Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Painful Blockage of the Memory Hole?

John Ivison writes in the National Post, “If the elites are wrong about their ‘man-made climate change’ fixation, they’ll pay dearly for it.” He figures that have gone so all-in that their credibility will be shot.

I don’t see why. The mistakes of the elite seem generally to disappear quietly and completely down the memory hole. Why should this time be different?

Remember “peak oil”? Remember how we were going to run out of water? Remember how the world would soon dissolve in war over basic resources? Remember how we were going to run out of food? Remember global cooling? Remember the population bomb?

When you’re my age, you’ll remember when it was imperative to get out and get some sun, then it was imperative to stay out of the sun, now it’s imperative to get out and get some sun. You must not eat eggs. You must eat eggs. Cholesterol is bad. Some cholesterol is good. You need cholesterol. Use artificial sweeteners to get thin. Avoid artificial sweeteners: they make you fat.

What usually happens is just silence regarding the previous, disproven error. Nobody says anything.

What sometimes happens is that it is claimed later to all have been a joke. You mean anyone took me literally? This is especially the case, it seems, with feminist inventions, like the one that “rule of thumb” originally meant the right to beat your wife with a stick. It turns out such things were always meant “ironically.”

If all else fails, or even when it does not, the cutest tactic is to run around to the head of the parade and start to denounce those guys who believe such old nonsense. A good thing you have experts like me to enlighten you that the “general opinion” is wrong! Never noting that it was not the general opinion, but the opinion of the experts in the field. Sometimes including the speaker.

Has anything changed to make it no longer so?

Perhaps it has. At least the elites no longer have a lid on the media. And you can Google up old news stories now.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Welcome to the Philippines

One of the things I like about the Philippines is that it is so full of life.

We live in the continuous built-up area of the country’s second-largest city. And in a bit of a ritzy neighbourhood, a new gated community. And yet, on our daily walks, we regularly see, within a couple of blocks of home, a street with dozens of game cocks; a litter of seven puppies we are keeping tabs on; a yard with three cats, always there; a nanny goat and her kid; two budgies living outdoors in a cage; many other dogs and cats running free (but not strays). A few months ago there was a cow and a calf in a little field within a couple of blocks of us; now and again we see a sheep in the block behind us. 

Lots of vegetable life too, of course, including berries and leaves growing wild you can just pick and eat. And not only in summer. If something doesn’t grow here, it is just trying to be difficult. We have some beautiful lush basil of our own out front.

And there are always small bands of kids driving by on their bicycles. Littler kids play outside their homes in the afternoons with their moms watching. There are about two little variety stores in every block, and some of them have street food cooking. So there are always grownups around too. Always guys working on their cars. 

It’s a big contrast from Saudi Arabia, where, thanks to the heat, you almost never saw anybody or anything in the street. Maybe the odd mad dog or Englishman. And if you wanted to go for a walk, there was nothing to see.

All photos are from within two blocks of home, all taken on the same day, during our daily walk.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

On Jobs Becoming Obsolete

This article claims that, despite all the fuss and worry we are hearing these days, automation has actually killed only one occupation in the last sixty years.

And as soon as you read that line, I bet that you, like me I, could immediately name it.

Wasn’t that long ago. Remember the Bill Dana show on TV?

At first I thought I could immediately think of another: typesetter. I painstakingly taught myself to typeset electronically, back in the day. Totally useless skill now.

But the article is right not to include it. The job has not disappeared. It is now part of graphic design. And really, it always was. Once, the mighty typesetter was given the task of laying out the page as part of his job. Now, the guy who designs the page, as part of that job, chooses the type.

Another one for which I happen to be personally trained is switchboard operator. I used to be a demon switchboard operator. And enjoyed it. It required skill, you met people, sort of, and you could get good at it. I would have said it was gone now: I have seen switchboards like the ones I used in museums. But many of the same functions have melded into the job of receptionist. If we no longer need someone to connect the wires and ring in, we do still sometimes want a human to field our call and direct it for us.

Telegraph operator also occurred to me. Not a job I’ve ever done, but a skilled job that probably as very satisfying. Thomas Edison started out as a telegraph operator. I did get to learn to use a teletype machine, and loved it. But I discover that in Canada, as a matter of fact, you still can send a telegram.

This is all good news. It means we may be wrong to worry about inevitably growing unemployment, our jobs taken over by machines. What really happens, or has happened so far, is that automation makes it cheaper to do things, lowering costs to the consumer, and so boosting demand. So we make, buy, and get more stuff. Employment remains buoyant. At the same time, it tends to take away the more boring aspects of a job, leaving the more interesting parts.

Not that I don’t still get nostalgic over the satisfying clicks of an adding machine, or the whirr of a big cash register, or the thrill of a call smoothly connected, the phone rung, and answered. They were therapeutic sounds, and they are gone. There is satisfaction in rolling your own.

Mine was more modern than this, but it still had a hand crank in case the power went out.

There are other jobs that have gone, and some have gone through technology, but not directly. The iceman, for example, no longer cometh. Not that ice is obsolete; you can still sell ice, and could probably arrange to deliver it too. So you can’t quite say the job is obsolete. It’s a particular use of ice that has gone.

Some jobs are probably coming back. For a while, as we all became urbanized, the old catalog store business seemed to have died.

But isn’t that what Amazon is?

In the Annals of Really Lame Headlines

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Globe Reports the Dutch Election

The dear old mainstream media is incorrigible. They’ll never change.

The headlines after the Dutch election read:

BBC: European relief as mainstream triumphs  
PBS: Dutch reject far-right Geert Wilders in national election for prime minister 
Guardian: GreenLeft proves to be big winner in Dutch election 
Independent: Green Party big winner of Dutch elections. 
Globe and Mail: Centre-left shift in Dutch elections deals blow to populism

These headlines range from spin to fake news.

This is mostly not malicious. But then, neither is most “fake news.” The problem is the need to come up with a striking headline, that will tempt the reader to keep reading the story. “Click-bait” is no new thing—the print equivalent has always been at the core of the news business. Nor is this, in itself, wrong. There is nothing bad about making things sound interesting. The problem is that, too often, the story seems to be falsified for the sake of a good lede.

Here, specifically, the problem is that the election results were indecisive. And they closely reflected the final polls. So what can you say to make them sound important and surprising?

And, then again, some of it is just partisan hackery. The last three headlines, the Guardian., the Independent, and the Globe and Mail, really cannot be explained on other grounds.

Would you know from this glance at the days headlines that the government coalition collapsed? And the “Greens” came in tied for fifth place, with less than 10% of the seats? That’s as though the Liberals or the NDP pulled 30 seats. Big win?

Mark Rutte’s centre-right VVD hung on to the title of largest party, losing eight seat and ending with 33 in the 150-seat house. Seems less than a ringing endorsement. But that is why the headline cannot be “Dutch government falls.” The ruling coalition did indeed fall; but as the head of the largest party, Rutte has first chance to form a new one.

The biggest story is probably that his coalition partner, until now the second-largest party, Labour, sister to Labour in the UK, was crushed. They lost 29 of their 38 seats.

Okay, “second-largest party crushed” does not draw well. But then, how is the collapse of the largest party on the left a move to the left?

The new second-largest party is Wilders’ Trumpesque PVV. They picked up five seats, for 20. If Rutte cannot cobble together a working coalition, he'll get a crack at it. But his chances look to be slim to none.

The second-biggest shift was the Green Party picking up ten seats. But this is no ideological shift to the left of the electorate: the votes that Labour lost had to go somewhere. It turns out that only a third of them stayed on the left, then, with the Greens. Who are clearly also-rans here.

The Christian Democrats, on the right, picked up six seats. And they have five more seats than the Greens. The leftist Socialist Party dropped one seat. D66, whose main issue is direct democracy, picked up seven. Does that count as left or right?

Given the results, at least four parties will be needed to form a government. And they won’t all be on the same side ideologically. So it looks as though any new government may not last. The

Since he heads the largest party, Rutte get first crack. Looking at the seat totals, and who can likely agree on policy, the best bet seems to be a coalition of Rutte (conservative), the Christian Democrats (conservative), D66 (not clear), the Christian Union (conservative), 50Plus (conservative), and maybe the Party for the Animals (you decide). This would be a significant move to the right; remembering that Rutte’s own party is conservative. There are no available coalitions that would move the government to the left. There are available coalitions that would move it further than this to the right—but Rutte has vowed not to allow Wilders into government.

There you go: “Centre-left shift in Dutch elections deals blow to populism.”

You read it in the Globe first.

Happy St. Pat's

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Rep. Steve King and White Supremacy

Golly. I am beginning to suspect I might be a white supremacist.

It comes as a bit of a shock to me. After all, I have spent my life in non-Western cultures, and studying them has been my great interest. I have been married twice, first to a Pakistani woman, now to a Filipina, and my two children are half-Filipino. Politically, I have always been a liberal, condisering it self-evident that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain rights. In religion, as a Catholic, I believe that all men are brothers, of equal worth in the eyes of God.

But no—somehow the word “white supremacist” has changed definition. It apparently no longer requires believing, as I do not, that there is any such thing as a “white race.” And it no longer requires believing that people with pale skin should be given some special rights—i.e., supremacy.

I suppose this should not surprise me. I had, in earlier days, supposed that being a liberal put me on the left of the political spectrum. But that ground got shifted decades ago.

I am jolted into this realization by the current controversy over US representative Steve King.

The Washington Post writes:

King told CNN that he is merely “a champion for Western civilization,” which he called “a superior civilization.” Which means, of course, that he considers other civilizations inferior. But we knew that.

… We should pay attention to his lexicon, however, because today’s white supremacism tends to shy away from overtly racial terminology. Listen instead for words such as “culture” and “civilization.”

The idea is that the United States is the land of the free and the home of the brave because its “civilization” is “European” or “Western” — euphemisms, basically, for “white.”

I face an obvious problem here. It is conceivable, I suppose, that some people use “European civilization” as a euphemism for “white race.” Maybe King is doing this, although I think we owe it to people generally to take their words at face value, and not put new words in their mouth.

But what about people like me who are simply using “European civilization” to mean “European civilization,” and are making the point that it is the most advanced civilization in the world?

For we would naturally say exactly the same thing. How does the Washington Post, or anyone, tell the difference?

It seems the answer is that racism no longer requires believing in race. It is this very opinion, that Western civilization is superior, that is intolerable. The WaPo apparently has a problem with the mere statement that “other civilizations are inferior.” “But we knew that.”

To be fair, King also said something more controversial. He tweeted, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

If American culture is not race-based, and it obviously is not, then yes, of course, they can. But King has explained that this is not what he meant: he was referring not to the children’s genetic makeup, but to the values instilled by their parents. Which seems a perfectly fair point. If race does not matter, in a country like the US or Canada, values matter that much more.

It ought also to be pointed out that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with a country being race-based. Some countries are: Japan, Korea, other Asian countries. If we really suddenly have a problem with this, we are going to have to re-think a lot of things. Is Japan Japanese-supremacist because they do not take in immigrants? Are they morally obliged to do so? Are the Falklands morally obliged to take in Argentine immigrants?

Rep. John Lewis tweeted,

“Rep. King’s statement is bigoted and racist. It suggests there is one cultural tradition and one appearance that all of humanity should conform to. These ideas have given rise to some of the worst atrocities in human history, and they must be condemned.”

Actually, King did not say this. He was speaking of America, not the world. He was saying there is one cultural tradition all Americans should adhere to. Nigerians are presumably free to conform to theirs, and Koreans to theirs. But now simply claiming that there is a distinct American culture, and it is worth preserving, is “bigoted and racist.” Why would this be so? What about claiming there is a distinct Korean culture, or a distinct Jamaican one?

But I would go father than King here. I actually think there is indeed one cultural tradition all of humanity should conform to. You could call it the emerging world culture. I have been in Korea, the Philippines, China, and the Middle East for most of the past twenty-five years. And I tell you, it is artificial any longer to speak of different cultures. Everybody now listens to the same music, eats the same fast food, plays the same games on the Internet.

And I believe this is a good thing. As I have said before in this space, there is no such thing as “Western civilization.” There is only civilization and lack of it. The great task of human existence is to take the best wherever we find it, and build human civilization.

As it happens, that is more or less what America already is.

Anyone who is against that, and who insists instead on preserving their little cultural ghetto, is doing the devil’s work.

King is not doing that. King wants more melting pot. Lewis and the Washington Post and cultural relativism are doing that.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Jumping Through Hoops

Ancient Minoan fresco

It is, I am informed, no longer okay for “white” people to wear hoop earrings. This is cultural appropriation.

Students recently spray-painted “White Girl, Take OFF Your Hoops!!!” on a campus wall at Pitzer College dedicated to free speech. Alegria Martinez writes, in The Claremont Independent, “Why should white girls be able to take part in this culture?”

Another Minoan fresco.

Problem: the first hoop earrings of which we have record were in Sumeria and Minoan Crete. Both, for what it is worth, “white” cultures. By this logic, it is black girls who must now take off their hoops. Along with their jeans, blouses, shoes, glasses, and any plastic or metal. And stop using English, for heavens sake!

Is this what Martin Luther King was about? Segregation did not work well last time. And, frankly, cultural appropriation has tended, historically, to work mostly one way.

Sumerian jewellery.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Stop Me, Before I Kill Again...

In reaction to the allegations by Trump that his campaign headquarters were bugged, Mark Levin and Stefan Molyneux have joined Sarah Hoyt in pressing the panic button. Molyneux warns of likely violence to come, and compares the situation to that before the French Revolution. Levin seemed to be literally trembling with rage as he made his case with news reports. He said this was “orders of magnitude” more serious than Watergate

We do not yet know whether there is any thing substantial behind Trump’s charges. If there is, it would seem that we have a constitutional crisis. Bob Woodward was interviewed, and said there is no good mechanism to deal with this.

I wonder. Democratic government—any stable society—depends on a series of gentleman’s agreements. Bad guys will always break them, but everyone counts on most people not doing so. Everyone must trust that most people in authority will do the decent thing when it comes down to it. That level of trust seems to be gone in the US now. There is already fighting in the streets. We have just seen a particularly nasty incident at Middlebury College in Vermont. We are suddenly seeing masked protesters everywhere--eerily like the Fascists in their day.

You have to wonder. What happens if there is a civil war or revolution in America?

A civil war like the first one would require some states to vote to secede from the union. For that to be possible, I think you have to assume a Democratic majority in both state houses, given that the federal government is solidly Republican. Not many states currently qualify: California, Oregon, Nevada, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Illinois, New Mexico.

Note that these do not form one geographical block. There is a clump of three on the West Coast, a clump of four on the East Coast, another clump of three on the East Coast, and two odd states in the interior, far apart. So in the case of civil war, or forming a separate country, it could not be a unified opposition. A separatist movement might hope that the rest of the US would do nothing, but if the rest of the US chose to deny them the right to independence, as happened last time this was tried, it would probably not be a terribly even fight. The interior states, if they separated on their own, would be quickly overrun. They probably would not try. It would be unlikely to get more than one of the three-state clumps to pull out in tandem. Independently, even if they did, they would probably easily be overrun. At best, it would be 40 states against 10 in three separate groups which could be picked off separately. 

Some talk of the rebel states joining Canada. That would not help, militarily. Canada does not have the military strength to defend its own land mass, much less help defend someone else’s. And there is no chance of defense in depth. Unlike Russia, everything strategic is in a narrow band just north of the border. A quick tank thrust into Winnipeg, and Canada is cut in two. It would be suicide for Canada to get involved, if it came to fighting.

So how about a revolution? Here, the left’s chances look better. They control the press, the bureaucracy, the schools and universities, the professions. In day to day terms, their hands are already on the levels of power. And they control the inner cities.

But if it came to actual shooting, again, they look as if they are at a disadvantage. In past revolutions, like the French or the Russian, controlling the capital or the big city was vitally important. But it may not be so any more, thanks to our vastly improved communications. The hinterland gets immediate news, and can make their own voice heard. So it is hard for one mob in one place to carry the day.

On the other hand, the crucial issue in any of the classic revolutions in the past has been the attitude of the army. The turning point always comes when the army refuses to fight the crowd.

Here, it seems that the Trump forces have the advantage. Both the military and the police forces are probably on the Republican side. The more so since Black Lives Matter has been demonizing the cops. The more so since Trump has appointed prominent and well-respected military men to top administration posts. And promised more money for the military. Any civilians with guns are also likely to be Trump supporters, given the left’s fight for gun control.

So, if it comes to fighting in the streets, most of the weaponry and military discipline will be on one side. If it comes to a quick attempted coup, they had better be ready to face tank turrets below their office windows within days.

This being so, it seems like suicide for the left to be taking to the barriers now, refusing to work within the system as it stands, in which they are favoured, and fighting against open discussion, free speech and democratic mechanisms. It is a spectacular case of historical blindness and arrogance.

And if anyone tries to warn them, they are the enemy.

I wonder if it is a case of their own guilty consciences demanding they be found out and punished. It is said to be so, for example, for serial murderers, that they secretly want to be caught, and will keep taking risks and leaving clues until they are.

The Erinyes are out, and are taking no prisoners.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Coming: Cheap College Online

Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, believes college, now almost prohibitively expensive, will soon be free online.

I do not think he is entirely right. His vision calls, for example, for a suspension of all copyright for online education materials. This is a non-starter. It expects everyone to work for free. Not right, and not going to happen. Some may choose, as they can now, to offer their work for free under Creative Commons License.

He also writes “you need some form of accreditation.” I think he overlooks the obvious path. In the future, I suspect, name institutions like Harvard will be limited to creating evaluation procedures. Where you acquire the knowledge is wide open. The university simply certifies that you have it.

But his basic point is correct. It is true right now, at this moment, that online teaching platforms are more flexible, allow better experiences, than classrooms do. At a small fraction of the cost, when you calculate in the need for students to move and cover living expenses.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Leitch's Values Test

Canadian values: Fernie Swastikas, 1922.

Kellie Leitch would not be my pick for Canadian Conservative leader. I find her efforts to mimic Trump in the US amateurish and embarrassing. However, it is strange to me that her proposal for “values testing” immigrants is controversial. It is something we ought to be doing.

Canada is obviously not an ethnically-based state. We speak two official languages; if predominantly Christian, we are half Protestant and half Catholic; we come from everywhere. The whole idea of immigration belies that notion of an ethnically-based state, even if most other states are.

So what is left that makes Canada Canada? Is it no more than a geographical designation? If so, who cares? Why take up arms, for example, to defend it? Can any conceivable enemy sink this geography beneath the waves?

No, if Canada exists at all, it is on the basis of shared values.

Since this is so, it is vital to ensure that immigrants share those values. If they do not, they constitute a threat to Canada’s existence. Because that, shared values, is what Canada is.

What values?

Not a tough question. They would, of course, be those found in the Canadian Constitution.

The values test could, of course, be skewed towards things that are not really shared Canadian values, but a partisan political agenda. That does not seem to be what Leitch has in mind. Here are her sample questions:
Are men and woman equal, and entitled to equal protection under the law? 
Is it ever OK to coerce or use violence against an individual or a group who disagrees with your views? 
Do you recognize that to have a good life in Canada you will need to work hard to provide for yourself and your family, and that you can't expect to have things you want given to you?
Hard to see a problem with any of that. Okay, I don’t like the first one, because without context, the assertion that men and women are equal is incomprehensible. Of course they are not: men cannot have babies, for example. The issue is equality before the law. 
“Are men and women entitled to equal protection under the law?”
Surely question two is of vital importance to our way of life, to peace, order, and good government. It is, moreover, obviously not accepted everywhere. In the Arab world, for example, a word is considered as morally significant as an act. Therefore, you can kill someone for something they say. This cannot be accepted, or democracy is not possible, because open public debate is not possible: there is good reason why democracy has never been managed in the Middle East.

Question three is merely a matter of government acting as responsible stewards of the public purse.

It is not hard to think of other questions that should be asked.
Do you believe that everyone has the right to freely practice their chosen religion?
This, of course, is not generally accepted in the Muslim world, and that is impossible to reconcile with basic human liberties. China presents the same problem.

Better yet to add:
Do you agree that everyone has the right to their own religious views, and to freely express them?
Close to a restatement, but it eliminates the possible fudge that, as in China, one might be permitted to practice a religion in private, but not speak about it. That is not religious freedom.
Do you think everyone deserves equal protection under the law, regardless of race, sex, or place of origin?
It is wrong to restrict the question to sex alone.

Perhaps it should be clarified by being restated in these terms:
Do you think the same laws should apply to everyone, regardless of race, sex, or place of origin?
This clarifies what “equal protection under the law” means.

Here’s one that might seem controversial:
Do you accept Canada’s constitutional monarchy and parliamentary form of government?
Some may feel immigrants ought to be free to disagree with monarchy. But they are actually not now. Allegiance to the throne is in the oath of citizenship, and the monarchy is not going anywhere, given its constitutional status. If nothing else, it is only fair to make this clear to new immigrants. And it seems wrong and seditious in principle to immigrate to a new country with the notion of changing its form of government.
Do you agree that everyone has a duty to support themselves and their families?
More or less what Leitch wants to ask. But it removes the element of dishonesty. The fact is that, by world standards, most immigrants can indeed expect to have a good life in Canada without working. Sorry to say, but living abroad, I see immigration to Canada often sold in ads on the basis of “come and get your freebies!” Nothing we can really do about it, except point out the immorality of it. We ought at least to do that.
Do you agree that everyone has the right to their opinion, and to freely express it?
Of course, the modern left, within Canada, does not accept this. But this is a huge problem and it ought not to be controversial. It is, after all, in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Without this, again, democracy is not possible. Nor is peace, order, and good government.
Do you agree that disagreements should not be solved by individuals with violence?
Absolutely fundamental to peace and order. Why on earth would we not ask it?

Any others? What am I forgetting?

Monday, March 06, 2017

Domestic Zoos

A part of Canadian heritage.

I read recently that some of the traditional dog breeds of England are in danger of extinction. It is a problem whenever a breed falls below 300 registrations a year—below that level, the gene pool is becoming dangerously small, and genetic defects are likely to develop. Times change; dogs that had an important role on a farm are not practical in the city. Among the breeds in this situation currently are the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, the Bloodhound, the Irish Wolfhound, the Kerry Blue Terrier, and the Skye Terrier.

But some of these breeds, it seems to me, are a part of British national heritage. As would be the Husky, the Newfoundland, the Border Collie, or the Labrador Retriever in Canada. This is the sort of thing it is the business of a government to preserve. As much as historic old buildings.

Ugly tomatoes taste best.

And it would not be an expensive thing to do, when one considers all the benefits. What we need are “zoos” for endangered domestic animals. With, of course, breeding programmes. This is the sort of thing zoos are supposed to be for, after all, they say. But it would be one heck of a lot cheaper and more practical to do this for domesticated than for wild animals. And more useful, as such animals are domesticated in the first place because they are more useful to man. Such zoos should also, automatically, provide much entertainment and educational value for kids and the general public. What could be a more valuable break from the hustle and the troubles of daily city life than to be able to step back into an old-fashioned farm scape? If the animals are not as exotic as at a zoo, that is surely compensated for by the opportunity to get right up close and pet them.

The Canadian horse.

In fact, many cities already have this sort of thing. But we should use them systematically, to preserve and promote breeds of local historical significance. Dogs, cats, horses, poultry, cattle. And not just animals: why not also preserve heritage crops. And some revenue could be made by selling the pups or seeds or cuttings or produce to the public. Promoting, in turn, local history, culture, and heritage.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Haters Gonna Hate

More on the clear and present danger of "Islamophobia":

The stats available online are not that current—2013--but they show the number of hate crimes in Canada declining overall, and specifically the hate crimes based on religion—down 22% year over year. So why promote the impression that they are spiralling out of control?

Among hate crimes inspired by religion, far and away the most were against Jews—two to three times more than those aimed at Muslims. Per capita, the imbalance is even greater: Jews experienced 54.9 hate crimes per 100,000 (Jewish) population; Muslims experienced 6.2 hate crimes per 100,000. I think that qualifies as an order of magnitude.

So why are we singling out hate crimes against Muslims for special condemnation, and refusing to mention hate crimes against Jews? Given the facts on the ground, that looks more like a green light for hate crimes against Jews than something inspired by hate crimes against Muslims.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

The Madness in their Method

It’s getting nasty out there.

I am now reliably informed that if I oppose M-103, the motion currently before the Canadian Parliament condemning “Islamophobia,” I am an Islamophobe, a Fascist, and a white supremacist.

The empire is striking back. They seem to have taken down Milo Yiannopoulis and Pew-di-pie. They are working on Jeff Sessions. The elites smell blood. And ultimately, it is their own. Who could expect them to go down without a fight? Things are starting to get to the streets.

But it is more than just the elites. There are a lot of people who are with the old regime in this as well. People who are not themselves getting fat off the system. Why? Are they just naive?

Seems not possible. They include some pretty intelligent people, and the charges they are supporting are little short of delusional. How many Fascists, for example, do you really think are living in Metropolitan Toronto?

I guess I had better weigh in on M-103. First, it makes no sense to single out Islam among the religions for special concern. In Canada, there are currently and historically more crimes of prejudice against Jews. And they seem to be growing. Worldwide, there are more hate crimes against Christians than anyone. Moreover, the largest proportion of both currently are actually done in the name of Islam. So it seems perverse to single out Islam here as under threat. It looks like deliberate misdirection. Or like giving Islam special status, and tacitly endorsing hate towards Christians and Jews.

Second, enshrining the term “Islamophobia” in the motion is a problem. First, a phobia is a mental illness (sic); it is something over which people have little control. It is not something willed, and it is something nobody would wish upon themselves. For the government to condemn something as a “phobia,” is to say that phobia is culpable. This is well calculated to promote prejudice against the mentally ill, who already have enough to suffer; and who are already a group that is discriminated against. No government should be giving any kind of sanction to such an expression.

On the flip side, the term seeks to prevent legitimate debate: a particular viewpoint is not to be questioned. If you do, you are simply mentally ill, and your concerns need not be addressed. This is an old Soviet tactic.

Then there is the term Islam. The word is “Islamophobia,” not “Muslim phobia.” It is a very different matter to condemn Islam than to condemn Muslims. One can certainly argue that condemning Muslims is illegitimate discrimination. But condemning Islam is anyone’s right. Obviously, if you are not yourself Muslim, it is because you disagree with one or more of the teachings of Islam. This concept of “Islamophobia” implies that simply disagreeing with Islam is not legitimate. Allow that, and you have ended freedom of religion, free speech, and freedom of thought.

It is vital that we preserve this distinction. Which is, indeed, currently in danger of being lost. For example, the idea that homosexual sex is a human right has recently extended to the idea that it is not permitted to say that homosexual sex is morally wrong.

Hard to see how you can parse that with the fact that Islam condemns homosexual sex as morally wrong; but logical inconsistency is the least of our problems here.

When the Liberal government were offered the opportunity to back a bill that took out these troublesome elements, while preserving the claimed intent, to protect religious liberty against discrimination, they refused. Why would they, unless this proves an ulterior motive?

The intent is not to protect Islam. But it is not really to end free speech and freedom of thought either, at least in the many people who are not part of the elite, but are going along enthusiastically with this agenda.

It is, I think, the opportunity to target a specific portion of the population as deplorable, morally intolerable. As “Fascists,” “white supremacists,” and “Islamophobes.”

It would be simpler, granted, to simply so target Muslims. And the left has done that in the past. But if you are so obvious about it that people realize what is happening, it does not work.

Because the whole point of scapegoating is to sublimate some guilt you yourself feel over something you have done. If you can blame the scapegoat for supposedly scapegoating, that gives you license to scapegoat them guilt-free.

A large body of people with guilty consciences, then, are eager to blame everything on some “basket of deplorables,” or “Nazis” or “white supremacists” or “the alt-right.” Just as they at other times would have blamed the Jews, or the bourgeois, or Catholics. And they do it, by unjustly accusing others of the same sin, of hating immigrants, or Mexicans, or Muslims, or blacks. Great bit of misdirection. It is not so much that these others are poisoning the wells; but that they are utterly bad, and so, by opposing them, I must be essentially good.

I do think, for the great mass of people who support this leftist pogrom, that it all comes down to abortion and free sex. So many people have bought into this, and their consciences have been after them about it. So, along with crazy, almost psychotic leftist politics, we have things like the self-esteem movement. A lot of people are going on these days about the need to “forgive yourself,” to love yourself, and so forth.

Forgive yourself for what? It all presupposes a troubled conscience.

Forgive yourself, sure, but the first step is to acknowledge the sin. That’s the hard part.

Rather than do that, those with said guilty consciences are demanding popular acceptance of crazier and crazier propositions: unisex bathrooms, free choice in gender, resolution M-103, and so forth. You have to sign on, or they no longer feel "safe." 

"Safe," ultimately, from the truth.

But the truth shall set you free.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Trump Steaks

In the latest news, Melania Trump has worn an unacceptable black dress to Trump’s speech to congress. Ivanka Trump wore an unacceptable red dress. Democratic congresswomen all wore acceptable white dresses, but it was unacceptable when Melania Trump wore a white jumpsuit at the Republican convention.

More importantly, Donald Trump is reported to have ordered a steak well-done, then put ketchup on it.

This is truly unacceptable.

Kind of sums it up. Most of the resistance to Trump is about class. The people who oppose him oppose him because they think he is nouveau riche. The people who support him support him because they think he is nouveau riche. He is not nouveau riche, but he endearingly acts just as most working guys feel they would if they were. Marry a babe much younger, live in a Manhattan penthouse, tell everyone to go hang, put your name on everything.

And order steak, lots of steak, just the way you damned well like it.

Trump’s critics, on the other hand, hate him not just because he lacks class, but because he does not defer to class. Because he does not defer to expertise, to his betters. One ought to listen to the chefs on how to eat a steak; they are the experts. Or, more generally, one ought to defer, whatever the people think, to those who see this sort of thing and object—the elite, those who went to the right schools and the right cocktail parties, and know how one is supposed to eat steak.

They have every right, after all, to tell you what to eat.

You can eat cake.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Comes the Revolution...

Sarah Hoyt has posted an interesting piece arguing that the times are ripe for revolution. I think she is right.

“This means that the leaders appear incompetent. Really incompetent. Crowds smell fear, like any wild animal. The other things crowds do is notice failure, and the collapse and insanity of the press makes it hard for them to hide it.”

Anyone who has taken Poli Sci 101 should assent to her observation that revolutions do not come as a result of oppressive government. Craine Brinton demonstrated this generations ago. They come when a government, or a leadership, is revealed as incompetent, or uncertain. Moreover, they come in a context of generally rising expectations. Russia was the fastest-growing economy in the world when the Russian Revolution hit. Czar Nicholas or Louis XVI were not strong, but weak, leaders.

And that is indeed the sort of time we are in. Quickly improving technology has revealed our “elite,” in many or all fields, as being uncertain and comparatively clueless.

“If you look around in the fields you know, the feeling is always that the worst possible bozos are in charge.
This is not true. It’s easier to adapt when you don’t carry the responsibility for others, and for picking the right change for others.”

I would differ with Hoyt, mind, in her assertion that they are not really incompetent, but only appear so because of the times. My own suspicion is that the rulers re usually incompetent, but only exposed as so at such times. There are natural pressures ensuring that the best do not rise to the top.

Hoyt points out that this explains the bizarre recent behaviour of the press and other “elites”over the election of Donald Trump.

“Because the confused and shell-shocked elites have started fighting back. This is most obvious after the elections, and in politics, but it’s happening at all levels. And because they don’t know why things are failing, they’re starting to get paranoid.”

And this, of course, is what tends to make revolutions inevitable.

I guess we have been forewarned. Things are about to “go upside down.”

Breathing While Male

Seen in better days.

The awkward mixup at the Oscars a few nights ago is another example of female privilege. 

Who read out the name of the wrong movie as Best Picture winner? Faye Dunaway.

Who immediately gets blamed? Warren Beatty. He was immediately blamed in public, on stage, by Jimmy Kimmel: "Warren, what have you done?"

Why him and not her? Only because he was the nearest male. Whenever a woman does something wrong, instead of being blamed, blame is automatically deflected to the nearest available male.

And it is so automatic that nobody even seems to notice.

For the record, of course, neither Dunaway nor Beatty was really to blame.

But it was Beatty who was put through the wringer.