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Old November 30th, 2019 #24
Jerry Abbott
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 982
Jerry Abbott

Divine Heritage, Chapter 2, section 10.

As I'd expected, algebra was boring, easy, and a sure "four" in my GPA basket, provided that I could stay awake long enough to take the midterm and the final exam. English composition was more iffy, since the judgment of the teacher had more play in assigning grades. I'd have to learn the teacher to some extent in order to ace that class. But I'd done the same with Mrs. Fergus at Morningside, and I'd no doubt that I could do it with Mr. Ham at Brookstone.

It was history that presented difficulties. All those doings of the political figures of the American Revolution, the ideas of the philosophers behind the politicians, the adventures of the military leaders in front of the politicians, names, dates, quotes. Bleah. I wondered whether it would be wise for me to disagree with some of the ideas of the Founding Fathers during class, or in an essay for class.

Yes, there are notions, popular with the revolutionary luminaries, that I would dispute. One of them was put forth by Thomas Jefferson, an otherwise sensible fellow who became fond of the silly idea that the common man represented a reservoir of wisdom that would nudge the country back into its true course, if it were to stray from it. Which is nonsense. Common folk are no such resource, and their votes constitute no such restoring force. You don't get wisdom by summing mediocrities, and most people throughout all the ages have been mediocrities.

Democracy is a stupid idea for the simple reason that the wisest people are always outvoted. It really is possible for millions of people, each voting in accordance with their own interests, to drive their national vehicle off the cliff of hard reality, so that they and their country die.

Imagine that you took apart two old-fashioned pocket watches and scattered their parts across a pair of tables. To one of the tables, you invited a hundred people, randomly picked off the street, and told them to vote democratically on how to put the pieces back together again. To the other table, you invited a watch-maker. At which table would a working watch most likely be reassembled first?

However, there's a come-back argument. For a system of government other than democracy, who chooses the leader? That is, who ensures that a statesman is invited to assemble policy at the national table, and not some blowhard politician whose only talent is talking magnificently about himself?

No, not the common people. They aren't wise and are no proper judges of wisdom in others. If you leave the choice of leadership to them, they'll pick blowhard politicians almost every time. That would be true even if blowhard politicians and wise statesmen occurred among the candidates for high office in equal numbers. Of course, the real situation is even worse, since for every wise statesman who comes along, there are about a thousand blowhard politicians.

I'd say that war would determine which countries were the best ruled, with victory going to the more wisely led countries most of the time. People would sooner or later learn their lesson regarding the pursuit of power by those wannabe leaders who are ambitious but unworthy. Or, rather, the people who survived would learn that lesson.

From a divine point of view, it isn't all that important how many countries don't learn it in time, and fall as a consequence. From a cosmic perspective, it isn't important how many people are enslaved or exterminated. What matters is that natural selection would tend to preserve those countries that did learn rapidly enough, and the arrangements that those countries had made for the marriage of wisdom and power would be preserved along with them.

I could speculate about what those arrangements would be, but I would only be guessing. But that's why liberals are foolish to sneer at tradition. Traditional mores and culture are usually well-culled adaptations for the people among whom they evolved. What even the greatest minds would be hard put to contrive through planning, nature brings forth by the processes of natural selection. Including war.

For anyone interested in betting with the odds on his own survival and that of his country, I'd give this advice: if you want to be on the side that wins in the long run, you must first recognize that what decides struggles is power and the skill with which it is put to use.

On the other hand, I doubted that Mr. Ham was another Socrates, and so it probably wouldn't be wise for me to assert my opinions against those of Thomas Jefferson in Mr. Ham's history class.

On the third day of class, my books and the backpack arrived from Amazon. When I entered the dorm lobby, Donna Lane, who was acting as a receptionist for Mathews Hall, waved me over and gave them to me. That was five days ago. It was Monday again, and I was finding out that what you can do easily for one day isn't so easy when you must do it day after day after day.

After history, I headed back to my dorm room, took the sixth grade books out of my backpack, and put the college textbooks and my calculator in. Then, leaving the backpack, I walked to the cafeteria and ate whatever they were serving that didn't wiggle by itself. I returned to the dorm room and picked up my backpack, put it on, went out of the dorm through the wing exit. And started running.

I'm glad that I'd gotten a small pack that had a chest strap. Otherwise that thing would have bounced too much. It was just big enough for two textbooks, a thin notebook, a calculator, and some mechanical pencils. I ran along at about warp factor two, or twice normal speed. It felt no more strenuous than jogging, but my strides were longer, as they were for a run without the speed-up. I'd become so accustomed to running with an altered time rate that adjusting my step was now reflex, and I no longer made embarrassingly high leaps unless I wanted to.

How fast was I running? Oh, maybe about fifteen miles per hour. Fast enough to get me to the classroom before Dr. Roper closed the door, but slowly enough that anyone watching me would think me merely an excellent distance runner in good training. I'd already made this trip ten times, five times each way, running along the sidewalk. I drew looks, but not many, so I know that I must look like a normal running girl, wearing a backpack.

I was approaching an intersection where I'd have to make a right turn, when, from an alley between two buildings came several members of a black gang, obviously interested in me.

Well, I might be late to class, but I had to do my civic duty.

I ran past, dodging them, straight into that alley. The black youths came running after me in pursuit, thinking they had me now. It was a blind alley, dead-ending at the wall of a third building, with no exit except the one I'd entered by. I went to warp four and jumped over the blacks, clearing their reaching hands by about eighteen inches, and landing between them and the exit. Then I turned to fight. One of the blacks reached for me. I snapped his arm at the elbow and threw him into the wall on the left. I punched the second on his flat nose and saw blood fly out of his broad nostrils. I kicked the third in the groin so hard that he was punted though the air. I left the fourth with a dislocated jaw and the fifth with some broken ribs.

Job done, I adjusted my backpack's straps, left the alley, and resumed my run. The delay didn't even make me late for class. I got past the classroom door with several minutes to spare.

In the first day of class, Dr. Roper had gone through the theory behind derivatives, or "how much one thing changes when you change something else." And he explained that the derivative of a function is the slope of the line which is tangent to the function. The next day, he taught us about Riemann sums and gave out homework assignments. The day after that, he spoke of limits in general and limits of Riemann sums in particular, followed by another homework assignment. The fourth day, we were introduced to the geometrical idea of integration. You know, those tall, skinny rectangles that fit between the independent variable's axis and the curve of the function?

Yesterday, we got into the rules for differentiating and integrating polynomials. In class, I'd said, "So, they're each others' inverse operations," as if I were catching on. Ha! Dr. Roper was impressed by what appeared to be the quickness of my deduction. Okay, I schmoozed for brownie points, and I got them. But I did discover the inverse relationship between differentiation and integration for myself. I'd just done it a year earlier, and nobody saw me do it then.

So far, my calculus class had not yet caught up with what I'd known about calculus last April, when I worked out part of Mrs. John's homework problem at Morningside.

Physics 101, with Dr. Linder, wasn't even that hard. The only difference between college physics and high school physics is that in college the textbook doesn't pre-digest the differential equations for you. However, they are all easy differential equations that have variables separable and are easily integrated to provide the functions you'd see in the high school textbooks. I knew that more difficult math was ahead, but it didn't look as if I'd get to the heavy stuff in the 100 series of physics courses.

Still, credit is credit. I wished that getting that credit left me with more time to explore the college library and dig for stuff that I didn't already know.