The Book!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Help! I'm Being Oppressed!







It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say: --
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away."

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we've proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

I just watched video of a rally at Wilfrid Laurier University in which a few dozen students and faculty condemned the school administration for its failure to support “or even recognize the existence of” transgender students. This, weirdly, while the rest of us have been condemning the school administration for trying to deprive Lindsay Shepherd of her right of free speech in the name of transgender rights.

It is, for me, a bit of an epiphany. I begin to see what is going on here.

To understand things clearly, one must understand that “The left,” broadly, is the party and the program of the bureaucrats and the professions. And they think like bureaucrats. They have no fixed principles. They do not really give a damn about transgender rights, or women's rights, or immigrants, or anything else. Their prime concern is to keep the system in place which give them their privileges and their power: the bureaucracy.

If this or that group complains, and sounds upset, the automatic response of the bureaucracy is to appease. Dramatic or decisive action is never in the best interests of a bureaucrat. It makes you a target. The natural strategy is, whenever anyone threatens to get disruptive, to try to buy them off. Not their money; no principles involved.

People who often engage with the bureaucracy learn how the game works. Threaten to make a loud noise, to go to the papers or to the streets, sound angry, and you get stuff.

This makes the left look strident and upset. But it is not really the left; it is their various client groups. Nor are the client groups really upset. This is just how the system works. They have, over time, been trained to act this way. Make a big noise, and you get what you want. And the bureaucracy is, at the same time, provided with cover: they are helping the “disadvantaged” and “oppressed.”

Recently, we have seen that there is no real ideology, no particular rhyme or reason, to what groups come under the leftist client umbrella. It is just whoever sounds really upset.

And so you see, for example, the strange current coalition between Islam and feminists. As recently as a year ago, the feminists and the Muslims were the opposite ends of the spectrum. Feminists were demanding international action on female genital mutilation; Saudi Arabia was he real enemy, and so forth. But once the Muslims, or some Muslims, conveyed clearly the impression that they were very upset over something, the bureaucracy responded promptly by giving them stuff. They quickly came under the umbrella as one more client group.

Now, however, we may have come to a crisis point. Until perhaps two weeks ago, it was always the safest course to give in to the demands of the LGBT lobby, or Black Lives Matter, or feminists, no matter how bizarre; and so they threw Lindsay Shepherd to the wolves. But now they are increasingly caught between a rock and a hard place. Too many different groups have learned how the system works; and their various non-negotiable demands are increasingly irreconcilable.

The insistence of the gay lobby, that they are “born this way,” for example, has never been reconcilable with the feminist system that “gender is a construct.” Nor is it reconcilable with the new idea that you can change your gender. If you can change your gender, can you also change your race? Logically, yes. So then what happens to the idea that certain races are oppressed? No need any more for affirmative action: just declare yourself a member of the preferred race. Both feminism and the gay lobby are irreconcilable with Islam. Support for immigration and illegal immigration is not compatible with support for the working poor as a grievance group, leading notably to the rise of Trumpism. Support for large-scale immigration is not compatible with the interests of African Americans. The contradictions of this appeasement approach are becoming obvious and insupportable.

It always had within it the seeds of its destruction. It is Danegeld. It inevitably leads to more of the very thing it seeks to avoid, social strife and hostility to the establishment and the system.

Perhaps, then, it is deserved. Poetic justice.



Friday, December 08, 2017

Franken Resigns







It must be awful right now to be Al Franken. I saw his resignation announcement, and to me, he did not look well. But how must it feel? Two months ago, he looked like a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2000. He was getting a lot of coverage for his grillings in Senate committee hearings. Now he must resign his seat.

And really, his misdeeds don't seem to warrant this. Unless I missed something, we are talking about grabbed bottoms and forced kisses. Boorish, creepy, and requiring an apology, but not more than that—no serious harm done.

Franken is trapped by circumstances. His party wants to make a big deal of the alleged sexual offenses of Roy Moore, during his current senate campaign in Alabama. They want to make a big deal of Trump's comments on videotape about grabbing and kissing women. They want to paint the Republicans as the party that wars on women. If they do not make a big deal out of Franken, they look hypocritical. So they turned on him.

Besides taking out Franken, the current wave of sex scandals probably takes out Joe Biden. He is too vulnerable to similar accusations of creepy behaviour. They take out Hillary Clinton, if she was not already taken out by Donna Brazile's revelations about her fixing the primaries in 2016. It would be hard to avoid Bill Clinton's history in a 2000 race, and her part in defending him.

This is not especially worrisome for the Democrats. They prefer a fresh face anyway; someone will emerge out of obscurity, just as Bernie Sanders did last time. Or, in their day, Howard Dean, Jimmy Carter, Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, Gary Hart, and so on. Democrats prefer a dark horse.

But to a Canadian, it is shocking how Americans treat their prominent people. One day you are a god, the next day you are the devil. It seems inhumane.


New Eruption of Racism in Toronto





A Toronto music teacher has sued her principal and school board for calling her choice of the traditional Canadian campfire song “Land of the Silver Birch” for a school concert “racist.”

Here are the offensive lyrics:

Land of the silver birch
Home of the beaver
Where still the mighty moose
Wanders at will
Blue lake and rocky shore
I will return once more
Boom de de boom boom, boom de de boom boom
Boom de de boom boom, boom.
Down in the forest, deep in the lowlands
My heart cries out for thee, hills of the north
Blue lake and rocky shore, I will return once more
Boom de de boom boom, boom de de boom boom
Boom de de boom boom, boom 
High on a rocky ledge, I’ll build my wigwam,
Close to the water’s edge, silent and still
Blue lake and rocky shore, I will return once more
Boom de de boom boom, boom de de boom boom
Boom de de boom boom, boom 
Land of the silver birch home of the beaver
Where still the mighty moose, wanders at will
Blue lake and rocky shore, I will return once more
Boom de de boom boom, boom de de boom boom
Boom de de boom boom, boom.

Surely she has a good case. And such lawsuits may be the only way to end this madness of calling everybody and everything racist. If everything is racist, nothing is.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

The Perils of a High IQ


Multiple studies show a correlation between high intelligence, as measured by IQ tests, and depression, anxiety disorders, autism, ADHD, and autoimmune disorders like allergies and asthma:

Depression:

Jackson, P. S., & Peterson, J. (2003). Depressive disorder in highly gifted adolescents. Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, 14, 175–186.

Wraw, C., Deary, I. J., Der, G., & Gale, C. R. (2016). Intelligence in youth and mental health at age 50. Intelligence, 58, 69–79. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2016.06. 005.

Manic depression (“bipolar disorder”):

Gale, C. R., Batty, G. D., McIntosh, A. M., Porteous, D. J., Deary, I. J., & Rasmussen, F. (2013). Is bipolar disorder more common in highly intelligent people? A cohort study of a million men. Molecular Psychiatry, 18(2), 190–194. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ mp.2012.26

MacCabe, J. H., Lambe, M. P., Cnattingius, S., Sham, P. C., David, A. S., Reichenberg, A., & Hultman, C. M. (2010). Excellent school performance at age 16 and risk of adult bipolar disorder: National cohort study. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 196, 109–115. http://dx.doi.org/10.1192/bjp.bp.108.060368.

Smith, D. J., Anderson, J., Zammit, S., Meyer, T. D., Pell, J. P., & Mackay, D. (2015). Childhood IQ and risk of bipolar disorder in adulthood: Prospective birth cohort study. British Journal of Psychiatry Open, 1, 74–80. http://dx.doi.org/10.1192/bjpo. bp.115.000455.

Anxiety disorders:

Lancon, C., Martinelli, M., Michel, P., Debals, M., Auquier, P., Guedj, E., & Boyer, L. (2015). Psychiatric comorbidities and quality of life in adult individuals with high potential: Relationships with self-esteem. Presse Medicale (Paris, France: 1983), 44, 177–184. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lpm.2014.11.018.

ADHD:

Rommelse, N., van der Kruijs, M., Damhuis, J., Hoek, I., Smeets, S., Antshel, K. M., & Faraone, S. V. (2016). An evidenced-based perspective on the validity of attentiondeficit/hyperactivity disorder in the context of high intelligence. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 71, 21–47. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j. neubiorev.2016.08.032.

Allergies, Asthma, and Immune Disorders:

Benbow, C. P. (1985). Intellectually gifted students also suffer from immune disorders. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 8, 42–44. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/ S0140525X00001059.

Benbow, C. P. (1986). Physiological correlates of extreme intellectual precocity. Neuropsychologia, 24, 719–725.

Autism:

Clark, T. K., Lupton, M. K., Fernandez-Pujals, A. M., Starr, J., Davies, G., Cox, S., & McIntosh, A. M. (2016). Common polygenic risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is associated with cognitive ability in the general population. Molecular Psychiatry, 21, 419–425. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/mp.2015.12.

These citations come from a recent study by Ruth I. Karpinskia, Audrey M. Kinase Kolba, Nicole A. Tetreault, and Thomas B. Borowski, “High intelligence: A risk factor for psychological and physiological overexcitabilities,” in Elsevier (Karpinski, R.I., Intelligence (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2017.09.001). The authors surveyed the membership of Mensa, the High IQ Society, and found the frequency of each of these factors among Mensans to be double or triple the rate in the general population.

“It is hardly a new notion,” they note, “that unusually high rates of adult psychopathology are displayed among some of the most eminent geniuses with the poorest in mental health being among imaginative writers such as poets, novelists, and dramatists.” And they cite:

Jamison, K. R. (1993). Touched with fire: Manic-depressive illness and the artistic temperament. New York, NY: Free Press.

Ludwig, A. M. (1992). Creative achievement and psychopathology: Comparison among professions. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 46, 330–356.

Ludwig, A. M. (1995). The price of greatness: Resolving the creativity and madness controversy. New York, NY: Guilford Press

This is just what we would expect based on the Dymphna complex: each of these factors, depression, autism, allergies, and so forth, have also been found to correspond with childhood abuse. The exceptionally intelligent child attracts envy and resentment from the narcissistic parent, and so is more likely to be abused. Envy from siblings or the general population is also more likely.

The best test of the hypothesis would be if a similar correspondence could be found between these symptoms and unusual beauty in women. I predict a similar match, but I do not know that anyone has done the research.


Tuesday, December 05, 2017

How Extremist Are You?



I just took this opinion survey from CBC, and was a bit surprised to find myself right in the centre among all respondents. You might like to try.

Surprised, because I think Jordan Peterson, for the most part, is speaking common sense, and I think Milo Yiannopoulos is funny and inoffensive. Yet I am reliably told by professors at WLU that they are both just like Hitler.

My ranking might be skewed left by some of the questions. For example:

Agree or disagree: 
Canadians have a unique set of values that set them apart from the rest of the world.

My guess is that, had I answered “strongly agree,” their algorithm would put me over on the right. However, I must strongly disagree. There is no such thing as “Canadian values.” That is an offensive term, as offensive as speaking of “Aryan values.” Values are universal, or they are nothing. If values differ, for example, it would be impossible to objectively judge “Canadian values” as better than any other arbitrary set of values: Nazi values, perhaps. People either have values, or they do not. On the whole, in world terms, I say Canadians are unusually moral people. But that is not the question that the survey asked.

All immigrants can retain their cultural identities without being any less Canadian.

I had to somewhat agree. I suspect the algorithm puts that on the left. But I think it is true. Look, for example, at Leonard Cohen or Mordecai Richler: essential Canadian writers, but also deeply Jewish in their identities. And it is not just Jews who can do it. Dennis T. Patrick Sears is both a deeply Canadian, and a distinctly Irish, writer. There is a way to be both ethnically distinct and entirely Canadian. I has to do with not seeing your particular ethnicity as opposed to and isolated from the mainstream, but as a facet of it. Nothing is more truly Canadian than this tendency. We really are a mosaic, and it is our necessary destiny, thanks to French Canada. It is this tendency to get along and feel united in our diversity that we seem to be losing.

University and college officials should have the right to ban people with extreme views from speaking on campus.

I had to somewhat agree, which probably threw me towards the left again. The issue is religious schools, and the problem is not “extreme views.” There is no such thing, properly speaking, as an “extreme view,” and to the extent that there is, these are the very views you want to hear on a university campus: new and unfamiliar ideas. But a school with a religious charter must have the right to find certain views unacceptable, if they are heresy for that religion. Otherwise there is no meaning to the concept of a “religious school.” So it is necessary for religious freedom to allow such restrictions. Even if not religious, if a school has some statement of principles in its charter, it seems proper too for its officials to prohibit speakers who differ from these principles from using campus facilities. Support for the UN, universal human rights, liberal democracy, for example. Freedom of speech is not thereby infringed, because students have implicitly signed on to those principles by choosing voluntarily to attend the institution.

This would not apply in the recent controversy at Wilfrid Laurier University. There is nothing in WLU's charter or mission statement that would prevent the discussion of any issue current in the wider polis. In this case, the views were simply banned as an exercise of arbitrary power by a group of officials imposing their own views, in a public university.

Road signs across Canada should always be written in both English and French.

I have to strongly agree. This probably got me tagged as on the left. But the one part of Canada where this is not currently true is Quebec. I cannot fathom the attitude of those who object to seeing the other language on a sign or a cereal box. Doing so seems to me to simply fall in the category of common courtesy and neighbourliness. You ought to want to encourage it if only to promote tourism. Who does it harm?

Indigenous Peoples in Canada should be free to govern themselves.

I have to agree again, which again probably puts me on the left. Indigenous people have the same right to govern themselves that everyone has. They do this, in the first place, by participating in Canadian elections. They have the additional right to associate and to set up rules among themselves, just as anyone does by, for example, joining a Rotary Club. This is freedom of association. Nobody should stop them if they so desire. They even have the theoretical right to declare independence and become sovereign, just as we recognize that Quebec has this right. It would be a self-inflicted catastrophe for them if they did, but they have the right.

By the same token—and this is more important, but this question is not asked—every individual Indian equally has the right to walk away from any form of aboriginal government, and not suffer a loss of rights for it. Such associations, within Canada, must be voluntary—freedom of association. This is the pressing issue currently.

Francophones and Anglophones should be able to receive public services in their own language anywhere in Canada.

I had to somewhat agree. They ought to be able to receive services from the federal government in their own language. It seems to me impractical to expect services from provincial and municipal governments in either language where numbers do not warrant it.

On other questions, however, it seems to me I should register as on the right: no, we owe no more to the natives; no, it is not important to have more visible minorities in senior positions; I am “very proud” of Canada's history. No, rich provinces should not share with poor provinces (there is such a thing as moving for work). Yes, the effects of climate change are exaggerated. No there has been no cultural genocide of native people in Canada. No, people who were born male but identify as female should not be allowed to use women's washrooms (at least, not without some objective standard, like a surgical change or a change of status on their birth certificate; but such qualifications were not allowed by the question). No, people should not be allowed to cover their faces for religious reasons when receiving public services—but only because nobody has to cover their face for a religious reason. The claim that Islam does is a scam, and allowing it is only too likely to enable scams. Arab countries do not allow it, and we should not. If any religion did require this, the matter would be different. No quotas for women; quotas for women are discriminatory, as are quotas for “visible minorities.” No, white privilege is not a thing.

I begin to suspect that Canadians as a whole are not nearly as leftist as we are claimed to be, or as our “elites.”


Monday, December 04, 2017

Proverbs



It is impossible to accuse another of arrogance or of lack of humility without hypocrisy.

Whenever the problem is with “all foreigners,” the problem is not with foreigners.
Whenever the problem is with “all men,” the problem is not with men.

Never marry a good dresser. A man who is loyal to an old pair of shoes will be loyal to his wife.

A wise man does not fight with the person who does his cooking.

People defend most fervidly 
What is most certainly wrong.

-- Stephen K. Roney


Saturday, December 02, 2017

Riders on the Storm






In the copious annals of awful lyrics, few can measure up to Jim Morrison. Ironically, Morrison considered himself a poet, and had books of his poems published separately.

Pretension makes bad poetry worse.

The Doors had three legitimately memorable original songs: “Light My Fire,” “Love Me Two Times,” and “Love Her Madly.” None were written by Morrison. All were by Robby Krieger, the guitarist, whom nobody ever noticed. Yet Morrison is remembered as the dark genius behind the band. It was all hype and self-promotion.

Consider the Morrison classic "Riders on the Storm," the last song he recorded before killing himself in Paris with a heroin overdose:

Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Into this house we're born
Into this world we're thrown
Like a dog without a bone
An actor out alone
Riders on the storm

An expression of existential angst: “like a dog without a bone.” Geez, that's deep. We are all here just to have our urges satisfied.

An what does “An actor out alone” mean? Surely it is just a self-evident commonplace?

There's a killer on the road
His brain is squirmin' like a toad
Take a long holiday
Let your children play
If ya give this man a ride
Sweet memory will die
Killer on the road, yeah

Referring to brains or mind in a poem is always pretentious. Cheap fake profundity. Brains do not squirm; he could have made it work easily enough by writing “His brain is like a squirmin' toad.” But he was too stupid or literal-minded to see the difference.

The reference to a “killer on the road” sounds like a cheap B-flick thriller. Pulling up the image of a toad just makes it sillier. Cheap thrills.

Then what does this have to do with the next two lines, about going on holiday? And memories kind of by definition do not die. So what is he talking about?

Girl ya gotta love your man
Girl ya gotta love your man
Take him by the hand
Make him understand
The world on you depends
Our life will never end
Gotta love your man, yeah

And what does avoiding hitchhikers have to do with loving your boyfriend? Just sounds like Morrison is suddenly asking for sex. Using a cheap manipulative trick: “It's a dangerous world out there, according to me, so snuggle up to me and I'll protect you.”

Wanna feel his toad?

Note the awkward phrasing of “the world on you depends.” We see a painful stretch to make a rhyme that was not worth making: it is not as though “Our life will never end” was some great line, some deep sentiment. It means nothing in this context.

An that's as much effort as Morrison is prepared to put in. The rest is repetition.

Yeah! 
Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Into this house we're born
Into this world we're thrown
Like a dog without a bone
An actor out alone 
Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm

Awful stuff. A lousy little poet coming round trying to sound like Charlie Manson.





Men? It's All Your Fault



Absolutely no comment.

A recent piece in the New York Times reflects upon the sex scandals rocking Hollywood and Washington, and argues that it all just shows how evil men are.

Superficially plausible: it is only men who are being called out for sexual misdeeds. However, this is simply a result of men being expected to make the first move sexually.

Pamela Anderson has made a good point, and is being raked over the coals for it: why would a woman go into a man's hotel room alone in the first place?

If she does, given the current vague and ambiguous rules of engagement, isn't it fairly reasonable for the man to conclude that she is voluntarily in the game and on the hunt?

For every man being accused of unwanted sexual aggressions, there is probably a woman guilty of using sexual favours to get ahead. But the men, if they miscalculate, lose their career and their public reputation. The women face no consequences. They can even play the game, get the preferment, then years later turn on their boss and accuse him of sexual misconduct.

Either way, it is a bad thing: women getting sexually harassed, or women getting advantages through sex. Allow it, and a lot of innocent men and innocent women are harmed.

It turns out that there were good reasons for traditional morality. One great advantage—and only one of many—to “no sex outside marriage” as a rule was that it made the boundaries perfectly clear; there could be no misunderstandings. This same calculation also explains why, traditionally, having men and women mingle in the world of work was considered a bad idea. Not incidentally, it also explains, on the same basis, why homosexual employees were considered a problem. In all these cases, too much chance for sexual attractions to get messed up in the mix.

We have knocked down all these fences, all the fences that made our civilization function. And feminism has been in the forefront in doing this. Much of civilization is such fences, which is why the left hates civilization. It prevents us, after all, from getting what we want, when we want it. We have created this problem, and are still, it seems, thrashing about for scapegoats.

According to the NYT piece, the crisis reflects on “the nature of men in general,” “the grotesquerie of their sexuality,” the “ugly and dangerous nature of the male libido” “the implicit brutality of male sexuality.” “Male mechanisms of desire are inherently brutal.” So, in order for women to continue to do whatever they want, men must be put in chains.

Go back and substitute the word “Jews” or “Jewish” for “male” or “men” in the above statements. Or substitute “black” and “blacks.” Or “women” and “female.” How does it sound? That will give you a pretty clear idea of who is being oppressed in our present society, and who is being privileged.

Surprised? You have not been paying attention.

A chilling statement from the piece:

“How naïve must you be not to understand that sex itself is about power every bit as much as it’s about pleasure?”
Indeed. And how emotionally dead must you be to not even think about the possibility of it being about love? Everything to some is either for pleasure or for power. Everything is for self.



Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Colonialism in Vogue





Condé Nast has recently announced the shuttering of the print edition of Teen Vogue magazine.

This piece explains why. And why journalism in general is in trouble.

Teen Vogue was supposed to be about fashion. Teenaged girls bought it to learn about the latest in fashion. Instead they often got stuff like this. Stuff they were suppose to pay for and read whether they liked it or not.

Not only is it irrelevant to their known interests. It is also telling them that they, or at least their presumably European ancestors, were bad people.

Worse, it is full of falsehoods. It is misinformation.

Begin with the subhead: “There were two major waves of colonialism in recorded history.”

They mean the colonization of the Americas, and the colonization of Africa.

No, empire and colonialism has been the standard system of government for most of mankind for all of recorded history; since ancient Mesopotamia. The nation-state is the new idea; and it emerged first Europe.

“Colonial logic asserted that a place did not exist unless white people had seen it and testified to its existence.”

An absurdity which, of course, nobody ever believed. And speaking of “white” people here, ith reference to the early exploration of the Americas, is an anachronism. “White” became a meaningful concept only much more recently, and only in some places, most notably the US. “Race” was not an issue before Darwin and modern biology. The issue in the case of America was that the existence of this continent was not in any known written source. It is similar to the situation today when some new plant or animal species is “discovered.” Nobody, then or now, ever thought that the thing did not exist before it was known to science, or that people living locally did not know about it.

“Yet, in many history books, Europe’s expansion is remembered as exploration”

That is exactly what it was, in the first instance—exploration.

“The first indigenous people he [Columbus] came across were the Taíno, who accounted for the majority of people living on the island of Hispaniola (which is now divided into Haiti and the Dominican Republic). They had a highly evolved and complex culture.”

That is at best a matter of opinion. Columbus's own first impression on encountering them was “they were a people very poor in everything.”

Speaking of the colonization of Africa, and the borders that resulted, Teen Vogue explains, “These artificial borders split cultural groups.”

True, they did. But left unsaid is that any attempt to draw a political map of Africa on ethnic grounds would have produced no stable borders at all, and no viable national economies. The thing about tribal culture is that ethnic groups are small, not exclusive to any one particular plot of land, and tend to migrate. Any borders, not just these ones, would have mixed and matched cultural groups.

“Indigenous political, economic, and social institutions were decimated, as were traditional ways of life, which were deemed inferior.”

Both British and French policy throughout the continent was actually to leave all existing power structures and leaders in place, and work through them. But, offered a better tool, people will use it. Cars work better for their purpose than donkeys, and TVs work better than jungle drums. The obvious reason for the decline in traditional African cultural practices was that the traditional ways of life actually were inferior. Yet this possibility is not even entertained.

“Among the most brutal of colonial regimes was that of Belgium under King Leopold II, known as 'the Butcher of Congo.' His well-documented acts of violence against the Congolese people resulted in an estimated 10 million deaths.”

This leaves the impression that the conduct of Leopold in the Congo was not too far off the mainstream, and can serve as an example of European colonization more generally. In fact, as the term “Butcher of the Congo” suggests, it was a scandal and considered an atrocity of historic proportions at the time. Belgium was forced, under intense diplomatic pressure from other European nations, to correct the situation. Citing it as an example is like citing the War in Bosnia as an example of modern European politics.

“Belgium, like a lot of the white Western world, can directly attribute much of its wealth and prosperity to the exploitation and deaths of indigenous people of color.”

No. The thing about European colonialism, and largely what led to its downfall, is that it was a money-losing proposition for the Imperial powers. Just as its Communist empire was, a few generations later, to the Soviet Union. Eventually, they, like Britain, France, or Portugal before them, could no longer afford it. Empire instead was considered a burden and a duty, done, if not purely for idealistic reasons, for national prestige.

Speaking of the first settlers in America, Teen Vogue reports:

“The majority did not want peace and harmony between cultures; they wanted the land for themselves. They did not want to share the abundant resources; they wanted to generate wealth to fill their own pockets.”

This might possibly have been true for some individuals outside of Disney cartoons. It was not official policy; both British and French authorities did all they could think of to establish and preserve peace and harmony with the native inhabitants. There was no good reason for conflict over resources. The presence of each group was beneficial to the other. There was plenty of land for everyone. Even aside from the fact that farming was a far more efficient use of the land than the traditional hunting and gathering known to the Indians, the Indian population had already been decimated by disease, and was not even using much of the land for traditional hunting. In any case, trading furs with the Europeans was far more profitable.

And very few of the early settlers were thinking in terms of wealth or of filling their pockets. These were the poorest folk in the Europe of the time, a time of periodic starvation. They were only concerned with surviving the next winter.

“Most had no respect for indigenous cultures or histories; they wanted to enforce their own instead.”

Just the reverse is true, in North America. The literary record shows a consistent idealization of native Indian cultures among European writers, from Montesquieu and Rousseau (the “noble savage” idea) through the Romantics, Washington Irving, Zane Grey, and the Western movie genre to the present day.

“These colonizers did not care that land was considered sacred and communal. Most believed that everything, including the earth, was meant to be bought and sold.”

Indians had little concept of land ownership at any level, and for good reason: they did not much use it. It was of little importance or interest to them, not being farmers. It was just something they passed through. Far from being considered sacred, it was considered only vaguely and provisionally there. The reality was the dream. There was no “communal ownership.” There was no ownership at all, and different communities passed often through the same lands. They no more owned the land than gypsies do. For this reason, they did not think of buying or selling it, just as we do not think of buying or selling air.

The idea of human stewardship over land comes with settled agriculture. The idea of human stewardship over “nature” is from the Old Testament. It is not found in most other cultures.

“The Europeans who first settled along the East Coast of the United States believed it was their Manifest Destiny, or God-granted right, to claim territory for themselves and their posterity.“

Nope. “Manifest Destiny” refers to a later (19th century) idea among Americans that the US was destined to stretch to the Pacific. The phrase does not imply any “God-given right.” Nor did this have to do with taking land from indigenous people. It was a question of acquiring territory from other European powers. In any American or British lands, Indian sovereignty had already been ceded by the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and the Treaty of Niagara of 1764.

“The legacy of colonialism continues to manifest in obvious ways: Many of the world’s poorest countries are former European colonies.”

True, but on the whole, their relative poverty has generally become worse since the Europeans left, this was usually at least four generations ago. In the same four generations, uncounted immigrant families have risen from poverty to wealth in North America. Why the difference? At the same time, some of the poorest countries in the world today are ones that lack this experience of being European colonies: Afghanistan, for example, is the poorest country in Asia. Ethiopia is close to the poorest in Africa. Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, threw off the foreign yoke way back in 1804. Before most European countries did.

Why do magazines like Teen Vogue print such garbage? I expect mostly because it is easy. An article like this takes no reporting or interviewing anyone; and the author has evidently not bothered with much book research. One book is cited, and it is a commonly assigned undergrad read published in 1972. This is the sort of thing that can be written off the top of someone's head, simply from established prejudices. Political motives are probably purely secondary; being “politically correct,” suiting a political agenda, is probably only a useful justification for the laziness. With the right politics, you do not have to actually do the assignment. From the point of view of the assigning editor, similarly, with the right politics, you do not have to come up with any novel article ideas, and assignment is easy.

This is what comes from making journalists “professionals”: it becomes journalism for the convenience of the journalist, not for the wants or needs of the reader.



Monday, November 27, 2017

The Sigiri Maidens





In Sigiri, the legendary ancient capital of Sri Lanka, dating to the 5th century BC, there is a mountain on which, long ago, some unknown artists painted many portraits of beautiful women. Originally there were 500 of them, and it was probably the largest single work of visual art in the world.

Ever since—for over two millennia—tourists have come to admire them. It is properly one of the seven wonders of either the ancient or the modern world. Many have left short poems engraved in a nearbly part of the rock face called the “mirror wall”; this has become a tradition.

Some of the oldest have been translated into English by Dr Senerat Paranavitana. But these are my own “translations,” attempting my own reconstruction from his versions and those of several other translators since:



I

Though you are 1,500 years old, if you are a day,
You look younger than most women a fraction of your age.
Isn’t it amazing what can be done with a little paint?


II

You are so beautiful you are transparent;
And I can see through you to the heart
Of him who made you.
The hand that painted you loved you very much,
Painfully much;
And that has made you beautiful.

Remember him.


III

I love you, and hopelessly:
I know you cannot be mine.
But I cannot bear these others, bald and sweaty,
Seeing you.
You, up there on your mountain pedestal,
Half-undressed in front of all men’s eyes.
I will come to you again tonight
My beloved 
And will have brought with me a pot of ink…
-- Stephen K. Roney





Sigiriya.





Friday, November 24, 2017

Marx and the Marks



A Nazi image of the traditional "greedy capitalist."

Why is cultural Marxism a thing? Objectively, it seems mad. Marx was effectively disproved by 1917, the time of the Bolshevik Revolution. It was supposed, after all, to be an uprising by an impoverished and oppressed proletariat. Instead, it was the intellectuals, and it still is. In a country that had almost no proletariat; and this is now generally true in the West. Nothing since 1917 has done anything to restore anyone else's faith in Marx's notions. Yet the intellectuals generally, especially in the Humanities and Social Sciences at just about every university across the developed world, still all enforce this crackpot theory as a sort of orthodox dogma.

There are several reasons. One is that you actually need an ideology in education; without a goal, you cannot meaningfully do anything. When they cast out theology as the queen of the sciences, in favour of “scientific” materialism, the non-science subjects needed some new ideology that justified them in scientific terms. Marxism and Freudianism, pseudo-sciences working with the same subject matter, seemed to fit the bill.

But there is another reason.

Any profession is a cartel in restraint of trade; and Adam Smith's wisdom holds here. Whenever two or more men engaged in the same trade meet and talk, for any reason, even purely socially, the conversation will inevitably turn to how to improve their own position at the expense of the general public.

In creating and assigning special rights to professions, we are enabling and encouraging this. Our only protection against it is the naive confidence that people in the professions are moral paragons, who will naturally put the general interest above their own.

Every profession has a vested interest in failing to do what they are supposed to be there to do. Try the thought experiment: suppose some psychiatrist found a simple, inexpensive way to cure all mental illness. It might be in his own interest to publicize it; if he were an independent entrepreneur; but it certainly would not be in the interests of the profession. They would all swiftly be out of work: out of a job and a career they have invested hugely in, and that gives them immense rewards and prestige. How confident can we be that given the chance, this or any profession would wheel into action to destroy itself?

Dentistry stands apart as one profession that genuinely seems to act to reduce the problems dentists face. But this, I think, is due to the peculiar circumstances of that profession. Most dentists hate their job. The problem is that everyone hates to go to the dentist. This has to wear you down after a while. The suicide rate among dentists is high. So they are driven to justify themselves; and not that upset at perhaps being required to switch profession.

But look at lawyers. It is in that trade's vested interests to have more and more laws, and to make them harder and harder to understand. Then there is more and more need to hire lawyers. And so we have lawyers gravitating to government, where they pass more and more laws. And so we have the problem of legalese, odd lawyerly language designed so that non-lawyers cannot read it.

Look at government bureaucrats. It is in their vested interests, similarly, to have more and more regulations, and make them more difficult to understand. And so we have reams more, year by year, proposed and implemented by bureaucrats.

It is in the vested interest of academics to make their fields sound more difficult than they are. Just read and try to make sense out of the standard academic paper.

It is in the vested interest of teachers not to teach efficiently. I have dealt with this in detail elsewhere. Since we have allowed teachers to organize as a self-regulating profession, the cost of schools has shot up, while student results on standardized tests have flatlined or declined.

Since we have allowed journalists to organize as a profession, the quality of the media has declined in most folk's estimation—as demonstrated by falling readerships and viewerships.

Professionalizing a field is a lousy idea, and ought to be avoided whenever possible.

It is all predictable. In fact, it is all there in the New Testament. The professions are the people Jesus called “scribes and Pharisees”; scribe and Pharisee were the two learned professions of his day. They are the villains of the piece.

Already then, before, and ever since, the learned professions, scribes, priests, physicians, lawyers, clerks, and so on, have held all real power in society. The nominal rulers, kings and nobles and Roman procurators, got to live in great comfort and to go about hunting or doing whatever they like, but they were not the ones directly exercising power over others. Those were their estate agents, their clerks, their chancellors, their rent collectors and bailiffs, their tax collectors, their gamekeepers. The professionals. Such positions naturally attract the power-hungry: the bullies and the abusers.

It is no different in a democracy. The nominal rulers, the general public, vote once every four years, to appoint the highest ranks of the managers. But the bureaucrats and the professions are the ones exercising all real power over others daily.

The true value of Marxism to this class is that it distracts attention from the actual state of affairs. It sets up a cartoon villain, “the greedy capitalists,” or “the corporations,” and assigns to them all the supposed power and all the blame for anything wrong. “The Jews” works too, or used to, until Hitler overplayed his hand. “Americans” still works in most parts of the world. And “straight white men.” All these groups are conveniently identified by Marxists with the imaginary “greedy capitalists.”

By pointing fingers elsewhere, we are encouraged to overlook the power held by the professions, or how it might be abused. They can represent themselves as the great defenders of the poor and ordinary folks against their oppressors. And demand more power for this imaginary fight. Great con job, and it has worked for millennia.

It has always worked better in Europe than in America, of course. Better in Europe, because Europeans have a longer and deeper tradition of always deferring to their “betters.” The American working class is not so prepared to let others think or speak for them. Bunch of rednecks!

Fortunately, with the growth of the Internet, the power of the professions is probably declining. Much of what they once held as a private preserve—knowledge--is now readily available. Better access to media is shining light into dark corners. The recent taping of an inquisition at Wilfrid Laurier University is a case of this. We are starting to see the little men pulling the levers behind the curtain, and are not inclined to be awed.

We are also beginning to see what looks like a crackup. We witness the professions—broadly, “the left”--become extreme and violent, as they no longer seem to be able to get and do what they want. It begins to look hysterical; or like a tantrum. Let's all scream at the sky, shall we? Antifa, for example, seems to be composed of professionals on their days off wearing masks. They are making it all too clear now that they are not in any kind of solidarity with the rest of us.


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy American Thanksgiving, Racists!




Just in time for American Thanksgiving, a host of leftist websites in the US are priming their audience to disrupt the family meal with political talking points.

This is an obvious violation of good manners, and destructive to families. How could anyone justify it?

Lifehacker does by arguing we have a moral duty to respond if someone else says something “racist.” I agree. If some other family member brings up politics, you have a right and quite possibly a duty to respond. They have committed the aggression, on the family and on all present. You must defend.

But, to begin with, the comments Lifehacker calls “racist” clearly are not. They cite complaints about voter fraud, “welfare queens,” and “faux outrage about blue lives mattering.” Splinter adds the need to deal with those objectionable “Trump isn't racist” comments. None of these things have anything to do with race, let alone racism. If the listener on the left insists they do, he is the racist, not the person he is speaking to: he is insisting that only blacks abuse welfare, only non-whites vote illegally, and all policemen are white. And that saying someone is not racist is racist.

Moreover, given these examples, who is more likely to be initiating the political conversation? The phrase “blue lives matter” is a response to the phrase “black lives matter.” Who is going to say it except in response to the first? Who is going to suddenly burst out with “Trump isn't racist” in the absence of the prior assertion that he is?

Splinter advises that the organization SURJ ("Showing Up For Racial Justice") "also created an anti-racist placemat you can print and set under your plate if you want to avoid grabbing your cell phone. The placemat focuses on indigenous solidarity and challenging familiar narratives about Thanksgiving.”

So—isn't putting such placemats under everyone's meal initiating the argument? Isn't pulling out the placemat you have been given, and replacing it with this, also ostentatiously starting the argument? And, without it, are racist comments against American Indians likely to come up? After all, the “familiar narrative” of the “First Thanksgiving,” smarmy as it may be, is all about how the local Indians helped the first settlers, and they shared their Thanksgiving meal in peace and harmony. This is racist? This is hostile to American Indians?

It is getting hard to believe the modern left have any agenda other than destroying any traces of civilization they can reach: destroying the Thanksgiving celebration, destroying the extended family. I do not mean American culture, or American civilization. I mean civilization. I think they hate all civilization equally, and it would not matter if it were Chinese.

The Cultural Revolution proceeds apace.



Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Let 'Er RIP




Epitaph 4

I just knew something like this was bound to happen sooner or later.


Epitaph 5

Wake me when it’s over.


Epitaph 6


Where’s my handcart?


Epitaph 7


Forgotten, but not gone.


Epitaph 8

If all the world’s a stage
Where’s my damned ovation?

Do I get an encore?

Epitaph 9: 
The cartoon over,
I await the feature presentation. 
--Stephen K. Roney

Lindsay Shepherd and Free Speech at WLU




The assaults on free speech at Canadian campuses are becoming more alarming. Following on Ryerson University actually prohibiting a panel discussion on free speech, we have the bullying and threatening of poor 22-year-old grad assistant Lindsay Shepherd for showing a clip from TVO in class—something freely available to the general public on TV.

This is the perfect subversion of the intention of a university: the free exchange of ideas. Now any free exchange of ideas must be done outside class, in secret. The professors involved should be fired. If they are not, the university should be cut off from any public funding and any degree-granting powers.

The sad excuse used, here and elsewhere, for such attacks on free speech and free thought, is that some speech or some idea may hurt someone's feelings. And this is an act of violence against them. Like Hitler, as the profs in this case actually say.

This claim ought never to be entertained, even though it has now become an accepted commonplace. Any possible opinion or point of view is going to make someone feel uncomfortable. If I say it is sunny out today, it will offend someone whose family makes a living selling umbrellas. To prohibit any speech at all on these grounds is always to give some favoured group special privileges. And any assignment of special privileges to one group is always a withdrawal of rights from all others.

It is essential, too, to all that is good and holy, to preserve a distinction between physical assault and reasoned debate. It is not just that words are not deeds—as our grandmothers used to say, “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” It is also that defeating an opponent with superior reasoning and evidence is a very different thing from defeating him by beating him into bloodied submission with a baseball bat or a prison term. Erase that difference, and all hell breaks loose. The only options then are anarchy, a war to the death of all against all, or totalitarianism, with government purely in the personal interests of whatever individual happens to hold power.

The modern academy is now actually actively engaged in erasing that difference. The assault on Lindsay Shepherd is a definite example of beating a reasoned opinion you do not like into submission. Not, to be clear, Shepherd's opinion; that of Jordan Peterson,which she simply reported.

At this point, the safest thing for us all would be to abolish the universities. Happily, a benevolent providence seems to be at work on this as we speak. I have recently seen the prediction that, within ten years, half of US colleges will be bankrupt. Aside from such egregious abuses of power and position as we see here, the old job of the university can now be done more efficiently and cheaply online. The community of scholars is now equally present everywhere, on the web.

And on the web, happily, it is virtually impossible to suppress opinions you do not like. Making it a much better vehicle for the advancement of human knowledge.

Examples like the present one at WLU just ensure there will be less mourning for the old professoriate when they go.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Lynch Mobs



Laura Nelson, lynched 1911.

Xerxes my leftist columnist friend has raised the dire spectre of right wing lynch mobs in the street. He suggests they are to be expected due to the rise of the right wing and “white supremacy.”

But lynch mobs are not a “right-wing” phenomenon. Historically, they are more often found on the left. The term itself seems to have been invented by the American left during and after the US War of Independence to suggest the proper treatment of Tory Loyalists—the political wing of their day. The same term and techniques were then used against blacks (and Catholics, and immigrants, and Republicans) in the US South by the KKK—which was, in its day, when it was a real force (1860 to 1870, then 1915 to 1925), a leftist organization, or at least ambiguously either left or right. They were one of the pillars of Woodrow Wilson's “Progressive” administration.

Will Brown being tortured and killed in Omaha, Nebraska, during "Red Summer," 1919.

The French Revolution was a golden era of lynch mobs—virtually always on the left. The same is true of the Spanish Civil War. The Cultural Revolution in China was probably the great global heyday for lynchings and mob rule. 

It makes sense: the right is generally for “law and order.” The left is generally for “taking it to the streets.” Lynch mobs are almost necessarily on the left. A right-wing lynch mob is almost a contradiction in terms.

There have certainly been, of late, no lynchings in the name of “white supremacy.” But then, there do not seem to have been any white supremacists.

The number of actual “white supremacists” In the US is probably vanishingly small. Even the notorious Robert Spencer, who is always trotted out as prime example, with his perhaps several hundred followers, is not really a white supremacist, and would never use the term for himself. Instead, the term “white supremacist” seems to have been invented by parties on the left in order to justify lynch mobs and vigilante justice against anyone to whom they assign this label.

So far, any recent vigilante “justice” of a literal sort has almost all been coming from the organizations “Antifa” and “Black Lives Matter,” who are on the left. Of a less literal sort, the threat has also been coming, and increasingly, from the left. Extrajudicial proceedings and punishments without due process from the various “Title IX” enforcement structures in US colleges; from the Human Rights panels in Canada. Granted, these are not mob rule; these are things set up by an elite holding power. It is not quite the same problem as a lynch mob. More like a Star Chamber.


Monday, November 20, 2017

Epitaphs





Epitaph 1
Closed for renovations

Epitaph 2
I once went to take of my mask
And I came off with it.


Epitaph 3
Only bones beneath these stones;
Mind the butterflies.

-- Stephen K. Roney

The Edmonton E*****s






Controversy is warming up over the Edmonton Eskimos name. It is supposedly offensive or insulting to indigenous people. It is currently held offensive simply to give a sports team an aboriginal name, despite the fact that we see no problem with other ethnic groups: Boston Celtics, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Minnesota Vikings, Queen's Golden Gaels, and so forth. McGill managed a pass on their “Redmen” by claiming the reference was to Scots instead of Canadian Indians.

On top of that, “Eskimo” is commonly supposed to be pejorative. People generally think it means “cannibal.” This, however, is an old etymological error. It actually means something like “people who wear snowshoes.” Not offensive, and a good deal less troubling than the now-preferred “Inuit.” “Inuit” actually means “human being”--with the necessary implication that anyone who is not Inuit is not, in fact, human.

So the controversy is foolish.

On the other hand, I have never liked the name “Edmonton Eskimos.” I would not be sad to see it go. The problem is that Edmonton has nothing to do with Eskimos; or no more than any other Canadian city. I always had the same problem with Edmonton's “Klondike Days” festival. Edmonton is very far from where Eskimos live, and it is very far from the Klondike. This in itself is not a problem—Toronto is pretty far from where the Argonauts sailed—but Edmonton is just close enough to either to make it look like an attempt to mislead, and to steal somebody else's thunder. Is their really nothing about Edmonton itself worth celebrating? Does the city have no personality of its own?

To make the matter more difficult, it would be desirable to keep the team initials “EE.” Otherwise, a lot of added expense redesigning logos, helmets, stationery.

Edmonton Eskers?
Edmonton Elk?
Edmonton Electrons?
Edmonton Earthquake?
Edmonton Epic?
Edmonton Eco-terrorists?
Edmonton Ecdysiasts?




Sunday, November 19, 2017

Yet More on Moore


A lot of folks have recently weighed in on the Roy Moore case. I think an update is in order. I had most recently said that a new accusation by a fourth woman, Beverly Nelson, of an attempted rape in a car, probably tipped the preponderance of evidence towards guilt, so that Moore should withdraw as a candidate. Now I think I need to walk that back. I think serious doubts have been raised over that new accusation.

The one point that most strikes me—and this did not occur to me personally until someone else pointed it out—is that the accuser's prime bit of offered evidence is an inscription in her high school yearbook wishing her a Merry Christmas. Hang on: school yearbooks come out at the end of the school year, in Spring, and are carried around for maybe a few days after that. Who brings their high school yearbook to a restaurant the next Christmas?

Nah; not plausible. But plausible as a con, given that it reinforces the image of Moore as someone who chases younger girls—high school age.

Moore's legal team has demanded that the yearbook be submitted to an independent party to enable forensic analysis by handwriting experts. Gloria Allred, the publicity-hound attorney handling the accuser's case, has refused. I see no reason for this other than that she knows it is a forgery. If she thought it was genuine, she wold be eager to do this.

Another point, noted by Rush Limbaugh, is that the accuser says she was locked in Moore's car, and could not escape. Limbaugh points out that child locks, the kind controlled by the driver, did not appear in cars until a few years after the incident is claimed to have occurred. So why could she not have opened the door?

If Moore really is a pedophile, note that, according to everything the psychologists say currently, pedophilia is incurable. That is why we have this current hysteria about having sex offenders registers, and notifying neighbours if they move into an area, no matter how long ago the recorded crime took place. Accordingly, if the charges are true, there should not just be incidents 38 years ago. There should logically be continued incidents up to the present day. Instead, Breitbart.com, which has always been in Moore's corner, has published a stream of character references by people who ought to know saying Moore has always been a perfect gentleman for as long as they have known him. For what that is worth.

All we have so far, is one claimed incident almost 40 years ago. This tends to disprove the claim, unless we soon get others. The likelier picture is of a guy who, in his thirties, and single, was looking for a wife, and had a preference for younger women. A religious guy might, since virginity might matter a lot to him. Possibly he was socially awkward, and not always good at reading the signals of consent. Always a tricky business for any man.



Eat. Brains.



On Hearing Browning and Yeats Recite on the Webpage of the BBC

A poet is the most unpoetical thing in existence.
Browning sounding fatuous;
Great Yeats slouching Innisward
Soul fastened to a dying ego
Something seeming stuck upside his nose.
Dead men do recite sad tales.

In the static and commotion
Of Andrew Motion’s
Digital BBC jubilee of the spoken word.

There it is. Ecce. Ick.
Poetry is dead, and stretched prone on the mortuary table;
Amidst the high-pitched keening of its ghosts.
We knew it was dead on paper.
But it seems its death can just as well be spread
By word of mouth.
Sentiment aside,
Who can be surprised?
The skylark Shelley heard is dead and rotten
If bird it ever was;
And all of Basho’s blossoms have fallen long ago.

So let it be with poets. They are only the sort of people after all
As you might elbow in the supermarket,
Or jostle in the mall.

And so let it be with the static and commotion
Of Andrew Motion’s
Digital BBC jubilee of the spoken word.

And yet, and yet;
Can't I still hear that skylark call
And see those bright pink blossoms?
How is it the waves of Innisfree lap clear in my third ear?

Poetry is neither sight nor sound; nor type, nor lip, nor good read hearing—
It is the resurrection and the life.
It is Orpheus from underground;
For the Word, without the flesh, shall rise again.

And all of Allan Ginsberg’s ancient Molochs knock
Each against the last against the corridors of memory
Ancestral voices prophecying war once more.

A door opens; a stone is thrown away;
And Carl Solomon shall rise again;
And welcome back, Allan, Willie, Robert, John.
Welcome back, not as zombie flesh, thank God, not to glassy eye, nor weary ear;
But resurrected, perfected, transformed utterly.

-- Stephen K. Roney


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

By All Means, Let's Have More Aboriginal History



Saskatchewan Education Minister Bronwyn Eyre (Government of Saskatchewan photo)

Bronwyn Eyre, Saskatchewan's Education Minister, is facing heat for supposedly saying in the legislature that she fears there is too much aboriginal history in the school history curriculum. There is currently a petition circulating demanding her resignation. At last count, it had over 2000 signatures.

Eyre was especially troubled, she said later in a reporters' scrum, by a French assignment brought home by her son, which asked him to contrast traditional understanding of the Earth among First Nations with traditional understandings among Western Europeans. First Nations, it suggested, felt a sense of responsibility towards Mother Earth. Europeans, by contrast, saw the Earth as of only economic value.

Troublingly, Eyre's actual speech does not seem to be posted anywhere online—including at her own site—which means we must take the media's word for what she said. Which is often not reliable.

The quote I keep seeing, however, is that Eyre said “there has come to be at once too much wholesale infusion into the curriculum, and at the same time, too many attempts to mandate material into it both from the inside and by outside groups.”

If this is the essence of what she said, she is certainly right. There is something gravely wrong with the fact that her comments are controversial.

We ought to keep politics out of the school curriculum. We ought not to have a French assignment that obliges us to accept as truth some assertion that is itself debatable, and actively debated in the wider society. That is child abuse and attempted mind control. It is antithetical to education. It is the sort of thing I myself, as a teacher, find too common, and profoundly offensive.

It would be fine to have a French assignment that dealt with an issue of the day; it would be fine to have a French assignment that asked students to compare and contrast European and First Nations views of the environment. It is not okay to have a French assignment that, in doing so, tells the students what they are supposed to think those views are. The more so since in the assignment given, the information presented as indisputable fact is false.

The issue has been twisted by special interest groups into the Minister supposedly saying we should have less aboriginal history in the schools. If she did say this, however, it is not in the quote always given. That looks more like a plea that we have more actual aboriginal history in the schools, rather than just assertions snuck in to other subjects.

If there were more aboriginal history in the schools, it might not be happy news for present-day First Nations lobbyists. It is probably the last thing they really want. History is based on written sources, and the written sources we have pretty systematically contradict the claims of the aboriginal lobby.

It would be instructive for many, for example, to actually read the texts of the treaties agreed to and signed. They bear no relation to the current First Nations claims. It would be instructive to read the accounts by early explorers and missionaries of the environmental practices of the First Nations. They were the very reverse of solicitous towards the natural environment. They were profligate and wasteful, to European eyes.

Western European civilization is historically almost unique in seeing the natural environment as something of intrinsic value, and under our care.

By all means, let's have more aboriginal history.




Monday, November 13, 2017

More on Moore



As I suggested might happen, another accusation has come out against Roy Moore, and it is serious: an aggressive sexual assault on a sixteen-year-old. With three accusations, and two of them serious, I believe he should step aside. If he does not, nobody should vote for him. He may yet be innocent; but there is not time to prosecute the matter before the election. If he is prosecuted later, and found innocent, he can run again, and ought then to be given a sympathetic hearing.

But for now, the chances are too good that the charges are true. We now have the word of three women against one man. Mind you, this is not yet as strong as the evidence against Jian Ghomeshi, back in 2016. He too had three accusers, and their claims were more serious. And he turned out to be innocent.

The issue is complicated as well by a general prejudice against Southern US culture, which traditionally, like most cultures, sees nothing wrong with older men dating younger women. Let us be clear: there is nothing wrong with older men dating younger women: that is purely prejudice. The age of consent in Alabama is sixteen.

The issue here is sexual assault.





The Factory School



To fix the schools, we need better teachers. We need a better curriculum. But there is one more thing we need, and it is also easy to get, if we have the will. We need better classrooms.

The schools we have now are basically modeled on factories. This is supposedly for efficiency. It does not work. Children are not identical, like car parts, and cannot be treated as such. Worse, treating them as though they are identical objects is an awful lesson in civics in a free democracy.

It is not possible to pitch a lesson properly to all the students in a large class. The dumbest will not get it, and will be left behind. The smartest will be bored out of their minds, and tune out. Most teachers worry only, if at all, about the dumb kids, and tend to slow it all down. Making it worse for the smartest ones.

There is no way around this, in a large class.

Ironically, it was probably better in the old one-room schoolhouse. With a mix of students at different levels, there could be no attempt to have them learn in lock-step.

We used to stream students, to reduce this problem: there were dumb classes and smart classes. This has become politically incorrect. By this system, kids were consigned when young to permanent failure. So we threw them all together into one class, making the problem worse.

The current “efficient” system is insanely wasteful. Properly, no student need fail. Everyone can learn anything; it is just a question of how long it will take them. We end up putting kids through twelve years of schooling, and they come out the other side, and perhaps have learned little or nothing. We have wasted their childhoods.

Fortunately, we now have a simple solution: we teach with computers. With computers, each lesson can be automatically paced to suit each student. If a student does not get the point of a lecture or explanation, he or she can watch the video again, or watch another video on the same topic.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Roy Moore



On Judge Roy Moore, things seem to be getting distorted. The last I saw, there were exactly two accusations of genuine impropriety: one of aggressively propositioning a 14-year-old, and one of giving alcohol to someone 18. Neither, even if true, are that far out of line. He is also accused of dating, and kissing, a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old, when he was in his thirties. Take away any ageist prejudice, and there is simply nothing wrong with that. It is traditional in most cultures to have a similar age difference, and by Alabama law the women were above the age of consent, 16.

Note an important distinction here between the Moore case and the current Hollywood scandals. Aside from their particular actions, the Hollywood accused are accused of using a position of power to exploit others for sex. Even if the charges are true, this is not so for Moore. He was just another eligible bachelor going on dates.

So we have two accusations? More may come out, but that is not enough to presume guilt, in the middle of an election campaign, when his opponents have every motive to smear him with false allegations. In good faith, he is still innocent until proven guilty.


Korea, Summer, 1951



Korea, Summer, 1951: A Canadian Who Did Not Survive Remembers

August in Asia is hotter than death;
Christ, that a cold rain could fall!
Like the rains that I knew where the jackpines grew
In Canada, when I was small.

Every rock, every brick, is as hot as a wick,
And wickedly ripples the air;
If I could I would go where the sweet Chinooks blow,
For I know of no night fevers there.

I don't that much mind that I die here or there;
When you're dead, you're just dead, as a rule.
But please don't cremate me, deep-freeze me in state--
Damn Sam McGee, let me die cool.

-- Stephen K. Roney


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Remembrance Day



We are the dead

It's a hell of a way from yesterday
And all behind is burning.
We frog-march on to invisible dawn
From whence there is no turning.
There was a war, there is a war, there ever a war will be;
Who was that raving charlatan we hanged on Calvary?
Each human heart is blown apart
Six ways before September
The whores of chance hex backward glance
And delicate lads dismember.
There was a war, there is a war, there ever a war will be;
The carrion chorus sounds above Megiddo’s bloody sea.
Love a thing, and watch it die
And only death's forever;
In wave-swept graves in parts we lie
And yet each year remember.
There was a war, there is a war, there ever a war will be;
The bloody track leads back from where we nailed him to a tree.
There's no escape from sorrow, boys,
Between here and high heaven;
Only pray the guns may pause
In the eleventh month, on the eleventh day,
As bells toll eleven.

-- Stephen K. Roney 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Sutherland Springs



In the wake of one more mass shooting in the USA, at the Sutherland Springs Baptist Church, there are the inevitable cries for tougher gun legislation. Along with the accusation that the NRA is holding Americans hostage, in the supposed interest of corporate profits. It all plays well on the left.

https://www.facebook.com/NowThisPolitics/videos/1732638220100994/

But it is nonsense, and dangerous nonsense.

I have no love for guns. I do not hunt. I certainly make no money from guns. But there is just no reason to suppose that more restrictions on gun ownership would do any good, and there is reason to believe they would do harm. The circumstances in Texas demonstrate why. The shooter had no legal right under current law to own a gun. So tougher laws would have done nothing to stop him. The shooting spree was stopped, on the other hand, by a neighbour in legal possession of a gun. Tougher laws might have taken that gun out of his hands.

This should not be hard to understand: if you are not going to obey the laws against murder, why would you obey the laws against gun ownership?

So calling for tougher gun laws is like supposing a flock without a shepherd is safer from wolves. A lot of people at all times make that argument, but it is nuts and will always be nuts.

Ah, gun control advocates will say, look at the statistics. The US has a relatively high number of guns in private hands, and it has relatively many mass shootings. And this does seem to make intuitive sense. If there are more guns around, surely they are more likely to be used too. And if there are more guns, there are more guns liable to fall into the wrong hands.




But look at the statistics. Here is a chart published recently in the New York Times, not a source sympathetic to guns. There is no relationship between number of guns owned and the incidence of mass shootings. If there were, the dots should all line up in single file along an imaginary perpendicular line, running from bottom left to top right. They plainly do not. Finland and Switzerland, for example, have very high rates of private gun ownership; but very low rates of gun violence. And this, after all, makes sense: if more guns are liable to fall into the wrong hands, more guns are also liable to fall into the right hands. If everyone owned and carried a gun, that might actually be the best way to end gun violence. It would be like the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction among nations: pull out a gun, and you are instantly in a Mexican standoff. There is probably a reason why these mass shootings almost always happen in designated “gun-free zones.”

Aside from these comparative statistics among countries, consider too comparing the statistics over time. Over the past fifty years, American gun laws have become progressively more strict. Over the same time period, mass shootings have become progressively more common.

After all, if you think about it, guns are actually more valuable for defending against mass murder than they are for committing mass murder. As we have seen repeatedly, it is as easy to kill large numbers of people, if that is your goal, with a bomb, with a vehicle, or with an airplane. The aggressor has the advantage of time to prepare, and can rig up any number of different methods. It is the defender who does not have time, who cannot prepare, who must be able to react quickly and with some precision. The gun is the ideal weapon in this case.

Moreover, there is a reason why Finland and Switzerland have high rates of gun ownership. And it is instructive. The high rate of gun ownership is mandated by government and intended to make those two countries unconquerable. Historically, it has worked. Since Napoleon, nobody has been foolish enough to invade little Switzerland. The Soviet Union was dumb enough to invade little Finland in 1939, and had their big red butts kicked. Any invader faces a fully armed populace, impossible to pacify. The regular army can, if necessary, draft civilians as soldiers and expect them to know immediately how to use a gun effectively in battle.

Currently, the USA has something of the same advantage. And the USA has many foreign enemies.

At the same time, for much the same reason, as the framers of the US Constitution well understood, an armed populace is a guarantee against oppressive government.

Have you ever wondered why democracy came early to England, and not to so many other nations?

Chalk it up to the deadly English longbow. English yeomen trained it its use as a matter of public duty. And the great thing about the English longbow is that it could take down a man on horseback, in full armour. As was demonstrated so well at Agincourt.

This meant that the nobles, who could afford pricey things like armour and horses, simply could not dictate to the yeomen. Any man in his home might, if he felt it necessary, hold off the local noble. If his neighbours agreed, the government was suddenly in big trouble.

Everything else emerged from this. A man's home became his castle—because it could in fact be defended. Cooperation and persuasion became the rule of English life.

The traditional Swiss pike and pike formation worked in a similar way. It was proof against a cavalry charge. The commons had to be convinced, not ruled.

Accordingly, having fewer guns in fewer hands would seem to do no good, and would seem to hold the potential to do great harm.

So why the eternal demand for more gun control?

I think it plays to a common human urge to deny the existence of moral evil. After all, if we accept that there is evil, we must next examine our own acts. Better to blame some inanimate object.