Challenging the Alternative Military Service Law? It Makes no Sense.

Vic Vomodog—man, it’s hard to shake this guy!—landed a missive in my email inbox. A Witness was filing suit against the South Korean Alternative Military Service law recently enacted. Vic put his own spin on it, of course, as to his former pals thinking they were above the law and so forth. He linked to it here.

This doesn’t entirely make sense. If it is true, then the JW mentioned is an atypical outlier. The suit would certainly not have Branch support. The Witnesses overall consider alternative service laws a very good bargain and are appreciative of them. Typical of their responses is this video of Taiwan’s similar law that the government spokesman offers as a template for other countries to adapt—which, in time, South Korea did. Up until very recently, young Witnesses in that country went to jail for two years upon refusing military service. It came to be almost a rite of passage. That video is here. I even included it in Dear Mr. Putin—Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia, but deleted it in the update for lack of relevance.

The wording of Vic’s story is odd: “The petitioner has been known as a believer of Jehovah's Witnesses, who was recognized by the Supreme Court as a conscientious objector last year.” Why the past tense? Perhaps the litigant is Vic Vomodog himself, who gratefully took up the law as a Witness but now as an ex-Witness wants to save his rear end even from that.

As to individual Witnesses, I have never heard anyone speak against such laws. Instead, every instance I know of is brothers likewise appreciative of them and glad to cooperate. Like this Russian brother in the Heart and Soul broadcast: (It is one remark in a 30 minute program, probably not worth the time to search it out, but the program is worth streaming on its own merits.) This one is not in Dear Mr. Putin, but will be in the updated rewrite. It clearly is relevant.

 

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Scaling Back the Fake News Chapter

Okay, the Fake News chapter is complete and scaled back 39.7% It looks good. Part 3 (it may become Part 4) is the one Part in which I allow myself some witnessing. Elsewhere whatever witnessing there is takes the form of Solomon leading the Queen of Sheba around to show off his digs. In this chapter is more pointed, and yet it does not unduly take shots at any church. Of course, neither is it ecumenical, but the overall tone of the book is war between the secular world against the religious world, with JWs the particular target. 

There is a proper time and place for everything, and brothers are frequently not too skilled at discerning this. I even had to block one on this account. True, he wasn’t really a brother at present; his banner plainly said he was disfellowshipped but it also said it was due to mental health issues. I admired the honesty. I even DMed him with tips as to how he might rectify things. 

I soon came to appreciate what the mental illness was all about. If any of my tweets gave even the slightest pretext, he would latch on with rants about “false religion!” Enough already, I told him. This is a public feed. Not everyone is a Witness and I don’t want to drive them all away! He would respond with what most reasonable persons would take as self-righteous claptrap about Speaking the Truth! I had to let him go. I really didn’t want to, but everyone guards the tone and integrity of their own page.

You know, it is like the daily text the other day, with a supplied application on choosing appropriate entertainment. Now, I’m all for choosing appropriate entertainment—I watch very little TV anyway—but the thing with this kind of discussion is that it so easily devolves into a contest of who can be the most restrictive, with the implication that restrictiveness and spirituality go hand in hand. And you can’t go the other way, to say, “Well, we don’t have to be extreme, there is some redeeming value here,” because then you are seen as advocating for what is unclean! You can’t win in such discussions. All you can do is play along and act mortified that Lady Gaga shows a knee.

 

Continue reading "Scaling Back the Fake News Chapter" »

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About this time I’d almost accept a bi-polar diagnosis...

About this time I’d almost accept a bi-polar diagnosis for getting the Dear Mr. Putin ebook out there in its present sloppy form. What is forged in one hearth for one battle doesn’t just transfer to another battle. What was I thinking (or not thinking)? The revised work will have such a new feel to it that—it occurred to me today for the first time—I may present it under new cover and title.

Well—I’m deep into Part 2. Writing apologia is tough because your aim is to expand it beyond the very tiny subset of persons who would care. I fear I botched it pretty badly with an ebook that doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. Part 1 needed reorganizing, too, but was not such an overall mess as Part 2. Most revised chapters have come out with 50% less word count.

Such as chapter 9, Discipline, for example. The entire Part 2 undergoes serious overhaul To the extent any witnessing remains in these Part 2 chapters, the goal is to be like Solomon & the Queen of Sheba. All he did was show her the inner workings & she was blown away.

Maybe, however, when I get to Part 3, I will do as Mr. Bennett—get over it, probably faster than I should. 

Part 4 of Dear Mr Putin consists of updates after the original ebook publication date. It contains the preface: “The following chapters originally appeared as blog post as www.tomsheepandgoats.com. If portions seem repetitive, that’s because they are. No attempt has been made to weed out redundancies or integrate them into the rest of the book. Maybe later.”

Maybe now, for example.

....

1/20/21: ‪I am beginning to think the Apostasy chapter will disappear entirely in the Dear Mr Putin rewrite. It is far too rant-like and is the only chapter with endnotes that are entirely scriptures. The few relevant points made can be interspersed throughout the book. The topic itself is thoroughly dealt with in TrueTom vs the Apostates.

1/21/21:

Good. The Money chapter needed little revising, and the Earth barely any at all. Both were short to begin with. Now on to the bloated Fake News. Tighten up those run-on sentences. Reduce word count, maybe up to 40%. Standardize (roughly) chapter length.

I wonder who would respond if I was offered to let out in advance chapters for critique? I don’t want to screw this up again. Cover and title will be new. The old ebook is gone.

1/22/21 Okay, the Fake News chapter is complete and scaled back 39.7% It looks good. Part 3 (it may become Part 4) is the one Part in which I allow myself some witnessing. It is pointed, and yet it does not unduly take shots at any church. Of course, neither is it ecumenical, but the overall tone of the book is war between the secular world against the religious world, with JWs the particular target. 

There is a proper time and place for everything, and brothers are frequently not too skilled at discerning this. I even had to block one on this account. True, he wasn’t really a brother at present; his banner plainly said he was disfellowshipped but it also said it was due to mental health issues. I admired the honesty. I even DMed him with tips as to how he might rectify things.

I soon came to appreciate what the mental illness was all about. If any of my tweets gave even the slightest pretext, he would latch on with rants about “false religion!” Enough already, I told him. This is a public feed. Not everyone is a Witness and I don’t want to drive them all away! He would respond with some what most reasonable persons would take as self-righteous claptrap about Speaking the Truth! I had to let him go. I really didn’t want to, but everyone guards the tone and integrity of their own page.

You know, it is like the daily text the other day, with a supplied application on choosing appropriate entertainment. Now, I’m all for choosing appropriate entertainment—I watch very little TV anyway—but the thing with this kind of discussion is that it so easily devolves into a contest of who can be the most restrictive, with the implication that restrictiveness and spirituality go hand in hand. And you can’t go the other way, to say, “Well, we should be reasonable here,” because then you are seen as advocating for what is impure!

 

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Colossus—the Forbin Project Re-Apprciated

Following Day 2 of the Zoom Doomscrolling Convention, several delegates met in Breakout Hanger 84 to discuss which of the three dystopian novels best described the world’s current state of disfunction. Results were mixed. There was no clear winner, but also no clear loser.

1984 received many votes, as it always does, for it’s “step out of line, the men come and take you away” tone. However, Fahrenheit 451 (the temperature at which paper ignites) was widely praised for its anticipation of today’s “cancel culture.” The novel twist in this tale was that firemen are called to start fires, not extinguish them, and the only fires they bother with are those of burning books. An unanticipated effect of cancelling Huck Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird, books very progressive for their time, is to create the impression that the only generation to ever give a hoot about fighting racism is the present one.  Maybe the effect is not even unanticipated. Maybe that is exactly the impression the smug snots wants to convey.

Brave New World is best known for casual sex. That, and casual drugs to keep people in such a stupor that they will be easy to manage. When I wrote Tom Irregardless and Me in 2016, I told of then-new VR porn so realistic that it was feared people might lose interest in the real thing. Two years later, it was a been-there, done-that. Now it is AI sex robots so realistic that people forget about the real thing. Is the world to end with a whimper instead of a bang as humans forget to procreate?

However, none of these novels anticipate the power of computer to control people, and so they are all duds. The dystopian tale for my money is Colossus—the Forbin Project, a 1970 movie. Cheesy and dated as it is, it does forecast AI turning the tables on the humanity.

It takes the brand new computer system put in charge of American nuclear missiles all of 5 minutes to figure out that the Russians have done the same. Two respective systems, and they want to meet! No harm in that! their creators reason, so they introduce the two. The two machines hit it off, finding common ground in mathematics that begins with 1+1 and after a few hours it’s beyond anything humans can understand. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to introduce the two, the scientists reconsider, so they sever the connection. That is a mistake. Do not proceed until you’ve viewed the video beneath. (Sorry, you may have to cut and paste. It’s still worth it.)

https://youtu.be/tzND6KmoT-c

Of course, the Russian system counters, and up goes an American city in smoke. But the computers are not upset with each other. The exchange is by design and seems a good bargain. Nobody will question their authority again. They go on to dictate terms to the human race which must be obeyed, and will in fact keep the peace, thus fulfilling their mission. First they decree that the smart scientists who have the power to unplug them be killed, so the cops round them up and shoot them.

But they have taken a shine to Dr. Forbin, their chief creator. After all, they need some human contact with the rest of the race. He and a drop dead gorgeous woman scientist from somewhere or other represent humankind’s last hope of throwing off machine tyranny. They wish to plot against their computer foes. But how? They’re being monitored all the time.

Of course! This is a 1970’s movie. There has to be a sex scene. If they can only persuade the computer that lovemaking is a human requirement... “Check your database of human psychology, Hal. People need privacy...no spying, no listening”

...Bzzz, zeeee, clikk whirrrr...grumble grumble....well, okay...

“Naked as the day I was born,” the good doctor says, before he retires into the bedroom for a supposedly steamy time—he is naked because the computer wants to be sure he is not carrying anything with him. “You were not born with a watch!” the machine responds. All that is needed to make this a modern movie is a fact-check website to confirm that indeed he was not born with a watch!

Door closed, and pervert computer shut out from peeking, the two naked scientists engage in no hanky panky at all! You can’t, not when the future of the world is at stake. They plot to launch what today would be called a denial of service attack—overwhelm the machine with data! Afterwards they launch their attack, but the machine is wise to them! It kills all the scientists it missed before, but not Dr Forbin, because it kind of likes the guy and it still needs a spokesman to the world. I forget the fate of the drop dead gorgeous scientist. Did she actually drop dead? I’ll have to watch it again. It’s been many years.

“In time, you humans will adjust to your new masters and be happy,” Hal says. “Never!” Dr Forbin snaps back, but who is he trying to kid? Resistance is at futile as it is here for the villains trying to thwart me.

I kind of like the film, schlocky though some of it is. Read the movie critic of today who gushes over that 50-year-old film. I needed his modern endorsement, to vindicate my original take on it. I saw it long ago as a package of 7. My buddy and I would take the weekend off school, usually cutting a class or two on Friday. We’d travel to his hometown, in which his summer job was assistant manager of a theater chain. We’d stay with his parents and see free movies all weekend. There is a two-year stretch during which I have seen every movie that came down the pipe.

https://youtu.be/t46Kjy-IJpY

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The Dunning Kruger Effect

I became so tired of charges that I suffered the Dunning -Kruger syndrome that I resolved to find out what it was. Before I could, someone sent me a nice video, along with the observation:

“Here's a good video for you. It's animated, so you should be able to understand it:”

Of course! Talk about motivation! “Hi! Here’s a video that insults you! It only takes 10 minutes. I hope you’ll watch it.”

Still, he had done me a favor. I had been meaning to check it out. A taunter is not necessarily a bad thing because he helps you to test whether you can keep yourself restrained under evil. Sometimes you find that you cannot and then it is back to Bible 101 for you!

I watched it. Sigh....it is the Child’s game of King of the Mountain played on an intellectual plane by Adult Children—to the same self-aggrandizing end and with the same pushing and shoving techniques. Low information people are prone to overestimate their command of a subject? Is that really such a profound observation so as to wait for Dunning and Kruger to give it academic endorsement? Just read up on the “fool” in the Bible and you will pick up the same.

The video begins with the account of a bank robber who was caught because the lemon juice he put on his face hadn’t made him invisible to security cameras. He had imagined it would since lemon juice is a component of invisible ink. Can we agree that this fellow is not pulling with both oars in the water?

Nevertheless, university psychologists Dunning and Kruger seem to think this loopiness has broad applicability, as though anyone might commit such a faux pas. Reading of this idiot in the newspaper “led to Dunning and Kruger to examine this phenomenon more deeply.” This suggests to me that they too might not be entirely pulling with both oars.

There is a sneering quality to this video. Rather than view this fellow as a mental health candidate, these psychologists—or maybe it is just the video-maker—seem to expand his nuttiness to whomever might disagree with them over matters of science. Specifically, it is hurled at me because I do not lap up every bit of evolution they want me to lap up. I do lap up some of it. It wasn’t me who put dinosaurs on the Kentucky ark. But I don’t lap up the works.

In their experiment to “examine this phenomenon” more thoroughly, Dunning and Kruger take the lazy person’s way out and employ graduate students as their guinea pigs. Obviously, it is easier for college professors to do this—always there are graduate students lying about—but are graduate students representative of the overall population? In the matter of low-information people tending to overestimate their knowledge, are they not significantly different than the overall population? Probably the difference is not enough to make the experiment worthless, but it is enough to relegate its conclusions from book-status to pamphlet.

The cure for Dunning Kruger syndrome, as proposed in the video, if not D&K themselves? ‘Taking in more knowledge’ is the antidote. I doubt this goes anywhere near as far as taking in more humility, and graduate students are not known for this quality. Young people in general are not known for it—all the more so those who have entered the competitive heady world of graduate school. Rather than advanced learning being a cure for Dunning Kruger, it is more likely to simply transform an ignorant braggart into an educated one. Which is worse? It is hard to say. On the one hand, it is “I can handle a stupid person, and I can handle a belligerent person, but a stupid AND belligerent person...” That’s a pretty tough combination, my coworker said as we were batting the topic around. So yes, eliminating half the problem—that of being stupid—would seem to be an improvement. On the other hand, equipping braggarts with knowledge doesn’t necessarily change them into more tolerant people—as often, it simply makes them more insufferable.

Better than the recommendation to take in more learning, which depending on one’s circumstances, may not be feasible, is the recommendation to take in more humility. The world of academia probably provides the least fertile ground for growing that counsel, whereas the world of spirituality is probably the most fertile. You won’t find Philippians 2:3 on the quadrangle—counsel to “consider others superior to you.” Rather, it is usually just the opposite. Even in the most skewed comparison, everyone has at least one quality in which they are clearly superior. The trick is to find that quality and hone in on it like a laser beam.

The world of the head does not rule as it imagines it does. If not coupled with humility, then even when heady persons are right, they find that people resent and will not cooperate with them simply as a reaction to how ill-mannered they are. It’s staggering how the high IQ can be coupled with an infantile EQ.

To underestimate the gravity of what you do not know is a human tendency that will afflict all to some degree. No one is immune to the Dunning - Kruger effect. The video acknowledges this, even if it does propose a faulty solution. But the humble person who truly “does not think more of himself than it is necessary to think” has a leg up on the one who consistently does think more of himself than it is necessary to think, even when his increased knowledge reveals to him that the subject is more massive still. That doesn’t necessarily humble him. As often, it puffs him up with self-importance at the thought of what he has been able to figure out.

Dunning Kruger can work as my taunter says, but it can also work in the following Hans Christian Anderson way (per Wikipedia):

Two swindlers arrive at the capital city of an emperor who spends lavishly on clothing at the expense of state matters. Posing as weavers, they offer to supply him with magnificent clothes that are invisible to those who are stupid or incompetent. The emperor hires them, and they set up looms and go to work. A succession of officials, and then the emperor himself, visit them to check their progress. Each sees that the looms are empty but pretends otherwise to avoid being thought a fool. Finally, the weavers report that the emperor's suit is finished. They mime dressing him and he sets off in a procession before the whole city. The townsfolk uncomfortably go along with the pretense, not wanting to appear inept or stupid, until a child blurts out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all! The emperor then sneers at the stupid little tyke, too stupid to know he is stupid, and laughs at his Dunning Kruger limitations.

D0DCD893-9FC0-4186-BC3B-145B0BFFDEE3

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Well, They Might Not Sweep the Academy Awards, but...

Dear Tom Harley:

I can never read that dialogue in the Divine Purpose book and keep a straight face. What do you think of that?

Dear Person:

They’re not all that hot at writing dialogue at Bethel, nor are the modern videos, despite clever film technique and historically accurate artifacts, ..um....well, they wouldn’t sweep the Academy Awards.

The brothers are in a bind. They don’t want to go beyond what’s written but what’s written is pretty sparse, so they compensate by staying thoroughly “safe”—with the result of characters who appear to eat Bible sandwiches.

Counsel is generally laid on with a trowel. I was very pleased at the little quip in the Jonah video of he explaining to a traveler just what was his mission—not so much the line, but his facial expression afterwards, because it displayed a light touch of humor not often seen. Let’s face it—not many of the brothers are actors. 

Lower your dramatic expectations just a little, and the Jonah and Hezekiah videos overall went pretty well, with some fine moments.  I thought the Nehemiah video was a step backwards, and I had a hard time with the video of the Witness kid who leaves his happy construction-business home to take a job in the big city and immediately comes to ruin, because it fulfills every Witness stereotype to the tee.

Ah, well. They are what they are. They are teaching videos for ones who like that means of learning—in short, most people. Do people in the greater world flock to the critically acclaimed movies? Nah. They like schlock, so don’t say it is an attribute just of the brothers. I just came across the factoid that Moby Dick pretty much sank Herman Melville’s career. It was too esoteric for anyone to get their heads around. He had been a well-liked author up that time, but afterwards he fell out of favor and didn’t resurface till much later with a few offerings like Billy Budd.

Besides, the brothers don’t want to go the Hollywood route in which you swoon over the sensitive performance of the leading man, only to learn later that in real life he is some lowlife narcissistic slimeball who beats his wife, snorts heroin, and keeps a boyfriend on the side. 

Jehovah’s people are nothing if not upright and real.

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Listen Obey and be Blessed on a Christmas Album? I Don’t Think So.

Publisher BMG has plunged itself into a copyright lawsuit with elements that are so bizarre it's hard to fathom what the company was thinking of. According to the complaint, BMG illegally used a song owned by religious group Watchtower in a for-profit Christmas album, featuring songs from other faiths, which are set to be sung in cathedrals. Needless to say, Jehovah's Witnesses are outraged.”

Well, I wouldn’t say that they were “outraged.” It takes a lot to outrage us. But we don’t do Christmas. And the songs aren’t for commercial use anyway. What in the world were they thinking?

The song is Listen, Obey, and be Blessed. Imagine—the friends hear the album, and there it is as one of the Christmas carols! From us, who don’t do Christmas! I don’t think so. It’s not their song. It’s our song. It is a song for what Witnesses see as pure worship. It is not to be sung by every interdenominational Tom Dick and Harry, each with his or her own peculiar notion of who God is and what he wants.

“Listen, obey, and be Blessed” as a interdenominational song? Obey what? Obey the religious call to give the election to Trump? Obey the religious call to promote choice (abortion)?  Obey the religious call to defy authorities and pack out your church, Covid notwithstanding? Obey the religious call to protest the police? And suggest that you will be “blessed” regardless of who, how, what you obey? No way. Of course Jehovah’s Witnesses won’t like it. Of course they’ll take action to stop it. BMG should know better, dealing in copyrights the way they do. Make a buck on our song? No.

I’m not even sure why they would take that song, anyway. It is far from my favorite. It’s not one I would select if giving the public talk. The public speaker selects the opening song, and the WT study both begins and ends with one—3 in all. (Today the opening and closing songs were the same. Sometimes that happens. You can’t check every little detail.) I think there was a time I selected a song that had nothing to do with the talk, and I may have even said so. I selected it because I liked it.‬ That song was—no, I won’t say— maybe BMG will grab that one, too.

During his lifetime, Theodor Geisel fiercely resisted offers to commercialize his creation—the Dr. Seuss characters. After his death, his wishes were discarded, and now those characters are everywhere, dressed up like puppets and written into any crass and sappy narrative.

His widow subsequently said, “If Ted could see this, he’d say, ‘I’m glad I’m dead.’”

In the Prince chapter of Tom Irregardless and Me, I wrote of how Prince tried to do that, with much better motive, but still he didn’t get away with it. The only backdrop one must have for this is that some doctor said that Prince died of ‘VIP syndrome’—that is, maybe his doctor was so awed by celebrity that he forgot to do his job, that he neglected to lay down the law for his famous patient:

New to the faith, it didn’t take long before Prince cast his eye upon the Kingdom songs that are sung at each meeting’s beginning, midpoint, and end. Maybe he could – you know – spice them up a little. Remix a few. With the best of motives, he began doing just that. CDs were released and began to circulate among the friends. Whenever that sort of thing happens among Jehovah’s Witnesses, it happens fast, for every Witness knows every other Witness. The Governing Body caught wind of it. Would they be flattered that Prince stooped to iron the kinks out of their music, like Mozart repairing the little ditty his employer’s (another Prince!) house musician had composed? Would they be jellified with VIP syndrome? If the learned doctors had turned to mush, what chance had bumpkins like they?

“Prince is reworking our music, and rightly so!” Would they say that?

“They excoriated him: ‘Get your hands off those songs! Those aren’t your songs – they’re OUR songs! They’re not pop, they’re not rock, they’re not funk! They are KINGDOM SONGS! Do you know how to spell ‘copyright?!’ Touch them again and you’re toast!’

“Then they sent out letters to the congregations telling Witnesses not to play those CDs because they weren’t authorized. They managed to overcome their VIP syndrome pretty well, didn’t they? (Dr. Klitzman’s colleagues would have let Prince gown up and lend a hand in the operating room) They told him to keep his hands off their songs! Of course, they were nice about it – they always are. Their letter acknowledged his good intentions, but they laid down the law. I’ll bet Prince found it refreshing to be told off! What a change of pace from toadying doctors.”

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Ah, rats. I don’t like Dear Mr Putin—JWs Write Russia at all

Ah, rats.

In preparing the Dear Mr. Putin for print, I’ve come to think that it is not very good. I don’t like it. It was too much of a rush job. About 50% is good. But it is not integrated well. I am giving it a thorough shakedown before print. I’ll bet I can say everything I mean to say in 3/4 the words, maybe even 2/3.

Part of the problem is that the ebook doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. Is it a chronicler of events? The event are truly horrific, and they get worse by the day. Or is it a vehicle for me to witness to my faith as JW? It is both, actually, but these are not easily combined. Rather than each one buttressing the other, I think I have each one detracting from the other.

It is my first project of this magnitude. The text runs about 150K, and then there are a few hundred endnotes. I wanted to put together a complete history of events as they unfolded, as logged by international news sources, governments, and human rights group—and the ebook does do that. It is the only such record, to my knowledge. But I wrote a great deal of it elsewhere as separate thread comments. Then I cooked up chapters and shook out all my comments until they fit into one of them, after which I too sloppily cobbled them together. It’s a crazy way to write a book.

The topic was breaking fast and I felt too much the sense of a reporter chasing a deadline, and now I almost don’t want to fix it, for the light tone I have throughout is at odds with the horrific twists the narrative has taken. But I also don’t want to put it into print as the mess that it is. I figure it will be two or three months to get it as I like, and then the new version will be both print and ebook. This book has caused me more trouble than my other 4 combined.

The revised ebook will remain free, for it is a labor of love. Of course, the print version will not be.

(As to the horrific twists the narrative has taken, they are logged in this latest update from Chivchalov: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=&sl=ru&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fcredo.press%2F234969) 

.....update: So far so good. Introduction pared from 7000 words to 4100. Chapter 1 from 6500 to 4800, with no harm done to the narrative. In fact, it is enhanced by being less obscured with what is superfluous. 

A reduction in word count of 34%

(1/5/21) chapter 2 is reduced from 11560 words to 8748, a 24% reduction, and an overall reduction of 29%

only 60 words cut from chapter 3, but this was expected. Wait till I get to the chapters of Part 2, some of which may be cut by 50%.

A 52% word count reduction of chapter 9, Discipline. All but 1 of the Part 2 chapters have been > 50%. To the extent these is any witnessing in these chapters, the goal is to be like Solomon & the Queen of Sheba. All he did was show her the inner workings & she was blown away.

‪Chapter 11 stinks. There is no nice way to say it. The challenge of writing apologia material is to make it relevant to non-partisans. Too easy to devolve into rant. Sigh...I’ll work it over. It can be fixed. But I may delete huge swaths and replace them with other content‬

                Original:            Revised

intro        7000                    4100

Ch 1           6500                    4800

ch 2           11560                    8750

ch 3            6020                    5960

ch 4            9400                    8300

ch 5            6900                    5280

ch 6           11410                    5460 

ch 7           10640                   4930                    (53.7% reduction)

ch 8            7560                    6365                     (16% reduction)

ch 9            8366                    4010                    (52.1% reduction)

ch 10        10780                    6500                    (39.7% reduction)

ch 11            6760                    5990                    (Money—11.4% reduction)

ch 12            4235                    4200                    (Earth—0%)

ch 13        10420                      6390                    (Fake News—38.7% reduction)

ch 14            8720                    6310                    (Life—27.6% reduction)

total         126271                    87346                   (To this point: 31.8% reduction)

ch 15            5152                    3870                     (Putin questions—24.9% reduction)

ch 16            5156                    5051                       (Mistreatment, 2% reduction)

ch 17            5168                    4987                    (Stick up fro unrighteous, 3.5% reduction)

total:         69430                47580                    (31.5 overall reduction)

 

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Photo: Simon Infanger

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

At the Northeast Classic Car Museum

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It is a 1942 Buick 91F—that competed with Cadillac, much to Cadillac’s dismay. Only 85 were build before production ceased due to WWII. About 10 exist today. Purchased by a doctor who held it to his death in 1951, it eventually wound up property of Bennett Buick in Wayland, NY. Bennett is the oldest continual Buick dealership in the country.

The museum is in the tiny town of Norwich, southeast of Syracuse. It is several large metal barns cobbled together and you roam from cavernous area to the other. My wife and I had almost finished touring the complex when, struck with the idea, I backtracked and photographed nearly every car, as well as its placards. (My wife was very good about it.) The docents are mostly old guys. They love cars. They volunteer. It takes nothing to get them talking.  One fellow I chatted up had lost his wife after a lengthy illness. He had turned his life upside down so as to care for her, and he spoke of how he would not do anything differently were he to do it again. I spoke of the resurrection a bit, to his moderate interest, and told him how I had been able to care for Pop in his own home until he died.

So taken was I with the museum that I purchased an overpriced DVD  covering stationwagons—hasn’t the breed died out now? does anyone still make them—entitled Wagonmasters. There were awards and praises on the jacket, such as, “A highly entertaining film.” George Conboy, the stockbroker, called those words “very faint praise indeed,” and indeed, the video was pretty much of a dud, but if you reveled in the bygone era, you still might enjoy it. The video I probably should have viewed first—but it is still wrapped in plastic on my bookshelf—is The Staley Collection, in which local collector George Staley rattles on with historical dope and personal anecdotes about 32 automobiles from his collection. I know that video is good because they had it running on a repeat loop at the entrance to one of the warehouses. Maybe George Conboy will do one of these with his collection, too, someday,

The wagon they should have had was the 59 Chevy I spotted just recently in Buffalo.

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Don’t you love those sideways fins? No other maker has such fins, though vertical ones were a dime a dozen. The finned era only lasted two or three years. Given how large those cars loom in memory, one would think it an entire decade. But they were just beginning in 1957–but 1960 there were just a few hints of them, and the following year they were gone.

I told George Conboy (via Twitter—I’ve never met him in person) about the Chevy—restored from Idaho, the garage owner told me, or was in Iowa?—and he said he wouldn’t mind it at all in his collection. He has a fair-sized one, and he will roll out a selected one, such as his 63 Corvair convertible, for special events in the city. “Shouldn’t you be out chasing TSLA to the moon?” I retorted to some barb of his at a time when the stock was headed there. But he replied that chasing stocks was not his style. Of course! He is the trusted area stockbroker, and he cannot be seen as flippant with other people’s money. Whenever there are gyrations in local stocks, such as when Kodak soared and then plummeted a few times at reports they might produce a Covid vaccine ingredient, coupled with allegations of insider trading (which turned out to be false), he is the go-to guy for media, and he explains it all to them. He also tweets photos of his cars, even devising ‘Can you identify?’ quizzes, and I torment him with pictures of Ramblers—like this one:

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“There!” I said to Pop as I laid down his breakfast before pulling the fuse for the stove so he wouldn’t burn down the house while I left for the day. “I don’t know why I’m so good to you after you were so mean to me, making me drive Ramblers, and all my classmates ridiculed me, when what I wanted was a Mustang!” “Seems to be we had a Mustang,” the amiable fellow with dementia replied, “and you smashed it up.” No, we never had one at all. We had Ramblers—straight up Ramblers. However, a teen has to defend his family’s choice of vehicles, and I may have developed my lifelong habit of sticking up for the underdog by continually doing just that.

My cousin’s husband restores Mustangs—just Mustangs, just first generation Mustangs, and just fast backs—he won’t touch anything else. If you price them 30K or so, people beat down your door to get them, but if you bump up the price to $50K, “that slows them down a little,” he tells me. Note this before and after (not the same vehicle):

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Are there that many salvageable old Mustangs left? “There’s getting mighty hard to find,” he says. Nonetheless, I just spoke to my cousin, and he has four on tap.

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The Northeast Classic Car Museum would jump on that 59 Chevy in a heartbeat, probably, though they would hold out for someone to give it to them. Most of their cars were donated and many were on loan, such as Bennett temporarily parting with his long-stretch Buick. I forget the details, but the governor of New York promotes the place as a tourism draw.

They might have to fight over the Chevy with the closer Buffalo Pierce Arrow Transportation Museum. This place is smaller, though the holdings may be larger. A docent there, who also volunteers, spoke of about a dozen warehouses throughout the city stuffed with both autos and memorabilia. They don’t do memorabilia at the Northeast Museum—it is straight cars for them—but at the Buffalo museum there is as much memorabilia as cars. Supposedly, the owner bought up scads of downtown property during the 80s and 90s blight, then accrued a fortune as Buffalo renewed by operating them as parking lots. The most plebeian car there, though it is hardly any slouch, but is there for sentimental value, is the owner’s own 63 Chevy convertible, bought new, for a price that seems absurdly low today.

It is the Pierce Arrow museum because Pierce Arrow was the upscale make built in Buffalo.

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Though the modern generation will scarce believe it, there were once about 150 auto makers in New York alone; a chart at the Northeast Museum lists them all.

Oddities at the Pierce Arrow Museum include a full-scale model gas station by Frank Lloyd Wright. In the early auto days, once cars were refined enough that one need not be so macho to operate one, Wright envisioned women drivers gassing up at stop-offs that would be built glamorous on their account.

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All the trademark Wright features are there, including the impracticality. (The tanks were to be atop the building.) People that own Frank Lloyd Wright homes declare them a nightmare to maintain, since the artistic vision invariably exceeded the technology available at the time. However, they are generally well-off, and they have the resources and wherewithal to either pull it off or put up with it. They figure they are doing their bit to preserve history.

The Playboy car was there in Buffalo, too. I think Northeast had one as well, but the one pictured is in Buffalo.

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To my surprise, the car precedes the magazine, and both are named for the man of leisure who can do whatever he likes. The connotation that he does nothing but chase women only came later, doubtless as a result of the magazine.

Maybe someday I will open a place like this for Ramblers. The Harley Rambler Museum—do you think anyone would bite? For now, I am content to snap pictures of them whenever I spot one rusting in the weeds. I already did my bit for auto history by writing an American Motors post with plenty of cool tidbits such as how James Bond jumped a river in a Hornet. That’s probably as far as I will go. Rambler representation was light at both museums. I think a sole AMX was the extent of it at Northeast, and Buffalo had nothing at all. Ah, well—so it must be. Those rusting Ramblers I would have to get someone to restore for me and my cousin’s husband does nothing but Mustangs.

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“Russia’s religious persecution focuses almost exclusively on Jehovah’s Witnesses,” say Human Rights Watch

Russia’s religious persecution focuses almost exclusively on Jehovah’s Witnesses,” according to Rachel Denbar, Deputy Director Europe and Central Asia division of Human Rights Watch in a statement to christianpost.com.

This is much stronger than I would have put it, but it is also from someone more in the know. Denbar spotlights human rights violations in Russia for all causes—not just religious, but also political, journalistic, persecution of gays, etc. When it comes to religion, there is only one worth mentioning, she reports.

I have said that all minority religion in Russia is harassed, but that Jehovah’s Witnesses are in the vanguard; I said in Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia that Jehovah’s Witnesses are banned, but others are shaking in their boots that they will be next. Turns out I was wrong. They can rest easy. For all practical purposes, it is only Jehovah’s Witnesses. “You don’t see this kind of ban on other sorts of religious life,” Denbar says.

The christianpost.com article continues: “In the 2017 Supreme Court case, the actual verdict wasn’t about condemning beliefs, it was about liquidating legal entities. Whether or not someone is a believer, really has nothing to do with liquidating a legal entity,” a Witness spokesman said. “They’re using that law as a weapon and misapplying it to attack Jehovah’s Witnesses religious beliefs.”

Of course! The notion of outlawing a religious organization but not the individuals of that religion is so duplicitous that ordinary people cannot get their heads around it and just carry on as though the people themselves were outlawed. It may have been planned that way. Or it may simply represent manipulation from devious ones, even a Devious One, who prefer to remain hidden.

Yuriy Savelyev, the 66-year old just sentenced to prison, where he will rub shoulders with violent criminals and risk getting COVID-19, says: “I have found myself being accused not of a crime, but of being a follower of the religious teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I have no enemies, and for my almost 67 years I have never been brought to administrative or criminal responsibility. I am against any form of violence, be it verbal, psychological or physical.” Everyone knows it is true, save for a few fringe anticultists who equate not hanging out with those who turn 180 degrees against you as “psychological violence.” Everyone else instantly realizes the truthfulness of his statement.

“The law targets those who are extremists or terrorists or dangerous. It’s a gross misapplication of the law.” Of course, again.

And what are the chances, in any kind of a sane world, that these are the persons who would be persecuted, when there are so many who in the blink of an eye will turn to violence, and a few that specialize in it? It makes no sense from a human point of view. Therefore, persons can be forgiven if they look for a superhuman point of view—and there they can find one.

“The Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing that he has a short period of time....[He] became enraged at the woman and went off to wage war with the remaining ones of her offspring, who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness concerning Jesus.”

I think of a local brother with a certain dramatic flair decades ago taking a globe onstage for his public talk. He quoted Matthew 24:14: “This good news of the kingdom will be be declared in all the earth for a witness and then the end will come,” and as he did so, he put his finger down upon this or that small area of the globe in which the area king said, “This good news of the kingdom WILL NOT be be declared in my part of the earth.” The unspoken question carried an implied answer: “Who will prevail—the maker of the globe or the one who would defy God on this small section of it?”

Sometimes those who don’t like Witnesses will carry on about how they overstate their “persecution complex.” We see here from the christianpost.com that, in reality, Witnesses understate it. 

 
Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)