Requiem for an Engineer

Well, you all know I missed much of the last week. It was not a restful break. I was back east, in Philadelphia, to bury my last brother-in -law. He had a good life, and I suspect he was ready to go. But you know, none of us is generous enough to easily believe that. We are selfish and want our heroes in our world, not the next, no matter how much better it will be.

Because of an unusual family structure, my sisters were about twenty years older than me, so in some ways, he was also almost my second father. To be sure I admired and respected him more than any person other than my own father, whom I respected more than any man living or dead. And I still think, at a remove of thirty years since his death, deservedly so. But Dan was much the same man.

By profession, he was a civil engineer, his early career with the Pennsylvania Railroad, through the sad period when money for maintenance was hard to find, as government interference of many kinds nearly killed the railroads, and after that with a railroad contractor, where I understand when the owner became ill, he simply took over and ran the business without fuss or muss. In fact, his family didn’t know that until last weekend. No doubt he would have said, it needed doing.

He was a published author as well, his memoir of the PRR being published in The Keystone, the main publication of the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society. It is a remarkable document, his memory for people, places, and things, reaching back into the 1950s was exact and as on point as if they had happened last week. And so was the PRR, itself. Essentially a mountain railroad that could haul goods on that great trade route, New York to Chicago, for the same price per ton-mile, and at the same speed, as the New York Central whose route was almost devoid of grades. It was done by ruthlessly good engineering in all departments.

He served in the Corps of Engineers during the Korean Conflict, although he almost never referred to it, perhaps because he was assigned to Paris. Not too shabby a duty station in my mind. But perhaps the army also thought well of him, his honor guard last week was commanded by a full colonel of cavalry.

He also at some point held almost every leadership position in his church, serving as treasurer for many years, and very rarely missing a service.

After a rather whirlwind romance ( a bit over six months!) he was married to my oldest sister for about 60 years until her death a few years ago. They were well matched; she’s still the only person I ever heard of who asked for extra homework – in math!

And so goes my last contact with what was. I had somewhere around 40-50 first cousins, now we are perhaps a half dozen, if that. In the time honored American tradition, we scattered to the corners of the country and lost contact amongst ourselves. I can remember family reunions with more than a hundred people, but that was almost 60 years ago, and I doubt we will ever see their like again. I surely won’t.

Like most of us who reach a certain age, I look back wistfully at what was, but mostly what I see is a collection of village graveyards. They are all gone, to be seen again only at the resurrection, but you know, they are here as well. We, in all we are and do, are their legacy, and it is a challenge to live up to them. It was Dan’s wife who first coined the saying about the men in our family, all engineering types: “If it’s not absolutely right, it’s completely wrong”. It’s how my dad lived his life, as did both of my brothers-in-law and me as well. Doesn’t make us the easiest people to live with, or so said mom, my sisters, and my ex-wife, but it is necessary in jobs dealing with forces that can kill you quick.

And so we go on, as before, but I will admit, I do so with a heavy heart, the best parts of my life on this earth are gone. It appears to be a very gray future, and I too am slowing down, and finding it not a bad thing to do so. There are still things I would like to do, but am pretty sure I won’t, both professionally and personally. The ambition to see projects through just doesn’t seem to be there anymore, and there is really no one left to impress, the last of those, living and dead, gone into the shade of death, or having found better things to do than spend time with the old man. And having taken much of his ability to trust people with them. But you know, Kipling still speaks for us.

THE Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary’s Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.

It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.

They say to mountains, ” Be ye removèd” They say to the lesser floods ” Be dry.”
Under their rods are the rocks reprovèd – they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill tops shake to the summit – then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.

They finger death at their gloves’ end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.

To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden – under the earthline their altars are
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city’s drouth.

They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not teach that His Pity allows them to leave their job when they damn-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren’s days may be long in the land.

Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat;
Lo, it is black already with blood some Son of Martha spilled for that !
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.

And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessèd – they know the angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessèd, and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the Feet – they hear the Word – they see how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and – the Lord He lays it on Martha’s Sons !

So it has always been, is now, and shall always be, as long as this is our world.

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Paying the Danegeld

I suspect most of you have heard that Chancellor  Merkel has a plan to pay the immigrants she invited to Germany to go away again  Joshuapundit wrote about it here.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing new elections and is not doing at all well in the polls. Quite simply, the Muslim refugees she imported en masse to Germany have turned into a nightmare, with violent crime including sexual assaults at unheard of levels. And most of these refugees, rather than working are enjoying the generous German social welfare benefits, which is exactly why most of them came to Germany in the first place.

Merkel’s new scheme to try and get back into her fellow German’s good graces before elections involves paying migrants millions of Euros to leave.

Merkel is setting aside $95 million (€90m or £76m) in taxpayers’ money to create a fund to try to pay these refugees to withdraw their asylum applications and leave Germany voluntarily.

Germany rejected 170,000 asylum claims in 2016 , according to the Daily Mail, but only 26,000 were repatriated to their home countruies while 55,000 more decided to leave voluntarily and try their luck elsewhere. But that leaves 81,000 rejected applicants who are probably still in Germany!

via Merkel’s Trying To Buy Her Way Out of Germany’s Refugee Crisis ~ J O S H U A P U N D I T

Think about that for a while. She told them all to come and got them welfare while they were there, even forcing property owner to move to give them a place to live. And then we all got to watch as many, many German women were sexually assaulted by these vermin people. So what happens now, when it looks like her people have had enough of this dangerous nonsense? She uses even more taxpayer dollars to get them to go away. Which they likely won’t, after all, the living is easy (for them) in Germany, and even if they do, what exactly is to prevent them taking the money and coming right back with another name? Most of them don’t have reliable documents, anyway.

You know Saxon England had this problem with the Scandinavian raiders, back in the day, around 900 AD or so. They learned a lesson from it, although it rather looks as if the elite in Westminster may have forgotten it. I am assured however that the average Englishman remembers, and as Americans share that history, I suspect we do as well. Rudyard Kipling summed it up pretty well, which is probably why the elites have mostly proscribed him.

IT IS always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
To call upon a neighbour and to say: –
“We invaded you last night – we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away.”

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you’ve only to pay ’em the Dane-geld
And then you’ll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say: –
“Though we know we should defeat you,
we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away.”

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say: —

“We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!”

 

Reality is Real

sometimes-people-talk-about-conflict-between-humans-and-machines-and-you-can-se-403x403-nk3qtqSomething a bit different today, but it still follows our long running themes. Both you never had it so good as well as reality is real. The world we live in was built by men who understood reality and found ways to harness it for our benefit.

That harnessing has led to the world we live in, from the guy that noticed that fire is hot, and started looking for a way to harness it to his purposes, to the guy who watched a rounded rock roll downhill and went on to make the first wheel. This goes right to the people who learned to split (and then combine) the atom, first as a weapon of war, but then as an appliance of peace and plenty.

The same in all fields, we started as little more than apes with imagination, and we built it all, and it’s all about reality. If 2+2 ≠ 4 our world is over, no matter how many wish otherwise. That is why so many in flyover states detest the liberal coastal elites, we can see that they have never learned this fundamental lesson – They cling to their unsupported theories (wishes really) about how things ought to be. We know better, what is, is. It has never, is not now, and never will be, different. Reality is real.

We have built on the shoulders of giants, from Prometheus on down, and the world of today is the result. If we follow those fools, the result will be the end of civilization, not western civilization, or eastern civilization, or any other subset, but civilization itself, a return to the primordial mud.

Well, you know, I’ve never been all that fond of “Nasty brutish, and short”. I think for me, I’ll stick with civilization, like you, it hasn’t given me everything I want, but then it was long ago when I was a child writing letters to Santa Claus, and I have earned everything I need – and then some.

Kipling touches on some of this in one of his poems The Secret of the Machines, and here it is.

 

Happy Saturday

Common Sense Tuesday

binsite1Most of you know that I really like the liberal arts, especially history and English. Kind of shows in the blog, doesn’t it? Taught properly they teach one critical thinking skills that one needs to get through life properly.

But they are my avocation, I spent many years as an electrician and a lineman, and that’s what I identify as. The guy with the most common sense that I know of is Mike Rowe, and he’s been on Tucker Carlson’s show a couple of times. Let’s see what he has to say.

 

Tucker makes a good point here, there is a real satisfaction in doing good. I’ve never seen a lineman that was real unhappy when we come in from storm work, bone tired, grumpy, and cold, yes, but also very happy that we got the lights back on. Yeah, we all like the money, but the job satisfaction is priceless. Besides, basic liberal arts should be taught at the secondary level, it was when I was a kid, that’s the basis of what I know, sure I’ve read a lot since then, but the basic structure of it all comes from high school, and to be honest, so did my vocational choice. Here’s another from Mike and Tucker.

 

He’s right, of course, if you can stand the lifestyle, Dakota is write your-own-ticket-land for a skilled man or woman. It’s rough, it’s lonely, and part of the year it’s cold as the dickens and summer is hot as hell. I’d be there twenty years ago, cause it’s also fun, and a lot of guys work from March or April till about Thanksgiving, and go south for the winter. Especially for a young guy without a family, booming, as we call it, is great fun. But if you want a settled life, in any of the technical trades, it’s pretty good there too, you won’t make as much, but you’ll be home at night, and you’ll do fine.

Another thing Mike doesn’t talk about here is that I know exactly one electrician on my level younger than forty. No doubt there are others, I like the rural lifestyle, and you’ll probably find more in the cities. My level is to be able to take a block diagram of a system and make it work safely and efficiently. Like one I did twenty-five years ago, before we computer controlled everything, where Joe Farmer drives up to his bin site and dumps wet corn in the pit and the system puts 14% moisture corn in the bin, automatically. Yes, it’s easier now, with computer controls instead of relays and discrete sensor systems, but it’s still not easy. It looked a lot like the one that leads this article

And it’s the same in all the trades, one generation behind me, it’s going to end if somebody, like Mike, doesn’t get people excited about it. It takes some brains, a willingness to learn, and an ability to do the work, and the combination is exceedingly rare. It’s also a big part of how we got here, the ability to solve problems in the field, without calling in every time we hit a snag.

But yeah, I’m one of the guys that will argue with engineers trained in the classroom. I’ll win too, not always, but often. I know because I’ve spent a lifetime doing this stuff, and I’ve pretty much kept up with technology, even if I write crap code. It’s at least as challenging as anything you can learn to do, and the job satisfaction, when it all works, is simply incredible, and the money isn’t bad.

And way back up in the first video, Tucker was right, people who deal with the real world, don’t burn the flag, mostly because we’re too busy earning a damned good living at 25 without student debt to have time to be silly like that. And besides, even if we are liberal (and some are) we know damned well that without America much of this wouldn’t exist. And it’s a lot more fun than sitting in an office playing with a computer, especially if you don’t get much feedback on how you’re doing.

And hey, Kipling even wrote a poem about us, don’t think he did that for junior accountants with a quarter million in student debt, It’s called the Sons of Martha

THE Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary’s Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.

It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.

They say to mountains, ” Be ye removèd” They say to the lesser floods ” Be dry.”
Under their rods are the rocks reprovèd – they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill tops shake to the summit – then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.

They finger death at their gloves’ end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.

To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden – under the earthline their altars are
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city’s drouth.

They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not teach that His Pity allows them to leave their job when they damn-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren’s days may be long in the land.

Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat;
Lo, it is black already with blood some Son of Martha spilled for that !
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.

And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessèd – they know the angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessèd, and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the Feet – they hear the Word – they see how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and – the Lord He lays it on Martha’s Sons !

Can Grown-Ups Save Conservatism? A Preface

downloadConsidering what has happened to conservatism, and conservatives, politically, ideologically, culturally, even morally, in the past eleven months because of the rise of Donald Trump, it may come as a surprise to you that I wrote the bulk of this article five years ago in September, 2011 when another outsider was making a run for the presidency. His name is Herman Cain.

But this has been a subject that has colored my thinking about modern conservatism, and how it defines itself, since at least the arrival of Barack Obama. After all, I’ve been on speaking terms with conservatism since Barry Goldwater ran for president in 1964 (because my father admired him).

So I’m old enough to notice things.

Only this week I was drawn into a Twitter exchange with a couple of snarling pit vipers about Hillary’s well-documented shortcomings as an honest person. I assumed the two ladies were young, under 40, maybe even 30, but noticed that in every exchange they included the twitter handle of Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online. So I was unsure if they  were EverHillary’s or NeverTrumpsters. (You NeverTrumpsters should take note that without context you do sound remarkably similar.) I wanted to ferret out which side they were on, as well as fire a broadside at Goldberg, who is one of my favorite Trump-bashing targets because of his meritless elitism and irreverent deviance from what I always considered true conservatism to be. To establish that, I mentioned to the Valkyries that I met Jonah’s mom in the early 90’s, who I was introduced to by a former member of the Reagan Administration, and who, along with Bill Buckley’s brother, James, was a founder of the Conservative Party of New York.

They hung up, or whatever they call it on Twitter.

A recurring problem  exists on the Right of allowing pride and vanity to over-shadow the fight against the Left reminding me that pride always heralds a coming fall (Prov 16:18), a fall Ameruica can little afford.

We need to distinguish conservatism culturally from the Left, and our youngsters seem not equipped to do it.

American culture must trump politics.

                                                                               *  *  *  *  *  *

Used to be, by the time you were 30 you were grown-up and by the time you were 40, you were entering middle age, considered then a man’s prime. Those were to be our best years, where maturity and experience combined to mold a man equipped to achieve at his highest level, his station in life built on the respect he had earned from his peers.

When I was growing up, that was the place I wanted to get to. Like Rush Limbaugh, I couldn’t wait to be grown-up. In my time (I’m five years older than Rush) almost all our heroes and role models were grown-ups. From Washington to Jefferson to Neil Armstrong to John Wayne, everyone looked up to them. We picked our film stars from men we wanted to be like in some way.

We didn’t so much want to be like them as to be respected as they were respected.

I couldn’t wait to outgrow the assumption that I carried the same sort of  self-absorption that had tagged my generation. I assumed everyone looked at me like I didn’t know a thing (which I didn’t) and knowing I’d never done a thing worth mentioning (which I hadn’t).

To be a grown-up you had to have a resume in life and experience, not just semester hours, so I went about making one. At 30 I was a captain in the Army. By 40 I was in senior management in a Fortune 500 manufacturing company, followed by 25 years in the old Soviet World. And while I write these days I only watched and listened in those days. I was boots-on-the-ground for over 50 of my years.

These are still required habits necessary to moving about in the world of the grown-up.

And that’s the thing, I think. Like the author, I write now, but until I was in my late 50s, I didn’t, I went, I did, and I found out what worked. What worked in practical electrical work, in leading men, in assembling teams, in life, and yes, in religion as well. Unlike him, I didn’t have the advantage of being a military officer, although I somehow absorbed much of the ethos, probably through reading history.

When I was a child, I hungered and thirsted most for the respect of adults, to be given the responsibility to keep the yard mowed, (regardless of my hay fever) all five acres of woodland, to have a responsible job. Yes, I started working for dad when I was 13, as an assistant staking engineer, planning new power lines, as well as wiring my first building on my own.

Most of my friends were farmers kids, and were much the same, they were working from the time they could run a shovel and/or a tractor. Most of us loved it, it meant we were being treated like an adult, finally, and it was something we had earned. It wasn’t given to us.

The real lessons were the timeless ones of how adults did things, how they thought, and how to overcome difficulties rather than whingeing about them.

The Baby Boom Infarction

But I was a Baby-Boomer, and among us arose a cult of youth which has consumed each succeeding generation since. It may yet be the death of us all.

Now, there are dozens of ingredients that go into becoming “grown-up,” but I will dwell on only one or two here, as they have a bearing on the future of conservatism  (and America). In short, the youth culture that arose out of my generation contained some sociological ingredients that prevented them from ever growing-up in the cultural sense, regardless of biological age, and these ingredients severed the best from the brightest.

via Can Grown-Ups Save Conservatism? A Preface « Sago Read the whole thing™

At thirteen, most of us understood this completely

 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child:

but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Would that all of our contemporaries, conservative and liberal, American, British, or anybody else, had our advantage, for truly we learned this is the price of adulthood.

Lechery, lechery, still wars and lechery, nothing else holds fashion

Cartoon_-_Voters_v_GOPSo, yesterday I heard from several places, that the GOPe will, if we end up in a brokered convention, attempt to foist somebody like Paul Ryan on us. Frankly, I don’t think Ryan would be all that bad a President, but that’s not the problem. The problem is that if the party is going to select who they damned pleased, why are we screwing around with the sham of the primary system?

The other problem is that it will elect Clinton. I’m no fan of Donald Trump, as all here know, but if he wins or comes close, he wins. I suspect Trump’s too lazy to be as bad a president as he sounds like he could be, and he’ll end up relying overmuch on his advisers, just as Obama has. So if he ends up with reasonable advisers, it might be OK. All that goes for Cruz as well, except that I think he’d be an outstanding president, advisers, or no advisers.

In any case, if the party pulls off this coup, and by the rules, I think it legal, it will pretty much destroy the party. I think the GOPe knows that, perhaps dimly, and they think it more important to ally with the Democrats to protect their rice bowl. For those of us who are proponents of American exceptionalism through the Constitution, this debacle will be horrible, pretty much the end of the America which we love.

A commenter over at Ace’s said it well.

It doesn’t give a shit if it loses to a Democrat because all their money making ability is retained. The GOP is an enterprise – at this stage a criminal enterprise – that is interested only in one thing: keeping itself and its members fat, happy and paid.
Winning an election is almost a secondary thing.

But keeping those who would take away its influence, power and MONEY is job #1.

The Democrats want to destroy the country for ideological reasons. The GOP is perhaps more contemptible because they want to make money off of it.

I really loathe them.

J.J. Sefton

That’s where I am this morning.

The Destroyers

THE strength of twice three thousand horse
That seeks the single goal;
The line that holds the rending course,
The hate that swings the whole:
The stripped hulls, slinking through the gloom,
At gaze and gone again —
The Brides of Death that wait the groom —
The Choosers of the Slain.

Offshore where sea and skyline blend
In rain, the daylight dies;
The sullen, shouldering swells attend
Night and our sacrifice.
Adown the stricken capes no flare–
No mark on spit or bar,- —
Girdled and desperate we dare
The blindfold game of war.

Nearer the up-flung beams that spell
The council of our foes;
Clearer the barking guns that tell
Their scattered flank to close.
Sheer to the trap they crowd their way
From ports for this unbarred.
Quiet, and count our laden prey,
The convoy and her guard!

On shoal with scarce a foot below,
Where rock and islet throng,
Hidden and hushed we watch them throw
Their anxious lights along.
Not here, not here your danger lies
(Stare hard, 0 hooded eyne!)
Save where the dazed rock-pigeons rise
The lit cliffs give no sign.

Therefore – to break the rest ye seek,
The Narrow Seas to clear
Hark to the siren’s whimpering shriek
The driven death is here!
Look to your van a league away, –
What midnight terror stays
The bulk that checks against the spray
Her crackling tops ablaze?

Hit, and hard hit! The blow went home,
The muffled, knocking stroke
The steam that overruns the foam-
The foam that thins to smoke-
The smoke that clokes the deep aboil –
The deep that chokes her throes
Till, streaked with ash and sleeked with oil,
The lukewarm whirlpools close!

A shadow down the sickened wave
Long since her slayer fled:
But hear their chattering quick-fires rave
Astern, abeam, ahead!
Panic that shells the drifting spar
– Loud waste with none to check-
Mad fear that rakes a scornful star
Or sweeps a consort’s deck.

Now, while their silly smoke hangs thick,
Now ere their wits they find,
Lay in and lance them to the quick–
Our gallied whales are blind!
Good luck to those that see the end,
Good-bye to those that drown–
For each his chance as chance shall send–
And God for all Shut down!

The strength of twice three thousand horse
That serve the one command;
The hand that heaves the headlong force,
The hate that backs the hand:
The doom-bolt in the darkness freed,
The mine that splits the main;
The white-hot wake, the ‘wildering speed–
The Choosers of the Slain!

Rudyard Kipling,

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