Playing the Indian Card

Saturday, August 13, 2022

The Sun on Trudeau

 

And the sins of the son are visited upon the father's legacy...






Bill Maher on Cultural Appropriation

 




Righteous Anger


 

An important theological point to make, because it is often misrepresented and falsified.


Salman Rushdie

 


Salman Rushdie has at last been gotten to by the Muslim terrorists. 

The perpetrator has been caught, and will no doubt face stiff punishment. 

And nothing will change, more broadly. Someone else will be next.

Muslim terrorism keeps resurfacing, and is growing. Nations with longstanding Muslim minorities, like the Philippines, can attest that Muslim violence has been a fact of life there for centuries. It is growing now simply because there are more points of contact between Islam and the rest of the world. 

Nobody has yet found a way to stop it; although there is the legend that General Pershing, or some other American or British worthy, when informed that it was simply the local Muslim custom to every now and then run amok and behead random citizens, and nothing could be done about it, explained that it was the American custom, when such events occurred, to open fire.

I expect this is apocryphal. The conventional protections and punishments do not work, because we are dealing, broadly, with “suicide bombers.” The assailant does not care about dying. They get a big reward in the hereafter. So what can we possibly do to stop or to discourage them? Execute them? To their minds, and those of their supporters, that just makes them an immortal martyr.

Here’s the way to discourage Muslim terrorism. Each attack, very publicly seize or destroy a mosque. A mosque of commensurate value. If, for example, there was a $5 million fatwa on Rushdie’s head, seize American mosques of equivalent book value. If the target is something like the World Trade Centre, a cruise missile hitting the Ka’aba.

Some, of course, will immediately protest. This is unjust to average Muslims, who have nothing to do with the assaults. This is Islamophobia. This is religious persecution.

Yet, for fair comparison, we have no problem with seizing Catholic Church funds and property to punish the crimes of individual priests and bishops. Obviously, ordinary Catholics did not endorse these sex crimes, had nothing to do with them, and are their primary victims. Yet they are being punished for them.

Surely it is fairer to seize mosques in response to religious terrorism. A pity for individual Muslims; yet after all, unlike the sexual sins of priests, the terrorists are motivated by the explicit idea of advancing Islam. Unlike seizing Catholic Church property, which looks only like religious persecution, seizing mosques might deter future crimes. A prospective terrorist would have to think twice: is he advancing Islam, or harming it? Can he risk the chance of being condemned in the next life instead of rewarded?


Friday, August 12, 2022

Peak Korean

 



Why the World Has Gone Mad

 


Behind closed doors... Mar a Lago front gate.

The FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago looks like a truly foolish move by the Biden administration. Unless it produces something utterly alarming about Trump, some smoking howitzer, it is most likely to rally support for him and against the Dems just in time for the midterms. And even if it does produce some damning evidence, because of the way it was carried out, and the way damning evidence is ignored in the case of the Bidens, any Trump supporters will probably just assume the evidence was planted. The general public might well too.

The Washington Post suggests the issue had something to do with the nuclear arsenal. That sounds impressive. But even if so, why not a simple request to turn the relevant documents over? At most, a subpoena? Trump had full control over the nuclear arsenal for four years. He has had whatever he now has for two more years. Why is it an urgent problem now?

One explanation, previously suggested in this space, is that there is some blackmail ring forcing powerful people to act against their immediate interests. Trump may have dirt on someone. 

Another is that the American administration has gone insane. 

Here’s how it might have happened. 

As Nietzsche observed, madness is rare in individuals, but the norm in groups. If any one of us wakes up one day and decides we are Napoleon Bonaparte, it will quickly become difficult to sustain that delusion. People around us will tend to ignore our orders, even laugh at us. They may send for the white frock brigade. If, however, a group of people jointly decide that one of them is Napoleon Bonaparte, the delusion is immediately more convincing. Especially if they live in close quarters and cut off the outside world. This is how dysfunctional families work.

This is how dysfunctional governments work as well.

“Cancel culture” is a systematic move by some—by many--to cut off their own sources of information. It is a sure mark of incipient madness. This allows them, within their close-knit circuit, to ignore reality. Within this bubble, they can grow hysterical about the dangers of global warming, or decide that men can become women, or that a prejudice in favour of reality itself is “white supremacy.” They will come to delight in their delusions, because they demonstrate their exclusive group membership, and show their awesome power.

This surely is what we see happening to governments and elites everywhere.

But the real world has a way of finding revenge. Gravity is cruel to those who try to defy it. Those who are prepared to listen to ideas they disagree with over time develop a huge strategic advantage: they know what is actually going on, and the dysfunctional with thumbs in their ears do not. 

The Americans—and everyone else-- thought Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction mostly because he behaved as though he had weapons of mass destruction. He refused to let inspectors in to find out. He risked war to prevent them. This was madness, if he had nothing to hide.

The simplest explanation for this self-destructive behavior is that Saddam himself thought he had weapons of mass destruction. Dictators want to hear only good news. Accordingly, clever sycophants learn to tell them what they want to hear. As a result, sooner or later, lacking any knowledge of what is really going on, they will make a fatal misjudgment. 

We see something similar now with Vladimir Putin. His underlings seem to have badly misled him about the sentiments of Ukrainians and the capabilities of his armies. We may be seeing something like this with Xi Jinping in China. His economic and diplomatic policies look likely to push China off a cliff. Local officials have been sending in false figures for years.

Closer to home, Justin Trudeau may have been genuinely blindsided by the size and strength of the Freedom Convoy in February. He may have believed this was a “fringe minority.” Disoriented by the sudden flash of reality, he might have believed that this must have been funded by some nefarious foreign power. He then panicked and declared a state of emergency. It was the hysterical reaction of the psychotic whose delusions are challenged.

So too, the Democrats in the US look hysterical about the “Russia hoax.” I do not think they could ever have believed it; but the deluded are lying, first of all, to themselves. It was a way to save face rather than accept that the “deplorables,” the “far right,” the “bitter clingers,” whom they had been refusing to listen to, were actually close to a majority of the American people. They went paranoid again over January 6th. And now the Mar-a-Lago raid.

And so it goes. Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad. 

Why is it all happening now, and so fast?

Because this disparity between the dysfunctional delusional and the open-minded has been multiplied in recent years by the growth of information technology. In earlier years, while the elite lived in their bubble, so did the rest of us, since everyone’s ability to communicate was limited. Now that we can all, so far as the technology is concerned, both talk to and listen to one another almost without limit, anyone who refuses to listen is at a much greater and more immediate disadvantage.

While the present period of hysteria looks grim, it is liable to lead to a much brighter future soon. It may get much more nasty, but we are witnessing a rear-guard action.


Thursday, August 11, 2022

The Devil and Annie Wilkes

 



Kathy Bates won an Oscar for her portrayal of Annie Wilkes. She laments in an interview of her difficulties with the role. Stephen King left her no “backstory.” She and director Rob Reiner had to make one up. They agreed that Wilkes must have been abused by her father.

In fact, through the device of a scrapbook, King gives an extensive backstory for Annie Wilkes: details of her career as a nurse, a former marriage, previous homes, and a series of murders. What more could any reader ask?

Backstory here is a euphemism. What Bates means is that she needed some moral justification for Wilkes’s narcissistic behaviour. Some reason it wasn’t her fault.

I think any perceptive reader can immediately see why King did not include this idea of having been abused by her father. To any perceptive reader it would not have rung true.

King should not have included a justification for Wilkes’s narcissism, because there is none. King, at least, understands human psychology. Narcissism is a choice. It is the choice Lucifer made in the Biblical account. He would make himself God. It is the choice Eve made in eating the apple: she and Adam might become “as gods, knowing good and evil.”

To suppose instead that Annie Wilkes was “mentally ill,” through no fault of her own, and had no choice but to behave as she did, is untenable for several reasons. 

First, it introduces an infinite regression, a logical impossibility. Then why did her father behave as he did? Because of his parents? Why did they behave as they did? And so on to infinity. Occam’s Razor: someone must be responsible for their own actions, and if anyone is, all are.

Second, it is self-evident to all of us that we have free will. We could not function for a moment without this understanding. This is a prime example of a self-evident truth. Therefore, if she is human, Annie Wilkes too has free will.

To assume that Annie Wilkes or anyone else—including Hitler or Charles Manson—killed because they were mentally ill is to dehumanize them. It reduces them to robots.

Finally, to ascribe evil to mental illness is the worst sort of slander against the genuinely mentally ill. It is like ascribing evil to someone because they have a hunchback.

Why the desperate need, not just on the part of Kathy Bates and Rob Reiner, but of so many people, to turn their faces away and refuse to admit the existence of human evil? Often, to actually blame and punish anyone who points it out—as, for example, “judgmental”?

It is transparently to avoid their own consciences. They are aware of sins of their own, and do not want to think about it. It is in effect an admission of guilt, and, worse, a refusal to take responsibility and repent.

This looks like the sin against the Holy Spirit. 

If so, such people—it looks like a good many, perhaps most, people—are hellbent and hellbound.

A sobering thought. But hardly an unbiblical one, or one that violates the traditional religious understanding of the world.


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Stephen King's Misery

 


I have never until just now read Stephen King. I remember trying to start on Salem’s Lot once, and then at another time on The Shining, but soon putting them down. Other than the acknowledged great works, I have never felt I had time for novels. They were mere entertainment. And Stephen King has that reputation. Horror: cheap thrills.

Recently, however, I caught Misery streaming on Tubi. I watched idly for a while before bed, figured I’d finish it the next day. But the next day it had been removed from the service. Driven to know want happened next—nobody says King is bad at plotting--I just had to pick up the book from the library.

I now stand amazed at how good a writer King is. Of course he is great at plot—that is why he is so popular. But I discover he is also a master at description, writing dialogue, and, most importantly, characterization. I teach writing. King is a master craftsman, who is a model of all aspects of the trade. Especially characterization. This is the mark of the great writer—to understand human psychology. You need to understand human psychology to know what will keep the reader reading; you must be deeply empathic. And you need to understand human psychology to be able to create characters who seem alive on the page. 

In the character of Annie Wilkes, King gives us a perfect analysis of the narcissist, in their true self, behind closed doors. Having had the misfortune of having to survive narcissists for much of my own life, I found the accuracy of the portrayal haunting. King understands it far better than the psychiatrists. How does he know? I wonder about the details of his own upbringing.

Annie Wilkes, the narcissist, is hopelessly sentimental. Narcissists have sentiments, not emotions. As Jung said, “sentimentality is a fa├žade concealing brutality.” So she is inevitably, in her own eyes, the “number one fan” for Paul Sheldon’s series of bodice rippers. And she cannot tolerate the heroine dying at the end of the story.

Perhaps this is where King learned about narcissism—from fans of his own writing. Although actually written to a high standard, his writing can also be enjoyed by readers at the penny dreadful level.

As a narcissist, Annie is obsessed with exercising power over others. She therefore gravitates to a profession that offers this: nursing. She seeks to control Sheldon to the point not only of kidnapping him, but hobbling him. She decides what he can and cannot write. She enjoys inflicting pain. She enjoys killing.

Like all narcissists, she projects her own moods on those in her power. This is the great evil of living with a narcissist, and what is most disorienting. One minute she is declaring her undying love; the next she turns dark and starts maiming him for his supposed wickedness. 

Like all narcissists, she has her own rigid sense of morality, and presents herself as the arbiter of right and wrong. She burns Sheldon’s manuscript because he uses bad language. But in reality ”good” only means what she wants. Anyone else who does not do what she wants is a “brat.”

Like all narcissists, she is paranoid. Everyone else is out to get her. This may be a projection: she is out to get everyone else. Or it may be because she is, to herself, so important. So everyone else’s thoughts must be of her.

Like all narcissists, she lies and gaslights. In the novel, she kills a policeman, then blames Sheldon for it. It was his fault, for crying for help. That especially rings true. She claims to have been lovers with a tourist she killed; Sheldon finds this improbable, and I think we can assume he is right. More likely, she killed him because he would not make love to her. A narcissist will insist that whatever they want to be true is true. Yet they also know they are lying, for Annie certainly takes care to conceal the evidence of her misdeeds.

Most remarkably accurately, perhaps, Annie smells bad. I have never seen anyone else but King mention this before. But in my experience, narcissists always smell bad. Heaven knows why. Perhaps because they think they’re wonderful as they are, and so see no need to stay clean. Perhaps because their conscience troubles them, so they sweat a lot. But I think no one mentions this because it seems supernatural, and perhaps it is. Perhaps evil stinks.

Now I must read more from King. And I recommend Misery to others.


Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Tulsi Gabbard Chimes In

 




Night Raid on Mar-a-Lago

 

Julius makes his move.

Democracies are not easy to build, because they depend on a series of gentlemen’s agreement. Should anyone violate the terms, things can collapse.

That has now clearly happened in the US, as it happened in Canada in March. Former presidents are not to be prosecuted. Their homes are not to be raided. This looks like political intimidation, even if there is good cause. Nixon was preemptively pardoned. Nobody has gone after Hillary or Bill Clinton, despite much evidence. Even Ferdinand Marcos was allowed to die in peace. Harass opponents, and they have every reason to refuse to leave power once they get it. Your next election may be your last. Or maybe the previous election.

Some online pundits have referred to this as the Democrats “crossing the Rubicon.” 

Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon led to civil war. 

Perhaps there is some really compelling explanation for the recent raid on Mar-a-Lago. I cannot conceive of one. Especially when you compare inaction on Hunter Biden, for example. Add to this the recent ruinous judgement against Alex Jones for, in effect, expressing an unpopular opinion. Compared to inaction on the “Russia hoax.” Add to this the recent passage of a bill doubling the size of the IRS, as if in preparation for using that agency to go after political opposition. 

As the Canadian government has already been doing, suppressing non-violent protests and freezing assets.

So much for vain hopes of Canada’s salvation coming from south of the border. Maybe after the revolution is over…

For it looks to me more like a pre-revolutionary situation than a civil war. I think people are soon simply going to stop obeying authority. Once this happens, a government may resort to violence, but if a significant proportion of the population refuse to buckle, they must collapse. In China, we see people in large numbers refusing to pay their mortgages. In Sri Lanka, they stormed the presidential palace. Canadians have begun to refuse to use the ArriveCan app or answer questions at the border from the health authorities. Dutch farmers are slow-rolling the roads. 

If and when any one of these resistances succeeds, the revolutionary fever spreads; as we saw in the Arab Spring, or in the fall of the Berlin Wall, or in the revolutions of 1848. The kindling is everywhere, and the authorities everywhere are playing with matches.

We live in interesting times.


Monday, August 08, 2022

The Promised Land

 




Heb 11:1-2, 8-19:

Brothers and sisters: Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go. 

By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise; for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and maker is God.

By faith he received power to generate, even though he was past the normal age—and Sarah herself was sterile—for he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy.

So it was that there came forth from one man, himself as good as dead, descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore.

All these died in faith.

They did not receive what had been promised but saw it and greeted it from afar and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth, for those who speak thus show that they are seeking a homeland.

If they had been thinking of the land from which they had come, they would have had opportunity to return.

But now they desire a better homeland, a heavenly one.

Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.


This was the second reading at last Sunday’s mass. The motto of the Order of Canada, “they desire a better country,” comes from the antepenultimate line.

Ironically, the “better country” referred to is clearly heaven. Not Canada. And anyone who supposes Canada is the goal is scorned here as without faith. “If they had been thinking of the land from which they had come, they would have had opportunity to return.” The goal is no earthly 

The passage points out that the things God promised to the patriarchs of the Old Testament did not come true during their lifetimes. So did he break his promise? Should they care about what happens to others after their death?

They did, and they accepted the promises, because they considered themselves aliens on earth. This is the essence of faith; as defined in the first lines here. “The realization of what is hoped for, and evidence of things not seen.”

Their true home was the eternal; which is among us at all times as the imagination, and in which we live forever. This is the “promised land” or land of promise.


Sunday, August 07, 2022

What May Be Happening in China

 



This might have influence on the housing market elsewhere...



Live from Expo '67

 





In Memoriam

 



An Economic Forecast


I know nothing of economics, and have never presumed to make any such forecasts before. But then again, why not? The experts are always wrong anyway.

Let's see how well I do...

The price of housing in Canada, and no doubt also in the US, must go down. If things cannot go on forever, they won’t. If housing costs so much that people cannot afford it, they stop buying houses, and the price must go down. Currently, the ratio of housing cost to average income is at a historic high.

A mere fall in housing prices response to higher interest rates is not going to change this by itself, because the mortgage costs remain the same, and so the housing is no more affordable. But pushing housing prices down will have a snowball effect.

That costs have gone so much higher in proportion to income suggests that there is a lot of speculation in the market. Why not mortgage to the max, if mortgages are cheap, while housing prices keep climbing? The instant it becomes clear that housing prices will not inevitably rise, and mortgages are not such a great deal, there should be an exodus of much speculative money from the market, forcing prices further down. And each drop has a snowballing effect on speculation.

A lesser and sadder factor is that some people will no longer be able to afford the houses they are in. The rise in mortgage rates is liable to hurt here. In Canada, even fixed rate mortgages last only five years. Some proportion will find they can no longer cover it. Granted that they still will need a place to live, and will still be in the market for some kind of housing, there will be a lot of distress sales, when people cannot afford to hold out for the best price. 

Canadian, and American, demographics is tilting older. That means proportionately fewer new buyers, and more retirees looking to downsize, or dying and leaving their houses empty and up for sale.

Perhaps we are not building enough new houses; CMHC says so. But this is an odd problem, and can only be due to government overregulation. Canada obviously has no shortage of land on which to build. It of all countries has no shortage of building materials. The actions of government are sadly unpredictable, but there is a 50/50 chance things will get better here instead of worse.

So I say home prices in Canada generally should go down for the next few years. And the fall should be rather dramatic.

In other economic news, Kevin O’Leary notes that the figures were are seeing are unprecedented: inflation coupled with recession, coupled with low unemployment figures. These are three things that are not supposed to happen together.

The obvious explanation is that we are in a highly artificial situation, caused by the pandemic and the lockdowns. There seems a good chance things will snap back once these distortions are removed.

Albeit governments, notably the Canadian government, actually seem to be doing their best to prevent a return to normal.


 

Judith Durham, Rest in Peace

 

One of the truly great female voices. Can almost bring tears to my eyes.



I have an oddly vivid memory of listening to "Mortningtown Ride" over some store PA system in NDG long ago. 



I hope Judith is in Morningtown this morning.