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Book Review: The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture

The Secret Knowledge

“Success in life comes not from the ability to choose between the four presented answers, but from the rather more difficult and painfully acquired ability to formulate the questions.”  Mamet, David (2011-06-02). The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture (p. 28). Sentinel Trade. Kindle Edition.

I’m reading “The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture,” by David Mamet. Those of you who follow me on FaceBook or Twitter have probably seen a few quotes that I’ve shared.

I’m afraid that I might be indulging in the same thing Mr. Mamet accuses the Liberal Left of doing: surrounding myself with like-minded thinkers and writers. If so, Mr. Mamet at least expresses himself differently than most of the Conservative writers I read.

As an example, I was struck by his description of the new love story, in which two people who don’t even like each other are thrown together by fate and somehow decide they are meant for each other. This is in contrast to the traditional love story in which a couple first falls in love but are separated by outside forces, finally triumphing by their will to be together. (Compare “Sleepless in Seattle” with the movie it references, “An Affair to Remember.”) The difference is subtle, but one of fatalism vs. making a deliberate, conscious choice.

Mr. Mamet is critical of Liberal Arts education, socialism, “change” and “hope.” He explains why Conservatism is better than Liberalism in phrases that go far beyond sound bites and the bumper sticker he sometimes refers to.

From Amazon’s “Popular Highlights:”

“The Good Causes of the Left may generally be compared to NASCAR; they offer the diversion of watching things go excitingly around in a circle, getting nowhere.”

“The essence of socialism is for Party A to get Party B to give something to Party C.”

“. . . Wrights, Cyrus McCormick, Henry Ford, Tesla, Tom Edison, Meg Whitman, Bill Gates, Burt Rutan, and Steve Jobs. How would they and American Industry have fared had Government gotten its hands upon them at the outset—if it had taxed away the capital necessary to provide a market for their wares; if it had taxed away the wealth, which, existing as gambling money, had taken a chance on these various visionaries? One need not wonder, but merely look around at the various businesses Government has aided.”

“Government itself, where waste is the end product.”

 

Mr. Mamet’s central point is that culture is the unconscious and pre-verbal adaptation of people that creates predictability, allowing us to get along with one another. When we throw out our culture and try to create a new one, the “change” leads us to uncertainty and the necessity to weigh each new stimulus because we don’t know what it means under the new conditions.

“The tool of culture is the capacity to predict the operation of the social environment—a property right little different from a right in land or wealth. This cultural right exists not limitlessly—for any property right is limited, by chance, death, inflation, erosion, theft, laws, confiscation, etc. but, as with a material property right, founded upon an abstract concept: predictability, which differs from omniscience, but is of immeasurably greater worth than ignorance. Culture exists and evolves to relegate to habit categories of interactions the constant conscious reference to which would make human interaction impossible.”

(Mamet, David (2011-06-02). The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture (pp. 12-13). Sentinel Trade. Kindle Edition.)

He compares the new situation to “The First Night in A New Home,” where each creak or thump is unfamiliar, and could mean danger or nothing. No one gets any rest, many will get angry, and far too many will simply stop evaluating those noises for themselves. In societies, those who stop questioning and wish only for peace, end up ceding their will and ability to innovate and create to the herd.

Kindle will let you read the first chapter, free. (I don’t profit from promoting the book.)

Benefit Concert Planned For Bastrop Fire Victims

The benefit show at UT’s Erwin Center will now kick off at 6:30 p.m. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m.
Tickets ranging in price from $25 to $250 are available at TexasBoxOffice.com.

Performers include:

Christopher Cross
Terri Hendrix
Eric Johnson
Joe Satriani
Asleep at the Wheel
Texas Tornados
Randy Rogers Band
Lyle Lovett
Willie Nelson
Dixie Chicks *barf*
George Strait

Proceeds will go to the Austin Community Foundation’s Central Texas Wildfire Fund.

You can also buy T-shirts to support the Bastrop Fire Department (BFD) from the UT Senate. Click Here or at the pic above.

AUSTIN, Texas — A huge benefit concert to help out the more than 1,500 people who lost their homes in the Bastrop County wildfire is planned for next month.

Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, the Dixie Chicks, Asleep at the Wheel, Steve Miller, with Eric Johnson & Joe Satriani, Shawn Colvin & the Court Yard Hounds, and the Texas Tornados have all signed up to perform.

Friday Night Lights and recent Emmy winner Kyle Chandler will be the host.

The concert, dubbed Fire Relief: The Concert for Central Texas, has been organized by Austin music moguls Ray Benson and Peter Schwarz, who say they pulled together all of their resources to put the show on.

Tickets go on sale Friday at Texas Box Office. Prices range from $25 to $250 for the Oct. 17 show.

via Benefit Concert Planned For Bastrop Fire Victims – San Antonio & Texas News Story – KSAT San Antonio.

No Time For A Doctor’s Visit? These Apps Can Help | Fox Business

I’m not sure about this “app”

It’s not always feasible to make it to the doctor’s office for every cough and sniffle. Plus heading straight to your doctor can become costly. Here’s a look at apps that will help you maintain your health.

via No Time For A Doctor’s Visit? These Apps Can Help | Fox Business.

Hat tip to Politico’s @benpolitico

Obama: clueless or arrogant?

President Obama has announced his intention to address a joint session of Congress on night of the first Republican debate, September 7, 2011. Maybe the White House just didn’t know that NBC was set to broadcast the debate?

Believe it or not, the President’s press secretary indicates that the answer to my question is “arrogant:”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said “of course not” when asked whether White House officials chose the time of Mr. Obama’s speech to interfere with the Republican debate. “One debate of many was not reason not to have a speech when we wanted to have it,” he said.

According to Politico, one of the sponsors,

“Carney added that POLITICO and NBC News are “welcome” to reschedule the debate.”

According to the New York Times blog, The Caucus, 

NBC News, Politico and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation; it is to be televised by MSNBC, CNBC and the Spanish-language network Telemundo and streamed on the Internet by Politico. It is to be moderated by NBC’s Brian Williams and Politico’s John Harris.

The Undefeated: Sarah Palin Documentary

Sarah Palin “The Undefeated” Documentary

Did you know that there is a documentary movie, The Undefeated, about the life of Sarah Palin that outlines her political career before her nomination as John McCain’s running mate in 2008?

The movie opened July 15, 2011, in ten theaters across the Nation, with very little advertising other than word of mouth and some on-line buzz. Texas is a big State. Since the only Texas theaters were in Dallas and Houston, I didn’t think I’d get to see the movie until it comes out on DVD.

However, I was in Dallas, Texas for a medical conference last week and realized that I was closer than 250 miles. My sister lives in the Arlington area and we went to see the movie at the Grapevine AMC, near the DFW airport. The only 2 other people who were there bought their tickets after asking us what we were going to see. They had never heard of the movie, at all. Since they like Sarah, they were glad to hear about it.

I was worried that I would be disappointed in the movie since I don’t sit still very well, and rarely go to movies in the theaters anymore. I sure wouldn’t have ever guessed I’d volunteer to go see a documentary!  In addition, I’ve read Going Rogue, and just started America by Heart, so I knew some of the biographical information and feared I might be bored or offended by saccharine fawning.

However, after 2 hours in a darkened theater, the only complaints that I have about the movie are that some of the filler clips looked like cheap effects and that the movie was a tad too long.

The film included quite a lot of video documentation from the years that Sarah was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, from her time as Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and as Governor. There are videos and news clippings documenting long years under fire from both Republicans and Democrats and the fact that her family has spent years living life in the public eye. The real-time news footage and recorded speeches show a competent woman who understands the issues with which she is confronted and who has faced challenges as she tried to cut spending and waste. We learned about the law making Alaska’s natural resources the property of the State. The Governor fought old ways of making back room deals in order to maximize the oil and gas industry for the benefit of Alaskans and the Nation. Not only that, but there’s a couple of great bits of film showing a very pregnant Governor Palin!

Before seeing the movie, I was worried about the effect that running for President in 2011 might have on Governor Palin and her family. The movie convinced me that they have been seasoned as Sarah moved up through Alaska’s political ranks.  Should she announce for President, I believe that the Palin family would know exactly what they are getting into. I believe they can handle it.

How come we never saw all this film and real-time news footage about the Palin as Mayor, State Commissioner and Governor during 2008? The McCain for President and Republican National Committee powers-that-be must have been incompetent or actually wanted to lose the election.

McCain’s staff blew it worse than I thought!

One of the more powerful parts of the movie was the portion of an interview with Andrew Breitbart in which he called the men of the Republican party “eunuchs,” for failing to stand up for Governor Palin. I’ve been thinking about the men that I admire in the Party, and wonder why they have not defended the Governor. Could it be true that Sarah is a threat to the Republican old guard?

Sure, Sarah and the rest of us understand what it means to “fight like a girl.” She doesn’t need to be defended by a bunch of big, tough men. The point is that the men should have stood up for her, whether she needed it or not. That way, they’d have acted like we expect men to act.

Pump It! Wash it! Hospital videos for handwashing – cute!

“From the 6th floor right on down to Rehab!”

Paradise Valley Hospital in National City, California, has produced several videos to remind staff, patients and the rest of us to wash our hands to save lives.

So, which is your favorite, the Black-eyed Peas(or is it Robert Rodriquez?) take-off, “Pump It!” or the Michael Jackson-like “Wash it!” There’s a more traditional video with soothing “spa” music, and a language lesson, too, “Clean Hands Save Lives.”

(Thanks to Dr. LR for the heads up!)

“Rebuilding the Dream” (Marx’s dream, that is.)

My initial impression of the moveon.org “Rebuilding the Dream” “House Meeting” on Sunday, July 17, 2011, at the New Braunfels Public Library was that I had visited another planet. However after thinking about my experience for a day or so, I’ve decided it was more like visiting an impoverished culture that sort of speaks my language, but with an almost impenetrable accent. Over the next couple of days, I’ll try to interpret the goings-on for my fellow conservatives from Texas, to whom the ideas, the hatred, and the stereotyping would be completely foreign.

First of all, despite the stereotype, I’ve seen much more diversity at our Tea Party meetings – and certainly at our Republican meetings. I heard no “foreign” accents at all. Among the 25 in attendance, the only literal, non-philosophical accents that I noticed were “Yankee” accents wielded by Non-Texans, maybe from California or the State of Washington, a few even from the Northeast and Chicago. Most had been “born and raised” in Texas. The majority was older than I and retired from various jobs. All but two or three were of the same Western European heritage that we call “White” around here. There were no blacks or Asians and less-than-a-handful of people whose grandparents might have been, like my great-great grandmother, American Indian.

The online news group, RedState has noted in their “Cargo Cult Watch”* that Jone’s Dream is an attempt to recreate a Left wing version of the Tea Party. However, the small group that I met – while very upset that the on-line address for future plans of the Movement was  “contract.rebuildthedream.org,” (warning: video of Robert Reich) because it reminded them of Newt Gingrich – was willing to divide in to 4 tables of 6-7 participants each, with pre-determined table leaders. Can you imagine a Tea Party event like that?

The culture must be “impoverished” because their highest goal is to make the Nation “middle class.” From Van Jones, who is spearheading the Movement, said:

“Rebuild the middle class – and pathways into it – by fighting for a “made in America” innovation and manufacturing agenda, including trade and currency policies that honor American workers and entrepreneurs.”

And they’re willing to vote themselves a lot of everyone else’s money to make sure that no one rises above “middle class,” too! It’s also obvious that Mr. Jones has no clue what an entrepreneur risks – or what he expects in return for his risks and everything he or she gives up for success.

Did you grow up wanting to be middle class? I grew up thinking that if I worked hard enough, I could be rich, the President, or go to the moon. (Okay, I didn’t quite think a girl could do some things until I was grown.  I sure didn’t expect to do it all, myself, but I was very happy to discover that some of my sisters could. Someday, there will be a “Mrs. President.”)

More to come. . .

*Cargo Cult: a reference to a – probably fictional – story about a primitive tribe that lived on a Pacific island that US forces chose for a temporary airbase. After the War was over, the GI’s left, and the planes and air drops containing riches stopped coming. The locals made faux radios, headphones from coconut shells, followed the rituals that they’d seen the tower crew act out in an attempt to get the gods to send more treasures from the sky.

WingRight

Today’s newspaper is out. I’m still getting the bugs out. If you find some of the chosen articles are inappropriate, please let me know. WingRight.

 

First Amendment: excuse for lawsuits or freedom?

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The Texas Tribune, that NPR/University of Texas online news organization that accepted $150,000 from George Soro’s “Open Society,” (whose url is “soros.org”), reports that atheists backed by an organization from Wisconsin, have filed suit to stop Governor Rick Perry’s participation in the prayer gathering in Houston next month. They claim that the 1st Amendment prohibits State Governors from public religious expression. It doesn’t seem odd to to them that the same Government should defend their right to not be religious while forcing others to refrain.
Forget for a moment that the Constitution is talking about the Federal Congress and not a State Legislature or Governor – look at the rest of the Amendment.

“… shall make no law” – no law for and no law against
“. . . the free exercise thereof . . . “
“ . . . abridging the freedom of speech . . .”
“. . . right of the people peaceably to assemble . . .”

The comments on TT  concerning the lawsuit are the typical Austin liberal screed, with an added anti-religious hatefulness and the obligatory hair comments thrown in. Knowing the type of readers who comment on these pages, I’m still surprised at the prejudice and lack of knowledge displayed. So, here’s my answer to their questions and doubts:

Yes, Christians do believe that the Lord chooses our Governors and other leaders. And, yes, Christians do have a need and “Commission” to testify about our faith and blessings. And many of us do not believe that we can abdicate our own private duty to Christ to care for the sick, poor or children to government, which hasn’t proven a good steward. And, no, you don’t have the right to be free from knowledge and tolerance of our free exercise of religion, speech, and assembly.

God bless their little hearts.

Addicted to spending, power, or nicotine?

I’ve noticed that addicts find some excuse to leave early or get “agitated” easily toward the end of a long meeting. May the Present President just needed a cigarette?

From CNN, a quote from Congressman Cantor: about the July 13th meeting with President Obama:

“That’s when he got very agitated and said I’ve sat here long enough — that no other president — Ronald Reagan — would sit here like this — and that he’s reached the point that something’s gotta give,” Cantor said, adding that Obama called for Republicans to compromise on either their insistence that a debt-ceiling hike must be matched dollar-for-dollar by spending cuts or on their opposition to any kind of tax increase.
“And he said to me, ‘Eric, don’t call my bluff.’ He said ‘I’m going to the American people with this,'” Cantor quoted Obama as saying.
“I was somewhat taken aback,” Cantor said. When he continued to press the issue, Cantor said, Obama “shoved back from the table, said ‘I’ll see you tomorrow’ and walked out.”

Comal River Cam – nbtx.net

Comal River Cam – nbtx.net.

What’s going on at the Comal River, today?

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