Find a special place

“According to a study commissioned by the National Trust, people experience intense feelings of wellbeing, contentment and belonging from places that evoke positive memories far more than treasured objects such as photographs or wedding rings….

…It found places that are intensely meaningful invoke a sense of calm, space to think and a feeling of completeness.

…It found the brain’s emotional response to special places was much higher than towards meaningful objects. Two thirds of those surveyed (64%) said their special place made them feel calm, while 53% said it provided an escape from everyday life. Among younger people, 67% said their meaningful place had shaped who they were.”

More here

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Why is There Beauty?

“The foregoing remarks lead me to say a few words on the protest lately made by some naturalists against the utilitarian doctrine that every detail of structure has been produced for the good of its possessor. They believe that many structures have been created for the sake of beauty, to delight man or the Creator (but this latter point is beyond the scope of scientific discussion), or for the sake of mere variety, a view already discussed. Such doctrines, if true, would be absolutely fatal to my theory.” (Origin of the Species)

Darwin explains why he doesn’t think this is a valid argument (among other things, beauty existed before man arrived, he says.  This is true if one believes the geological time table, but for YEC it would be an invalid rebuttal).  But what if beauty wasn’t created for man, but rather, for the enjoyment of the Creator, and He created man in order to share that love of beauty with us (and other reasons? Well, then, Darwin says it’s beyond the scope of scientific discussion, although he admits that if true, would be completely fatal to his theory.

 

One of Darwin’s other objections is that beauty is subjective.  There’s some truth to that, but it’s an open question exactly how much. There are variations in standards of beauty and styles between cultures and eras. In countries that have known starvation a certain level of plumpness is considered more attractive than in areas that have know plenty long enough to have forgotten starvation. Sometimes extreme fashions take root- footbinding, breast flattening, shaveing the forehead and plucking hairs to give an artificially high forehead, multiple face piercings, bustles and hoopskirts- although I would argue that those are more successful marketing trends than they are actual standards of beauty. They are the trappings, but certain things seem fairly universal. A symmetrical face is always viewed as more beautiful than asymmetrical. I don’t know of a culture that admired or admires warts on the nose. Left to ourselves, standards of beauty are less extreme and an increasing amount of research indicating beauty is not totally subjective.
Today’s evolutionary scientists attribute appreciation for beauty to sexual selection traits, but it’s harder to explain why humans also find and admire beauty in flowers, stars, a full moon, rainbows, waterfalls, butterflies, horses, dogs, and diatoms.   Darwin himself demonstrates this truth when he dismisses the beauty of diatoms and similar creatures is because of their symmetry:

“If beautiful objects had been created solely for man’s gratification, it ought to be shown that before man appeared there was less beauty on the face of the earth than since he came on the stage. Were the beautiful volute and cone shells of the Eocene epoch, and the gracefully sculptured ammonites of the Secondary period, created that man might ages afterwards admire them in his cabinet? Few objects are more beautiful than the minute siliceous cases of the diatomaceae: were these created that they might be examined and admired under the higher powers of the microscope? The beauty in this latter case, and in many others, is apparently wholly due to symmetry of growth.”

  1. What if beautiful objects are not created solely for man’s gratification, but beauty, and human gratification of beauty, are both designed by the designer of the universe?
  2. What on earth does it even mean to say that beauty in any situation is ‘wholly due to symmetry of growth?’  Isn’t he admitting here symmetry is itself inherently beautiful? In which case, beauty would appear to be not quite as subjective as Darwin believed.

For instance:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3631018.stm Researchers in England present evidence gathered in a couple of studies showing that infants have a fairly systematic and similar appreciation of beautiful faces- that is, it doesn’t seem subjective, as infants prefer the same beautiful faces over less beautiful ones.

“There is no doubt that beauty (which here means both male and female attractiveness) is to some extent in the eye of the beholder, but across individuals and across cultures there is nevertheless considerable agreement about what makes a pretty or handsome face, and the evidence strongly counters the conventional wisdom that attractiveness preferences are mainly acquired through life experience. For one thing, the beauty bias is already present in infancy. Six-month-olds prefer to look at the same relatively attractive faces that adults do (Rubenstein, Kalakanis, & Langlois, 1999).”

Darwin again undermining his own argument that beauty is subjective:
“On the other hand, I willingly admit that a great number of male animals, as all our most gorgeous birds, some fishes, reptiles, and mammals, and a host of magnificently coloured butterflies, have been rendered beautiful for beauty’s sake. But this has been effected through sexual selection, that is, by the more beautiful males having been continually preferred by the females, and not for the delight of man. So it is with the music of birds. We may infer from all this that a nearly similar taste for beautiful colours and for musical sounds runs through a large part of the animal kingdom. When the female is as beautifully coloured as the male, which is not rarely the case with birds and butterflies, the cause apparently lies in the colours acquired through sexual selection having been transmitted to both sexes, instead of to the males alone. ”

So while beauty is subjective and varies widely between human cultures, apparently female fish, peacocks, butterflies, all our most gorgeous birds’ and human beings all have the same standard of beauty? And why would sexual selection alone cause human beings to see the male peacock and hummingbirds and butterflies as beautiful?

Keith Buhler on Jonathan Edwards :

Edwards presents a compelling understanding of beauty. Though he is not persuaded by the naturalistic scientism of many modern thinkers, he does not consider aesthetics to be located in the emotions but  in mathematical relations. And though he is fairly enamoured with the beauty of Nature, he does not paint the saccarine and sometimes sappy portrait of it that we are familiar with in the writing of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, etc. Rather, he grounds beauty in proportionality and ‘suitableness.’ He even goes so far as to anticipate modern light theory and suggest that it is a proportionate relationship of vibrations stimulating the optic nerve that makes the green grass and blue sky and white clouds agreeable. (“Beauty of the World”Jonathan Edwards Reader, p.14)

It’s all about advantages in sexual selection and reproduction really only goes so far, and ignores too much. I agree with Wiker and Witt when they say:
“What we deny is the crudely dogmatic reduction of the desire for beauty to these (sexual) levels alone.
“And so, we are not trying to ignore the body as if humans were all head, rather, we object to those who wish, for the sake of their argument, to cut off the head and present a human being as a creature from the neck down, (or even from the waist down). Thus, ours is the more inclusive argument, the one that truly describes our entire human appreciation of beauty, it doesn’t dogmatically exclude the higher or reduce what is higher to the lower aspects of our nature. Darwin, in contrast, felt compelled to do just that, noting that the existence of beauty for its own sake, or more properly, for the sake of human beings, “would be absolutely fatal to my theory.” (Page 117, A Meaningful World)

Also from A Meaningful World, this quote from Philp Skell, The Scientist, 2005:
‘Darwinian explanations for such things are often too supple: Natural selection makes humans self-centered and aggressive- except when it makes them altruistic and peaceable. Or natural selection produces virile men who eagerly spread their seed- except when it prefers men who are faithful protectors and providers. When an explanation is so supple that it can explain any behavior, it is difficult to test it experimentally, much less even use it as a catalyst for scientific discovery.’

I don’t know why there is so much beauty in the world. I have guesses. That’s really any of us have. My gues is that it is a reflection of the Designer:
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. Psalm 50:2

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Headlines and Stuff

97 Islamic terror attacks and plots in the U.S. since 9/11

Supreme Court and the travel ban:

“The Supreme Court dismissed a major challenge to President Trump’s travel ban on majority-Muslim countries Tuesday because it has been replaced by a new version, sending the controversy back to the starting block.

The ruling is a victory for the Trump administration, which had asked the court to drop the case after Trump signed a proclamation Sept. 24 that replaced the temporary travel ban on six nations with a new, indefinite ban affecting eight countries. That action made the court challenge moot, the justices ruled.

“We express no view on the merits,” the justices said in a one-page order.”

Dem sexual predator Weinstein’s name to be erased from shows he produced.  New Yorker weighs in with a longer article on Weinstein’s history of sexual assault, dodging accusations of rape, destroying reputations of a few women who tried to speak out.  It’s not easy reading, and it’s not for your kids. It’s disgusting how long this went on when everybody knew about it.  I find it very odd that they include the October 2016 release of a recording of Trump making a crude and disgusting statement about what he said women *let* you do when you’re rich and famous as part of the culture that made women feel safe speaking out.  I see that very differently.  Trump was a Democrat when he made that claim, a good friend of the Clintons.  And the tape was held back from the public for TEN YEARS.  Nobody thought it was important to release it until a few weeks before the election when Hilary’s campaign was hurting.  It wasn’t released to help women, but to hurt Hilary’s opposition, which was all that mattered to the press.  I believe the allegations now coming out, and I also believe that some of them are made in good faith- women hurt by Weinstein’s exploitation and abuse now feel a sense of relief and know they can speak up without destroying their careers.  But the media didn’t release this story to help women. A few resignations from the board isn’t enough. They knew.  Hollywood knew.  The press new.  We know that because the media has had the story for decades.  NBC has been sitting on tape of Weinstein admitting to groping a woman for months! Women went to the police decades ago, and Weinstein used a complicit media to plant stories destroying their reputations and prevented them from working in their field.   Ben Affleck, who has now come out saying he had no idea and we should do more to protect women is being contradicted by Rose McGowan, one of Weinstein’s victims.  She says she was raped by Weinstein,  tried to go public and paid a high price for it, and says Affleck told her personally, “I told him to stop doing that.” So he knew.

How open was this secret?  2013 Oscars, one of the ‘jokes’ was that those nominated for best supporting actress ‘no longer need to pretend to be attracted to Weinstein.’

The NY D.A. office also had copies of tape of Weinstein admitting he’d assaulted a woman, didn’t prosecute.  He not only admitted to it, he claimed it was just because he was used to doing stuff like that (claimed on tape) and that she should not embarrass him or destroy their friendship (ie, her job) over five minutes.  It’s highly disturbing to listen to that tape, and CY Vance *stopped* his investigation and shortly afterward,  Weinstein’s lawyer donated thousands of dollars to his campaign. I’m sure there is no connection at all.

Weinstein has been friends with the Obamas and Hilary Clinton for years- he’s a power donor.  It took Hilary five days to speak about the allegations.  Remember, it took her five minutes to blame the NRA for a heineous crime they had nothing to do with, but five days to speak up about crimes against women committed by her dear friend and moneybag source, and then *she* didn’t say anything. She had a spokesperson release a statement.  The Obamas took even longer.

Corey Feldman has been telling people for years that Hollywood empowers, protects, and rewards pedophiles in power who have access to child actors.  It’s not a secret. It’s not like nobody knows.  Terry Crews says the Weinstein allegations are giving him PTSD flashbacks, because he was groped in public by a powerful Hollywood figure, and he was afraid to fight back.   It’s a cesspool.  Note the causes Hollywood publicly supports, and how few of them protect women or children- Weinstein loved Planned Parenthood and donated lots of money, but not because he cared about women. It’s obvious he doesn’t.  PP has a long history of protecting predators, just like Hollywood.

Weinstein has been friends with the Obamas and Hilary Clinton for years- he’s a power donor.  It took Hilary five days to speak about the allegations.  Remember, it took her five minutes to blame the NRA for a heineous crime they had nothing to do with, but five days to speak up about crimes against women committed by her dear friend and moneybag source, and then *she* didn’t say anything. She had a spokesperson release a statement.  The Obamas took even longer.

Roger Goodell now says everybody should stand for the National Anthem  More here.  This has not worked well for the NFL.

Russia and the U.S. media– it’s been a long time now that the U.S. media is worse than PRAVDA.  We begin to see why.

James O’Keefe releases video of sting at NYT, a video editor says he took the job with the NYT *because* of his bias, and openly admits to Trump hatred. I realize this hatred is shared by the entire left and many alleged conservatives, but the media also claims not to choose sides (which is laughably and obviously to the awake, completely false).  This is going to be fun, because of Veritas Press approach of releasing videos of small fish and small revelations and watching the denials and explanations pile up, and then showing them for the lies they are by releasing larger and longer clips of larger fish and more troubling revelations.

 

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Ta Hsüeh on the importance of knowledge

Originally the Ta Hsüeh was a chapter of the Li-chi, the “Book of Rites,” one of the five Chinese classics. Literary analysis suggests that it was written in the 3rd century BCE. During the Song Dynasty (960-1280), the Ta Hsüeh was considered sufficiently important to be singled out as one of the canonical “Four Books.” Since both the Five Classics and the Four Books had to be memorized by Chinese students aspiring for a position in the Chinese civil service, the Ta-Hsüeh had to be studied twice.

How does the Ta Hsüeh emphasize the traditional Confucian value of the importance of knowledge?


The Ancients, wishing to illuminate with shining virtue all under heaven, would first establish order in their own states. (1)
Wishing to establish order in their own states, they would first harmonize their families.
Wishing to harmonize their families, they would first cultivate their own persons.
Wishing to cultivate their own persons, they would first rectify their minds. (2)
Wishing to rectify their minds, they would first seek to verify their opinions.
Wishing to verify their opinions, they would first expand their knowledge.

The expansion of knowledge lies in the investigation of things. (3)

Once things are investigated, knowledge will be completed.
Once knowledge is complete, opinions will be verified.
Once opinions are verified, minds will be rectified.
Once minds are rectified, persons will be cultivated.
Once persons are cultivated, families will be harmonized.
Once families are harmonized, states will be put in order.
Once states are in order, there will be peace all under heaven.

From the emperor to the common people, all must see the cultivation of their own person as the root of all else.
If roots are in disarray, there will never be healthy branches.

Translated by Lydia Gerber


(1) “All under heaven” (t’ien-hsia) was a term used for the Chinese empire rather than for the world at large. Before 221 BCE, the Chinese empire consisted of a number of very strong, independent states.

(2) “Mind” (hsin) can also be translated as “heart.” Classical Chinese does not differentiate between the rational and emotional aspects of a person the way western languages do.

(3) The Chinese term wu–translated as “things”–basically means “all that is outside oneself.” It is usually translated either as “things” or “affairs”.

 

Taken from here.  

Ideas for how to use the above:

Copywork

Read, then narrate.
Does anything above remind you of anything thing else you’ve read or heard about?

Follow the links, discuss.

Rewrite it in your own words.

Find China on a map.

Look up terms, events, people, titles you are curious about.  If you are not curious about any of it, pick two terms/events/titles to look up anyway.

 

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Copywork for High School

To the student:

You can choose your own copywork from your reading, or you can work on copying the quotes below on Fridays ( I have other sources for other days, but again, these are back-up.  The first choice is for you to select your own quotes).

Copywork is part of your school because it helps the copier (that is you) to do several things:  learn to recognize quality writing, recognize punctuation, internalize the pattern of good writing, improve spelling, and more.

You must copy phrase by phrase (or word by word if you can’t do phrase by phrase), not letter by letter. It’s important to see the original in your mind’s eye and focus on larger chunks at a time, so you get the full context.   The way to do to this is to focus your full attention on a word or phrase, then cover it up and write from memory on your paper.

Set the time for fifteen minutes and work as fast as you can while still making sure your writing is legible.  Stop.  Check for accuracy. Fix mistakes.  Show it to me.  The next time you need to continue copying where you left off. 

Make your copies on lined paper.  Keep the pages in the binder with the originals.

Always credit the source, include the title and author of the original source of your copywork on each page (even better would be with each quote).

Ideally, you should choose a notebook to keep your quotes, something you will want to use again and again and can keep track of. Many people call this a Commonplace Book.  The quotes should be in your best handwriting.  When you choose them, choose the quotes that are meaningful to you.  The suggested work below is offered only to help you on days you don’t feel like making a choice. 

From John Muir’s Our National Parks:

Of the four national parks of the West, the Yellowstone is far the largest. It is a big, wholesome wilderness on the broad summit of the Rocky Mountains, favored with abundance of rain and snow,–a place of fountains where the greatest of the American rivers take their rise. The central portion is a densely forested and comparatively level volcanic plateau with an average elevation of about eight thousand feet above the sea, surrounded by an imposing host of mountains belonging to the subordinate Gallatin, Wind River, Teton, Absaroka, and snowy ranges. Unnumbered lakes shine in it, united by a famous band of streams that rush up out of hot lava beds, or fall from the frosty peaks in channels rocky and bare, mossy and bosky, to the main rivers, singing cheerily on through every difficulty, cunningly dividing and finding their way east and went to the two far-off seas.

Glacier meadows and beaver meadows are out-spread with charming effect along the banks of the streams, parklike expanses in the woods, andinnumerable small gardens in rocky recesses of the mountains, some of them containing more petals than leaves, while the whole wilderness is enlivened with happy animals.

Beside the treasures common to most mountain regions that are wild and blessed with a kind climate, the park is full of exciting wonders. The wildest geysers in the world, in bright, triumphant bands, are dancing and singing in it amid thousands of boiling springs, beautiful and awful, their basins arrayed in gorgeous colors like gigantic flowers; and hot paint-pots, mud springs, mud volcanoes, mush and broth caldrons whose contents are of every color and consistency, plash and heave and roar in bewildering abundance. In the adjacent mountains, beneath the living trees the edges of petrified forests are exposed to view, like specimens on the shelves of a museum, standing on ledges tier above tier where they grew, solemnly silent in rigid crystalline beauty after swaying in the winds thousands of centuries ago, opening marvelous views back into the years and climates and life of the past. Here, too, are hills of sparkling crystals, hills of sulphur, hills of glass, hills of cinders and ashes, mountains of every style of architecture, icy or forested, mountains covered with honey-bloom sweet as Hymettus, mountains boiled soft like potatoes and colored like a sunset sky. A that and a that, and twice as muckle’s a that, Nature has on show in the Yellowstone Park. Therefore it is called Wonderland, and thousands of tourists and travelers stream into it every summer, and wander about in it enchanted.

 

  1. The springs of the Yosemite Park, and the high Sierra in general, though many times more numerous, are comparatively small, oozing from moraines and snowbanks in thin, flat irregular currents which remain on the surface or near it, the rocks of the south half of the range being mostly flawless impervious granite; and since granite is but slightly soluble, the streams are particularly pure. Nevertheless, though they are all clear, and in the upper and main central forest regions delightfully lively and cool, they vary somewhat in color and taste as well as temperature, on account of differences, however slight, in exposure, and in the rocks and vegetation with which they come in contact. Someare more exposed than others to winds and sunshine in their falls and thin plumelike cascades; the amount of dashing, mixing, and airing the waters of each receive varies considerably; and there is always more or less variety in the kind and quantity of the vegetation they flow through, and in the time they lie in shady or sunny lakes and bogs.
  2. The first crop of snow crystals that whitens the mountains and refreshes the streams usually falls in September or October, in the midst of charming Indian summer weather, often while the goldenrods and gentians are in their prime; but these Indian summer snows, like some of the late ones that bury the June gardens, vanish in a day or two, and garden work goes on with accelerated speed. The grand winter storms that load the mountains with enduring fountain snow seldom set in before the end of November. The fertile clouds, descending, glide about and hover in brooding silence, as if thoughtfully examining the forests and streams with reference to the work before them; then small flakes or single crystals appear, glinting and swirling in zigzags and spirals; and soon the thronging feathery masses fill the sky and make darkness like night, hurrying wandering mountaineers to their winter quarters. The first fall is usually about two to four feet deep. Then, with intervals of bright weather, not very cold, storm succeeds storm, heaping snow on snow, until from thirty to fifty or sixty feet has fallen; but on account of heavy settling and compacting, and the waste from evaporation and melting, the depth in themiddle region, as stated above, rarely exceeds ten feet. Evaporation never wholly ceases, even in the coldest weather, and the sunshine between storms melts the surface more or less. Waste from melting also goes on at the bottom from summer heat stored in the rocks, as is shown by the rise of the streams after the first general storm, and their steady sustained flow all winter.
  3. The Big Tree (Sequoia gigantea) is Nature’s forest masterpiece, and, so far as I know, the greatest of living things. It belongs to an ancient stock, as its remains in old rocks show, and has a strange air of other days about it, a thoroughbred look inherited from the long ago-the auld lang syne of trees. Once the genus was common, and with many species flourished in the now desolate Arctic regions, in the interior of North America, and in Europe, but in long, eventful wanderings from climate to climate only two species have survived the hardships they had to encounter, the gigantea and sempervirens, the former now restricted to the western slopes of the Sierra, the other to the Coast Mountains, and both to California, excepting a few groves of Redwood which extend into Oregon. The Pacific Coast in general is the paradise of conifers. Here nearly all of them are giants, and display a beauty and magnificence unknown elsewhere. The climate is mild, the ground never freezes, and moisture and sunshine abound all the year. Nevertheless it is not easy to account for the colossal size of the Sequoias. The largest are about three hundred feet high and thirty feet in diameter. Who of all the dwellers of the plains and prairies and fertile home forests of round-headed oak and maple, hickory and elm, ever dreamed that earth could bear such growths,–trees that the familiar pines and firs seem to know nothing about, lonely, silent, serene, with a physiognomy almost godlike; and so old, thousands of them still living had already counted their years by tens of centuries when Columbus set sail from Spain and were in the vigor of youth or middle age when the star led the Chaldean sages to the infant Saviour’s cradle! As far as man is concerned they are the same yesterday, to-day, and forever, emblems of permanence.

5. No description can give any adequate idea of their singular majesty, much less their beauty. Excepting the sugar-pine, most of their neighbors with pointed tops seem to be forever shouting Excelsior, while the Big Tree, though soaring above them all, seems satisfied, its rounded head, poised lightly as a cloud, giving no impression of trying to go higher. Only in youth does it show like other conifers a heavenward yearning, keenly aspiring with a long quick-growing top. Indeed the whole tree for the first century or two, or until a hundred to a hundred and fifty feet high, is arrowhead in form, and, compared with the solemn” rigidity of age, is as sensitive to the wind as a squirrel tail. The lower branches are gradually dropped as it grows older, and the upper ones thinned out until comparatively few are left. These, however, are developed to great size, divide again and again, and terminate in bossy rounded masses of leafy branchlets, while the head becomes dome-shaped. Then poised in fullness of strength and beauty, stern and solemn in mien, it glows with eager, enthusiastic life, quivering to the tip of every leaf and branch and far-reaching root, calm as a granite dome, the first to feel the touch of the rosy beams of the morning, the last to bid the sun good-night.

6. Perfect specimens, unhurt by running fires or lightning, are singularly regular and symmetrical in general form, though not at all conventional, showing infinite variety in sure unity and harmony of plan. The immensely strong, stately shafts, with rich purplish brown bark, are free of limbs for a hundred and fifty feet or so, though dense tufts of sprays occur here and there, producing an ornamental effect, while long parallel furrows give a fluted columnar appearance. It shoots forth its limbs with equal boldness in every direction, showing no weather side. On the old trees the main branches are crooked and rugged, and strike rigidly outward mostly at right angles from the trunk, but there is always a certain measured restraint in their reach which keeps them within bounds. No other Sierra tree has foliage so densely massed or outline so finely, firmly drawn and so obediently subordinate to an ideal type. A particularly knotty, angular, ungovernable-looking branch, five to eight feet in diameter and perhaps a thousand years old, may occasionally be seen pushing out from the trunk as if determined to break across the bounds of the regular curve, but like all the others, as soon as the general outline is approached the huge limb dissolves into massy bosses of branchlets and sprays, as if the tree were growing beneath an invisible bell glass against the sides of which the branches were moulded, while many small, varied departures from the ideal form give the impression of freedom to grow as they like.

Except in picturesque old age, after being struck by lightning and broken by a thousand snowstorms, this regularity of form is one of the Big Tree’s most distinguishing characteristics. Another is the simple sculptural beauty of the trunk and its great thickness as compared with its height and the width of the branches, many of them being from eight to ten feet in diameter at a height or two hundred feet from the ground, and seeming more like finely modeled and sculptured architectural columns than the stems of trees, while the great strong limbs are like rafters supporting the magnificent dome head.

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