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.