Sunday, November 20, 2011

Happy Birfday, Bro - Ya' big C

Nov 22 is ma' big bro's birthday.  He's at official retirement age, although the sot's been on the public tit for a few years already...  Here's some glamour shots - he is on top, I am below doing an imitation on what he will look like when his nose hairs get control...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How some Billsons ended up in Canada

Here's some family history for you.

My father's grandmother, Emily Billson left England and came to Canada as a widow.  She brought her younger children with her - my father's father among them.  She left England due to what she considered to be too light of sentence given those responsible for the murder of her husband, Benjamin.

I found the following transcript of the trial on-line.  I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

Reference Number: t18991023-705

705. WILLIAM FRY (21), RICHARD FRY (20), and ALBERT BOWERS (32), were indicted for , and charged, on the Coroner's Inquisition with, the manslaughter of Benjamin Robert Billson.


ROACH Defended Bowers.

JAMES TRACEY SIMPSON . I was House Surgeon of the Branch Hospital at the Albert Docks on September 3rd when Benjamin Billson, a man about 50 years of age, was brought in' a little after 11 p.m., in a semiconscious condition, and suffering from a scalp wound at the back of his head, and blood was escaping from his left ear—after dressing his head I had him put to bed—I saw him again at 1 a.m., when he was suffering from convulsions—during the night he became comatose, and remained so—about noon I advised the operation of trepanning the head—he died about 2.30 p.m. on the 5th—I made a postmortem examination, and found a fracttire at the base of the skull on the left side, a contusion on the right side, and considerable effusion of blood, caused by compression of the brain, from the result of which he died—the conclusion I came to was that a blow at the angle of the jaw caused the fracture, by driving the condyle of the jaw into the base of the skull—there was a scalp wound on the back of the head, which might have been caused by his falling on the ground, or by a blow—it is not uncommon for injury to the brain to be caused by such a blow or a fall on the point of the chin.

GEORGE WAYLETT (176 K) produced and proved a plan of the locality drawn to scale.

MARTHIA MCCUMSHAY . I live at 60, Clever Road, with my father—it is five doors from the alley—on Sunday, September 3rd, I was standing at the front door with Ada Beard, talking—I saw Richard Fry come from an alley down Martin Road towards Clever Road—he ran along Frederick Road, and came back and stood at the corner of Clever Road and Frederick Road—the lamps were alight except the one against the alley—he stood there singing—he looked intoxicated—Mr. Billson and party came along, laughing, and talking—Richard Fry said, "Who the b—hell are you laughing at?"—when they got to the corner Mrs. Billsoa said, "We are not laughing at you; you young rascal, you want your ass smacked"—Fry said, I will smack his ass "to Bowers and William Fry, who came from the alley—William Fry said, "Go for him on the right," and rushed at old Billson, who was on the right, and hit him with his fist on his left jaw—the old man fell, with the back of his head towards my feet—I had left the house, and come over—Bowers took a stick from Billston, and broke it before William Fry struck him—Richard made for another man—the prisoners then went through the alley to Martin Road—Mrs. Billson cried, "Murder!"—she put her hand on Billson's head—it was covered with blood—a crowd gathered—I knew the prisoners by sight—Miss Billson ran away—Richard had a white shirt and light trousers, no jacket or coat, and nothing on his head—Bowers was dressed in the suit he has on now—William had a light pair of trousers, and dark brown coat and waistcoat.

ADA BEARD . I live at 56, Clever Road—I am 15 years old—on Sunday, September 3rd, I was with the last witness about 10.30 p.m., outside her door—I know Richard Fry by sight—I saw him coming from the avenue leading to Frederick Road, called the Alley—there was a lamp alight in the alley—he stood against the fence at the corner of Frederick Road—the Billson party came along, laughing among themselves—Richard said, "Who the b—hell are you laughing at?"—the Billsons went to the corner, when Mrs. Billson said, "Do you want your ass smacked?"—Richard fry said, "I will smack his ass," pointing to Mr. French, who was on the right—someone said, "We are not laughing at you "—some men came out of the alley—one said, "Go for that one on the right"—Richard Fry hit Mr. French—I was frightened, and went away—when I was turning away Mrs. Billson called out, "They have killed him"—the men walked a few yards past the fish shop, and then ran—Bowers and Richard Fry are two of the men—I picked them out—I saw Bowers break a stick across his knee—I saw Mr. Billison with the stick.

GEORGE ANCHOR . I live at 18, Martin Road—I am 15 years old—I know the prisoner by sight—on Sunday evening. September.3rd, a little after 10 p.m., I was in Clever Road—Richard Fry was calling for his wife, Bella—shortly afterwards I saw three men and three women (the Billson party) come round the corner, laughing among themselves—Richard asked them what they were laughing at—they said, "Not at you"—then William and Bowers joined them—they came from Bowerss ran in the alley—William said, "Pick him out in the road"—Bowers lives in the alley—I had seen him going out with shrimps—Richard went for French—French took a stick from Mr. Billson, and said, "Go away"—Bowers went to hit French, but could not hit him, he was so drunk; at last he took the stick from French and broke it—French was defending himself with the stick—I heard someone scream—I saw the old man fall down—I noticed that he was cut under his left ear—the prisoners ran away.

WILLIAM EDWARD TEBB . I live at 58, Frederick Road—on Sunday evening, September 3rd, I saw the Billson party walking along the Frederick Road—Richard Fry was against the fence, using obscene language—he looked as if he had had enough—the Billson party were laughing and joking together—after some bad language, some more men came through the alley—one was a larger man than the others—one holloaed out, "Take that man on the right"—Richard rushed at the man on the right—Richard made a strike, and they all rushed at the Billson party—French took a stick from the old man to defend himself—he had one man on him and another behind him—the stick was taken away from him by the stout man—I saw old Billson fall, and ran to his assistance—I helped to take him to Dr. Boyd—French said, "What have I done?"—the stick was broken.

EDWARD FRENCH . I am a foreman stevedore, of 12, St. John's Road. Canning Town—I was with the Billsons on Sunday evening, September. 3rd—I married into the family—we were laughing together—I understood Richard Fry to nay, "Who the f—hell are you laughing at?"—I said, "We are not laughing at you, my son," and continued to walk on round the corner—I said to my wife, "Come on, May"—she said, "All right, mate, I'm coming"—the next I heard was, "Your bleeding May won't go much further," and "Hit him up the b—g gut"—I buttoned my coat—Richard Fry rushed at me—I stepped on one bide, and he passed me—I turned to see whether he had gone, when two of them touched me on the shoulder—I got near my father-in-law, the deceased, and said, "They are a rough lot; lend me the stick; I will do something"—he was 52 or 53 years of age—as soon as I got the stick it was taken away—it was not thicker than ray finger—this is a portion of the stick—I held the stick as long as I could—I got a little tap, and rushed over to a doorway, and asked a woman if she cou'd not do something for me—she slammed the door in my face—I heard my mother-in-law scream "Murder! they have killed him!"—I came back—he was lying on the ground, bleeding—I afterwards identified William Fry.

THOMAS HENRY STANDEN . I was with this party, and heard someone complain of people laughing at him—when we passed, the man who was leaning against the fence followed to the corner, two or three more came from the opening, and said something to him—French said, "We have not come out to tight; leave us alone; we want logo home"—French walked across the toad—Billion's home was in Forty Acts Lane, about 10 minutes' walk—the man who had been leaning against the fence made a blow at French, then hit Billson in the mouth; then another with a brown coat hit me on the right jaw, and I hit him in the face—three men were straggling with French—Billson was in front of me, when the man in the brown coat and cap who hit me knocked him down—I went towards Frederick Road after the man, but on hearing the cry of "Murder!" I turned back to see what was the matter, and so lost sight of him—the man who hit Billson in the mouth with his fist and had been leaning on the fence, was dressed in a light shirt, a light pair of trousers, and no cap, coat, or vest.

EMILY BILLSON . I was the wife of Benjamin Billson, who met his death on September 3rd—I live at 18, Forty Acre Lane—I remember Richand Fry coming towards French after some words, and other men coming—they begin to attack French; then I saw them rush to my husband—it was too dark to see the faces of the men—my husband fell in the road, and I screamed "Murder!"—they all ran away.

ALFRED FRY . I live at 22, Martin Road, and am the brother of Richard and William Fry—I am 10 years old—I know Bowers—he was out selling shrimps in the morning of September 3rd—I was in Bowers’s van in the alley at the end of Frederick Road, in the evening, with William Fry, Bowers, David Hunt, and Barton, singing—when I came from the van Richard Fry was leaning against the fence—I saw three men and three women coming along laughing—he said, "What are you laughing: at?" and they went round the corner—William Fry said, "Pick him out in the road"—Richard Fry went to hit him, and missed him—he said, "Give me that stick," and Bowers got away the stick, and hit Billson on the jaw—Bowers had light trousers, and no coat, waistcoat, or hat—Billson fell on his back—William had a Brown suit on; not the same he has on now—it was a backhanded blow—all walked away—I hare not seen Barton since.

Cross-xamined by Richard Fry. Mother cannot prove that you have no other clothes than a black jacket.

Cross-examined by MR. GEOGHEGAN. I did not know Billson—George Cox told me who he was—David Hunt came after me—I know Bowas as "Albert" and "Icy."

DAVID HUNT (Cross-examined by MR. GBOGHEGAN). I am 17 yean of age—I am a general dealer—I have been employed by Bowers—I was in his service on September 3rd—I left it eight or nine days ago—I gave evidence before the Magistrate—the police asked me—on Sunday evening, September 3rd, I was in Bowers's van in Clever Road, with Bowers, Barton, William Fry, and Albert Fry—Bowers and I left the van about 9.30—I went to Bowers's house, when I heard a row in the street—Bowers and I came out about 10.15—we went into Clever Road—I saw Richard Fry strike French or Standen—French had a stick in his hand—William Fry and Barton were there—French went to strike one of the Frys, and Bowers took the stick away and broke it up—I saw Alfred Barton strike Mr. Billson with a stick at the back of his ear—I have known Barton six or seven months—he has disappeared since Billson's death—I saw Billson fal—Bowers was standing on the kerb, the other side of the road, 9 or 10 yards away—Barton spoke to me in the alley.

By MR. BIRON. Bowers threw the stick away—William went to strike, but he never hit anyone—I was with Bowers and the others while the "singsong" was going on—they did not stop the "singsong" because of the noise in the street—I gave evidence on September 22nd, the second I hearing before the Magistrate, and before the Coroner—I knew Barton was in the row and had got away.

By the COURT. I did not know the witnesses—I saw a tidy few people standing at the corner—I do not know whether this stick would knock a man down; I saw Barton hit him first with his fist, and with the stick afterwards—he was falling when he hit him with the stick—I suppose Barton picked up the stick—it was the piece of the stick—I told the Coroner that—(The witness's depositiom before the Coroner and the Magistrate being referred to, the word "fist" tvas not mentioned)—I misunderstood his meaning.

KATE LYONS . I live at 56, Martin Road—on Sunday, September 3rd, I saw Barton about 60 yards from Clever Road—he stayed in my company a little time—a policeman came along—he hid—he was dressed in a dark suit; navy blue.

GBOEGE MONTAGUE MARTIN . I am assistant to Mr. Hilleary, the Coroner ror West Ham—on September 11th he Held an inquest inquiring into the death of Benjamin Robert Billson—William Fry, after being cautioned, gave evidence—I took down his statement, and rend it over to him—he signed this deposition in my presence—the other prisoners declined—(Read: "William Fry, 17, Martin Road, Custom House I am a labourer. On Sunday, September 3rd, I was selling shrimps and apples round Martin Road, Clever Road, and Hooper Road, with a pony and cart. I went home about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. I had my dinner. I took the horse out of harness, took it on the fields, and came home again at 3.30. I stayed indoors the rest of the day. There is only me and my wife lives at the above address. I did not go out in the street. I had beer on the windowsill. I saw Richard Fry in the evening wich Mr. Shaw, coming down the street. He asked for two or three shrimps, and I gave them to him. I saw Bowers about six o'clock at night. Richard Fry was not drunk when I saw him. I saw three men and three women go down the street. I was sitting on the downstairs windowsill. I did not hear anyone speak to them. I did not see anyone attack them. I saw a crowd. I went out to see what it was about. My sister-in-law said, 'There goes Richard; go and fetch him back again. I went and got hold of him, and pulled him back. He was running along hollooing out for his missus. He was not touching the party. Some boys said, Your brother is in a bit of a row.' He had been drinking. I left him in Frederick Road. I came home. I then sat on the windowsill again, and then my brother went after him. I went out again to fetch him back. He said,' My wife's gone down here, and I want her.' He was in Frederick Road against the chapel, by himself. There was no one else there. I saw three men and three women coming along. I don't know if he spoke to them, or they spoke to him. I saw a scuffle. I don't know who it was. I got hold of my brother and pulled him out. Icy was there; I did not see Eagle or Nelson there. Icy did not help me take my brother away; I took him myself. I did not see the old man or my brother fall; I only saw my brother scuffling against the fence shouting,' I want my wife!' I heard of the old man being knocked down, and followed a chap up the street as far as the doctor's. One of them says, "Get an ambulance"; so I went to get a barrow from the furniture-shop. We could not get a barrow. I had a coat on; it was a dark one, with a black satin stripe. I had tweed trousers on, the sameas I am now wearing. I did not know Billson. I knew French about two years, as working in the docks. I was not in a van with Icy on Sunday evening. I did not say to Richard Fry, 'Why don't you pick him out in the road!" I did not see Richard Fry go for French. I did not see, and do not know, if Richard Fry had anything in his hand. I heard someone calling, 'Murder!'—I was sitting on the windowsill, drinking cola—I did not go to render assistance for a quarter of an hour; they were then taking the man to the doctor's. I saw my nephew, Alfred Fry; he was talking to us. [By the JURY] I took my brother, Richard, home before I saw the man in the road, about a quarter of an hour. [To the CORONER] My wife saw me at Holloway to-day, and said that Kate Lyon had told her that a man ran down Martin Road, and said, 'Let me hide behind your post, I have hit a man, and I believe I have killed him.' The man's name is Arthur Barton. I don't know where he lives. He is a young man. Richard Fry was drunk at night,")

WILLIAM WALLER (218 K). In consequence of information I received on September 3rd, I went on the 4th to 18, Martin Road, where Richard Fry lived—I searched the house; he was not in—afterwards, in the street, he came and asked me whether I wanted him—I said, "Yes," and that I was going to take him into custody on suspicion of assaulting a man in Clever Road on Sunday night—he said, "I know nothing about him; I did not strike him"—I took him to the station—he was identified by the three witnesses, French, Tebb, and Martha McCumshay—I had received a description of him—after the charge was read over he said, "I saw a man had got hold of the old man's arm; he cuddled him, and took his stick; I saw him passing by, he laughed, and I asked him who he was laughing at, he said, 'I am not laughing at you, my son'"—Bowers, whom I know as "Icy," was brought to the station the next day, September 5th—he was let go, and rearrested on further evidence being forthcoming.

Cross-examined by MR. GEOGHEGAN. Alfred Fry, I think, was the only witness who picked him out.

FRANCIS CRONK (573 n). On September 5th I saw William Fry in Martin Road—I told him he would have to accompany me to the station—he said, "All right"—I took him to the station, and told him he would be detained—he said, "All right, Sir"—he was placed amongst others, and identified by French—he afterwards said, "I know nothing about it; I was passing through the opening, and saw Richard; he was a bit boozed; I pulled him away cut of it"—the charge was read over—he made no reply.

Cross-examined by William Fry. You did not say, "I pulled him away from the fence."

ARTHUR FENNER (243 K). On September 5th, about 11.50 p.m., I went to 32, Martin Road—I saw Bowers in bed—I told him I was going to arrest him for an assault in Clever Road on Sunday night—I asked him if his name was "Icy"—he said "Yes"—when I told him the charge he fainted away—when he came to, he dressed, and went to the station—on the way he said, "It is all through them Frys; I will go to—he only asked whether the poor man was dead.

Cross-examined by MR. GEOGHEGAN. The inspector cautioned him—after that he said nothing—the station is about a quarter of a mile from where he lives—we reached it in about 20 minutes—he was two or three minutes in the faint—there was no light in his room—a constable and the winess Tebb were with me—I sew one child—the others stood against the door, striking matches—I have heard that two detectives had been to his house; that he went to the station to know what they wanted him for and that he was kept there all night; that Mrs. Billson failed to identify him, and that he was at the Police court—I did not know it at the time; I heard it at the station—Tebb lives in the neighbourhood, and knows Bowers—his wife only said, "What's the matter?"—he is a costermonger, and of good characher, so far as I know.

JOHN BEAR (Police Inspector). I was in charge of the station when French made the complaint—I have made inquiries, but have been unable to find Barton.

Cross-examined by MR. GEOGHEGAN. Five others have been arrested—two others, Eagles and Nelson, have been charged before the Magis-trate—that was in consequence of the description given.

Bowers, in his defence on oath, said that he saw French assault William Fry with a stick, which he took from him broke up, and threw away, as French was a bigger man. William Fry, in his defence, said on oath that only one witness said he struck the deceased; and that he was wearing a black, and not a brown, coat as stated. Richard Fry, in his defence, said on oath that he was too drunk to know what was the matter.

BOWERS— NOT GUILTY . WILLIAM FRY— GUILTY — Eighteen Months' Hard Labour. RICHARD FRY— GUILTY — Twenty one Months' Hard Labour. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Where does repentance come from?

No, I hadn't forgotten!  I just likes to sit 'n chew on a thought for a while.  Now, if you remember, the original question was, "Where does repentance come from?", and I likened it to a similar question: "Where did the apple come from?"  Now the following lines have as their influence particularly the first 4 chapters of Genesis, as well as other thoughts from the balance of the Christian Bible.  In no way is it to be considered a complete and exhaustive examination, but is presented as a springboard to further ponderings and perhaps personal applications.  I believe it is applicable to both inter-personal relationships as well as our individual personal relationship to the Holy God.

1.   Peace
2.   Reconciliation
3.   Forgiveness
4.   Repentance
5.   Remorse
6.   Realization (conscience)
7.   Blame-shifting
8.   Confrontation
9.   Deception
10. Peace

As you will note, repentance is not at the top of the list, but is built on a series of "states-of-being" whose origin, like the bee's butt, can be described as "peace".

I imagine there will be questions.  Fire away!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Where did the apple come from?

I came upon a simple question lately.  "Where does repentance come from?"  Most should know what the quick answer is.  Repentance comes from God.  (Quote several applicable Bible verses here.)

Now, I just took a break and went to the fridge to get an apple.  "Where did the apple come from?"
Most would know what the quick answer is.  The apple came from the fridge.

Just as there is a long answer to "Where does repentance come from?" there is also a long answer to "Where did the apple come from?"

For the next several lines, I want to try a brief in-depth answer to that question, that is to try and get to the bottom of the hierarchy of events that transpired in order for me to munch away.  It is in no way to be considered a comprehensive study, but should be sufficient to get the gist of the idea across - that is the ultimate source of the answer to the question may not be what is expected.

1.   Desire for apple
2.   Fridge
3.   Store (Retail/wholesale)
4.   Truck or similar transportation from producer
5.   Producer
6.   Tree
7.   Branch on tree
8.   Flower on branch
9.   Pollen introduced to flower by carrier
10. Bee's butt acting as pollen carrier

Where did the apple come from?  A bee's butt.

Now, chew on that for a while, and in one of my next blogs I will try to examine the source of repentance in a similar fashion.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Heresies of Love

An interesting examination of some current fallacies. Where do you fit in?

The Heresies of Love
by Gene Edward Veith

God is a unity of distinct persons. The one God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So says the doctrine of the Trinity.

Some people believe in the unity and oneness of God, but deny that He consists in different persons. Heretics such as monarchists, modalists, and Arians take this position, as do followers of non-Christian religions, such as Unitarians and Muslims.

Others believe in the different persons but deny their unity in one God. This is the position of heretics such as the tritheists and followers of other non-Christian religions, such as Mormons and polytheists.

The church is a unity of distinct persons. The Bible describes how Christians are as different from each other as the organs in the body — ears, feet, eyes — yet together they all constitute a unity that is nothing less than the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12).

In a society more socially stratified and ethnically divided than our own, the congregations of Christians described in the New Testament included separatist Jews, sophisticated Greek intellectuals, Roman politicians, wealthy women, and poverty-stricken slaves. Christ’s disciples themselves were a collection of strong and dissimilar personalities: headstrong and impulsive Peter; the skeptical Thomas; the thunderous James and John; the worldly tax-collector Matthew; the political zealot Simon. Yet the apostle Paul — one of the most complex personalities ever recorded — uses language that anticipates that of Chalcedon to describe their unity not only with Christ but with each other: “We, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Rom. 12:5).

The Unitarian heresy applied to church would be the demand for unity that squelches all personal differences. This would include the forced conformity of cults and the coerced obedience insisted upon by megalomaniacal preachers. It also includes the social homogenization favored by many church growth experts, which results in congregations consisting only of people of the same age or demographic profile: young people, white suburbanites, or postmodernists.

The polytheistic heresy applied to church would be the “me and God” mindset that sees the individual, personal relationship to God as all that is necessary, with little need for gathering together with other Christians into a corporate body. It also includes congregations with no unifying teaching or confession, allowing all members to believe whatever they want.

Love is a unity of distinct persons. When the Bible says, “God is love” (1 John 4), it proves the doctrine of the Trinity. C.S. Lewis’ friend Charles Williams applied Trinitarian theology to human love. A relationship between two people in which one person dominates the other, to the point of erasing the other’s individuality, is a heresy of love. This Unitarian approach to love is really a form of self-love, with no true regard for the other person in the relationship. The polytheistic approach to love would be when the two people go their own ways, existing in their own separate spheres, with little to unite them.

Family is a unity of distinct persons. Parents engender separate human beings. But parents and children are unified by blood, history, and love. Conflicts, trauma, and rebellion come from violating the Trinitarian balance that both respects the distinct persons and cultivates the family unity.

Under the Unitarian heresy of family, some families are so self-contained, so authoritarian, and so stifling that they resemble little cults. More common today is the polytheistic heresy of family, in which fathers spend less than fifteen minutes a day with their children, which children spend more time with their peers than with their parents, with no time left for the unity that comes from sitting down together at the same table for a family meal.

The nation is a unity of distinct persons. At least the ordered liberty of a well-governed state follows this Trinitarian pattern. The Unitarian heresy of the state results in totalitarianism, in which the government controls every facet of its citizen’s lives, enforcing a collective unity while stamping out every freedom. The polytheistic heresy in the state manifests itself in anarchy, in which everyone acts without regard to law, the social order, or the common good.

Reformation theology teaches that the triune God established three orders — three estates or communities — for human life on earth: the church, the family, and the state. Through these institutions, God provides for human life on earth. They are the arenas for vocation, as God calls Christians in all of these orders to live out their faith in love and service to their neighbors. Little wonder, then, that the church, the family, and the state reflect both God’s character and His very being.

Sin, though, has disrupted them all. Thus we are all heretics by nature and in each of the orders. But the second person of the Trinity has become man and by His sacrifice has redeemed us and all that is human.

Repairing our heresies that have damaged our love, marriages, parenthood, and citizenship will demand His intervention. Becoming orthodox will mean living out our faith in our vocations and bearing the cross in our own acts of loving self-sacrifice.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Arguing in the "big leagues"

Who has ever gotten into a discussion that turns to argumentation? Wanna' know how to best "win" an argument? There is a secret weapon, generally only used by those of the "elite class" whose primary desire is to intimidate and/or climb the highest of horses of "intellectual superiority". That's right, you throw out some obscure term (obscure though regularly used to the extent it is the most popular conversation stopper) which immediately directs your "opponent" in a tangential direction, deflecting from the original discussion to a case of "Huh??!!" As such, it is primarily used as a defensive mechanism -intended for your opponent to assume the illustrated pose and hopefully stay there until you leave the room:

Are you ready for the secret? It is very legal sounding and consists (in its short form) of 2 words: ad hominem.

It is best though, if used as an accusation that your opponent used it on you. In other words, don't accuse your opponent of using the "ad homimem" defence, accuse him of accusing you of using the "ad hominem" defense, as in the following example: "... reflected an unjustifiable concern to paint my offering as being ad hominem."

As I said, "Huh??!!"

Anyway, for those still scratching your head, I have copied the following from: for your education and enlightenment. Use what you may learn wisely, otherwise you're nothing but an a__hole.


One of the most widely misused terms on the Net is "ad hominem". It is most often introduced into a discussion by certain delicate types, delicate of personality and mind, whenever their opponents resort to a bit of sarcasm. As soon as the suspicion of an insult appears, they summon the angels of ad hominem to smite down their foes, before ascending to argument heaven in a blaze of sanctimonious glory. They may not have much up top, but by God, they don't need it when they've got ad hominem on their side. It's the secret weapon that delivers them from any argument unscathed.

In reality, ad hominem is unrelated to sarcasm or personal abuse. Argumentum ad hominem is the logical fallacy of attempting to undermine a speaker's argument by attacking the speaker instead of addressing the argument. The mere presence of a personal attack does not indicate ad hominem: the attack must be used for the purpose of undermining the argument, or otherwise the logical fallacy isn't there. It is not a logical fallacy to attack someone; the fallacy comes from assuming that a personal attack is also necessarily an attack on that person's arguments.

Therefore, if you can't demonstrate that your opponent is trying to counter your argument by attacking you, you can't demonstrate that he is resorting to ad hominem. If your opponent's sarcasm is not an attempt to counter your argument, but merely an attempt to insult you (or amuse the bystanders), then it is not part of an ad hominem argument.

Actual instances of argumentum ad hominem are relatively rare. Ironically, the fallacy is most often committed by those who accuse their opponents of ad hominem, since they try to dismiss the opposition not by engaging with their arguments, but by claiming that they resort to personal attacks. Those who are quick to squeal "ad hominem" are often guilty of several other logical fallacies, including one of the worst of all: the fallacious belief that introducing an impressive-sounding Latin term somehow gives one the decisive edge in an argument.

But enough vagueness. The point of this article is to bury the reader under an avalanche of examples of correct and incorrect usage of ad hominem, in the hope that once the avalanche has passed, the term will never be used incorrectly again.

A: "All rodents are mammals, but a weasel isn't a rodent, so it can't be a mammal."
B: "This does not logically follow. By your own argument, the set of rodents is a subset of the set of mammals; and therefore, a weasel can be outside the set of rodents and still be in the set of mammals."
Hopefully it should be clear that neither A's argument nor B's argument is ad hominem. Perhaps there are some people who think that any disagreement is an ad hominem argument, but these people shouldn't be allowed out of fairyland.

A: "All rodents are mammals, but a weasel isn't a rodent, so it can't be a mammal."
B: "This does not logically follow."
B's argument is less comprehensive, but still not ad hominem.

A: "All rodents are mammals, but a weasel isn't a rodent, so it can't be a mammal."
B: "This does not logically follow. You evidently know nothing about logic."
B's argument is still not ad hominem. Note that B directly engages A's argument: he is not attacking the person A instead of his argument. There is no indication that B thinks his subsequent attack on A strengthens his argument, or is a substitute for engaging with A's argument. Unless we have a good reason for thinking otherwise, we should assume it is just a sarcastic flourish.

A: "All rodents are mammals, but a weasel isn't a rodent, so it can't be a mammal."
B: "You evidently know nothing about logic. This does not logically follow."
B's argument is still not ad hominem. B does not imply that A's sentence does not logically follow because A knows nothing about logic. B is still addressing the substance of A's argument.

A: "All rodents are mammals, but a weasel isn't a rodent, so it can't be a mammal."
B: "You evidently know nothing about logic."
B's argument is, most probably, still not ad hominem. The word "evidently" indicates that B is basing his opinion of A's logical skills on the evidence of A's statement. Therefore, B's sentence is a sarcastic way of saying that A's argument is logically unsound: B is attacking A's argument. He is not attacking the person instead of the argument.

A: "All rodents are mammals, but a weasel isn't a rodent, so it can't be a mammal."
B: "You know nothing about logic."
Even now, we can't conclude that B's reply is ad hominem. It could well be, and probably is, the case that B is basing his reply on A's argument. He is not saying that A's argument is flawed because A knows nothing about logic; instead, he is using A's fallacious argument as evidence to present a new argument: that A knows nothing about logic.

Put briefly, ad hominem is "You are an ignorant person, therefore your arguments are wrong", and not "Your arguments are wrong, therefore you are an ignorant person." The latter statement may be fallacious, but it's not an ad hominem fallacy.

A: "All rodents are mammals, but a weasel isn't a rodent, so it can't be a mammal."
B: "This does not logically follow. And you're an asshole."
B is abusive, but his argument is still not ad hominem. He engages with A's argument. There is no reason to conclude that the personal abuse of A is part of B's argument, or that B thinks it undermines A's argument.

A: "All rodents are mammals, but a weasel isn't a rodent, so it can't be a mammal."
B: "You're an asshole."
B's reply is not necessarily ad hominem. There is no evidence that's his abusive statement is intended as a counter-argument. If it's not an argument, it's not an ad hominem argument.

A: "All rodents are mammals, but a weasel isn't a rodent, so it can't be a mammal."
B: "You evidently know nothing about logic. And you're an asshole."
Again, B's reply is not necessarily ad hominem.

A: "All rodents are mammals, but a weasel isn't a rodent, so it can't be a mammal."
B: "Fuck you."
Not ad hominem. B's abuse is not a counter-argument, but a request for A to cease the discussion.

A: "All rodents are mammals, but a weasel isn't a rodent, so it can't be a mammal."
B: "Well, you've never had a good grasp of logic, so this can't be true."
B's argument here is ad hominem. He concludes that A is wrong not by addressing A's argument, but by appealing to the negative image of A the person.

A: "All rodents are mammals, but a weasel isn't a rodent, so it can't be a mammal."
B: "Well, you're a moron and an asshole, so there goes your argument."
B's reply here is ad hominem and abusive.

A: "All rodents are mammals, but a weasel isn't a rodent, so it can't be a mammal."
B: "Well, you're a rodent and a weasel, so there goes your argument."
B's argument here might appear on superficial inspection to be sound, but it is in fact ad hominem. He is using the terms "rodent" and "weasel" in different senses to those used by A. Although he tries to make it appear that he is countering A's argument by invalidating one of the premises, he is in fact trying to counter A's argument by heaping abuse on A. (This might also be an example of an ad homonym argument.)

A: "All murderers are criminals, but a thief isn't a murderer, and so can't be a criminal."
B: "Well, you're a thief and a criminal, so there goes your argument."
Harder to call this one. B is addressing A's argument, but perhaps unwittingly.

A: "All rodents are mammals, but a weasel isn't a rodent, so it can't be a mammal."
B: "Wrong! If a weasel isn't a rodent, then it must be an insectivore! What an asshole!"
B's argument is logically fallacious, and he concludes with some gratuitous abuse, but nothing here is ad hominem.

A: "All rodents are mammals, but a weasel isn't a rodent, so it can't be a mammal."
B: "I'm sorry, but I'd prefer to trust the opinion of a trained zoologist on this one."
B's argument is ad hominem: he is attempting to counter A not by addressing his argument, but by casting doubt on A's credentials. Note that B is polite and not at all insulting.

A: "Listen up, asshole. All rodents are mammals, but a weasel isn't a rodent, so it can't be a mammal."
B: "Yet another ad hominem argument. Ignore this one, folks."
A is abusive, and his argument is fallacious, but it's not ad hominem. B's reply, ironically, is ad hominem; while he pretends to deal with A's argument, in using the term "ad hominem" incorrectly, B is in fact trying to dismiss the argument by imputing that A is resorting to personal attacks.

A: "Listen up, asshole. All rodents are mammals, and a lizard isn't a mammal, so it can't be a rodent."
B: "Yet another ad hominem argument. Ignore this one, folks."
A's argument is sound, and not ad hominem. B's reply is again ad hominem.

A: "B is a convicted criminal and his arguments are not to be trusted."
B: "Yet another ad hominem argument. Ignore this one, folks."
A's argument is ad hominem, since it attempts to undermine all of B's (hypothetical) arguments by a personal attack. B's reply is not ad hominem, since it directly addresses A's argument (correctly characterising it as ad hominem).

A: "All politicians are assholes, and you're just another politician. Therefore, you're an asshole."
B: "Yet another ad hominem argument."
If you accept the premises, A's argument is sound. Either way, from the given context, we cannot conclude that it is ad hominem: it's not an attempt to undermine B's (hypothetical) arguments by abusing him, but instead an attempt to establish that B is an asshole. B's reply is ad hominem, since by incorrectly using the term "ad hominem", he is trying to undermine A's argument by claiming that A is resorting to personal attacks.

A: "All politicians are liars, and you're just another politician. Therefore, you're a liar and your arguments are not to be trusted."
B: "Yet another ad hominem argument."
If you accept the premises, A's argument is sound; but I think most of us would sympathise with B and class it as fallacious, and ad hominem. This is because we do not accept the premise that all politicians are liars. There is a false premise that lies behind all ad hominem arguments: the notion that all people of type X make bad arguments. A has just made this premise explicit.

A: "All rodents are mammals, but a weasel isn't a rodent, so it can't be a mammal."
B: "That does not logically follow."
A: "*Sigh* Do I have to spell it out for you? All rodents are mammals, right, but a weasel isn't a rodent, so it can't be a mammal! What's so hard to understand???!?"
B: "I'm afraid you're mistaken. Look at it logically. If p implies q, then it does not follow that not-p implies not-q."
A: "I don't care about so-called logic and Ps and Qs and that stuff, I'm talking COMMON SENSE. A weasel ISN'T a mammal."
B: "Okay, this guy's an idiot. Ignore this one, folks."
A: "AD HOMINEM!!!! I WIN!!!!!"
Although the last line of B, taken out of context, might look ad hominem (and was seized upon as such by A), it should be clear that taken as a whole, B's argument is not ad hominem. B engaged thoroughly with A's argument. He is not countering A's argument by saying A is an idiot; on the contrary, having logically countered A's argument, and having seen A's reaction, he is arguing that A is an idiot.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sorry, no pictures...

One of the more interesting features of being the parent of lotsa' kids is the diverse talents each individual one brings to the general-world-at-large. From intellectual thinkers to hands-on activists (in the small sense), it amazes me to see the development of, perhaps, hereditary traits. Some of my kids are heavily engaged in photography. This is a talent not inherited from me personally. I take (if and when I do) lousy pictures. Like when I fish - I usually catch snags - my photos are generally pale images (pun intended) of the promise that capturing an image should be.

I guess we cannot ALL be the perfect-picture-taker, else who would be left to appreciate the perfect picture? I am left with the head-shaking grandeur of voyeurism as my singular solace, as well as the appreciation that perhaps only a non-perfect-picture-taker could even contemplate composing the first half of this sentence.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

You have to see my jugs...

I spent today on the truck - normally this time of year I go Saturday, not Friday, but because of "Father's Day" went out today instead so's I'd have Saturday AND Sunday off.

In the meantime, Janet went to TO to pick up a cheque that has been due for April - she went with her friend Isobel. Now, family members know that when Janet and Isobel get together, sometimes strange things happen. Imagine my surprise when during a lively family discussion this evening - Linda, Elena, Tiana & Critter in attendance (Jay having disappeared), all of a sudden Janet pipes up -"Hey, I have to show you (all) my jugs..."

Now the inuendo was palatable, especially since having arrived home from Toronto late, and having been taken to the Hospital by yours truly to have her drug IV treatment, and an attempted "puss letting" - with its attendent pain-killer and knife cutting - and the return home with its subsequent Advil and two FULL glasses of Yellowtail while in her nightie - we were all frightfully aware of what the potential outcome would be.

Imagine the sighs of relief when she instructed Critter to get the GLASS jugs she had bought at IKEA with said Isobel, and was not referring to the "other" jugs. Nevertheless, the whole room erupted in relieved laughter, and an immediate phone call was placed to Isobel inquiring as to what went on that trip to Toronto that resulted in Janet making such a statement. All Isobel would say was that Janet got the "biggest jugs". So much for clarity...

Hope your Friday was equally packed with hilarity and good tidings.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

's bin a slow year

How the heck did a whole year go by??? Since my last blog, pool was used and enjoyed, emptied, put away (thank you to D & P) and we survived a miserable cold & snowy winter, and a miserable cold & wet spring. Here it is the middle of June, with some reasonable days ahead and no pool yet. Waiting for "the boys" to come up and help dig trenches for cement pads to hold up the pool support legs so's the pool will be level. Problem is, with the postal strike, none of my customer's cheques have arrived, so there's no money anyway to buy cement. Plus the caddy needs hubs, rotors & calipers (I guesstimate $1000-1500 in PARTS ALONE) and the van needs a steering box (anywhere from 350 - 1350).

Plus, just for fun the belt on the mower shredded (59.60 plus tax). I just can't wait (kidding) for the next thing to break...