Saturday, December 30, 2023

VDH, Is Tech "King Cotton"? Was January 6 an "Insurrection"

Colorado and Maine are the first two states to remove Trump from the ballot for 2024. In 1860, 10 Southern states removed Lincoln. (read the VDH X post linked)

Any echos here? 

Just as a “King Cotton” economy ran the politics of the Old South through its unprecedented wealth, so too our modern leftist magnates are often one-industry “Big Tech” titans—of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google—who more or less by their PAC and foundation “donations” (Mark Zuckerberg alone accounted for $419 million) warped the work of registrars in many of the key 2020 counties.
"Zuck Bucks" carefully targeted to registrars in key counties had a major part in Biden "winning" in 2020. 
Ex-Brown County Clerk Sandy Juno has stepped forward alleging that political activists working for a Mark Zuckerberg-funded group influenced the November election in Green Bay and other cities by “sidelining career experts and making last-minute changes that may have violated state law,” according to Just the News.

One of the many things that concerns me today is that millions of Americans have abandoned the ancient rule of "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" (the presumption of innocence).  The burden of proof is on the accuser. This a near universal assumption of natural and common law. It is part of the UN declaration of "basic human rights". It is part of what it means to be "civilized". 

Trump has been convicted of precisely nothing, so in a civilized nation, he would be presumed innocent. 

More interesting is the fact that the January 6 demonstrators are not charged with "insurrection", but rather "obstruction". 

The specific issue in the case involves a catch-all provision of a federal criminal statute that makes it a crime for anyone who “otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding,” and what the government must prove with regard to the intent of January 6 rioters.

So where did this "catch all provision" come from

The 2002 statute — corruptly obstructing an official proceeding — was drafted by Congress to address the conduct of Enron’s outside auditor, Arthur Andersen, which destroyed documents as the government investigated. Prosecutors have wielded the felony against Trump supporters they allege committed some of the most serious criminal acts during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

It would take minutes for an honest media to run down these facts rather than screaming "INSURECTION!". "THREAT TO DEMOCRACY". etc.  

Were such facts presented without the obvious (mostly successful) efforts to turn the "reporting" into propaganda, we would be living in a much calmer time, where we might even have "citizens" as opposed to "consumers" of propaganda. 

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Islands in the Stream, Hemmingway

 100-Proof Old Ernest, Most of it Anyway (

If you want to read the book and enjoy the mystery and tension of it, don't read the linked review that will remove all of that. 

The book is somewhat special to me because it was purchased at the Hemingway home in Key West Florida. Here is a nice memory of my sons and I at Sloppy Joe's, a favorite Hemingway hangout. 

The book is a lot of Godless manliness. Risk-taking, deep-sea fishing, shark attack, fighting, womanizing, war, tragedy, etc. Needless to say, it is well written with vivid attention to detail, inner thoughts, richly developed characters, etc. 

I learned the way to use Campari in a drink, and the goodness of a dash of Angostura bitters in a Martini. My curiosity led me off to look into the bitters a bit, and found a Wisconsin connection (From Wikipedia): 

The largest purveyor of Angostura bitters in the world is Nelsen's Hall Bitters Pub on Washington Island off the northeast tip of Door Peninsula in Door County, Wisconsin. The pub began selling shots of bitters as a "stomach tonic for medicinal purposes" under a pharmaceutical license during Prohibition in the United States. The practice, which helped the pub to become the oldest continuously operating tavern in Wisconsin, remained a tradition after the repeal of Prohibition. As of 2018, the pub hosts a Bitters Club, incorporates bitters into food menu items, and sells upwards of 10,000 shots per year.[15]

In visiting Hemingway's home in KeyWest, I learned of his love of cats, which I share. The book provides some touching insight to how much Earnest cared for his cats.  

I've been veering into fiction, because I read too much history, biography, philosophy, politics, physics, and such, that I seem to be discovering that all we ever really have is a "story" ... our reality is not nearly as "real" as we often believe, and looking at the world through quality fiction may be a way to better grasp what it means to be an embodied human living a life in what I believe to be eternity. 

Monday, December 11, 2023

Consilience, Edward O, Wilson

 Books & Authors - The Atlantic

I blogged on this book in 2007, the linked article is from 1998. The Internet allows us to do in minutes what authors in even the 1990s would have taken days, weeks, assistants, etc. to dig up. It is a tool that gives us leverage to give the "appearance of knowledge", which at our time, with its left-brain culture so biased that it can't understand the danger of knowledge without wisdom, this book at least starts to realize part of the problem. 

 Edward O. Wilson is the author of two Pulitzer Prize winning books; "On Human Nature", and "The Ants". The term "consilience" refers to the "unity of knowledge", how discoveries in one field can be critical to others. One can view the physical world as a layered architecture where physics is the "base", with chemistry and biology on top, followed by all the social sciences, politics, the arts, religion, etc.

Wilson has the vision that we COULD link it all together so that we would truly "understand" our universe. He strongly laments the post-modernist view that all points of view are equally vali.  He seems much more willing to entertain the potential for divinity than many scientists, even though for himself, he is a materialist. He DOES seem to realize at least part of the horror of a universe where there is no transcendence, but he sees the risks of transcendence as too high -- mostly on the environmental front (man has "dominion"). He sums up the materialist vs transcendent views as "The uncomfortable truth is the two beliefs are not factually compatible. As a result, those who hunger for both intellectual and religious truth will never acquire both in full measure".

That is an interesting statement in that I would question whether any human will acquire a "full measure" of EITHER of those areas separately either, this side of Heaven.  However, to come to a conclusion of what that which completely transcends the physical can do, seems a bit presumptuous. Man is so quick to set limits on what it is that God can do, it is good God has us around to lock those limits in on infinite power since we are so "intelligent" (just ask us). While we seem good at providing limits for the infinite, it is strange that we seem less inclined to limit ourselves.

He makes a good comment on the state of knowledge and information in the world; "We are drowning in information while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it and make important choices wisely". I think he is right on that at some level, and he also points out in the book how important it is to place the information into context with other knowledge, and even make it into a "story". He does seem to have some real insight into the limitation of the left-brained only view. 

He waits until the very end of the book to get into environmental doom and gloom. He sees us as rushing headlong to destruction of the planet and has decided that "somehow" man needs to "morally" pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and put vast control on development of technology as "the only moral thing to do.

A neat trick for a strict materialist to come up with, apparently a new form of human brain will somehow "evolve" and suddenly operate with this "environmental moral imperative" in the next few decades? It seems unlikely to me that randomness should have bequeathed us with this function, and in a materialist universe we are just going to have to wait around for a few million years of "survival of the fittest" and hope that the right kind of "morals" for environmentalism randomly fall out the back end of the random process. 

If such doesn't happen, that must mean that "the right kind of morals" just didn't randomly arise at "the right time" and the great roulette wheel of randomness will just keep spinning along without us. Small loss in a cold godless universe!

It is nice to see that even strict materialists have "hope" -- I'm thinking that he may want to invest more in lottery tickets with his faith in the great god of the dice. It seems so strange that a random process would generate a brain that questions the outcome of the random process (the existing state of the world), yet somehow believes that one of the outputs of that random process (us) is somehow responsible -- and soon to be "morally mandated" to "fix it".

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Leo Strauss, "Natural Right and History'

 While Strauss is considered to be at least one of, if not THE premier thinker of the mid 20th Century, he is hard to read and understand. I think his review (although still not a walk in the park) is a decent attempt to do a fairly rigorous summary of the book. 

I look at the book as a chronical of man's futile attempt to pull himself up by his own bootstraps to create fundamental and universal "morals, values, truths, imperatives, etc." After a decent amount of time chasing this chimera myself, I come to the conclusion that we cannot hove to ever pull ourselves up in any manner, therefore we require a transcendent ultimate being, usually referred to as "God". 

Worse, our attempts to "pull ourselves up" invariably lead to a deeper fall into the abyss of meaningless depravity. 

On page 14 we have this quote from Max Weber; "Follow God or the Devil as you will, but which ever choice you make, make it with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your power. What is absolutely base is to follow one's appetites, passions, or self-interest and to be indifferent or lukewarm toward the ideal or values, or towards gods or devils". 

There is an infinity to unpack here. First, the idea of free will. Up to the Reformation, Christendom largely sidestepped the issue with infant baptism. Ater the Reformation, the Anabaptists plucked the baby from the baptismal font with the thought of decision theology. Weber also thinks you can choose. 

Matt 22:37 Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

Rev 3 14-16 "To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: 'I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 'So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.

I would guess that Weber is quite familiar with the Bible, he too detests the lukewarm. Much of modern man is in the "absolute base" camp serving "appetites, passions, or self-interest. In fact, democratic capitalism with the "pursuit of happiness" is a sterling example of "absolute base". 

From the review. 

Once we realize that the principles of our actions have no other support than blind choice, we really do not believe in them anymore. We cannot wholeheartedly act on them anymore. We cannot live any more as responsible beings. In order to live, we have to silence the easily silenced voice of reason, which tells us that our principles are in themselves as good or as bad as any other principles. The more we cultivate reason, the more we cultivate nihilism: the less we are able to be loyal members of society. The inescapable practical consequence of nihilism is fanatical obscurantism.

 Without God, there is no "Natural Right", and there is no "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights". 

Give up God, and you give up truth. "Truth" is whatever power says it is. We are all "lukewarm" other than we will confess whatever power tells us to ... or as power becomes more intrusive, we will be drugged, brainwashed, tortured, etc. until we do confess the "truth" of power, or we will surely die. 

In the search for "Natural Right" without God, the philosophers' return to the idea of the noble or ignoble savage. They spend a lot of time tramping around in this swamp, and it always makes me suspect they have spent too much time in libraries. 

So, no God, no Adam, no soul, no love, just sex. "Man" at "some point" becomes self-aware?  aware that he dies? figures out how to make a marguerita from some fermented cactus, and has a cocktail party?? According to Hobbes, "natural man" leads a life that is "nasty, brutish and short". Because of this, he decides he needs society, and "Leviathan" (government) arises with a level of security at the cost of some of his freedom. Rosseau is like the original lotus eater ... man's natural state is bliss, a natural Garden of Eden, and his nature is good. Rosseau said "man is born free but is everywhere in chains".  Outside of Satan, he is the first liberal. Man is born in pain, blood, and completely helpless, requiring constant care to survive ... and very ungrateful for the care.  Much like liberals today. 

A Christian view says that man (and everything) was created perfect with no sin and no death and a perfect "good" nature, then he fell, taking the universe with him. In our current left brained "fact based" universe, that seems insane ... from a cultural view however, that western worldview worked remarkably well up to a century or two ago. Today, our materialist amoral social imaginary is showing many signs of collapse, but that topic is discussed in many other blogs. 

The idea of man evolving from monkeys being by nature "good" is wishful insanity. Jane Goodhall documented that chimps in the wild are murderous by nature. Hobbes was enough of an observer of reality to see that nature was "bloody in tooth and claw".  

If you are a political scientist, this book is likely required reading ... although it is possibly "too triggering" today. If you are not, you likely don't need to dive this deep into the well of hopelessness that is the secular Natural Right. 

True At First Light - Hemingway

 True At First Light by Ernest Hemingway: Summary and reviews (

Having not read any of Earnest recently except re-reads of "Old Man and The Sea" every couple of years, and a pretty good biography. First Light was recommended to me, and I jumped in. 

This covers the "what is it about" fairly well. 

Both a revealing self-portrait and dramatic fictional chronicle of his final African safari, Ernest Hemingway's last unpublished work was written when he returned from Kenya in 1953. Edited by his son Patrick, who accompanied his father on the safari, True at First Light offers rare insights into the legendary American writer in the year of the hundredth anniversary of his birth.

I'm not fiction guy, but continue to dabble in the "classics" (Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Melville, Cervantes, etc.) Truth may be stranger than fiction but given our condition of living within the confines of our own worldview/model, which is really a "story" from the view of our left brain, "fiction" that engages the right as well as the left brain can be more "real" in that it forces us into a contextualized universe rather than a flat "just the facts madam" Dragnet universe. 

The linked review is good, the book captures a lot of what it means to observe the world though radically different lenses based on varied worldviews --.the granularity of the tribal totems/rituals, the Muslims, the British "somewhat Christian, the Kenyan authorities, and the Heminway safari. 

In this part of Kenya. all the parties have some recognition of how critical the sacred animals (especially the lions) are to them. In the conditions of the times, the safari hunters can cull problematic lions killing the natives’ stock, as a bonus it is usually the older, craftier males that have more trouble killing wild prey, so resort to the cattle which along with wives are the measure of wealth for the tribesman. Those old male lions are the trophies for the white hunters.

Hemingway captures the characters, the animals, the beauty of Kilimanjaro, and much else with enough drama to keep the reader interested. He comes through as the hard drinking complex "man's man" of legend, yet with insights to his humanity. 

Heminway killed himself shortly after a visit to the Mayo Cinic in Rochester MN, one of the people I worked with ran into him at a liquor store. While drinking no doubt contributed to his depression at the end of his life, that diagnosis is too simplistic. He had many serious injuries in his life ... from war, boxing, horses and especially plane crashes. Electroshock Therapy was brutal in those days, (think “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"), in his case, it killed him, though not immediately. 

As an aside, "Miss Mary", his 4th wife, was born in Walker MN, a town I am somewhat familiar with having fished on Leech Lake. 

Monday, November 20, 2023

Ideas Have Consequences

Richard Weaver Explained Our Cultural Predicament Over 70 Years Ago | The Russell Kirk Center

I've read and reviewed this book at least three times and pulled it out for reference a few times most years. The review linked above is excellent, and while everyone left or right ought to read the fairly short book, not reading the linked review is hard to forgive. 

This book was first published in 1948 and it is scary to see how far we have tumbled down the predicted cliff toward the ultimate demise of Western Civilization since then.

Weaver points out that without first principles, there is no way to know where we went astray or why, and he is very clear and simple on the causes.
"This was a change that overtook the dominant philosophical thinking of the West in the fourteenth century, when the reality of transcendentals was first seriously challenged."
Since man moved away from the idea of transcendentals to the idea that "man as the measure of all things", the Whig theory of history quickly developed -- "the belief that the most advanced point in time represents the point of highest development".  Today this banner is carried by "progressives" -- the firm belief that a drop of hootch excreted from the still today is better than 40-year-old Scotch.
"For four centuries every man has been not only his own priest, but his own professor of ethics, and the consequence is an anarchy which threatens even that minimum consensus of value necessary to the political state." 
At least he isn't always his own bartender! Weaver links transcendentals primarily back to Plato, although the connection with religion obviously seeps through. For the common man, the doctrine of Christianity is what would be infinitely more beneficial to both the eternal soul and temporal existence here on earth than the worship of the relativist pagan state.
"The issue ultimately involved is whether there is a source of truth higher than, and independent of man; and the answer to the question is decisive for one's view of nature and the destiny of humankind.  The practical result of nominalist philosophy is to banish the reality which is perceived by the intellect and to posit as reality that which is perceived by the senses."
"The denial of everything transcending experience means inevitably -- though ways are found to hedge on this -- the denial of truth. With the denial of objective truth there is no escape from the relativism of man is the measure of all things .... The witches spoke with the habitual equivocation of oracles when they told man that by this easy choice, he might realize himself more fully, for they were actually initiating a course which cuts one off from reality. Thus began the "abomination of desolation" appearing today as a feeling of alienation from all fixed truth". 
"Nominalist" meaning denying that things that transcend the physical universe exist. ("matter" is all there is) Not simply however "god" -- since our own abstract thoughts and to some degree language stretch the old meaning of "physical".

It is a book I could go on and on quoting from, but that breaks my promise to explain what the book means to me and encourage others to read it.

Ideas set humans apart and make us what we are. When we are focused at the highest levels of our brain --- reason, abstraction, ultimate, patterns, relations, connections, etc., we are most human in the sense of unique from animals -- with an eternal soul, a soul that wants those transcendentals. It drives us to look for ultimate and eternal causes, the explanation for WHY things are as they are.

When I was in college, a favorite professor described the difference between the university and the vocational school up the hill as basically "Down here we learn WHY the computer works as it does, up the hill they learn only HOW to operate or program following a specific path, not the reason why that path may be optimal, easy, efficient or what alternatives there are to the specifics being taught".

When there are no transcendentals (ultimate reasons "why"), it is hard to defend one view from another, and we arrive at "my truth and your truth". It is all relative -- it is todays sense data that counts, because it is assumed that is all there is. The physical shared reality (although that is less certain than it once was). We may be able to do a lot of "technology", but as is also covered in the book, much of it will only do more to distract us from that which is of ultimate value.

"Ideas" is a critical book about first principles to understand the universe, our place in it, and how to reach for "the good life", as in the spiritual life that has eternal meaning (although it is not a "religious" book).

"Ideas" is a cornerstone of what I'm re-reading and attempting to weave together as my personal "Canon of Christian Conservatism" at this point in my life -- the basis of what I have come to believe about life, the universe and everything! It was previously discussed hereas well as here.

At its base "Ideas" is "God" (transcendence), Yes or No, and what is likely to happen to both you and your civilization depending on how you choose!

The linked review closes with this, and I shall as well; 

A year before he died, Weaver wrote that “[t]he past shows unvaryingly that when a people’s freedom disappears, it goes not with a bang, but in silence amid the comfort of being cared for. That is the dire peril in the present trend toward statism.” Sixty years later, the trend Weaver feared has further advanced in all Western countries. He did not live to see the progressives of the 1960s gradually infiltrate and takeover in the West’s cultural institutions and produce a cultural decay that makes the world of 1948 seem like a glorious age of conservatism. And he did not live to see the culture of abortion on demand, euthanasia, widespread acceptance of pornography, the sexualization of children, the normalization of deviance, and other maladies that afflict our contemporary world. Ideas–especially bad ones–do, indeed, have consequences.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Experience IS Reality

As I "wind on down the road" (rendition of which tugs at the heart of a Boomer), my thinking and writing become less linear, so for the VERY few that have followed my musings for the nearly 2 decades of blogging, some repetition will be seen. (usually with updates)

A the linked is a likely important article that I may return to and dig deeper into. Apparently, the physical universe can be replaced with "a conscious entity" and at least this new model still "works" (makes rational sense).
As a conscious realist, I am postulating conscious experiences as ontological primitives, the most basic ingredients of the world. I’m claiming that experiences are the real coin of the realm. The experiences of everyday life—my real feeling of a headache, my real taste of chocolate—that really is the ultimate nature of reality.
"Ontological" meaning "exists in the context of these philosophical assumptions".  Our Western standard ontology is Materialism ... everything is "matter" (although Quantum Wave Theory postulates that everything is actually waves (no particles). 

There’s a metaphor that’s only been available to us in the past 30 or 40 years, and that’s the desktop interface. 
Suppose there’s a blue rectangular icon on the lower right corner of your computer’s desktop — does that mean that the file itself is blue and rectangular and lives in the lower right corner of your computer? Of course not. But those are the only things that can be asserted about anything on the desktop — it has color, position, and shape. Those are the only categories available to you, and yet none of them are true about the file itself or anything in the computer. 
They couldn’t possibly be true. That’s an interesting thing. You could not form a true description of the innards of the computer if your entire view of reality was confined to the desktop. And yet the desktop is useful. That blue rectangular icon guides my behavior, and it hides a complex reality that I don’t need to know. That’s the key idea. 
Evolution has shaped us with perceptions that allow us to survive. They guide adaptive behaviors. But part of that involves hiding from us the stuff we don’t need to know. And that’s pretty much all of reality, whatever reality might be. If you had to spend all that time figuring it out, the tiger would eat you.
It's always intriguing to me that a super intelligent guy, so non-traditional he is willing to question the MOST fundamental aspects of the nature of existence, still finds "evolution " as somehow a worthy explanation for how we came to be (or "not to **BE** as in being physical", but rather "be" as experience only in his model) in a non-physical reality. It is always possible that the computer desktop "just evolved" after all. Actually, if you are an evolutionist, the development of the computer and the desktop metaphor is simply evolution still operating in what we have no doubt mistakenly labeled "consciousness", meaning "something special", but in evolutionary "reality", it is just more evolutionary adaptive algorithms ... a mathematical model. 
Gefter: A mathematical model of consciousness.

Hoffman: That’s right. My intuition was, there are conscious experiences. I have pains, tastes, smells, all my sensory experiences, moods, emotions and so forth. So, I’m just going to say: One part of this consciousness structure is a set of all possible experiences. When I’m having an experience, based on that experience I may want to change what I’m doing. So, I need to have a collection of possible actions I can take and a decision strategy that, given my experiences, allows me to change how I’m acting. That’s the basic idea of the whole thing. I have a space X of experiences, a space G of actions, and an algorithm D that lets me choose a new action given my experiences. Then I posited a W for a world, which is also a probability space. Somehow the world affects my perceptions, so there’s a perception map P from the world to my experiences, and when I act, I change the world, so there’s a map A from the space of actions to the world. That’s the entire structure. Six elements. The claim is: This is the structure of consciousness. I put that out there so people have something to shoot at.
This may be a "little deep" ... a reference to this post on "The Matter with Things" may help understand this a bit more. 

So, a mathematic attempt to understand consciousness replaces "the world" with "a conscious agent" and it all works ... and it doesn't give him any inking that God would fill that "conscious agent" role quite nicely?

The discoveries of quantum mechanics, the mystery of consciousness and things like the insane small amount of information that seems to be coming in through our optic nerves for us to create what we are "seeing" all point to some fundamental misconceptions about what "observed reality" is -- if it "is" in a material sense (ontology again) at all! 

"I think, therefore I am" was always tenuous -- perhaps, a universal consciousness is reality, and "I" am an illusion. Perhaps when God speaks to Moses and says "I am that I am" he was really de-referencing the THAT!  (C++ programming, the "this pointer" is the pointer to the object itself) "I'm THAT" I am" ... the ultimate base of existence. 

"Somehow the world affects my perceptions". There is always a "somehow" in there somewhere! 

Thursday, November 9, 2023

The Soul of The World

The Soul of the World | Princeton University Press

After "Face of God" and this fine effort, I'm a confirmed Scruton fan. In "Soul", Scruton continues his analysis of what it means to be human as opposed to atoms, cells, chemicals and adaptive evolutionary programming.
"I know that I am a single and unified subject of experience. This present thought, this pain, this hope, and this memory are features of one thing, and that thing is what I am. I know this on no basis, without having to carry out any kind of check, and indeed, without the use of criteria of any kind -- this is what is (or ought to be) meant by the term "transcendental". The unity of the self-conscious subject is not the conclusion of any inquiry, but the presupposition of all inquiries. the unity of consciousness "transcends" all argument since it is the premise without which argument makes no sense."

The paragraph is a bit longer than "I think therefore I am", however that added length much improves on the famous Descartes statement. 

As humans, "we" have to start somewhere, meaning we have to find some way to postulate that we actually exist from "nowhere". If we sit quietly, focus on only "our" breathing, watching our breaths happen on their own, our thoughts come and be acknowledged/dismissed as "we" return to watching our breath, our emotions pass through us as we acknowledge them and gently return to calm attention on our breath, the question arises as to "what or who" is doing the watching?

We will discover as millions have discovered throughout history (and millions more have not), that "I", is not our physical body, not our thoughts, and not our emotions. We each "have" all those things, but we, ARE something else. Reality IS experience.

So, if what we experience IS all there is, then how might we think about that?

"There is a culture of long-term thought and abstract conception, represented by Moses; and a culture of short-term pleasure and easy communication represented by Aaron. The first points to the transcendental ground of being the second reduces beings to idols,
In this section of the book, Scruton uses music as the example of how to know the difference. I believe however that this quote goes a long way toward the heart of the matter:
"... the difference is between preventing silence, and letting silence speak. Music in the listening culture is a voice that rises out of silence, and which uses silence as a painter uses the canvas ..." 
Scruton is seeking to capture "the ghost in the machine" of physical creation, as many lovers and believers have before him. (and what are true lovers but believers?) I think we all understand that if we step back and let the silence speak, it DOES speak -- which is why the forces of Aaron work incessantly to make certain we never stop and listen.
"In music as in sex and architecture, the relation between subjects can be uprooted and replaced by an arrangement of objects. And in a hundred ways the result of this is a culture of idolatry in which freedom and personality are obliterated by intrusive images, clamoring for an addictive response."
"We are spirits living in the material world" (as "The Police" once put it). Much of modern man's time is spent trying to anesthetize that knowledge via clicks, games, music, drugs, media, work, relationships, ANYTHING!
"The Fall did not occur at a particular moment in time; it is a permanent feature of the human condition. We stand poised between freedom and mechanism, subject and object, end and means, beauty and ugliness, sanctity and desecration. And these distinctions derive from the same ultimate fact, which is that we can live in openness to others, accounting for our actions and demanding an accounting for theirs, or alternatively close ourselves off from others, learn to look on them as objects, so as to retreat from the order of the covenant to the order of nature."
Why is it critical for the left to cover their ears and scream "safe space! Nah, nah, nah, nah"? Because in a fallen world, even a fig leaf is imagined to provide "covering" of the nakedness of corrupted nature denying it's soul. The unbeliever MUST deny their soul, the pain of it's corruption is unspeakable, so they can ONLY "cover", never account for their fallen state until they accept redemption.

For the lover and the believer, the idea of hiding our true face and soul from others, especially those we love, is painful in the extreme. Many of us must do this in order to maintain any relation at all with family, to hold our jobs, or to interact socially.

The question "Why"? is addressed from I to you. It is thrust upon us in those moments in extremis when the order of creation irrupts around us. It is then that we cry out to God -- who will tell us why we suffer, why we live, and why we die! Within the envelope of nature there are only causes. But for the eye of faith the envelope has a telos, a reason for being as it is. And to have faith is to believe that the worlds teleology will account for my afflictions too. "Irrupts" -- to enter forcibly or suddenly.

In this week before inauguration day 2017, the year of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, I stand in awe of the power of God and of Satan. My sense is that "The Fall" was the "reification" of the spiritual perfection of creation. "Reify" is a dangerous word which I believe holds a paradox within itself. The literal meaning of the word is "to make something abstract more "real" as in "understandable".

Since I believe that what we see as "reality" through our fallen senses is what scientists might call a "quantum flux" and God calls "spirit and truth", the act of "reification" is the act of making MORE FALSE -- making something seem to be more physical, or "quantified", "measured", "real".

In my world view, mathematics is closer to "truth" than engineering (applied physics). Reification as it is commonly used is actually "making a graven image" from a spiritual perspective.

Scruton has helped me immensely in trying to "un-reify" my world ... as in "sanctify", or "recover the spirit".

HIGHLY recommended to those who seek to recover the spirit.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Imprimus, Inside the Transgender Empire

 Inside the Transgender Empire - Imprimis (

If you are not familiar with Hillsdale, it is worth your time to give it a glance. I tend to think of it as the Christian/Conservative Harvard ... without the arrogance. 

As always, it is best to ignore me and just go to read the article! 

In case you don't, one of the questions it answers is: "Why Transgender"? 

In the late 1980s, a group of academics, including Judith Butler, Gayle Rubin, Sandy Stone, and Susan Stryker, established the disciplines of “queer theory” and “transgender studies.” These academics believed gender to be a “social construct” used to oppress racial and sexual minorities, and they denounced the traditional categories of man and woman as a false binary that was conceived to support the system of “heteronormativity”—i.e., the white, male, heterosexual power structure. This system, they argued, had to be ruthlessly deconstructed. And the best way to achieve this, they argued further, was to promote transgenderism. If men can become women, and women men, they believed, the natural structure of Creation could be toppled.

 Any idea of a "natural order" has to be destroyed to make atheism/materialism rational arguments. Order assumes, an intelligence, where materialism, evolution, and leftism require temporal power to be the determinant of any form of "order". "Order" is merely an outcome of random processes, in which the "fittest" (those who survive and obtain power). 

This is the great project of the transgender movement: to abolish the distinctions of man and woman, to transcend the limitations established by God and nature, and to connect the personal struggle of trans individuals to the political struggle to transform society in a radical way.

Many of the "Boomers" like myself never really imagined "Gay Rights", let alone gay "marriage", and the idea of transgender was beyond imagination. Artificial Intelligence and Cyborgs were imagined in a lot of Science Fiction, but it turns out that mutilating a living human is easier than those particular disruptive technologies. (Although we are now making rapid "progress" there as well.)

A lot of strange thought comes from our wealthy elite, who apparently get bored with private jets, yachts, and temporal pleasure. Like mass murderers, they want to "make an impact", and destruction (of Western culture) is a lot easier than improving something. 

One of these people is Jennifer Pritzker, who was born James Pritzker in 1950. After serving several years in the U.S. Army, Pritzker went into business, having inherited a sizable part of the Hyatt hotel fortune. In 2013, he announced a male-to-female gender transition and was celebrated in the press as the “first trans billionaire.” Almost immediately, he began donating untold millions to universities, schools, hospitals, and activist organizations to promote queer theory and trans medical experiments.

As was once the case with the eugenicists, the poor are natural targets for experimentation. 

The Ruth Ellis Center’s marketing pitch is an amalgam of all the usual euphemisms: “trauma-informed care,” “restorative justice,” “harm reduction,” “racial equity,” and “gender-affirming care.” In the name of these things, the Ellis Center and its partners conduct large-scale medical experiments on a population of predominantly poor black youths.

How does all this experimentation on young people work out? 

According to survey data, up to 80 percent of trans individuals suffer from serious psychopathologies and one-quarter of black trans youth attempt suicide each year. “Gender-affirming care” largely f ails to solve these problems, yet the doctors use these failures to justify even more extreme interventions up to the final one: genital reconstruction.

What do the supposedly "innocuous" puberty blockers do to child's mind?  

This medication is called a “gonadotropin releasing hormone agonist” and it comes in the form of monthly injections or an implant. And because it simulates the activity of this hormone, it shuts down the activity of the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is this almond-sized structure in your brain, it’s one of the most primal structures we have, and it controls all the other hormonal structures in your body—your sexual development, your emotions, your fight-or-flight response, everything. . . . And I always think that if someone were to ask me, Where is it that you would look for the divine spark in each individual? I would say that it would be somewhere “beneath the inner chamber,” which is the Greek derivation of the term hypothalamus. To shut down that system is to shut down what makes us human.

Much of my latest study would cast some doubt on that highlighted assertion, but it doesn't sound like an area we really want to play Frankenstein with.  

Is there a relationship between such drugs and the transgender "male" that killed three children and 3 adults at a Christian school in March? I would surmise there will be less research, or even looking at data for this than there is being done on possible negative effects of Covid vaccinations.

When a flight instructor was asked; "If I'm making an emergency night landing, should I turn on my landing lights"? The response was, "It's up to you". The student replied, "What if I don't like what I see?" 

The instructor replied, "Turn them off". 

It seems that today, we are keeping a lot of lights off, and doing our best to ignore the bad things that stare at us out of the darkness. 




Sunday, October 22, 2023

The Rise Of The Middle American Radicals (MARS)

About forty years ago the hard-right columnist and political theorist Sam Francis began to devise a new framework for understanding power in modern America. Francis accepted as true James Burnham’s argument that a “managerial revolution” had superseded the old class struggle between labor and capital and resulted in a new human type, the “managerial class.” To this Francis added an idea borrowed from the sociologist Donald Warren, who in The Radical Center: Middle Americans and the Politics of Alienation (1976) described men and women who might today be called “populists” (or “deplorables”) as “Middle American Radicals,” or mars. Francis recognized them as the population left behind and disenfranchised by the accumulation of power in the hands of the managerial elite. The class conflict of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, as he saw it, was between the mars and the managers.

"Managers" have mutated into Bureaucrats and the Administrative State. 

The article goes through a some attenuated history of how we moved from monarchy to "Democratic Oligarchy" over the last couple hundred years. It is worth reading. 

The new capitalist class that rose to prominence in society beginning in the nineteenth century was itself informed by Christianity—many of the great industrialists came from Dissenting Protestant backgrounds—and recognized the value of religion for instilling habits of hard work and honesty among the laboring masses. That Christianity promised a heavenly reward that would more than compensate for economic disappointments in this life also helped to defuse any revolutionary resentments among the masses.

Yet one element in the new industrial society was acutely uncomfortable with all of this. These were the heirs to the Enlightenment philosophes who had hated the Church for its moral authority over their lives. John Stuart Mill, perhaps the most important of these nineteenth-century spiritual revolutionaries, wished to be free not only of the Church’s power but also of its prestige.

Christianity worked to create a productive cohesive society, but it had those pesky morals! Mill and others figured out that the way to win was via "education" ... they needed to make Christianity and Conservatism "stupid" -- and they did. 

Conservatism from Peel and Disraeli to Thatcher and Reagan rested on three social foundations: the patriotism of the masses, the enduring cultural hegemony of Christianity, and the business community’s need for mass-based conservatism as a protection against the threat of socialism. Today the business community feels little threatened by socialism; economic nationalism and Christian morality are a greater nuisance as much of corporate America is concerned. Christianity’s cultural hegemony is over. And the national masses no longer exist. In their place, business interests and political progressives now import multinational immigrant populations. The educational establishment, meanwhile, encourages immigrants to see themselves as members of victim groups who should feel aggrieved rather than grateful toward the nation that has accepted them.

America has had many divisions in the past, but even in the Civil War both sides read the same Scripture and spoke the same language. Immigrants in earlier times were encouraged to identify with the nation’s history and its Christian, English-speaking majority. And in the epoch of the industrial masses, there were economic interests that could unify whole regions and classes, if not quite every region and class at once. Shared economic interests now tend to be more diffuse, with great divides between the educated and uneducated and between the financial elite and the educated but not very wealthy sub-elite.

Four types of "conservatives" are identified.   

  • The Restorationists - believe in a return to the industrial economy and a Christian culture is possible. 
  • The Nihilists - They don't have a plan, they just hate where we are. 
  • The Withdrawalists - Essentially "The Benedict Option
  • The Accomodationalists - They live in the suburbs, worship success and Wokeism 

The author goes with the Restorationalists as the most likely path forward, with DeSantis and Trump being the best available leadership for this ilk. As the county chair for DeSantis, that is where I am. I voted for Trump twice, but believe "he fought the swamp, and the swamp won". He is the walking dead politically, and likely physically if the Administrative State believes they can get away with it. They see him as a "clear and present danger", which he would be if the Administrative State was not as dominant as it is. 

To some degree, sitting here in total fly over Iowa, I'm praying for Restoration, but suspecting Benedict. 


Saturday, October 7, 2023

Science, Climate Change, Dogma

The linked article documents yet another case of officially supported climate predictions being wrong -- nothing new about that. In this case, predictions about glaciers in Glacier National Park being gone by 2020 have proved to be wrong (in fact, some are growing). 
Officials at Glacier National Park (GNP) have begun quietly removing and altering signs and government literature which told visitors that the Park’s glaciers were all expected to disappear by either 2020 or 2030.
What seems to be increasingly culturally "new" in the current phase of dogma is the degree to which it is being culturally mandated in the west once proud to be "free thinking". "Free thinking" is ALWAYS a contradiction to some extent -- the question is always "how costly". Agreement is at least "free in the moment", but if conditions change and new data convinces you that the dogma is incorrect, you either shut up, or will probably pay a price (lost friends, lost relations with family, maybe even loss of job). 

The dogma of "Climate Change" (formerly "Global Warming" or more precisely "Anthropogenic Global Warming") meaning that it could be "proven" that humans were the causal factor rather than natural oscillations in solar or other inputs. Causality is always a tricky business. 

Climate Change just assumes that any change in climate is human caused, so the climate can be controlled by humans.  The only way Climate Change could be shown to be wrong is if the Earth reached a stable temperature ... in which case, we would all share that stable temperature, and thus be dead.  

Thursday, September 28, 2023

The Psychology Of Totalitarianism, Mattias Desmet

 It was hard to find someone elses review of this important book for our times. This one is pretty good

If you just can't stomach reading and you need the "spoon it to me via video, baby", this will give you a bit of "surface sample". 

One of themes of my reading and blogging the past few years has been the increasing replacement of "science" with "scientism".  Science is never "settled", it is an inductive process of hypothesis, testing, if testing appears to be successful, a theory (model) is developed, and testing continues forever at various levels of granularity and conditions. Science is ALWAYS falsifiable ... meaning it can't be "settled". 

According to Google AI;

Scientism believes that most, if not all, metaphysical, philosophical, and religious claims should be done away with. This is because the truths they proclaim cannot be apprehended by the scientific method.

Scientism can be seen as a faith that science has no boundaries.

Scientism is a religion that denies that it is a religion. It converts our universe into a "machine" that asserts that what can't be measured doesn't exist. 

Man may not realize it, but his humanity does not really matter, it is nothing essential. His whole existence, his longing and his lust, his romantic lamentations and his most superficial needs, his joy and his sorrow, his doubt and his choices, his anger and unreasonableness, his pleasure and his suffering, his deepest aversion and his most lofty aesthetic appreciations, in short, the entire drama of existence, can ultimately be reduced to elementary particles that interact according to the laws of mechanics.

This appears on page 17 as a quote, but the source is not listed (guessing Hannah Arendt). The section is describing how science became an ideology (scientism).  

Strangely, as this book laments, even though post Quantum Physics, deeper understanding of time, biology, genetics, etc with more precise measurements and greater computing power, more "true scientists" (the ones not blinded by the ideology/religion of Scientism) and realizing the universe is not a machine, but rather a left brain generated illusion of a machine. 

"The Matter With Things" gives a lot of insight into how the post Enlightenment West veered to being a "disenchanted" left brained existence devoid of meaning. 

On page 51, Desmet gives an obvious "proof" of how "objectify" really doesn't exist. 

If you measure the coastline of Great Britain based on a unit of measurement of 200 kilometers, it is 2,400 kilometers long. If you measure it with a unit of 50 kilometers, it is 3,400 kilometers long. As you decrease the unit of measurement, the length of the coastline of Great Britan increases to infinity. 

How do you select the proper unit of measure? You use some sort of "intuition". 

As you think about the mechanical universe you run into a lot of "Zeno's paradoxes".  Most resemble the form: 

Any moving object must reach halfway on a course before it reaches the end; and because there are an infinite number of halfway points, a moving object never reaches the end in a finite time.

A mechanical view of the universe sees it as made up of discrete particles. At one time "atoms", then electrons, neutrons, protons, gluons, quarks, etc, etc ...  like good old Zeno, they never got "there". The current model is described in a number of books, you could start with "The Matter With Things" .... which asserts "it's waves all the way down" (there aren't any "elementary particles" as asserted in the "why we don't matter" statement above. For entertainment,  take a look at the "It's Turtles All the Way Down" to put a smile on your face even though the subject book is scary and sad. 

Why is this important? Mass Formation ... the deeply disturbing mass psychological phenomenon described in the book. 

Mass formation arises from the meeting of four psychological conditions at the population level, Desmet explains: feelings of social isolation, the absence of meaning in life, free-floating anxiety (lacking a clear object) and free-floating anger and frustration.
For those of us probably born to be iconoclasts, the following paragraph was obvious from the earliest days of the pandemic ... and people hated us for it. 
The Psychology of Totalitarianism raises profound questions about the uses, abuses and limitations of rationality, science and technology in our fraught times and their role in creating a deeply disturbing mass psychological phenomenon. Desmet’s analysis of the response to Covid-19 seeks to fill the gap left by the exclusion of psychological factors from the existing scholarship on totalitarianism. In so doing, he shows how whole populations, atomized by but collectively caught in a technological mindset that sees science as the answer to everything, can be overtaken by totalitarianism. Desmet believes this was occurring in the pandemic’s earliest days and continues today.

If you are a Covid narrative, Climate Change, Trust the Science, Materialist, Progressive, ... in short "Dominant Narrative" believer, who sees anyone not on "your side" as likely evil, brain damaged, deplorable, neanderthal, naive, etc, you will either throw this book down in disgust, or suffer an epiphany. 

For those in The Narrative, this is a definite "Red Pill". 


Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Politiqueros ?

Election fraud / manipulation / interference has been a cornerstone of  Democrat party since the Civil War. In the Jim Crow era it was required for them to suppress Black votes in the south to maintain power. 

As we see in the "Change the Electorate Strategy",  Democrats realize that a majority of Americans would never support their policies, since they lead to high inflation, shortages of especially energy, high crime rates, attacks on the nuclear family, crumbling infrastructure and much more that is unacceptable to the. actual majority. 

So they change the electorate, use the Administrative State (FBI, CIA, NSA, IRS, etc) to attack and often jail opposition voices, and candidates. Since the media gives them nearly airtight cover, what is very obvious, doesn't seem that way to most. 

Sometimes even their government funded mouthpiece ("public" media) slips up and says the quiet part out loud

In the town of Donna, five politiqueras pleaded guilty to election fraud. Voters were bribed with cigarettes, beer or dime bags of cocaine. In neighboring Cameron County, nine politiqueras were charged with manipulating mail-in ballots.

Those are actual convictions for fraud ... something Democrats assure us never happens. (Wink, Wink, Nod, Nod) 

Hustling votes has a rich political history in America. Chicagoans have been known to vote from beyond the grave. Democratic machines from New Orleans to New York City have hauled voters to the polls. In the Valley, it's all about mail-in ballots. A politiquera has a friendly relationship with a group of elderly voters, who are eligible to use mail-in ballots. They may be nursing home residents, neighbors or clients at activity centers for seniors.

A couple sad/funny statements: 

"My father was a Republican until the day he died, he always voted Democrat afterward". 

"Illegal Immigrant is a derogatory term! No human is illegal! The proper terms is "Undocumented Democrat"!

The top linked article is worth a read, and even following some of the embedded links (as I did with the NPR one). 

When he was vice president, Joe Biden said. “You know, 11 million people live in the shadows. I believe they’re already American citizens.” According to the Delaware Democrat, 11 million undocumented aliens “are already Americans, in my view.” As he had to know, they aren’t, and the number is also wrong.

The 11 million number is ridiculous, with 20 million plus likely being closer, however we really have no idea ... illegals don't register as illegal. (shocking!) As Biden says, Democrats see them as "citizens" ... well, more accurately "Undocumented Democrat voters". 

Not so shocking, If you go out and look, there is a remarkable correlation between blue states and states that have no voter ID requirement. 

Under current US law, you have to be able to speak English in order to be a US citizen

Under federal law, most applicants seeking citizenship must demonstrate an understanding of the English language — including an ability to speak, read and write words in ordinary usage — and demonstrate knowledge of U.S. history and government.

"Interestingly",  Section 203 of the voting rights act requires ballots to be printed in multiple languages"! 

Requires ballots to be printed in lots of languages. It appears however that this is Administrative "Law" tacked on under the "voting rights act". 

As Wikipedia says about Title 52 

Title 52 of the United States Code (52 U.S.C.), entitled "Voting and Elections", is a codification of the "general and permanent"[1] voting and election laws of the United States federal government. It was adopted as a result of "editorial reclassification"[2] efforts of the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the United States House of Representatives and was not enacted as positive law.[3][note 1]

"Editorial reclassification" certainly seems like "Administrative Law"?  Which Constitutional scholars are increasingly declaring to be unconstitutional. 


Saturday, September 23, 2023

The Change The Electorate Strategy

An excellent VDH article on the purpose of the why the Biden administration is accelerating illegal immigration.

"But why did the Biden administration deliberately unleash the largest influx across the southern border in U.S. history?

The ethnic chauvinists and Democratic Party elites needed new constituents, given their increasingly unpopular agendas.

They feared that the more legal Latino immigrants assimilated and integrated into American society, the less happy they became with left-wing radical abortion, racial, transgender, crime, and green fixations.
When the older illegal immigrants (often still illegal) became more assimilated, they realized that their religion, family values, and work ethics were being attacked, they further realized that if they "voted" (often illegall) for Democrats, they were likely to turn the Southern border states into Mexico, much like more and more US citizens that fled blue states for red, are increasinly realizing that if they vote for Democrats, they are going to end up turning the red states into failed blue states like the ones they left! 

The "change the electorate strategy via immigration" is old. I embed here a blog post I did back in 2015: 

Ted Kennedy’s 1965 Immigration Act: The War On America Turns 50 | VDARE - premier news outlet for patriotic immigration reform:

Fifty years ago this week Teddy Kennedy and the Democrats passed legislation that moved America from being a predominantly European ancestry, to a nation that looked more like the rest of the planet  (other than Europe) -- predominantly non-white.

The fact of the legislation having the effect of changing American demographics and thereby culture is not in question --  Democrats say that "we were just unaware what would happen". Ignorance is always possible, but it was certainly willful ignorance if so, Customs and Immigration Services knew what was going to happen.
In 1965, the political elite on Capitol Hill may not have predicted a mass increase in immigration. But Marian Smith, the historian for Customs and Immigration Services, showed me a small agency booklet from 1966 that certainly did. It explains how each provision in the new law would lead to a rapid increase in applications and a big jump in workload — more and more so as word trickled out to those newly eligible to come.
In any case, it produced the country that used to be America that now sits between Canada and Mexico. A country with no identifiable people, culture, religion or shared values. A country whose only definition is geography and the fact that it is divided.
Republicans should be sweeping the country, but they aren’t, because of Kennedy’s immigration law. Without post-1965 immigrants bloc-voting for the Democrats, Obama never would have been elected president, and Romney would have won a bigger landslide against him in 2012 than Reagan did against Carter in 1980.
In 1965, Democrats were in total control of the country. I consider myself pretty well read, but I never understood exactly why my old home town is heavily Somalian, why the Twin Cities and even Rochester have large Somali populations, nor why every small town in IA has a decent Mexican restaurant. I thought it was somehow "unavoidable" given very long term US immigration policy -- as if the same laws that brought Germans, Swedes, Irish, etc just naturally allowed the Mexican, Somali, etc immigration we have seen in the last 50 years.

The change the electorate strategy was specific decision made by specific people -- the Kennedy's being chief among them. Like a lot of Democrat actions, it was promised to be completely different than what happened, but in a rational world, we would evaluate politicians by what actually happens rather than what they promise will happen.

Here is what LBJ had to say when he signed the bill.
"This bill that we will sign today is not a revolutionary bill. It does not affect the lives of millions," Johnson said at the signing ceremony. "It will not reshape the structure of our daily lives or add importantly to either our wealth or our power."
I guess he was right about it not adding to our wealth or power!

Democrats tell  us through media and education that there is nothing that can be done about this now. It is over -- what was once America is dead and gone, and they and the people they have selected as voters are fast creating whatever they want to call the new nation. The culture will be what they say it is -- atheist, Muslim, totalitarian, 3rd world -- whatever. Those of us anachronisms that remember the old America need to just sit back and accept it. 

They may well be right -- but at least it is good to know exactly who it was, and when it was that they decided to stick the knife in the eagle.

If VDH is correct, and Mexicans and other illegals are smart enough to realize they are being used as pawns, perhaps there is hope after all??  

Friday, September 15, 2023

Regime Change - Toward A Postliberal Future

I find the title of the book to be unnecessarily provocative. The word "regime" can be looked at as "a way of doing things", or "culture", or possibly "worldview"."Regime Change" sounds like the replacement of  authoritarian rule -- more like "revolution", which is what this book asserts that the "creative destruction" of Democratic Capitalism as implemented is effectively a state of revolution all the time, that needs to be changed. 

What we are witnessing in America is a regime that is exhausted. Liberalism has not only failed, as I argued in my last book, but its dual embrace of economic and social ‘progress’ has generated a particularly virulent form of that ancient divide that pits the ‘few’ against the ‘many.’

Confession! As I later read the 2nd link, I got confused about which linked article I pulled which quote from. The 2nd link is "better" asin having more depth ... lots of Strauss, Machiavelli, etc. 

I would recommend Deneen's last book "Why Liberalism Failed" to be read as a prelude to this one. They are somewhat like two volumes on our failed model of governance. 

I may have missed it, but I don't see that Deneen has adequately defined "mixed regime", which shows up a lot in the book. I'll try to define this fairly nebulous beast. It is a "stew" that combines democracy (rule by the masses), aristocracy(rule by the "elite" or "best") and monarchy (rule by a king/queen). Aristotle is often credited with being the first to dream it up, but l like much of ancient history, that may be apocryphal. No matter, referring to Aristotle will always give one the patina of intellectualism! 

To try to map the "mixed regime" onto the US, as the president being the "monarch", the senate (prior to the 17th amendment which elected senators by popular vote) being the "aristocracy", and the house would be the democracy. Imprecise at best. Very simply, the book would assert that we have attempted to drift toward democracy, while really ended up being an oligarchy, a form of "rule by the elite", in our case meaning the wealthy, the democrats, big media, big business, and the Administrative State as the "means" by which they rule. Increasingly even using organizations like the FBI to attack their political adversaries. 

 One of our many problems today is that the words we use have changed meaning over time. "Classical Liberals"  (Locke, Hayek, Friedman, etc) put pretty much all their faith in Capitalism, "Creative Destruction" and "a rising tide lifts all boats". Up until recently, I would have confidently accepted the label "classical liberal" because I believe that the rising tide of greater prosperity HAS lifted all the boats ECONOMICALLY. It certainly hasn't lifted them equally, but that is impossible ... the US has given people equal opportunity, there is no way to give them equal ability! 

Sadly however it is increasingly clear that the "Golden Goose" of Capitalism/Creative Destruction has killed the culture that it appears will now kill that creator of plenty (too much?) that Capitalism/Creative Destruction bequeathed us with. "Stuff" has created a "matter over mind/spirit" culture where most live lives of despair

The "liberals" of today, commonly called "progressives", want to keep all the economic progress, but "somehow" have it be "equal". 

Progressive liberalism has held that through the overcoming of all forms of parochial and traditional belief and practice, ancient divisions and limits could be overcome and instead be replaced by a universalised empathy. With the advance of progress, the old divisions – once based in class, but increasingly defined in the terms of sexual identity – would wither away and give rise to the birth of a new humanity.

Utopianism is a perpetual danger to mankind. The road to "perfection" in this world has proven over and over again to be the road to Hell. The ancient problem of the conflict between "the few and the many".  I agree with Anton: 

Deneen has our elites’ number, yet even in Regime Changs early pages I found myself disagreeing a bit. He maps the ancient conflict between the few and the many onto our present predicament in a way I find a little too one-to-one. What we face today is less the age-old struggle between rich and poor than a coalition (conspiracy?) of high and low against the middle.

Anton goes on to say:

Perhaps it’s more precise to say that in contemporary America there is not one “popular” or downscale class but two: one that benefits from, and hence is aligned with, the present ruling class and one that is hurt by it and thus opposed. These two humors of populares cannot unite because their interests are diametrically opposed: the former are not only direct clients of the ruling class but often direct beneficiaries of elite depredations against what the late Angelo Codevilla called the “country class.”

From the 2nd linked review: 

What is needed — and what most ordinary people want — is stability, order, continuity and a sense of gratitude for the past and obligation toward the future.

I believe that is what "ordinary people" SHOULD want if they think about it, but I'm afraid we are too far gone into meaningless distraction and consumerism for most to think about much of anything at that levl of cogence ... but the pessimism tends to be strong with me.  

 In 2016 we were introduced to the strange coalition. between the Bernie supporters and the Trump supporters. The elites hate both Trump and Bernie, thus they coronated Hillary, one of their own. Trump united the lower class people that wanted to get back to decent paying jobs and the lower middle class people that knew they were being screwed by the elite. A lot of the far left Bernie Bros just sat it out, but some were so mad at seeing Hillary coronated that they even voted for Trump! 

Deneen begins his book, “nobody can look at America and think it is flourishing.” I suppose one can always find someone to say anything, but the qualifier is decisive here and Deneen is exactly right. If you think America 2023 is in good shape, that is ipso facto proof that you lack sense.

So we are a divided disaster with a real lack of any idea of how to get back to something where there is agreement on working together for "the Common Good". 

We need to go deeper to understand a "way back" if such exists:

Indeed, very little, if anything, Deneen proposes would have been alien or anathema to the American Founders or their philosophic forebears. Deneen is well known for being one of a small (though perhaps growing) group of “integralists,” thinkers who wish to reintegrate not just religious faith but religious observance with political practice. To contemporary ears, that sounds profoundly illiberal. And perhaps it is—depending on one’s definition of “liberal.” But the same John Locke who is Deneen’s Bad Liberal #1 held that there is no conflict between religious liberty and government’s right to teach its own preferred religion. He even advocated government prohibition of open atheism. That position is not “liberal” by contemporary standards nor even in Deneen’s understanding.

For those of us with Christian belief, it seems some more study of the "integralists" is in order.

It is a worthy book, somewhat dense as any book on a topic so vast and complex is doomed to be. I highly recommend the review which is excellent ... it also points you off to other excellent important books to aid in comprehension of our increasingly obvious peril. 

Monday, September 11, 2023

Mass Formation, Where Did Meaning Go?

Quite possibly the best hour for you to spend for this, or maybe a decade of years. 

Just ignore your Tucker Carlson bias (whatever that may be or not to be), Desmet does all the talking. 

The book is on order. 

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Iowa Has The Most Structurally Deficient Bridges!

Wow! That seems scary! 

Why did I decide to blog on it? Because "scary headlines" are what are pushed at us all the time, and they tend to have a political agenda, even if there may be neither anything political nor scary involved. 

If you read the whole article, you find: 

But despite the rankings, officials say drivers should not be worried.

“If there’s any concern about safety and the traveling public, they will either post a bridge for load, which means they’ll restrict the weight, or maybe truck traffic that crosses the bridge or in extreme cases, they may shut down a lane or the entire bridge,” ARTBA Chief Economist Alison Black said.

Officials say many cities may struggle to raise the money for necessary repairs, especially in rural areas.
I'm sure that headline will show up on a lot of papers in Iowa, and get a lot of political attacks on Republican officials.  Why are we so divided again?  While the article is "true",  I wanted to look at a little context, often missing in todays "headline news". The end of the article does give a hint ... 
Officials say many cities may struggle to raise the money for necessary repairs, especially in rural areas.

Iowa is blessed with a LOT of rural roads! Most people will read just the headline, and it will likely be endlessly repeated on social media.  

Why would Iowa have so many bridges? 

At least in NW Iowa there are mostly quite small bridges over the many tile drainage ditches. From my not super extensive travels around Iowa, this seems to be true for much of the state. A glance at this chart of where the defective bridges are at, shows that many of those states are in areas where there tend to be significant parts of the year that alternate between freezing and thawing, which means more salt as well as just the effects of the temperature changes. 

Minnesota and Wisconsin are an interesting challenge to my theory. Having traveled extensively in both states (grew up in WI, lived in MN for 40 years), one thought is that once they freeze, they tend to mostly stay frozen ... the frost doesn't tend to partially come out during the winter. 

Iowa has a lot more truck traffic than either MN or WI in rural areas.The above chart shows that neither makes the top 13 for number of bridges.

 Small dairy farms are pretty much replaced by multi-thousand cow herds, while in IA, the 23 million hogs are housed in 5,400 separate farms that need tending with big trucks. Why so many farms vs concentration?  Needing to knife in 10 billion gallons of hog manure demands a lot of dispersion, meaning a lot of 120,000 lb tank/tractor combinations running over mostly side roads with all those small bridges over tile drainage ditches.   

I don't really want to ramble on about the MN/WI rating possibly disproving my theory. Maybe they just really do have much better government, and Iowa is derelict. The main point is that the article doesn't really go to enough depth to tell much of anything beyond a ranking that causes attention to be focused. 

A lot of US infrastructure is in bad shape ... roads, bridges. canals. electrical grid, etc. About what one would expect in a rapidly failing nation, more focused on which bathroom to use rather than mundane things like infrastructure. 

Perhaps articles like this can "hide the decline", or at least divert attention from the federal government to red state governments. 

As I've often seen in Democrat writings in IA, the simple solution is to get rid of the hog farms! (while they enjoy their bacon. sausage on pizza, ribs, etc. Deep thought is often not a Democrat characteristic! 

I'm REALLY biased. I LOVE my pork and one year I worked for my brother in law as the team of 3 tank/tractor units running 24X7 pumped and knifed in a tiny fraction of the hog manure. A mere 50 million gallons.