Mind Games 2.0

Bloggin' 'bout science and life

Burkean vs. Randian Conservatism

As is my want first thing, I got up and turned on the news this morning.  They were talking to two lawyers from the Federalist Society about their opposition to Trump and his attacks on the rule of law. One of the questioners made a quip that it must be tough to go home for Thanksgiving to a house full of Republican relatives who must be Trump supporters now, and she said it wasn’t because her parents are Democrats.  She said she became a conservative as a teenager when she first read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.  

A couple of minutes later, another one of the questioners of these two lawyers made a joke about throwing in some Burke to round things out.  The juxtaposition of Ayn Rand with Edmund Burke was jarring to me, and I’ve been thinking about it on and off all day, because it highlights the two major strains of conservatism in very stark contrast. 

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New Bookshelf

All our bookshelves were full.  So, last month I built a new bookshelf from red oak.  It’s the height of a normal table and is designed to be both a table and a bookshelf.

Low bookcase I made of red oak in 2018.

So for those of you who know your Plato, which form does this “thing” have?

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My Current Shop

If you’re going to build things, you have to have a place to do it.  Over the years and many houses, I’ve had shops in all kinds of spaces – small storerooms in the basement mainly.  At our last house, I had the biggest shop I’ve ever had, a two-car garage with very large bays.

In our current house, I’ve downsized to only one bay of a two-car garage. 

My current shop.

One makes due.  Unlike our last house, the garage bays in this house have drains to take out the melted snow off the cars, which is great if you store cars in here, but bad for a shop. The floor is essentially a cone with a 4º slope down to the drain the middle (covered with a piece of gray fabric cloth in the above picture).  But again, you make it work.

See, it really is a garage.

This shop is also now well lit because I just finished replacing all the original light fixtures with 4′ LED fixtures.  It’s amazing what a little light will do.

Now, back to building something. The stack of oak on the workbench are the legs to a desk I just started.

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Another Seminar Video

Here’s a video of me giving a seminar at the 2009 celebration of Charles Darwin’s 150th birthday at Stony Brook University.

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A Couple Of Side Tables

I just finished a couple of side tables.  The one on the left has a birds-eye maple top, and the one on the right has a curly maple top.

These are presents I made this week.  I’ve made a few of these tables now, and I like them very much. I can knock one out in a weekend, and people seem to really like them when I give them as presents.  I hope these two are well-received when we give them.

Kenyon Side Tables Two cherry and maple-topped side tables I made as presents in 2018.
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The College Admissions Game Continues Unabated

The Washington Post has a new article on the “haves” and “have nots” in the insane college admissions race.  Elite colleges-I work at one-keep this game alive.  For example, US News reports that Dartmouth admitted 11% of applicants to this upcoming class of 2018 admissions.  Colleges use these statistics to make them selves look “in demand”, but this is all a cynical game that I cannot believe people actually play. 

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The Way To Agitate People Never Changes

This evening I went to hear a lecture by Dan Billin on the Noyes Academy in Canaan, New Hampshire.  The Noyes Academy was a school started in 1834 in the town next to where I live that was founded by local abolitionists and accepted both black and white students.  In August of 1835, the townspeople from Canaan, Enfield and Hanover, New Hampshire, dragged the school off its foundation and ran all the black students out of town.  

The short history of the school can be found in a chapter of the Canaan Town History.  In reading this chapter, one paragraph really hit home that things really never change.

In those days there existed a class of men, whose minds were constantly seized upon new and unheard of horrors, with which to influence and arouse the indignation of such as are always shocked at the recital of outrage and wrong. This class of persons like to pass from one state of indignation into another with abruptness, and always find the succeeding condition more intense than the preceding.

Sounds just like many of our current politicians and various infotainment outlets, who do nothing but foment rage.  So nothing is again new under the sun.

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A Modest Proposal For A Constitutional Gun Law

I watched some of the coverage today of the March For Our Life across the country.  It got my family thinking, given some of the commentary from the NRA and the Gun Lobby.

The 2nd amendment to the U.S. Constitution states:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

My proposal is that anyone who owns a gun, with some exemptions that I will enumerate below, must serve in the Militia – which today would be the National Guard.  

The only exceptions would be BB and pellet guns, 22’s, handguns with capacities less than 10 shots, shotguns with less than a 6 shell magazine capacity, single-shot, bolt-action or lever-action rifles, and all black-powder guns (my personal favorites in ).

Addendum:  In an article published in the Washington Post in 2014, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens proposed that 5 words be added to the 2nd amendment of the the constitution.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the militia, shall not be infringed.

That would do it!

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A Proposal For The Structure Of An Effective Balanced Budget Amendment To The United States Constitution

For nearly my entire lifetime, Republican Presidents and Republican Congresses have preached the virtues of balanced budgets, but have never acted in any way to balance a budget. Ronald Reagan, G. H. W. Bush, G. W. Bush, and the Republican Congress of the past year have exploded the National Debt because of their mania to cut taxes so that the national debts are not paid. Only the Republican controlled Congress under the leadership of Rep. John Kasich resulted in a balanced budget.

I completely agree with the need for a balanced Federal budget and no national debt (see George Washington’s admonition against debts in his Farewell Address). The reason that Republicans will not balance the federal budget is because of their fixation on cutting taxes but their complete spinelessness to debate the hard choices that must be made to pay for what we spend. Government has many responsibilities, and those responsibilities require appropriated monies.

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The Best Tip I’ve Ever Seen

A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.

Albert Einstein

A tip Einstein left to a Japanese bellboy.  

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