Holiday Treat: A Guest Post Trifecta from "Xty"
One of our most prolific writers/members is "Xty". Even though she's Canadian, she submits these three guest posts for your reading pleasure on this American holiday.
"You Call That a F’ing BBQ?"
Our gracious host asked me the other day if I would like to write a guest post. Qui moi? Have an opinion?
And so I thought of all the things that are important to say ... Gold doesn’t change in value, everything else is volatile ... The importance of optimism to survival .... Being raised by a disciple of John Stuart Mill and how and why I believe in the possible improvement of mankind, despite current evidence to the contrary ... The importance of spreading a message about sound money without alienating one’s audience ....
And then I thought about what other people might like to talk about ... and then I remembered that the lamb shoulder needed at least 4 hours in the oven before I could even think about making curry with it and then it hit me.
One of my first forays into the comment section on an internet blog was when I was looking up (because being dyslexic is a gift that never stops giving) the order in which to build the layers of a lasagna and found a site called “Cooking for Engineers”. What could be more appropriate, given that that was exactly what I was doing, having married one. Helpful pictures, good tips, laid out nicely and logically (as only an engineer would). And then I hit the comments. The pictured lasagna had been made with a red tomato sauce, as was mine ... and one of the first comments basically said, “You call that a f’ing lasagna?” I think because they had (or hadn’t) added cream to the meat sauce.
So with that in mind, I thought it might be good to start a food-fight by asking who has the best summer barbecue recipe, and letting rip with what I would like to call:
You call that a f’ing BBQ?
After all, whether this summer is an endless game of Kick-the-Can instead of either the beginning of the Great Horror as some believe or the beginning of the Great Awakening as others hope, we all gotta eat. And maybe even our neighbours, gently marinated, and then roasted over an open flame, if the worst of the doomers’ visions come to pass. But at least we will know how to season them.
"Why we can’t predict the future, and why it will probably be better than we expect, once again."
I had a very interesting professor in 4th year, whom I could really have used when I was about 8. For one, he taught me (at that late date) that everyone had an axe to grind, even in the dullest academic work, and that one must read the introduction and try to understand where the author was coming from before one tried to understand the words he or she had written in the main text. Even me.*
The second thing he taught me that has greatly influenced me I initially fought against. He explained how it was not possible to invent something that was ‘needed’. I was writing an essay (that now seems so appropriate) on the creation of the first police force in London, which rose out of an enormous increase in crime in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. But when I said something about them needing a police force (forgive me, I was but a babe in the woods) he said they couldn’t need something they had never heard of or thought of. They had a problem, and they tried various things out, and the night watchman somewhat organically grew into the Bow Street runners, and then bam, bobbies on every corner. Sort of.
Why does this matter? Because, as my beloved Russ Roberts also has brought up in a number of podcasts, we never expect inventions and we only see them filing a need that we then make pre-date the invention. When oil first was found, it was a disaster. Hideous muck rising from the ground. Now we think we can’t live without it. There are countless examples of the unexpected having an enormous future impact, for good or ill, that simply could not have been anticipated in anyway, but that seem obvious in hindsight as we cast a present ‘need’ onto the past.
But perpetuity is one heck of a long time, and we simply are unable to understand the future implications of technology. When the computer first appeared, no one thought that a personal computer was in anyway possible or useful. When Al Gore invented the internet, people were looking for better ways to communicate within organizations. They did not envision the internet being in the hands of the common man, or it becoming the World Wide Web. Gutenberg was looking for a faster and cheaper way to print. He was not trying to revolutionize Martin Luther or give him a pulpit.
Because of this tendency to only be able to cast the past onto the future, we live in fear of the future. We see the pitfalls of the past and the inventions of the past but for some reason we do not believe that ingenuity will once again alter the course of man’s path and once again increase both life expectancy and quality of life for most of mankind.
Why would one believe that all the good people were in the past and not in the now or the future? Are there not a lot of engineers in this crowd? Are you not constantly solving problems that appeared impossible a short while ago? There are 7 billion people on this planet, and many of them are very clever. A company in the States started putting out cash prizes for problems they were having trouble solving internally and not only found solutions from the great unwashed, the solutions often came from people well outside the specific field that the problem lay in.
We will not recognize the ‘next big thing’, like the internal combustion engine or flight or the internet. But it will happen, and we will be scornful of its power at first. So why am I an optimist? Because life has been getting better for the lower levels of society for 3000 years as the rich and powerful have had to share their information and in this case, the trend really is your friend. The information genie has escaped the bottle and it won’t go back in.
What we ‘need’ to do is remember while we are worrying that the future will be just like the past that it won’t be in ways we cannot even begin to imagine, and that what we really need to do is live in the now so we can help create that better future.
* I mean both that even I had to read the introduction, and that I would have an axe to grind when I wrote. My axe: I am seeing the end of the Keynesian experiment, and not only do I want to let people know so they can prepare, but I want people to see what all this debt has created and that it is not good, and to try to see what might have been without it, and what can still be achieved, when we understand that sound money is a precursor to honest government, and that we are not powerless victims of the elite.
What Can I Teach My Children?
This heart-felt question was asked the other day on the blog, in the context of seemingly endless corruption, and is deserving of a heart-felt answer.
I was lucky enough to get to homeschool my children when they were little, and I remember my eldest asking me one day when she was 8 or so, when she could go to school with the other kids. I had thought about this, not being a fanatic home-schooler, more an anti-schooler if anything, and my answer was “When I think you know right from wrong.” I didn’t mean it, and she didn’t take it, as meaning when you can follow the rules. I meant when she would be safe making her own choices without a parent nearby.
She went to school for our Grade 5, so when she was 10. She had just gotten her black belt the May before. We had been sailing and camping. Had traveled with my mum, who now is but a shadow of her former self. Been towed through the woods on a toboggan by a mum on skis, helped her brothers and tormented them. Sailed with her grandparents and her dad in the Caribbean.
When she was 5 she was watching me replace a board on a chair at the cottage (I am inept, it was a simple task) and she hammered in a nail and it went in pretty darn well for a five year old. She looked up at me and said, “That’s it, I’m moving out and getting married.”
I hope this doesn’t sound like boasting ... These are just the things that seemed more and more important to us. How to hammer in a nail, how to tie a knot.
Once the kids started in at school, I was prepared and not prepared for the amount of nonsense and busy-work that accompanied it, and the subtle and not so subtle brain-washing.
When my youngest reached Grade 5, someone (and I didn’t bother to find out who) introduced a ‘media’ segment to the curriculum and the kids were sent home with a newspaper article and questions. The first one was an insanely biased piece of anti-Jewish propaganda (and really, I can see both sides of this issue and am just explaining what happened) and was highly inappropriate, and gruesome. What purpose did filling the heads of these young children with those images and incorrect facts serve? Lucky kids though, they had me, and I spoke to the teacher and she let me provide the articles and questions for the rest of the year.
But this was quite the responsibility and I decided that I wanted these kids to want to become scientists and engineers and not lawyers or politicians (bankers weren’t on the radar properly yet). I found articles about nature and space and geology ... Things you want them to be thinking about and things they can do something about. To steal from Dr. Stephen Covey, you need to work on your circle of influence so it can expand into your circle of concern. Worrying about starving Africans or corrupt bankers is only to be done when there is a chance of taking action.
Talk to them about economics, but in theory. Talk about “I Pencil”, about two guys on an island, one who can make beer and one who can make suits.
Teach your children age appropriate things. When they are younger teach them skills and logic. How to pee in the woods and sleep in a tent. How to cook, and read. But don’t teach them politics and fill them with our adult worries and stupidities.
I grew up in the shadow of The Bay of (flying) Pigs, the endless cold war and nuclear armageddon, the Vietnam War, students shot in Kent State, the fall of the Soviet Empire; we were all going to freeze to death and then boil to death if we didn’t drown first. Of what use was any of this to a five year old? Or a ten year old? Hide under your desk if there is a nuclear attack! Now go enjoy recess and don’t fight.
If these things are to come to pass, we will need serious practical skills. But most of the things the adults are freaking out about don’t happen, and being paralyzed by the over-whelming despair of older folks is a poor way to spend a childhood and poor preparation for the joys and trials of adult responsibility.
We talk about how the MSM uses MOPE to control other people, as if we on this site were immune. But we are also caught up in a fairly constant mode of fear, which I do not feel is entirely accidental.
Everything we do is a choice, and when one starts spreading fear and disillusionment to one’s children, one begins to question what one is up to. So teach them to be grateful to be alive and to try to make others feel the same way; teach them not to waste a day being a grumpy little shit when they are so lucky (sorry, just had to get that off my chest); teach them how to tie a knot, hammer in a nail, do a spinning round-house and land a solid punch.
And to remember that, in my eldest’s immortal words, karma is a bitch.