Uncle Thor's Lessons, Anecdotes and Humor

28
Sep

How to Diminish the Appeal of Hate Groups

The late talk show host, Tom Snyder, enjoyed my All Gauge Model Railroading Page (www.thortrains.net) enough that he placed a link to it. He was a model train fan and we traded a few emails. I liked Tom. His talk show pulled no punches and he was not afraid to tackle controversial subjects.

I learned a lesson from his show many years ago, long before anyone had even thought of an Internet. He brought some modern-day Nazis on the show. These were the George Lincoln Rockwell types. Tom let them talk. He hit them with a lot of hard questions. He gave them enough leeway to make fools of themselves. People asked why Snyder would have people like that on his show.

Tom replied that when you put the spotlight on people like that they shriveled. They certainly did on his show. I would like you to consider this.

Today, we have idealistic fools who think they can stamp out hate groups through violence and tinkering with the law. The fools want to “shut them up.” All that will do is drive those people underground. It will not eliminate them. It will not diminish their appeal to folks who think like them. More likely, it will make them more appealing. The only thing accomplished will be to force them to operate where we cannot see them.

An old Irish saying applies here: Better a Devil you can see than one that you can’t.

Though the logic of that expression should be obvious, some folks will miss the point entirely. So let me elucidate:

If the extremists go far enough underground to conceal themselves and their activities, then we have no clue as to what they are doing or where they are focused. We can no longer counter them because we do not know where they are or even if they exist any more. That gives them the element of surprise. They have freedom from observation and the time to hatch more intricate and destructive plots. Imagine a hundred Timothy McVeigh type schemes in the works.

No! We need to put the spotlight on them. We need to get them to speak in front of the camera. We need to get them out in the open so people can really hear what they have to say. And we must subject them to inquiry right then and there. I can assure you that public scrutiny will do more to counter them than any plot to silence them. It will also discourage those who might have been tempted to join them. Given public scrutiny, the extremists and their words will be best advertisement for shunning them and their crackpot ideologies.

27
Sep

Hands in My Wallet

Many years ago, a friend invited me to go on a weekend with him at a place in the Poconos. He had bought a time-share at a resort. One of the bonuses was that he could take friends to the resort for a weekend. The catch was that at the end, the friend would be subjected to a sales pitch selling time shares.

The resort was an old golfers’ country club. On arrival, we were given tickets that we could use at the resort like money. It was a nice enough place. Apparently, it was expanding its reach beyond golfers to summer and winter vacationers and hunters.

The last day, we reported to another building where we were cordially greeted. I knew nothing of time shares. The sales pitch began wit ha slide show about the resort and its amenities. Next, it spoke of other resorts with which a person could swap a time share. In other words, instead of going to Pennsylvania that year, he might trade to go to one in Europe or other parts of the US.

The show emphasized the owner’s interest in participating in events at the resort, with pictures of him having a barbecue with members / guests. I recognized that little bit of advertising. It was tantamount to saying:“Join the club and hang out with the rich man. He wants to be your friend”

That told me that the resort was really stretching with the time shares. They were going for folks with average incomes. Apparently, there were not enough rich folks joining as they had in the old days.

Of course, this was a waste of time and energy. I had no intention of buying anything. Time share? I could just as easily buy a couple acres of land and put a small house trailer on it if I wanted a country hideaway.. I had no interest in golf whatsoever.

After the presentation, I was asked to speak with a representative. He was a small, nervous-looking man in a cheap sports jacket. There was a look in his eyes that I had seen before, but did not place at that moment. We went into a small cubicle and he began showing me available time shares. I played along, intrigued by the whole concept. Yet at no time was there any intention to buy one. A hoity-toity country club was no place for me.

The little man stressed that I could sign a contract, and if I was not satisfied, I had three days to cancel it. He said that a few times. He implied that I had to move fast to get the timeshare I wanted at the best price. And here is a useful bit of wisdom about that kind if salesmanship. Getting into the contract is easy. Getting out might be a hassle. (I discovered later that terminating contracts often involves sending a registered letter and all that.) Better not to get into it at all.

I told him that rather than buy on the spot, I would think about it and call later. He pressed for me to sign on the dotted line but I refused. Again, he was told that I would think about it.

Suddenly, the little man’s whole attitude-changed. He picked up his sales binder and started to walk away. The man acted as if I had done something personally to hurt him. The abrupt reaction was as if that air had instantly been let out of a balloon. It was weird. He just spent time trying to sell me a time share and now, by his sudden change of demeanor, made sure that I – or any other customer subjected to such rudeness – would never come back to buy.

Keeping to my normal standards of courtesy, I offered him a handshake. He gave a dead fish handshake and walked away. I didn’t like the feeling I got.

Then it hit me. The little man had that hungry look. It was as if he mentally had his hands in my wallet. The man was focused on my money. What about me? To him, I was just a situation he had to handle in order to get it. Later, I learned that he was not a professional salesmen. None of them were. Almost all were time share buyers. The resort arranged for them to sell timeshares so as to earn commissions that paid for their own. Aha! The wee fellow expected me to help pay for his time share.

I was that little man’s one shot that weekend to make a commission. He not only wanted a sale: he thought he deserved it. To him, it was a “done deal.”

To be blunt, the things promised in the slide show and other promotional materials were too good to be true. The problem is not what they tell you, but what they do not tell you that is misleading.

A couple years ago, my wife and I were food shopping. In the same plaza as our favorite supermarket was a mattress store. Audrey wanted to look at mattresses, so in we went. Almost as soon as we started looking, a salesman descended on us. We told him we were just browsing, but that was not enough for him. He stayed with us, wanted us to try something to test a mattress’ firmness, and guided us toward more expensive mattresses. At one point, the man said, “This isn’t high pressure, it’s high practicality.”

We told the man more than once that all we wanted to do was browse. The constant sales pitch was annoying. Audrey and I wanted to look at what we chose to see. He kept trying to direct us everywhere else. This was a high-pressure sales pitch for, of all things, a mattress!

Finally, the man stropped and said, “What can I do to get you to buy a mattress today.”

By this time, Audrey and I were miffed. Audrey replied, “Nothing. We just wanted to look.”

This man expended all this energy and effort despite our telling him several times that we just wanted to browse. He turned his back and abruptly walked away from us. Obviously, he finally realized that we had only come to browse. And like the little man in the Poconos, he mentally had his hands in our wallet. Like that little twerp, the mattress salesman acted as if we did something to him.

People can act that way when they do not get their way. And even if they are the active one in the situation, they act as if the other person is at fault when it goes sour.

“There is something of yours that belongs to me, and if do not get it, you hurt me!”

Remember that YOU control your wallet, not some high-pressure salesman. And by all means, do not sign the contract until YOU are ready to buy. They can wait three days if their product or service is as good as they claim.

20
Aug

Facts about Extremists

Facts about Extremists

Extremists tend to be unhappy people. They have a lot of anger. Feeling like nobodies, their causes make them somebody. They think that by fighting for something bigger than themselves, they are somebody. And fight they will. Many of them are very devoted to the causes they espouse. Extremists will work for their cause, at their own expense. Many are willing to face ostracization, jail and worse in the furtherance of their causes.

And make no mistake. These are not all a bunch of ignorant thugs. Some people get cold comfort thinking they are intellectually better than the extremists. Many extremists are intelligent, if misguided. Many are otherwise capable individuals into whose lives the proverbial monkey wrench had been thrown. Extremism is a way they compensate for the losses. That same intelligence has so enwrapped itself in their various ideologies that they can see no other way.

Doing things for their cause gives them a sense of validation. The more they commit to it, the more validated they feel.

Look at history. Both Nazism and Communism had attracted intellectuals to their side. Both systems had very intelligent people working on their development. The presence of smart people does not change the obvious fact that both Nazism and Communism both have a history of brutality, genocide and complete disregard for human rights. Both thrive on hatred for their enemies. Without someone to hate, both Communism and Nazism atrophy.

I would say the key word to understanding extremists is frustration. These are people who have been frustrated in one or more areas of their lives. Many have been made powerless by unfortunate events in their lives. Granted, it happens to others who do not choose an extremist path. However, for the people in question here, it has found outlets via participation in extremist ideologies and activities.

Be aware that however you react to them, you will not change them one bit. They have chosen their ideologies and have developed a talent for ignoring arguments to the contrary. Respond with silence and they say they have made people afraid to respond. Argue with them and they say you are being hoodwinked by some inimical group or ideology. Fight them and they claim you are violent. Even if you beat them, they claim victory because they say they got their point out into the open. Extremists thrive on getting a reaction: any reaction! For them, any publicity is good publicity. They are not going to back down from their viewpoints and they are not going to go away.

When you see that extremist, remember that he is a frustrated and angry person who feels that Life has cut him a raw deal. Maybe it has. Life is unfair. However, that extremist has chosen to deal with his frustrations in a way that is abhorrent to the rest of society. He has adopted an ideology which stands against the ideals of our society. He has become a weapon of that ideology. Under it all is a person who has a “hole in the soul.” You can rest assured that the extremism with which he tries to fill that hole will never suffice. Until he turns away from it and seeks a rational means of fulfillment, he will be a frustrated and angry person lashing out at the world.

******

How do I know this? Back in the 70s, I brushed wings with extremists. I have known people who adhered to various extreme ideologies and groups: For the most part, these were not casual acquaintances. Several were friends. And yes, I had the dilemma of not being able to introduce some friends to other friends. I knew many of these people well enough to know their histories, their families and some confidential details. Among folks I considered friends were people on both sides of the equation: Right, Left, White, Black, Christian, Jewish, Panthers, Nazis, Klanners, Commies, etc. The ones who really took their causes to heart all fit the profile given above. Some were still involved when I knew them. Some had cut ties to their extreme causes and chose a more rational life. I lost contact with the last of them over 30 years ago.

Many of these individuals I knew were good people at heart. The problem was that their innate goodness was buried under a lot of frustration, hate and misguided thinking. I had no doubt that their good nature did not extend to those they considered adversaries. The same person who might go to great lengths to help someone could just as quickly turn violently hostile when facing one of his enemies. Others were malicious folks seeking an outlet. Indeed, a waste of human potential.

18
Aug

If you are proud, show your face and say so!!

People who are proud of their words, their cause, their actions and themselves do not hide their faces.

14
Aug

Better to Know!

Ignorance is not bliss. We live in an era where knowledge is widespread and accessible. Therefore, we have no excuse to be ignorant. Nonetheless, there are people who think it is “cool” to be thought of as dumb. Recently, a popular entertainer proudly proclaimed that he is a “…great non-reader of books….”

Knowledge is power, knowledge leads to insight, and knowledge is a necessary ingredient of wisdom. We all do well to increase our knowledge in whatever fields and things interest us. Let the willfully ignorant suffer the consequences of their stupidity. And let us benefit from the results of our wise decision to pursue knowledge.

Knowing gives us the ability to accomplish more. Knowledge assures success.

13
Aug

Good and Bad Religion

This is something I wrote back on August 13, 2014

After more than half a century of dealing with religion, religious teaching and the like, I have noticed certain things which separate good religion from the bad counterpart. I have experienced both sides of it in my youth and have observed these things since attaining adulthood.

Good religion:

Religion should provide acceptance. That includes self-acceptance and acceptance of and by others.

Religion should provide a sense of direction.

Religion should encourage and assist an individual’s self -expression.

Religion should empower an individual to stand on his own two feet, to think for himself and express his independence as a human being.

Religion should offer a means of belonging.

Religion should acknowledge the connection between the human and the divine. It should help people come to know the divine that abides within the human.

Religion should contribute to an individual’s confidence and sense of security.

Religion should be a vehicle for spirituality. It ought to enhance spiritual growth and understanding.

Bad religion:

Religion should not encourage total obedience to any person, entity, organization or scripture.

Religion should not penalize people for questioning it.

Religion should not be employed to cajole, brainwash, manipulate, coerce or otherwise abuse the free will of others.

Religion should not teach hate, intolerance or bigotry.

Religion should not impart feelings of fear, unworthiness and insecurity.

Religion should not teach that different beliefs make their believers inimical, hostile, or worthy of mistreatment of any kind.

Religion should never undermine, inhibit, contradict or otherwise diminish spiritual growth and development.

04
Aug

The Chris Christie Horse’s Ass Serenade

The Chris Christie Horse’s Ass Serenade

(To the tune of “The Mr. Ed Song”)

A horse has an ass, of course, of course
And none can talk to an ass , of course
Unless you meet our governor
Talk to Portly Chris

He wants you to think he’s upper class
In spite of the gas that he will pass
He is New Jersey’s Horse’s Ass
Look at Portly Chris

Chris goes round the Bridgegate way
The people he will sass
But Portly Chris can never hide
The fact he’s a horse’s ass

He’s never in Trenton, of course, of course
Approval rating getting worse and worse
The nation’s lousiest governor
Chris the Horse’s Ass.

You can hear the song on Youtube. Follow the link below

https://youtu.be/CZMtyvc01dg

28
Jun

Rune Musings: The Odal Rune – No Borrowed Ancestors

Odal – No Borrowed Ancestors

Being adopted, I had a hard time connecting with MY ancestors. For several reasons, I could not and would not borrow the lineage of my adoptive family.

I was not going to fuss over honoring borrowed ancestors.

Finding a lineage of my own came in an odd and wonderful way. Audrey and I were looking at the old veterans’ gravestones at Tennent Church. Many casualties from the Battle of Monmouth are buried there. We were looking at stones from those who had died after the War. At the start, some were marked Continental Line. Others were marked NJ Militia. From there it went to later wars, such as the War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, etc.

That was where I found my lineage. The Continental Line was the regular Army of the Revolution. The Militia was the predecessor of the National Guard. I had served both in the regular Army and the National Guard, and felt a connection. Here was a lineage that fit me. I am part of that line of American soldiers stretching from the old militia to the present.

There are other groups that give a sense of precedence and continuity. Members have the feeling of being part of a tradition that predates them. These may be fraternal groups such as the Freemasons or Elks, veterans groups like the American Legion, various occult groups, and religious societies like the Knights of Columbus. I should note that only a few of the aforementioned groups and others like them are over 100 years old. Nonetheless, each has its traditions which help establish a feeling of continuity among members. They have a lineage, whether short or long.

The idea of ancestry and lineage connects us to the past and present. Instead of being a lone thing, it gives us a sense of belonging to something that was ours before we were born. For most people, it is easy. They have a family lineage. For others, a sense of continuity from a precedent must be discovered.

Being without a familial lineage, I am more cognizant of the need for a connection to some precedent. Fortunately, I found more than one.

******

My wife can trace her ancestors back to the 14th century. Through marriage, I have become part of her family tree. I can’t borrow her ancestors, but I do have a small place in the scheme of things.

****

What of past lives? That is a difficult thing to undertake. Better to find something in your present life on which you can find it.

********

Family is a nebulous subject for me. I know there is a natural family from which I came, but I have no contact with them. I can’t trace ancestors past my birthday. As to my adopted family, their lineage is not mine. They have not been an active presence in my life for a long time. Then again, who really matters? My answer to this comes from a lifetime of experience.

The people who matter in life are the people who love you and are there for you. And even if you have not seen some of them for years, they are still your people. That is the truth. Family or not, those who do not care for you and those who do not want you may as well be strangers. Focus your goodwill and best intentions on those who love you and show it. They are the people who deserve you. And always remember: actions speak louder than words. A lot of people talk, but the ones who count are the ones who show it in what they do.

*******

This is the last of the latest rundown of the Runes. I will likely do another one in the foreseeable future. If you have enjoyed my work, please consider my books. Profits from the Runes help cover the costs of these websites. They are available here:

Look under the Our Books and Publications heading here:

http://www.thortrains.net/trollwisepress/index.htm

Get all five of our Runic books at a discount. Go to the Specials and Discounts link, click and scroll down.

http://www.thortrains.net/trollwisepress/specials07.htm

*****

Here is a set of Rune attributes using an interesting version of the Futhark. We contiue to use our old names for the Runes rather than proto-Germanic.

Rune Interpretations

27
Jun

Rune Musings: The Dag Rune – Rise and Fall of Light and Darkness

Dag – Rise and Fall of Light and Darkeness

Calendars have their uses, but sometimes we lose sight because of them. When we consult a calendar, we see a day. There is a twenty-four hour period of time divided into day and night. And that is where we stop. One day equals daytime and night: one and the other.

The reality is that a day is not a single, absolute thing. It is a process of dawn to noon through afternoon to dusk and the dead of night to twilight and then dawn again. Except for the North and South Pole, the day is not an absolute, nor a pair of absolutes. The change at both ends is twilight – “two-light” – a blend of light and darkness as one gives way to the other.

For some things, it is useful to see the Dag Rune as being two absolutes, just it there are situations where one does best to see Day and Night as complementary. For others, we need to consider Day and Night as cyclical processes of growing and waning light followed by increasing and diminishing darkness. The day is a process and for most of us, we live through that process. Breakfast to lunch to dinner. Waking to work and then back home. Relaxing after dinner to going to bed to awakening. Many of the things we do and when we do them are determined by the passage of the day. When we eat and what we eat follow the daily schedule. The early day breakfast differs from the mid-day lunch, which differs from late day dinner. Our sleep, our daily travel and our activities follow the process of day and night.

Most of us live according to the rising and waning of the light. Our schedules are geared to the process that begins with Dawn, changes at Dusk, and resumes with the next Dawn. Our lives are more attuned to the daily cycle than many had realized.

There is a practical precedent for this. It is hard to do farm work in the dark of night. It is also hard to hunt at night. We work when it is possible under the best conditions, and rest when we cannot work. This is reflected in how we live even to this day.

Consider the ramifications. The daily cycle determines work schedules, which subsequently affects commuting. Train and bus schedules are written to coincide with the greatest movement of people. This movement is based heavily on making the best advantage of the day. The roads and rails are busiest in the daytime. Late at night, there is little commuter traffic because fewer travel during the darkest hours. Even our electric use is affected by the time of day. The greatest use of electricity is during the day. Utility companies have to plan for the hours of greatest usage. At night, use of electricity drops considerably. Most businesses are closed at night. The dark hours tend to be cooler, thereby demanding less use of air conditioners in summer. All is affected by passage of daytime and night time.

On one level, the Dag Rune is a balance of opposites. On another, it is a process of moving gradually from one extreme to the next. We do not jump from light to dark. Daylight fades into darkness, and darkness fades into light.

Ponder this gradual aspect of the Dag Rune. It brings to light other facets of this Rune which can be given practical application.

*******

If you want to learn more of the Runes, we offer several books on the subject. Look under the Our Books and Publications heading here:

http://www.thortrains.net/trollwisepress/index.htm

Get all five of our Runic books at a discount. Go to the Specials and Discounts link, click and scroll down.
http://www.thortrains.net/trollwisepress/specials07.htm

26
Jun

Rune Musings: Ing Rune – The Seed Thought

Ing – The Seed Thought

Some rune interpretations claim that Hagal is the seed. These are based on the work of a German kabbalist and occultist named Guido von List. I regard von Liszt’s work as a Hermetic attempt at the Runes and put little stock in his work.

The real catalyst is the Ing Rune. This is a Rune of fertility, among other things. (It is also a Rune of agriculture, of the hearth and of protection.) Specifically, it is male fertility. That means it is the thing that starts the process. It is ignition, the spark that starts a fire or lights a fuse. It is the sperm that meets the ovum which starts gestation. Ing is also that germ of thought that starts a movement, a revolution, a leap in technology, a step forward for humanity.

Ing can represent the power of an idea. And here I am in my element.

Many years ago, I began giving a talk called “The Power of an Idea.” And these many years later, I am more convinced than ever that one idea can transform a person’s life, an enterprise, and even a nation. One idea taken, nurtured, supported and put into action can take a dire situation and turn it into a shining success.

The basic concept is that a genuine idea comes with everything necessary for someone to eventually implement it. Eventually? That might mean five minutes, five days, five weeks or years. Each one is different. When the idea presents itself, the work begins. Ideas rarely transform just by popping up. They must be implemented. That means work and planning.

Many an idea has sounded good, but the person who received it lost interest. Maybe he let other things get in the way of the work needed to turn it into results. An idea will not generate results if the person who received it spends all his time in a gin mill or watching the television for hours on end. An idea will fail if he brags about it to friends, and lets these idlers eat up his time.* An idea will be stuck in the station if the person fritters from one thing to the next rather then focusing on making that one idea come to fruition.

The idea will grow and work for the one who works with it and lets nothing keep him from doing all that is necessary.

Thomas Edison had one idea that would make the electric lightbulb. The filament was the idea. Edison tested almost 2,000 materials before he found the best wire for a filament. He knew the idea was right and he worked to make it useable. George Washington Carver had an idea about making the peanut more useful. He knew that he had to subject it to heat and pressure. Subsequent experiments led to 300 new uses for the peanut. Another idea about the sweet potato lead Carver to discover over 150 uses for the plant. Bessemer had one idea and thereby was able to produce steel on an industrial scale. These all began because the individuals had an idea and worked to make results of it.

I used to lecture in a drug and alcohol rehab. One of my talks was the Power of an Idea. One fellow really took it to heart. Tyrell was almost done with his time in rehab. He had no prospects for employment and was only going to be able to stay with a relative for a couple of weeks. Because of antics during the addiction, Tyrell was permanently forced out of a line of work that he loved.

After I gave the talk, Tyrell came to me. He had a lot of questions. Something I said gave him hope that he could earn enough money on his own until a job came along.

Before his addiction took over, Tyrell had learned how to do silk screening and to use the patterns on t-shirts. His one idea was to use that skill to earn enough money for food and shelter. When he finished his time in rehab, he bought the gear he needed and set to work. Most of the shirts had slogans for people in Recovery. Tyrell sold them at meetings for alcoholics and addicts. The man made enough money to get a room and to eat. One idea – his ability to do silk-screening – gave him hope and the means to get back on his financial feet. It served as a bridge until he could find regular employment. Eventually he found a job he liked.

All it takes is one idea and the willingness to put it into action. One idea can make the difference. It demands effort and persistence in order to bring its benefits.

*********

Many times when a new enterprise begins, idlers find it convenient to drop in and waste time. I believe they feed off the creative energy. Of course, they do nothing to enhance it. They are there looking for a place to waste time. Those beginning an enterprise, especially a home business, have to be fastidious in dissuading idlers. These people love to distract from the work with idle
chatter. Some will even have the nerve to try to tell a person how to run his enterprise.

A person who is beginning something has to ward off those who would impede it. That includes chasing off the idlers. Better they get hurt feelings than they contribute to the whole enterprise’s collapse.

****

If you want to learn more of the Runes, we offer several books on the subject. Look under the Our Books and Publications heading here:

http://www.thortrains.net/trollwisepress/index.htm

Get all five of our Runic books at a discount. Go to the Specials and Discounts link, click and scroll down.

http://www.thortrains.net/trollwisepress/specials07.htm

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