Tuesday, February 27, 2024

The American Way of Death, Amanda Richard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Thoughts On Machiavelli, Leo Strauss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 10, 2024

The UN Hamas Alliance Physically Uncovered

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Shorting the Grid: The hidden fragility of our power grid

 If you are video oriented to the link which is a review of the documentary "Juice", it contains links to the excellent documentary.

I'll make the obvious points that people have been so brainwashed they forget: 

  • The sun only shines by day, and sometimes it is cloudy.
  • To produce solid power, wind turbines need winds of 12-25 MPH to be efficient producers, at around 55 MPH, they have to set blades to protect themselves from damage and can produce no power. (blizzards in cold climates often exceed that when the power is needed most)
  • We need constant, cheap, reliable power to operate our society. Renewables miss all three. 
  • Since renewables are unreliable, they must be backed up with instantly available power. Translation, every watt of "green" energy has to be backed up by coal, natural gas or nuclear. No current or foreseeable battery backup is useful for grid level energy.
The preferred backup is Natural Gas (NG). Unfortunately, building new pipelines has been blocked because environmentalists want ZERO use of fossil fuel, When the weather gets cold, the demand for NG goes up enough that power plants can't get it. 

One of the most efficient power plants on earth is a Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT). When you run such a machine steadily in baseload operation, it can turn about 60% of the energy in the gas into electric energy. In contrast, a simple gas turbine will turn about 40% of the energy in the fuel into electricity.

That is great news (although still not good enough for the Greens that want ZERO emissions). However, given that current incentives are forcing wind/solar backed up with NG (the book explains how subsidies create this problem). 

Something you will likely not hear in mass media is: 

Emissions can also increase with the increased use of renewables. Backing up renewables can cause inefficient operation of fossil plants, leading to an increase of emissions on the grid. In other words, as renewables increase, emissions can also increase.

 To get the 60% efficiency of a CCGT, it has to be HOT. The efficiency comes from the exhaust heating a boiler for a steam generator. This is even worse for coal. The plant has to be run at a lower (inefficient) output to do a "hot switch" when its power is required, 

Much of the time, a "green grid" is dirtier than a scrubbed coal CCGT powered grid, because since the renewables are not stable, the scenario can be likened to you driving your car between being shut off, and then mashing the gas to the floor to go to maximum speed, your mileage will vary (down), and your emissions will increase, 

Why are the rich and powerful so excited about wind? Here is Warren Buffet on the issue: 

"I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire’s tax rate,” Buffet told an audience in Omaha, Nebraska, recently. “For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”

The rich get richer from tax credits, while the poor get poorer from higher energy costs. As the grid becomes increasingly fragile, the poor also get to live and die in cold darkness. 

The obvious answer to this is nuclear, and if any of the supposed "greens" in power actually believed that Climate Change was a near term "crisis", they would be pushing building nuclear power in a way that would make them at least as much money as the current "renewable" wealth generator for the billionaires. 

Our elites care about their wealth and false "virtue". The fact that the collateral damage is high energy prices that the middle and lower classes can't bear and rolling blackouts or worse for the "deplorables" is not a concern for the Davos folks. 

They know all this; they just want to make sure you don't!