Apologia and Some Numbers

Followers of Pirate Dogs and Pilgrims might wonder “Why the new blog?”  New readers might wonder about this “Mud Shack” thing.  So……..

The Pirate Dogs have grown a bit insular and apathetic to the turmoil of the world.  During their last extended sojourn in the Nargle they decided to take control of their blog and only allow posts of interest to them.  Since my interests, being human rather than canine, might be more varied than theirs, it was decided that there should be a separate blog for my mental meanderings.

The Mud Shack is our house.  We purchased it in the North Valley near Las Cruces NM in 2009 with the intent of making it our retirement abode.  The main part of the house is an approximately 50 year-old adobe structure—an adobe abode.  Now adobe is basically mud, hence the moniker “Mud Shack.”  And the scenery visible from the patios is wonderful—the lot is surrounded by a pecan orchard.  To the East and Southeast are the lights of the city and the majestic Organ mountains.  To the West is Picacho Peak framed by pecan trees.  The Dona Ana mountains are visible through the pecan trees to the Northeast.  Truly a “view”……….

Now the culture in the West is often perceived as guns and independence.  I have and continue to consider the purchase of a gun.  But I’ve come across some interesting numbers in my reading and web-surfing.  For instance,

“More Americans were killed with guns in the 18-year period between 1979 and 1997 (651,697), than were killed in battle in all wars since 1775 (650,858). And while a sharp drop in gun homicides has contributed to a decline in overall gun deaths since 1993, the 90’s will likely exceed the death toll of the 1980s (327,173) and end up being the deadliest decade of the century. By the end of the 1990s, an estimated 350,000 Americans will have been killed in non-military-related firearm incidents during the decade. (Handgun Control 12/30/99 (Press release from CDC data)”

Now, I’ve always been fascinated by the weapons of the “Old West” like Wyatt Earp’s buntline special and the repeating rifles and carbines used by the cavalry and the buffalo hunters.  The rifle I’m contemplating purchasing is a Henry .22 caliber, lever action rifle.  It holds 15-21 rounds depending on the shell size.  Good enough to fulfill my desire for a rifle like Chuck Connors had in The Rifleman.  I still don’t believe that the sale of automatic weapons should be legal and that one of the most egregious wrongs ever perpetrated on the American citizenry was the Congress allowing the lapse of the Brady bill outlawing such weapons.  Proof that the NRA’s money outweighs the common good.

If you were asked which of the following is the bloodiest date in US military history, which would you choose:
September 17, 1862  Battle of Antietam
June 6, 1944              D-Day, the invasion of Normandy
February 19,1945      the landing on Iwo Jima
According to the military historian John Keegan, it was Antietam, a battle in Maryland during the US Civil War—-22,700 casualties (The American Civil War, pg.167-168).
These numbers might help explain one of my favorite sayings from Abbie Hoffman:

Peace, Live Long and Prosper………..

The Dichotomy of Retirement

Four months into retirement.  Stay busy so you don’t succumb to boredom leading to depression.  Never has the freedom from the obligations of the working world tasted so sweet.  So why, this morning, did I resent having to get dressed to go to a lecture that we had been anticipating since discovering the Academy for Learning in Retirement a few months ago???  I’ve also noticed the lack of enthusiasm for attending the basketball games for which we have season tickets.  Because these are obligations???????  Because some element of choice has been surrendered??????  Freedom………….could it be that as absolute power corrupts absolutely that unfettered daily choices eventually enslaves one??????

Speaking of freedom, if you chance upon a book by the same name authored by Jonathan Franzen, passing it up would be a good choice.  This novel has mixed reviews, some critics singing its praises, others finding it a waste—-I agree with the latter.  One review I read, I think on the Atlantic‘s website, mentioned that if you didn’t care about the characters after about 40 pages don’t bother.  I tried to care for around 117 pages then quit.

About the academy mentioned above—the class is Mathematics.  There are four lectures; today’s was on symmetry using drawings by M C Escher for illustrative purposes.  The remaining three will be on numbers highlighting Fermat’s last theorem and the work of Sophie Germain;  encryption and security; and, lastly, topology.  Might need to break out James Gleick’s Chaos and find some calculus review, I guess….