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: https://bilber99.blogspot.com/2006/04/elbow-ec.html 

  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

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1387894897?psc=1&ref=ppx_pop_dt_b_product_details

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! 

https://ricochet.com/podcast/powerline/everything-you-know-about-watergate-is-wrong-part-1/

https://ricochet.com/podcast/powerline/everything-you-know-about-watergate-is-wrong-part-2/

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!

https://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/new-mercedes/3021121


Sunday, June 26, 2022

Hegoland

 https://www.npr.org/2021/05/27/1000444659/helgoland-offers-a-new-way-to-understand-the-world-and-our-place-in-it

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

 https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2013/08/a-kind-of-dignity-and-even-nobility-winston-churchills-thoughts-and-adventures.html

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. 


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Proving A Negative ... Guns This Time

 https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2022/06/re-the-do-something-bill.php

As in sexual harassment law, the the new "do something" gun law puts the burden of proof is on the accused, not the accuser. 

While common law forever has put the burden of proof on the accuser rather than the accused because proving a negative is nigh on impossible, we continue to slip into the insanity of "prove to me that we have not been visited by space aliens",.

On federal red flag law funding, perhaps the most controversial provision, the bill makes a big show of demanding protections for “due process rights” and against “infringement of the Constitution.” It demands there be penalties against “abuse of the program.” All of this is unenforceable, as Republicans know. A number of blue states have already passed red flag laws that nullify gun rights on the word of third-party accusations—sometimes, ex parte—and not only demand the accused prove their innocence before having their rights reinstated but allow for property searches without the usual evidentiary standards. Until the Supreme Court undoes these laws, highly unlikely, states will receive funding. But it’s one thing for California or Rhode Island to do so, and it’s another for national Republicans to fund their efforts.

"Ex-parte" done with respect to or in the interests of one side only ... in this case, only the accuser. 

So a disgruntled spouse, ex lover, neighbor, someone in your community that doesn't like you, just doesn't like guns, etc can have your house searched with no due process, and if your guns are found, remove them with no due process. 

Marvelous. 

As in all totalitarian states, removal of rights, and even locking them up without due process is an important government principle. The US used to be a real champion of "innocent until PROVEN guilty", and if you were a "protected group" (any minority), that proof had to be really airtight. 


Thursday, June 16, 2022

Apple $25 billion, Oil Companies Combined $10 billion Profits

 https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2022/06/chart-of-the-week-re-bidens-energy-demagoguery.php

In case you have been affected by the Biden / MSM propaganda. 

The chart is clear, the post is short, just read it and understand what "misinformation" really is. 

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Energy Transitions

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidblackmon/2022/05/24/biden-says-the-quiet-part-about-the-energy-transition-out-loud/?sh=31000bb05306 

In his dotage, Brandon does have a way of saying what has been official Democrat policy since Jimmy Carter. They have always thought "$10 gas" was a worthy goal to keep us all "safe", lest the boiling oceans kill us all by the year 2000 or so. Accurate predictions have never been the left's strong suit. Truth is also not in their standard reportroir, but when you put a senile geezer in the Bully Pulpit, he sometimes forgets to lie. 

“[When] it comes to the gas prices, we’re going through an incredible transition that is taking place that, God willing, when it’s over, we’ll be stronger and the world will be stronger and less reliant on fossil fuels when this is over,” Biden said. It was a mistake since, although running prices for fossil fuel-generated energy higher has always been part of the plan for Biden’s Green New Deal energy policies, admitting it aloud in public was not supposed to be part of the messaging.

"God willing"? Isn't that hate speech for Democrats? What about separation of Church and State? Isn't it triggering to subject intelligent people to the insane belief in God?  

We already went through a major energy transition  -- in 2019 we were energy independent, If you follow the link, you will see how that came about, but the primary reasons were fracking, the feds allowing drilling for shale oil on federal lands and better pipelines to move the oil to refineries. 

When I graduated from HS in the 1970's, the oil crisis, the 55 MPH speed limit, and the Jimmy "malaise" were all driven by the "fact" that the world was "out of oil".

So how likely is it that this "transition" that Brandon promises can happen? 




The chart is from 2018, and it hasn't changed much since then. 

So getting to Brandon's goals IS possible ... we just need to use nuclear. Is it risk free? No, but it is VERY low risk. France produces 70% of its energy via nuclear. 

The US has 86. nuclear powered ships at sea. How safe are they? 

Thousands upon thousands of people, 22,000 people at any one time, have lived, worked, eaten and slept within a stone’s throw of these nuclear reactors for 60 years with no adverse effects from radiation at all.

So why do we not do the obvious? Politics, money, and the desire by the left to cripple the US. One of the old scare tactics has been "what do we do with the waste"?  There are many tested and safe ways to deal with the waste that you hear nothing about. What you DO hear about is Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and  Fukushima.

Fukushima had one confirmed cancer death. Chernobyl had around 100 ... however it was well known to be a poorly designed and managed reactor. Three Mile Island had no confirmed deaths caused by the accident. 

The Democrats and the world "environmentalists" have a multi billion dollar long term scam going. If they actually cared about the environment, they would be demanding modern reactors to be built ASAP ... the life of the planet is at stake! Every year a few 100 of the "greens" need to fly in their private jets to sites where they use their limos to get around. Many of them invest millions in estates that they claim will be underwater in a few years, Obama for example ... as he says, "you only need so much money".  It is really worth taking a look at their $10 million+ home. Look at what the Climanistas DO vs what they say.

Were we to have followed a strategy similar to France, our electricity would likely be "too cheap to meter" as was once promised. The pie chart could be "80%" purple, and we could cry about other things than gas and electricity prices -- all with the planet saved. But who is to profit by that? Not the global climate cabal.

In a sensible world, we would use the available coal, natural gas. and oil resources, abetted by pipeline transportation and building new efficient and environmentally friendly refineries to "make the transition" with no pain for the masses, but "unfortunately" fewer trillions for the Davos elite. 

We built ZERO refineries from 1998 - 2014, and the total capacity of the ones built since then is 246,000 barrels. The Saber refinery, built in 1975, processes 290,000 barrels today

All part of the Brandon "Green New Deal" and previous Democrat US energy killing policies going back to the Carter disaster years. Never let a crisis go to waste ... and if there isn't one around, CREATE ONE! Naturally, more government will be the only possible "solution". 









 

Podhoretz, Left To Right

 https://claremontreviewofbooks.com/present-at-the-creation-2/

Podhoretz is yet another well educated super intelligent Jewish American. I have a pro-Jewish prejudice, especially after working with super intelligent and diligent Jews from IBM's Haifa location

Smart is not always wise ... wisdom normally takes making and admitting to mistakes. Intelligence has a tendency to give one more opportunity to do this, and Norman Podhoretz (NP) is a great example. In the early 60's he was one of the founders of the "new left". One with standards of intellectual seriousness.  

Yes. At the time. I was editor of Commentary, and I rejected articles that were ideologically okay but callow. The most notable example was Tom Hayden’s manifesto, which was the founding document of the SDS, Students for a Democratic Society. Hayden submitted the “Port Huron Statement” to me, and I turned it down. And some people, including many of my friends, said, “Are you crazy?” And I replied, “It’s not intellectually up to par.” And they said, “Well, what difference does that make?” Well, it made a difference to me, and still does. So there was a limit to my commitment to that movement, but I was committed to it.

Like the Democratic Party leaving Reagan (vs him leaving it), the New Left left  NP, 

... at some point that analysis and that agenda changed dramatically—let’s say, from Martin Luther King to Stokely Carmichael. Or from David Riesman to Saul Alinsky. Maybe it was 1972, with the bombing of Hanoi, or perhaps earlier when the whole movement turned and said this country was not bad just because it wasn’t fulfilling its own ideals. In fact, it didn’t have such ideals. Those ideals were fake.

Alinsky is a name that shows up quite a bit if you start looking into how the Swamp came to be. Both Hillary Clinton and Obama were heavily influenced by him.  

NP understood and understands that America is in grave peril ... it is led by leaders that hate it. He understood and understands that Trump is a very imperfect vessel of saving America, and often compares him with the imperfect vessel King David. 

In 2019, you told the CRB’s readers that Donald Trump’s election in 2016 was “a kind of miracle,” and you called him “an unworthy vessel chosen by God to save us from the evil on the Left.” And you finished that passage by remarking, “If he doesn’t win in 2020, I would despair of the future.” Now it’s 2022. Trump didn’t win. Are you despairing?

He has this to say about the Founders ... 

They created a system whereby more freedom and more prosperity have been accorded to more people—including blacks—than by any civilization known to human history. That achievement is what puts us up there with Athens and Elizabethan England. That’s why I don’t hesitate to use the word “evil” in talking about the ideas and the people promulgating them who are trying their best to tear that precious system down. The last chapter of My Love Affair with America is called “Dayenu American-style.” Dayenu means “it would have sufficed.” It’s a Hebrew term and at the Passover Seder, there is a whole litany of gratitude to God: If God had only done this, it would have been enough. If he had only done this, it would have been enough. Dayenu, dayenu. So I have a whole series of dayenus about why I love this country so much. So this is where I stand. We all have to face the fact that we are at war, albeit a cold civil war, and that this moment is not just an ordinary political disagreement in which we can be bipartisan, etc., etc. All that, that’s gone. God bless America is all I can say. Amen.

America used to be "dayenu" ... "good enough", which can always be improved upon. The left no longer wants to fix it, it wants to burn it down, and given especially the  "matches" of voter fraud, they may well succeed. 

As I say incessantly, the left and the Democratic Party in particular are completely inconsistent.

I have to say that I am perfectly prepared to believe that the 2020 election may have been stolen. Yet the outraged reaction to anyone who says that or believes that has been absolutely astounding. Because think of Stacey Abrams, whom I regard as a nothing and a no one, lost her bid for the governorship of Georgia by something like 50,000 votes. And to this day, she has refused to concede, and for that refusal she was turned into a hero of the Democratic Party. So, the idea that it’s shocking beyond belief to cast some doubt on the 2020 presidential election is utterly demented. Anyway, the Democratic Party spent two and a half years and 20 billion dollars or whatever it was, trying to prove not just that Trump had stolen the 2016 election, but that he was actually a Russian agent, that is to say a traitor.

How does one negotiate in this conflict? 

In The Red

 https://claremontreviewofbooks.com/in-the-red/

This article sorely deserves to be read in its entirety. It describes the level of financial peril in the US as succinctly and as nonpartisan as is possible. Of course there are aspects of partisanship because we are a two party country -- we need to deal with the problems in that context as marital problems need to be dealt with in a two party solution. Unless the union is to be dissolved.

The first step in avoiding a truly calamitous, debt-ridden future is to understand how we got ourselves into this predicament to begin with. It is not national defense or even the New Deal but rather the Great Society that is bankrupting us.

Sadly, the excellent charts that make our peril painfully clear are not in the digital version linked, so I was forced to go screen capture PDF route, but I think you can get the picture. 



One of the quick responses from the left will be that our problem is that we are undertaxed, not overspent. More government MUST be better! 

A fundamental preliminary question is whether our government taxes too little or spends too much. The answer is easy to determine. In 2021, the federal government collected more than three-and-a-half times as much money, in real dollars per capita—that is, above and beyond inflation and population growth—as it did at the start of the postwar period. But it spent nearly seven times as much. From 1947 (the first postwar fiscal year, as FY 1946 began in July of 1945) through 2021, the population of the United States rose 2.3-fold, while prices rose nearly 13-fold. Combining these two factors, the federal government could have collected and spent 29 times as much in nominal dollars in 2021 as it did in 1947 without collecting or spending any more in real (inflation-adjusted) dollars per capita. Instead, the federal government taxed more than 100 times as much in 2021 as in 1947 and spent almost 200 times as much. By any reasonable standard, our government isn’t afflicted by a shortage of tax revenues but by an almost endless appetite for spending.

Means are always limited, desires are not.  

As the charts show, it matters which party controls the executive and legislative branches. 

Despite this subsequent debt explosion, the Clinton-Gingrich era was a successful one in terms of fiscal responsibility. Indeed, over the past 40 years, deficits have been lowest when a Democrat has been in the White House and Republicans have controlled both houses of Congress. The second-best scenario has been a Republican president with either party controlling both houses of Congress. Next-best has been a Democratic president paired with a mixed Congress (with each party controlling one house), followed by a Republican president paired with a mixed Congress. The worst scenario has been Democratic control of the whole government. Over the past four decades, Democratic control (average deficit of $1.1 trillion in constant 2012 dollars) has been more than twice as costly as Republican control ($490 billion).

It would appear that unless there is massive vote fraud, we may go from the worst to the best case in finances in 2023-2024, however the hole is very deep at this point. Thomas Jefferson described the likely outcome of our financial incontinence. 

Thomas Jefferson described fiscal profligacy as a precursor to inevitable misery and suffering, the first in a stampede of apocalyptic horsemen. “[T]he fore horse of this frightful team is public debt,” he wrote. “Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.” This wretchedness will only be more keenly felt as interest rates rise. Too much debt puts power in the hands of our enemies and renders the average American poorer every year.
How do we fix it? Pain ... a lot like how anyone "fixes" other cancers if they can fix it at all. In our case, we basically have to return to representative Constitutional  government -- rather than the Administrative/Deep State we are governed by now ... especially since Obama. 
It has become fashionable to think of constitutional amendments as relics from the past. But then, so are fiscal responsibility and—increasingly—representative government. The founders made the Constitution amendable for a reason, and we should take our cues from them. In the late 1990s, we showed—briefly—that it’s possible to take action to reverse our course and help save our country from the tragic fate that Jefferson described. But the first step is to recognize that the $30 trillion elephant in the room isn’t going away. It’s just growing bigger.

I'm thinking our odds are not very good.  



Thursday, June 2, 2022

Nihilism With A Happy Ending

https://spectatorworld.com/topic/monsters-become-nietzsche/

Nietzsche, who died in 1900, called it. Without faith, Christianity became performative, and God a source of inspirational mood boards. Without a living soul or a serious conscience, the human being is no longer an individual but a bag of animal instincts, indistinguishable from the rest of the species. The substitute doctrines of socialism, nationalism and Darwinism offer collective redemption by economics and biology. Technology and capitalism act as force multipliers, accelerating the vortex of futility — even in America, the land that, as Allan Bloom saw, promised ‘nihilism with a happy ending’.

A paragraph that summarizes a lot of my thhouthhs about where we find ourselves. Like a lot of promises in this world, the "happy ending" increasingly looks like a long shot. 

Even with the mention of Nietzsche, it is an easy and worthwhile read. Sometimes "you are here", is not the best of news. 

Monday, May 23, 2022

ACTUALLY Draining the Swamp

https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2022/05/drain_the_swamp.html

 How to actually drain the swamp even with a Democrat in the WH. Don't fund all the federal agencies under one big "porkulous" bill that nobody reads. String them out, fund the ones we need, don't fund the ones we don't. Separate the wheat from the tares! 

The first task for Republican leadership is to pass “spaghetti appropriations.” That’s right, string them out rather than dumping them all into an omnibus bill. Fund DOJ in its own bill and send that to the Big Guy’s desk. Dare him to veto it. Ditto for State and the military. Don’t allow anything for any other department to creep into each of the bills.

 The article is not that long, it CAN be done!

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Going Under With the Overclass

 https://newcriterion.com/issues/2022/4/going-under-with-the-overclass

Alonng with reading a lot of books, I tend to subscribe to somewhat esoteric periodicals ... to wit, the "New Criterion". One of my many woeful lacks is broader culture ... art, music, poetry, syphon, poetry, etc

I have no illusions of "catching up" at this late date, however, some exposure is at least humbling, and civilization/culture are certainly related. I find the linked article to be a worthwhile summary of our plight is more of an intellectual vs polemic tone. Some excerpts: 

We don’t often hear about the plight of the overclass, but our progressive elites have a problem. They have become too successful, and their success is starting to show poorly. Over the last decades, these elites have experienced the traumas of contemporary life very much in reverse to most Americans. Our difficulties have been their triumphs. Our restrictions have become their liberation. With ever greater efficiency, they have become the creditors to our debts, the marketers of our drugs, the title-holders of our homes, and the sellers of the fruits of our industry. They have risen as many others have fallen. They are good at what they do, and for this they have been handsomely rewarded. No one would deny a payment for a job well done. Yet these victories have demanded ever greater tribute from the vanquished. Progressive elites have taken their successes out on the rest of us.

From later in the article":  

“There has always been a privileged class,” said Lasch, “even in America, but it has never been so dangerously isolated from its surroundings.” Contempt now replaces elite obligation and noblesse oblige. “Simultaneously arrogant and insecure,” Lasch wrote, “the new elites regard the masses with mingled scorn and apprehension.” They now despise their countrymen, especially those who do not pay tribute to their superiority. Meanwhile, “ ‘Middle America’—a term that has both geographical and social implications—has come to symbolize everything that stands in the way of progress: ‘family values,’ mindless patriotism, religious fundamentalism, racism, homophobia, retrograde views of women.”

While "wealth" isn't all it is cracked up to be since it is short, often painful (meaningless, guilty, ageing, physical ailments, loss of loved ones, etc), it does however tend to isolate and give a view of "power" that can lead to finding out that the elites heads can be removed too. 

 

Twenty-five years ago, at the time of Lasch’s writing, America’s richest 20 percent controlled half of the country’s wealth. As of 2021, the top 10 percent control 70 percent of the country’s wealth. The top 1 percent alone controls nearly a third of the country’s wealth. The top 50 percent hold 98 percent of the wealth. That leaves the bottom 50 percent with but 2 percent, a division that has only grown more stark through the pandemic as inflation, crime, and learning loss now add to the disruption.

Way back in 2017, I wrote on 8 billionaires that owned half of the world wealth. At that point, they all met yearly in Davos Switzerland, and I'm quite certain that they and the new class of same continue to meet virtually, What could say "10" men that own by now well over half of the total wealth of the world. In this age where power is "ethics", what might they do? We are relying on their godless "morality" to not take severe actions to remove any threat from the "deplorables",  

If you applaud the killing of over 60 million babies and are willing to support violence to prevent a SCOTUS from putting even minor limits on your "right to death", where might you boudareies be? 

Would engineering a global pandemic that killed millions of elderly (they can be expensive to keep alive) cratered the economy of the lower class, allowed you to remove your greatest threat (Trump), while enriching you with further billions of dollars be beyond your "morality" ? 

The whole article is well worth the read. 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Nonzero

 https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/00/01/30/reviews/000130.30conwayt.html

The opening statement of the review is: 

To believe the universe is embedded in a teleological matrix -- an overarching design that houses an implicit and eventual end point, with the human race having a transcendental destiny in which shopping is unlikely to play any part -- is widely regarded as a quaint delusion, of relevance only to religious fanatics, pastoralists in retreat from materialism and the mad. And yet here is Robert Wright, who patently falls into none of these categories, arguing that human history is not ''one damn thing after another,'' but has a direction, purpose and, by implication, a goal. To be sure, in his scheme shopping is not necessarily excluded, but ''Nonzero'' remains a book of potentially major significance.

Before you begin, it may be good to take a look at "The Prisoner's Dilemma" if you need a refresher., on that rather famous example of the potential for nonzero interaction ,,, it is one of the foundations of the books arguments. 

If there can be communication between the prisoners (not allowed in the classic Prisoners Dilemma), then the "right" solution becomes just staying mum, which benefits both with a lesser sentence. Of course, even with communication, there is always the question of cheating. Which is why at least the "concern" of an all powerful God and ultimate judgement might lower the odds of cheating somewhat ... and thus show why that idea may be temporally adaptive at a minimum, even if it isn't eternally of ultimate import. 

This book goes into a lot of discussion on essentially this in the context of biological evolution, and cultural evolution ... either of which, you may or may not believe in, but the ultimate question is "does the universe have a "direction/purpose", therefore meaning? Easy to understand why I slogged through it -- it is another case where meaning might be understood , bur wistfully without with A LOT less discussion of various tribes, slime mold, etc. -- sadly, there was a lot of "slime" in an effort to show how there might  just be the illusion of teleology provided by the dogma of natural selection without  "being" defining that teleology. (random teleology)

While the author courageously states the thesis of the book up front, he seems intent to obfuscate the obvious as he moves through it. The thesis:

The more closely we examine the drift of biological evolution and, especially, the drift of human history, the more there seems to be a point to it all. Because in neither case is “drift” really the right word. Both of these processes have a direction, an arrow. At least, that is the thesis of this book.

An "arrow" would tend to indicate an "archer" ... one with universal power to create a purpose, a direction for all of biological and human cultural  -- "progress". The more we learn, the "comforting" idea that this is all one huge purposeless random accident seems less likely. (see "Purpose and Desire") This comes dangerously close to indicating a "god".  The author hedges this bet any way he can ... even the "seeded by a more advanced civilization" ... a classic case of kicking the can down the road. Although post "The Matrix" and Elon Musk theory that "we are living in a simulation" , a technological "kick the can" seems more "high tech". Whose "computer" might the simulated "us" be running on?, and how did the builder(s) of that "computer" come to be? The can of "why" rolls on. Did they have a "random impulse" to seed new life around the universe? 

The NY Times puts it thusly: 

The central problem is, will we inherit a world worth having and will it have any meaning? Wright has an almost unlimited faith in the power of ''information.'' For him it will be the magic glue to bind all humanity, and the Internet will be the actual realization of Teilhard de Chardin's famous, and famously fuzzy, idea of a global mentality, the noosphere. But how this will happen is equally hazy. It is perhaps ironic that when Wright comes to speculate on consciousness, he declares himself flummoxed; yet, in principle, is the tangle of neurons that makes up our brain any different from the spreading electronic Web? For those wedded to materialism, presumably not, and to refer to ''the mystery of consciousness'' will be dismissed as a monumental evasion. It may be, of course, that a mysterious unfolding will occur whereby on a given date and time every computer in the world simultaneously prints out the electronic equivalent of the Code of Hammurabi. However desirable (or undesirable) such a ''world brain'' might be, the philosophical underpinnings of this adventure seem deeply suspect.

Materialists have an extreme problem with "why"? Why is there anything? Why does there seem to be a "conscious ME, that is asking this question"? Why would I ask if I am just "stuff"? If there is a "me", do I have any free will? Was the fact that I asked this question wired into the Big Bang, and thus determined "forever" at least in the context of our 4 billion or so "old" universe. It is a bit hard to pull any firm position out of this book ... probably because Mr Wright does not want to be seen to be  cosmically wrong and stupid in the today's godless materialist nihilist world. 

Of course, one difficulty with pinning any hopes on religion is its much-discussed ongoing erosion at the hands of science, an erosion that is one alleged source of modern and postmodern nihilism and ennui. But one point of this book has been to challenge the conventional belief that science really has dispelled deep mystery and all evidence of purpose

One of the reasons that book spends so much time on primitive cultures is that it wants to make CERTAIN that there is absolutely no connection between the fact of Western civilization seeming to "win" the race to modernity, and the  Judeo/Christian underpinnings of the culture. He does realize that the issue of trust, and dealing with free riders is critical, and an all powerful God knowing all you do can be arestricition to  both cheaters/liars and sluggards. 

Somehow, this fear of being cheated must be overcome for things to work out well.

Although ignored in this book (other than to claim it is racist/eurocentric), it is hard to miss the idea of an all knowing God that will insure ultimate justice as a goad to establishing something like "thou shalt not bear false witness". Laws are a nice adjunct to that,  but it is nice to have it built into the wetware. 

Randomness has increasingly fallen on hard times figuring out how even ONE ordered cell showed up in the primordial soup (and God knows they have tried A LOT of things). In the 1970's, it was assumed that once we could map the Genome, it would be "easy" ... kinda like AI. It turns out that mapping the genome just helped open the truth that randomness in a single universe had mathematical odds of getting to where we are on the order of 10 to the 100th against. Math's way of saying NO. So materialists have moved to the "many worlds theory" ... perhaps there are 10 to the 100th universes, and we are just EXTREMELY lucky, which would explain why the scientific "near certainty" that the SETI project would observe proof of many intelligent, radio and other emissions indicating we were far from alone in our universe, "soon"  ,,, those hopes have had to be extended. 

"Purpose and Desire" is an easier read, and I think more convincing indication of there being something more than mere matter in operation. 


Saturday, May 7, 2022

After Birth Abortion

 https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/now-a-california-bill-to-permit-infant-death-by-neglect/

People are busy and distracted these days, so what happens if you really wanted to kill your baby, but just didn't get around to it? As long as  murder in some states right up to the point the baby is coming out of the birth canal, why would anyone be so cruel to force a woman to care for a screaming, demanding baby until it can survive on its own?  When the comfort and convenience of women is your prime goal and you have no set of fixed moral values, why not? 

Thankfully,  the "progressives" are working hard to help you get rid of this inconvenient oversight. 

A little while ago I highlighted a shocking Maryland bill that would essentially decriminalize neglecting an infant to death in the “perinatal” period — i.e., through the first 28 days after birth — by preventing investigations and prosecution of such deaths that resulted from “a failure to act.”

Shocking? Let's face it, all life is "tissue", why be restricted by any arbitrary distinction like "birth"? We don't even know what a women is,  it MAY be a "birthing person",  midwives are being taught how to deliver a baby from a biological man. (I would prefer not to know the details of how this might be done)

The thing about "progressivism" is that it MUST "progress", or it would no longer be a valid ideology.  As with gay "marriage", Democrats will proclaim loudly that killing babies in the first 6 weeks or so is is "just talk",  it will NEVER happen. You can trust them. 

Here are BO and Hillary in 2008.






So post birth "abortion" up to 6 weeks is under consideration. It's simple progress! If you support and even celebrate the killing of 60 million plus in the mother's womb, why not kill them 6 weeks after birth? Moloch has always liked to hear some screams as humans are sacrificed on his alaer -- the post born will be even more to his liking. 

Even if the unconstitutional horror of Roe is overturned, that just sends it back to the states. The blue states may well have "kill your kid" trips with federal funding (age is really hard to determine)  -- or maybe greenies will just fund it. Kids are bad for the environment after all, and we have a planet to save while we enjoy cocktails and maybe a few underage children and our beachfront palaces. Jeffrey Epstein, Prince Andrew, Bill Gates, etc have already shown us how that works. 


This quote is a bit off since Nazi Stands for "National Socialist", but the progression is what is important. 
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
I'd rewrite it today as: 
First they came for the babies in the womb, but I was born so I did not speak out. 

Then they came for the recently born, but I was an adult, so I did not speak out. 

Then they came for those who stood up for any sort of morality, so I did not speak out. 

Then they came for the Christians, and I decided I was not a Christian. 
As Christians, we are to be faithful even unto death. Might it not behoove us to stand up a bit earlier? Is there NOTHING that shocks us enough to get angry and ACTIVE! 

Rest assured, the Democrats are set to go to GREAT lengths to protect their sacrament of abortion ... they are already encouraging violence by publishing the addresses of SCOTUS justices likely to return the country to a Constitutional Republic (prior to Unconstitutional Roe). The beat goes on ... packing the court, abolishing the Filibuster, etc ... so far they haven't murdered Clarence Thomas, but it would not surprise me at all. 

Is there any point where Christians and people who have any idea of morality declare NO MORE, or at least "This Far and No Farther"?  



Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Reasonable, Rational, Elon Musk

I ran into this wonderful quote from Benjamin Franklin;
"So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for every thing one has a mind to do."
Reason and rationality are bosom buddies.

There are a lot of quotes that essentially say "Man is not a rational animal, but rather a RATIONALIZING animal". Jonathan Haidt covers this extremely well in his book "The Righteous Mind". He uses an excellent elephant and rider for conscious/unconscious brain that explains an important part of our nature very well.

I love this quote from Blaise Pascal: 
"There are two kinds of people one can call reasonable: those who serve God with all their heart because they know him, and those who seek him with all their heart because they do not know him."

We all have our own "god" -- that which we perceive to be the highest good. Wealth, fame, sexual gratification, family, true love, winning the Super Bowl, etc . 

Realizing what our god really is can be quite difficult. I was a Christian for a long time before I realized that while I claimed (and believed) that I worshipped the one true God, my life showed that career, security, and money were really my god. 

Fortunately, even though I had the mistaken idea I had found him, he found me by Grace.

I throw this one in from Bertrand Russell, because I think it is a good bookend to the Franklin quote I started with. 

“It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.”
― Bertrand Russell

For each of us,  reason and rational are something we think we know when we see it. Like Potter Stewart in Jacobellis vs Ohio, 

“I have reached the conclusion . . . that under the First and Fourteenth Amendments criminal laws in this area are constitutionally limited to hard-core pornography. I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”

For those who believe that science can answer everything, please show me an algorithm that could be used to define "hard core pornography", or admit that it is "in the eye of the beholder", therefore, subjective rather than objective. 

The reason I went off on this little excursion is because I find many people in life and especially on Twitter or other media, declaring that some opinion/person is "unreasonable, irrational, etc". Like most labels ... "that is a conspiracy theory", "that is crazy", etc, such labels don't move our understanding of whatever issue is being discussed forward. 

The Socratic method is much more productive. 

Can you tell me a little more about why you believe that? 

Well ... not always. 




Thursday, April 21, 2022

PolitiBias

 https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2022/04/politifact-has-ruled.php

The "Fact Checkers" have ruled, Biden was NOT shaking hands with air! 



So you have a choice between believing your lying eyes vs the "Fact Checkers". 

Now, OTOH, we KNOW that BUSH brazenly put up a "Mission Accomplished" sign on an Aircraft Carrier when the Iraq war was far from over ... oh, and Trump mocked a disabled reporter

If there was such a thing as an unbiased media. both the W and the Trump claims would be "mostly false". 

All of these cases are like a close call in sports, there is not an obvious "truth". The problem is that MSM reporting is like the fans of the home team evaluation the close call that goes against them. To them it is NOT a "close call". they were ROBBED by clear biased play calling! 

Anybody with even a marginal exposure to sports knows how that works. 

The problem here is that the MSM is largely one sided, the home Democrat team. Sure, now there is Fox, with a somewhat equivalent bias to the Republican team, but they lack the resources and the widespread support of the population in even "Purple States". 

So in fractured America, we each have our "home team", with the Democrats having a top team, and the Republicans have "The Bad News Bears" .... oh, and the platforms like Twitter and Facebook censor even their relatively weak attempts show that most news has at least two sides. 



Monday, April 18, 2022

Martin Luther, By Eric Metaxis

 https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/10/30/how-martin-luther-changed-the-world

This review of from the NY Times, "Slaying The Dragon Of The Dark Ages" is pretty good.  As is said in that review, " ... warned his students that more books had been written on Luther than on any other figure in Christian history, save for Jesus Christ. Add to this colossal bibliography the scores of huge tomes filled with Luther’s own writings in German and Latin, and the effort required for summing up his life and work will seem even more daunting.". 

The review linked at the top may even be better. 

Luther was a brilliant and complex man. He is often derided by non-Lutheran protestants who focus on a quote REALLY  taken out of context ... "sin boldly". The original origin of the quote was because of a statement made by his confessor Staupitz while Luther was a monk, and a very dedicated Catholic. Luther continued to confess and confess because he took the Catholic doctrine of the requirement for all your sins to be confessed to a priest, because all your contact with God had to be mediated through a priest and the Church.. 

Staupitz became frustrated the frequency of needing to listen to Martin's confessions and said "Look here, if you expect Christ to forgive you,  come with something to forgive -- parricide, blasphemy, adultery instead of all these peccadilloes". 

Luther has a similar reaction to one of his main partners in the Reformation, Philip Melanchthon. Melanchthon was paralyzed by preaching boldly in Christ, and Martin channeled his old Staupitz incident with possibly the only Luther quote that many non-confessional Christians know ,,, "Sin Boldly"! This is covered well in this short article

Paul comes very close to this same statement in Romans ... sin still has power over us, but Grace has exceedingly more power, the link gives a good critique of "once saved, always saved" ... a fairly common belief for modern "Christians In Name Only" -- those that missed the parable of  the sower, and were seed on rocky ground, or victims of thorns.

It is also somewhat like Christians dealing with the fear of death. We are prone to fear it, and it is actually going to happen to both us and our loved ones, yet if we let faith work, we can say with Paul -- 

I Corinthians 15:55-57 NKJV
“O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

By the accounts of Luther's death in the book, he was comfortable dying, but during his life he certainly had bouts of fearing death as well sinning ... although "falling away" for even a short while did not seem to be a factor.  

My personal oversimplification of  points of interest in the book: 

  1. On the first page he explains why and African American pastor, Michael King, officially changed his name to Martin Luther King, and thus we have Martin Luther King Jr ,,, he was very impressed by the legacy of Luther as he visited Germany.  
  2. The book makes very clear just how huge a change in history the Reformation was. It made the Biblical doctrine of the believer having a direct relationship with God through the Bible, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, rather than the need for there to be "the church" as a mediator.
  3. This truth led to pluralism, for good and evil. Many denominations, the (false) idea that everyone can have their own truth, democracy vs the divine right of kings, and much more. 
  4. The issue of Luther's anti-semitic writings late in his life vs some of the strong support of the Jews early in his life, and the exploitation of some of his later remarks by the Nazi's. I see the case as presented even handedly, allowing each to make up his own mind -- something Luther was generally in favor of. 
  5. The journey from his early extreme Catholic devotion to his extreme anti-Popish views in later life is well explained and again, the reader is given both sides and decide for themselves. 
  6. As is proper for a biographer, Metaxis tries to avoid bringing his personal belief into the book -- but like Christians and sin, he somewhat fails.
  7. He says very little about the original and modern Lutheran Church and the stark difference between especially the ELCA and LCMS denominations. He also leaves a lot of Luther's clarity on "Baptism now saves you", and the importance of the regular taking of the Body and Blood as having real power in the Christian life.
  8. He is very clear about just how "earthy" Luther was, but fair about the difference between the time of Luther and our time. Bodily functions, privacy, and what we moderns would consider "propriety" was different, because living conditions were very different. Did he go into "TMI" on things like Luther's struggles with constipation? Personally, I would say yes, but reality is reality. 
For a non-liturgical Christian and even a Catholic, this is a good introduction to Luther and just how important a figure in history he really is. Would someone else have been able to actually just reform the Catholic Church as Erasmus was trying to do? Possibly. 

The worlds of "what if" are infinite ... this is an excellent work for history for all. It is not preaching Lutheranism. 

If you want to understand Orthodox Lutheran Theology. There is no substitute for "The Book Of Concord". 


Tuesday, April 5, 2022

IgnoringThe Perfect Viral Beast

 https://www.nationalreview.com/news/internal-documents-further-contradict-faucis-gain-of-function-research-denials/

Some quotes from the linked:

... The proposal directs $599,000 of the total grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for research designed to make the viruses more dangerous and/or infectious — and its author acknowledged the danger associated with such work. 
... the “documents make it clear that assertions by the NIH Director, Francis Collins, and the NIAID Director, Anthony Fauci, that the NIH did not support gain-of-function research or potential pandemic pathogen enhancement at WIV are untruthful.”

So they funded enhancement of a Coronavirus to make it at least more transmissible ... if not. other "useful" features, and then they lied about it.  Fauci lied, people died.  At this point, what difference does it make? 

Why did Fauci fund making a virus more lethal? Doesn't anyone care? Are humans no longer generally curious, or has the cost of curiosity become too high? Perhaps, like feline curiosity which sometimes "kills the cat",  are scientists and governments afraid to be curious? Should I be more afraid? Just because I'm not paranoid doesn't necessarily mean that they may not come to get me..

Why would not every government in the world (other than China, and maybe the US)  not be demanding to see the complete documentation of exactly what that lab was working on, which protein, why that protein,  what steps were performed, what kind of "failures" happened during development (too lethal? Not transmissible enough? Not enough selectivity in lethality? Not certain enough mutations to insure long term effects? )  and what kind of "enhancement" were they seeking as a goal? It appears they may have "succeeded", but do we know? We can't because we don't know their goals, and nobody is curious about them. 

Could the lack of investigation be  because the Davos elite told them NO! When a handful of people hold more wealth than half the population of the world, it may mean we have a concentration of power in the hands of a small group of people whose interests don't necessarily align with the rest of us. Perhaps if we knew what was going on, they would have to kill us. (or I should say, more of us) 

Initially, the idea of Covid-19 spreading as the result of a "lab leak" was considered a "conspiracy theory", now it is at least a (and many say THE) likely source -- and that is from CNN and the Biden administration, so we know it comes from competent and eminently trustworthy sources!

It seems like the virus mutates a lot. Is that part of the "enhancement"? If I was amoral and wanted to create a "useful" virus, killing old people first, making sure it is really contagious, injecting billions with a "vaccine" that may not work very well against the original virus (but made me a lot of money for the "right" people), BUT, perhaps it "switches on" something much more "effective" for specific purposes. Say ebola? Might strike me as a "good" idea, depending on my amoral motivations. 

I'm guessing that after a few 10's of millions of ebola deaths, giving pretty much everyone a chance to see a few of their loved ones bleed, defecate, etc until death,  some sort of high priced treatment would be in decent demand. Just follow the money. 

Talk about "crazy talk"! The Western nations that killed 100s of millions via war, plus at least 100 million via abortion, would NEVER find anyone so evil!  -- well, maybe Trump or Hitler (same thing) ... Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot were not really such bad guys -- just misunderstood! Our advanced universal scientific amorality would simply not allow it, and we have had nothing but trustworthy leadership across the globe for decades. Nothing to worry about! 

Reports of "Russian Disinformation" regarding US funding of biolabs in Ukraine, have been repeatedly "debunked" ... as more "far right conspiracy theories".  

According to this US State Department site: (wonder how long this stays around)

BTRP has upgraded many laboratories for the Ministry of Health and the State Food Safety and Consumer Protection Service of Ukraine, reaching Biosafety Level 2. In 2019, BTRP constructed two laboratories for the latter, one in Kyiv and one in Odessa.

BTRP supports many collaborative research projects through which Ukrainian and American scientists work together.  A few recent examples are:

  •  “Risk Assessment of Selected Avian EDPs Potentially Carried by Migratory Birds over Ukraine”
  • “Prevalence of Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever virus and hantaviruses in Ukraine and the potential requirement for differential diagnosis of suspect leptospirosis patients”
  •   “The Spread of African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) in Domestic Pigs and Wild Boars in Ukraine – Building Capacity For Insight into the Transmission of ASFV through Characterization of Virus Isolates by Genome Sequencing and Phylogenetic Analysis”
  • “ASF Biosurveillance and ASF Regional Risk Assessment: A Field to Plate Survey

It gives one comfort to see that the US is funding dangerous research in foreign countries -- especially "friendly" ones like China, and those right next to Russia is a debunked far right conspiracy theory.

One type of virus being "studied" in UKraine is "Viral Hemorrhagic Fever  -- Ebola, being one you may be familiar with. It would make a great bio weapon if it spread like Omicron, rather than only by contact with bodily fluids. 

The minimally curious person might wonder why? Of course if you do even wonder, you have been taken in by Russian and Chinese disinformation

Deep down, we all know people are basically good! Why be curious? Just binge watch something mind numbing. Pay no attention to Hannibal Lector knocking at your door.




 

Monday, April 4, 2022

Being Like Bruce Willis

 https://jewishworldreview.com/jeff/jacoby040422.php

This is intended for those with a personal interest in me. The link is a good intro to aphasia in general. 

I don't have his looks or wealth, but unfortunately due to a brain infection  three years ago in early May, I do have aphasia in common with Bruce. So far, mine doesn't seem to be degenerative, but might be. 

 The evidence is that the damage from my brain infection/surgery causing seizures/aphasia are irreversible,  but hopefully not progressive. From my study/experience so far, each seizure is a “crapshoot". The wires got crossed by the initial damage, the ongoing seizures have a largely undefined effect as to how the brain attempts to compensate for the old damage AGAIN. The subsequent seizures  don’t seem to have any effect on the actual physical “wetware”, but there seems to be “software” running on that wetware … they obviously screw up that software right away, which is why the immediate effects are bad … like not remembering your name. “The dice” are rolled, during software “reboot” and so far it comes up with similar to the existing symptoms. 

I'm on lots of drugs to prevent the seizures ... last time, I went a year and 2 weeks before having another, so we added a drug and hope to break that record. Seven months and counting this time. 

Two weeks ago, while ending a spontaneous table prayer, I "brain locked" on "in Jesus name, amen." It was in my head, I just could not say it. It seems that the key ongoing symptoms are that inability to vocalize, or execute well known actions. A month ago, I mistakenly thought I needed to press two buttons on my ice auger to drill. I KNOW that right button is drill, and both buttons are reverse, but once I got the wrong idea, it was locked in ... I thought the auger was stuck in reverse, and had an embarrassing trip to the dealer.

I've had similar incidents since my first surgery, I imagine these will continue. 

At this point I have "incidents", but so far they are transient, and fairly infrequent.  Reading is still fine, typing is impaired, though not seriously so far. They don't seem to be getting more frequent, although that isn't that exact either. With each seizure there is some discernible loss.

The linked contains this possibly hopeful statement:

It isn"t only strokes that can cause aphasia. The disorder can come on gradually because of a brain tumor or a degenerative condition. It can also occur in temporary episodes brought on by seizures or, as I have reason to know, by severe migraine headaches.

So are my incidents due to the brain damage from the infection/surgery, or are they just "normal seizures" due the trauma of the infection/surgery? Probably a combination ... the HOPE was that I would have no lasting effects from the infection/surgery, but it wasn't a complete surprise that seizures resulted. The next assumption was that they would be "easily treatable" ... so far they have roughly been averaging every 6-8 months, but the last interval gives hope that we are zeroing in on the massive amount of meds to suppress them (near max dose of Keppra, plus Klonopin and Lamotrigine)

I totally echo this quote from the linked; 

The very worst attacks, the ones I have always found especially alarming, also cause transient aphasia. I suddenly find that I cannot summon basic words. I am unable to understand the meaning of anything I try to read and struggle to string together even the simplest sentences. Fortunately, these episodes of aphasia usually retreat within two or three hours, but they are intensely disquieting while they last. In the back of my mind there is always the panicky thought: What if this time the symptoms don"t subside?

My episodes of this scary set of symptoms are usually more like 24-48  hours after a seizure ... improving as the hours go by. "What if" is a common and generally unhelpful thought.

Since two of my primary enjoyments in life are reading and writing, the potential this is degenerative is scary. At this point, I have, and to the degree that anyone "understands" the gifts of the Holy Spirit ... the blessings of Holy Preaching, Communion and Christian Fellowship which I can understand and appreciate. Eternally they are more than sufficient ... life is but a vapor. 

When I was at the point of not knowing my name the first time, my Pastor offered me Communion. I started crying and stumbled through saying something like, " I know I need to believe something to take Communion, but I'm too mixed up to know what it is, maybe I shouldn't" ... or at least I think that is what I said. The Pastor said, "It is Jesus, not you that matters  ... it is a gift, it isn't about your condition, it is about him, and he knows your heart".

That was an extreme comfort to me. 

When I'm not having an "incident" (or of course a seizure) I seem "normal" ...  not able to remember names of people, books, etc ... but not so badly it seems "abbynormal (Young Frankenstein). My sentence structure may seem a little bit "off" at times, I may mix some words up, but so far nothing alarming. 

Enough rambling, even for those who care. I've had more than a blessed life -- "whatever will be will be".  


Thursday, March 31, 2022

M Stanton Evans, Conservative Wit, Apostle of Freedom

 https://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/m-stanton-evans

As per usual, this lazy moose links to a more complete review above. 

I'm a bit of a Steve Hayward groupie ... having read the Reagan books, listener to Powerline Podcasts, and  "Three Whiskey Happy Hour", so that lack of objectivity should be considered. 

Like the rug in "The Big Lebowski", this book really ties the conservative movement from the time of GAMAY up to the tragic regime of Obama together, in a manner as entertaining as this kind of serious book really can. The curtain of the "back room" of conservatism in America is lifted and we see some of the "sausage" of conflicting ideology, personality quirks, infighting, and egos. The reality of human interaction. 

The personal anecdotes made Evans more real. I especially enjoyed his affection for Hardees, a prime example of fine American cuisine. The concept of finding a town with a Hardees at each side of town so a balanced diet could be maintained by alternating between them cemented his genius in my mind. 

The anecdotes and aphorisms alone are really worth the low price of admission, I have already used the "They say you tend to lose your sense of hearing as you get older, and one other thing that I can't recall ..." a few times to great effect.

The "behind the scenes" insights were crucial for me. I will admit to not being at all aware of the ACU, and thus Evan's involvement in the creation of CPAC. 

Page 241, "in other words, a bigger problem than ideological bias is simple incompetence". Yes! I highly recommend "Excellent Sheep" for deeper insight into why that is an increasing problem ... the tragic human choice of "knowing everything about nothing vs nothing about everything" is especially important in our age of "experts". 

As a reader of "Witness", some of the McCarthy insights mostly just refreshed ... however "refreshment" is always important, 

The writing is excellent, the insight into the subject is on par with better biographies. While Evans may not be a person who is known to you, the statement on p 219 that "Without Stan Evans, it is quite likely there would have been no Ronald Reagan in 1980",  is more than enough to explain his importance. 

Given his statement of faith in the epilogue, I look forward to sharing a beverage in Heaven, where time constraints are likely to be significantly reduced.