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!

Friday, January 19, 2024

The Dedication of the Dead Voter

Understanding the Dead Vote

The link is to a column from "The Center for the American Experiment", an excellent Minnesota based Think Tank. 

It turns out that Minnesota has some of the planet’s longest-lived humans. They tell me that the oldest person alive is aged a mere 116 years. But just in the Fifth Congressional District alone, I found 36 currently registered voters born in the year 1900, which would put them at more than 123 years old. Twenty-one of these thirty-six seasoned citizens reside in Minneapolis.

We know there is no such thing as voter fraud, and to even assert such these days is potentially a crime. Certainly "Disinformation" at a minimum, and we can't have that!  

Unfortunately, one of Minneapolis’ oldest voters is no longer with us. I won’t mention her by name, but she was born in 1915 and passed away in May 2021, just six days before her 106th birthday. Luckily, her May 2021 passing didn’t prevent her from updating her voter registry in October 2022 from her final home in the 3rd Congressional District to her new Minneapolis address.

I want to commend this person's patriotism. I know that if I rose from the dead, updating my voter registration would not be high on my priority list.  

Having lived in MN, I know they want to make voting available to all, so it would be a terrible thing to go to the extreme trouble of updating the voter registration rolls. Thankfully, as the previous quote shows, Minnesota voters are so dedicated to "our democracy" (the one Trump is an existential threat to) that they are willing to update their registration even when they rise from the dead! 

I'm a fan of Edmund Burke who wrote: 

“Society is indeed a contract. … It is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue, and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born. Each contract of each particular state is but a clause in the great primeval contract of eternal society, linking the lower with the higher natures, connecting the visible and invisible world, according to a fixed compact sanctioned by the inviolable oath which holds all physical and all moral natures, each in their appointed place.”

If you go and read the articled from which I pulled this quote (and that is a great idea!), you will find the following. 

... we have to acknowledge that there is no literal or mechanical way in which the concept of the democracy of the dead could be implemented.
 Conservatives remain such pessimists! In Minnesota, "Our Democracy" is vibrant and alive, even if many of its voters are not. 

Lies Of Our Time (Esolin)

 The Lies of Our Time - Sophia Institute Press

A worthy book by a great author. It gives another view of the main crisis of our time, the rejection of the transcendent and the embrace of the material. Much of my reading and posting deals with this issue, since I believe it to be so critical for keeping us from returning to a 2nd Dark Age and preserving and enriching the lives of millions living lives of despair. 

The link is to a review from which I will pull some quotes. The following is a sort of a "table of contents". 

  • The two conditions to which refusal to believe in God conforms us
  • The evils that result from a utilitarian rejection of absolute values
  • Seven lies in contemporary society — and the truths that they attempt to hide
  • How you can become more discerning to detect the language of lies
  • Ways in which beauty is illuminating and reflects the truth
  • The dangers of experiments against reality (e.g., with sexual relations, gender, etc.)
The following quote from the book hints at a mystery that I suspect to be true. We all get what we really ask for. If we are adamant that "it's all about me" and join with others that will not accede to any power beyond earthly physical power, they end up living in their own hell on earth of disappointment, despair, loss of connection, never experiencing true transcendent love, etc.

I believe that when the supposedly "Godless" die, they enter the Godless experience of ultimate loneliness, hopelessness and pain beyond anything they have experienced on Earth. Each breath is a gift from God. Any sense of order is a gift from God. I believe that one of the greatest lies that many believe is "well, if I go to Hell, I'll have a lot of company!". I suspect that you will have no company, and the God shaped hole in your spirit will be an eternal fall into a bottomless abyss. 
Heaven and Hell are each what we ask for; Heaven is true, and Hell is false, not in the sense that it does not exist but in the sense that it is a self-cheat, a self-swindle. But you cannot have the heritage while you kill the father. I do not mean that you aim a dagger at your father’s heart. You aim that dagger at your own.

The following quote states what I have tried to state many times. Another way to say it is to paraphrase Dorthy from the Wizard of Oz ... " 'Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.'  ... I have a feeling, or really a conviction that we are not in America anymore. 

a society such as ours in the United States is now — it is no society at all, but a thing for which we have yet to invent a name, just as the agglutination of human beings dwelling within certain geographical boundaries is not, thereby, a nation, but a something else again, something for which we have no name. And such a thing, a non-society, is dangerous, says Marcel, as it lends itself to the impersonal, and the impersonal makes all kinds of wickedness practicable.

The primary target of the global elite today is the family, because ... 

The family, as Pope Leo XIII affirmed in all his social encyclicals, is the seedbed of anything that can genuinely be called a “society.”
Our elites, who embrace things like "Critical Race Theory" (CRT) see Western civilization as rotten to the core. They seek some undefined "utopia" that is "better" in ways they imagine but have no idea of how to actually implement. Marx, Stalin, Hitler, Mao ... the list is long, all have had similar visions. The common thread is that they all require totalitarianism, under control of what Nietzche called the "√úbermensch". Strangely, each of them assumed they were that man. 

I'll close with this excellent observation. I fervently pray to be in the real Heaven before the utopian vision of the left is realized. 
But the object of all secular progressivism, unmoored from the aims, the direction, the restrictions, the consolations, and the warning of the Christian faith is an earthly Jerusalem — what Malcolm Muggeridge trenchantly called “the kingdom of heaven on earth,” which otherwise goes by the name of Hell.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

The Master and his Emissary. Ian McGilchrist

 The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World by Iain McGilchrist | Books | The Guardian

The linked Guardian review is pretty good if you want to go a bit deeper into the actual content vs my thoughts on it. 

The start of a new year gives me reflective thoughts. For many years I've been interested in the subject of "meaning", and long ago decided that without God, life has no meaning. 

Why? Because our lives are so short. and if the end of that short life is "nothing", then it really isn't worth the bother. Certainly "pleasure" in the life can be a good thing if it is moral .... family, children, friends, serving others, nature, beloved pets, ... the list is long. From my personal and observed experience, all such pleasures, while "good" are much more secure and "real" in the context of faith in Christ. 

I've done many posts on why Christianity vs other faiths. While the answers fill many pages, my boiled down reason is "what are (or were) the fruits of Christianity?" Looking at Western culture that was formerly Christian, know it by its fruits -- at least up to maybe "the moon landing", which is where I believe Western civilization peaked. 

If you follow the link, a few things have rebounded since that time ... we have returned to space, for good and ill, we have the Internet and cell phones, but the moral decay, and with it, the loss of meaning has accelerated. "It's all about me" ... and in a secular world, "me" is a fleeting hunk of meat with no fixed "identity" at all, not even male or female. 

There are hints some are seeing that human life is not about consuming, chasing after happiness, and as we realize the chase is futile, merely distracting ourselves, or dying in some form of despair, at younger and younger ages. Why seek to extend a meaningless life? 

I'm going to try hard to use this book as a stepstone to understand where and how Western civilization (and Christianity supporting it) went off the track. I won't get it done, and I encourage you to meditate on the issue of why we are in an age of disenchantment. 

Here is what McGilchrist believes his mission of the book to be:

My thesis is that for us as human beings there are two fundamentally opposed realities, two different modes of experience; that each is of ultimate importance in bringing about the recognizably human world; and that their difference is rooted in the bi-hemispheric structure of the brain. It follows that the hemispheres need to co-operate, but I believe they are in fact involved in a sort of power struggle, and that this explains many aspects of contemporary Western culture.
It has been said that the world is divided into two types of people, those who divide the world into two types of people, and those who don’t. I am with the second group.

Why is the book titled "The Master and his Emissary? 

There was once a wise spiritual master, who was the ruler of a small but prosperous domain, and who was known for his selfless devotion to his people. As his people flourished and grew in number, the bounds of this small domain spread; and with it the need to trust implicitly the emissaries he sent to ensure the safety of its ever more distant parts. It was not just that it was impossible for him personally to order all that needed to be dealt with as he wisely saw, he needed to keep his distance from, and remain ignorant of, such concerns.
And so, he nurtured and trained carefully his emissaries, in order that they could be trusted. Eventually, however, his cleverest and most ambitious vizier, the one he most trusted to do his work, began to see himself as the master, and used his position to advance his own wealth and influence. He saw his master’s temperance and forbearance as weakness, not wisdom, and on his missions on the master’s behalf, adopted his mantle as his own – the emissary became contemptuous of his master. And so, it came about that the master was usurped, the people were duped, the domain became a tyranny; and eventually it collapsed in ruins.

The right hemisphere of our brain is intended to be master; the left is to be the emissary.  

In general terms, then, the left hemisphere yields narrow, focused attention, mainly for the purpose of getting and feeding. The right hemisphere yields a broad, vigilant attention, the purpose of which appears to be awareness of signals from the surroundings, especially of other creatures, who are potential predators or potential mates, foes or friends; and it is involved in bonding in social animals.

As our civilization matured, we started to lean more and more to the left brain because it is "productive" with things ... it builds tools, it writes, it organizes ... it advances technology, and technology makes our lives "easier", although more pressured, and isolated from reality. 

... the relationship between the hemispheres does not appear to be symmetrical, in that the left hemisphere is ultimately dependent on, one might almost say parasitic on, the right, though it seems to have no awareness of this fact. Indeed, it is filled with an alarming self-confidence. The ensuing struggle is as uneven as the asymmetrical brain from which it takes its origin. My hope is that awareness of the situation may enable us to change course before it is too late.
An increasingly mechanistic, fragmented, decontextualized world, marked by unwarranted optimism mixed with paranoia and a feeling of emptiness, has come about, reflecting, I believe, the unopposed action of a dysfunctional left hemisphere.
As a Christian, and especially a Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Christian that grew up Baptist, now comes the "brass tacks". 
The Reformation is the first great expression of the search for certainty in modern times. As Schleiermacher put it, the Reformation and the Enlightenment have this in common, that ‘everything mysterious and marvelous is proscribed. Imagination is not to be filled with [what are now thought of as] airy images.’ In their search for the one truth, both movements attempted to do away with the visual image, the vehicle par excellence of the right hemisphere, particularly in its mythical and metaphoric function, in favor of the word, the stronghold of the left hemisphere, in pursuit of unambiguous certainty.
What is so compelling here is that the motive force behind the Reformation was the urge to regain authenticity, with which one can only be profoundly sympathetic. The path it soon took was that of the destruction of all means whereby the authentic could have been recaptured.

So the Reformation (that is closely related to the Enlightenment, began the shift from a predominantly right brained "enchanted" world to a left brained DISenchanted world. 

Catholicism had a much better integration between the hemispheres, and the concept that God in three persons (the Trinity) a mystery to the left brain, being a right brained transcendent concept, was active in history. However, like all things that man is involved with, the Catholic Church started to lean over to being a fixed, hierarchical, bureaucratic, power-based entity, merged with the state. While Christ, being God is not subject to the limits of the flesh ... certainly not in his pre-humiliation, becoming fully man as well as God, and in his post resurrection state of exaltation. What it was like to be "fully human and fully God" during his brief sojourn on earth is beyond human understanding. I tend to think that God being 3 "persons" is eternally outside of time and human understanding.

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts."
I translate the "higher" in this text as "beyond", and in the context of the book, more right brain fullness as opposed to left brain text only. 

Luther perceived the Catholic Church as falling out of being the earthly representative of a fully integrated and perfectly balanced "thesis, antithesis, and synthesis" in Marxist/Hegelian terms, and attempted to draw it back to "the Word", meaning Christ. I've often wished he focused on "The Way, the Truth, and the Life", another trinity, rather than becoming increasingly textual in his battle with the Catholic Church hierarchy. 

Text is a poor substitute for metaphysical realities like "truth, wisdom, love, beauty, etc.", but it is the easiest way to mass communicate "something" (thus this highly imperfect written attempt). Even a gifted writer fails abysmally in describing the majesty of a mountain compared to being there. A poet, an artist, or a musician can come closer, but still far away from lived reality. Capturing God in even inspired text, shows the impossibility. Our knowledge of God is in spirit vs flesh, in this case, the right brain going beyond flesh. 

1 Corinthians 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
Luther did not want to start a new church, he wanted to REFORM the Catholic church, but because the Catholics and the secular government were largely one, his efforts became a "protest" against both the Church and the government. War, persecution, hatred, destruction, and basic mayhem ensued. 

The LCMS church isn't really "protestant", but rather "reformed Catholic". Baptists or many of the "evangelicals" are "in protest". My tongue in cheek summary of Baptist church theology is "If the Catholics do it, we don't". No ornate churches, no sacraments, no spiritual content to baptism (just a symbol), communion (just a remembrance), and even salvation is "your decision to accept Christ as your savior". 

After the Reformation and it's push for certainly, the word was made text ... no longer the living right brained transcendent Word that is Christ. 

The Reformers were keen to do away with the concrete instantiations of holiness in any one place or object. The invisible Church being the only church to have any reality, the Church existed literally everywhere, and actual churches became less significant: every place was as good as any other in which to hold a service.
Removing the places of holiness, and effectively dispensing with the dimension of the sacred, eroded the power of the princes of the Church, but it helped to buttress the power of the secular state.

Christianity (at least in the Protestant sense) became textual / literal / fundamentalist, or "wrong". This is less true in the LCMS, but the danger which the left brain sees by considering what the right brain sees is a great fear in the LCMS as well. 

As with anything in this world, there are ALWAYS at least two ditches. Much of the Evangelical protestants have gone fully left brain. No "mystery", just a literal pick and choose of "once saved always saved" and church becoming a social gathering/entertainment. They think/feel that by worshipping, we are "giving something to God" who is and has all that is. Much of non-sacramental Christianity is "do you FEEL saved"? 

On can always be MORE "fundamental", so the temptation becomes a competition on who is the MOST in agreement with the "proper" interpretation of the text, with very little attention to the right brained spiritual vs emotional connection to "The Word" (Christ) being infinitely more than text since mysteriously, "the Word" became flesh. Text doesn't do that. 

Colossians 1:15-17 "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

OTOH, since the left brain seeks "verified material correctness" above all, the move is to see if the Bible lines up with the latest "scientific" knowledge, which it at least on the surface does not. Freed from any consideration of the deeper meaning of the Bible, and certainly it's moral commands, "being smart/right" in materialist/historicist thought becomes doctrine. To not accept whatever materialist society declares to be "moral" (abortion, homosexuality, fornication, etc.) is "hate", and Christians are commanded to "love" not just the person, but the sins they proudly practice.

It is notable that when the left hemisphere takes a step forward it does so – in keeping with its competitive, confident, manner, and its belief in its unassailable rightness (the clarity of Truth) – in a manner which is absolute and intolerant, and sweeps opposition aside: the Reformation, the Cromwellian Revolution, the French Revolution, the rise of scientific materialism (where it met opposition, it did so as much as a consequence of the peculiarly aggressive tone of its proponents as of anything it claimed). The Industrial Revolution, slicing its way through the landscape and sweeping away cultural history, is no exception. The boldness of its move goes beyond even that, however.
The left, intolerant brain is fragile and dogmatic. It tends to believe that if you "give in" to the metaphorical, the artistic, the unifying, the reality beyond all left brain supposedly captured "material truth", you will lose your moorings and be "lost". The Pharisees are a great example of left brained dogmatists. Christ was much harder on them than those who realized the reality of their sin. When we believe that we have the "real truth", we are in grave danger. It is a tiny, almost a non-step from there to pride, the sin that brought down Satan and many since. 

My "review" has become a feeble attempt to point to a recovery of God in Spirit vs God in text. My study and prayers/meditation lead me to seeing the Word of God as Christ, not text. My fervent prayer is for a 2nd Reformation that re-integrates the left brain scientific/materialist view, with the right brain metaphorical, spiritual, transcendent view, yielding a synthesis that yields meaningful balance in our fleeting earthly sojourn on the path to eternity.

Monday, January 1, 2024

Why Our Unemployment Numbers Are Bogus

 The Welfare-Industrial Complex | Power Line (

Given the government narrative, it seems incredible that people are not ecstatic about the low unemployment rate of 3.7% .As the Biden administration keeps complaining, "the press just isn't reporting how good things are"! You know that old media bias against all the good things Democrats do!

Drill into the nation’s 3.7% unemployment rate, and you’ll find a growing welfare-industrial complex beneath the seemingly strong labor market. Government, social assistance and healthcare account for 56% of the 2.8 million net new jobs over the past year, and for nearly all gains in blue states such as New York and Illinois.

Go read the linked post on Power Line. 

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.