Sunday, January 21, 2018

Rich with irony.

Turkey sent armored divisions into northwest Syria after a day of airstrikes as part of 'Operation Olive Branch' which bombed Kurdish YPG forces ("People's Protection Units") in and around Afrin to drive the US-allied Kurdish militia from the area.
"Turkish Tanks Cross Into Syria As Ground Offensive Against US-Backed Militia Begins." By Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge, 1/21/18.

Diversions And Devotions: A Sunday Rumination

     As has been the case rather often lately, I was casting about for something over which to waste a few minutes – that’s actually the subject of this piece, so keep it in mind – when I stumbled over the following video:

     It’s one I’d seen before. (I’ve even embedded it before.) And as one who roundly and passionately hates “smartphones” and everything they’ve brought among us, when I first saw it, I appreciated it greatly.

     Greatly...but not completely.


     I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: I write these Ruminations principally for myself. They’re reflections on my own convictions and habits. If others get something of value out of them, I’m pleased, but first and foremost I’m speaking to myself – telling myself something I ought to have known.

     I don’t have many talents. During my wage employment days I was an expert software architect and developer. At one time I was a pretty good guitarist. I fancy that I can tell a fair to middling story, when the spirit is upon me. And I make good tuna casserole, excellent tomato sauce, and a killer meatloaf.

     That’s the FWP catalog. Those are all the things I can do even passably well. But I haven’t been doing any of them lately, and I’ve begun to wonder why.

     “Why” mechanistically is easy to determine: I spend far too much time on diversions. Reading other writers’ stories. Watching movies and sporting events. Scanning the Web for interesting items I can write about here. And of course, writing about them here.

     While I’m doing any of those things, I can’t do any of the things I do from which others might derive some value. Neither can I do any of the things that would bring me some added value. I’ve been diverted from them.

     That, of course, is what diversions do. We seek them out specifically to take our minds off other things. That’s not inherently bad, but the downside to it is a good parallel to the practices of smartphone addicts.

     I’m trying to come to grips with just how much diversion is good and necessary, and at what point it becomes something negative, an actual aversion to life.


     The following might seem a swerve to a separate, disconnected topic. It isn’t.

     I once prayed five decades of the Rosary every day. I did so while I drove to work. When I retired I managed to continue the practice for a little while. However, being at the wheel of my car, fending off the terrors of the Long Island traffic system in my most dashing style, was too closely linked to the practice. After a few weeks, the Rosary slipped off my daily agenda.

     Mind you, that wasn’t something that simply had to happen. I could have kept on as I’d been doing. Hell, I could have sat in my car in the garage, hands tight upon the wheel, and perpetuated it that way...assuming that not being in danger of immediate gory death wasn’t integral to the discipline. More to the point, I knew I was allowing an important element of my prayer life to lapse.

     I knew I should get back to praying the Rosary. I tried to work it back into my daily routine by scheduling it: At 11:30 AM, five decades. It didn’t work. I found too many reasons to slough it.

     No, not good reasons. Diversions. There was always something else to do that pulled my thoughts away from prayer.

     It was when I realized how easily – how willingly — I was being diverted from my previous course that I began to worry about myself.


     Contemporary American life is rich in diversions. There are innumerable pleasurable things any of us can do with our time. Not all of them are dangerous. Not all of them are terribly expensive. But they share a characteristic: while we’re engaged in any of them, we’re not doing something else.

     In truth, that’s the point of a diversion. We want to be diverted. We seek out diversions, and we immerse ourselves in them. But as Gavin McInnes notes in the video embedded above, there’s something else going on that we’re missing out on: life as lived.

     There’s a lot of life to be lived. Many chores to be discharged. Many skills to be acquired or sharpened. A lot of engagement with others. Diversions deflect us from those things. Sometimes the cost is greater than we know. Sometimes its magnitude is hidden from us for a long time, after which it’s too late to correct course.

     I’m still casting about for a way to get the Rosary back into my life as a regular practice. There are a few tricks left in my bag, and any one of them might do the job. But what’s become overwhelmingly obvious to me is how important it is that I be aware of when I’m allowing myself to be occupied by some frivolous, essentially meaningless diversion.

     That’s all for the moment, Gentle Reader. It’s time for Mass. May God bless and keep you all.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Aiming To Misbehave

     If you enjoyed the greatly loved and much lamented television series Firefly, you probably saw the movie spinoff, Serenity, in which protagonist / tramp freighter captain Mal Reynolds utters the piercing line that I cribbed for the title of this tirade:

     Y'all got on this boat for different reasons, but y'all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything, I know this - they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten? They'll swing back to the belief that they can make people...better. And I do not hold to that. So no more runnin'. I aim to misbehave.

     Owing to the conditions Reynolds alludes to – i.e., the attempt by the system government to create a mind-control therapy that would expunge all aggression from the human psyche – he has elected to make the fateful transition from “mouse in the walls” to “open rebel.” It’s not the first time Reynolds has chosen to rebel. What makes his decision momentous is that this time around he, his ship, and his little crew will be utterly alone.

     It’s a striking cinematic depiction of courage placed in service to an ideal. But the viewer can’t easily imagine himself in Reynolds’s place; the odds against him and the Serenity are too great. We might like to imagine ourselves as heroes, but most of us, if compelled to face the reality, would probably opt out. Moral courage just isn’t that common.

     But when one has, in Kris Kristofferson’s words, “nothing left to lose,” the dynamic changes dramatically.


     Sarah Hoyt’s most recent piece is a stunner:

     In the last few decades, in certain industries and certain fields of endeavor, it would slowly (or fast, in my case, since I’d seen the movie before) dawn on you that you weren’t going to get anywhere if your political opinions weren’t left. It became clear, hearing say editors talk, that the furthest to the left, the better — which is why some bright lads and lassies formed the “young communists club” for science fiction writers, AFTER the wall fell, and by the time it was formed not one of them under 30 — but if you believed in the free market, individual freedom, and despised the idea of benes for protected classes (even if — particularly if — you fit at least two of them) you’d better keep your opinions to yourself and pretend you were too stupid to understand politics. Because the moment you revealed your politics your career was done....

     This meant the minute you outed yourself as [not left-aligned,] as in fact, having too many principles for your own good, you were considered stupid, uncaring (racist/sexist/homophobic) AND insane. So it was easy enough to exclude you “per cause.” “Yeah, so and so is a good writer/worker, but he/she is insane.” “Difficult to work with.” “Couldn’t be part of the team.” “Isn’t googly.” (Follow that link if you have a strong stomach.)

     I’ll never forget — pre twitter — the day I voiced a mildly non-conformist opinion in an email list for female writers. I don’t know which was crazier: the public pile on, inferring things about me that my worst enemy couldn’t say, or the private panicked emails, saying “I agree with you, but…”

     There is a term for this. It’s preference falsification. And in totalitarian societies it can be so total that each individual can’t figure out that his opinions are in fact the majority and only a small minority at the top actually believes the opinions they enforce. It’s what explains Ceausescu and his equally brutal wife being beloved figures in the morning, and cooling piles of bullet-riddled meat by the afternoon. It’s also what gave us Trump’s victory.

     The above, most especially the concept of preference falsification, is important prefatory material. Virtually the entire point of the Left’s “long march through the institutions” of communication and education was to create a state of affairs in which it could keep small-government / pro-freedom individuals from knowing about one another. When every organ of thought and knowledge dissemination simultaneously screams at you that “Everybody knows / believes X,” it takes a fair degree of self-assertion to say “Well, I don’t”...even to oneself.

     But Sarah has a point to make. She tells us, first of all, that for many years she suppressed the expression of her political views. Before the Indie Revolution, it was that or go unpublished. But conditions changed – and not just in the rise of the eBook:

     It was only two things that allowed me [to] come out of the political closet — besides something that was either my subconscious or perhaps the divine applying iron-clad boot to my behind — a) the existence of indie. b) the fact that the left had gone so far they were demanding vocal endorsement. And that I couldn’t give.

     Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.

     The Left’s command of the mechanisms for preference falsification made all the pre-election polls report that Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in. The voters had other ideas.


     Rebellion against the norms trumpeted by the elite doesn’t require a great deal of courage when the cost of conformity becomes the surrender of your core conceptions about right and wrong...your identity as a moral agent...your soul. The protests of agnostics and atheists notwithstanding, Man is demonstrably a spiritual being: i.e., one who prioritizes particular abstractions highly enough to pledge his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor to their defense. Once his back is against the wall, even a case-hardened atheist would defend his ideals as of more importance than his personal well-being.

     In the political combat of our time, the Left’s central error was to think that it could raise the price of “going along” to that ultimate level. Yet it was an easy mistake to make. They’d probed with the bayonet for thirty years and had encountered nothing but mush. They were certain that what remained ahead of them was more of the same. It may have cost them any stake in American governance for decades to come; perhaps the 2018 midterms will tell us.

     By electing to rebel, we’ve made it possible to find one another. Ironically, the very mechanisms the Left has sought to dominate were the conduits that have brought and are bringing us together. And the masters of those conduits are discovering, albeit slowly, that the price of kowtowing to the Left’s demands that we be ostracized and isolated is steadily rising. It may already be greater than they’re willing to pay.


     In politics and social dealings, nothing can be guaranteed. Things will change. Some of the changes will surely diverge from our expectations. Nevertheless, at this moment the tide is favorable to the Right and to freedom generally. You know what Shakespeare said about that:

     There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures. [From Julius Caesar]

     And please read Sarah’s piece in its entirety. It’ll put a smile on your face.

Our dirt bag institutions.

Security analyst [Charles] Shoebridge, however, who has tracked Western support for Islamist terrorists in Syria since the beginning of the war, pointed out that the secret Pentagon [DIA] intelligence report exposes fatal contradictions at the heart of official pronunciations:
“Throughout the early years of the Syria crisis, the US and UK governments, and almost universally the West’s mainstream media, promoted Syria’s rebels as moderate, liberal, secular, democratic, and therefore deserving of the West’s support. Given that these documents wholly undermine this assessment, it’s significant that the West’s media has now, despite their immense significance, almost entirely ignored them.”
"Pentagon report predicted West’s support for Islamist rebels would create ISIS. Anti-ISIS coalition knowingly sponsored violent extremists to ‘isolate’ Assad, rollback ‘Shia expansion.’" By Nafeez Ahmed, Insurge Intelligence, 5/22/15 (emphasis added).

Friday, January 19, 2018

Quickies: Outriders And Final Victories

     One who has learned enough history – it’s practically impossible to know it all, of course, but it’s possible to know enough to reach some useful, trustworthy conclusions – can be sure of one thing above all others:

Things Will Change.

     There is absolutely no possibility of reaching “the end of history,” the complete extinction of Mankind excepted. No social structure, no philosophy of right and justice, no attitude toward individuals and aggregates thereof can plausibly posture as the last word about such things. Given time enough, everything will change, including our most fervently maintained postulates.

     But they won’t change because they were wrong. Not necessarily, anyway.

     The grand dream of every ideologue of every kind, no matter where he may be situated in space, time, and circumstance, is of the “final victory:” the event which vanquishes the adversary co completely that he cannot rise again. After that, the ideologue dreams, his utopia is at hand, and will endure forever. There’ll be no dissent, because there’ll be no dissenters. There’ll be no further need to argue, because there’ll be no one to argue with.

     It’s a total fantasy. Mankind has a better chance of colonizing Pluto by next Tuesday at Noon. But to realize that – i.e., to accept that there will always be dissenters, devil’s advocates, and rebels regardless of how overwhelming the consensus of the “right thinking” — requires that one make peace with the essentially cranky nature of the human creature.

     I wrote three novels about this. I thought it might be possible to demonstrate the essential instability of every form of social organization by starting from the totalitarian state, depicting a reversion all the way to sociopolitical bedrock – absolute anarchism – and then illustrating how the state could and would rise again. Either I failed, or the books weren’t read widely enough. Hard to tell.

     If you’re wondering what brought this to mind at the close of a fairly ordinary Friday, have a gander at this. It takes brass balls for anyone to walk into an openly hostile interviewer’s lion’s den. Jordan Peterson did so and prevailed. He is an outrider: a man willing to defy what “everyone knows,” and sure enough of his ground and his ability to express himself that he did not fear a hostile forum. But equally so – and it surprised me greatly, believe me – interviewer Cathy Newman is an outrider: an opinionated person willing to confront someone she completely disagrees with and to take him seriously.

     Many in the Right have lamented that our final defeat is near at hand...that the forces of the Left, particularly its “social justice warriors,” are about to achieve unchallengeable hegemony over the culture of the West. I disagree. The emergence of outriders such as Peterson and Newman makes my case for me. Nor would it change my position were Newman the classical liberal and Peterson the SJW.

     As long as there are outriders in our ideological universe, there can be no final victory for anyone.

Push Back Against the Leftists!

There's a lot of problems with Google, but it's status as the go-to site for searches makes it hard to address them.

I'm going to propose a one-day boycott of Google and all its products (Google Home, Google Docs, Photos, Google+, and, of course, Google Search). I'm arbitrarily selecting Feb. 2, Groundhog Day as that date.

That gives us time to gather some support for this effort. Groundhog Day is particularly appropriate, as in the movie, Bill Murray's life didn't change until he made a lot of changes personally.

BTW, did you know that Groundhog Day is celebrated on the same day as Candlemas? In the spirit of using the symbol of light as a metaphor for the presence of Christ, I'm adding the link to The Christophers, an organization whose motto is:
It's better to light one candle than to curse the darkness
Let's light some candles.

What’s The Exchange Rate?

     I’ve been castigated for my quirky titling in the past, and I’ve been compelled to admit that it can be difficult to discern my subject for the day from my essays’ titles. Therefore, a prefatory warning: The following essay is not about money and currency.


     Students of monetary history can reel off the great monetary disasters of the past:

     Each of these events underscores a critical truth about money, its necessary properties, and the role of faith in supporting an irredeemable currency. Faith is probably the most important of all the requirements a fiat currency can possess: more specifically, the faith of those compelled to accept the currency that it will remain capable of buying what they need and want. When that faith evaporates, the currency bottoms out, and the relevant economy collapses.

     The most common clue to a runaway inflation in progress is an unstable exchange rate of the inflating currency against the currencies maintained by other governments. Of course, if the other governments are also inflating their currencies, it can be a difficult metric to assess. However, in the usual case there’s a still better “exchange rate” that will remain trustworthy regardless of the machinations of governments: the price of a physical commodity when purchased with the currency of interest. A “fully mature” hyperinflation is known by the utter unacceptability of the currency: its “exchange rate” against more stable currencies is infinite, and there are no physical goods that can be purchased with it.

     But a little thought will lead one to realize that every price, regardless of the item being purchased or the currency unit at issue, constitutes an exchange rate. A little more thought suffices to reach the insight that the concept applies to political goals and premises with equal validity.


     Just now, there’s a foofaurauw in progress over the “FISA court.” According to “national security correspondent” Sara Carter, a brief memo about the court is about to blow its lid off, exposing a great deal of political skullduggery whose perpetrators concealed it under the aegis of “national security.”

     That’s the end of the sneer quotes. Simply assume them henceforward.

     I don’t doubt that quite a bit of wrongdoing, some of it at felony levels, have been committed by our Surveillance State. Why, after all, should the intelligence agencies and their technological supports be deemed incorruptible, when corruption has permeated every other organ of the federal government? That the powers of the intelligence services were put to the political ends of the Obama Administration and the Democrat Party surprises me not at all. Nor do I expect to be surprised by its scope or its magnitude.

     To me, the important message behind this evolving scandal is about the exchange rate between freedom and national security.


     More than two years ago, I wrote:

     I have an ambivalent relationship with national defense and a great deal of difficulty with “national security.” To take the second matter first, I dispute whether Americans’ security – i.e., our protections against invasion, infringement of our rights, attacks on our material well-being, and general latitude of action both here and abroad – is truly advanced by the laws and regulations promulgated in the name of “national security.” It’s an expensive business whose return on investment is dubious. Nevertheless, our political elite persists in paying lip service to the concept even as high-profile violators of the security rules proliferate and are found in ever higher positions.

     Concerning national defense, I dispute that either our political class or Americans generally would agree on what we’re supposed to be defending ourselves from. The chaos at our southern border is an invasion by another name; it hardly matters that the invaders generally arrive unarmed, for the damage they do to our society doesn’t require weaponry.

     Concerning infringement of our rights, the 88,000 governments of these United States are doing a superlative job of reducing us to totalitarian subjection. We get no protection from them from our Army, Navy, or Air Force. Indeed, I’ve speculated that should our men at arms come to our defense, the mode will be convulsive in the extreme.

     The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, under the provisions of which the “FISA court” was created, was supposed to apply to...wait for it...agents of foreign powers. Now, given that there are foreign powers that wish the United States ill and would like to see it brought low, that sounds like a reasonable provision for our national security. What could be less objectionable than allowing the FBI to wiretap people who want to hurt our nation?

     But all things have their price. The most obvious price of these new powers in the hands of the federal government was a reduction in the privacy of Americans’ communications. After all, if the FBI deems you a “suspected foreign agent” before the FISA court, and you’re not even allowed to know about the proceedings, how are you to oppose its demand for the power to wiretap and monitor you? A less obvious but far more destructive price would eventually be paid: the use of the surveillance powers by the party in power against its political adversaries.

     The exchange rate – how much we must pay in lost freedom and surrendered privacy for an increment in our national security – is unstable. It’s never been stable. This is only just coming to light.


     Any regular Gentle Reader will already know that I distrust government, regardless of who runs it or how it’s organized. A government that can snoop into its subjects’ personal communications and movement is well nigh unstoppable. That degree of power shouldn’t be trusted to anyone.

     But the great irony of the thing, the element that makes it a laugh-so-you-won’t-cry spectacle, is this: they who most fiercely defend FISA and the powers its grants can’t defend it on any objective basis. They’d love to show you the evidence, but it’s “classified.” We’re told we need to take it on faith.

     We have no material basis for establishing an exchange rate between our freedom and privacy and the increase in national security justly attributable to FISA. Indeed, we can’t even be certain we know all of the misdeeds committed with its provisions.

     All the usual boilerplate phrases have been deployed in FISA’s defense. “Espionage.” “Terrorism.” “Compelling government interest.” “The Constitution is not a suicide pact.” And of course, “national security.” As the scandals mushroom, I’m certain we’ll be hearing them all again, probably at eardrum-shattering volume. And I find myself wondering whether President Trump, who is only the most visible, most prominent victim of the Surveillance State, possesses the political and moral fortitude required to sweep it away.

Collusion? Working With a Foreign Power?

Nah.

It's Democrats who are doing this, so - no story. Who cares about Pakistanis?


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Reasoning About Causation

     In the course of composing my recent essay about Occam’s Razor, I got to thinking about important principles of causation, how they apply to human reasoning, and how seldom they’re addressed for general consumption. Mind you, this isn’t about whether causation is “real,” an ontological requirement for reasoning at all, but about how to think usefully about it.

     Hey, if you’re a regular patron of this joint, you know how I can get after a poor night’s sleep...or a good one.


     Many years ago I was powerfully struck by an insight I’d encountered in a relatively obscure science fiction novel:

     You can never do only one thing – Marc Stiegler

     This is an especially important insight in economic thought, which I resolved to explore in detail. It applies to many settings other than economics and political economy with equal force.

     If we reword Stiegler’s insight in the most general possible terms, here’s what comes out:

Every cause has more than one effect.

     This is the most compact possible wording of what’s commonly called the Law of Unintended Consequences.

     While it can be demonstrated in innumerable settings, that law cannot be proved. Likewise, an important corollary to that law:

At least one consequence of any action will be undesirable.

     ...cannot be proved, though it too has been demonstrated endless times. It is that corollary that mandates honest, judicious analysis and evaluation of both the benefits and the costs of every political proposal, both a priori and a posteriori. Politicians practice evading such evaluations, for a simple reason: whatever the costs might prove to be, the politician doesn’t intend to pay them himself.

     In his remarkable little book Economics in One Lesson, the late Henry Hazlitt gives an economic interpretation of the law:

     The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but also at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.

     ...on the third page of the first section. The rest of the book consists of demonstrations of its soundness.

     But unintended consequences – their inevitability and the inevitable undesirability of at least one of them – are only half the story.


     The second critical principle of causative reasoning is harder to grasp – enough harder, in fact, that some supposedly intelligent persons have striven lifelong to deny it:

Every effect has more than one cause.

     Once again, this thesis cannot be proved, but the confirmations of it are beyond enumeration.

     If we look at a special case of this principle – recipes for various edible dishes – it becomes empirically clear. There’s no such thing as a dish with only one ingredient. There’s always at least one more: the labor of the preparer required to transform that ingredient into the differently named and recognizably distinct dish to be served. For example, “toast” is not merely bread, but bread that has been subjected to a deliberate process that absorbs time and energy.

     Part of the cost of producing anything lies in determining what ingredients must go into it. Part of the reasoning that results in deciding whether or not to make it lies in comparing the total cost of the ingredients, plus the labor required, to the expected benefit plus the costs to be incurred from the unintended consequences. Every toaster must eventually be cleaned.


     John Locke’s theory of property rights uses the principles above in a direct and illuminating fashion:

     He that is nourished by the acorns he picked up under an oak, or the apples he gathered from the trees in the wood, has certainly appropriated them to himself. Nobody can deny but the nourishment is his. I ask, then, when did they begin to be his? when he digested? or when he ate? or when he boiled? or when he brought them home? or when he picked them up? And it is plain, if the first gathering made them not his, nothing else could. That labour put a distinction between them and common. That added something to them more than Nature, the common mother of all, had done, and so they became his private right. [from Locke’s Two Treatises of Government]

     The unnamed subject of Locke’s example above creates food by applying his labor to available acorns. Two causes; one effect. He thus assuages his hunger, but he does more: he creates waste matter: the discarded shells of the acorns. He also creates waste heat and some degree of personal fatigue. One undertaking: several effects.

     And that’s the simplest example I could produce!


     A third principle of reasoning is as useful as the ones above, though it’s somewhat lighter in tone. I think of it as the Anti-Nitpicking Principle:

In determining whether to embark on an undertaking, some costs, whether they arise from causes or effects, may legitimately be neglected.

     We all have thresholds for neglect: how large a cost must be, or how large an undesirable consequence must be, to be significant in one’s decision making. I encountered a case this morning that will serve as an example.

     After morning Mass, I stopped at a nearby supermarket for a few items. Due to a recent edict of the legislature, a shopper who requests bags at checkout must pay $0.05 each for them – and I had forgotten to bring bags from home. I needed two bags; thus, my little shopping trip cost $0.10 more than the cost of the goods I purchased. The extra cost was insufficient to deter me from purchasing what I wanted.

     When I got home, the C.S.O., who has no client to visit today, upbraided me for paying for bags “when we have plenty already.” I was aware of that undesired consequence when I made my purchase, and decided to neglect it; I mastered the art of ignoring petty criticisms from accountants – male and female – long ago. A simple “yes, dear” sufficed to deal with it.

     Of course, to proceed in this fashion requires that one have accurate foresight about undesired consequences. It also requires an accurate estimate of one’s ability to deal with costs, whether deliberately embraced or arising from undesired consequences. Most politicians lack both characteristics, though it might be otherwise were they required to spend their own money for the boondoggles they advocate, and to remediate the undesired consequences personally. I propose it as an appropriate subject for experimentation. Extensive experimentation.

The varlet class.

Revolutions dawn when an appreciable number of the ruled realize their rulers are intellectual and moral inferiors. The mainstream media is filled with vituperative, patronizing, and insulting explanations of what’s “behind” the Trump phenomenon. It all boils down to revulsion with the self-anointed, incompetent, pretentious, hypocritical, corrupt, prevaricating elite that presumes to rule this country. It is, in a word, inferior to the populace on the other side of the yawning chasm, the ones they have patronized and insulted for decades, and the other side knows it.[1]
The Western elites have made it Job Number One to import millions of people from, shall we say, shithole countries. When this is pointed out in these very terms (though not by Trump by most accounts), the reaction of the elites is to recoil in horror at the gross language and, yet again, apply the cudgel to the unwashed citizens who dare to speak thus.

The citizens duly note that the real or contrived horror of the elite’s is at the Anglo-Saxon terminology and the racism that it supposedly embodies, not the presence of unassimilable, hostile foreigners. It is the schleppery who are left to deal with those foreigners and endure their arrogance and parasitism. It is they who must face displacement and the crime, not the financial, media, and Hollywood elites.

Ordinary citizens know beyond a shadow of a doubt that their own kind would not have visited such a bitter fate on them. The elite will not even take the personal security of the ordinary citizen seriously but instead play at “sanctuary city” nonsense and fiddle with crime statistics to conceal certain racial realities.

The elites’ flight from decency and common sense is total. Summary of elite message to the unwashed: “____ you.” Message to elites: “Roger that.”

Notes
[1]  "Much More Than Trump" By Robert Gore, Straight Line Logic, 3/12/16.

Hat tip: Woodpile Report.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Jeez, I Almost Missed Posting!

I'm getting back into the swing of things after my illness. My head is clearer without all of that disgusting snot in it.

I picked up a new doctor yesterday - young, female, very good communication skills, and eager to get me feeling better. She also is working to get me a replacement medication for that one that is WAY over the top in price.

I do realize that drug companies need to recover their costs. However great the med is, price, for most of us, dictates whether or not we will use such meds on an ongoing basis. For a one-shot med, maybe.

For regular use - uh-uh.

It was nice today. The South is undergoing Snowmageddon - otherwise known by Yankees as a mild winter day - so I spent most of the day with my husband. I also cleared off my desk, organized some paperwork, and cleaned up the kitchen.

Didn't bother to look at the "news". For all I know, they're still going nuts about that Sh!thole remark - whether or not that's an accurate quote, or not.

My take?





A Rebuttal

     I have my hot buttons, the same as anyone. The C.S.O. would tell you. Indeed, should you come within range it would be impossible to keep her from telling you, but that’s another story.

     One of my triggers, which is being pulled with increasing frequency, is receiving an email from an indie fiction writer about an Amazon review I’ve written, the point of which is to request a review of the sender’s novel. I got another one just this morning.

     There are two equally enraging things about such requests:

  1. The citation of my review praises it for qualities it doesn’t possess;
  2. The sender has never read or reviewed any of my books.

     Now, to get my email address from Amazon, one must read my Amazon profile. Inasmuch as my Amazon profile reads as follows:

Novelist & Commentator | Mount Sinai, NY United States
Male, retired software engineer, born 1952. Extensive side interests in economics, politics, moral theory, religion, music, and other areas. I also write, mostly science fiction and modern inspirational fantasy.

     ...no one has any excuse for not knowing that I’m a novelist.

     But wait: there’s more! In nearly every case, the book the sender wants me to read and review already has more reviews than any of my books. You would think that even a pinhead would make the necessary inference. You would think that before asking me to review his novel, he would read and review one of mine. It’s never happened. Indeed, when I suggested to one such requestor that she read and review one of my books in exchange for the review she wanted, she wrote back to castigate me for suggesting something so “insincere.” Draw your own conclusions.

     I’ve been sorely tempted to react to such requests by leaving a wholly disparaging, one-star review of the suggested book. I’ve withstood that temptation so far. As for the future, we’ll know when it gets here.

     As I wrote just yesterday, I try not to write merely to vent. This makes two consecutive tests of my self-control that have overcome it. To anyone who thinks this is funny, a warning: There had better not be a third.

     Forgive me, Gentle Reader. Perhaps I’ll be back later with something more substantial and less angry. By the way, I've just updated my Amazon profile. It now reads:

First and foremost: I DO NOT REVIEW ON REQUEST, so don't pester me. I write mostly science fiction and modern inspirational fantasy. Extensive side interests in economics, politics, moral theory, religion, music, and other areas.

     Perhaps the nuisance will now abate.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

I Try Not To Write Solely To Express Outrage

     Really! Yet there are occasions on which the outrage wins free:

     Fans of “Fixer Upper” no doubt have heard that stars Chip and Joanna Gaines have announced they’re having a fifth child.

     In case you don’t watch the show – I don’t; there isn’t enough bloodshed – the couple at issue, Chip and Joanna Gaines, have also been assailed for their Christianity. But let's get back to the story. A “feminist” has decided to upbraid them for their procreative ways:

     Procreation is becoming a global public health concern, rather than a personal decision. So when people do irresponsible things like having five children, we absolutely need to be calling them out.”

     While having a child or five is a very personal choice, it’s also a choice that affects everyone who inhabits our planet. So while many people might find the backlash unwarranted, it’s actually a conversation we need to have in order to challenge our uncritical acceptance of the life-fulfillment-through-procreation story.

     The “feminist’s” name is given as Kristen Pyszczyk.

     This...person is apparently unaware that the entire First World is disappearing due to the failure to procreate. Of all the nations of the West, only the United States still produces children at approximately replacement rate: 2.07 per couple. Not one other predominantly-white nation – yes, I do think “predominantly white” is an important qualifier – is replacing its dying citizens.

     The shithole countries, which category includes:

  • All of Africa;
  • Most of Asia;
  • Most of South America;
  • And a few spots in Europe;

     ...are reproducing far faster than replacement rate. Only someone who hates the First World – above all, the United States of America – would deem that a development to be applauded.

     So here is my advice to Kristen Pyszczyk:

     I was having a good day before I read that offal. I need more Harvey’s right away.

Yes, Rush is Probably Right About This

The False Alarm in HI was sent by someone who wanted Trump to react.

If that happened, it would generate a series of memes to the effect that Trump needed to be impeached - for everyone's good.

Frankly, if there were incoming missiles, I trust Trump's judgement on that better than either Obama's or HRC's. For all that he Tweets seemingly without thought, my view of him is that he has a cooler head than either of them, and would make a choice based on AMERICA'S best interests.

I want a name to the perp. I want to be able to find out about his politics, friends, activism, etc.

Is the Government REQUIRED to Pay Workers for NOT Working?

I'm referring to the odd situation of past years, when workers would be sent home during government shutdowns - the action is referred to as a furlough - but the workers would be paid money for that time they were NOT working. In essence, a paid vacation.

From what I understand of the relevant legislation, it isn't REQUIRED for the furloughed workers to be given money for not working. In fact, since some of the staff is considered "essential", they have, in the past, been paid DOUBLE for their work - both pay for working, and pay that other workers got for not working.

I wonder whether Trump might try announcing that this practice would end - NOW - and that workers who would be furloughed in a shutdown would just lose that money.

I'll bet the Democrats, knowing how many of their supporters are working in Federal jobs, would find it REALLY IMPORTANT to find a compromise in the budget talks.

Share this post if you'd like to get people talking about the possibility.

Heuristics For The Masses

     You’ve seen me exercised over the misuse of words. You’ve seen me exercised over the arrogation of unearned authority; there’s certainly enough of that going around. You’ve surely seen me exercised over unfounded assertions of expertise. But today, I’m going to mount my high horse over the mistreatment of an important concept.

     I’ve grown tired of seeing it misstated, especially as the misstatement undercuts the most important of all human mental processes: the one that makes learning possible.


     “Entities ought not to be multiplied beyond necessity.” – William of Occam

     The above quote is generally known as Occam’s Razor. (It’s also been called the principle of parsimony.) Few are the statements that have been misinterpreted more often than that one. The most common misinterpretation is that if a given phenomenon can be explained in a number of ways, the simplest explanation is most likely to be the correct one.

WRONG!

     The laws of the universe do not favor simplicity over complexity. (Trust a specialist in general relativity to know that.) Nor is there any reason why they “should.” What, then, does Occam’s Razor “do for us?”

     The answer is both more complex and more revealing than one might suppose. However, what it reveals isn’t some aspect of natural law, but rather the process by which we investigate causes and acquire knowledge.

     The conceptual envelope in which Occam’s Razor belongs is called heuristics.


     Herewith, a statement nonscientists will regard as rather shocking:

It is impossible to determine the cause of any natural phenomenon with absolute confidence.

     As natural is one of the worst-abused words in the English language, allow me to clarify what I mean by it in the above. For the purposes of the coming diatribe, a “natural phenomenon” is distinguished from all other such phenomena in that no sentient agency deliberately brought it about. For the unbalanced pile of dirty dishes on the kitchen counter to fall and shatter is a natural phenomenon; for Mom to sweep up the shards, muttering about the laziness of the ingrates she keeps house for, is not.

     Under this application of the word, natural phenomena are the consequences of the operation of natural laws, independent of human action or opinion. We probe those laws by the use of the scientific method:

  1. Collect data about the phenomenon and the surrounding context.
  2. Propose an “explanation:” i.e., a hypothesis about the cause.
  3. Use the hypothesis to make a prediction that can be tested in a controlled experiment.
  4. Perform the experiment and observe the results.
  5. Did the result conform to the prediction?
    • If so, make further predictions premised upon the hypothesis and return to step 4.
    • If not, return to step 1.

     Examine the above procedure very carefully. Note that if the scientist’s predictions are all confirmed by a properly controlled experiment, the hypothesis could be tested indefinitely. Only if an adequate experiment should fail to fulfill the associated prediction will the hypothesis be rejected.

     An infinite number of successful predictions does not “prove” the “truth” of a hypothesis; it merely increases our confidence that “we’re on to something.” One failure of prediction blasts the hypothesis to pieces. This is the way scientists work, ever since Francis Bacon.

     Keep this segment in mind as you proceed.


     Occam’s Razor, while it doesn’t tell us anything about which of a group of alternate hypotheses is “correct,” does tell us something extremely valuable. In short, it establishes the order in which those hypotheses should be tested: simplest first.

     This isn’t because “the simplest explanation is probably the right one;” it’s because the simpler the explanation, the easier it is to test! A simple explanation involves fewer causal elements than a complex one; therefore, designing an experiment to test the simple hypothesis is easier, and more likely to produce unambiguous results. Doing the investigation in that order improves the probability of quickly getting demonstrably wrong hypotheses out of our way.

     Now, testability is critical. There are always untestable explanations for an event. This is particularly important in the case of irreproducible events. But scientists don’t concern themselves with things that happen only once. If it can’t be reproduced, we’ve got no shot at determining why it happened.

     This leads us to the underlayer to Occam’s Razor: what William of Occam had in mind when he propounded it.


     If you’ve been wondering why I’m so confident about the large-font assertion from earlier:

It is impossible to determine the cause of any natural phenomenon with absolute confidence.

     ...it’s because I can always propose an explanation that cannot be tested:

The phenomenon was not “natural,” but was brought about by the deliberate action of a conscious and purposeful actor.

     The short form of the above explanation is “God did it.” And indeed, William of Occam was deeply concerned about that approach to the world. He was a Franciscan friar and theologian, a devout Christian man. He believed in God and His ultimate authority, but he disliked flip appeals to divine agency as explanations for the behavior of the natural world. Though he preceded Francis Bacon and the formulation of the scientific method by centuries, he had a sense for the importance of “keeping it simple.” To say of an event that “God did it” is to claim a gnosis. That assertion is unfriendly to the assumption that the laws of nature are knowable by investigation – and without that assumption, human knowledge cannot advance.


     To sum up, Occam’s Razor is not a “law about natural law,” but a heuristic tool: a device that assists us in learning about the natural order. It doesn’t “privilege” simpler hypotheses over more complex ones; it merely sorts them into a preferred order for testing. While that order might mean that the investigator will hit upon the “correct” explanation later rather than sooner, it puts the odds in his favor.

     But don’t imagine that simplicity is some organizing principle of natural law. All it takes is a semester of quantum physics to blast that notion to smithereens. Erwin Schrodinger would surely tell you so, but unfortunately, he’s dead.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Assertions Of Ownership

     Have you ever thought about what it means to own something? I’ve written about the criteria involved in a just claim of ownership, and the rights associated with it as well. However, those essays were about the ownership of items of tangible property, whether real or movable. (This one, which addresses whether a private citizen should be allowed to own a weapon of mass destruction, provides a good summary.)

     But what does it mean to “own” an issue?

     Have you ever heard a claim of that sort, Gentle Reader? I have, and not just once. Such claims nearly always come from the Left, which has claimed to “own” the issues of race relations, women's rights, the environment, war and peace, and several other subjects of general discussion.

     Just in case you aren’t wearing your Galactic Intellect Enterprises® Left-Liberal Decoder Ring, here’s the translation: When a leftist says “We own [insert issue here],” he really means “Don’t you filthy conservatives dare to disagree with my wholly arbitrary and largely unsupported statements on this subject.” It’s arrogant and childish, of course, but that’s the Left for you.

     What troubles me is the way we in the Right habitually allow them to get away with it.


     Quite a number of years ago, long before I elected to self-publish my fiction, I sent a copy of On Broken Wings to a distant friend for her comments. She was impressed by it, and asked if she could submit it to the weekly book discussion club she attended. Of course I said yes. I had no idea what would happen next.

     Two of the members of that club were lesbians. There are homosexual characters, and one bisexual character, in my novel. That alone was enough to enrage the lesbians in my friend’s club. They deemed it unacceptable that a nasty old heterosexual man – good heavens, he’s a Catholic! — should dare to write about homosexuals or bisexuals in any context. They condemned On Broken Wings, a novel that’s garnered effulgent praise from readers all over the English-speaking world, for that reason and no other.

     I shrugged it off. However, recently I’ve received similar statements of condemnation about Innocents. The phenomenon of claims to “own” some issue is plainly alive and kicking, as if my Gentle Readers couldn’t tell from contemporary fusillades over race, sex, et cetera.


     SMITH: Mr. Vidal, wasn’t it a provocative act to try to raise the Vietcong flag in the park in the film we just saw? Wouldn’t that invite—raising the Nazi flag during World War II would have had similar consequences.
     VIDAL: You must realize what some of the political issues are here. There are many people in the United States who happen to believe that the United States policy is wrong in Vietnam and the Vietcong are correct in wanting to organize their own country in their own way politically. This happens to be pretty much the opinion of Western Europe and many other parts of the world. If it is a novelty in Chicago, that is too bad, but I assume that the point of the American democracy—
     BUCKLEY: (interrupting): —and some people were pro-Nazi—
     VIDAL: —is you can express any view you want—
     BUCKLEY: —and some people were pro-Nazi—
     VIDAL: Shut up a minute!
     BUCKLEY: No, I won’t. Some people were pro-Nazi and, and the answer is they were well treated by people who ostracized them. And I’m for ostracizing people who egg on other people to shoot American Marines and American soldiers. I know you don’t care—
     VIDAL (loftily): As far as I’m concerned, the only pro- or crypto-Nazi I can think of is yourself. Failing that—
     SMITH: Let’s, let’s not call names—
     VIDAL: Failing that, I can only say that—
     BUCKLEY (snarling, teeth bared): Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in your goddam face, and you’ll stay plastered.
     SMITH: Gentlemen!

     [From a televised 1968 exchange over the Vietnam War between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley]

     It’s my practice to take a strong line with leftists, regardless of the subject. They dislike that, and do their best to shout me down. As it happens, I can’t be shouted down; I have a bull elephant roar that causes cancer in laboratory rats and kills canaries outright. Beyond that, I usually possess the evidence required to support my stances. They don’t.

     The Left’s claims to “own” an issue are attempts to preclude rational examination of it for precisely that reason. As Victor Marguerite once wrote, “The Fascists cannot argue, so they kill.” But of course! If you can’t prevail by the rules of reasoned discussion, abandon the rules. Prevail by intimidation or coercion. That’s what would-be totalitarians have done throughout history.

     While the Left hasn’t yet resorted to murder on any noticeable scale, the threshold for that sort of “response” is drawing near. My reason for saying so is simple: things have been going very poorly for left-wing policies and left-wing regimes, and far too well under the Trump Administration.

     When the evidence cannot be hidden or disputed – when it becomes all too clear, as Margaret Thatcher so memorably put it, that “the facts of life are conservative” — the Left becomes violent. It’s their eternal fallback position. And we in the Right cannot allow ourselves to be dismissive or passive about it.


     Conservatives have a tendency to dismiss rhetorical strokes that imply or suggest violence. Consider Terry McAuliffe’s recent verbal offer of violence toward President Trump. That sort of thing usually gets nothing more than a dismissive laugh from us. I contend that the time for flippancy about such statements has passed.

     We’re already being assaulted in both public and private places. Our habit of ignoring violent rhetoric, or waving is aside as unimportant, might be part of the reason.

     Expressions of anger and outrage, at the very least, are appropriate toward the persons who make such remarks. More extreme responses might be even better, depending on the context and the persons involved. Unfortunately, an invitation to an exchange of pistol fire in the pre-dawn light is no longer legal in most states, though some jurisdictions might be willing to look aside.

     There comes a time when gentlemanly decorum must give way to doubled fists. To refrain from doing so encourages the brutes and bullies that have never observed the constraints of civilized discourse. It doesn’t “take two to fight,” contrary assertions from empty-headed peaceniks notwithstanding; it only takes one. What takes two is making peace. Moreover, the requirements are often unpleasant:

     “Peace means something different from ‘not fighting’. Those aren’t peace advocates, they’re ‘stop fighting’ advocates. Peace is an active and complex thing and sometimes fighting is part of what it takes to get it.” – fantasy writer Jo Walton

     Verbum sat sapienti.

Why Politicians Should Have GOOD Accountants

And, when I say "Good Accountants", I mean those with the backbone to tell their clients that, "No, you can't do that without risking your tax-exempt status."

Which, The Clinton Foundation apparently did not have.

Ridiculous situations such as many Progressive foundations have can only be sustained as long as the IRS is owned - body and such-soul-as-they-haven't-already-sold - by Progressive interests. Once those interests leave, and the people who are left behind are free to pursue obvious cases of fraud, well, the Progressive Institutions are in Deep Doo-Doo (to be less vulgar than most politicians, including HRC).

It's time to unleash the Dogs of Hell - er, that is, the normal beings that staff the IRS.

I don't know how American politics can solve the morality problem - the fact that too many don't ask "SHOULD I do that?", but rather "CAN I do that?"

It would be cheaper to just use the aggregated campaign money that is donated to the presidential campaign fund to pay for ads directly. However, since Obama skipped that whole setup, instead, choosing to bypass the fund to be able to grab in more cash, we really should dump it. It's an artifact that did not fulfill its promise.


The hits just keep coming, as the DJs used to say, back in the day.

It's beginning to look as though the Clinton/Obama/Progressive machine will FINALLY face their comeuppance. At least, that's what American Thinker is suggesting.

http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2018/01/confusing_dossier_chaff_with_wheat.html

The Uranium One Russian bribery case.



Quickies: Watch The Market...

     ...because markets encode information we might otherwise miss:

     “Transgender” sex robots could be a new and exotic way to spice things up in your bedroom.

     The Sun has learned that the Californian startup responsible for the female Harmony sex droid is now considering a trans version too.

     But a senior Realbotix director has told The Sun that a “transgender” model could be the company’s next big project....

     “We do believe there is a market not only for transgender, but for any other sexual preferences of gender,” said Guile Lindroth, who heads up AI at Realbotix.

     Lindroth said a trans robot is “not out of our plans” once the male robot is in production later this year.

     He also told The Sun that it’s “not difficult” to re-design the physical robot design for a mixed-sex version.

     I’ve received a fair number of doubting emails about the market for transgender sex partners. Yet there’s enough of a market for transgender sex dolls and robots to justify the development and “retooling” costs. Perhaps the doubters should take that into consideration.

Pearls of expression.

When Paul Nehlen wrote about “bad faith” interpretations of the speech of others I immediately thought how aptly he had captured the essence of what passes for public “debate” in these times. “Privilege,” “hate speech” or “Nazi” anyone? Ad hominem attacks abound, as does the determination to talk over and interrupt others. Cable news shout fests drive me crazy as does leftist evasion of which Fran Porretto has written. Anything to distort the truth. And with AntiFa violence as a near-inevitable official backdrop to any conservative event or speaker.
One of the many reasons that [public media] censorship has gotten out of control is that people have developed a tendency to intentionally engage in bad-faith “interpretations” of what is said—often in contravention of all logic and common sense—in order to pretend that they’ve just been the victim of an explicit threat.

* * * *

It is widely known that censorship on major social media platforms disproportionately affects the right-wing, and it would take real cheek for anyone who has been around these platforms for a while not to stipulate to such an obvious fact. But regardless, I think that misses the more important point, which is that censorship of lawful speech should not be occurring at all, to any side, in the new de facto public square. It is just as disruptive, just as upsetting, and just as abusive when it happens to someone on the left-wing — and make no mistake, it happens plenty. These are megacorporate monopolies that benefit from anticompetitive forces such as “network effects” (which are at their apex in the social media context) to give them an absolute lock over the primary channels of public communication. This has led to widespread abuses of power, the arbitrary and capricious silencing of millions of Americans, and an unprecedented chilling of expression and infantilization of the public that is dangerously incompatible with American free speech values.[1]

Mr. Nehlen ran against Paul Ryan in the last election and I hope he does again. His legislative proposal is well thought out and it particularly addresses the underhanded practices of the leftist social media giants. They cause great damage to people by de-monetizing the content they produce and otherwise censoring or limiting their message with no more justification than the oracular “terms of service violation.”

Notes
[1] "Paul Nehlen: What VICE.com Wouldn’t Post About My Proposed #ShallNotCensor Legislation." By Paul Nehlen, VDare.com, 1/11/18.

Hat tip: The Unz Review .