The Mighty Viking

Conquering those things we must, one story at a time

Archive for November, 2018

The Beauty of Books

Chance favors the prepared mind.
-Louis Pasteur

A little light reading for a Football Sunday: from vol.5 of the Harmsworth Self-Educator (1907 edition).

I started to read this chapter for subconscious reasons I don‘t know even yet, but well… its just something I like to do.

Anyway, to the point of the quote above: I found two things in this section particularly interesting. On the chart at the bottom of the second page, it lists the strengths of leather after various tanning processes. Years ago, I had questioned the difficulty in obtaining good quality leather that is American-made. Someone had told me it cost too much to make it here, because of the chemicals involved and the environmental laws that made its disposal so costly as to prohibit the profitable manufacturing.

But hey! By golly you could get good leather from Pakistan. Reason? They didn‘t care what they did to their environment nearly so much as being able to provide the market with the best quality product. Leather machine drive belts have fallen out of use, but the memory of Chrome as the best tanning medium remains. It may be no one remembers exactly why, there may be other qualities besides strength it imparts, but dang, if you look at the difference in strength, and understand the strength required has only increased, one can understand why leather belting fell out of use, and also predict what sort of conditions a person COULD use leather belts today, without blind trial and error.

This means I‘ve added an option to the solutions I might select from as I think up and make things to do. Am I ever going to use it? Who knows? One doesn‘t ever know – until one day something comes up and boom! There you are.

Opportunity favors the prepared mind.

The second thing I drew from this section is the word “coadjutor”. On its surface, the word simply means “assistant”. But it is a nuanced word, one that connotes something much more. It implies someone who‘s knowledge and skill is unique – not a simple servant to a principal, but someone who brings more to the situation than the primary person – Engineer, Operator, etc – can. Not just more of the same, not just an extra hand or eye. A person skilled in the art of putting pieces of an intellectual puzzle together in practical ways. An interpreter between pure sciences and application, an analyst of complexity, a conductor that brings science to it‘s needed destination.

And why is this important? It seems to me in this age, more than a century later, we have been sorted in the world of industry into four bins: operators, engineers, technicians, and managers. But in many places I‘ve been, managers assume a role above engineers, engineers above technicians, and technicians above operators. Our education system fosters this paradigm, and produces too many managers, engineers that lack true vision, dysfuntional operators with interest in the wrong metrics – and a forgotten word for the most important part of the recipe. By contrast, the language in this chapter ignores managers, doesn‘t yet really have a name for technicians, and gently avoids the social hierarchy by acknowledging respect for all three in equal measure. And one more thing: the writing emphasizes the significance of the Dark Matter that binds the three together, that spirit of mutual respect and selfless cooperation that makes the riddle‘s solution something greater than the mere sum of what the three entities can bring.


To be fair, what I‘m saying exists on these pages didn‘t exist often in the very real, and difficult reality of industrial life of the period. In fact, by most historic accounts it could be argued that professional respect was virtually non-existent, that a laborer could expect to be treated little better than a slave. But I think the fact that the writers of this book were able to convey this tone, this possibility that SHOULD have existed then, and project it a century forward to a time when the idea might be better accepted in a more enlightened world is exactly what the beauty of books is all about.

And so, I read these books, for the pure pleasure of being prepared for something I don‘t even see coming. Experience tells me it will come. And that is what makes life such a delicious anticipation. Waiting to find out what it is I‘ve become prepared for.

Chance favors the prepared mind.

Relative Gratitude

A few hundred years ago, a small band of immigrants took the time to observe and record a moment of reflection. Their main theme? Thanksgiving, in the vernacular of their creed. Being grateful for what they had at the time was the first thing of importance to them that day.

And what, really, did they have? They had illness – not just a spate of common colds, but the kind of disease that kills – and in fact had already killed some of them. They had provisions, in part due to the hospitality of locals. They were not far removed from a dangerous and difficult sea voyage in an age when sea voyages were not guarantees of passage. They had a patch of raw land, which they had managed to eke out some rudimentary shelter. And winter was coming.

And yet, in their precarious condition, neophytes to a land of raw survival, a formal moment to give thanks for what they DID have occupied their thoughts. They took some time probably needed for winter preparation to speak of and to their God, from whom they drew courage and faith in a harsh environment.

This last couple months, our family has had much to fret about, hoping against common wisdom that Sean will pull through his recent health problems. Life always has something to worry about, but somehow the security of life itself seems to have a way of pushing to the forefront.

But when I think of the hardship under which the first Thanksgiving was born, modern problems seem minute, almost trivial. Their response – to create a Day of Gratitude – makes me ashamed almost of my anxieties.

Oh, and one more thing: it wasn‘t something these settlers normally did. It WAS something the Wampanoag natives normally did after a successful hunt. It was they who taught the immigrants their ways of giving thanks to a higher power.

Our family is grateful, among other things, for the slow but encouraging recovery Sean is showing. We are grateful for each other‘s love and support. We are grateful for each other‘s presence together tomorrow.

I wish for all of you the love of another human. Be it a mate, a child or parent, be it a close friend or even as simple as a friendly neighbor – if there is but one thing we are given, it is Someone: somewhere, in some way. We are given Someone.

And if our Creator has done but this one thing for us, in whatever tradition you believe, we have these we love, and by whom we are loved. Celebrate the gift. Let yourself be celebrated.

And thank your God for them.

The Modern Blaspheme

I‘d like to say this about that: 

Tonight‘s Viking Sacrifice:

Moral Superiority.  It can come from many sources.  We think of it most often when we are reminded and enjoined to bask in our own by pointing out the same frailty in others.  You don‘t need the name ofcacreligiin or deity to be guilty.  But stay with me here, I think you‘ll understand better if I just dive in.

“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”

– Exodus 20:7

If your Religion makes you feel safe in this world – you may be practicing the wrong religion.

If you use your Religion past forgiveness and salvation, and right on through to moral superiority, you‘ve gotten on the wrong theological bus.

If your Religion is what brings you to political empowerment – to force others to accept your vision of morality or holiness, you are neither with God, nor with free men.

If you practice your Religion to attain wealth and blessing, you are both climbing the wrong mountain, and using gear not supplied by the God who‘s banner you claim to represent.

If your wear your Religion to be fashionably hip, you are throwing pearls into the pig-pen.

If you cover yourself in the mantle of Religion to be accepted, you are still a wolf, and you look ridiculous wearing sheep‘s clothing.

– Religion is a weapon of war for a battle waged beyond the physical realm.  It loses its power here, it lacks Essence. And without it‘s Essence, it loses its righteousness .

– Religion is a vehicle to a higher plane. Not only does it not travel well on the roads of this world, it‘s fuel source cannot be found here.  Consider this: if you‘re going somewhere here, you‘re not running on spiritual fuel.  You are not riding in a spiritual vehicle.

– Politics and Religion do not combine.  You cannot serve God and money/power.  We are not one in spirit if we are practicing political gamesmanship. The very core of politics produces division and a quest for dominion over others.  If one is not a free man, none are.

– The path to God is a narrow path, fraught with road hazards requiring a vessel of rigorous, specialized design.  It is of no use on the highways of society.   Choose your vehicle, and drive it to the destination for which it‘s made.

– The clothes of godliness do not call attention to ourselves, and thus serve no fashion purpose in this world.  They are utilitarian garments, for an environment in which vanity offers no protection.  And since their purpose is to glorify God, and not ourselves, the world sees them as ugly.

– And by the same token, if the Christianity you are wearing serves to make you acceptable to others, it is not authentic Christianity.  It is a disguise.  There is no godly use for disguise.

“ Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…

 …And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

If your religion is about anything else than this, maybe Religion isn‘t what you wanted.

Exodus 20:7 (“The Voice” translation)- “You are not to use My name for your own idle purposes, for the Eternal will punish anyone who treats His name as anything less than sacred.”