6-Pistol Rack

6-Pistol Rack

It has been three years in the making but I finally finished my handgun rack. It was substantially complete with it back in March 2015 but I never liked the solutions I was using for the gun slots.

I tried using CA glue to attach hook & loop (Velcro®) with the loop side exposed and the hook side glued to the wood. That didn’t work. It didn’t adhere well and it wasn’t very good padding. That’s when I shelved it to research new ideas.

Over the next couple of years I thought of different padding materials and different adhesives. I moved toward using felt early on but I was always concerned with the adhesive bleeding through the fabric and, therefore, nullifying the padding effect. The fabric would be like sandpaper once the glue set up.

Another issue was that I didn’t feel like I was capable of cutting fabric at a consistent width to match the width of the plywood edge to which it would be adhered. During this time my wife taught me how she uses an Olfa® rotary cutter and a straightedge to cut strips of fabric with consistent widths. That problem was solved.

Next, on Tested.com, I saw how Adam Savage glued fabric (and foam) with 3M Super 77 spray adhesive. The adhesive is sprayed on both pieces being bonded together and it has a low absorption rate on fabrics. It’s the perfect solution for what I was doing. Since it works great on foam, too, it will help me on another languishing project where I have to glue pieces of rubber foam together.

Finally, on McMaster–Carr (wonderful web site), I found wool felt in different thicknesses. I was able to get a 12″ x 72″ x 3/16″ thick piece of wool felt and, by my reasoning, it would be thick enough to prevent the adhesive from bleeding through. In actuality I found that the adhesive would work just as well on thinner felt but I’m happy with the results of the felt I used this time.

It took a long time but I didn’t give up on this project even while it was shelved and I was working on others. It’s very rewarding to finish this project and get the great results.

Just Finished Reading “The Vanishing American Adult”

Ben Sasse’s book The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-Of-Age Crisis—And How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance recently came out and I just finished reading it yesterday. Because my reading list isn’t huge (50+ books a year), I try to pick good, impactful books to read. This isn’t always easy so I’m constantly looking for sources to help me populate my reading list.

That’s one reason I wanted to read this book but it unexpectedly delivered more than a source for great literature. He went into the mechanics and techniques of making great readers. Whereas I did have some moments of pause and reflection (I’ll need to read other books to weigh his points), reading this book didn’t cause me to outright disagree at any point; that’s very rare for me.

Something I found very reassuring was that I’d read so many of the books he refers to or suggests. The shear number of books he referred to impressed me so much that I collected them in a rough bibliography. Here it is:

Bibliography for The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse

  • Excellent Sheep by William Deresiewicz (retired Yale professor)
  • Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood by Christian Smith (a Notre Dame sociologist)
  • The Great Disruption by Francis Fukuyama
  • The Lonely Crowd by David Riesman
  • The Affluent Society by C. Wright Mills
  • Growing Up Absurd by Paul Goodman
  • The Waste Makers by Vance Packard
  • Outside Lies Magic by John R. Stilgoe
  • Cultural Literacy by E. D. Hirsch
  • The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom (philosopher and classicist)
  • Agamemnon by Aeschylus
  • Letters and Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
  • On Old Age by Marcus Tullius Cicero
  • Shop Class for Soulcraft by Matthew Crawford
  • Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  • John Dewey (Sasse disagrees with atheist Dewey and mentions these books, in particular, as to why he disagrees with him):
    • Democracy in Education
    • Self-Realization as the Moral Ideal
    • The Primary Education Fetich [sic]
    • The School and Society
    • My Pedagogic Creed
    • The Humanist Manifesto
  • Dumbing us Down by John Taylor Gatto
  • Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
  • The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
  • Escape from Camp Fourteen by Blaine Harden
  • Children of Dictators by Jay Nordlinger
  • White Collar by C. Wright Mills
  • Common Sense by Thomas Paine
  • Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman
  • Disappearance of Childhood by Neil Postman
  • Autobiography by Theodore Roosevelt
  • Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck
  • Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
  • Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain
  • The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen
  • Being Digital by Nicholas Negroponte
  • Moneyball by Michael Lewis
  • Religion
    • Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
    • Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton
    • Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen (Sasse disagrees with this book but it’s a great book to read)
    • Book of Genesis in The Bible
    • Book of Matthew in The Bible (especially Sermon on the Mount)
    • Commentary on Galatians by Martin Luther
    • The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin
  • Greek Roots
    • Ethics by Aristotle (starter book)
    • Crito by Plato (starter book)
    • Odyssey by Homer
    • History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides
    • Three Theban Plays by Sophocles
  • Homesick Souls (or, Fundamental Anthropology)
    • Confessions by Augustine
    • Why God Became Man by Anselm of Canterbury
    • Bondage of Will by Martin Luther
    • Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas
    • Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
    • Emile by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Sasse has a long struggle with this book; he ultimately sees Rousseau as wrong)
  • Shakespeare
    • Romeo and Juliet
    • Hamlet
    • King Lear
    • Julius Caesar
    • Macbeth
    • Sonnets
  • The American Idea
    • Declaration of Independence
    • U. S. Constitution
    • The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay
    • Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
    • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an America Slave by Frederick Douglass
  • Markets
    • Politics by Aristotle
    • Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
    • The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815–1846 by Charles Sellers
    • Free to Choose by Milton and Rose Friedman
    • Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
  • Tyrants
    • Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (laid the intellectual foundation for communism and, hence, the murder of more than 100 million people)
    • Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt (the best analysis of the rise of scientific racism and anti-Semitism in nineteenth-century Europe, which led directly to the Holocaust)
    • The Road to Serfdom by F. A. Hayek (explains the close relationship between fascism and communism)
    • Animal Farm by George Orwell
    • 1984 by George Orwell
    • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • The Nature of Things (or, a Humanistic Perspective on Science)
    • On the Nature of Things by Lucretius
    • Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn
    • Elements of Geometry by Euclid
  • American Fiction
    • Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
    • Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
    • O, Pioneers by Willa Cather (a Cornhusker substitute for Death Comes for the Archbishop)
    • Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
    • Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin (about his alienation as a black and gay man growing up in Harlem with an abusive Baptist minister as his stepfather. This is a disturbing book in many aspects. It illustrates the ways in which religious life can turn hypocritical and repressive.)
    • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

This a great list to dig through and start reading which, in itself, is an exciting prospect.

Books on Success

There has appeared in our time a particular class of books and articles which I sincerely and solemnly think may be called the silliest ever known among men. They are much more wild than the wildest romances of chivalry and much more dull than the dullest religious tract. Moreover, the romances of chivalry were at least about chivalry; the religious tracts are about religion. But these things are about nothing; they are about what is called Success.

…there is no such thing as Success. Or, if you like to put it so, there is nothing that is not successful. That a thing is successful merely means that it is; a millionaire is successful in being a millionaire and a donkey in being a donkey.

This is a definite and business-like proposal, and I really think that the people who buy these books (if any people do buy them) have a moral, if not a legal, right to ask for their money back.

Yet our modern world is full of books about Success and successful people which literally contain no kind of idea, and scarcely any kind of verbal sense.

— G. K. Chesterton, All Things Considered

How Pudd’nhead Wilson Got His Name

In March of 2014 I finished reading Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography by Theodore Roosevelt and I started going through my notes on the book and I came across a quote Roosevelt used from The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain. In skimming Twain’s book recently I came across this piece that reminds me of how factions believe consensus in the group is truth with no consideration that they may not understand the facts or nuances of a situation. Factions rarely—without tragedy—change their collective mind.

In [the] month of February, Dawson’s Landing gained a new citizen. This was Mr. David Wilson, a young fellow of Scotch parentage. He had wandered to this remote region from his birthplace in the interior of the State of New York, to seek his fortune. He was twenty-five years old, college bred, and had finished a post-college course in an Eastern law school a couple of years before.

He was a homely, freckled, sandy-haired young fellow, with an intelligent blue eye that had frankness and comradeship in it and a covert twinkle of a pleasant sort. But for an unfortunate remark of his, he would no doubt have entered at once upon a successful career at Dawson’s Landing. But he made his fatal remark the first day he spent in the village, and it “gaged” him. He had just made the acquaintance of a group of citizens when an invisible [out of eyesight] dog began to yelp and snarl and howl and make himself very comprehensively disagreeable, whereupon young Wilson said, much as one who is thinking aloud:

“I wish I owned half of that dog.”

“Why?” somebody asked.

“Because I would kill my half.”

The group searched his face with curiosity, with anxiety even, but found no light there, no expression that they could read. They fell away from him as from something uncanny, and went into privacy to discuss him. One said:

“‘Pears to be a fool.”

“‘Pears?” said another. “Is, I reckon you better say.”

“Said he wished he owned half of the dog, the idiot,” said a third. “What did he reckon would become of the other half if he killed his half? Do you reckon he thought it would live?”

“Why, he must have thought it, unless he IS the downrightest fool in the world; because if he hadn’t thought it, he would have wanted to own the whole dog, knowing that if he killed his half and the other half died, he would be responsible for that half just the same as if he had killed that half instead of his own. Don’t it look that way to you, gents?”

“Yes, it does. If he owned one half of the general dog, it would be so; if he owned one end of the dog and another person owned the other end, it would be so, just the same; particularly in the first case, because if you kill one half of a general dog, there ain’t any man that can tell whose half it was; but if he owned one end of the dog, maybe he could kill his end of it and—”

“No, he couldn’t either; he couldn’t and not be responsible if the other end died, which it would. In my opinion that man ain’t in his right mind.”

“In my opinion he hain’t got any mind.”

No. 3 said: “Well, he’s a lummox, anyway.”

“That’s what he is;” said No. 4. “He’s a labrick—just a Simon-pure labrick, if there was one.”

“Yes, sir, he’s a dam fool. That’s the way I put him up,” said No. 5. “Anybody can think different that wants to, but those are my sentiments.”

“I’m with you, gentlemen,” said No. 6. “Perfect jackass—yes, and it ain’t going too far to say he is a pudd’nhead. If he ain’t a pudd’nhead, I ain’t no judge, that’s all.”

Mr. Wilson stood elected. The incident was told all over the town, and gravely discussed by everybody. Within a week he had lost his first name; Pudd’nhead took its place. In time he came to be liked, and well liked too; but by that time the nickname had got well stuck on, and it stayed. That first day’s verdict made him a fool, and he was not able to get it set aside, or even modified. The nickname soon ceased to carry any harsh or unfriendly feeling with it, but it held its place, and was to continue to hold its place for twenty long years.

Celebrating Potential Rather Than Achievement

Today, in our schools, the manual trades are given little honor. The egalitarian worry that has always attended tracking students into “college prep” and “vocational ed” is overlaid with another: the fear that acquiring a specific skill set means that one’s life is determined. In college, by contrast, many students don’t learn anything of particular application; college is the ticket to an open future. Craftsmanship entails learning to do one thing really well, while the ideal of the new economy is to be able to learn new things, celebrating potential rather than achievement.

— Matthew B. Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work

Step No. 1 to Learning

LXXII

If a man would pursue Philosophy [learning], his first task is to throw away conceit. For it is impossible for a man to begin to learn what he has a conceit [preconception] that he already knows.

— Epictetus, Harvard Classics, Vol. 2, Part 2 – The Golden Sayings of Epictetus

Stalking Horse or, Elk Don’t Know How Many Feet a Horse Has!

Today, while reading an article on Reason.Com about Obamacare, I came across the term Stalking Horse. Of course, whenever I come across a new term that I don’t know, my mind will not let me pass it by. I’ve been known to obsess on more obscure words and phrases for days until I can find out the meaning; it drives me crazy…er. Luckily this term was easily definable on Wikipedia (link here).

Here’s an example of the use of a Stalking Horse in the Wikipedia article taken from the 1972 film Jeremiah Johnson, when Johnson and Chris Lapp (“Bear Claw”) are hunting elk in the Rockies:

Jeremiah: Wind’s right, but he’ll just run soon as we step out of these trees.

Bear Claw: Trick to it. Walk out on this side of your horse.

Jeremiah: What if he sees our feet?

Bear Claw: Elk don’t know how many feet a horse has!

A Sudden Realization

As I started listening to the series of lectures Old Testament by Professor Amy-Jill Levine produced & published by The Great Courses, I had a sudden realization of the impact this and other lectures from The Great Courses have had on my understanding of the Bible. After listening to the lectures I’m able to get a much deeper understanding of the message being convey in specific scriptures.

They have helped me put the books of the Bible into context and understand the literary form of the books. Understanding whether it’s law, history, wisdom, etc. helps to understand how to interpret what the author is trying to portray. One does not treat non-fiction the same as fiction. Both can have a valuable message but we understand one is literal and one is an example.

Without the understanding of the genres, nuances, back stories, etc. I was frustrated for years. Now it’s a joy to appreciate the real genius of the Bible and to be able to absorb its wisdom. Someday I may even be wise, I’m a long, long way from it now, but I’m enjoying the process much more thanks to The Great Courses lectures.

The Language of God and Theistic Evolution

After reading the excellent book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by biologist Francis Collins, I had to view it as a solid challenge to Intelligent Design, especially with the author’s emphasis on Theistic Evolution—it may be a more rational and compatible with the evidence. Collins makes a solid case for Theistic Evolution, especially where he deals with the issue of Irreducible Complexity.

I knew when I read these sentences I’d need to pay attention:

“Intelligent Design” (with capital letters) has become a term of art carrying a very specific set of conclusions about nature, especially the concept of “irreducible complexity.” An observer unaware of this history might expect that anyone who believes in a God who cares about human beings (that is, a theist) would be someone who believes in Intelligent Design. But in the sense of current terminology, that would in most instances not be correct.

What Collins points out throughout this book is evolution does not exclude God; many dogmatic scientists have jumped to that conclusion without a scientific basis. Such a person brings atheistic faith into play rather than science or reason. On the other hand, as believers, we have to be intellectually honest as well. We cannot presuppose science is abusive to a belief in God and, therefore, settle for a concept such as Intelligent Design. Concerning Intelligent Design Collins says:

…if the logic truly had merit on scientific grounds, one would expect that the rank and file of working biologists would also show interest in pursuing these ideas, especially since a significant number of biologists are also believers. This has not happened, however, and Intelligent Design remains a fringe activity with little credibility within the mainstream scientific community.

His straightforward conclusion concerning the viability of Intelligent Design:

Intelligent Design fails in a fundamental way to qualify as a scientific theory. All scientific theories represent a framework for making sense of a body of experimental observations. But the primary utility of a theory is not just to look back but to look forward. A viable scientific theory predicts other findings and suggests approaches for further experimental verification. ID falls profoundly short in this regard. Despite its appeal to many believers, therefore, ID’s proposal of the intervention of supernatural forces to account for complex multicomponent biological entities is a scientific dead end. Outside of the development of a time machine, verification of the ID theory seems profoundly unlikely.

I like the book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, and I like this book. Where this book, with its emphasis on Theistic Evolution, gets its upper hand is from its compatibility with science. Atheistic Evolution wants to throw out a creator—not because of the results of scientific method but from faith in the non-existence of God—and Intelligent Design which wants to put God’s hand in every event no matter the size. I am not completely hostile toward Intelligent Design; at least the two books agree on the Big Bang Theory.

The Servant King

I’m so excited that the authors of I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist quoted Søren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard, really the first existentialist philosopher, is complex and intellectually stimulating. Reading Kierkegaard helped me understand the paradox—which is not contradiction—of faith. How we have to get to the point of taking a leap of faith—what Dr. J. Ellsworth Kalas called in a lecture I attended, a leap into faith. Here’s the reference from the above mentioned book:

You can reject Christ because he has left your free will truly free. Author Philip Yancey adapts a parable by Christian philosopher Søren Kierkegaard that helps us understand how God attempts to save us while respecting our freedom. It’s a parable of a king who loves a humble maiden:

The king was like no other king. Statesmen trembled before his power. No one dared breathe a word against him, for he had the strength to crush all opponents. And yet this mighty king was melted by love for a humble maiden.

How could he declare his love for her? In an odd sort of way, his very kingliness tied his hands. If he brought her to the palace and crowned her head with jewels and clothed her body in royal robes, she would surely not resist—no one dared resist him. But would she love him?

She would say she loved him, of course, but would she truly? Or would she live with him in fear, nursing a private grief for the life she had left behind. Would she be happy at his side? How could he know?

If he rode up to her forest cottage in his royal carriage, with an armed escort waving bright banners, that too would overwhelm her. He did not want a cringing subject. He wanted a lover, an equal. He wanted her to forget that he was a king and she a humble maiden and to let shared love cross over the gulf between them. “For it is only in love that the unequal can be made equal,” concluded Kierkegaard.

css.php