various political and attitudinal bumper stickers I would not want on my truck if I were a defendant in a self-defense shooting case.

What really makes gun shows interesting are the tools and books.  These are not just reloading and gunsmithing tools but metalworking tools from which can be made machine tools,  My theory has always been that the way out of a breakdown and collapse is the rebuilding of a manufacturing infrastructure–one wind generator and home workshop at a time.  My son steers me away from tables where they have multi-bit screwdrivers, which I am reputed to accumulate.

I really enjoy seeing the used books and coins.  There are a lot of turn-of-the-20th-Century two and four volume encyclopediae that have instructions on manufacturing techniques as well as Kurt Saxon’s books that excerpt them.  Also there are some out of print classics such as some of Ruark’s less than politically correct books.

Coins fascinate me and I might be tempted.  The artwork and history are really important to know.

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Compleat Idler

The Compleat Idler

(c) 2012  Earl L Haehl – Permission is granted to redistribute this in whole as long as credit is given.  Book rights are reserved.

This is about the art of idling, a nasty habit affecting young men aged 10-17 and older. I do not know whether young women engage in this as there were none in any of my circle of idlers. It is something adults discourage and they may occasionally be right. However, I am going to tell a few stories in what may be called an apologia. And be aware that in these articles there may be words or tags that you do not recognize. That is the signal to crank up Startpage.com.  I took the title for this category from Isaak Walton whose book The Compleat Angler is a discourse on society from a Royalist Anglican point of view in the seventeenth century,

What you may discover are hobbies, sources of information, games, activities and books. The one element I will not discuss is smoking because it is not necessary to the culture and may have helped me to cardiac rehab.

“Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” It’s one of those quotations that has many variants—an idle mind, idle hands the devil’s tools. In New England Puritan society, idleness was frowned upon, especially among apprentices who were supposed to be learning trades. Idling was not condoned on the Sabbath as that was allowing the Devil in. New England Puritan society affected the whole of New England because the Puritans were the dominant culture—and this culture moved on as the great American migrations mixed people up.

My mother’s culture was Yankee on both sides. They settled in Nebraska and brought their culture with them. My father’s German Protestant culture had similar attitudes regarding work. A point of clarification must be made. Idlers are not lazy—they are just energetic about different things.

At age eight I began going out to my grandfather’s shop or picking up a Red Ryder and walking the dry irrigation ditch after school instead of digging into the insipid story in the reader I was talked to. I loved working with tools and I had built a lego fortress and put a couple new tubes in an old radio so I could listen to shortwave while I did homework. So it was in Spanish—so I did not understand it—it was relief.

When we were in San Diego I managed on two consecutive evenings to pick up KOA-Denver on the AM band by attaching a wire hanger to the loopstick. I should have been doing my book report. The purpose of a book report, according to the curriculum manual I glommed onto in Methods/Language Arts is to encourage students (they may have said “pupils”) to read works that are not in the curriculum. My experience had been the opposite. I read a lot of books from the library—it was Great Expectations and Silas Marner that I suffered through, waiting for Saturday when I slipped on my brown hiking boots, jeans and hooded sweatshirt to go wandering down to the cliffs. It was Saturday that I could go to the library, or my friend Mike and I would hop the bus for San Diego (we lived in Point Loma) to haunt bookstalls and discuss philosophy with a couple old guys in a coffee shop. This had little to do with the business at hand, but we learned about Spinoza and Pascal.

THERE IS MORE TO COME

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