Monday, 31 March 2014

Alternative Lyrics to Well Known Songs 21 - Hodur

The Song: Hodur (based on 'Sandman' by Metallica)
Hodur is the Norse God of war.  He is known the blind god, because he is a God who lives in the midst of action, in his case, in the midst of battle.  This means that he has an over-abundance of single-mindedness, and almost no self-awareness.  His abundance of single-mindedness means that he can excel at the thing that he does (in his case fighting), but has no self-awareness thus has no ability to change what he can excel at, or even change what he does.  He is so dedicated to doing one thing that he is blind to everything else.  This includes other Gods.

Hodur's blindness to other God's is one of the main contributing factors to the Norse end-times scenario called Ragnarok ('the Twilight of the Gods').  Hodur ends up being exploited by Loki (aka the Trickster) into killing his brother and a God whom everyone loves - Baldur.  One day Loki redirects Hodurs war-bow to point at Hodur, and replaces the arrow (which is harmless to Baldur) with mistletoe (which is lethal to Baldur), and gets Hodur to fire the mistletoe at Baldur, killing him.  This act, plus others, which are also instigated by Loki, lead to the end of the Cosmos as we know it.

But there is a happy ending to this tale.  Following Ragnarok and the destruction of the Cosmos, some of the Gods remain, along with a pair of humans who have taken refuge somewhere, the Gods rebuild the Cosmos and establish their own order, and two of the Gods whom rule in this new Cosmos are Hodur and Baldur.  Thus despite the fact that one brother killed the other, they make peace and end up living in harmony.

The story of the blind God Hodur killing Baldur is one that has an analog in real life.  The analog being that young soldiers (who are predominantly young men who are blind to the ways of the world) are often exploited by other people (politicians, officers etc) whose intentions are quite often malevolent.

Finally, some of the lyrics in the song itself describe a few actions that some Odinists use when they wish to induce a Berserker state of mind: biting the shield, hitting themselves etc.  These actions are designed to bring on a physical and violent reaction in the mind of the Berserker, and cause him to become more single-minded & focused, like Hodur.


Play the music video above and sing along, in your head or out loud, with the alternative lyrics given below.
 
 
# Hodur #
I am fight.
I am rage.
I invite everyone,
to join me Hodur.
To feel the burn,
feel the speed,
feel the action,
feel the engrossing.
Fight with skin as armour,
killing is all I know.
 
Exit light.
Enter fright.
Hear me roar.
I am Hodur God of War.
 
Beat me up.
Beat me up.
Get my blood right up.
'till I'm pumped as fuck.
Bite my shield,
strike my chest,
and then turn to my left,
and scream at the Rekkr!
Yeah!
Fight with skin as armour,
killing is all I know.
 
Exit light.
Enter fright.
Hear me roar.
I am Hodur God of War.
 
Yeah-heh.
 
Now I whirl around in a fit,
(Now I whirl around in a fit,)
of bleeding madness and have the need,
(of bleeding madness and have the need,)
to taste the blood of enemies,
(to taste the blood of enemies,)
and hear them shriek in terror.
(and hear them shriek in terror.)
 
Hear me speak: I am war God,
and I completely scare the fuck,
out of verminous enemy,
and the filthy race traitors.
 
Exit light.
Enter fright.
Hear me roar.
 
Exit light.
Enter fright.
Hear me roar.
I am Hodur God of War.
 
Yeah.
 
War.
Yeah yeah!
 
Yo-oh.
 
I am Hodur God of War.
(Fate is in my hands).
 
I am Hodur God of War.
(Fate is in my hands).
 
I am Hodur God of War.
(Fate is in my hands).
 
I am Hodur God of War.
(Fate is in my hands).


[End of lyrics.]
 

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Havamal Snippets 134: Old men are often experienced in the ways of the world

The polytheistic, pre-Christian people of Europe (and the rest of the world to be sure), held the elders of their tribes in high regard.  They listened to them.  They showed them respect.  They considered them as human beings rather than as 'old people'.

Showing respect to elderly people isn't something that should be done because it's 'the right thing to do'.  People should show respect to their elders because it's good: It's good for the younger generation (they benefit by gaining knowledge & learned experience) AND it's good for the elder (they benefit by passing on their knowledge & experience).  Everything that is good is good for your and good for others, is good now and is good later, is good in itself and begets goodness.  The previous generation (the Baby Boomers) cast aside this concept of goodness, and embraced the opposite of this: 'instant gratification' (as evidenced by the free love, drug taking, and love of music halls).  A number later embraced the other, equally bad, alternative to goodness - 'Deferred Gratification'.  It is equally as bad because it promises a golden future at the expense of a miserable present.

Present and future generations need to re-learn the older culture which benefited all people in society (you and other people), all times that a person lived (the present and the future), if they are to grow and advance.  One way of re-learning these older traditions is to start showing respect to older people, to see them as human being with life-experience that we all can benefit from.


134
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
at hárum þul
hlæðu aldregi
opt er gott þat er gamlir kveða
opt ór skörpum belg
skilin orð koma
þeim er hangir með hám
ok skollir með skrám
ok váfir með vílmögum    
 
I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
[6] never laugh
[5] at a gray-haired sage
often what an old man says is good,
often [9] clear words come
[8] out of shrivelled skin,
from the one who hangs among the hides
and dangles among the dried skins
and moves among the entrails.


[End.]

Friday, 28 March 2014

Men of Yore: Frank Whittle

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards. We, as men, are the frontiers men, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity. 

Frank Whittle

Air Commodore Sir Frank Whittle, OM, KBE, CB, FRS,[1] Hon FRAeS (1 June 1907 – 9 August 1996) was a British Royal Air Force (RAF) engineer air officer. He is credited with single handedly inventing the turbojet engine. Whittle's engines were developed some years earlier than those of Germany's Dr. Hans von Ohain who was the designer of the first operational jet engine.[2]

From an early age Whittle demonstrated an aptitude for engineering and an interest in flying. At first he was turned down by the RAF but determined to join the Royal Air Force, he overcame his physical limitations and was accepted and sent to No. 2 School of Technical Training to join No 1 Squadron of Cranwell Aircraft Apprentices. He was taught the theory of aircraft engines and gained practical experience in the engineering workshops. His academic and practical abilities as an Aircraft Apprentice earned him a place on the officer training course at Cranwell. He excelled in his studies and became an accomplished pilot. While writing his thesis there he formulated the fundamental concepts that led to the creation of the turbojet engine, taking out a patent on his design in 1930. His performance on an officers' engineering course earned him a place on a further course at the University of Cambridge where he graduated with a First.[3]

Without Air Ministry support, he and two retired RAF servicemen formed Power Jets Ltd to build his engine with assistance from the firm of British Thomson-Houston. Despite limited funding, a prototype was created, which first ran in 1937. Official interest was forthcoming following this success, with contracts being placed to develop further engines, but the continuing stress seriously affected Whittle's health, eventually resulting in a nervous breakdown in 1940. In 1944 when Power Jets was nationalised he again suffered a nervous breakdown, and resigned from the board in 1946.[4]
 
In 1948 Whittle retired from the RAF and received a knighthood. He joined BOAC as a technical advisor before working as an engineering specialist in one of Shell Oil's subsidiaries followed by a position with Bristol Aero Engines. After emigrating to the U.S. in 1976 he accepted the position of NAVAIR Research Professor at the United States Naval Academy from 1977–1979. In August 1996, Whittle died of lung cancer at his home in Columbia, Maryland.[5] In 2002, Whittle was ranked number 42 in the BBC poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.[6]
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Whittle

It's always interesting to read about the psychology/character of men who have achieved great things.  Whittle seemed to be a proverbial free spirit and disliked the constraints on his style of learning; he prefered the freedom of a model aircraft society to the constraints of formal education:
Whittle hated the strict discipline imposed on apprentices and, convinced there was no hope of ever becoming a pilot he at one time seriously considered deserting.[8] However, throughout his early days as an aircraft apprentice (and at the Royal Air Force College Cranwell), he maintained his interest in model aircraft and joined the Model Aircraft Society, where he built working replicas. The quality of these attracted the eye of the Apprentice Wing commanding officer, who noted that Whittle was also a mathematical genius. He was so impressed that in 1926 he recommended Whittle for officer training at RAF College Cranwell.[3]
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Whittle#Entering_the_RAF
A final point about Whittle is that his revolutionary design was dismissed by the powers that be as nothing important.  This seems to be a common occurance throughout history, whereby individual men working off their own backs make breakthroughs which are dismissed by the so-called Elites of the day.  If nothing else, reading about this makes one more inclined to disregard the opinions of todays elites/priests (be they secular priests like scientists, or spritual ones) who proudly proclaim that they know the truth, and that you should all worship them because of it, only to have their claims swiftly disproven (just like Lord Kelvin who proclaimed that "heavier than air flight is impossible").


[End.]

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Havamal Snippets 133: Know a goodness in yourself, and recognise that goodness in others

This stanza doesn't make any sense to me (the last three lines are unrelated to the first three, making the verse a non-sequitur), so I'll defer to the interpretation of someone who studies the Havamal and Nordic life in general.  His website can be found HERE.  These are his thoughts on stanza 133:
Once again, the extreme banality of this stanza leads the reader to wonder what information Ódhinn wanted to put in it.

It does not seem reasonably possible to choose the meaningwonder’ for kyn but, to keep this meaning asbackground music’ for a proper understanding of this stanza.

Now, here is a group of people already settled in the home and they do not know well if the newcomers are of the family. This remark either is ironic, or touches to dumbness since, as everyone knows, the principal concern of a group already in place is to judge the nature of the newcomers. Moreover, the last three lines not only do not shine by their originality but moreover they seem disconnected from the three first.

The solution with these dilemmas are in the choice of the meaning ‘soul-mates’ rather than simplyfamily’. None is able to recognize his/her soul-mate at first sight and even less the one of other people. In it lies a kind of magic which I already evoked by studying [stanza] 124 in an allusion to Montaigne and La Béotie’s famous friendship. This kind of relation is established without knowing too precisely why. This is why “these who are already in the home,” i.e. the former friends, are not able to spot in a newcomer if he/she will become a soul-mate.

The second half of the stanza explains why, in any case, to accept a soul-mate, as beautiful his/her soul might be, it is necessary to show generosity, i.e. to seek in the others what is better than you own self. All things considered, this second half says that each one contains parts of the best and parts of the worse and it implicitly advises you to recognize your own worse and the other’s best in order to build a faithful relation.

The magic of life is so strong in this stanza that it is enough for me to recall that the relations between friend magicians follow the same paths as for everyone’s.
Source: htp://www.nordic-life.org/nmh/NewHavamalEng111-137.htm
 

133
Opt vitu ógörla
þeir er sitja inni fyrir
hvers þeir ro kyns er koma
erat maðr svá góðr
at galli ne fylgi
né svá illr at einugi dugi     
 
Often they don't precisely know,
those who sit first in a house,
whose kinsmen they are who come (later):
no man is so good
that no fault follows him,
nor so bad that he is of no use.


[End.]

Monday, 24 March 2014

Gaming Effects Your Perception of People

The psychological effects of playing FPS games like GTA:SA didn't become evident to me until recently.  Recently I played some FPS after a long period (many years) of not playing them.  After I started playing them again I noticed that I was sweating profusely during my sleep, and was having dreams about groups of people chasing after me; groups of people that wanted to do me wrong. 

These dreams are reminiscent of a particularly noteworthy dream that I had several years ago in which I was being chased around the set of GTA:SA by a group of six Arnold Schwarzenegger lookalikes; who were intent on ripping my arms and legs off.  I managed to evade them by hiding on the top of a bridge in Los Santos down by the stadium.  Not a pleasant dream I think you'll agree.  It's noteworthy because the gist of it is similar to the gist of many FPS games: the player is attacked by a number of hostile enemies who are intent on doing the player wrong.

This got me thinking: what if the games that you play end up effecting the way that you perceive the outside world, and the people that inhabit it - the typical John and Jane Doe's walking down the street.  After all, if you're playing a game in which the world is basically one big hostile arena full of humans that want to kill you (in most games the AI characters are rarely friendly or benign), then might that cause you to perceive the world as fundamentally hostile to you (ignoring the question of whether or not the world is indeed hostile to you).  Hostile even on trivial matters: like riding a push-bike along the road wonder which one of the pedestrians walking along the pavement is going to push you; or standing at the supermarket checkout wondering if you're going to be mugged by the guy standing behind you.

All of this could lead one to the conclusion that the various doom-sayers in the media are correct, that computer games are violent things that screw up the minds of the people who play them.  But this is wrong.  It's wrong because it's based on the assumption that the the world can only be lived one way and all people who go against this way are wrong.  This is the belief of various people whose belief systems have a strong dualistic strain in them (like monotheists) who divide the world into 'right and wrong', or 'us and them', 'my way or the highway'.  An alternative to this particular world view is to perceive the world as more 'cause and effect' or 'swings and roundabouts', in as much as there are many different choices that one can make and they each have effects that could be good or bad depending on your perspective.  Not everyone wants to live on a hydroponics farm growing potatoes and wearing matching jumpsuits, but some people do.  That's fine.  'Each to their own' as they say.  As men have pointed out throughout history in various ways, the tree of life is a big tree that can accommodate many different birds.  The more birds that tree can accommodate, the more like the tree of life it is.  So it follows that more variety is better than less variety.  Variety means that there is more than one way of living your life.  Variety it means options, it means choice, and because there is not really a right or wrong, it means consequences (the results of the choice you made).

Computer games have many effects that have been logged by the media over the years.  While most of them have been negative, which is unsurprising because the MSM is for various reasons hostile to computer games and technology in general (read any newspaper and the majority of articles will be not be about technology of any kind, even though the modern world is contingent on technology for it's very existence), some articles do highlight the positive effects of computer games.  Below are a few links from Psychology Today gleaned from a brief internet search that highlight the potential positive effects of games:

The Social Benefits of Video Gaming
The positive effect of action video games: Speed of visual processing
The Many Benefits, for Kids, of Playing Video Games
Reciprocity, Urban Planning, and SimCity Social
 
Lastly, I'll give a short list of some games that I've played over the years, and what they've taught me:
 
Alpha Centauri
Learn about 'technology trees', which are based on the philosophical idea of contingency.  For example, if you want your society to have a high-tech rail transport system based on magnetic levitation, then that system is contingent on the existence of a number of other tangibles and intangibles, including: knowledge of magnets; high-tech resource gathering; social stability for scientists to research in; a secure food supply for your population.
It's not an abandonware or freeware game yet, so you'll need to buy it from a high street shop or online from somewhere like Amazon (UK) or Amazon (US).
 
Sim Health
A game that allows the player learn about the health-care system in the USA (as it stood in the 1990s). It uses the political quadrant as a foundation stone for the philosophy of the player
Download it for free HERE.
 
Transport Tycoon Deluxe
Learn the importance of thinking/planning ahead by constructing a railway network that can cope with increased rail traffic, and also anticipates how a city will geographically grow (and infringe on potential railway lines).  A player who builds a railway network without thinking ahead will suffer for it in the long term, much like urban planners who build cities 'biologically', and then end up with an infrastructure that cannot be enhanced.  To see a real life example of this look at unplanned medieval European cities or their modern day equivalent - slums, and compare them with planned cities like those built in the USA or the Roman Empire (which are characterised by square living quarters and broad, straight road networks).  Slums suffer from narrow roads, ad-hoc building designs, and other flaws which limit their carrying capacity and the quality of life for the people living there.  These planning flaws also make it difficult for them to be enhanced with modern technology.  Well planned cities on the other hand are much more capable of dealing with increases in population density and are much more capable of coping with technological improvements (like electricity, sewerage, telecommunications).  This shows the benefits of thinking ahead in terms of urban planning.  Benefits which can also be felt by everyone, to a certain extent, who decides to plan ahead rather than living a totally ad-hoc life (some ad-hoc is essential, after all, life cannot be totally planned out in advance).
Download it for free HERE.
There's a mod that makes the game more realistic and playable that can be downloaded HERE.

Capitalism 2
Chock full of business terms that you could find in any business studies textbook.  The game includes the three common divisions of industry: primary (resource extraction like maize/corn farming), secondary (manufacturing, like canning), tertiary (retail, like supermarkets), quarternary (service industries, like advertising).  Perhaps approximate to a GCSE level view of the economy.
It's not an abandonware or freeware game yet, so you'll need to buy it from a high street shop or online from somewhere like Amazon (UK) or Amazon (US).
 
Europa Universalis 2
This game is history in action.  It allows the player to learn about important historical events by experiencing them first hand rather than reading about them from another persons perspective.  It also allows the player to experience the past from a non-fatalistic perspective, i.e. the player lives history without knowing what the future will turn out like, because he has a direct hand in how it will turn out.
Another bonus is the soundtrack which is a medley of period tunes from over the centuries including more well known works like Verdi's seasons.  It's a good way to accustom/acclimatise yourself to classical music if you're not used to listen to the genre but would like to.
An outstanding mod called AGCEEP (short for Alternative Grand Campaign/European Expansion Pack) should be downloaded as it adds more detail to the game and corrects some cartographical errors in the official game.
It's not an abandonware or freeware game yet, so you'll need to buy it from a high street shop or online from somewhere like Amazon (UK) or Amazon (US).
Download the mod for free HERE.


[End.]

Friday, 21 March 2014

Men of Yore: Alexander the Second of Russia (The Liberator)

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards. We, as men, are the frontiers men, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity.


Alexander II, the Liberator, portrait (image from portrets.ru)
Alexander II, the Liberator,
portrait (image from portrets.ru)


Childhood and Education
Alexander, the eldest son of Tsar Nicholas I , was born in Moscow on April 29, 1818. From the early age the boy was reared for the throne. Tutored by a poet and literary critic Vasily Zhukovsky, the young heir apparent received a broad and thorough education, from arts and languages to sciences and rigorous military training. To complete his schooling at the age of 19 he embarked on an extensive tour of Russia and Europe. During his European travels Alexander met his future wife, Princess Marie of Hesse. The couple married in 1841 and had 8 children.


Beginning of Rule
Alexander became Tsar on the death of Nicholas I in 1855, aged 36, already a mature and experienced statesman. From his father, Alexander inherited a bloody Crimean War with a coalition of the Turkey-led Ottoman Empire, Britain and France. Russia’s serf-based economy couldn’t support the cost of warfare, the loss of life was tremendous and a year on the Tsar began peace talks. The Treaty of Paris ended the bloodshed but Russia lost its dominance in the Balkans and its warships were banned from the Black Sea.

A painful feeling of failure was widespread. Alexander felt the time was ripe for reforms. Censorship was relaxed, new education programmes drafted, independent press flourished. But the Tsar realised he had to go far beyond that. The war proved Russia was no longer a great military power and couldn’t compete with industrialised European nations.


Abolishing Serfdom and Reforms
Alexander now began to think of bringing an end to serfdom – an immense task advocated by many liberal intellectuals but fiercely opposed by landowners. But he pushed ahead with the reform and in 1861 Russia became one of the last countries in Europe to shake off serfdom.

The emancipation law itself was an enormously long document of nearly 400 pages. Trying to balance the interests of both the proprietors and the peasants, it stated that Russia’s 22 million serfs were now free but didn’t make them land owners. Instead, they had to buy or rent the land from their former masters. In the end, few were pleased. For the nobles, the step was unwelcome, for the peasants the long-awaited freedom brought disappointment. The land was often priced higher than its real value and millions found themselves in hopeless poverty and debt.

Still, the change spurred other innovations – education and judicial reforms followed, an elaborate scheme of local self-government in large towns and rural districts was set up. The economy was boosted, railway construction boomed, trade soared, banks and factories sprang up across the country.

But together with political openness the Empire saw the rise of the nationalistic movements. In 1863 the so-called January Uprising flared up in Poland. It was suppressed after eighteen months of fighting, thousands of Poles were executed or deported to Siberia, many estates were confiscated and a much tighter Russian control over Poland was imposed.


Foreign Policy
Meanwhile, on the international arena Russia’s weight was at an all-time low. Remembering the embarrassment of the Crimean War, Alexander dreamt of restoring his country’s status and influence. Military spending sky-rocketed but the army was restructured and rearmed to fit European standards. And the Tsar soon got the chance to test his brand new military might against the power that dealt him a humiliating defeat two decades earlier.

It was Bulgaria, at the time a part of the Ottoman Empire that propelled Russia to war. In 1876 a Bulgarian revolt against the Turks was brutally crushed causing a public outcry in Russia. Alexander was reluctant to fight but saw himself as champion of the oppressed Orthodox Christians and declared the war the next year. It took him another year to win – 200,000 Russian soldiers were killed, but after 500 years of Turkish rule Bulgaria was back on the map. The country still remembers Alexander II as the Liberator Tsar and one of its founding fathers.

But after a military triumph Russia faced a devastating diplomatic defeat. The Tsar initially dictated the terms of the peace settlement. The Ottoman Empire conceded the creation of a large Bulgarian state. But many European powers, most of all England and Austria-Hungary, anxious about Russia’s increasing influence gathered in Berlin calling for another treaty. Not able to afford another war, Alexander could only watch as much of his efforts were erased. He later called it one of the darkest pages of Russian diplomacy.


Personal Life
The war took its toll on Alexander. His interest in politics weakened, he felt exhausted and sought refuge in his private life. By that time he had embarked on the greatest and last love-affair of his life – a passionate romance with Princess Catherine Dolgorukova. Their 14-year-long relationship began in the summer of 1866. The love between a 47-year-old Emperor and an 18-year-old schoolgirl was condemned by the court and the royal family but it didn’t stop Alexander. His wife’s health was failing and in 1880, less than a month after her death, Alexander married his long-time mistress. By that time Catherine had bore him four children. But their morganatic union proved short-lived.


Untimely Assassination
Alexander’s reforms were drawing more and more criticism. For some his extraordinary efforts to change his country were too much while others believed he didn’t go far enough. Alexander became a victim of numerous murder plots – one dramatic assassination attempt followed another.

In February 1880 Alexander announced that he was considering granting the Russian people a constitution. But the plan never went ahead. On March 13, 1881 the Tsar’s carriage was bombed in the streets of St. Petersburg by members of a revolutionary organisation People’s Will. He emerged shaken but unhurt and wanted to see the site of the explosion and check on the wounded Cossacks that accompanied him. As he made his way over, another terrorist threw his bomb. Fatally wounded, Alexander died an hour later.

A reformer, a warrior, a diplomat and a man of tragic fate, Alexander II has gone down into history as the Liberator Tsar.

Source: http://russiapedia.rt.com/prominent-russians/the-romanov-dynasty/alexander-ii-liberator/
 
Hereditary monarchy like all forms of governance has its pros and cons that too a large extent depend on the character of the monarch (or Tsar in the case of Russia) in charge.  Sometimes the monarch will have a more positive moral character, who prefers free & educated subjects rather than servile & stupid ones.  Other times the monarch might have a more negative moral character, who prefers to keep their subjects servile and scared.  Alexander was one of the former, who preferred a free and educated population to a slave based one.  So much so that he spearheaded many reforms for the people, including the growth of universities.  Surprisingly the russiapedia article doesn't mention all of these reforms, but the wikipedia one does:
The tsar was responsible for numerous other reforms including reorganizing the judicial system, setting up elected local judges, abolishing capital punishment, promoting local self-government through the zemstvo system, imposing universal military service, ending some of the privileges of the nobility, and promoting the universities. 
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_II_of_Russia
Until that moment that all men decide that they would rather rule themselves than be ruled we will have to have rulers, be they hereditary monarchs like Alexander the II or elected ones, so let us give our support to the moral ones when they have their time on the throne.


[End.]

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Havamal Snippets 132: Be hospitable to guests

Like many pagan/polytheist cultures around the world, the Viking culture stresses the importance of being hospitable to guests.  It's a point that is made in stanzas 103, 132, and 135.  Be hospitable to guests, treat them well.  It's part of being human, that hosts should be genial to guests, and guest should reciprocate.  The Christian tradition of marching into someone else's homeland and telling them that their way of life is wrong is a recent addition to world culture, and as such an anomaly.  Christians calling this 'spreading the word' and 'preaching the gospel', but as Mike points out, this is a total misnomer:
[Missionaries] have walked into other peoples lands telling them their whole belief system is wrong, their gods are wrong, and their way of life is wrong. They’ve gone into other peoples lands and disrupted the political and social systems time and time again for centuries. Many of the worlds political and social problems can be traced to the Christian conversion and the disruption it caused. In some sense, they set the whole world into an unrest. 
I saw a man say something that has always stood out in my mind since then. This took place in the late 80′s sometime. I was studying anthropology at the time. I saw this documentary about this Christian religious group that went out into the world to try to ‘teach the world the truth’. They went to this small tribe. I think it was in the orient somewhere. These missionaries saw how people would offer prayers to their gods and one of them said something like: ”We need to change that. We need to teach them that Christ will answer their prayers, not these idols”. Their guide, who was part of the tribe, turned to them and said: “What for? Why do they need to be changed? What’s wrong with their gods? They’ve been worshipping them for centuries”. I will never forget that. Later, they’d look at other tribes and find nothing but fault with their religion.
Source: http://mikespassingthoughts.wordpress.com/2010/12/30/thoughts-on-christian-missionaries-a-personal-gripe
The idea that Christians are civil genial and decent folk is a lie that Christians believe in, and convince other people to believe.  Being civil and hospitable to all people, friends and guests, is something that polytheists, pantheists and other belief systems, practise and have practised for countless millenia.


132
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
at háði né hlátri
hafðu aldregi
gest né ganganda
 
I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
never mock or laugh
at a guest or traveller.


[End.]

Monday, 17 March 2014

DIY Bicycle Pannier Backpack

Apologies, but there's no new post today as I've been spending time trying to make some home-made pannier bags for my bike.

If you've spent any time in cycle shops then you'll see how expensive pannier bags are (as is most bicycle accessories; the top-end goods range from £50 bottle racks, to £100 pannier-backpack combos bags).  Home-made bags on the other hand are as cheap as you can make them.  So that's what I've been doing, or at least trying to do.  Trial and error seems to be the method to use when you've no experience with materials, so, alas, that's the method that I've had to use.

HERE is a link to a design that my pannier-backpack is loosely based on.  Although I've made a few changes to the design in the link:
  • A black ~20 litre backpack replaces the pink courier bag.
  • I'm using a thick bungee cord from Poundland in addition to the carabineer clips to act as shock absorbers on the rough roads.
  • A kitchen chopping board from Tesco (for ~£2 in a sale) replaces the 1/4" plywood backing board (used because plastic doesn't rot).
  • Some nuts & bolts from Poundland, and penny washers from Toolstation to fix the chopping board to the backpack (which should distribute the weight/stress around somewhat).
Instructables is a good site if you enjoy trying to make things for yourself rather than relying on manufacturers to do the job for you.


[End.]

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Havamal Snippets 131: Be warey of: ale, other mens girlfriends, thieves

This stanza is a pretty straightforward list of things that you ought to be wary/cognisant when dealing with: ale, other mens wives/girlfreinds, and thieves (I suppose this could be extended to include con-artists).  The benefit of being wary/cognisant is a common theme throughout the Havamal.  Such as being wary of ones surroundings as in stanzas 1 and 6, or wary of other people as in stanza 7, or not drinking ale because it causes forgetfulness (which is the opposite of wariness).


131
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
varan bið ek þik vera
en eigi ofvaran
ver þú við öl varastr
ok við annars konu
ok við þat it þriðja
at þjófar ne leiki 
 
I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
wary I bid you be,
but not too wary:
with ale be the most wary
and with another's woman,
and with a third thing,
that thieves do not trick you.


[End.]

Friday, 14 March 2014

Men of Yore: John Wilkins

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards. We, as men, are the frontiers men, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity.

John Wilkins


John Wilkins (1 January 1614 – 19 November 1672) was an English clergyman, natural philosopher and author, as well as a founder of the Invisible College and one of the founders of the Royal Society, and Bishop of Chester from 1668 until his death. 
John Wilkins, bishop of Chester, was born at Fawsley, Northamptonshire, and educated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford. He was ordained and became vicar of Fawsley in 1637, but soon resigned and became chaplain successively to Lord Saye and Sele, Lord Berkeley, and Prince Charles Louis, nephew of Charles I and afterwards elector palatine of the Rhine. 
In 1648 he became warden of Wadham College, Oxford. Under him the college was extraordinarily prosperous, for, although a supporter of Oliver Cromwell, he was in touch with the most cultured royalists, who placed their sons in his charge. In 1659 Richard Cromwell appointed him master of Trinity College, Cambridge. At the Restoration in 1660 he was deprived, but appointed prebendary of York and rector of Cranford, Middlesex. In 1661 he was preacher at Gray's Inn, and in 1662 vicar of St. Lawrence Jewry, London.  
He became vicar of Polebrook, Northamptonshire, in 1666, prebendary of Exeter in 1667, and in the following year prebendary of St Paul's and bishop of Chester. Possessing strong scientific tastes, he was the chief founder of the Royal Society and its first secretary. He died in London on the 19th of November 1672. 
The chief of his numerous works is an Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language (London, 1668), in which he expounds a new universal language for the use of philosophers, and is the most advanced work on artificial language in its time. He is remembered also for a curious work entitled The Discovery of a World in the Moon (1638, 3rd ed., with an appendix "The possibility of a passage thither", 1640.) Other works are A Discourse concerning a New Planet (1640); Mercury, or the Secret and Swift Messenger (1641), a work of some ingenuity on the means of rapid correspondence and in fact the first book on cryptography printed in English; and Mathematical Magick (1648). 
Source: http://www.browsebiography.com/bio-john_wilkins.html
On His Personality/Character:
As to Wilkins' character, Aarsleff writes in [1]:-
Throughout his life, he gained and retained the friendship and respect of men of the most diverse political and religious persuasions. No doubt such personal qualities as charm, ready conversation, and energy played their part in his success, but a deeper reason would seem to lie in his commitment to beliefs that transcended the exclusive interests of any particular faction. From the first to the last, all his writings advocate scientific and religious views that by the time of his death had proved that they represented the temper of the times. The new science had triumphed ...
Hooke, who had worked closely with Wilkins, wrote the following fine tribute to him in the Preface to Micrographia (1665):-
There is scarce one invention, which this nation has produced in our age, but it has some way or other been set forward by his assistance. ... He is indeed a man born for the good of mankind, and for the honour of his country. in the sweetness of whose behaviour, in the calmness of his mind, in the unbounded goodness of his heart, we have an evident instance, what the true and primitive unpassionate religion was, before it was soured by particular factions.
Source: http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/Biographies/Wilkins.html
 
John Wilkins is one of the men throughout the ages that has acted as a positive intermediary between people with different views (be they royalist vs. republican, or religious vs. agnostic).  He encouraged them to communicate with each other and therefore encouraged them to work together, to find common ground that they could both agree on.  This is in total juxtaposition to proverbial shit-stirrers who enjoy provoking enmity between groups of people (be it in the office or on the international scene).  People of different views can live in a degree of harmony so long as they are willing to work together rather than against each other.  To this end he attempted to develop a universal language that all people throughout the world could use for communication.  Related to this universal language is his idea on universal measures, which was later developed in France as the metric system (kilogrammes, litres, metres etc).
 
Another aspect of his character was his focus on practical science, and his efforts to promote experimental science over purely academic science which dominated academia during his day.
 
 
[End.]
 

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Questions from Vulture of Critique

Fellow blogger Vulture of Critique has been nominated for a Liebster Award, Huzzah!, and one of the requirements of the nomination is that he answers eleven questions (which he has done HERE), and ask another eleven questions to eleven other bloggers that he rates.  Would you Adam and Eve it he included this blog amongst his chosen eleven!  So without further ado, below are the eleven questions in bold text, and my answers below.


1. Imagine the following scenario: Someone, somewhere inside the United States government has decided to kill you before you can talk. Why did they make that decision? How many killers get sent? What weapons do they plan to use? What is your planned response?
Police states are paranoid things, and the US government is like a police state, so they probably decided to kill me because they deemed me a 'potential future threat' because of my political views.  Two sub-contracted assassins.  They'll probably make it look like a suicide, so gaffa tape, a plastic bag, and some sleeping pills.  Depending on my mood, either sit their and accept it, or go feral (camp in the woods and live off of scavenged food).

2. Do you have one or more declared “favorite” things that you don’t make time to include in your life? E.g. this applies if you say classical music is your “favorite” type of music, but you rarely (or never) listen to it.
Exercise. Everyone can get reasonably fit given the right frame of mind. Charles Bronson (the infamous convict) is a case in point, as is the man (Tom Hardy) who played him in the biographical film ('Bronson'), who got 'prison fit' in a few months.

3. There is some topic of which you have considerable knowledge, but it is inconvenient for you to teach this topic to other people. What makes it inconvenient?
I'm not sure that one applies to me.  There are a few ideas that I have been lucky enough to channel (in a manner of speaking), but nowhere near as much as wise men.  If anyone wants to become wise then they need lots of humility and a kind of passive willfulness (in a manner of speaking) so that they are receptive to new ideas, and then can allow them to grow using their own will as fodder for it.

4. Of the various reports of paranormal phenomena you have heard, what makes the least credible different from the most credible?
The more mundane it is the more believable it is.  Anything fantastical (that 'blows your mind', or causes you to treat it with awe) is a no-go, quite simply because it deprives you of the ability to think.  Good things allow you to think, bad things don't.

5. What is the most impressive depiction of the game of chess in a work of fine art? Does this remind you of other pieces of fine art?
No idea I'm afraid.  Chess is largely alien to me because a) it's a past-time that my uber-bright school friends excelled at, not me; b) as a game it's totally limited.  Contrast it with 'Elite' which allows the player to effectively create the world they live in.

6. How much experience do you have with computer games?
Probably too much.  Started with a NES back in the early 1990's.  Although I usually spend more time on a small number of games, rather than vice versa.   More memorable games include: Patrician 3, Medieval: Total War, Fallout 2, Frontier: Elite, Colonization, Railroad Tycoon, Capitalism.  Quite often games are more useful in learning aspects about the world than reading books as you experience it first hand, 'warts and all'.

7. What is an indulgence that you genuinely don’t enjoy, but other people always think that you do enjoy?
Beer, laughing (comedy is fine in small doses to alleviate stress or whatever, but continual jesting is a sure-fire way to weaken your Will).

8. How many years do you think will pass before the USA has a major currency crisis?
No idea.  To a large extent it depends on whether the people want a crisis or not.  Things live so long as they want to live.

9. Have you ever experienced a truth so deep that you feel you shouldn’t try to explain it?
I've witnessed something that I feel I shouldn't talk about, or even write down, but no truths.  Ideas that are given (to someone from a muse) are to be treated lovingly, like they are fragile, because they are fragile.  One way of respectfully treating an idea that you are given is to give yourself over to the muse (or whatever) that inspired that idea, and let yourself be guided by it.  Kind of like when absent mindedly doodling on a piece of paper, let yourself be guided by it rather than forcing it.

10. What is it that makes furry animals cute?
The thinness of the hair, it's flexibility, and it's colour.  A body/head with lots of of thin, movable and light coloured hair seems to be more attractive than the opposite.  Contrast a thick and black haired critter (like a black haired sea urchin), with a thin and light haired critter (like a tribble).  Also, the more hair the creature has the more appealing it is.  I think this is why women are generally deemed cuter than men.  Because women have heads with lots of hair (a lower hairline and a small face) whereas men have heads with less hair (a receding hairline and a large face).

11. What is the truest ghost story you know about?
The whole realm of the paranormal and ghosts is one I need to read up on.  But the one interesting ghost-related phenomenon that is interesting are light orbs (that sometimes occur prior to a ghost or some paranormal phenomenon), because they are void of any historically related stories and thus cannot be embellished in the same way that traditional ghost stories can be.  It means that they can be studied impartially without any emotional involvement because the investigator is dealing with a shape rather than a person.


[End.]

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Havamal Snippets 130: How to 'take pleasure with a woman'

This stanza is one of the many in Havamal that explains how to, ahem, ‘get your end away’ with a woman.  Notice the emphasis on ‘pleasure’ rather than ‘love’ in this verse.  According to THIS website (which is unfortunately experiencing a network error; a cached version is HERE), this is a common occurrence throughout the Havamal, stressing that carnal love (like someone who engages in a one night stand might experience) is different to platonic love (like someone who get’s married might experience).  There is a good page on the topic of different types of relationships between humans in Viking society, and how they honor them which can be found HERE in a cached version.  (If you ever come across a page that is inaccessible or ‘down’, then enter the website address into Bing or Google and simply view the cached version).
 
 
130
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
ef þú vilt þér góða konu
kveðja at gamanrúnum
ok fá fögnuð af
fögru skaltu heita
ok láta fast vera
leiðisk manngi gott ef getr       
 
I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
if you want [6] to attract
[5] a good woman to you [6] with pleasant talk
and take pleasure with her,
you must make a fair promise
and stick fast to it
-- no one loathes the good, if he gets it.
 
 
[End.]

Monday, 10 March 2014

A Though on the Political Stability of Eastern Europe & Ukraine

This post is a kind of nudge to any people who feel over-come by any media stories that involve political upheaval, such as the situation in Ukraine.  It's a nudge for them to lift their heads up a little bit and look at the Ukrainian situation in a larger context, in a historical context, and to remember that life goes on regardless of the outcome.  It's not the end of the world [1].  It's probably not going to bring about any mass conventional or nuclear war.  It's almost certainly not a crisis that can't be overcome so long as people want to keep on living.  And most people do want to keep living, regardless of the situation that they find themselves in; crisis or not.

Eastern Europe itself has been in a state of socio-political flux over the past few thousand years.  That isn't to say that flux it is inevitable, that it is the way of things.  Nor is it to say that flux is preferable to stability.  Indeed a bedrock of stability is empirically provable to be better for humanity than constant flux.  To see how much benefit stability brings us, we can compare Eastern Europe to Western Europe over the past 500 years and see what the benefits bring to the people living there:  Spain, Portugal, France, the UK, Norway, Sweden, Denmark (and to a lesser extent Germany/Holy Roman Empire) have all been (in territorial terms) politically stable since ~1500.  These are also the countries that produced revolutions in industry, science, culture, art and other fields.  As well as allowing them the opportunity to travel overseas and establish colonies.  Unless a man (or a nation of men) is allowed some peace and quiet, then thoughts cannot develop.  To allow those thoughts to develop even more, they require politically stable environments (try thinking about something in a place where you are constantly disturbed, it's not easy!).  Which is why a stable framework/foundation is preferable to an unstable one.

Moving on from purely physical to vaguely spiritual matters, we should also recognise that the situation in Ukraine is a largely corporeal event - it doesn't dominate our spiritual side.  We could tilt our heads up even further, beyond the context of history & time, and remember that we are spiritual beings as well as physical ones.  And if re-incarnation is true, or some similar view of the world is true, then we do live on past these events, and they will seem like just another day in a long and varied lifespan.  Hopefully taking on a view like this will make events like this become more like water off a ducks back.

The video below shows how geo-politically stable Europe has been over the past five thousand years.




Footnote
[1] The situation in Ukraine doesn't need as much media coverage as it's getting; of course that's not to say that it isn't important, because social upheaval is very important to the people who are experiencing it, rather that the media has a proclivity of giving saturation coverage to single issues.  This is evident in news stories like the British Royal Wedding, or the Arab Spring, or the trapped Chilean miners.  There is a tendency amongst the media to give saturation coverage on a single news item for a fortnight or so and then ignore it completely thereafter.  Hence the derisory term media circus.  Ideally, the MSM should take the amount of time that they give to a single story (however many minutes), and stretch it out over a longer period of time (like aerobic exercise regimes which are low intensity but last for long periods of time, versus weight lifting which are high intensity but last for short periods of time).  Important stories could be given follow up reviews six and twelve months after the main story kicked off.


[End.]

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Havamal Snippets 129: When in battle, fight, do not think, just fight

This stanza talks about the importance of being Single-Minded in battle.  When in battle, you must shut your mind off to outside influence, you must become like Hod, the blind God of War (who is like the blind Roman goddess Lady Justice in the respect that she delivers justice indiscriminately, impartially).  If not, then you are vulnerable to psychological attacks (referred to in the stanza as 'men casting spells upon you', spells being witchcraft), which will only cause you to doubt yourself.  Single-Minded is what this particular state of mind is.  It's about being focussed on one thing in particular.

Single-Mindedness is like 'being in the zone' when you are running on a race track, or driving a car, or when you are doing something so repetitive that you are totally engrossed in that activity to the point that you forget yourself, you become absent minded.  It's called 'flow' in psychological terms.  It's about doing rather than thinking, and this doing rather than thinking brings with it a degree of certainty, and certainty is essential in battle situations because as soon as you doubt yourself you give the enemy an opportunity to strike.

Self-Awareness is the opposite of Single-Mindedness.  Self-Awareness is being aware of yourself in relation to other things (be they material things or immaterial things).  It means being at calm and being aware of things around you and in you.  It's like being on top of a mountain (mount Noos) surveying all things things going on beneath you (on the Plains of Phusis).  Sat up here you have the ability to choose how you want to act in the future.  You can see the options available to you and then decide how to act.  It's this state of mind that the Havamal advises against while in battle because being Self-Aware means you are thinking about 'what ifs' and other possibilities, which tends towards uncertainty.

This is why Single-Mindedness (being Hod like) is better in a battle situation, because you do not succumb to any neurotic seizure which would strip you of the ability to act/fight.  Your seizure would cause you to be indecisive and not make the 'killer blow' against your enemy, or even be able to defend yourself.  Hence this is why you need to be what the Havamal calls 'blind' (which is not physically blind so that your eyes don't work, but mentally blind so that your brain isn't contemplating the images that it's seeing) in a battle situation, so that you do not 'have a spell' (a psychological attack) cast upon you.

If you want to think about Single-Mindedness and Self-Awareness in a real life situation then you might want to think about a two-man sniper team: a sniper and a spotter.  The Sniper is Single-Minded because he is totally focused on the target that he is shooting,  He has tunnel vision to such an extent that he is oblivious to all other things going on around him.  The Spotter on the other hand IS aware of what is happening all over the horizon.  He has Self-Awareness and decides what target the Sniper should shoot at next.  This means that he must be aware of options and then choose one.  Both men work together and benefit from the partnership.

While the two men in the sniper team may have chosen to be either Single-Minded or Self-Aware, they need not be those roles for their entire life.  Indeed they may, certainly will, make use of both states of mind throughout their lives, to their own betterment.  Sometimes thinking more, sometimes doing more.  Using both states of mind benefits them, and can benefit us also if we choose to do it.


129
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
upp líta
skalattu í orrostu
gjalti glíkir
verða gumna synir
síðr þitt um heilli halir        
 
I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
[6] you must not [5] look up
in battle
-- [8] the sons of men become
[7] like men terror-crazed --
lest men cast spells upon you. *


[End.]