Showing posts from February, 2020

Good, Evil, and Art - The Rape of Proserpina by Bernini - Part 1

The Rape of Proserpina by Gian Lorenzo Bernini is the greatest sculpture ever made. There is the great technical skill in how he made the marble come to life. It even looks soft. But more important than that, he was able to capture the pivotal moral struggle from a mythical story in a single frozen moment of time. And he did it in 1622 when he was 23 years old, which is astounding.

Here's a quick overview of the story. I'm going to use the Greek version of the names instead of the Latin.

Hades is king of the Underworld. He doesn't have a wife, but he wants one. There are various deals and intrigues cut with the other gods, which we will skip. Persephone is abducted by Hades and taken to the Underworld where she becomes his queen. Another series of intrigues happens so that she only spends part of the year there, and that's what gives us our seasons.

Bernini's sculpture is the specific moment that Hades grabs Persephone and drags her away to the Underworld. What'…

I Went to a Writing Group - February 26th, 2020

Sometimes you get a prompt that you follow. Sometimes you get creative.

Analiese wasn't sure what to do for a prompt, so she asked a colleague at the library for a word. The response? "Zipper."

That seems like a decent challenge, to write a story in 30 minutes starting from just the word "zipper." Analiese wrote this on a whiteboard and put a squiggly line under it. The line kind of looked like a tornado, kind of. So I decided I would probably write a story about a tornado.

Just before we started to write, it came up in our square table chat that someone somewhere had once proposed the idea of writing about lightning without using the sense of sight. And of course, I could write about that too. Or anything else I want. The group is based on freedom and encouragement, so we're pretty open.

I sat for a minute or two thinking over the situation, and then I started.

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Another cracking sound as something smacked against the window of the SUV.

Cindy j…

Fighting Local Government Corruption - Part 16 of ?

"A Republican can't win in Dalton Township." That's a statement that I've heard more than a few times recently. But, I'll show you why it isn't true.

The idea that a Republican can't win an election in Dalton Township has become so pervasive that it's literally turned into a local myth. I've heard the rumor that Dalton has a special law, a law that somehow makes it impossible for a Republican to win the election. I'm here to dispel that myth.

I could go through a lot of numbers, but I'm not going to do that. Just a few will illustrate my point. The last time a Republican ran for Supervisor in Dalton Township was in 2008. Things change over 12 years. And in Dalton, they have.

Look at the numbers from 2016. In Dalton more people voted for the straight-party Republican ticket than for the Democrats, 842 versus 826. In Dalton more people voted for the Republican Donald Trump than the Democrat Hillary Clinton, 2308 versus 1589. The people o…

Five Key Documents in the History of Freedom

Freedom has a long and hard fought history. There have been many steps, and the struggle continues. And it will continue, forever. There is no way to establish freedom once and for all. It's a value that has to be enacted anew from within each individual, in every place, in every generation.

When you study the history of freedom there are patterns that emerge. For instance, there needs to be a way to demand rights for people. That falls onto two main foundations. Either, people deserve rights because they are citizens; or, people deserve rights because they are humans. Citizen rights and human rights are always the foundational keystones.

Also, individual rights are usually gained in specific circumstances. When the general population is dissatisfied with corruption and abuse, when there are multiple strong leaders, and when some of the powerful and influential people realize that the best way to protect their own rights is to secure universal individual rights. When those things …

One Session as a Writing Coach

I'm going to reveal more of the coaching process in this article. Each student is unique, and each session is unique. So the process is never the same, but there still is a process to finding the way forward.

I never thought I would teach writing, or public speaking, or meditation. I'm even roleplaying out casting calls for an actress now. I've taught computer programmers, surgeons, rich business owners, young entrepreneurs, finance directors, project managers, and many students. All sorts of people.

I've talked with them about all sorts of things. One of the unique things about my sessions is that you can ask me anything, including personal health and finances, religion, politics, whatever. (I did have to start noting not to get mad about our differences though, because one person didn't like that I don't think Islam is a particularly peaceful religion. Which I think can change just like other religions have, but I'll leave all of that for another article.…

I Went to a Writing Group - February 12th, 2020

I like to think differently, and I'm pretty good at it. In reality, when people are truly thinking there is rarely agreement. Sometimes there can be in a general sense, but almost never in detail. Thinking is a dialogue that you have with yourself, which is why it can be paralyzing. It's an ability that everyone has, but it's rarely used, especially for important things, because it's uncomfortable. It immensely complicates your world to question what you know, it's the very definition of anxiety, and most people avoid anxiety as much as they can. Alas, I love it, and have spent quite a lot of my life just thinking.

I almost did too much thinking in this writing session. If you question how you're perceiving the world, or how you're acting in the world, you stop while you're thinking about it. This is a state of high psychological entropy, and anything can come out of it. As you decrease your options your anxiety decreases. You settle on an interpretatio…

Fighting Local Government Corruption - Part 15 of ?

An election where your option is one person isn't an election. It's an appointment made by the political party in charge of your government. That's true from Communist-controlled China to Democrat-controlled Dalton Township.

The reason there isn't another option is that people are afraid. I have been personally told by more than half a dozen people that they are unwilling to run for office, or oppose the local government, because of fear of reprisals. That's not living life, that's being allowed to exist.

After I helped expose the corruption in Dalton I had several people ask me to run for office. I said no. I have had some health concerns ever since I got sick in Kenya, Africa in 2015. I had further complications with my spinal deformities. And I continue to have issues with my heart and lungs. Nevertheless, there have been great men throughout history who pushed through physical difficulties. If Robert Louis Stevenson can become a great writer while suffering…

Continuing Stacy's Unicorn Story

I don't usually continue writing prompts with students. They're just ideas we generate at the time, we play with them, and then we play with a different idea next time. But Stacy was adamant that she wanted to continue the unicorn story. So we have.

This is the first session that we did. We alternated back and forth who was writing.

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"I don't think this is the right way." Susan said again. "We've been walking and walking, and nothing is even changing."
Ron the Unicorn didn't respond, he just shook his head and kept walking across the wide open grassy field.
They saw the magic rainbow, and it was a catbow taxi. So they thought it was a great idea to take the taxi.
Ron took up the entire backseat, so Susan sat in the front. They had to role down the window because Ron's horn stuck out of one end, and his tail stuck out of the other window. The taxi driver said, "Where to?"
Ron and Susan looked at each other, and Susan sa…

Great Books on Political Corruption

Government corruption is universal. It is the duty of citizens to fight it at every turn, at every level of government, and in every generation. To arm yourself for the fight it's important to learn what you can from those who have gone before. Some of the greatest thinkers and leaders in history dedicated their lives to fighting corruption.

Many of the greatest books in history are small. Of course, there are some big ones too, but many of my favorites are small. Luckily, many of the greatest books explaining how political corruption works, and how to fight it, are small.

Here are the eight best authors on political corruption. These books and essays constitute a collection of knowledge that is astounding to behold. Reading even a few of these can change your entire perspective on society.

Frederic Bastiat

Bastiat was born in France in 1801 and died in Rome in 1850. He is one of the four major figures in the French Liberal School of economic thought, and made several important con…

Eugene and Learning the Art of Imagination

Eugene is an approximately 30-year-old computer programmer from Russia who lives in New York City. We've written a few things in class. I would write a question and he would write an answer, things like that. This session took a different turn.

Eugene wanted some homework, so I put this prompt in our shared writing pad.

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Make a fictional story. Like a little fairytale.

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In our session this morning he said he tried writing a few sentences, and then erased them. He just couldn't come up with anything. My response, "Perfect. We can work on that then."

This is a common issue for people. They self-filter to such an extent that it limits their ability to produce. Now, Eugene is college-educated, he's a computer programmer, he knows two languages, and he's lived in two countries. He's a smart guy. And yet, the freedom of having such an open-ended option thwarted him.

I coached him through this session to just write whatever came next. W…

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