Why do some people detest the monarchy? One reason is that Queen Elizabeth typically wears the same design shoes (at $1500 a pop.) but doesn’t believe she should have to break them in. Instead a member of the palace staff gets the job, and the blisters, of wearing new sets of the shoes day-in and day-out until they’re comfiy enough for the royal feet. I’m sorry but this is creepy – creep-peeee and upon reflection I’m glad they took her private train and ocean going yacht away from her. Read more about this story here.
Listening to my third grade granddaughter lecture me about the wonders of the metric system reminded me that there are still any number of primary school educators out there trying to teach American children that the best way of solving life’s everyday problems is by counting on your fingers.
And of course, made me wonder what it will ever take to shut them up.
Or at least not breathlessly announce in class, “guess what kids? What we’re going to find out today is that the entire rest of the world uses a much easier system of measurement than fractions and inches and feet and yards and miles because it’s based on the number ten. It’s called the Metric System and we’re going to learn all about it so that you can go home and show your parents how easy it is.”
But since parents are already too busy trying to solve school bus behavior issues not to mention having to deal with the littler trials of life like work and getting the dinner on the table to learn how dumb adults are about the way we measure things in this country, the gospel of the kilometer invariably gets marched over to Grandma’s house.
“Grandpa, do you know what a centimeter is?”
I look up startled, “yes, did you see one? I hope not because we had a lot in the cellar last year and had to hire an exterminator.”
“Nooo” she says patiently, “a centimeter not a centipede.”
I scratch my chin trying to give the best impression I can of a ponder and then snap my fingers, “right, I remember. It’s what the French use because they can’t figure out inches and feet.”
“Grandpa, be serious.”
So I do my best to look contrite and settle down to listen as she pulls out the Xeroxed sheet of notes from class and reads a long list of Metric System benefits like easy division and multiplication and how you never, ever, never have to use fractions. Then she ends by raising a finger in the air and stumbles through a delightfully mushy paragraph about how wonderful it would be if everybody in the world used the same math language and temperature scale.
“Hmmm” I scratch my chin again, take a deep breath and then, strike like a cobra.
“Honey” I ask sweetly, “do you know there is only one country in the whole world in which the people made up their own natural minds, as opposed to being told by the government that is, how little or how much of the metric system they should adopt, and what that country was?”
“No, I didn’t know that” she replied brightly thinking no doubt that for once Grandpa was serious about something, “was it uh, Sweden?”
“No” I shook my head slowly, “it was your country. The United States of America. Back in the sixties and seventies the Federal Government made a big push for the metric system, funding school materials, forcing states to post the speed limits in both miles and kilometers per hour, even bank signs to give the degrees in Celsius. And do you know what happened after the American people chewed on it for a while.”
“No Grandpa I don’t.”
“Well” I winked, “they decided it made them want to throw up.”
“And maybe you should understand why.”
So here’s roughly, how the conversation went.
“Take feet honey. What Americans found when they thought about it is that feet were a pretty convenient measurement for most things in life. A foot is based on the size of a man’s foot and even if your feet are smaller you still have a rough idea in your head about how big it is because there’s always one or two attached to most men. Which means of course that a man can pace things off without any ruler or tape measure and come up with a pretty accurate measurement. Like suppose he wants to go to Home Depot on Saturday morning and buy some lawn fertilizer.”
“I hate Home Depot” she glowered.
“I know you do honey but men like it. Anyway if he doesn’t know how big the lawn is he can pace it off both ways, easily multiply those two numbers then go shopping because he’s confident, this being a free country, the fertilizer maker is allowed to put the square footage each bag covers right on the outside in big letters and after a little simple head division he can immediately know how many bags to buy.”
“Fine” she put her hands on her hips “but you could figure that out using the Metric System too, even easier.”
“I don’t think so because when you think it through the Metric System means extra steps. First of all he’d either have to find a very long tape measure or know how many meters his foot is and believe me it never is an even number, it will always be something like point two nine meters because the meter isn’t based on those two things he has hanging on the end of his legs. And of course, decimal points are a bother, an extra tricky step when he multiplies things in his head so may he has to get a pencil and paper which is another extra step. Even forgetting about pacing things off just finding a tape measure is another extra tricky step especially when the kids are in the car already and if you don’t hurry one of them is going to let the dog out again.”
“Of course if you’re taking a really long measurement and have to be super accurate the Metric System is simpler because it’s simpler work with a number like eight hundred point four six meters than whatever the measurement is in feet and inches and then a fraction of an inch but the point is that you don’t take measurements like that in daily life, specialists like surveyors or engineers do. So for most people feet is easier.”
I could she her thinking about that and she finally nodded, “okay Grandpa I’ll give you the feet thing for now, but what about miles? You don’t have anything around you that makes a mile more understandable and simpler to understand than a kilometer.”
“Sure you do because a mile isn’t measurement of distance.”
“What?” she shook her head.
“I mean we try to make it a measurement of distance by calculating that there’s five thousand two hundred eighty feet in one, or at least I think that’s what the number is, but that’s not what a mile really is.”
“Then what?” she held her arms out, “does a mile measure?”
“Sure, it’s just a simple natural human measurement designed to make travel and geography understandable in terms of how long it takes to get from point A to point B.”
“You’re going to have to explain that?” she took a quick look down at her talking points.
“It’s the distance people walk, actually I think it was originally the distance Roman armies could march in an hour divided by three. The Romans like a lot of people had a thing about threes and even today the distance most people can walk at a reasonable pace is roughly three miles an hour. And so a mile is the distance people can walk in twenty minutes.”
“But so what?” those arms went up again.
“But so what” I repeated, “is the fact that just like you roughly know how long a foot is you naturally know how fast most people walk and so when you say something is ten miles away you naturally know it’s going to take you about three and a third hours to get there on your feet. In fact you naturally know the human scale of any distance without even thinking about it.”
“And that’s why Americans didn’t want to give up miles because it well, just made things distances easier to understand, more natural if you take my drift.”
“But people don’t walk anywhere anymore.”
“Yes” I patted her on the head, “but everybody learns to walk well before they learn how to drive and it’s the lesson in time and space that sticks with them and make it seem more natural.”
She thought about that wavering, “but it’s easier to figure out the smaller measurements from a kilometer than a mile because you don’t have to divide by five thousand two hundred eighty.”
“Sure” I shrugged, “but who ever has to do that in normal and everyday life. Most people just need a feel for a distance and you get that much easier in miles than you do in kilometers. I mean long would it take you to hike ten kilometers up there on the mountain where your mother and you go hiking.”
“I dunno either” I shrugged again.
“But I betcha I could figure it out” she put her hands on her hips.
“I bet you could too honey, but my point is why bother when from the moment you first waited for your Mom to walk across the floor to pick you up you were instinctively learning what a mile was and about how long it would take you to walk that ten miles.”
“Hmmm” she frowned “the teacher didn’t say anything about a mile being a measurement of time” then lowered her head and doggedly went on to the next point, “but you have to admit when you use the Metric System you never have to worry about adding or multiplying or dividing fractions.”
“But who does anything like that pumpkin?”
“I dunno” little knots of concentration ran across her brow, “somebody must, I learned how in school.”
“I never have” I snapped my suspenders, “I just use fractions naturally, just like your Mom does when she cuts up your birthday cake.”
“Sure, in fact that’s another one of the big reasons Americans didn’t adopt the Metric System because of the way it makes birthday cakes much harder to deal with.”
She looked around rolling her eyes and I knew what she was going to say before she said it, “maybe I should talk to Grandma for a while.”
But I was only warming to the subject. “Look honey, the next time someone asks you to cut their birthday cake up you’ll find that it can’t be done neatly with the Metric System because you need a protractor and calipers. Indeed the only way to cut a birthday cake evenly by eye is the way your Mom does it by first cutting it in half, then turning it and cutting it into halves again so that you have quarters then by turning it twice more and cutting it into eighths. Finally if there’s more than eight hopeful bodies standing around with a fork in their hand, by cutting it once again by eye into sixteenths.”
“But what?” she whooshed, “has that got to do with anything.”
“I dunno, you started it” I shrugged, “but a birthday cake is a good demonstration of how using natural fractions, instead of the Metric System’s insistence on decimals, enables you to perform life’s little tasks with style, in a natural way.”
“Grandpa you keep using the word natural.”
“That’s because I’m trying to explain why people when they’re free to do what they want to do, which usually means acting naturally, don’t decide to use the Metric System for everything, because it has severe limitations in every day life. And coming back to fractions for my final point, maybe what your teacher doesn’t understand is that just like a mile is a measurement in time not distance, fractions aren’t a measurement of either distance or time but a measurement of proportion and grace.”
“Grace? Like what you say before dinner?”
“A related word honey, like in graceful. And the best way to describe what graceful is, is what woodworkers, architects, masons, anybody who makes anything for that matter, has been aware of for thousands of years, the golden section. A proportion that occurs over and over again in nature like in your arm. Your hand is to your forearm what your forearm is to the length of both. You have the same proportion in your leg, a dolphin has about the same proportions in it’s body parts as do many, many other things in nature. It’s one of mother nature’s recurring themes and while I don’t want to get into the geometry the point about the golden section is that when you see it in say the relationship between the width of a table and it’s length or in a Greek temple it just looks naturally pleasing. And that’s what fractions do, approximate these relationships just like the fraction five eighths to one approximates the golden section. And the wonderful thing about these natural fractions is that most of the time you can juggle them by eye just like you cut a birthday or maybe the way your Mom places the furniture in a room so that it’s stylish and pleasing.”
But while I was saying I was her watching her own eye glaze over and I snatched the paper from her hand, folded it and stuck it back in her pocket.
“So whatayousay we hold off learning why a dozen is easier to divide up then ten or why our temperature scale is more precise than Celsius or any discussion of pounds, ounces, quarts and gallons for another day.”
“And do what?” she asked.
“Well I was thinking and since Grandma is busy in her office drive the three miles down to the pizza place because if we walked it would take us what?”
“A hour” she nodded smiling.
“Then order a large, not a point one nine meter, pie with extra cheese and pepperoni and hope he doesn’t make a mess of it by trying to cut it using the Metric System so that you, me, Grandma and your brother who I know is on the way over can each have?”
“A quarter of it” she laughed, “only…”
“Grandma doesn’t like pepperoni.”
From Gospel Truths by David P. Goldman in American Interest we find this gem of a summing up about Liberals/Secularists. Use it, study it for use in your own life and struggle.
What sustains the heirs of the now-defunct Protestant consensus, he concludes, is still very much a sense of the sacred, but one that seeks the security of personal salvation through assuming the right stance on social and political issues. Precisely because the new secular religion permeates into the pores of everyday life, it sustains the certitude of salvation and a self-perpetuating spiritual aura. Secularism has succeeded but on, if not explicitly in, religious terms. That is an uncommon way of understanding the issue, and a powerful one.
Read the full article here.
The Following quote is from a piece by Bruce Walker in today’s American Thinker:
The historical poll data also shows some interesting trends. Public schools were once also sacrosanct in policy debates. While the methods and funding for public schools might be questioned, the system itself was recognized as performing a great good that helped all Americans. In 1975, 62% of respondents to Gallup said that they had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in public schools. Ten years later, in 1985, that percentage had plummeted to 48%. In 1995, only 40% of Americans felt so positively about public schools. Ten years later, in 2005, confidence in public schools drooped to only 37%. So how many Americans in this latest Gallup Poll expressed confidence in public schools? A paltry 26%. In four decades, American confidence in public schools fell an incredible 40 percentage points.
Inflation is the expansion of the money supply (as to “inflate”) not, not, not, not a rise in prices as most people believe. I’ve long struggled to explain this and have now learned that the simple word “watered” usually does the trick. “Gee the price of beef is going out of sight.” “Yeah no matter how hard we yell about it the government keeps watering the value of the dollar.”
Bumper Sticker – Stop Watering The $
Isn’t this a campaign slogan – “No more rise in prices for the middle class ever, by stopping Liberals from watering the dollar.” I dunno, does it for me.
My Mother Said I Never Should
Play With Children In The Wood
For If I Do, I’ll Follow Them
And Never Once Get Home Again
Because They’ll Lay Me Down On Moss To Sleep
Cover Me With Leaves Piled Deep
Where I Can’t But Dream The Years Away
And In This Hidden Quiet Place.
From American Thinker Friday, Bruce Deitrick Price, June 20, 2014
“Systematic phonics (i.e., nothing but phonics) is the only way to go. If your children are at a school that uses any of the following terms, start fighting back: sight-words, Dolch words, Fry words, high-frequency words, picture clues, context clues, whole language, pre-read, picture walk, guess, skip ahead, balanced literacy.”
Asked why the Civil War occurred Abraham Lincoln replied with droll wit it was impossible for a foreign power to drink from the Ohio or lay a track in the Blue Ridge and so if the free American Republic was ever to be destroyed, the American people had to do it themselves.
But during those years of fire and thunder rolling across the countryside it would have been difficult to imagine that a hundred and fifty years in the future we would come much closer to destroying its most cherished ideas, simply by listening to fairy-tales. Childish, clever and very phony short stories intended to popularize, of all things, the economic and social theories of nineteenth and early twentieth century Left-Wing European intellectuals who reviled us. Indeed hated everything about America.
Although the fact that their fairy-tales have prevailed to the extent they have doesn’t mean that Americans are particularly naïve or easily hoodwinked. It only means that the Left is very good at making up stories. Not conquering a continent, inventing modern appliances, building bridges, starting productive businesses and creating wealth, teaching children to read, farming, freeing slaves, inventing the light bulb, just making up stories. And stories, even made-up stories, are not one way in which a people learns what to believe or how to act, by and large they’re the only way. It is, for good or ill, the way the human mind works. Indeed will always work because only stories offer morals and what we invariably see as common sense or common knowledge is the sum of the morals we have absorbed.
It’s why the Bible has only less rules than parables. It’s why when you try to teach something to somebody with a mound of books and charts they’ll n raise their hands in surrender and ask “why don’t you just tell me about it” meaning of course, “why don’t you just tell me a story which explains it” and it’s why millions of us can remember scores of movie plots but not the name of one Vice President.
Stories explain why cultures differ. In a very well understand process a real life event sometime becomes a story which becomes a parable which becomes a metaphor which in becoming a word in someone’s language representing a lesson or a moral perhaps unique to that culture alone.
Stories also explain why cultures sometimes charge in a new direction because the process can be short-circuited when they get made up. One of the best examples from history are those stories told by the greatest of all storytellers, William Shakespeare. John Gillingham in his wonderfully readable book The Wars Of The Roses points out that for some prominent Englishmen all they knew about their country’s history, indeed all they wanted to know, is what William Shakespeare told them in his plays. Yet Shakespeare is terrible history. Many scenes such as Tudor and Lancaster lords dividing by the choice of either a white or red rose in a palace garden are wholly made up. Shakespeare also has characters contemporaneous one of whom died before the other was born and of course he puts words in everybody’s mouth they never said while inventing any number of words to begin with (or was the first to ever write them down.) But to this day all of us English-speakers are profoundly influenced in our view of who we are and how we should act by his fanciful accounts. Indeed Shakespeare is pivotal in the emergence of the Anglo-Sphere, the fact that English is the most commonly understood language on earth and that England’s Elizabethan culture focused through the object lens of four hundred years of the American experience, is the most imitated on earth.
Which in a backwards looking, sordid and much less talented way is exactly the task the Left-Wing Liberal has been about in America, short-circuiting our culture in order to change us into something else. Not larger than life, full of a life Elizabethans this time around, but a tamer, cowed and so, much more manageable flock.
A race which will feel very guilty about any sort of personal success, is afraid to trumpet their belief in a loving God, respectfully nods their head when the building inspector says they can do this and not that, is fearful of disciplining their children, worries about the environment toppling into a black hole because of something they might do, even more endlessly about obtaining credentials from government agencies or academic institutions in order to validate their own life, doesn’t speak out because they’re risk adverse and forever struggles to appear caring, compassionate and concerned about everything except their own spinelessness. A group so unhooked from its own history and self-respect that they’re willing to dance to almost any tune.
Luckily the Left-Wing Liberal’s job isn’t done and Americans aren’t all like that, not yet and not by a long shot. Which means that we see our way back to that golden road into America’s future by returning to those American stories Left-Wing fairy-tales were designed to replace. Absorbing or rather re-absorbing those morals instead. See something quite different as common sense. And we can do this wherever we find ourselves, at the kitchen table, at work and play, around a campfire. By you, not somebody else, reading them in books, accurately portraying them in the news, in a movie or by hanging them on a poster in your third grader’s classroom.
Because there they are lying motionless in your backyard’s shade. For all the world like any number of dozing American Grizzly bears. The true, fierce, inspiring and ever so much more interesting tales of these four hundred odd years gone by in this country. Just waiting to be woken up.
Although Grizzly Bears can be scary. All the scarier because we’re not used to seeing them tramp across the landscape any longer. Doubly scary because unlike left-wing fairy-tales, they compel us to take our own measure and we’re not certain we’re all that brave.
But we are.
In a recent article about fitness groups operating in public parks in Denver occurs the phrase “unfair advantage.” I read it and moved on but then back and thought more deeply about it. I’d read the phrase maybe ten thousands times in my life but never had, nor I believe had anyone else ever, asked the question – what’s a “fair advantage?” I and countless others use the word “advantage” as in “I’m moving to Denver to take advantage of their wonderful public parks” but never “fair advantage.”
You ply your sweetheart with alcohol in order to – well you know why. But is that “unfair advantage”, “fair advantage” or “advantage?” Difficult question for some. A feminist would say “unfair” because they believe sex (with a man) should only occur after due sober discussion and agreement with the woman as to endurance, technique and proper birth control. I vote for “fair” because your honey knows very well why you’re playing her with drinks but I could be talked into the barebones “advantage” used in the same sense as your attraction to Denver’s public facilities.
What do you think?