Monthly Archives: January 2014

Of Nations and War

This is the first paragraph of a story I am working on regarding a man whose life is turned upside down as a result of finding out who is mother really was and who is Father really is. Please feel free to comment.

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Maquisards (Resistance fighters) in the Haute-Savoie département in August 1944. Third and fourth from the left are two SOE officers.

Clifton Stewart Lloyd, professor of history at the United States Naval Academy was immersed in his most recent project, an in-depth study of British intelligence operations during the Second World War.  Professor Lloyd taught courses at the academy with such titles as American Irregular Warfare and Germany and the Nazi Experience. But over the last few months, Cliff, as he was known by the few close to him, had become captivated with his father’s adventures in the British Intelligence apparatus during the Second World War.  His father, Sir Avery Randolph Lloyd, following several years of decorated service in the Royal Horse Guards, became a member of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) of the Special Intelligence Service at the urging of his close friend Sir Stewart Graham Menzies, then director of the SOE. Conjuring images of intrigue and unconventional methodologies associated with the literary hero Sherlock Holmes and his band of street urchin spies, the SOE was also known as the “Baker Street Irregulars”, and earned the oft attributed adage “the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” by fulfilling their mission as directed by Sir Winston Churchill to “set Europe ablaze”. The SOE was to conduct warfare by means other than direct military engagement by facilitating espionage and sabotage behind enemy lines. Cliff knew his father had served in both the first and second World Wars but was never able to break his father’s reticence regarding his military exploits.  Cliff had always assumed his mother’s untimely death during the war had shrouded his father’s memories of that time with pain and regret, leaving him unable to reflect or even recall the details of his service in a positive light. But now, nearly fifty years later, Cliff was beginning to realize the true nature of story behind the father that had raised him, the mother that had left him, and why. Her real name, was Aksinya Petrovna and her sweet but inscrutable mission came from the Red Tsar himself.


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Saudade: José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior (1850–1899)

The rationality of a particular person’s emotional response to a stimulus is what is being presented as the alleged inability of a person to elicit an emotional response from another person. It is generally accepted that there are basic emotions (anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise; Paul Ekman, 1972) whose existence surpass the bounds of culture and literacy. In essence they are not learned behaviors. Emotions such as the schadenfreude in German and saudade in Portuguese are commonly expressed as emotions in their respective languages, but lack an English equivalent.

Take the Portugese word saudade, often interpreted as “the love that remains”. The argument that a person can choose to have this particular emotional response to a loved one’s passing has no basis in reality. The event of that person’s passing whether in death or otherwise, affects a response. The emotional investiture of your relationship with that person can determine the sociological rationality for a particular response to that event. In fact, the lack of a sociologically acceptable reaction by a person who has experienced something that should cause an emotional response is considered a pathology (blunted affect, alexithymia) . The reaction to that emotional response is a choice, suicide, closure, etc. But the emotional response itself is real and uncontrollable, it is not a learned behavior or a choice. The choice comes in our response to the effect of the event that caused the emotion. If you subscribe to the Lovheim cube of emotion then the emotional response is derived by the release of three signal substances (dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin) resulting in eight basic emotions (shame, contempt, joy, fear, distress, surprise, excitement, and anger). In other words you can no more control the emotional response to an event than you can choose to release a particular neurotransmitter from a set of neurons in the autonomic nervous system. What does affect the transmission of these chemicals into a person’s system is that person’s physiological and psychological state at the time the event is experienced. There may be a level of choice in these characteristics of a person’s state.

With respect to trust, yes there are strings attached. Of course there are strings attached. The definition of trust is the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. Trust is a heuristic approach to dealing with the problem of stability in a relationship. It is based on the belief that a person will behave within a set of expectations resulting from one’s experience with that person or thing, or things of a similar nature. If I said “I don’t trust that dog” what I mean is I believe it is unpredictable – it is difficult to anticipate its behavior; its behavior is unexpected. The same goes with people. If I say I don’t trust people, what I am trying to say is that, in my experience people do not behave the way I expect them to. In that sense, expectations could be called strings. And they are my expectations, which may differ from another person’s expectations. But there are society wide expectations that are applicable to everyone who, by virtue of living in that society are bound by that society’s social contract. Social morays are one example. These expectations may change over time as evinced in our own day and age.


saddle-horn2I have wanted to start a blog for several years and have held off due to a feeling of anxiety over what people might think of what I had to say.  In the end I guess it doesn’t really matter, but I’m disappointed to find out that I’ve constrained myself so much by the opinions of others.  I’m writing despite my own anxiety so if you have a comment, be gentle.

I have too many hobbies to really be able to label any of them hobbies.  Overall I just enjoy being outside with my family.  I enjoy dirt bike riding, horse back riding and any outdoor activity that involves working with dogs.  A while back we bought a fairly decent camera and I’ve  had fun pretending to know how to use it.  I hope to have some photographs included in upcoming entries, like the one attached here.  There seems to be a lot of help on the Internet for amateur photographers so if the first few pictures are not very good, there’s still hope.

Lately I’ve been looking for a place just to write down some thoughts in a setting a little more formal than what I have done in the past (I have several journals and notebooks).  Most of what I write on will likely deal with history, society, politics, religion, and physics. I enjoy learning about physics and attempting to apply its concepts and laws to other arenas of life. In the case that the post is not covered by one of the above topics, it will likely be concerned with nothing in particular. Nothing in particular may include horse back riding, dogs, coffee, the joy of living with my family on the plains of eastern Colorado, or the general oddity of life.  I don’t expect a lot of readers.  But I appreciate the opportunity to have a place to collect my thoughts.   I look forward to writing again.  Until later…

Society as Entropy

The following is a conversation that took place on a social media website following the first day of legal, recreational marijuana sales in Colorado. I thought the views expressed were interesting and I enjoyed participating in and reading the discussion. Ultimately, the comments resolve to a discussion of religion so for those who are uninterested in such things, you may want to skip this post. The names have all been changed and I, the author of this blog, represent one of the views expressed. I hope that’s not pretentious or self-aggrandizing. Continue reading