Friday, December 16, 2022

No Truth, No Belief 

The Roger. Scruton quote is worth is the gem. 

Roger is one of my favorites!

Covid And Truth

Watching this if you don't have a Daily Wire subscription is like watching network TV ... the commercials are infuriating, but I think worth it.  

It covers a lot of facts about the strange response to Covid, the main one in my mind is "Why doesn't anyone seem to be curious about how Covid got started"?  (in fact they want desperately to close the case that it was not). The circumstantial evidence is very damning ... viral gain of function research was being done in Wuhan, Fauci was funding it, we know there was a conference call on which Fauci and a set of virologists were very concerned about this being a lab leak, and how they could "verify" that it was not. (they claimed they had found a "very similar" virus in a pangolin), however when guys like Ridley looked, it wasn't. 

If you take the time to look at the early part of the video, you will learn about protein spikes and ACE2 receptors, and why it is so difficult (thanks be to God) for nature to produce a virus that does human to human transmission. Is it "possible" that it can happen randomly? Certainly, someone does win the lottery after all. Occam would be skeptical. In this case, the Wuhan lab was specifically inserting genetic code to allow the virus to be highly transmissible to humans. 

This "Gain of Function" research was criticized as being likely to create the specific problem it was allegedly trying to prevent. An analogy used in the video is that it was like looking for a natural gas leak with a lighted match. 

I've long been convinced that Covid was a lab "leak" at least, if not an intentional insertion into the environment. Remember that just prior to Covid, our economy was booming, energy prices were low, and Trump was looking like an absolute lock for re-election. Trump was a huge thorn in the side of the Administrative State, Chinese world dominance, exposing Democrat weaponization of the "Great Reset", open borders, and many other things. From the POV of the global elite, defeating him was an absolute requirement from day 1 of his administration, and failure was not an option. 

Covid enabled the measures like massive mail in "voting" that averted what the woke viewed as an existential threat. 

In a world were killing millions of babies is considered to be a "moral good", as well as the destruction of the middle class and families, it is imperative that ALL means be used to prevent that disaster if you look at it from the POV of the global elite. Millions dying is just collateral damage. 

The last hour of the video discusses what Jordan and Matt think is even a more dangerous "virus", the rise of the woke authoritarian state, and the end of open inquiry. There is also some excellent discussion of how Christianity relates to the search for truth.  

I strongly suggest taking the time to view ... subscribing to the Daily Wire is not a bad idea either. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Fishing With The Administrative State

I'm slogging my way through "Is Administrative Law Unlawful", an excellent, though not exactly a page turner book. Short version, Administrative Law is both Unconstitutional and Unlawful ... there IS a difference, which I will TRY to unravel somewhat plainly when I review the book 

In the meantime, the linked gives the sad story of the Administrative State making life miserable for a small commercial fisherman. 

Federal law gives NOAA the power to force me to carry a monitor on my boat, but it doesn’t give the agency the power to make me pay for the monitor. If Congress had passed a law that allowed NOAA to force herring fishermen to pay for monitors, we could at least use our voices and our votes to check the lawmakers who’d voted for it. But since in this instance a federal agency has tried to do the same thing through an unconstitutional, unilateral power grab, we’ve been forced to settle the issue in the courts.

Why does the NOAA get away with expanding its power? In one word, Chevron

"Chevron is a rule that tips the scales in favor of a particular result when a statute is unclear," Yale Law's Abbe Gluck has written of the principle. "In Chevron's case, the scales are tipped toward the agency's preferred interpretation."
If you follow the Chevron link, you will also find that Chevron gave us Obamacare. 

If you go to the link and look at the chart, you see that up until 1970, the amount spent on healthcare seemed to be growing at a relatively similar pace to the population. Whole books are written on this contentious subject, and nothing lies like statistics. Why did this happen? 

  • In 1965 LBJ signed Medicare and Medicaid into law. Those programs are the major driver of the huge increases in medical costs. Again, we could find endless discussion on this issue. My essential point is that in the countries that have "Single Payer", the government seriously controls the costs for people that use those programs. They wait for years if they need a procedure like a hip replacement, and if they go to a hospital, they are in "wards" 10, 15, sometimes 20 or more people. As defenders if single payer point out, though, "the people love it"! 

    Indeed, the healthy people do. Routine visits are well taken care of. Do you like your fire insurance? Probably yes ... because you never used it, and hope not to. Sick people don't love single payer so much (if they are able, they come to Mayo), and the really dissatisfied are generally dead. Something like we got a taste of with Covid, it can take a long time to get care when the government has you under its thumb, and the dead don't complain. They do however vote Democrat, which is likely a significant reason (on top of larger government) that Democrats like single payer  so much!

  • Throwing government at a problem is like throwing gasoline on a fire, only in the case of government programs, they grow "spontaneously" like Jack's beanstalk. Why? Because there is nothing limiting them, so "more is better". But what about taxes and deficits? The sad truth is that a majority of the American people seem not to care, or are so bamboozled, they don't know enough to care. "The rich will pay", "Everyone will be more wealthy in the future, so it will be easy to pay it off", "The same unicorns that will give us low cost green energy will work the same magic on all our problems" ... etc,  etc.  Color me skeptical. 

  • Obamacare just increased the flow of gasoline to the healthcare dumpster fire. Schmucks that bought into the old American idea of "Work hard and save for retirement" have been badly burned -- and who cares about those idiots? (of which I am one) 

  • Close to home, friends at IBM had dutifully looked at the TOTAL they were paying for healthcare with premiums and deductibles included as they obtained coverage through IBM.  Health status made no difference on IBM premiums, and the deductibles were generally capped at about "4K" ... so that is what they made their retirement assumptions on as they left or were forced out of IBM. Typically, $12K a year total. Post Obamacare, premiums went up, but deductibles and caps REALLY went up. The typical couples premium cost went up to over $20K. Total expenditures typically  exceeded $30K as opposed to the estimated $12K, since older people  have higher healthcare expenses. Taking a $20K hit on your yearly budget is not a positive experience. Since my younger wife continued to work at IBM, and I was covered under her, our pain was less. (thanks wife!) 
Most of what we "know" is provided by the Administrative State, and their friends in large corporations and the media. Covid, and the attacks on Trump have made it much more clear what has been happening for a long time, and increases to happen. We are fed a "narrative" that lulls most Americans into the idea that whatever the Democrats, Administrative State and media (basically a single entity) tell us is truthful and things are good, except for the constant threat of Republican extremism. 

Once we had a Constitution that largely prevented and certainly curtailed much of this. With the overturn of Roe, there is a glimmer of hope that we may return to Constitutional government ... a SLIGHT glimmer.

Along with Stephan the fisherman from the top link, I would really like to believe that Americans will awake from their entertainment and entitlement slumber and realize that there is STILL no free lunch! 


Saturday, November 19, 2022

The Elementry Forms of Religious Life (Durkheim)

This is certainly not a recreational read ... much time is spent in the details of various primitive totemic religions (largely Aborigine), but also some reference to the religions of the native americans. 

The basic truth painstakingly worked out is that we are "Moral Believing Animals". In short, humans are inherently social, they will form groups, and those groups will believe in something that is at its base not rational/proveable, but totally real and sacred to the group. 

A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden—beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them. The second element which thus finds a place in our definition is no less essential than the first; for by showing that the idea of religion is inseparable from that of the Church, it makes it clear that religion should be an eminently collective thing.

Scientism, historicism, materialism, Christianity, atheism, Taoism, Communism, etc are equal relative to being unverifiable in a philosophical sense. Since we can't philosophically/scientifically prove our existence, or even that we are "conscious" (which we also can't define), it is faith all the way down for all of us. 

At the roots of all our judgments there are a certain number of essential ideas which dominate all our intellectual life; they are what philosophers since Aristotle have called the categories of the understanding: ideas of time, space, [4] class, number, cause, substance, personality, etc. They correspond to the most universal properties of things. They are like the solid frame which encloses all thought;

One of the best descriptions of our state is expressed in the deeply intellectual film "This is Spinal Tap" relative to the Druids: 

In ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history, lived an ancient race of people. The Druids. No one knows who they were or what they were doing. 

Amazingly, I've been to Stonehenge, and that quote is etched in stone in the visitors center.

One of the base philosophical questions is "Why is there anything"? As the book says: 

Thus we find that we have here two sorts of knowledge, which are like the two opposite poles of the intelligence. Under these conditions forcing reason back upon experience causes it to disappear, for it is equivalent to reducing the universality and necessity which characterize it to pure appearance, to an illusion which may be useful practically, but which corresponds to nothing in reality; consequently it is denying all objective reality to the logical life, whose regulation and organization is the function of the categories. Classical empiricism results in irrationalism; perhaps it would even be fitting to designate it by this latter name.

As we believe we have recently observed, "reality" is an illusion. It is all interacting fields

We thus believe we discover that all our models ... the Platonic, the Aristotelian, the Newtonian, Einstein's static model, the Quantum model, the Standard Model, are all just that, "models". Models, like maps are very useful, however we need to always remember that the map is not the territory.

Durkheim is attempting to go back to the origin of religion, and one of the bases is what a group considers sacred vs profane. One of the laments we hear today is "is nothing sacred?". To classical empiricism, that there is no concept of sacred, and as stated above, classical empiricism as a way to understand the universe is irrational ... meaning "insane". An often heard question today is "has the world gone insane?". I'm pretty sure that Durkheim would say that is so, and a lot of evidence seems to support that view. 

To distinguish religion from all other classification systems: 

... it is absolute. In all the history of human thought there exists no other example of two categories of things so profoundly differentiated or so radically opposed to one another. The traditional opposition of good and bad is nothing beside this; for the good and the bad are only two opposed species of the same class, namely morals, just as sickness and health are two different aspects of the same order of facts, life, while the sacred and the profane have always and everywhere been conceived by the human mind as two distinct classes, as two worlds between which there is nothing in common.

As our models of the universe have become more sophisticated, they more and more resemble religion. 

... between the logic of religious thought and that of scientific thought there is no abyss. The two are made up of the same elements, though inequally and differently developed.
Just as there is no known society without a religion, so there exist none, howsoever crudely organized they may be, where we do not find a whole system of collective representations concerning the soul, its origin and its destiny.

Today, science is our religion. We make statements like "trust the science", "the science is settled". Those that disagree are called "deniers", which is equivalent to "heretics" in Christianity. Their views must be suppressed, they must be punished (fired, cancelled, shunned). So far, no burning at the stake.

Page 369, "...he knows that it is faith that saves".

Search your heart. you know it to be true. Our lives are sustained by faith ... we have faith we will get up in the morning, we have faith we can drive to our destination safely, we have faith that the bridge we drive over will not fall, the list is endless, and in this mortal coil, many of the things we have faith in will fail. We will see that many of the earthly things we have faith in will fail. Even though we see that ... people fail to get up, cars crash and the occupants die, bridges fall, etc

But we still go to sleep, drive our cars, and go over bridges, because we can't live without faith. Even faith in people or things shown to be unfaithful, 

So faith saves. John 20:29 Jesus said unto him, “Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed. Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.”




Friday, November 18, 2022

Raid Mar-a-Lago For Nothing

At the time the FBI arm of the Democrat party raided the former presidents personal residence, even a few of the media arm of the Democrat party thought they better find something, or this is going to be seen as a politically motivated fishing expedition to add hatred for Trump to the 2022 midterms. 

So as the midterms were over, the FBI reported, that is just what it was. The Democrat media arm has already started the memory hole process. 

I remain somewhat mystified as to why they did not just plant something, or just fail to report it at all? Is it possible that there is still a TINY bit of concern that with a Republican majority in the house, there is a small chance that accountability could be demanded, or that there is still a decent person the FBI that would leak the truth? I suppose one can hope.

We live in a single party / weaponized Deep State Banana Republic.  Any fair minded person has know this at least since Chappaquiddick and Watergate, to not understand this after even the Russia Hoax, shows either a complete lack of attention to our supposed "by the people" government, or the belief that a one party Oligarchy vs a Republic is where they want to live.

Monday, November 14, 2022

DeSantis Takes Over

I happily voted for Trump twice. Did I find him perfect? Certainly not, but I pick the best alternative available, and character wise, I think Trump outstrips Hillary or Biden by a mile anyway. "Mean Tweets" are not on my list of concerns. 

Trump's flaws have always been narcissism, a thin skin, an obsession to eliminate his "enemies", and apparently no ability to build a coalition of trusted friends. You either follow him like an obedient dog, or you. are OUT. 

He is in the top 5 reasons we lost the midterms. I can't really order them: 

  • Trump fatigue. To a great extent the media and Democrats "won", but Trump helped. January 6 was nothing, but then neither was Watergate. The Democrats control the narrative, and everyone was just tired of Trump "news". 
  • Trump primary interference. I agree the 2020 election was stolen ... but the Democrats and media made the "Denier" narrative stick. The "denier" candidates lost. The truth often loses. 
  • Massive voter fraud in key states. Arizona and Nevada are obvious. I'm sure there are are plenty of congressional races across the country where fraud was the "winner". 
  • Dobbs misinformation. A huge percentage of voters believe that Dobbs outlawed all abortions, when in fact it only returned decisions on abortion law to the states -- which for the Democrats in blue states, nothing happened. 75% of childbearing age women voted Democrat, significantly because of this lie. 
  • Fear of "loss of Democracy" if Republicans were elected. The Democrat definition of "Democracy" is one party rule by them, the Administrative State, the weaponized "justice" department, big media, big pharma, etc While it is true that if one or both houses of congress went to the Republicans, the Democrat control would be less than total, such a situation is really only frightening if you believe 100% Democrat totalitarianism is "democracy". 
Go read the Geraghty linked article. Other than some gratuitous Trump bashing, it is a worthy read and makes a strong case as to why DeSantis needs to be the clear leader of the Republican party right now! 

Sunday, November 13, 2022

"The Ruling Class": How They Corrupted America and What We Can Do About It

A quick and worthy read, especially based on it's concise analysis of our current divide. 

Anyone that has set eyes on this blog, knows who "The Ruling Class" are. They are "the Swamp",  Mass Media, the Democrats and the RINOs, the Administrative State, Social Media, the Ivy League brats, etc

"Excellent Sheep" gives a nice overview of the educational  element of our rulers. As the book says; "The top schools select for compatibility, not excellence". I've read way too many books of this ilk, and as our recent "election" shows, we continue to accelerate toward the abyss.

While the Ruling Class thinks that Americans are unfit to run their own lives, most Americans have noticed that our Ruling Class has lost every war it has fought, run up an unpayable national debt, and generally made life worse.

Well, they have made life worse for anyone not in the upper 10% of income/wealth, and increasingly for anyone not in the top 1%. 

The counterpoint to "The Ruling Class" is labeled in the book as "The Country Class". It is hard to really out a label on this class because it is so diverse, but the big issues are religion, family, freedom, being a good neighbor (especially knowing who they are), respect for people beyond (or sometimes in spite of) their "credentials. "The salt of the earth". As they continue be attacked, The Country Class  is "losing it's savor" (especially in religion), but at least in the red states, there is a lot of salt left.

The book says of the Country Class that; "... its most distinguishing characteristics are marriage, children, and religious practice." I would be tempted to add guns. 

The ruling class has put a lot of labels on them ... the deploreables, bitter clingers, deniers, racists, fascists, etc. Humans are prone to label their perceived enemies negatively ... the Country Class is no exception, and anything bad they say about the Ruling Class is a "vicious attack". 

"... Rather, the sense of intellectual and social superiority over the common herd is arguably the main component of millions of people’s self-conception. Such people can no more believe that a Christian might be their intellectual and moral equal than white Southerners of the Jim Crow era could think the same of Negroes."
A quote which those of us of minimal intelligence and attention to current affairs see as obvious;

Since marriage is the family’s fertile seed, government at all levels, along with “mainstream” academics and media, have waged war on it.

The difficult part (isn't it always?) is what to DO about our rather pitiful situation? The book is painfully honest on how hard this will be. One would HOPE that the Republican Party could be the vehicle for this, but can it be? As is said early in the book ... 

Republicans are the way they are in Washington because Washington is a culture and a place that is run and dominated—not just politically, but socially—by Democrats, by the left. They’re the big clique. The Republicans also live there. Everybody wants to get along with those you live next to, ...

As I personally feel, and  I think the Trump phenomenon proves, faith in the Republican party to fight these natural tendencies is low: 

That’s because while most of the voters who call themselves Democrats say that Democratic officials represent them well, only a fourth of the voters who identify themselves as Republicans say the same about the Republican officeholders.

 As 2022 shows, the "Country Class" is divided and rudderless. There is a significant core that is Trump Forever (and nobody else), a significant number that are Never Trump (and will stay home if he is the nominee), and another (I think largest group) that are "I don't care about a party, just represent my Country Class rather than a person (Trump) or certainly not "Ruling Class lite". 

We have a long tough road ahead if we want a decent country again. We need to reverse totalitarianism's  (Communism, Fascism, Oligarchy ... or whatever we label the Ruling Class) "long march" with a march of our own.  

First we MUST get some election integrity.  Why does the Ruling Class fight election integrity tooth and nail? The fact that apparently a significant number of Americans can't figure out why, is not a good sign at all.


Monday, October 24, 2022

Woke Culture, Nick Cave

I subscribe to the American Spectator because it challenges me in especially arts, music, wine, food, travel, and architecture. It is considered to be "conservative", but in the classical sense of the word "liberal", meaning free markets, radical free speech, civil liberties under the rule of law, limited government, and some sense of  "enlightenment". 

It often covers people and topics that are "out of my lane", which I find to be important.

I would likely have never ran into Nick Cave, save for a review of the linked book from the current issue of the Spectator. I would normally have just done an incomplete blog and waited for Spectator online to catch up with my paper copy.

I didn't, because Nick lost his15 year old son Arthur in July 2015 when under the influence of LSD, he walked off a cliff and died. I have not had that exact experience, however there were times I could see something like it as somewhat likely.

The second reason is that although I'm going to have to do some typing rather than cut and paste, I didn't want this one to be semi-misplaced among the 100's of incomplete blog entries on my account.  I'm blessed to not have felt all of that pain,  but I have some of the pain of cancel culture. It seems nearly universal, though as Nick mentions, to some of the cancel purists, it is ecstatic.

A quote from the article:

For a man who by his own admission, spent much of the Eighties and Nineties in a miasma of heroin addiction, he is admirably clear-sighted about the greater hypocrisies of our age. He describes woke culture as:

... akin to to a fundamentalist religion impulse ... it may reflect on an unconscious desire to return to a non-secular society, and talks angrily of the "performative aspect to the theater of cancel culture that is essentially vindictive ... it's as if autocratic ideas of virtue and sin have come into play, and as a result, prohibitions and punishments have been put in place, enforced by a kind of callousness that, in my view, is akin to the very worst aspects of religion -- the fundamentalist, joyless, aspects of religion that have nothing to do with mercy. Cancellation is a particularly ugly part of it's weaponry and can end up as a kind of sadism dressed up as virtue"
I've been struggling through Durkheim's "The Elementary Forms Of The Religious Life". Durkheim is considered one of the main, if not THE experts on "why religion"?  In every human culture, no matter how primitive in time and space, and how similar at the base, every manifestation is ... sacred/profane, spirit(s), a creation myth, symbolic totems,  and how critical it is for every tribe/family/community/team/culture it is for a "social imaginary" to be shared for the health of both the individuals and the "group". 

I recently reviewed "The Rise And Triumph of the Modern Self" which gives some good insight as to why the woke culture came about.

Having just attended a wedding at a very fundamentalist church, it is clear that "joyless" is not a common experience of all "fundamentalists", and the Durkheim book shows that rigorous standards, prohibitions and punishments" are an integral part of obtaining the solid community and "joy" -- belonging, comfort, camaraderie, the feeling of being happy ...

Think Navy SEALs. The initiation is brutal, the bond approaches unbreakable, the sense of joy, pride and accomplishment is palpable. We can't all be SEALs, but we can be a member of SOME group of "like minded people". To "work" it has to be something "real", where you know each other F2F, have some "rituals" (like maybe just breakfast after church). The more rigor in the connection, the more likely the group will be significantly helpful.

Like exercise, training, ritual, symbols, rules, etc, there are parameters that have to be carefully aligned and calibrated  in order for the danger of the flame of faith can be properly respected and utilized. This takes decades, lifetimes, sometimes  millennia. We know that cars are dangerous, and we accept the danger (minimizing it as much as possible), in order to reap the benefits they provide. Life is often a tradeoff between risk and reward. To be real, it involves sacrifice.
We WILL all have a "worldview" that is either explicitly or implicitly a "religion" ... how much "choice" we have in what that is,  given genetics, family,  the probable existence of "spirits" -  Holy, Totemic, Tao, daemons, etc, along with community, mental health, physical health, etc, the range of "choices" (or enlightenment)  is a matter of little agreement for those that believe that the examined life is the only real life. 

While not a popular path today, the examined life seems like something worthy to give at least a cursory examination. 

I hope to get around to the book ... my stack is a bit deep and esoteric at the moment though.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Chip Wars

There is a joke in Taipei that if China invades Taiwan the best place to shelter is in microchip factories, the only places the People’s Liberation Army can’t afford to destroy. The country that controls advanced chips controls the future of technology — and Taiwan’s chip fabrication foundries (“fabs”) are the finest in the world. Successful reunification between the mainland and its renegade province would give China a virtual monopoly over the most advanced fabs. Given that Xi Jinping has made clear his intention to take control of Taiwan by 2032, it is no wonder that the American government is worried about the concentration of cutting-edge semiconductor technology on the island.

I tend to like those sort of dark humor jokes. I'm trying to develop one something like "Biden is building us back to a better stoneage". 

The idea is that with all of his attacks on energy production and now the rising tensions with both Russia and China, we may have some form of nuclear, or advanced drone, cyber, and almost certainly targeted mRNA viruses in our fairly near future.  

One statement that I often make is "The greater the efficiency in a system, the greater the fragility". It seems I ought to be able to quote someone on this fact, however it may just be too obvious for anyone with intelligence to write it down. (now we know where that leaves me)

Our supply chains are generally VERY efficient  "Just In Time" manufacturing with near zero inventory, and single source suppliers are very common. Have a pandemic, shut down a single link in your supply chain, and you can't produce your product. 

The whole article (short) is worth your time. Just consider this ... 

At present there is only one company in the world that can make lithography machines that print wafers at the five-nanometer gauge. Based in a nondescript suburb of Eindhoven in the Netherlands, Advanced Semiconductor Materials Lithography is perhaps the world’s least well-known hi-tech business. Yet it ranks just behind Shell as the fourth-largest company in Europe.

ASML’s highest tech machines use a process called “extreme ultraviolet” lithogra- phy, which makes them the only systems that can do lithography below 13.5 nanometers. The company produces approximately fifty machines a year at $150 million a pop (plus service contract). As a result, it owns that rare commodity — a market monopoly.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

What's So Special About Ukraine?

The first link is the one I'll focus on, the second mainly says that Russia became religiously orthodox after 1991, and is not woke, while wokenss is the new religion of the West. A quote from the 2nd article:

As early as 2005, scholars Ira Straus and Edward Lozansky remarked upon a pronounced negative coverage of Russia in the US media, contrasting negative media sentiment with largely positive sentiment of the American public and US government. As Russia displayed increasing signs of a Christian revival, so the media reporting in the West became increasingly hostile. Only rarely however did journalists openly attack Russia for its “Christianization”; normally, columnists, conscious of the fact that large numbers of people in the West continued to describe themselves as Christian, portrayed their anti-Russian commentary as a result of Russia's “aggression,” “corruption,” or “lack of democracy.” All that however changed with the new abortion law of 2011. Now the attacks against Russia became explicitly ideological. The Russians, we were told, were oppressing women and turning their backs on “progress.”

The 2nd linked article is worth the read, but it is mainly going to make the point that from the Western POV, Ukraine is "woke/progressive", and Russia is in the social dark ages, converting to radically backward and dangerous Christian values. This quote from the second article agrees with the first, but then the article goes deeper. 

On March 24, a month after Russian tanks rolled across Ukraine’s borders, the Biden White House summoned America’s partners (as its allies are now called) to a civilizational crusade. The administration proclaimed its commitment to those affected by Russia’s recent invasion—“especially vulnerable populations such as women, children, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTQI+) persons, and persons with disabilities.” At noon that same day, Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted about the “massive, unprecedented consequences” American sanctions were wreaking on Russia, and claimed Russia’s economic “collapse” was imminent.

I tend to compare the highlighted with my observation that the following headline would not be a surprise to me if such a disaster happened: 

"Three fourths of planet destroyed by meteor -- vulnerable populations like women, children, etc ... the worst affected".  

My belief is that Biden, Putin, etc could care less about pretty much anything but their power and personal pleasure, so nearly 100% of their attention is focused there. In the event things go bad, "the vulnerable" will be sacrificed with no reticence, especially the sort of vulnerable that are in red states in the case of the US. 

Pretty much everyone right and left is convinced that the US is currently, and will remain "top dog",  no matter how much debt we have, how weak our woke military gets, and how clueless the "leadership" that we (or they) "elect" is. So why worry? 

The attempt to isolate Russia from the American world system has had a striking unintended consequence—the possible founding of an alternative world system that would draw power away from the existing one. Twenty years ago, under George W. Bush, the United States removed the Iraqi deterrent from Iran’s neighborhood, transforming Iran overnight into a regional power. This year, under Joe Biden, the United States has made China a gift of Russia’s exportable food and mineral resources. We are displaying an outright genius for identifying our most dangerous military adversary and solving its most pressing strategic challenge. The attention of China is now engaged. Joe Biden argues that any wavering in the cause of obliterating Russia will be understood by China as a green light on Taiwan. He may have a point, but the U.S. management of the Ukraine situation over the past decade has constituted encouragement enough.

We have managed to get to a place where we are likely to end up in a shooting war with Russia, while China absconds with Taiwan. The article does a great job of explaining the complexity of the situation in a fairly simple way ... although not all that concisely. (I'm nearly as qualified to throw stones about failure to be concise as I am about failure to be skinny) 

Those with a passing familiarity of history realize that underestimating Russia, while definitely a Western tradition,  has not always turned out as everyone was certain it would. 
Reducing Russia’s dimensions appears to be America’s overriding war aim. It is a risky one. Those Western leaders with the ambition to bring Europe to the gates of Moscow have sometimes brought the warriors of the Eurasian steppes onto the streets of Paris and Berlin.
Certainly nuclear weapons change the strategic chessboard, but I really suspect that the vast majority of the West just folds without electricity and fossil fuel. The Western energy grids are so vulnerable that taking them out with some exploding drones would be a snap. Tactical nukes? 80% of the Western population will surrender if their cell phones and internet are removed. 

The whole CRB article is very much worth the read. The financial risks, even if the war risks come to nothing, are very significant. 

Why does nobody in the West care? The usual reasons ... arrogance, distraction, complacency, decadence, selfishness, ignorance of history, and maybe most of all,  nearly total ignorance of reality. largely because the narrative they are spoon fed constantly wants them to be mindless drones. 

I leave you with this ... a point I've been trying to make to many people, only to watch their eyes glaze over in total incomprehension. 

The Ukraine war is special, though. American immunity from danger may be illusory. The progress of technology has imperceptibly eroded a longstanding distinction between supporting a combatant and entering the fray as a combatant oneself. In June, the U.S. began providing Ukraine with M142 HIMARS computer-targeted rocket artillery systems, and these present the problem in an acute form: the role of technology in the lethality of a weapon has grown to the point where the role of the human warrior is, relatively speaking, rendered negligible. An encounter with a sword is an encounter with a swordsman. An encounter with an arrow is an encounter with an only slightly more distant bowman. But an encounter with an M31 rocket fired from a HIMARS launcher is an encounter with General Dynamics. And it is the human warrior who is the repository of all the longings-to-be-vindicated and the sacrifices-freely-undertaken that consecrate war as a cause. With advanced weaponry, the soldier operating it almost doesn’t need to be there. Which is to say that, in this proxy war between Russia and the United States, Ukraine doesn’t need to be there. In these HIMARS artillery strikes, in the assassinations by drone of Russian officers, in the sinking of naval ships with advanced missiles,

Nobody seems to get this. If I hire you to kill my wife, you do, and it is discovered that I hired you, I get tried for murder one, just like you do. Is this really that hard to understand? 

Apparently so. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Asimov's Guide To Shakespeare

 I couldn't find a good review of this book, and I believe I understand why ... Book 1 is 670 pages, Book 2 is 790. 

In the intro there is a reference to a fairly well known tale of a woman who read Hamlet and remarked "I don't see why people admire the play so, it is nothing but a bunch of quotations strung together". That is much less true of this book, however the lack iof general public comprehension of what they are reading is probably similar.

This book is much more history than "Shakespeare", although it does have a significant number of the more famous lines in it.  It focuses on the context of the period, what real or literary/legendary person the lines are likely referring to, and why.

Shakespeare was writing for both the common man as well as the wealthy aristocracy and royalty.  What a "commoner" needed to know about Greek, Roman, Italian, the Bible, English history, etc gives a little insight as to why even the "educated" our day, being "experts" of only their iPhones and the latest Netfix binge watch, have a hard time understanding why throwing a trillllion dollars into an "Inflation Rediuction Act" might cause some brows to raise. "Common Sense" is far from common today.

Also, if Shakespere had put in any obvious snark like I just did, he would likely be "cancelled" by literally losing his head. He was marvelously subtle with his little jabs. 

On Page 9, a helpful map of the Roman and Greek gods, with their role is presented. To cover a few of the more popular ones, in Greek we have Zeus, chief of the gods, Athena, goddess of wisdom, Ares, god of war. 

In the Roman version we have the corresponding Jupiter, Minerva, Mars ... you need to understand these references to keep up between the Roman and Greek plays. 

A very helpful page for those of us that don't have the memory of our youth, and received at best a very cursory understanding of the ancient world. Volume 1 covers the Greek, Roman, and Italian plays. The Italian plays are probably the most familar ... Love's Labor Lost, The Taming of the Shrew, The Two Gentlermen of Verona, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing,  As You Like It, Twelfth Night, All's Well That Ends Well, Othello, Measure For Measure, The Tempest. 

The book is loaded with inline cross references to where subjects are covered in the other plays, in order to better understand what is being covered ... the audience at the time of writing had a common understanding of the world they lived in, including the history, and had good memories ... uncluttered by shallow media entertainment.  

Asimov made a number of desisions as to how to present this vast environment to the modern reader, largely unaware of the world of Shakesphere. I think of it a bit as a kalidiscope of "worlds", with sometimes definite and sometimes completely fictional references to real, mythological, current, recent historical, fictional charachters invented for the story, etc. 

Asimov is in a way trying to put us into the Shakespere world  ... a BIT like todays "Marvel Universe", "Star Trek Universe", "Star Wars Universe", etc Think of a reference to "Captain Kirk" 500 years in the future. Yes, I know, that is shallow ... maybe "Winston Churchill", or maybe "Dostoevsky" would be a better example. 

The big differece is that while Shakespere is "fictional entertainment" it has much more connection to thew reality of the time. Maybe something like "The Crown" today. 

Do I recommend the book? To the common reader of today, I really can't, because they are likely to just be frustrated and lost. Certainly there are a decent number of people FAR more qualified than I to read and enjoy the work. Perhaps I'm an arrogant pessimist, I just don't think the audience to actually read it is very wide ... it does however look good on a shelf, unless it is full of tabs like mine is. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

The Rise And Triumph of the Modern Self

We know that we live in the era of "it's all about ME" ... what most don't ponder very much is what is "me"? Certainly a body, and in current times, the body and especially the genitals, or the denial of same are critical to "identity".

The man, woman, or "whatever" on the street usually admits to having a brain -- however what it means to have a brain that according to most biologists, is genetically "human",  falls far short of what it means to be "human" in the sense of the modern self is quite vague. Is there something beyond the physical? And if so, does it matter? 

A term that arises often in the book is the "social imaginary" (link followers be warned). To simplify, it can be thought of as "worldview". A fairly short way to scratch this surface a little deeper is "Moral Believing Animals". Communication between other "humans" requires some sort of shared "social imaginary", and since what that now shifts in timeframes that are historically unimaginable, we are all in undiscovered country, almost all the time. 

In 2008, both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were firm on the thousands year old fact that marriage was a sacred union between a man and a woman.  By 2012, Obama supported gay "marriage".  In 2015, with the SCOTUS Obergefell ruling, it was the law of the land. By 2022, a SCOTUS nominee was unable to define what a "woman" is. There is every expectation that the pace of this kind of massive change in the Social Imaginary will accelerate. Even worse, the stakes of at least adequately pretending to keep up are rising at a similar pace. 

Not being completely up to date and showing complete fealty to whatever got "imagined" in maybe the past few hours, can cause loss relationship with friends, family, your employer, and increasingly even your freedom of action ... the FBI may identify you as a "semi fascist".  It can certainly be an issue if you want to use a phrase like "sexual preference" if you are trying to get on the SCOTUS. In the case of Amy Coney Barrett, the term was fine in the AM, but had been redefined to be "offensive" by the PM!

Sane people realize that it is not possible for each one of us to define ourselves in any way we see fit (at this moment), and expect the rest of society to totally buy into that definition of the moment (see proper pronouns). As in the case of Barrett, the meaning of what you say may be changed in a matter of hours! 

Unfortunately, at least one member of the SCOTUS strongly supports an individual's right to do just that! As Justice Kennedy stated in Casey: "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." Thankfully, after an insane fight, Kennedy was replaced by Kavanaugh, who disagrees. For Kennedy, the Hitchhiker's guide declaring the answer to “Life, the Universe and Everything" to be "42" is as valid as any imagined "reality" that all should celebrate and relate to "correctly" (as defined by the individual who created it). 

(As an aside, there are 42 generations from Abraham to Jesus as quoted in Matthew ... so perhaps "42" DOES point us to the the answer to "Life, the Universe, and Everything" after all)

The book opens with:

The origins of this book lie in my curiosity about how and why a particular statement as has come to be regarded as coherent and meaningful: "I am a woman trapped in a man's body". 

The book does an excellent and reasonably concise explanation of how we got here. The foreword by Rod Dreher, contains a much shorter explanation of the "how" from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn ... "Men have forgotten God, and that is why all this as happened". He was referring to the tragedy of the USSR, but it applies equally well here. 

The linked review is excellent, well worth quite minimal time to read it.  Fortunately there is a more concise version of  this book that is reviewed by Clairmont. For those that know me, it will be unsurprising that I took the long version. 

Here is a link to that book on Amazon  - Strange New World - How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution

A quote from the introduction that cut to the soul is: "The task of the Christian is not to whine about the moment in which he or she lives, but to understand its problems and respond appropriately to them." 

As with pretty much all such books at this time, suggestions of what to do are sparse. Prayer is always one answer, because it is going to take action from God to change this Social Imaginary. Perhaps his solution is already baked in ... those that buy into the Social Imaginary of our times tend not to reproduce ... which can make an particular Social Imaginaries future less bright!

The review contains this: 

Another weakness is the relative lack of suggestions for combating Western culture’s increasing decadence. Important as they are, a mere six pages of 400 are dedicated to navigating our way out of the ruins. Trueman proposes three suggestions. First, Christians must better understand the interplay between aesthetics and formation—both within and outside the church. Here Trueman insists that moral legitimacy cannot be achieved by emotion or narrative, but by “the being of God and his act of creation.” Second, in a world of constant flux wherein liquid modernity provides ever-shifting foundations for identity, Trueman calls the church to a greater sense of community. Only this will counteract the hollowing out of institutions that more securely anchored human identity in the past. Third—and of particular importance to me, I confess—Trueman argues that Protestant Christians need greater familiarity with natural law, but not because it will necessarily convince skeptics but because it will provide grounding for a theology of human embodiment, which will counteract the transient Gnosticisms of modernity.

Gnosticism - the idea that it is your "knowledge/timeless wisdom/etc" that will save/set you free/make you happy/etc.

As stated above: "Trueman insists that moral legitimacy cannot be achieved by emotion or narrative, but by “the being of God and his act of creation.”"

To a Christian, the "being of God" is the Holy Trinity, with the Holy Spirit being the indwelling of God that through "The Way, The Truth, and The Life" (Christ). To others it may be "the Great Spirit", the Tao, El Shaddai, Adonai, Dirawong, Sango, Odin, etc. I'm struggling through Durkheim's The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life at this time -- seeking a way to help people understand that since they are human, they DO have a God. Based on my search, I believe there is much to suggest Christianity, however, the BEGINNING of wisdom is the fear (respect) of God. We all need to understand that it isn't all about ME ... which this book is a help in realizing.

My personal "search for God" (or proof of his absence) went through a lot of books, meditations and practices -- if you seek you will find, or if you are willing to submit, Christ will find you. Understanding the real stakes of everyone living an isolated, meaningless life is important these days. Your faith WILL be questioned! Christians need to all be defenders of their faith, and the reasons to believe -- ideally in terms that an atheist secularist can at least understand. 

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Meditations, Marcus Aurelius

Meditations, Marcus Aurelius"Eternalized Review" (ER)

As always, I'm a lazy moose. I read some translation of Meditations long ago, probably in my "I think I'm an atheist, but something in me is rejecting it" phase. The two links above explore some of the thoughts that were flowing through the river of my consciousness then,  and to some degree now. Time can be seen as a river, though I often find the eddies to be the parts of the flow to pay attention to.

Having grown up in a strict Baptist church,  being "saved" by "giving my life to Christ", I ended up with lots of questions. The claim that the Wedding At Cana miracle was changing water into grape juice was dogma in my home church since drinking was prohibited there, seemed
sketchy". For some reason I didn't blog in those days (I worked on an IBM S/3 at the time, a whopping 512K of memory that we had trouble even using on the HUGE model 15D. When there are no graphics and the operating system is written in assembler, memory pressure is much reduced. So good excuse!

 My "deep thinking" about life, the universe and everything" in the late 1970's. early '80's can be somewhat understood by the aside that the  S/3 had a 2 digit display for telling the operators / system programmers what went wrong. The small troop of new hires tasked with minor enhancements and mostly maintenance always wanted to slip a "4Q" halt in. Ah, juvenile humor -- I believe that Marcus, and certainly Christ would admonish against it, though both understand the frailties of human nature, especially in youth. 

Oh how our pitiful human brains work, don't work, and work strangely  -- this book connected me to many past memories. 

Marcus was very aware of the shortness of this life, and the metaphysical (though not necessarily spiritual) uncertainty of death. ER says of Stoicism: 
Logos designates rational and connected thought. It exists in individuals as the faculty of reason and on the cosmos as the rational principle that governs the organisation of the universe. Thus, rationality and clear-mindedness allow one to live in harmony with the logos.

In Christianity, Christ is the logos ... in the form of the Holy Spirit on page 199, Marcus  says "... and obedient to your own daemon (the god that is within you ...". While Marcus seems to beat around the bush a bit, he seems clear on man having a spirit, and there being "god's". If the universe has a logos that governs all, then there is a God. If there is no logos, than all is random. Marcus accepts that as a possibility, however in reading the book, it seems very clear that that he really believes in the gods and the logos, and even that some "god" at least CAN be within you. 

CMC says: 

The ethical preoccupations of Marcus and the New Testament writers are much the same: what it means to be just and good, the importance of living with purpose and without luxury, the requirements of stewardship and serving others, the role of prayer and Providence, the danger of making false value judgments and blaming others, the need to control desire and the passions, etc. Of course, there are important differences, and therein lie the distinctions that cast Christianity in bold relief and help to explain why Christianity captured the moral imagination of the ancient world in a way that Stoicism failed to do. These distinctions may also offer some prophetic insights into the fate of Stoicism’s dramatic resurgence in our secular age.
A prime dilemma of the modern age is that man by nature seeks to judge, but by what standard? Matter and science say nothing of good nor evil. If one assumes "telos" as Marcus does, perhaps we can convince ourselves that we are good by nature. The belief in "the noble savage" .... the idea that man is good, but society corrupts him. 

EC says: 
Marcus insists that we always follow Nature, as it is good and rational – driven by logos. Since we are all interconnected, man is good by nature and nothing natural is evil.

On the list of philosophical, theological and political conundrums, man being "basically good" vs "basically fallen or evil"  is a primary question. If nature or natures god are "good", why is there evil in the world? The theological and philosophical study of this question is theodicy. Verty worthy to consider, but way too complicated for a blog post.

As James Madison said in Federalist 51, "But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary."

While Marcus may firmly wish, and even believe, that his basic nature is "good", his accepting the task of Roman emperor and expanding the empire to its greatest extent (his reign was one of continuous warfare)  shows that by action, his beliefs were not in alignment with his actions. One of the base issues of being a human seeking "the good". 

Are men and philosophies to be judged by what they do, or by what they wish to do? Certainly something to be meditated on. 

This is a very human problem, and for me one that helped convince me that I needed an internal "spirit of truth" to improve the course of my life, as well as a practice to allow that spirit vs my weak flesh to improve my conformance to the good.  As Paul says in Romans 7 15-20:

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

The only time in the book that Marcus mentions Christianity is on page 180: 

A soul is ready, if at any moment it must be separated from the body, and ready either to be extinguished or dispersed or continue to exist; but so this readiness comes from a man's own judgment, not from the mere stubbornness, as with the Christians, but considerably and with dignity and in a way to persuade another without a tragic show. 

My interpretation of that statement is that while Marcus tried to value the holding of many possible spiritual realities (eg the soul being extinguished, dispersed, or continue to exist), he did not like the specifics of Christianity -- in fact persecution of Christians increased under his rule. 

On page 148 we find: 

When another blames you or hates you, or when men say about you anything injurious, approach their poor souls, penetrate within, and see what kind of men they are. You will discover that there is no reason to take any trouble that these men may have this or that opinion about you. However, you must be well disposed towards them, for by nature they are friends. And the gods too aid them in all ways, by dreams, by signs, towards the attainment of those things on which they set a value.

We might summarize that with "love your neighbor as yourself"  ... even if he is wrong, a slanderer,  a person having strong beliefs in opposition to yours, etc. If we were all solidly practicing Stoics or Christians, toleration would abound, and the realization that we are fellow travelers on the sinking boat of mortality. In the physical world, there are no survivors, and Marcus does a good job of clearly pointing out the importance of keeping that perspective before you. 

In Roman Stoicism there are 3 principles (from ER): 

The first one is the discipline of perception. It requires that we maintain absolute objectivity of thought. It is not objects and events but the interpretations we place on them that are the problem. Our duty is to exercise control over the faculty of perception, with the aim of protecting our mind from error.
The second one is the discipline of action. It relates to our relationship with other human beings. Marcus frequently repeats that we were made not for ourselves but for others, our nature is fundamentally unselfish. However, our duty to act justly does not mean that we must treat others as our equals; it means that we must treat them as they deserve.
The third one is the discipline of will. While the discipline of action governs our approach to the things in our control, those that we do; the discipline of will governs our attitude to things that are not within our control, those that we have done to us (by others or by nature).

 The translation I read has good reviews and I found it very readable. Having at least a passing understanding of Stoicism in these contentious times seems an aid to discipline of perception, a worthy goal.

Monday, August 29, 2022

"Unknown" The Leading Cause Of Death

It's probably a Trump conspiracy that has hit the Calgary news.  "Unknown" is now the leading cause of death in Alberta Canada. 

The unknown causes of death category only began appearing on the list in 2019 — there is no record of it ranking before then, dating back to 2001.

The article helpfully goes on to say that it probably has "something" to do with Covid -- but apparently not the vaccine. (if it is "unknown" that seems an interesting conclusion). Covid came in 3rd, and it has always been interesting to see how "causal" Covid is as opposed to dying WITH Covid ... and heart disease, pneumonia, kidney disease, etc. 

Being an idiot, I find it quite interesting that medical professionals would resign themselves to "unknown".  Alzheimer's is listed as #2, and diagnosing Alzheimer's as the CAUSE is quite problematic, but the powerful Alzheimer's lobby has been pushing to make it the cause, because it "starts the chain". 

Not having an appetite, difficulty in swallowing (sometimes causing food aspiration to lungs, possibly causing pneumonia, etc) 

Since the incidence of death in the population is 100%, everyone dies of something. Did they have cancer, but it appeared to be in remission before they died of a blood clot caused by their inactivity because the cancer had made them effectively bedridden?

Do we want to focus on what tipped over the first domino, or on the last? 

I'd vote for the last, because the first could be an undiagnosed concussion in childhood, undetected heart damage from a HOST of sources (infections, parasites, undetected valve issues, etc). 

Even better, list that the person died of X, and WITH a set of contributing conditions. We definitely have the computing and data storage capacity to spot trends in underlying factors that seem irrelevant when you are looking at a cadaver. 

The fact that a given person is dead is going  to overshadow more complete analysis and data gathering ... and then of course you have biases, political pressure, drug company pressure, family pressure (you aren't REALLY going to say they died of alcoholism when it was clearly liver failure, are you?), etc 

My thoughts could drag on, but UNKNOWN as the top? Really??? 

There is a certain odor about that. 

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Against The Tide, Roger Scruton

I subscribe to the "New Criterion", so I'm not positive if the link will work for you. This is a great quote from the book via the review: 

It is good to have been born in this time of decay. Our generation was granted a privilege that future generations may never know—a view of Western civilization in its totality, and a knowledge of its inner meaning. We were given the pure truths of the Christian religion, and the morality of sacrifice which turns renunciation into triumph and suffering into a secret joy. We also had the chance to see what will happen should we lose these gifts. . . . Of course it is hard to feel the full confidence that those teachings require. But they are addressed to each of us individually, and their validity is not affected by what others think or do. We have within ourselves the source of our salvation: all that is needed is to summon it, and to go out into the world.

As I age, I realize it is always "The best of times and the worst of times", the more complete quote from Dickens "The Tale of Two Cities":

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
I've felt for at least 30 years that the peak of Western civilization was the Moon Landing. I had high hopes for the Reagan years, and a spark of lesser hopes in the Trump years. Whatever one's faith ... God's will, fate, random chance, some undefined "arc of history",  age and death make it clear that the answer is not in our grasp. A brief consideration of Covid should be enough for the masses to understand "we don't control our destiny. WWI and WWII could have also provided hints if one's eyes were open.

The book is tightly written, and deserves to be read and enjoyed rather than attempting to summarize it in a review, let alone a blog entry. 

"Freud and Fraud" was a favorite chapter, a quote "the destruction of morality by the habit of explaining it". Indeed ... poor childhood?, a mental deficiency or syndrome? It is NEVER your "fault" if you are a liberal. OTOH, if you have Christian Conservative leanings, the best way to understand your actions is to look at Hitler ... your beliefs are your "original sin". 

"The Conservative Conscience" hit me hard as well. I'll skip his description of modern "culture" and focus on his appraisal of it's result. 
"These things threaten to populate the world with a new human species - cold hearted, disloyal, promiscuous, uncultured and godless - whose sole pursuit is present pleasure, and who looks on the sufferings of others with indifference or delight". 

I sit watching our lake and the frequent breathtaking sunsets aware that the time that I've lived through, and this location, which I hope to be my last stop to eternity are blessings beyond my feeble understanding. 

Years of reading, writing, and discussion gave me too much of an illusion that I might make a difference. 

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Through Christ, we can experience a foretaste of overcoming the world. 

Friday, August 5, 2022

Influence, The Psychology Of Persuatioin

 I looked around for a review that I thought would just "stick to the facts" rather than be an introduction to the book as a marketing training tool. (which it certainly can be). I failed, so I could not avoid doing some work as much as I hate it! 

In the introduction, Cialdini presents himself has the "perpetual patsy",  so he decided to become  an experimental social psychologist, to understand how "the compliance professionals" -- the marketers, salesmen, politicians, store clerks, etc were getting him to do what they wanted, vs what he wanted.

There are thousands of variations, but they are categorized in this book under six: 

  1. Consistency -- If we just agreed to one proposition as correct, how can we claim that this same/similar one is incorrect? Don't you go to the doctor? If you do, how can you not "follow the science" on Covid? 

  2. Reciprocity -- I scratched your back, certainly you will scratch mine. We have all seen the "free" mailing labels arrive, with a request for a donation. It is against human nature not to donate. 

  3. Social Proof - "Everyone's doing it". "A majority of people say" ... etc, etc. From time immemorial, "following the crowd" has generally been an adaptive shortcut. That tendency is often used against us, and modern mass media and the internet only make it easier to apply. 

  4. Authority - You have got to follow "the experts", or "the science", don't you? If they say that two weeks of shutdown will put Covid behind us, or if you take the vaccine, you won't get Covid, you would be a FOOL to not agree! From listening to your parents as a child, or the teacher in school, the urge to believe authority is strong, and VERY dangerous! 

    Consider the "Milgram Experiment" where all of the people that were "teachers" were willing to give the subjects lethal or potentially lethal shocks under the direction of "authority". 

    A little remembrance of Jonestown where 900 people "followed the leader" may be of interest as well,

    We all know the most popular cigarette with doctors is Camel! 

    Doctors nearly never get things wrong: 

  5. Liking - Look at that pretty girl next to that car! I think I really like that car! As one woman said about a referendum "It's a real tough decision. They've got big stars speaking  for it, and they've got big stars speaking against it, You don't know how to vote!!" If the person I like on TV, the star of my sports team, or my friend at the club is voting for hio, how can I go wrong? 

  6. Scarcity - This is the last Cutlass Ciera in the country! The production line is stopped! You have GOT to buy this one RIGHT NOW! Sadly, we often put a very high value on something that we had always had plenty of, but is now scarce (or higher priced). 
As I said, there are thousands of variations on these, We have met the enemy, and the enemy is human nature. We are limited creatures, so when certain "programs" are triggered in our brains, we tend to operate on autopilot like mama turkey. Cialdini uses the example of a certain "cheap" made by a healthy baby turkey that the mother responds to and provides care. Sick/deformed chicks don't make the cheap, and are ignored. If the researcher puts a stuffed skunk in the nest that makes the cheap, it gets care. 

Humans are loaded with the same sort of "program triggers" ... we require them in order to deal with our complex world. If we can avoid thinking, we do -- and modern marketing, media, politicians, and human predators of all types use them to great advantage. 

You have been warned. 

Monday, July 25, 2022

The Complete Personal Memoirs Of Ulysses S Grant

The link is to the edition I read, there are a bunch out there. My complaint with this edition was that the maps were WAY too compressed to be useful. 

Grant is such a towering figure in history that multiple biographies need to be read to get a glimpse of the man. I would say that starting your journey here is a better way to place Grant in US history. 

What this book provides is an interior view of a brilliant general and what goes into the craft of war. 

Logistics, logistics, logistics is a good start. The intricate dance between moving armies of tens of thousands of men (and horses in those days), plus food, ammo, medical services, communications (telegraph back then), and countless other factors loom large. 

Understanding the personalities of your subordinates and your adversaries is also key. Some generals are overly cautious, others are overly aggressive. Some need to be given strict and very detailed orders, since they really don't want to take responsibility for anything but success. If the battle is won, they love to report their brilliant moves ... if it fails, they will produce your detailed orders to show that "they were only following orders". 

The influence of media was strong factor even then. The media tended to idolize the brilliance of the dashing Lee, while poking fun at the apparently hapless Northern generals. Grant says nearly nothing about the problems of the Army of the Potomac. He does point out the criticality of the victory at Gettysburg, and Vicksburg happening on the same 4th of July as likely saving the Union. Yet another book I'd like to read ... "The Most Glorious 4th". 

In the press, Lee was portrayed as a brilliant tactician, with nothing of his strategic advantages being pointed out. Grant was portrayed as a "butcher" ... a man of little intelligence and poor character. The mostly apocryphal stories of him as a "drunk", are crafted by his competitors and detractors from his time alone in California, when he did drink to excess, or from injuries sustained that were attributed to him being drunk by his enemies, but not supported by evidence. Neither alcohol or cigars are discussed in the book ... the cigars likely because he was dying of painful throat cancer as he struggled to write the book.

 When he was writing this, he was virtually penniless, and the sales of the book were his only option to provide something for his family after he passed. He finished the manuscript on July 18, 1885.  He died five days later on July 23.  Mark Twain was a huge factor in his writing of the book and it's promotion (also not mentioned in the book). 

The South was fighting on their home turf, defending their entire way of life. They were on defense. Clausewitz said that as a general rule of thumb, attacking forces have to be at least three times stronger than defending forces.

Given these facts ... largely ignored in reporting at the time, and even in history, the North was at grave disadvantage because their strength rarely if ever approached those ratios, In fact, the South often brought greater force. When Lee went on offense at Gettysburg, he lost. 

The North was fighting for a "principle" ... something along the lines of "a house divided cannot stand". Certainly, "slavery is a terrible evil" was always a factor, and it was increasingly so as the war wore on. Principles are very important, however the willingness to die for your principles is not as common in human nature than we like to believe it to be. Willingness to die for your culture and property tend to be a stronger motivation. As in athletic competition, "heart" matters. Something well covered in the book.

The book is highly detailed relative to the conception and execution of many battles ... not just the famous ones. It was originally published in two volumes (my version is a single volume), There is far more attention paid to the Western campaign than is typical of Civil War books. The importance of the rivers and gunboats being used in battle was something I was aware of, but sadly lacking detailed knowledge of. 

On page 93, Grant states what is fairly obvious to people with a passing of knowledge of the Constitution: 
"The fact is the Constitution did not apply to such contingency as the one existing from.1861 to 1865. Its framers never dreamed of such a contingency occurring. If they had forseen it, the probabilities are they would have sanctioned the right of a State or States withdraw rather than that there should be war between brothers."

There are many ironies of the Civil War, but one of the big ones is that the Democrats were the "conservatives", concerned with the Constitution, and tradition. The Republicans were the "radicals", willing to risk life and treasure for an idea, and their view of "righteousness". 

Whole books are written on the issue of whether the Civil War effectively killed the Constitution and initiated the idea of "progressivism" in the US ... a subject to long and complicated to go into here. 

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Message To Christian Church (Jordan Peterson)

This just needs to be watched! 


Working While Sick Epitomizes White Supremacy

This twitter post from Dr Kim Sue opened my eyes to subtle ways whites signal their belief in their supremacy, 

When you consider that Biden is fighting cancer, dementia, and now Covid, yet continues to pursue his brutal work schedule that was optimized during the time he spent campaigning from his basement, and a few rallys with sometimes "tens" of well disanced, masked, and Covid tested supporters. Supporters were enthralled by gripping tales of his friendship with Corn Pop, driving semi truck. and his sadness that if he and been president, nobody would have died of Covid. No doubt the greater number of Covid deaths since Biden took office are due to something Trump did, or possibly the nefarious Putin. 

The whole concept of urgency is a white supremacist creation. As an anti racist,  I maintain a strict regimen of  rising late in the morning, frequent naps and scrupulously  avoiding all forms of work, 

I consider myself a top candidate for the coveted Tanishi Coates Anti Racist of the year award,

Monday, July 11, 2022

Watergate, Disinformation Hoax Primer

 I listened to the linked two podcasts, and of course I lived through the time of Watergate and the Russia Hoax against Trump. 

The common factor is the left HATED Nixon and hates Trump. While Watergate had more basis in reality than Russiagate, both were merely made for media smears with the Deep/Administrative state and media playing them for all the hatred mileage they could get ... as per usual in the Deep State and media, truth, or the good of the nation, be damned. 

We are now living through the January 6th show "Trial" ... it isn't a "trial",  it is a "hearing", a little explanation:

These sessions do not resemble other formal legal proceedings in any way because they are tightly scripted with the goal of making certain key points established by the committee chairman along with the staff and asking relevant questions.

Very often, the media are briefed and given pertinent materials prior to the hearing, and advance press reports describe what will be revealed when it begins. In addition, once the hearing starts, committee members usually plan to make comments or issue statements that will be used as quotes in subsequent news reports.

If the Deep / media state really hates their target, they will televise this made for media attempt to demonize the hated party ... under the pretext that they are doing something that has something to do with "law", or anything of benefit to the country. They certainly hope it will damage their target, give them political points with their supporters, or possibly even convince gullible members of the public that this is something other than a spectacle that is no more meaningful than a movie or TV show.  

This is covered quite well in these two linked Podcasts. They aren't really necessary to listen to if you understand what I've explained above, but a lot of it is sadly humorous ... G Gordon Liddy is a character that makes me think of Hunter S Thompson. Yes, Nixon was paranoid, but as in the old saw; "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they are NOT out to get you"! 

In Nixon's case they definitely were! 

Trump? Are we not all convinced by now that he makes Hitler and Satan look like the good guys? If not, it isn't because the Deep State Democrat Media Complex have not thrown full effort into painting him as that. Thou shalt not question the narrative!

Live Not By Lies, Jordan Peterson

A discussion of Rod Dreher's  "Live Not By Lies" with Jordan Peterson. 

Batteries Not Included

 Yes, SNL is rarely funny these days, but there are exceptions!

Sunday, June 26, 2022


This is one of those books that I can read  to my wife at bedtime and she will certainly fall asleep ... although I'd argue that since the theme of this book is that "reality is relationships" .... not matter, not quarks, gluons, cats in boxes with poison, or many worlds, but RELATIONSHIPS, it ought to be very interesting to women  ... if either we or they knew what a woman is. 

To get a feeling for Rovelli's perspective, imagine of a blue bowling ball that's 10 in. across and weighs 25 lbs. We think those properties — the ball's color, weight and size — are real in and of themselves. If the bowling ball were the only thing in the whole universe, it would still be blue, 10 in. across and weigh 25 lbs. But the lesson Rovelli wants us to learn is that nothing has any properties at all until it interacts with something else. And between those interactions there are no properties at all. What quantum mechanics is teaching us, Rovelli says, is that reality is a vast net of interactions where there are no things, only relationships. "This is the radical leap," he writes, that "... everything exists solely in the way it affects something else."

As a Christian this is quite appealing. Why is God three persons and one person at the same time? Relationship. What makes me spiritually real? My relationship to Christ.  

If you do go and read the book, you need to understand that the ψ symbol means "wave function".
In naming his wave, Schrödinger uses the Greek letter psi: ψ. The quantity ψ is also called the “wave function.”18 His fabulous calculation seems to show clearly that the microscopic world is not made up of particles: it is made up of ψ waves. Around the nuclei of atoms there are not orbiting specks of matter but the continuous undulation of Schrödinger’s waves, like the waves that ruffle the surface of a small lake as the wind blows.

My definition of wave function is likely totally wrong, but hopefully like the "where are we"? With the answer : "we're in a plane". So the wave function is all the places "something" (usually an electron) might be, and even how fast it might be going. If we measure one of those aspects, the function collapses. 

QBism abandons a realistic image of the world, beyond what we can see or measure. The theory gives us the probability that we will see something, and this is all that it is legitimate to say. It is not legitimate to say anything about the cat or the photon when we are not actually observing them.
In the preceding, "the cat" is Schrodinger's cat that in one interpretation of quantum theory is alive and dead at the same time. 
The weakness of QBism, in my opinion—and this is the turning point in this whole discussion—is that QBism anchors reality to a subject of knowledge, an “I” that knows, as if it stood outside nature. Instead of seeing the observer as a part of the world, QBism sees the world reflected in the observer. In so doing, it leaves behind naive materialism but ends up falling into an implicit form of idealism. The crucial point that QBism disregards, I believe, is that the observer himself can be observed. We have no reason to doubt that every real observer is himself described by quantum theory.

There are many books on idealism. Plato is at least one of the originators ... it being the thought that ideas are really all that are "really real" what we "see" is just a projection of a "perfect form" ... our existence, if you will, is "through a lens darkly".  

On 188, we get down to a bit of the "brass tacks" for apparently sentient beings wondering about "Where am I going"? 

Objections to the possibility of understanding our mental life in terms of known natural laws, on closer inspection, come down to a generic repetition of “It seems implausible to me,” based on intuitions without supporting arguments.*131 Unless it is the sad hope of being constituted by some vaporous supernatural substance that remains alive after death: a prospect that, apart from being utterly implausible, strikes me as ghastly

Ergo, we don't have  any real answers to consciousness, but it MUST be some kind of materialistic, quantum, relational "something" ... that is the only answer that "reasonable people" (a mass of poorly understood quantum relations) can accept! Anything else is "ghastly" (in scientific terms), and we certainly can't have THAT! 

If this book sells very well, I'd guess the list of those who read it is much smaller than those who buy it. The list of those that understand it, likely borders on absolute zero ... I don't claim to understand it, but I don't understand that much of Shakespeare either, but I see having tried and failed as superior to never having tried! 

Winston Churchill, Thoughts and Adventures

The linked review is on the longlish side .... it certainly covers the book, so much so that you may as well read the book! It is a collection of articles he wrote before, during and after WWI. 

One of the reasons for picking this one out is that it gives a reasonably brief introduction to Churchill's entertaining, informative, and concise exploration of his life and history. 

An interesting quote, from page 71;

"The longer one lives, the more one realizes that everything depends upon chance, and the harder it is to believe that this omnipotent factor in human affairs arises simply from the blind interplay of events. Chance, fortune, luck, destiny, fate, providence seem to me only different ways of expressing the same thing, to wit, that a man's only contribution to his life story is continually dominated by an exterior superior power."

I know that "superior power", and the more I read Churchill, I believe he does as well ... my guess is that he realized that if he was open about his faith, he would be less effective as a world leader, but of course I really have no idea. 

One of the key articles covered in the book is "Fifty Years Hence", Which I believe is completely included from the web here..

I quote the last paragraph:

After all, this material progress, in itself so splendid, does not meet any of the real needs of the human race. I read a book the other day which traced the history of mankind from the birth of the solar system to its extinction. There were fifteen or sixteen races of men which in succession rose and fell over periods measured by tens of millions of years. In the end a race of beings was evolved which had mastered nature. A state was created whose citizens lived as long as they chose, enjoyed pleasures and sympathies incomparably wider than our own, navigated the interplanetary spaces, could recall the panorama of the past and foresee the future. But what was the good of all that to them? What did they know more than we know about the answers to the simple questions which man has asked since the earliest dawn of reason—’Why are we here? What is the purpose of life? Whither are we going?’ No material progress, even though it takes shapes we cannot now conceive, or however it may expand the faculties of man, can bring comfort to his soul. It is this fact, more wonderful than any that Science can reveal, which gives the best hope that all will be well. Projects undreamed-of by past generations will absorb our immediate descendants; forces terrific and devastating will be in their hands; comforts, activities, amenities, pleasures will crowd upon them, but their hearts will ache, their lives will be barren, if they have not a vision above material things. And with the hopes and powers will come dangers out of all proportion to the growth of man’s intellect, to the strength of his character or to the efficacy of his institutions. Once more the choice is offered between Blessing and Cursing. Never was the answer that will be given harder to foretell.

From the temptation and original sin to eat of the forbidden fruit, man has always been plagued  by an unquiet soul. He was created to live forever,  and deep down he realizes it, though he fears it, and often denies it. He is faced with the eternal choiced of "blessing and cursing" -- and without submitting (something he is often too proud to do) to the Grace of God, these are choices beyond his ability. 

For me, the big message of the book, shown by Churchill's many scrapes with death, and from this perspective of the then future, we know MANY more, hs is one of the representatives of "is there a divine purpose and plan"? The whole Bible screams YES! One barely needs to scratch the surface of reading history to see the countless examples of "what are the odds of that happening (or not happening)?"

Incalculable ... but for the atheist, all is random chance and coincidence. The cosmic roulette table of chance is their object of worship. If they ponder the science/probability of what they believe, the only valid conclusion is that they do not in fact exist.  

I've read a lot about Churchill, and a decent amount of his own writings. I could spend the rest of my life focused only on studying Churchill, even if my life is a long one! 

Among the many jewels in this book, I was struck by the chapter on Moses. Churchill is often claimed to be "close to an atheist" by historians, and he was  certainly not a "practicing" Christian. However God doesn't really say much about how one "practices" Christianity. He does talk of fulfilling the Law, which is not possible without the Holy Spirit. Luke 26-27 explains how to follow the Law: 

26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?

27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

We all know John 3:16 ...

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

It doesn't say much about church at all. 

For ME, church is critical, since belief is not easy for me, I need a lot of help. The only unforgivable sin is unbelief. One of my frequent prayers is Mark 9:24  ... “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” 

On page 214; "We believe that the most scientific view, the most up to date and rationalistic conception, will find its fullest satisfaction in in taking the Bible story literally, and in identifying one of the greatest human beings, with the most decisive leap forward ever discernable in the human story." 

He is referring to Moses, the "law giver", who is just the earthly voice of God. Christ is THE greatest fully human and fully God being who defines eternity  ... through Him, all things were made. 

A worthy read.