Wednesday, March 28, 2007

More thoughts... on old songs... that bear revisiting

Something from the ”Old Man’s School”

Lyrics from the song: Migration
Album: Walking Man (1974) James Taylor

Distant hands in foreign lands are turning hidden wheels,
causing things to come about which no one seems to feel.
All invisible from where we stand, the connections come to pass
and though too strange to comprehend, they affect us nonetheless, yes.

Friday, February 02, 2007

I did not meet Mark Twain, or Molly Ivin's or Dick Cheney, what can I say...

O.K., She's gone...somewhere I know not whither...

Molly Ivins Quotes

You either loved or ***** Molly Ivins. She was a political commentator with a sharp wit -- a take-no-prisoners critic of what she considered silly, outrageous, or unfair. Molly Ivins was based in Texas, and both loved and made fun of her state and its culture and politicians.

Some Molly Ivins Quotations:

from her last column, January 11, 2007: We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there.

• It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America.

• The first rule of holes: when you're in one, stop digging. (Mr. Bush ...think about this, O.K.)

• What you need is sustained outrage...there's far too much unthinking respect given to authority.

• Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous.

• The thing about democracy, beloveds, is that it is not neat, orderly, or quiet. It requires a certain relish for confusion.

• Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful.

• There are two kinds of humor.zSB(3,3)

One kind that makes us chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity -- like what Garrison Keillor does. The other kind holds people up to public contempt and ridicule -- that's what I do. Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful. I only aim at the powerful. When satire is aimed at the powerless, it is not only cruel -- it's vulgar.

• I believe that ignorance is the root of all evil. And that no one knows the truth.

• You can't ignore politics, no matter how much you'd like to.

• It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America.

• What stuns me most about contemporary politics is not even that the system has been so badly corrupted by money. It is that so few people get the connection between their lives and what the bozos do in Washington and our state capitols.

Politics is not a picture on a wall or a television sitcom that you can decide you don't much care for.

• There's never been a law yet that didn't have a ridiculous consequence in some unusual situation; there's probably never been a government program that didn't accidentally benefit someone it wasn't intended to. Most people who work in government understand that what you do about it is fix the problem -- you don't just attack the whole government.

• I believe in practicing prudence at least once every two or three years.

• It's hard to argue against cynics -- they always sound smarter than optimists because they have so much evidence on their side.

• Being slightly paranoid is like being slightly pregnant - it tends to get worse.

• I still believe in Hope - mostly because there's no such place as Fingers Crossed, Arkansas.

• One function of the income gap is that the people at the top of the heap have a hard time even seeing those at the bottom. They practically need a telescope. The pharaohs of ancient Egypt probably didn't waste a lot of time thinking about the people who built their pyramids, either. OK, so it's not that bad yet -- but it's getting that bad.

• It's like, duh. Just when you thought there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between the two parties, the Republicans go and prove you're wrong.

• In the real world, there are only two ways to deal with corporate misbehavior: One is through government regulation and the other is by taking them to court. What has happened over 20 years of free-market proselytizing is that we have dangerously weakened both forms of restraint, first through the craze for "deregulation" and second through endless rounds of "tort reform," all of which have the effect of cutting off citizens' access to the courts. By legally bribing politicians with campaign contributions, the corporations have bought themselves immunity from lawsuits on many levels.

• Any nation that can survive what we have lately in the way of government, is on the high road to permanent glory.

• During a recent panel on the numerous failures of American journalism, I proposed that almost all stories about government should begin: "Look out! They're about to smack you around again!"

• I am not anti-gun. I'm pro-knife. Consider the merits of the knife. In the first place, you have to catch up with someone in order to stab him. A general substitution of knives for guns would promote physical fitness. We'd turn into a whole nation of great runners. Plus, knives don't ricochet. And people are seldom killed while cleaning their knives.

• The United States of America is still run by its citizens. The government works for us. Rank imperialism and warmongering are not American traditions or values. We do not need to dominate the world. We want and need to work with other nations. We want to find solutions other than killing people. Not in our name, not with our money, not with our children's blood.

from her last column, January 11, 2007: We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Your father, 50 years on a spinning & wobbling surface, where hurled sunlight takes 8 minutes to cast my naked existential shadow upon the salty sands

Dedicated to: Cole & Sam & Amy & Keely

One day, when I'm not around to recite this to you, remember this is how life came to me:

There was a Child went Forth

THERE was a child went forth every day;
And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became;
And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain part of the day, or for many years, or stretching cycles of years.

The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass, and white and red morning-glories, and white and red clover, and the song of the phoebe-bird,
And the Third-month lambs, and the sow’s pink-faint litter, and the mare’s foal, and the cow’s calf,
And the noisy brood of the barn-yard, or by the mire of the pond-side,
And the fish suspending themselves so curiously below there—and the beautiful curious liquid,
And the water-plants with their graceful flat heads—all became part of him.

The field-sprouts of Fourth-month and Fifth-month became part of him;
Winter-grain sprouts, and those of the light-yellow corn, and the esculent roots of the garden,
And the apple-trees cover’d with blossoms, and the fruit afterward, and wood-berries, and the commonest weeds by the road;
And the old drunkard staggering home from the out-house of the tavern, whence he had lately risen,
And the school-mistress that pass’d on her way to the school,
And the friendly boys that pass’d—and the quarrelsome boys,
And the tidy and fresh-cheek’d girls—and the barefoot negro boy and girl,
And all the changes of city and country, wherever he went.

His own parents,
He that had father’d him, and she that had conceiv’d him in her womb, and birth’d him,
They gave this child more of themselves than that;
They gave him afterward every day—they became part of him.

The mother at home, quietly placing the dishes on the supper-table;
The mother with mild words—clean her cap and gown, a wholesome odor falling off her person and clothes as she walks by;
The father, strong, self-sufficient, manly, mean, anger’d, unjust;
The blow, the quick loud word, the tight bargain, the crafty lure,
The family usages, the language, the company, the furniture—the yearning and swelling heart,
Affection that will not be gainsay’d—the sense of what is real—the thought if, after all, it should prove unreal,
The doubts of day-time and the doubts of night-time—the curious whether and how,
Whether that which appears so is so, or is it all flashes and specks?
Men and women crowding fast in the streets—if they are not flashes and specks, what are they?
The streets themselves, and the façades of houses, and goods in the windows,
Vehicles, teams, the heavy-plank'd wharves—the huge crossing at the ferries,
The village on the highland, seen from afar at sunset—the river between,
Shadows, aureola and mist, the light falling on roofs and gables of white or brown, three miles off,
The schooner near by, sleepily dropping down the tide—the little boat slack-tow’d astern,
The hurrying tumbling waves, quick-broken crests, slapping,
The strata of color’d clouds, the long bar of maroon-tint, away solitary by itself—the spread of purity it lies motionless in,
The horizon’s edge, the flying sea-crow, the fragrance of salt marsh and shore mud;
These became part of that child who went forth every day, and who now goes, and will always go forth every day.

Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass.

With ALL my Love: Papa

Thursday, January 18, 2007

When we watch what children see...

WhyI make the time to slow myself...and just pause

Sparkles From the Wheel

WHERE the city’s ceaseless crowd moves on, the live-long day,
Withdrawn, I join a group of children watching—I pause aside with them.

By the curb, toward the edge of the flagging,
A knife-grinder works at his wheel, sharpening a great knife;
Bending over, he carefully holds it to the stone—by foot and knee,
With measur’d tread, he turns rapidly—As he presses with light but firm hand,
Forth issue, then, in copious golden jets,
Sparkles from the wheel.

The scene, and all its belongings—how they seize and affect me!
The sad, sharp-chinn’d old man, with worn clothes, and broad shoulder-band of leather;
Myself, effusing and fluid—a phantom curiously floating—now here absorb’d and arrested;

The group, (an unminded point, set in a vast surrounding;)
The attentive, quiet children—the loud, proud, restive base of the streets;
The low, hoarse purr of the whirling stone—the light-press’d blade,
Diffusing, dropping, sideways-darting, in tiny showers of gold,
Sparkles from the wheel.

Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass

It was this poem that I had the idea, that Whitman was really just a wandering Taoist in coveralls.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Circumstantial when you find a trout in your milk / When some folks don't see the world as you do

Sometimes as I wander amongst the day...I wonder, why does today seem different?

(self recognized items are in BOLD)

Maybe...this is why:

Cognitive bias is distortion in the way humans perceive reality (see also cognitive distortion). See also the list of thinking-related topic lists.

Some of these have been verified empirically in the field of psychology, others are considered general categories of bias.

* 1 Decision-making and behavioral biases
* 2 Biases in probability and belief
* 3 Social biases
* 4 Memory errors
* 5 Common theoretical causes of some cognitive biases
* 6 References
* 7 See also

Decision-making and behavioral biases

Many of these biases are studied for how they affect belief formation and business decisions and scientific research.

* Bandwagon effect - the tendency to do (or believe) things because many other people do (or believe) the same. Related to groupthink, herd behaviour, manias and socionomics. Carl Jung pioneered the idea of the collective unconscious which is considered by Jungian psychologists to be responsible for this cognitive bias.
* Bias blind spot - the tendency not to compensate for one's own cognitive biases.
* Choice-supportive bias - the tendency to remember one's choices as better than they actually were.
* Confirmation bias - the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions.
* Congruence bias - the tendency to test hypotheses exclusively through direct testing.
* Contrast effect - the enhancement or diminishment of a weight or other measurement when compared with recently observed contrasting object.
* Déformation professionnelle - the tendency to look at things according to the conventions of one's own profession, forgetting any broader point of view.
* Disconfirmation bias - the tendency for people to extend critical scrutiny to information which contradicts their prior beliefs and uncritically accept information that is congruent with their prior beliefs.
* Endowment effect - the tendency for people to value something more as soon as they own it.
* Focusing effect - prediction bias occurring when people place too much importance on one aspect of an event; causes error in accurately predicting the utility of a future outcome.
* Hyperbolic discounting - the tendency for people to have a stronger preference for more immediate payoffs relative to later payoffs, the closer to the present both payoffs are.
* Illusion of control - the tendency for human beings to believe they can control or at least influence outcomes which they clearly cannot.
* Impact bias - the tendency for people to overestimate the length or the intensity of the impact of future feeling states.
* Information bias - the tendency to seek information even when it cannot affect action.
* Loss aversion - the tendency for people to strongly prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains (see also sunk cost effects)
* Neglect of probability - the tendency to completely disregard probability when making a decision under uncertainty.
* Mere exposure effect - the tendency for people to express undue liking for things merely because they are familiar with them.
* Omission bias - The tendency to judge harmful actions as worse, or less moral, than equally harmful omissions (inactions).
* Outcome bias - the tendency to judge a decision by its eventual outcome instead of based on the quality of the decision at the time it was made.
* Planning fallacy - the tendency to underestimate task-completion times.
* Post-purchase rationalization - the tendency to persuade oneself through rational argument that a purchase was a good value.
* Pseudocertainty effect - the tendency to make risk-averse choices if the expected outcome is positive, but make risk-seeking choices to avoid negative outcomes.
* Selective perception - the tendency for expectations to affect perception.
* Status quo bias - the tendency for people to like things to stay relatively the same.
* Von Restorff effect - the tendency for an item that "stands out like a sore thumb" to be more likely to be remembered than other items.
* Zero-risk bias - preference for reducing a small risk to zero over a greater reduction in a larger risk.

Biases in probability and belief

Many of these biases are often studied for how they affect business and economic decisions and how they affect experimental research.

* Ambiguity effect - the avoidance of options for which missing information makes the probability seem "unknown".
* Anchoring - the tendency to rely too heavily, or "anchor," on one trait or piece of information when making decisions.
* Anthropic bias - the tendency for one's evidence to be biased by observation selection effects.
* Attentional bias - neglect of relevant data when making judgments of a correlation or association.
* Availability heuristic - a biased prediction, due to the tendency to focus on the most salient and emotionally-charged outcome.
* Belief bias - the tendency to base assessments on personal beliefs (see also belief perseverance and Experimenter's regress).
* Belief Overkill - the tendency to bring beliefs and values together so that they all point to the same conclusion.
* Clustering illusion - the tendency to see patterns where actually none exist.
* Conjunction fallacy - the tendency to assume that specific conditions are more probable than general ones.
* Gambler's fallacy - the tendency to assume that individual random events are influenced by previous random events — "the coin has a memory".
* Hindsight bias - sometimes called the "I-knew-it-all-along" effect, the inclination to see past events as being predictable.
* Illusory correlation - beliefs that inaccurately suppose a relationship between a certain type of action and an effect.
* Ludic Fallacy - the analisys of chance related problems with the narrow frame of games. Ignoring the complexity of reality, and the non-gaussian distribution of many things.
* Mind Projection Fallacy - The notion that probabilities represent intrinsic properties of physics rather than a description of one's knowledge of the situation.
* Myside bias - the tendency for people to fail to look for or to ignore evidence against what they already favor.
* Neglect of prior base rates effect - the tendency to fail to incorporate prior known probabilities which are pertinent to the decision at hand.
* Observer-expectancy effect - when a researcher expects a given result and therefore unconsciously manipulates an experiment or misinterprets data in order to find it (see also subject-expectancy effect).
* Optimism bias - the systematic tendency to be over-optimistic about the outcome of planned actions.
* Overconfidence effect - the tendency to overestimate one's own abilities.
* Polarization effect - increase in strength of belief on both sides of an issue after presentation of neutral or mixed evidence, resulting from biased assimilation of the evidence.
* Positive outcome bias - a tendency in prediction to overestimate the probability of good things happening to them (see also wishful thinking, optimism bias and valence effect).
* Recency effect - the tendency to weigh recent events more than earlier events (see also peak-end rule).
* Rosy retrospection - the tendency to rate past events more positively than they had actually rated them when the event occurred.
* Primacy effect - the tendency to weigh initial events more than subsequent events.
* Subadditivity effect - the tendency to judge probability of the whole to be less than the probabilities of the parts.
* Texas sharpshooter fallacy - the fallacy of selecting or adjusting a hypothesis after the data is collected, making it impossible to test the hypothesis fairly.

Social biases

Most of these biases are labeled as attributional biases.

* Actor-observer bias - the tendency for explanations for other individual's behaviors to overemphasize the influence of their personality and underemphasize the influence of their situation. This is coupled with the opposite tendency for the self in that one's explanations for their own behaviors overemphasize my situation and underemphasize the influence of my personality. (see also fundamental attribution error).
* Egocentric bias - occurs when people claim more responsibility for themselves for the results of a joint action than an outside observer would.
* Forer effect (aka Barnum Effect) - the tendency to give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically for them, but are in fact vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people. For example, horoscopes.
* False consensus effect - the tendency for people to overestimate the degree to which others agree with them.
* Fundamental attribution error - the tendency for people to over-emphasize personality-based explanations for behaviors observed in others while under-emphasizing the role and power of situational influences on the same behavior (see also actor-observer bias, group attribution error, positivity effect, and negativity effect).
* Halo effect - the tendency for a person's positive or negative traits to "spill over" from one area of their personality to another in others' perceptions of them (see also physical attractiveness stereotype).
* Illusion of asymmetric insight - people perceive their knowledge of their peers to surpass their peers' knowledge of them.
* Illusion of transparency - people overestimate others' ability to know them, and they also overestimate their ability to know others.
* Ingroup bias - preferential treatment people give to whom they perceive to be members of their own groups.
* Just-world phenomenon - the tendency for people to believe that the world is "just" and therefore people "get what they deserve."
* Lake Wobegon effect - the human tendency to report flattering beliefs about oneself and believe that one is above average (see also worse-than-average effect, and overconfidence effect).
* Notational bias - a form of cultural bias in which a notation induces the appearance of a nonexistent natural law.
* Outgroup homogeneity bias - individuals see members of their own group as being relatively more varied than members of other groups.
* Projection bias - the tendency to unconsciously assume that others share the same or similar thoughts, beliefs, values, or positions.
* Self-serving bias - the tendency to claim more responsibility for successes than failures. It may also manifest itself as a tendency for people to evaluate ambiguous information in a way beneficial to their interests (see also group-serving bias).
* Self-fulfilling prophecy - the tendency to engage in behaviors that elicit results which will (consciously or subconsciously) confirm our beliefs.
* Trait ascription bias - the tendency for people to view themselves as relatively variable in terms of personality, behavior and mood while viewing others as much more predictable.

Memory errors

See Memory bias.

* False memory
* Hindsight bias, also known as the 'I-knew-it-all-along effect'.
* Selective Memory

Common theoretical causes of some cognitive biases

* Attribution theory, especially:
o Salience
* Cognitive dissonance, and related:
o Impression management
o Self-perception theory
* Heuristics, including:
o Availability heuristic
o Representativeness heuristic
* Adaptive Bias


* Plous, S. (1993). The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-050477-6
* Gilovich, T. (1993). How We Know What Isn't So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life. New York: The Free Press. ISBN 0-02-911706-2
* Kahneman, D., Slovic, P. & Tversky, A. (Eds.). (1982). Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-28414-7
* Gilovich, T., Griffin D. & Kahneman, D. (Eds.). (2002). Heuristics and biases: The psychology of intuitive judgment. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-79679-2
* Baron, J. (2000). Thinking and deciding (3d. edition). New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-65030-5
* Bishop, Michael A & Trout, J.D. (2004). Epistemology and the Psychology of Human Judgment. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-516229-3

See also:

* Attribution theory
* Systematic bias
* Groupthink
* Logical fallacy
* Media bias
* Self-deception

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Nobody Has All the Answers / L. Rust Hills

Nobody Has All the Answers

While L. Rust Hills is remarkably right about many things, he also recognizes the limits of useful advice. So rather than call an essay “How to Stop Smoking and Drinking,” he called it “ How to Cut Down on Smoking and Drinking Quite So Much.” I excerpt it here. It appears in the section “ How to Do Some Particular Things Particularly”—not, we note, in “ How to Be Good.”

I had one hell of a system once for cutting down on drinking so much. I was sharing a big summer house with a lot of city people, and I came to realize I’d been getting bombed every night. I was there all the time; the others would come up just weekends, or on their vacations. Anyway, I devised this incredibly clever system: the idea was I’d plan ahead just exactly what I would do drinking-wise for each and every day of a four-day cycle. On what became knows as A First Day, I wouldn’t drink at all—nothing, not a single drink. This was to prove I wasn’t an alcoholic and could do without it. On the next day, A Second Day, I would have one drink before dinner and one drink after dinner—that’s all, no more, no matter how often they told me I was a no-fun person. This was to prove I could drink abstemiously, if that isn’t a contradiction in terms. On A Third Day, I’d allow myself to drink what I called “moderately.” This was to prove I could drink moderately. And on A Fourth Day, it was all-out, anything goes as much as I wanted. This was to prove I was still a fun person. Then it would be A First Day again. And so on.
Well, the system really did sort of work for awhile, but there were difficulties with it, as I guess you must have imagined there would be. On a First Day, after A Fourth Day debauch, is of course just when you need a drink most, at least one drink, if not just one drink before dinner then at least one drink just before bed. On A First Day I’d be irascible all day and go to bed early and not be able to sleep. A Second Day was all right, nothing to get excited about, but the way sensible people live regularly, I guess. A Third Day was always a problem, because my idea of “moderately” kept changing as the evening wore on. A Fourth Day, of course, was just the normal disaster.
One of the main problems of the system was the four-day cycle when everyone else was more or less on a seven-day week. I can’t for the life of me now remember how I decided on four days or why on earth I didn’t change when I saw it wasn’t working. If my Fourth Day were to come say on the other’s Tuesday, there wouldn’t be anyone to drink with me; it was awful having A Fourth Day go to waste like that. Then others couldn’t keep track of what day mine was. They’d prolong the cocktail hour unconscionably on A Second Day that happened to be their Friday night. Or I’d be moderately having a couple of drinks on A Third Day, maybe weaving a little as I told a long-winded story, maybe making myself one more at the same time, and I’d overhear one of the householders ask another, “Say, is this A Fourth Day, or what?”
Toward the end, I began switching my days around to accommodate, like a good householder, so my good days would coincide with their good days. Thus on A Second Day Saturday night, I’d decide during cocktails to have my Second Day tomorrow and my Third Day today; then later in the evening I’d decide to make today my Fourth Day and have my Third Day tomorrow and have my Second Day after that. But things tended to get confused, and of course the First And Second Days got kind of lost, and pretty soon every day was A Fourth Day again. It’s really hard to organize systems when you’re sharing with others.

PS, I have no idea what has become of L. Rust Hills, I hope he is well.

Note to myself:
Wednesday, Nov 8th is my: “A Fourth Day"
Note to myself #2 : Promote Establishment of a National Holiday in November for inventor of “Mute” button on remote controls.

Sent to Ben's Bits: on Sunday, Nov. 5th 2006
Forgive the intrusion prior to the Election’s on Tuesday. I found this news clipping in an old shoebox buried in the garage last week, one of the few remaining scraps left behind when my complete library was lost in the great fire of April 1993. I’ve deposited it here in the “Ben’s Bits,” as you haven’t created a category dedicated solely to humor, of course an alternate useful humor title might be the one supplied by Txchick57’s: “20lb Trout”

This is for All you bloggers here on Ben’s site that have made me laugh and really enjoy the time I spend reading and learning from your post’s. Thanks for sharing, you’re a wonderful gang! It’s Sunday Morning, we have a National Election just two days away, and as the title says: “Nobody Has All the Answers”

Friday, September 22, 2006

Names & Places from Pilgrim's Progress

Reading the various posts and brilliant comments from the bloggers at Mr. Ben's site: I could not help but remind myself that I've heard these types of description of various characters & places before. Then I remember the story of Pilgrim's Progress:

Which I'll start using as references to in my posts so that we all can have a little reminder of the chaotic humor born of human endeavors. Enjoy! Timothy

Characters of the First Part [the main ones in capitals]

  • CHRISTIAN, whose name was Graceless at some time before in his life, the protagonist in the First Part, whose journey to the Celestial City is the plot of the story.
  • EVANGELIST, the religious man who puts Christian on the path to the Celestial City.
  • Obstinate, one of the two residents of The City of Destruction who run after Christian when he first sets out in order to bring him back
  • Pliable, the other of the two, who goes with Christian until both of them fall into the Slough of Despond. Pliable then returns home when he gets out of the slough.
  • Help, Christian's rescuer from the Slough of Despond
  • MR. WORLDLY WISEMAN, a resident of a place called Carnal Policy, who persuades Christian go out of his way to be helped by a Mr. Legality and then move to the City of Morality
  • GOODWILL, the keeper of the Wicket Gate through which one enters the "straight and narrow way" (also referred to as "the King's Highway") to the Celestial City. In the Second Part we find that this character is none other than Jesus Christ Himself.
  • Beelzebub, literally "Lord of the Flies," one of the devil's companion archdevils who had erected a fort near the Wicket Gate from which he and his companions could shoot arrows at those who are about to enter the Wicket Gate. He is also the Lord of Vanity Fair.
  • THE INTERPRETER, the one who has his House along the way as a rest stop for travelers to check in to see pictures and dioramas to teach them the right way to live the Christian life. He has been identified as the Holy Spirit. He also appears in the Second Part.
  • Shining Ones, the messengers and servants of "the Lord of the Hill," God. They are obviously the holy angels.
  • Formalist, one of two travelers on the King's Highway, who do not come in by the Wicket Gate but climb over the wall that encloses it at least from the hill and sepulcre up to the Hill Difficulty. He takes one of the two bypaths that avoid the Hill Difficulty but is lost
  • Hypocrisy, the companion of Formalist. He takes the other of the two bypaths and is also lost.
  • Timorous, one of two who try to persuade Christian to go back for fear of the chained lions near the House Beautiful. He is a relative of Mrs. Timorous of the Second Part. His companion is:
  • Mistrust
  • Watchful, the porter of the House Beautiful. He also appears in the Second Part, and receives "a gold angel" coin from Christiana for his kindness and service to her and her companions. "Watchful" is also the name of one of the Delectable Mountains shepherds.
  • Discretion, one of the maids of the House Beautiful, which represents the church
  • Prudence, another of the House Beautiful maidens. She appears in the Second Part
  • Piety, another of the House Beautiful maidens. She appears in the Second Part
  • Charity, another of the House Beautiful maidens. She appears in the Second Part
  • APOLLYON, literally "Destroyer," the lord of the City of Destruction and one of the devil's companion archdevils, who tries to force Christian to return to his domain and service. His battle with Christian takes place in the Valley of Humiliation, just below the House Beautiful. He appears as a dragonlike creature with scales and bats' wings. He takes darts from his body to throw at his opponents.
  • FAITHFUL, Christian's friend from the City of Destruction, who is also going on pilgrimage. Christian meets him just after he gets through the Valley of the Shadow of Death
  • Wanton, a temptress who tries to get Faithful to leave his journey to the Celestial City. She may be the popular resident of the City of Destruction, Madam Wanton, who hosted a house party for friends of Mrs. Timorous.
  • Adam the First, "the old man" (representing the flesh/carnality) who tries to persuade Faithful to leave his journey and come live with his 3 daughters: the Lust of the flesh, the Lust of Lust of the eyes, and the Pride of life.
  • Moses, the severe violent avenger (representing the Law, which knows no mercy) who tries to kill Faithful for his momentary weakness in wanting to go with Adam the First out of the way
  • Talkative, a hypocrite from the City of Destruction, who lived on Prating Row, known to Christian. Plainly put, he's all talk and no action, or spiritually put, he talks fervently of religion, but has no evident works as a result of true salvation.
  • Lord Hate-good, the judge who tries Faithful in Vanity Fair
  • Envy, the first witness against Faithful
  • Superstition, the second witness against Faithful
  • Pick-Thank, the third witness against Faithful
  • HOPEFUL, the resident of Vanity Fair, who takes Faithful's place as Christian fellow traveler. The character HOPEFUL poses an inconsistency in that there is a necessity imposed on the pilgrims that they enter the "King's Highway" by the Wicket Gate. HOPEFUL did not; however, of him we read: "... one died to bear testimony to the truth, and another rises out of his ashes to be a companion with Christian in his pilgrimage." HOPEFUL assumes FAITHFUL'S place by God's design. Theologically and allegorically it would follow in that "faith" is trust in God as far as things present are concerned, and "hope," biblically the same as "faith," is trust in God as far as things of the future are concerned. (HOPEFUL would follow FAITHFUL.) The other factor is Vanity Fair's location right on the straight and narrow way. IGNORANCE, in contrast to HOPEFUL, came from the Country of Conceit, that connected to the "King's Highway" by means of a crooked lane. IGNORANCE was told by CHRISTIAN and HOPEFUL that he should have entered the highway through the Wicket Gate.
  • Mr. By-Ends, a hypocritical pilgrim who perishes in the Hill Lucre silver mine with three of his friends. A "by-end" is a pursuit that is achieved indirectly. In the case of By-Ends and his companions, it is pursuing financial gain through religion.
  • Demas, a deceiver, who beckons to pilgrims at the Hill Lucre to come and join in the supposed silver mining going on in it.
  • GIANT DESPAIR, the owner of Doubting Castle, where Christians are imprisoned and murdered. He appears in the Second Part and is slain by GREAT-HEART
  • Giantess Diffidence, Despair's wife. She appears in the Second Part, and is slain by OLD HONEST
  • Knowledge, one of the shepherds of the Delectable Mountains
  • Experience, another of the Delectable Mountains shepherds
  • Watchful, another of the Delectable Mountains shepherds
  • Sincere, another of the Delectable Mountains shepherds
  • IGNORANCE, "a brisk young lad," who joins the "King's Highway" by way of the "crooked lane" that comes from his native country, called "Conceit." He follows Christian and Hopeful and on two occasions talks with them. He believes that he will be received into the Celestial City because of his doing good works in accordance with God's will. Christian and Hopeful try to set him right, but they fail. He gets a ferryman, Vain-Hope, to ferry him across the River of Death rather than cross it on foot as one is supposed to, but he is thrown from the Celestial City gate through one of the doorways (by-ways) to hell at the direction of God, the King of the Celestial City.
  • The Flatterer, a deceiver who leads Christian and Hopeful out of their way, when they fail to look at the roadmap given them by the Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains.
  • Atheist, a mocker of CHRISTIAN and HOPEFUL, who goes the opposite way on the "King's Highway" because he boasts that he knows that God and the Celestial City do not exist

Places in The Pilgrim's Progress

  • City of Destruction, Christian's home, representative of the world (cf. Isaiah 19:18)
  • Slough of Despond, the miry swamp on the way to the Wicket Gate, one of the hazards of the journey to the Celestial City. In the First Part, Christian falling into it, sinks further under the weight of his sins (his burden) and his sense of their guilt.
  • Mount Sinai, a frightening mountain near the Village of Morality that threatens all who would go there
  • Wicket Gate, the entry point of the straight and narrow way to the Celestial City. Pilgrim's are required to enter the way by way of the Wicket Gate.
  • House of the Interpreter, a type of spiritual museum to guide the pilgrims to the Celestial City
  • Hill and Sepulchre', surmounted by three crosses, emblematic of Calvary and the tomb of Christ
  • Hill Difficulty, both the hill and the road up is called "Difficulty"; it is flanked by two treacherous byways "Danger" and "Destruction." There are three choices: CHRISTIAN takes "Difficulty" (the right way), and Formalist and Hypocrisy take the two other ways, which prove to be fatal dead ends.
  • House Beautiful, a fine home that serves as rest stop for pilgrims to the Celestial City. It apparently sits atop the Hill Difficulty. From the House Beautiful one can see forward to the Delectable Mountains.
  • Valley of Humiliation, the valley the other side of the Hill Difficulty, where Christian meets Apollyon. This valley had been a delight to the "Lord of the Hill" Jesus Christ in his "state of humiliation."
  • Valley of the Shadow of Death, a treacherous valley with a quick sand bog on one side and a deep chasm/ditch on the other side of the King's Highway going through it
  • Gaius's inn, a rest stop in the Second Part
  • Vanity and Vanity Fair, a city through which the King's Highway passes where a yearlong fair is held
  • Hill Lucre, location of a reputed silver mine, that proves to be the place where By-Ends and his companions are lost
  • Plain Ease, a pleasant area traversed by the pilgrims
  • By-Path Meadow, the place leading to the grounds of Doubting Castle
  • Doubting Castle, the home of Giant Despair and his wife; only one key could open it, the key Promise.
  • The Delectable Mountains, know as "Immanuel's Land." Lush country from whose heights one can see many delights and curiosities. It is inhabited by sheep and their shepherds, and from Mount Clear one can see the Celestial City.
  • The Enchanted Ground, an area through which the King's Highway passes that has air that makes pilgrims want to stop to sleep. If one goes to sleep in this place, one never wakes up
  • The Land of Beulah, a lush garden area just this side of the River of Death
  • The River of Death, the dreadful river that surrounds Mount Zion, deeper or shallower depending on the faith of the one traversing it
  • The Celestial City, the "Desired Country" of pilgrims, heaven, the dwelling place of the "Lord of the Hill," God. It is situated on Mount Zion.

Characters of the Second Part [the main ones in capitals]

  • Mr. Sagacity, a guest narrator who meets Bunyan himself in his new dream and recounts the events of the Second Part up to the arrival at the Wicket Gate.
  • CHRISTIANA, wife of CHRISTIAN, who leads her four sons and neighbor MERCY on pilgrimage
  • MATTHEW, CHRISTIAN and CHRISTIANA'S eldest son, who marries MERCY
  • SAMUEL, second eldest son, who marries Grace, Mr. Mnason's daughter
  • JOSEPH, third eldest son, who marries Martha, Mr. Mnason's daughter
  • JAMES, youngest son, who marries Phoebe, Gaius's daughter
  • MERCY, CHRISTIANA's neighbor, who goes with her on pilgrimage and marries MATTHEW
  • Mrs. Timorous, relative of the Timorous of the First Part, who comes with MERCY to see CHRISTIANA before she sets out on pilgrimage
  • Ill-favoured Ones, two evil characters CHRISTIANA sees in her dream, whom she and MERCY actually encounter when they leave the Wicket Gate
  • Innocent, a young serving maid of the INTERPRETER, who answers the door of the house when Christiana and her companions arrive, and who conducts them to the garden bath, which signifies Christian baptism.
  • MR. GREAT-HEART, the guide and body-guard sent by the INTERPRETER with CHRISTIANA and her companions from his house to their journey's end. He proves to be one of the main protagonists in the Second Part
  • Giant Grim, who "backs the [chained] lions" near the House Beautiful, slain by GREAT-HEART. He is also known as Bloody-man.
  • Humble-Mind, one of the maidens of the House Beautiful, who makes her appearance in the Second Part.
  • Mr. Brisk, a suitor of MERCY's, who gives up on her when he finds out that she makes clothing only to give away to the poor
  • Mr. Skill, the physician called to the House Beautiful to cure Matthew of his illness in eating the apples of Beelzebub
  • Giant Maul, a giant that GREAT-HEART kills as the pilgrim's leave the Valley of the Shadow of Death
  • OLD HONEST, a pilgrim that joins them, a welcome companion to GREAT-HEART.
  • Mr. Fearing, a pilgrim whom GREAT-HEART had "conducted" to the Celestial City in an earlier pilgrimage. He was noted for his timidness. He is Mr. Feeble-Mind's uncle.
  • Gaius, an innkeeper the pilgrim's stay with for some years after they leave the Valley of the Shadow of Death. He gives his daughter Phebe to JAMES in marriage. The lodging fee for his inn is paid by the Good Samaritan.
  • Giant Slay-Good, a giant that enlists the help of evil-doers on the King's Highway to abduct pilgrims, murder, and consume them.
  • Mr. Feeble-Mind, rescued from Slay-Good by Mr. Great-Heart, who joins Christiana's company of pilgrims
  • Phoebe, Gaius's daughter, who marries JAMES.
  • Mr. Ready-to-Halt, a pilgrim who meets CHRISTIANA'S train of pilgrims at Gaius's door, and becomes the companion of Mr. Feeble-mind, to whom he gives one of his crutches.
  • Mr. Mnason, a resident of the town of Vanity, who puts up the pilgrims for a time, and gives his daughters Grace and Martha in marriage to SAMUEL and JOSEPH respectively.
  • Grace, Mnason's daughter, who marries SAMUEL
  • Martha, Mnason's daughter, who marries JOSEPH
  • Mr. Despondency, a rescued prisoner from Doubting Castle
  • Much-Afraid, his daughter
  • Mr. VALIANT-FOR-TRUTH, a pilgrim they find all bloody, with his sword in his hand, after leaving the Delectable Mountains
  • Mr. Stand-Fast, a pilgrim found while praying for deliverance from Madame Bubble
  • Madame Bubble, witch whose enchantments made the Enchanted Ground what it is, who is the adulterous woman mentioned in the biblical book of Proverbs

Let it fall down, let it fall down, let it ALL fall down / JT

I keep singing this tune by James Taylor while I'm reading some of the posts by folks trying to peer into the economic abyss. Think I'll have to dust off the old guitar and start composing some new songs for the folks that'll be standing in the soup lines!

Let It All Fall Down

Walking Man (1974) James Taylor

Sing a song for the wrong and the wicked and the strong and the sick, as thick as thieves.
For the faceless fear that was never so near, too clear to misbelieve.
Well the sea is jumping salty and the porpoise has the blues,
my recollection's faulty and I cannot find my shoes.
And my wiring is misfiring due to cigarettes and booze,
I'm behind in my dues, I just now got the news.
He seems to tell us lies and still we will believe him,
then together he will lead us into darkness, my friends.

Let it fall down, let it fall down, let it all fall down.
Let it fall down, let it fall down, let it all fall down.

The man says stand to one side, son, we got to keep this big ball rolling.
It's just a question of controlling for whom the bell is tolling.

Let it fall down, let it fall down, let it all fall down.
Let it fall down, let it fall down, let it all fall down.

There'll be suffering and starvation in the streets, young man.
Just where have you been, old man? Just look out of your window, man.

Let it fall down, let it fall down, let it all fall down.
Let it fall down, let it fall down, let it all fall down.

Well, it ain't nobody's fault but our own,
still, at least we might could show the good sense
To know when we've been wrong, and it's already taken too long.
So we bring it to a stop then we take it from the top,
we let it settle on down softly like your gently falling snow
or let it tumble down and topple like the temple long ago.

Let it fall down, let it fall down, let it all fall down.
Let it fall down, let it fall down, let it all fall down.