Category Archives: Republic of Letters

Steven Wilson on Porcupine Tree’s Unexpected, Slow-Simmering Reunion – SPIN

I’m excited you’ll be reissuing the first Storm Corrosion album this year. I know you get asked this a lot, but…have you and Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt talked recently about making another album?
It is the 10th anniversary, so we’re doing a new version, and we’re gonna get together and do some press to promote it. We even talked about recording a new track for the new edition, but we said, “If we’re gonna do that, why don’t we just do a new record?” So the subject certainly has come up. I think we would love to do something else together. I don’t think we’d do a follow-up to that record. I think we want to do something quite different again. I don’t know what that would be, but I know that’s the way he is and what I am. That record is so perfect and definitive in what it tries to do and what it achieves. It’s a little diamond, I think. And I think a lot of people missed out on it because it’s not what they expected us to do. But I know that for some people that it’s their favorite thing that either of us have done. I’ve heard that more and more. There’s a little cult growing up around that record.
— Read on www.spin.com/2022/06/steven-wilson-porcupine-tree-reunion-interview/

Owen Barfield’s “History in English Words” ~ The Imaginative Conservative

An extraordinary man by any measure, Owen Barfield (1898-1997), one of the least known of the Inklings, published his first book, History in English Words, in 1926, at the very young age of 27 or 28. One of the finest books I’ve ever read, History in English Words is an in-depth examination of the history of Western civilization as seen through the eyes of English speakers, measuring a significant number of words through their individual journeys and evolutions.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2022/08/owen-barfield-history-in-english-words-bradley-birzer.html

Yellowstone at 150 ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Granted, I love the American West. I love open skies, I love mountains, and I love cool, dry air. Even given all these personal loves, I still think Yellowstone is something truly special. Everywhere you look—in addition to seeing families—you see an abundance of nature, God’s creation at its most glorious. Mountain ranges, vast meadows, deep canyons, pine tree forests, dynamic rivers and waterfalls, boiling and steaming geysers, petrified trees. The landscapes in Yellowstone are as varied as they are vast. As my younger children noted, many of the landscapes in Yellowstone rivaled anything in a fantasy novel (specifically Narnia) or a painting.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2022/08/yellowstone-150-bradley-birzer.html

Yellowstone at 150 ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Yellowstone National Park is something truly special. Everywhere you look, you see an abundance of nature—God’s creation at its most glorious: mountain ranges, vast meadows, deep canyons, pine tree forests, dynamic rivers and waterfalls, boiling and steaming geysers, petrified trees… (essay by Bradley Birzer)
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2022/08/yellowstone-150-bradley-birzer.html

America’s Anti-Slavery Legacy ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Yet, there are many problems with this. Aside from the critical fact that half of the states, prior to the Civil War, didn’t have slavery, and free labor radically outproduced slave labor (thus, leading to the conclusion that America and capitalism were really built on free labor, not on slave labor), perhaps the biggest problem resides in our very Founding and the documents that define it. In particular, it is worth considering the Declaration of Independence, passed on July 4, 1776, and signed on August 2, 1776. In it, Jefferson first defines the nature of the universe and man’s role within it. That is, “when in the course of human events….” In the following paragraph, though, Jefferson made a statement that astounded the world. But, to Jefferson and Congress, they were merely stating the obvious: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” To be sure, this has to be one of the most powerful sentences in the history of the world, especially in its non-religious history. Critically, the statement claims that “all men”—not some men, not non-Catholics (see, for example, the 1689 English Bill of Rights), or not non-whites—are created equal. The founders could have easily tempered this statement, but they didn’t. Indeed, it exists in a world of glory, and it became, as Martin Luther King, Jr., so profoundly understood it, a promissory note. Just because Americans did not live up fully to the statement in 1776 did not mean that they never would.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2022/07/americas-anti-slavery-legacy-bradley-birzer.html

THE POWER TO TAX IS THE POWER TO DESTROY

by Richard K. Munro

The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to get the most feathers with the least hissing.  ~  Jean-Baptiste Colbert

https://hwbrands.substack.com/p/taxes-taxes-taxes

The power to tax is the power to destroy. We left NY and NJ because the real estate taxes were exhorbitant. I now have no close relatives there. Everyone moved to Nevada, Arizona, North Carolina and Florida. We live in California where the tax situation is not ideal but thanks to Prop 13 our real estate tax is reasonable and under control which is important now that we are retired. Still gradually our real estate taxes, trash and insurance go up every year. We should be OK but If Prop 13 were rescinded we would sell and take all our savings and property out of state.

I knew a semi-retired doctor in NYC who owned his home free and clear and owed almost $50,000 in real estate tax. He sold his house invested in CD’s and moved away. He was cashing in $20,000 a year in CD’s just to pay his taxes. He said if he stayed in New York five more years he would be flat broke. That is wrong. Now he lives out of state in an apartment and pays zero real estate tax. Previously he paid NEW JERSEY STATE INCOME TAX, NEW YORK CITY INCOME TAX and NEW YORK STATE INCOME TAX as well as FEDERAL INCOME TAX. And he was a man who saved his money his whole life, paid off his home and made a very good salary at his medical profession. But he could not afford to be retired in NYC. Public housing is now the largest single landlord in NYC (about 8%). NYC is becoming a city of the few who are ultra rich and the poor. But taxes and crime are also driving younger New Yorkers and retired New Yorkers out of the region. A recent poll stated : “My family would have a better future if we left New York City permanently.”

The poll found 59% of respondents strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement, while 41% somewhat or strongly disagreed.

https://nypost.com/2022/04/06/why-majority-of-new-yorkers-would-rather-be-anywhere-else-poll/

Chicago and New York are losing so many people and businesses due to oppressive almost confiscatory taxes AND declining public safety and services. I haven’t been back to either city since the 1990s and I have no intention of living there or even visiting there again. Almost everyone I knew in school has moved out of state.

So back to my first point. The power to tax is a necessary power of the state, city and federal government. But when the state confiscates the savings and property of the retired middle class it is going too far and people will vote with their feet and pocketbooks.

Spirit of Cecilia Progcast 3

A special (MEGA!) progcast, featuring Tad Wert, Kevin McCormick, Dave Bandana, and Brad Birzer. Nearly 3 1/2 hours long, we play Tin Spirits, SAND, NAO, Oak, Nosound, No-man, Memories of Machines, Sanguine Hum, The Tangent, Big Big Train, The Flower Kings, and The Bardic Depths. All of the music was chosen to impress Kevin, and we find out his reactions to it all. Additional bonus feature: Dave talks a lot about the making of the most recent The Bardic Depths album, Promises of Hope.

Should we be Pessimists or Optimists?

by RICHARD K. MUNRO

“Troubles indeed abound, but troubles have always abounded. We humans have always got past them, albeit not always quickly or easily.” (HW BRANDS) Yes I too have confidence in the ability of mankind to respond to new challenges with new inventions and life-saving medicines and technologies. I believe we must have hope and optimism about the future. I believe Good will triumph ultimately over evil.

Humans are rational and have God-given power to search for the truth and to behave in accordance with Right and Wrong. As we seek knowledge we must be grateful but also humble.

As we seek knowledge we should have awe for the mystery of our existence, for the world itself for day and for night and the cosmos above.

I know my life has not many days or years left but I am satisfied as I have children and grandchildren and I derive much joy and hope from them. My greatest wish is that they are able to live happy, productive and secure lives.

It seems reasonable that they will have a good chance for such a life

But I know all cannnot be known so I do what I can and for the rest I have the last weapon of the weak and the old: prayer.

The Old Book teaches us that life is a continuous struggle for doing what is right and understanding what is right. But only God can accomplish the greatest things.

“Except for the Lord the watchman waketh in vain.” History and life is ever new. We can move ahead. We can pray. We can grow better or worse. Certainly we can learn from history and life. And I think history gives up hope.