Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Churchill's Trial, Larry Arn

It's a "trial" in the sense of difficult challenges he dealt with, not a court trial.

A delight to at least students of Churchill. While much of our study of Churchill focuses on his life prior to him being summarily dumped from office in 1945 after having saved the nation and the world from the scourge of National Socialism. Naturally, the British people were ungrateful and anxious to be coddled in the warm reptilian embrace of socialism. As one of history's certified great men, Churchill was not particularly angry -- he understood human nature very well and realized that ever since the Garden of Eden, man has been extremely prone to accept false promises.

The quote we all need to keep before us as the population again, even efter many harsh lessons, returns to the siren song of Socialism:

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”
From his "Crazy Speech" that helped him lose the 1945 election:

I declare to you, from the bottom of my heart, that no Socialist system can be established without a political police…No Socialist Government conducting the entire life and industry of the country could afford to allow free, sharp, or violently ­worded expressions of public discontent. They would have to fall back on some form of Gestapo, no doubt very humanely directed in the first instance.
I'm reminded of the excellent "Liberal Fascism" which covers the "why" of this statement in more detail. It is human nature to work for our own gain, and do be the ones who decide how the fruits of that gain are apportioned -- we may well be very generous, however there are few among us who joyfully pay our taxes. Increasing force is required to achieve the goals of any form of Socialism, be it labled "National" (Nazi), or a cover for Communist (USSR).

On page 225, Arn recounts an interesting observation from actual excellent politicians in a Democracy from Churchill ... "They are quite downcast and offended when the (nasty) cartoons stop. ... they murmur; " We are not mauled and maltreated as we used to be. The great days have ended.""

Democracy is messy, Totalitarianism in any form is very quiet with the exception of massive STAGED hordes of shouting masses all of coerced single mind "Heil Hitler"! The people "loved" the leadership of the USSR -- as long as they were forced to at gunpoint -- and then the "beloved" statues came down. 

On p 182, Arn summarizes the population of a modern near-Socialist state, numbed by the "Mass Effects": 

"Their opinions shaped by the "machinery" of the press and widespread diffusion of standard  views. Education was "universal and superficial", it produced "standardized citizens, all equipped with regulation opinions, prejudices and sentiments according to their class or party". 
Sounds a lot like much of the current population of the west!  

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Epimenides, Absolute Thinking, Schiff

As Pilate observed, "what is truth"?

Is very hard question for mere humans to arrive an answer to this question -- although our media marketing complex is ready and willing to give us easy (but false) answers. 

Accepting that Christ is "The Way, The Truth and The Life", would be an excellent start. This would quickly lead to the realization that we can at most , "discern" with a lot of his Grace, that we can never judge, because "Judgement is the Lords". 

The linked gets into the Epimenides paradox -- "All Cretans are liars" ... however, Epimenides is a Cretan, so ... 

Sentient beings tend to get out of this paradox pretty easily, since the idea of "absolutes" is more applicable in the domain of mathematics and metaphysics than reality. Primarily, because they inherently realize that such thought games are just that -- games. They don't put food on the table!  If they choose to waste a little time, they know that just because Epimenides and Cretins may be "in most cases"  liars, does not infer ALL cases, 

For flesh and blood people who do actual work and live in the real world outside of the echo chamber of Washington and the MSM, and sometimes, (with increasing difficulty) even outside the "Matrix-lite" world of  media and marketing (but I repeat myself), most of what the "Media-Marketing-Matrix sells and tells is simply nonsense. 

The "Media-Marketing-Matrix" (MMM) deals mostly in absolues, and absolutes need to have the classic lost in space warning -- "Danger Will Robinson" on their "package" (like cigarettes). 

... but of course they do not. The Deep/Administrative State are increasingly one in the same with the MMM -- it is very lucrative to sell snake oil.

One of the many losses as our nation as lost God, is that Satan has led many of us into the ditches of "Liberals bad, Conservatives good" ... or vice-versa, the general case of "Our side good, other side evil". We are lost lambs without Christ, easily led to the easy (and false) comfort of earthly absolutes. Satan is a VERY absolute guy -- my guess is that the true Absolute of Gods Love and willingness to forgive is what really burned his biscuits. How could God love such clearly flawed, ugly,  and unloveable creatures as humans! Satan simply could not accept the "injustice" of it! 

Someone with basic exposure to psychology understands how dangerous such thinking is to our lives and relationships. However we are daily bombarded with media that is increasingly targeted to support each of our narrow views as "ultimate justice", and the alternative POV as the "essence of evil",  thus relationships, family, and eventually our country are destroyed. 

Trump is Satan, Adam Schiff is truth and light! ... or vice versa. Call me skeptical. 

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Psychopath Inside

A book I  very much enjoyed -- but many may not. It gives you "The time", "The watch", "How to build the watch", as well as quite a bit about the watchmaker (biography) -- a play on "I just wanted to know the time, not how to build a watch". "

The author, James Fallon, is a fairly famous brain scientist specializing in the study of what the brains of psychopaths look like, and how are they different from the norm. If you want to get to know him, there are a number of Youtube's of him, and he has appeared in the media in various forms.

The "punchline" is that he accidentally discovers that HE is what he classifies as a "prosocial psychopath"! He also has some interesting connections " ... I had seen her (mom) lecture our family friend George Carlin ...". Also a bunch of film and media connections, since the line between scary and interesting is sometimes narrow -- "psychopathic killer" as sold a lot of movies and books!

He goes into a LOT of depth on his personal life experience, and the neuroscience of various behavior disorders -- depression, borderline, bipolar, narcissism, OCD, panic disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, obesity, social phobia, etc

He starts out as pretty much a materialist "matter over mind, nature vs nurture", but as with many of us, reality has a way of calling imagined world views into question as they face up to the actual world. 

In my mind, we are machines, albeit machines we don’t understand all that well, and I have believed for decades that we have very little control over what we do and who we are. To me, nature (genetics) determines about 80 percent of our personality and behavior, and nurture (how and in what environment we are raised) only 20 percent.
This is the way I have always thought about the brain and behavior. But this understanding took a stinging, and rather embarrassing, blow starting about 2005, and I continue to reconcile my past belief with my present reality. I have come to understand—even more than I did before—that humans are, by nature, complicated creatures.

I found the results of a a Case Western Reserve study by  Anthony Jack to be an interesting explanation as to why some people have a lot of trouble thinking of a dualistic mind/body/spirit sort of split.

What group of people did Tony Jack find that are stumped by the very idea of dualism? Psychopaths. My lack of emotional empathy and my abandonment of God, the soul, and belief in free will may all be connected.

As Christ said, "forgive them for they know not what they do", it seems that science has now verified this.

Having worked at IBM with a number of people (including myself) at least fairly high on the autism spectrum, I found the following interesting.

... another important dichotomy, and that is between emotional empathy and cognitive empathy, also known as “theory of mind.” Theory of mind, as I’ve previously discussed, arises early in childhood, developing progressively until adulthood, and is a key developmental accomplishment in which the child learns she possesses mental states like desires and intentions and beliefs, and that others possess similar states, though those may be different from her own. Someone with autism will not show a normal theory of mind. This lack may also be present in people with some personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder, and also some forms of bipolar disorder. In contrast, people with psychopathy, narcissism, and certain affective types of schizophrenia will have cognitive empathy but lack emotional empathy.
 As I worked as a Peer Support Specialist and reflectect on my personal struggles with anxiety, depression and panic, and also studied DBT and practiced mindfulness, I became more aware of various "spectrums" ... as was stated in the book.

Psychiatry is moving away from categorical thinking—the latest diagnostic manual talks about “dimensions” to disorders—but it’s hard when doctors don’t want to learn new methods, insurance companies need to rely on specific diagnoses, and everyone likes closure and clearly defined labels. I see psychopathy like others see art; I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.
Categories are helpful and dangerous -- as is pretty much everything. "Everything in moderation" is a statement with a lot of wisdom. We are ALL "on the spectrum" for all characteristics, AND, the more we are aware of that, and willing to give grace to others because we are all in the same boat, the better this world will be. "Do unto others" tells the tale.

Would you like to be forgiven? Then forgive.

Would you like to be loved? Then love.

Would you like to be understood? Then seek to understand.

I found this paragraph to be obviously and totally true! (at age 63 ;-)
These brain circuits mature at different times during development, and although there are major maturational events that take place in the terrible twos, puberty, late adolescence, the twenties, and the mid-thirties, some are not completely integrated until one is in the sixties, which appears to be the typical average peak time of human insight, cognition, and understanding in many realms of life.
Not that we have a choice, but if I did have a choice, the grass looks greener to me on the other side ... (I've got a lot of anxiety and memory, and my theory is that part of the reason they go together is because you KNOW that if you screw up, or bad things happen to you, you WILL remember -- VIVIDLY!)

For example, one allele that codes for the growth factor BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) is associated with excellent memory but high anxiety. This is the combination I have, and it fits with my actual behavior. The other allele of BDNF codes for lower memory function but also low anxiety. So what would I rather have, a great memory and high anxiety or a poorer memory and a mellow disposition? Tough call.
So ... if you enjoy LOTS of detail, low level brain chemistry discussion, personal biography/asides, etc, then I HIGHLY recommend this book. If you don't, then if you are able to judiciously skip around the "watchmaking sections", you might still like it --- otherwise, look for other brilliantly done reviews like this one ;-)

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Reichstag Is Still Burning, Jaffa

A brilliant essay by a newly discovered (for me) brilliant thinker, Harry Jaffa. My introduction is by way of the entertaining and educational Powerline Podcast, which I regularly enjoy while taking my walks.

An excellent discourse on one of my common themes -- when universals (like "chair" being a useful descriptive term) are denied, then statements like "all men are created equal" become meaningless, since metaphysical abstraction is denied along with metaphysics. If ALL is MATERIAL, and there is no use in any abstraction that can't be "resolved" (as in Object Oriented Programming) to a specific physical "object" (experimentally verifiable fact/thing), then all we can work with are "white men", "black men", "gay women", "undefined gender beings", etc ...

This discourse gets us quickly back to Hegel - Heidegger, who in believing in Historicism (that history is "progressing" to "the correct thought"), and Hegel declaring "we've arrived", then "universals are what smart people declare they are" (in this case Hegel).

Modern "progressivism" declares "there is no end" -- although thinkers like Francis Fukuyama have extended Hegel/Heidegger to say "we are REALLY there now" in "The End of History". 

When we can no longer think in terms of "all men", we are driven to "white men" and their "privilege", or a "Master Race" because POWER ("Might is right") is all that matters in the world of the completely physical.

The title refers to the example of American educational system being driven to add and remove areas of study through riots and physical violence, so that study of "dead white men" (the ancients, the founders, the Bible, Shakespeare, etc)  were driven from the academy.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Non Delegation Clause, A Deep State Limit At Last?

The linked article naturally is VERY concerned about any potential limit to the power of the Administrative / Deep State. ("puissance" is just an arcane term for lotsa power)

The doctrine’s puissance lies in the separation of powers. In the American constitutional order, it’s the role of Congress to write the laws and the role of the executive branch to carry them out. The doctrine bars any branch from handing its powers to another branch. Congress can’t pass a bill that gives the president the power to write his own legislation, for example. Nor can the president instruct the military to take orders from the House and Senate Armed Services Committee instead of himself. Sounds simple enough.
Most of the alphabet bureaucracy that does most of the "ruling" in BOistan is unconstitutional because it removes any enforcement of limits on government, which the "progressives" LOVE!

The main innovation of America was LIMITED GOVERNMENT, something never before tried -- the power of kings was UNlimited.  The mechanism by which the government was limited was separation of powers -- "factions", enforced by adherence to a written constitution that could only be amended by a difficult to garner 3/4ths majority. Difficult, but proven to be far from "impossible" -- the 13th amendment ending slavery, the 19th giving women the right to vote were evidence of the mechanism we were granted working as designed. Nobody imagined that women could be granted the right to vote via a SCOTUS decision!

Roe, Kelo, Obergefell and the refusal so far to enforce separation of powers since FDR have led to the runaway growth of the Administrative / Deep State, which with the election of Trump has decided that direct interference in elections, including reversing them is within Administrative/Deep State "puissance" (POWER!).

Thus, at this moment, BOistan is "A divided people, under the unlited power of the Administrative/Deep State, without liberty, and without justice for any not part of the elite Deep State, for whose benefit the deplorables are allowed to serve. 

How Sir Roger Scruton Became Conservative

A superb answer to why I am a conservative. Your time would be well spent reading the article! A few nuggets ...

Law is constrained at every point by reality, and utopian visions have no place in it. Moreover the common law of England is proof that there is a real distinction between legitimate and illegitimate power, that power can exist without oppression, and that authority is a living force in human conduct. English law, I discovered, is the answer to Foucault.
The abstract is unconstrained, reality is always constrained.

Whether you call it "modernism", "progressivism", "materialism", or "liberalism" it all boils down to the faith that there is no such thing as transcendence or God, it is ALL "particles and progress".

Modernism in architecture was an attempt to remake the world as though it contained nothing save atomic individuals, disinfected of the past, and living like ants within their metallic and functional shells.

A snippet of Sir Rogers thoughts after being allowed a visit to Communist Prague in 1979, and his closing of why he does not despair. Just read it!

To put it very simply, I had been granted a vision of Satan and his work—the very same vision that had shaken Burke to the depths of his being. And I at last recognized the positive aspect of Burke’s philosophy as a response to that vision, as a description of the best that human beings can hope for, and as the sole and sufficient vindication of our life on earth.

Henceforth, I understood conservatism not as a political credo only, but as a lasting vision of human society, one whose truth would always be hard to perceive, harder still to communicate, and hardest of all to act upon. And especially hard is it now, when religious sentiments follow the whims of fashion, when the global economy throws our local loyalties into disarray, and when materialism and luxury deflect the spirit from the proper business of living. But I do not despair, since experience has taught me that men and women can flee from the truth only for so long, that they will always, in the end, be reminded of the permanent values, and that the dreams of liberty, equality, and fraternity will excite them only in the short-term.
As to the task of transcribing, into the practice and process of modern politics, the philosophy that Burke made plain to the world, this is perhaps the greatest task that we now confront. I do not despair of it; but the task cannot be described or embraced by a slogan. It requires not a collective change of mind but a collective change of heart.

Friday, January 17, 2020

4 Pillars For American Education

Excellent article!

These are the four chief elements, the four pillars, of the founding of Hillsdale College: learning, character, faith, and freedom. The College’s founders saw these things not as items on a discrete list, but as a description of the complete human being and of the well-lived human life. Of course colleges proceed by argument, evidence, and proof, and here at Hillsdale we argue about anything, including these elements. We preserve them as well because they lay the ground for that argument, for its continuing civility and probity, for the advancement of learning, and for the preservation of the freedom to do it. They are a prescription for civilization.
I tend to order them in what I see as the proper order :

  1. Faith -- Because you are certain to have it, and if it isn't in something unchanging and purposeful, then why bother?
  2. Character -- Which I believe can only be developed by faith in Christ, because through the workings of the Holy Spirit that will allow it's growth in humility and confidence--confidence in Christ, not yourself. 
  3. Learning -- If you are a Christian, you will be immersed in learning about Christ, and in Christ you will be truly free to face a lot of the very uncomfortable things about reality. Without Christian faith, and character developed by the Holy Spirit, you will almost certainly learn a lot of very wrong things. 
  4. Freedom -- I see this as an often misunderstood pillar. As Solzhenitsyn and Frankel taught us, even in the most extreme cases of the lack of physical freedom, we can be free in Christ beyond all even potential earthly human freedom. In fact, the greatest earthy physical freedom is often a horrid prison of addiction, striving after mammon, etc 
I found this paragraph to be a good statement of what we need to get back as a people if we want to be "Great Again". 

In former times, the most thoughtful people valued the old or the new only insofar as they gave a clue to the eternal and transcendent. In seeking the transcendent, they believed that old things did have a certain dignity on their face: they have the advantage of persistence, which is one part of virtue. Things that have been thought good for a long time are worthy of attention, respect, and study. New things are harder to judge. Nonetheless, both old and new things must meet the test of permanence and transcendence.
To the modern ear, that sounds antiquated. Today the theme is not permanence, but change; not transcendence, but presence. Change is the master key to everything. Change can be eternal only in the sense that everything changes. But if everything changes, nothing is permanent, and nothing is transcendent. Today we are trying to make a transcendent good out of the one thing that cannot transcend.

We are created with an eternal soul, and our life is intended to be a journey back to the source of that soul.  We are permanent, we made to seek the permanent. Truth itself is under a withering attack -- how can it not be if all is change?

Modern liberalism in America begins with two ideas: one, everything is change; two, we should use science to get control of the process of change and make the society into what we want it to be. This is the engineering project that has significantly changed the way we are governed. It threatens to change our way of life decisively and for all time.
 Just read the article rather than me, your very freedom to be able to do so is under a vicious and amoral attack in a sham "impeachment" as this is written!

American Ulysses

What a great book for our time! Americans REALLY had something to fight about, they did, and at great cost (likely more like 750k dead rather than the 600k commonly quoted), AND, they moved on -- with Grant being a (if not THE) major factor in that happening.

I find this review to be worthy to give you an overview -- it is definitely a book complimentary to Grant.

My thoughts:

  • We ought to have Washington, Lincoln and Grant on Mt Rushmore! (and we need a new one -- like a cross between Reagan and Trump)
  • That Longstreet stood up at his wedding, then was one of the big generals for the South, THEN they returned to solid friendship says an awful lot about the men and the times! 
  • We see that "Fake News" is not a new phenomenon -- Grant, a "doer" had a period of heavy drinking when he was stationed in California with nothing to do -- and that was that. The rest of the accusations of this "problem" are examples of people telling stories to tear down an modest and quiet man for their own advancement. 
  • That Grant was supposed to attend Ford's theater with Lincoln on the night of the assassination and decided against because his beloved wife Julia wanted to be with the kids is a great example of how "little things" change history. Based on Grant's capabilities is quite likely he would have foiled Booth -- and he was forever sorry that he was not there to try. 
  • Why our educational system gets Grant so horribly wrong is yet another example of how we have been brainwashed -- he was extremely loved, AND he was a unifier! However, he had an R next to his name, he was for less government / strong currency, and was hated by Democrats. Apparently ending slavery and being assassinated was good enough for academia to honor Lincoln (for now). Without Grant (the indispensable general), Lincoln would likely NOT have been re-elected in 1864, and thus the 13th Amendment freeing the slaves would not have happened. Lincoln would have been remembered as a failed president that cost the lives of more Americans than any other. 
If we want to return to the principles that made America great, we need to return to an educational level something like "1950", where virtually all voters understand significantly more about what it takes to have a Constitutional Republic, and how far we have strayed! 

Highly recommended!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Get Thee Outside Of Thyself

The book referenced at end of linked is on order. This is definitely a "just read the referenced" ... I'm not going to add any wisdom here, and I doubt I can distill it any better than Luther or Veith for that matter, whose Blog I follow, and whose one book I've read so far, I love.

One tiny quote ...

Christians especially should consider the implications of a God who became flesh, who sanctifies the glorious and distinct beings comprising external reality. He, after all, is the “Logos,” or Being, who brought about and secures the “logoi,” or beings, of the created external order. Because of him, our “neighbor” becomes an object of love, not a character in our own psychic dramas. He draws us out of ourselves and into himself, the glorious “other.”

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Ditches Are Female Dogs

In the heavily leftist dominated world of today, it is easy to forget that there are ALWAYS at least two ditches ... and frequently many more. Action has risks, and so does INaction. Churchill groupies like the idiot moose point to the runup to WWII, and how the appeasers created Hitler -- when he invaded the Rhineland, if a single French soldier would have challenged the move, his own generals were itching to assassinate him! But that of course is HISTORY, and the left doesn't like to look at history or they would not be the left! (gravity has often worked in the past, and the left wants us ignore and even better, not be aware of that!)

They are burdened with the hard task of being blind to even the present -- it is REALLY hard to be aware of the USSR, N Korea, China, Venezuela, Cuba, etc and say "leftism works"!

When you don't act, you embolden the bad guys to act. They are much more likely to attack Pee Wee Herman than Godzilla!

Of course "likely" and "certain" are different things ... SOMEONE does win the lottery after all, so there are "risks" (and there always are) ... our current problem with the leftist dominated media is that the risks are shown through the Hubble telescope and the rewards are shown through an electron microscope.

The linked does a better job of covering these apparently complex concepts.