Welcome to my world!

Welcome to my world.  The world of Daniel Allen Butler, author, historian, speaker.  Sometime curmudgeon, sometime all-round nice guy.  Often imitated but never duplicated.  Educated and opinionated, conservative and Christian, I answer to no one by my own conscience and my God.  If you’ve stuck around this long, then you’ll probably enjoy the observations and commentary that will be appearing here in the weeks and months to come.  Make no mistake, I’m here for the long run.

Why? you may ask.  Why are you here in the first place, and why do you plan to be here “for the long run”?  Because I’m a historian, and history is the only thing in the adventure that we call life that matters. “OK, wait a minute,” I can already hear you saying, “I know you’ve got a reputation for arrogance, but isn’t that going a little far even for you?  History is the only thing that matters?  What about science?  Art?  Literature?  Music?  Engineering?  Politics?  What about…love?”

Well, what about them?  Distilled down to their respective essence, every one of those pursuits or disciplines or dreams is nothing more than the product–and sum–of their histories.   Every scientific advance, every piece of research, every new discovery, theory, hypothesis or breakthrough is possible only by relying on the body of scientific work that precedes it–in other words, on scientific history.  Art is perceived as, understood as, art because of the vast body of “artwork” that humanity has accumulated and produced.  The creation or production of “art” is a response to history: artistic creation is either the continuation of a school of work, a style, a technique–or else it is the reaction to the perception of an absence of art, the realization that up until the moment some piece of artwork is created, whatever it provides to humanity was lacking.  in other words, a response to history.  The same applies to literature and music.  Think about it.

Any engineer who attempted to construct a building or machine, and did so without reference to the established principles of design and engineering that apply to his or her specific discipline does so at grave risk, if not of life and limb then at the very least of reputation.  And what are those established principles but a history of successful engineering?  The simple devices that we take for granted every day–the wheel, the hinge, the lever, the screw, a flight of steps, a drinking glass, shoes, these things and tens of thousands of seemingly mundane items just like them–are all the current expressions of centuries, sometimes millenia, of development and refinement.  No one needs to invent the wheel–it’s been done!  It’s history!  Now the question is not how to invent it, but how to refine and use it, without the need to repeat all of the experiences of those countless generations who have used wheels in equally countless forms and ways

Politics?  Well, politics is a perverse–or perhaps perverted–form of history.  Although the attribution varies (I believe the observation originated with Churchill), the truth that “Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to relive them” is inescapable to anyone but a credulous fool.  Sadly, most politicians now and in the past have seemed to be wholeheartedly determined to ignore that fundamental truth and pretend that history has no relevance, or that there is nothing to be learned from it.  More the fools they.  But don’t get me started on politicians, at least not today, or this might just turn into a discussion on the merits of the various designs of lampposts….

Let me expand on what I said in the preceding paragraph–that the truth that “Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to relive them” is inescapable to anyone but a credulous fool.  What is a larger truth here is that anyone who claims to ignore the past, denies its relevance, asserts that they only live for the present, and that present is all that matters, is indeed a credulous fool.  More to the point, their ignorance is dangerous, both to themselves and to those around them.  Anyone who says “I have no use for the past” is telling you that they never learn from their mistakes, that they are so shallow and ignorant that they refuse to recognize how the experiences of others can be of benefit to them.  And someone who cannot or will not learn from his or her mistakes is, quite frankly, insane, if the definition of insanity indeed be doing the same thing over and over again, each time expecting a different result.  I urge you to avoid them like the plague–someday you’ll thank me for it.

Oh, and what about love?  How can love and history have any kind of connection?  Well, ask yourself this: whenever you’re looking toward a new relationship, aren’t you basing your hopes and expectations for that relationship on what you’ve experienced in relationships in the past?  Don’t you tell yourself that this sort of person is someone you’re going to avoid this time around, because of what happened in the past?  And really, doesn’t love begin when we come to be aware of its absence in our lives?  Don’t we start to love the moment when we realize that it is something we need, something we have–something to be shared?  It arises from experience one way or another, and “experience” is just another word for “history.”

You and I are the products of history, both our own and that of the societies and nations in which we live.  Who we are, who we aspire to become, what we value and what we discard, our moral compasses, our dreams, our fears, our loves, are all the product of history on a level great or small.  Only fools pretend otherwise–and only other fools listen to those pretenders.  Don’t be fools–learn your history, before it comes back to teach you its lessons the hard way.

Remember, I’m Daniel Allen Butler, and that’s the way it is….

7 February 2013

11 thoughts on “Welcome to my world!

  1. Many of my thoughts have been brought up in which you said, I have no problem with a T2, if it is actually built…, its those who banish the idea, and ideas that are an idea…why?? Because you dont like it? FOLLY!!! We need a liitle retro in ships today like cars and what a wonderful start. with..T2….Perhaps this might give ships today some edge!!

  2. I have no problem with it being built. I’m sure a man of his wealth and stature has researched everything before he ever made any final decision on signing his name to such a project. My questions are, where would be her port of origin, how many ports of call would she have, and would she be able to maintain a steady stream of voyaging passengers in order for her to make a profit or stay in business. I do wish him success.

  3. I absolutley love “Unsinkable” and am so grateful to have you autograph it to me. I’ve read it at least three times and am stunned and awed by your annotations. Unsinkable is truly historical non-fiction at it’s best.

    “…often imitated
    But I am never duplicated” You’re being tongue in cheek, right, because that’s been used before. Also, “Remember, I’m Daniel Allen Butler, and that’s the way it is….” Tongue in cheek again, right?
    My dad spent a day with you at base and he said you were really cordial to everyone and just a down to Earth guy.

    Also, why have you not updated your posts containing George Zimmerman? Do you still believe him a person in unfortunate cicumstances given the video of his girlfriend describing his aggressive behaviour)?

  4. Hello, Jennifer! I’m pleased that you’ve enjoyed “Unsinkable” so much–have you had an opportunity to read “The Other Side of the Night” as well?

    Yes, I was being tongue-in-cheek and kudos to you for picking up on it.

    Re: George Zimmerman. Yes, I still believe that he was caught in a set of very bad circumstances where no “good” choices readily presented themselves that, to him, would ensure his own safety. As to whether or not he’s a good person, or how much substance there is to the accusations made by his girlfriend, I’m not prepared to address either point. His character was not on trial, his actions were. As for the alleged aggressive behavior, at the moment that’s still a “she said, he said” issue–accusations are not facts, which means I’m not prepared to take sides in that question.

  5. Whats up this is somewhat of off topic but I was wondering if blogs
    use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with
    HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding expertise so I wanted to
    get guidance from someone with experience. Any help would
    be enormously appreciated!

    • Lela, I have to tell you that WordPress makes it pretty easy. It’s not quite WYSIWYG, but it’s very close, and there is no need to write in HTML if you don’t want to. It gives you the option of doing that, but it’s not a requirement–for which I’m very grateful, as I’m not at all proficient in HTML. I don’t have experience with a broad range of website design software, so I can’t speak with any authority to the subject in general, but specifically, I find that WordPress allows me to do everything I really NEED to do, and most of the things I WANT to do in creating my blogs.

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