Monday, April 22, 2024

Moving to Substack, Housekeeping

 In my blogging journey since 2015, I've created new blogs for a number of reasons, previously all on Googles Blogger until now. 

The original was Moosetracks created on Blogger because it was really easy, and I was busy with a career. The link is to the post that officially ended that blog and contains the rather sad reasons why that happened. 

The reasons for moving are. 

  • Substacks editing and general interface is better.
  • I suspect that Google is likely to end the blogger function at some point. 
  • The complexity of linkages between this blog and the links in there ending up redirecting to this blog is a frustrating technical issue that I decided was better solved by a fresh start on a better-known platform. 
  • It is (probably wishful thinking) more likely I will be "found" out there. 
Since what goes on the internet tends to hang around so far, supposedly over 700k clicks on 4300 posts, have been made there. Probably nearly all of them were some forms of "bot" rather than a human, but who knows. Numbers often have little or no relationship to the real world. 

In the meantime, if you are following me via this blog, it is time to switch to Substack Home - Bill’s Substack

I blog to keep track of my reading and thinking with no real interest beyond that. It is definitely a labor of love with little in the way of expectations. 

Unfortunately for those reading this, such moves are likely to come with "glitches". If I knew what those were, I would avoid them, but predictions being hard to make -- especially about the future (Yogi Berra), it will be what it will be.

City of God, Saint Augustine

The biggest reason that I took on the immense challenge of making it through this work is "perspective".  Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410, Augustine began this work 3 years later in 413 and did not complete it until 426.

Rome had BEEN "civilization" for a thousand years prior, and naturally in 410, St Augustine and his peers believed they were living in "modern times", all be it a time of great change and disruption at the ending of a thousand-year reign which they had assumed would last forever.

The work is remarkably lengthy and wordy (867 rather small type pages in my copy) and decidedly NOT an "easy read". I must say though that the sheer volume and many asides and references to other scholars of the day give an insight into the intellectual life of the very elite of that day that feels important in a way that is hard to express. Perhaps the difference between walking across the US vs flying over it in a jet?

 I will include this one rather lengthy quote as an example of the style and the fact of "every age believes they are modern" ... and highly superior to those that have gone before. Note the reference to "less educated ages", but interestingly from the perspective of "only 600 years"! How much more arrogant we have become in our day -- we are nearing the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, yet it is hard to imagine someone asserting ONLY 500 years! Today, the year 2000 seems "ages ago" to many of our clickbait attention spans. 
It is most worthy of remark in Romulus, that other men who are said to have become gods lived in less educated ages, when there was a greater propensity to the fabulous, and when the uninstructed were easily persuaded to believe anything. But the age of Romulus was barely six hundred years ago, and already literature and science had dispelled the beliefs that attach to an uncultured age. And a little after he says of the same Romulus words to this effect: From this we may perceive that Homer had flourished long before Romulus, and that there was now so much learning in individuals, and so generally diffused an enlightenment, that scarcely any room was left for fable. For antiquity admitted fables, and sometimes even very clumsy ones; but this age [of Romulus] was sufficiently enlightened to reject whatever had not the air of truth. Thus, one of the most learned men, and certainly the most eloquent, M. Tullius Cicero, says that it is surprising that the divinity of Romulus was believed in, because the times were already so enlightened that they would not accept a fabulous fiction. But who believed that Romulus was a god except Rome, which was itself small and in its infancy?
The work starts with a lengthy defense of Christianity against the charge made by many in that day that failure to pray to the gods of Rome due to the conversion to Christianity was the cause of the city being sacked. It then discusses the "City of God" -- the Church, vs "The City of Man". Secular government all in MUCH detail, with references to Plato and other Greek thought which start The Church on a path of melding Greek Philosophy (especially Plato) and reason into Christian theology. This "Hellenization" of Christianity is the major historical effect of this work.

At its simplest, it is the story of the city of man -- selfish, mistaking means with ends, worshiping the temporal, attempting to glorify the profane physical human. The story of war, death, destruction and eventually eternal pain.

And of the City of God -- selfless and caring, realizing that the end is pre-ordained and guaranteed by the blood of Christ (the 2nd Adam) to be perfect. Glorifying only God. The story of Grace, Peace, Faith, Love slowly traveling in a path known only to God to perfect union, Love and bliss for all Eternity.

It is not a book that I would necessarily recommend for most -- it is CERTAINLY not "efficient", and one would be well served by skimming and focusing on key chapters -- say "books" 14, 19 and 22. If you desire a worthy challenge however, and want to be rather humbled by perspective, I do believe that you will find yourself rewarded!

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Not Accountable. - Rethinking the Constitutionality of Public Unions

 Book Review: Not Accountable: Rethinking the Constitutionality of Public Employee Unions | Cato Institute

I maintain that our once "Shining City on a Hill" Republic has been turned into a corrupt Oligarchy, and that the main driver of the conversion is public unions. Two quotes are worthy of remembering: 

FDR could hardly have been firmer: Meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government … The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.
Until the rights revolution in the 1960s, the idea of negotiating against the public interest was unthinkable. AFL-CIO president George Meany in 1955 stated bluntly that it is “impossible to bargain collectively with the Government.”
The Administrative State is staffed by public union employees. 
Micromanagement and expansive rights became integral to the public union playbook for control—no innovation is allowed unless the official can show it complies with a rule; no decision about a public employee’s performance is valid without objective proof in a trial‐​type hearing. Clearing out the legal underbrush is what’s needed to restore officials’ freedom to use common sense in daily choices.

Why do Americans feel that their votes are essentially useless? 
No matter which party is elected, no matter what its priorities, the one certainty is that government operations will not be made more efficient, or responsive, or, as with schools and police accountability, even functional. Public employee unions keep it that way by layers of legal armor and by the exercise of brute political force.
The book does not discuss what I consider to be the immediate crisis. Our "justice" department personnel are union employees.  As Chuck Schumer said, “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,”. 

This is obvious to anyone but a fully committed Democrat, and it is obvious to many of them, and they LOVE it! 

Democrats see public unions as their meal ticket. Republican leaders treat public unions like an unfriendly sovereign power that must be dealt with, even if its demands are unreasonable and cause America harm. Would-be reformers of either party, determined to run government prudently, approach unions hat in hand. Any reforms at the margins come at a high price. With two notable exceptions, every effort to rein in union excesses has resulted in abject political defeat. The unions, meanwhile, continue to tighten their grip over government operations.

The book suggests some measures that might help, but I find them inadequate. I believe the SCOTUS is our only hope. 

Public Intellectuals, Richard Posner

I was unable to find a decent review of this work, so I'll substitute the intro from the Harvard University Press

In this timely book, the first comprehensive study of the modern American public intellectual--that individual who speaks to the public on issues of political or ideological moment--Richard Posner charts the decline of a venerable institution that included worthies from Socrates to John Dewey.

With the rapid growth of the media in recent years, highly visible forums for discussion have multiplied, while greater academic specialization has yielded a growing number of narrowly trained scholars. Posner tracks these two trends to their inevitable intersection: a proliferation of modern academics commenting on topics outside their ken. The resulting scene--one of off-the-cuff pronouncements, erroneous predictions, and ignorant policy proposals--compares poorly with the performance of earlier public intellectuals, largely nonacademic whose erudition and breadth of knowledge were well suited to public discourse.

Leveling a balanced attack on liberal and conservative pundits alike, Posner describes the styles and genres, constraints and incentives, of the activity of public intellectuals. He identifies a market for this activity--one with recognizable patterns and conventions but an absence of quality controls. And he offers modest proposals for improving the performance of this market--and the quality of public discussion in America today.

Posner identifies intellectuals as "those who opine to an educated public on questions of or inflected by a political or ideological concern."

My definition of an intellectual is a person whose "product" is ideas. An often-repeated quote allegedly from Aesop is applicable to public intellectuals - 

"After all is said and done, more is said than done." 

Posner spends a lot of time defining who is and is not a "Public Intellectual". I'd be happy with "I know one when I see one", but for those who would like a bit more definition: 

The public intellectual has been with us for a very long time, even if we ignore the ancient world. His exemplars include Machiavelli, Milton, Locke, Voltaire, and Montesquieu, and his ideologist is Kant, who linked philosophy to politics through the argument that the only morally defensible politics is one based on reason.

I found this quote to be worth some thought: 

One of the chief sources of cultural pessimism is the tendency to compare the best of the past with the average of the present, because the passage of time operates to filter out the worst of the past.

This certainly the case with personal nostalgia as we age. We much prefer to remember the good fondly and forget as much of the bad as we are able. Culturally however, I'd argue that like all human thought, our analysis is heavily tainted by our biases ... chief among them, progressivism vs conservatism.  For a progressive the past is inherently bad while the future would be bright if the nasty conservatives would just be finally defeated. That may take genocide, gulags, and other unpopular measures, but to a progressive, the (undefined) ends justify the means. Conservatives are largely guilty as charged ... we "remember" a past that is largely imagined filtered through rose colored glasses. 

Much of what I try to do in this book is simply to place the public-intellectual market in perspective by showing that, and why, its average quality is low ("disappointing") and perhaps falling.
The problem with being a public intellectual is you get more and more public and less and less intellectual.

I recommend the book to those who are inclined to intellectual commentary vs producing something that is of real value.  I personally "gave at the office" in 34 years at IBM, now I relax and comment from the cheap seats. 

When I've read the book on Kindle and shared my comments on Goodreads, I may try to do more of this sharing for those that want a deeper dive

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Mill, "On Liberty"

 On Liberty - John Stuart Mill (

I decided I needed to re-read this because it was referenced so much in "Public Intellectuals", soon to be reviewed. 

Mill is one of the early foundational progressive thinkers. He is heavily influenced by Bentham, the famous Utilitarian.

Mill recognizes it (personal liberty)"as the vital question of the future". Civil liberty was not a widespread thing for much of history, and Mill acknowledges that: "Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement." However, once mankind "have attained a capacity of being guided to their own improvement by conviction or persuasion" -- which, by his time, he believed mankind certainly generally had -- then compulsion is no longer an acceptable means of rule.

Mill believed that in 1859, man had "improved" to the point of being able to decide good and evil by "conviction or persuasion". He also assumes that it is fairly easy for a vast majority to recognize "barbarians". 

"Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign", Mill insists. It sounds convincing, and sensible, but the issue isn't quite so simple. In restating his guiding belief, Mill adds the standard liberal caveat:

"The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs or impede their efforts to obtain it."

We are somewhat familiar with the problems here. Who decides what is "impeding"? The right to hire and fire whomever you want can "impede" the ability of others to obtain wealth. If the government decides you MUST wear a seatbelt, they are clearly impeding your liberty, and not depriving others. Once you allow government such intrusion, where does it end?  It seems doubtful that mandatory vaccination will be the last intrusion on liberty. 

As with all progressive thought, there is the assumption that humans "progress" by some undefined "arc of history", assumed to be more and more radical individualism. He does realize that intolerance is a natural
human trait.

"Yet so natural to mankind is intolerance in whatever they really care about that religious freedom has hardly anywhere been practically realized."

While progressives believe that the universe and humans were created by random events, they also believe that there is some innate (also randomly created) social order that includes society evolving toward more "liberty". 

He indicates freedom of the press and speech are "absolutes" ... although he is cognizant of the "yelling fire in a crowded theatre" type of issue. Apparently, his assurance of "progress" in "conviction and persuasion" would include such advances as suppression of "hate speech", "disinformation", "misgendering", etc. 

He doesn't see that human attempts to create "values, morality, etc." have to fail, since radical individualism creates an atomized "set" of people with no common ground beyond universal selfishness, greed, envy, assorted vices, with right and wrong determined by power. 

The faith in the long march toward godless human utopia took some major hits with WWI and WWII. A reading of the Gulag Archipelago ought to be enough to convince most that the evidence of history since Mill's confident statements does not seem to validate his assumptions in any area save technology. 

As we see our fragile distracted click addicted young largely fail to reproduce, there may be hints that godless "progress" is not particularly adaptive. Evolutionary "progress" has some dependency on survival of succeeding generations. 

Sunday, March 10, 2024

The Innocence of Pontius Pilate: How the Roman trial of Jesus shaped history

The book is a marvelous introduction to some great thinkers that at least I was not aware of, and the relevance of Pilate's innocence or guilt to the separation of church and state, and much else in Western European history. 

Here is a link to a more extensive review.

One of those thinkers new to me is Hugo Grotius, whose influence in Western thought is vast. He is the instigator of "the law of the sea", and also the laws of warfare. Philosophers heavily influenced by his thought include Hobbes, Pufendorf, Thomasius, and Rosseau. His thought even influenced the post USSR world order, and some declared the 1990's as "a Grotian moment". 

My memory was restored as to the meaning of the inscription Pilate wrote above Christ on the cross. My memory had "King of the Jews". While aware of seeing "INRI" on crucifixes, I recall looking it up and forgot it long ago.  It is the acronym for Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum in Latin, translating to English, as “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” (so, I award myself half a point for "in the ballpark"). The "Titulus Crucis", Latin for “Title of the Cross,” is important because it is the statement of the official reason for why the person was crucified. Some claim that Jesus was actually an insurrectionist, and that is why he was crucified. If that was in fact the reason, it seems impossible that a Roman governor would not state that reason in the Titulus. 

Another area of knowledge that I have curiosity about but have not looked into is the idea of holy relics, so important at the time of the Reformation. It is obvious that many were forgeries created to either provide "evidence" of the life of Jesus and his crucifixion, or simply to make money.  The search for the Holy Grail relic, covered in the Indiana Jones movie is one example many are aware of, and I'd put the Shroud of Turin, as an example of a purported relic that exists, and its authenticity has been a subject of attempted scientific verification. 

Possibly, a piece of the cross with the inscription exists, and is currently displayed. Such things are naturally appealing to humans attempting to "prove/disprove" Christianity, or just basic curiosity. Like Thomas, I understand the yearning for proof, but pray that my faith will be sufficient to receive the blessing of John 20;29 "
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

On page 145, there is a reference to Augustine's "City of God against the Pagans". I read and reviewed this massive work back in 2015. To ridiculously summarize; "City", and also the primary significance of the crucifixion to Western secular history, when Jesus told Pilate "My kingdom is not of this world", the idea of there being a kingdom outside the world was radical. Kingdoms had always had a state religion, and although the Romans attempted to assimilate the religions they conquered, the Roman state and its gods were one. The emperor was THE authority and considered a god. 

"And what are these "cities"? Behind the visible screen of global history, Augustine posits (or intuits) the dim presence and cryptic influence of a divine city that is headed by Christ, and constituted by7 love of eternity, and a human city that is seduced by Christ's adversary, Devil, and constituted by a love of the saeculum or present age."

Chapter 4 introduces us to Dionysius Exiguus (who created the BC/AD system (so hated by those who detest Christianity and its foundational importance for Western civilization), and Pope Gelasius I, the first pope called "the vicar of Christ" and is a critical person in the rupture of the Roman church creating the church of Constantinople (Orthodox) in 1054.

Chapter 15 brings us to the thinking of Dante relative to Pilate and the Crucifixion. 

"Who is Jesus' judge per Dante? Pontius Pilate. -- Nothing less than the redemption of the world hangs on the fact that as Dante writes, the sufferings of Christ were inflicted by an authorized judge. To deny this, for Dante is to deny the Christian faith". 

We are also introduced to "The Great Refusal", an error attributed in Dante's Inferno to one of the souls found trapped aimlessly in the vestibule of Hell. Trapped because of the refusal to make a crucial decision he was required to make. Pilate is one of the candidates trapped in that vestibule for eternity. 

 I'll leave my review at this point. The idea of "innocence" in the sense of the book title is a legal idea ... difficult to ascertain because the earthy "authority" at the crucifixion was Roman and Jewish, with Rome being superior. Other than an academic tracing of a lot of history explaining how the Crucifixion and the judgement involved shaped both the Christian church and Western civilization, the book will interest few beyond academia. 

Legally, Pilate is guilty of not doing his duty. He was the authority with the power to rule, and he merely stood by and let Jesus be crucified -- by Roman soldiers, not Jews. Since neither Pilate or the Jews believed that Jesus was the Messiah, neither can be guilty 
of "deicide" in a secular/legal context.

 The charge of Jewish deicide based on the Jewish crowds' statement "His blood be on us and on our children!" has sadly been used to justify a lot of antisemitism by Christians. 

As we pass from Lent to Easter, it is important to know that all of humanity are guilty in the crucifixion through our original and many subsequent sins. Those passing judgement at the crucifixion didn't know Christ was the Messiah, we do. We are without excuse. 

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Dreams From My Father

I read this "profiles in narcissism" book back in 2009. 

As I believe that Obama is the puppet master pulling the strings on "Weekend at Bernie's" Biden, it was time to refresh. I'm far from the only one with this theory.

I've updated the original 2009 post quite a bit since time has passed. 

Barry talks of a white woman he loved.
“Well … there was a woman in New York that I loved. She was white. She had dark hair, and specks of green in her eyes. Her voice sounded like a wind chime. We saw each other for almost a year. On the weekends, mostly. Sometimes in her apartment, sometimes in mine. You know how you can fall into your own private world? Just two people, hidden and warm. Your own language. Your own customs. That’s how it was."
 Unfortunately, he had to break up with her, because ... 
"And I knew that if we stayed together, I'd eventually have to live in hers. After all, I'd been doing it most of my life, Between the two of us, I was the one who knew how to live as an outsider". 
Nobody in our vast right-wing media conspiracy ever looked her up during two elections and long after. Turns out she wasn't very hard to find.  -- Sheila Miyoshi Jager, now a professor at Oberlin College. 
“In the winter of ‘86, when we visited my parents, he asked me to marry him,” she told Garrow. Her parents were opposed, less for any racial reasons (Obama came across to them like “a white, middle-class kid,” a close family friend said) than out of concern about Obama’s professional prospects, and because her mother thought Jager, two years Obama’s junior, was too young. “Not yet,” Sheila told Barack. But they stayed together."
Truth is certainly optional for Democrats, but how could you trust a Republican if they got a date or a name wrong? 

Barry was very much a black racist "white privilege" wasn't a term then, but the book reeks of the accusation, even though he is half white. The degree to which he idolized his absent black father, who turned out to have anything, but a model life is utterly amazing. If he has any god at all, it is the "false god" of his vision of that father. His poor Grandparents, who actually made all the sacrifices to raise him get very little credit, and his white mother gets the shortest shrift of all.

The other thing that hits me is that this is what you get when you remove God from the life of a person, they become their own god.  What does Obama really think? One can read through 457 pages and suspect he has no idea beyond what his sort of pastor Jerremiah Wright said that this as a world "...where white man's greed runs a world in need".

A lot of what he says, he puts in someone else's mouth, but since he claims to have written the book, that isn't really much of a dodge -- why put something in their mouths if you think it is not worth people hearing said?
p 258. "The first thing you have to realize ... is that the public school is not about educating black children. Never has been. Inner-city schools are about social control. Period. They're operated as holding pens, miniature jails, really."
Later -- "Just think about what a real education for these children would involve. It would start by giving a child and understanding of himself, his world, his culture, his community. That's the starting point of any educational process."
p406. "What Granny had told us scrambled that image completely [black supremacist Muslim] causing ugly words to flash across my mind. Uncle Tom. Collaborator. House Nigger." Being a black supremacist, not wanting any intermarriage with whites -- that is a GOOD image. Working for white folks in Africa? Well, the "N word" isn't all that positive."
When you are a black supremacist atheist, talking of a "moral compass" is odd. Certainly, if Barry could be declared God, then the "moral compass" would be properly set, and heaven on earth would be at hand ... at least if you are black.
p 438. "All to rarely do I hear people asking just what it is we've done to make so many children's hearts so hard, or what collectively we might do to right their moral compass -- what values we must live by."
Well, we USED to be a Christian nation -- there are a known set of values there. "Love your Neighbor", "Do unto others", "First cast the log in your own eye...", etc. Knowledge that man is fallen, and it isn't WE that turn human hearts hard; human hearts ARE hard until they are redeemed by Jesus, and even then, constant attachment with word and sacrament is required. "Obamanation" (abomination) is what happens when sovereign God is converted to a relativistic hodge-podge of tribalism, pop psychology, new age gibberish and polytheistic meanderings. Obama's religion is Obama -- at one time it was his "false god father", but when he found the truth of that mirage, he left it behind.

This is gratuitous, but it gives a little smile. 
p 87, "Gotta have them ribs .... And pussy too. Don't Malcom talk about no pussy? Now you know that ain't going to work."
Nice quote for a president to be writing in a book, huh? Suppose if he had an "R" next to his name, a few of those quotes might have gotten a little more play?
"Without the white man, we might be able to make better use of our history. We might look at some of our former practices and decide they are worth preserving. Others, we might grow out of. Unfortunately, the white man has made us very defensive."
Are the "citizens of the world" going to be able to get rid of the evil white man? It is clear that they have made a lot of progress. 

I knew when I read the book that we had/have much more to fear than "fear itself". I didn't cover much of the Kenya part of the book, but suffice it to say, "He is Luo" -- that is his tribe and identity. I'm not sure there is any point that he says, "I am an American" -- at one point he said, "I am a citizen of the world". Given Democrats ideas on borders, it seems that "citizens of the world" ought to be eligible to be president. 

The climax of the book, needing a lot less than "deconstruction" to interpret in light of the entirety of the book is when he falls on the ground between the graves of his grandfather and father. 
"For a long time, I sat between the two graves and wept. When my tears were finally spent, I felt a calmness wash over me. I felt the circle finally close. I realized that who I was, what I cared about, was no longer just a matter of intellect or obligation, no longer a construct of words. I saw that my life in America—the black life, the white life, the sense of abandonment I’d felt as a boy, the frustration and hope I’d witnessed in Chicago—all of it was connected with this small plot of earth an ocean away, connected by more than the accident of a name or the color of my skin. The pain I felt was my father’s pain."
Today it can be said plainly that the objective of much of world culture is to stamp out "whiteness". Destroy the "colonial powers".  That Google's Gemini failed to generate images of white people is just a case of mistakenly saying the quiet part out loud a little too soon. 

We are in a proxy war in Ukraine, a not so proxy war with Iran (since we have dead and injures soldiers), unknown forces streaming across our southern border, high tension with China, and who knows what else? The US is a woke paper tiger that I suspect will not fare as well as France when the hydra headed attack hits. EMP? Thousands (millions?) of drones streaming off container ships?  N Korea nukes hitting S Korea, and maybe Japan at the same time? Destruction of critical satellites? I'm sure my imagination is inadequate. 

At least we can all focus on Donald Trump and Taylor Swift while we wait for Barry to do something. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

The American Way of Death, Amanda Richard

I thought Wikipedia did a good job of covering this book. 

The version I read was the original, published in 1963, As death is the most common of experiences, we have to look forward to -- for ourselves, our loved ones, our pets, etc. It is not surprising a in a capitalist society would have no shortage of providers seeking profit from this most certain of events. (Although close, even taxes MIGHT get a break if we suffered a near human extermination event). 

I was struck by the average cost of a funeral/burial in 1960 being $708. Looking at current cost, it appears to be "$9,995", bringing a smile to my face. How marketers love to leave that last penny (or 10th thereof with gas) on the table to avoid the round number! The book does a great job of detailing why that figure is outrageous given the value of a dollar in 1960. Obviously, it looks cheap to us. The jump from $6,560 to $10k no doubt has gotten a real boost from Bidenflation. 

Being a minor gold bug, I feel compelled to include. 

While I remain a confirmed capitalist, because I'd rather deal with the problems of unnecessary production and consumption, than scarcity, The book deals with the obvious problem of merchants maximizing profit while selling to the "rational consumer" at their most vulnerable time. It tends to make used car salesmen and politicians appear to be destined for sainthood by comparison. 

The sales techniques are predictable and despicable, but this IS our culture. Even we Christians have a very hard time to avoid kneeling at the altar of the dollar. Pride, greed, and lust are related temptations that we all fail to resist. This book points the finger of judgement at the undertaker, certainly with a good deal justification, but he IS meeting a demand, although one in which he has a major part in creating. 

If you have a passing interest, it is quite interesting to look at the process of embalming and why it is done (to display the corpse better, nothing about "sanitation"). The marketing and financial tricks are also entertaining (making big profits and tax benefits from cemetery land, making cremation more profitable, etc,)

Christianity has a lot to do with the need for "respect for the body", since we believe our bodies will rise and we will see God with our own eyes (Job 19:25-27). Certainly our body will be destroyed (as Job admits), but the doctrines. of the church strongly move us to "respect the transition" from our earthly to heavenly form. 

We love to deny death, but like all denials for truth, it is existentially costly. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Thoughts On Machiavelli, Leo Strauss

 In my continued attempt to having a wider education in this age of specialization, I dive into works that mainly show that I have a long way to go. Leo Strauss is particularly good at showing how little I know. 

First, although I have seen many quotes from "The Prince", and even a decent amount of analysis in "Ten Books That Screwed Up the World", I was totally unaware of "Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy", which to vastly oversimplify is Machiavelli's coverage of Republics, while "The Prince" is his coverage of Monarchy (Princes). 

On page 40, Strauss does a nice meta summary of what Machiavelli is about:

"If it is true that every complete society necessarily recognizes something that about which it is absolutely forbidden to laugh, we may say that the determination to transgress that prohibition is of the essence of Machiavelli's intention."

My first thought on reading that was that Western society is no longer complete by that definition, but Islam is. The statement strikes me as imagining that in order to be complete, a society must have some foundation which is transcendently true e.g. "All men are created equal, endowed by their creator with unalienable rights." To deride that foundational belief would be "absolutely forbidden" in that people and even the government would sanction you. The "N word" is probably as close as we have today, but it is not a transcendent foundation, merely a "secular heresy". 

Perhaps denying Climate Change or "misgendering" are on that same secular/statist path to an Orwellian rather than a Machiavellian existence. 

Our founding statement requires a transcendent creator that endows our unalienable rights. No transcendent creator, no rights. We can look to thinkers like Machiavelli and those listed in the next paragraph which attempt to pull our "rights" out of the subhuman -- raw, unrestrained animalistic power. 

P78 "Machiavelli is our most important witness to the truth that humanism is not enough. Since man must understand himself in the light of the whole, or of the origin of the whole which is not human, or since man is the being which must try to transcend humanity in the direction of the subhuman if he does not transcend it in the direction of the superhuman, We may look forward from Machiavelli to Swift whose greatest work culminates in the recommendation that man should imitate the horses, to Rosseau who demanded the return to the state of nature, to Nietzche who suggested the Truth is not God, but a woman. As for Machiavelli, one may say with at least equal right that he replaces the imitation of the God-Man Christ with the imitation of the Beast-Man Chiron."

Our soul reaches higher, our flesh reaches lower. As we look at our society today, we see the urge to the primitive, to the Beast-Man rather than the God-Man (Christ).

And what of the woman? Without the protection and honor bestowed by the honor of Christianity for the "weaker vessel", she is ultimately at the mercy of the modern Beast-Man as a society based on beast morality truly subjugates her. The imagined degradation of the "Handmaidens Tale" would be heaven for women compared to the ruthless subjugation by the rule of the Beast-Man.

On page 282, Strauss states; "Since the many can never require the eternal glory which the great individuals can achieve, they must be induced to bring the greatest sacrifices by the judiciously fostered belief in eternity of another kind."

I'm reminded of the epithet "If Machiavelli is so smart, why is he dead"?  

There certainly is SOME sort of eternity. To Machiavelli, his faith lies in it being total physical extinction for each spiritless human. Certainly, he is being read and remembered, but our "eternity" is just the small speck of time (relative to actual eternity) before the big crunch or universal thermal death, what does it really matter? 

Machiavelli lived from 1469 to 1527. The Reformation began in 1517, and Luther is better remembered than Machiavelli, who is largely remembered when we say "Machiavellian", meaning amoral trickery and ruthlessness.

I'll close with a quote from Harvey Mansfield who studied Machiavelli extensively. 

Machiavelli is the first philosopher not merely to lack respect for the just, the noble, and the sacred or even to show his lack of respect—but actually to advise all others to act without respect.

When someone recommends acting without respect, it seems we ought to take their advice and not respect them. 

Saturday, February 10, 2024

The UN Hamas Alliance Physically Uncovered

 Directly beneath UNRWA’s Gaza headquarters, IDF uncovers top secret Hamas data center | The Times of Israel

No metaphor here folks. "Uncovered" means dug out from a location that the global media will do it's best to metaphorically "bury". 

Like all the "World" organizations ... UN, WEF, WHO, etc. they are about the leftist view of "heaven on earth" (for the elite). They often state their objectives clearly ... "The Great Reset" is a recent example. 

In order to get to this "golden age", sacrifices must be made! The vast majority of the world population must be kept in fear of terrorism (in this case), rolling blackouts, global pandemics, climate change, etc.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Beneath the Gaza Strip headquarters of the controversial United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, known commonly as UNRWA, the Hamas terror group hid one of its most significant assets, the Israeli military has revealed.

The subterranean data center — complete with an electrical room, industrial battery power banks and living quarters for Hamas terrorists operating the computer servers — was built precisely under the location where Israel would not consider looking initially, let alone target in an airstrike.

Here is a shot of the nice little data center needed so Hamas can continue to work on their "From the river to the sea" genocide of Jews. So much for UNRWA being "humanitarian", unless you take the view of Hitler or Islam that Jews are not human. 

The worldwide "left" (actually Oligarchy) continues to believe that all the Islamic rhetoric is just that ... words, while many concrete actions are taken to kill Jews in their homeland and around the world. 

As this article from the Atlantic makes clear, "Death to Israel" actually means "Death to Israel" (and all the Jews). 
... just because Iran has been patient and works through proxies in its quest to bring about the end of the Jewish state does not mean its intentions are any less genocidal. Although much was made during the Ahmadinejad presidency (2005–13) about an irrational Islamic Republic seeking a nuclear bomb, trend lines from the past four decades of Iranian foreign and security policy show that one might have just as much, if not more, to fear from a regime that is means-ends rational, recalibrates in response to external stimuli, and imposes costs when the opportunity presents itself.
In the past, "world domination" was impossible because the world was simply too big. I believe we are all aware that modern technology has effective shrunk it for good and ill. "World" organizations are a fact of life, and it is up to a shrinking and set of "Rebelectuals" (rebel intellectuals) to deny their objectives!