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Dr. Dreimer's Diary, 2nd Q, 2015
1st Q, 2015
4th Q, 2014
3rd Q, 2014
2nd Q, 2014
1st Q, 2014
4th Q, 2013
3rd Q, 2013
January - June, 2013
January - June, 2012
Back to Dr. Dreimer's Diary
Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. (Oscar Wilde, 1854 -- 1900)
The idea for Dr. Dreimer’s diary came from the excerpts from the diary of Samuel Pepys published daily in the National Post. We thought it would be interesting to write a modern diary using the more formal language of an earlier era – in this case we have attempted an approximation of 18th Century expression. What is perhaps most evident is the capitalisation of nouns, which gives an emphasis, and suggests a cadence entirely missing from current written expression. The language is more cumbersome and formal, and tends to favour the use of parallel structure for rhetorical emphasis.
Style is inseparable from attitude and tone. Dr. Dreimer observes mankind as if from a great height, or from another, more sensible century.
His judgements are often unflattering, and his scorn and disdain
palpable. They may be expressed directly, but are often revealed through an
ironic approval of some mindless folly. He may appear to some as a pompous
windbag; to others as a curmudgeonly but correct observer.
As it has turned out, the diary is not a conventional diary at all. Apart from the occasional references to the mythical Aunt Myalgia, languishing in the Shady Hollow Psychiatric Facility in downtown Toronto, or to the Lumpenbangen Studios in the inner reaches of Hamilton, or to the Haven of Wind-in-the-Pines at Silver Lake, we gain little insight into the trivia of Dr. Dreimer’s own life.
The diary is, in fact, a commentary on events in the news.
June 27, 2015
While science has shed considerable
light on dark prejudices, and social views have altered accordingly,
religion clings, like a rather desperate limpet, to a rock of
'certitudes' made untenable in the rising tide of knowledge.
(Observation # 356)
It is interesting to see many Conservatives in the United States are much discomfited by the Determination of the Supreme Court of that Country that the States may not ban Marriages between those of the same Sex.
We were particularly struck by a Piece at Breitbart News by Mr. Ben Shapiro -- whom we regard as otherwise sensible -- in which he claims that the Supreme Court, engaging in the "idolatry of the left" -- has replaced God. By Implication, Mr. Shapiro suggests that God would be opposed to same-sex Marriage – along with, no Doubt, any left-wing Idolatry associated with it.
We have no Sympathy with any Sort of left-wing Idealism (is that the same as Idolatry?) but, as an Atheist, we are always puzzled when otherwise intelligent People rely on "God" in expressing their Opinions on social Issues.
There have been many different Gods in many different Societies at many different Times. Most people do not choose their Gods, but simply follow the Path of least Resistance: they adopt the God of their Forefathers, or of their Contemporaries. They adopt the God of the Society into which they happened to have been born.
Why they should think that their particular God – a Conception of a particular Time and a particular Place – has all the Answers – seems utterly bizarre.
But rational Analysis and Religion are not well-acquainted.
In Fact, we suspect, that societal Changes endorsed by the Supreme Court are threatening to the Comfort of a selective World View.
It appears to us that those who adopt a religious Viewpoint often do so because it provides a comforting Answer to discomfiting and puzzling Questions.
They can regard the Casualties caused by Flood, Volcano, and Earthquake – usually in distant Places – with a certain Equanimity. The Equanimity is born of a Conviction that the World is -- despite contrary Evidence -- essentially organized, and God is looking after Things. Those other Things -- bad Things -- after all, happened to other People.
We are reminded of a recent Advertisement for Christian Mingle which contains the Statement (appallingly fatuous, in our View) that "God has a Plan for Everyone."
What a comforting Notion!
Religious Conservatives find it convenient to believe that they are Part of a Plan. They are on the Side of the Angels, and the Verities of Yesteryear are eternal and unchanging. As Mr. Shapiro, speaking of traditional Rejection -- in many Societies -- of Homosexuality -- sarcastically notes:
For thousands of years, everybody got it wrong. For hundreds of years, every American state got it wrong. Today, the vast majority of the planet’s population gets it wrong, and so do hundreds of millions of Americans. But their wrongness is "manifest." Why? Because [Justice] Kennedy says so.
We think that the Source of conservative Outrage is that a Change in Society’s Views of Sexuality is not simply that – but a Refutation of the religious World View. The religious World View is that God has -- as the Christian Mingle People aver -- a Plan. Everything is organized. There are Men, and there are Women. The natural World is organized so that they shall get married and produce Children.
The Notion that Sexuality is not wonderfully organized, and contains awkward Glitches and puzzling Proclivities is a Blow to the Conception of God’s infallible organizational Capabilities. It suggests that he is neither omnipotent, nor omniscient. Nor is he particularly careful.
This is not comforting.
The Fact that sexual Orientation is linked to the Structure of the Brain, and that Homosexuality has been observed in fifteen Hundred Animal Species is not in Accord with religious Preconceptions.
The Truth hurts – which is why – when it is occasionally discovered -- it is so often quickly buried in Heaps of mindless Platitudes, and smoothed over with Piles of baffling Bullshit.
The Threat to religious World View, we suspect, may be perceived as especially acute in the United States.
In Comparison to Canada, the United States seems obsessed with Religion. It is hardly possible to imagine anyone running for political Office in that Country who does not profess a fervent religious Belief. We suspect that this may have something to do with the Success the United States has had in creating Wealth and in influencing the World’s Culture. It is a natural Thing for the successful to imagine that God is on their Side, and feel that ostentatious Reciprocation is the decent Thing to profess.*
In recent Times, it has been discovered that the Earth does not
travel around the Sun, that Man has evolved rather than been created,
and that he is composed of the same genetic building Blocks as other
Creatures. We would like to believe that the Discovery of Flaws in God's
Plan for Sexuality might be a Road to Damascus Moment. But it
* It is odd that Thomas Jefferson seemed so clear sighted: Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullibility, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck.
June 22, 2015
The great tragedy of science --the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact. (Thomas Huxley, 1825 - 1895)
We see that the Pope has finally issued his Encyclical on Climate Change – Laudato Si.’
As expected, he appears to have swallowed the "Climate Consensus" with its attendant transfixing Hook, laughable Line, and economically subversive Sinker.
On May 16, we did issue a "Pope Alert!" A "Pope Alert!" is declared whenever we feel that the Aura of papal Infallibility is in imminent Danger. Alas! The Pope paid no Attention to our Warnings.
One would think that the Galileo Incident – a mere few Centuries ago – might have suggested to the Pope that religious Authorities should not meddle in Matters of Science. However, the Pope seems disinclined to learn from previous Error. Thus he seems destined to find his Visage adorned with the tossed Egg conventionally attracted by Evidences of presumptuous Folly.
The Troubles with the "Climate Consensus" are many. Science depends for its Authority upon its Capacity to conduct Experiments which are reliably repeatable – upon its Ability to make Predictions which are borne out by subsequent Events.
Those engaged in Climate "Science" have made Predictions of Warming, Sea Level Rise, and a Flood of "Climate Refugees" which have simply been shown not to be true.
They have used Computer Models based on the Theory that a Rise in Carbon Dioxide Levels in the Atmosphere will invariably cause an Increase in Temperature. However, while the Carbon Dioxide Levels have continued to rise, Warming has ceased over the past Eighteen Years.
It seems likely that the Causes of Climate Change are complex, and future Climate possibly not predictable. Many suggest that Activity on the Sun is the most important Element. Predictions of the Weather for next Week are often not reliable; why should Predictions of Climate Fifty Years into the Future be so persuasive?
Finally, the Matter of "Climate Science" appears to have been
corrupted by Politics. Climageddon is used as a Tool to effect the
Redistribution of Wealth, and as a Means of destroying industrial
Civilization.* Many of the prominent Advocates for returning to the
Caves are obvious Hypocrites who profit from their apocalyptic Warnings,
but show clearly, in their own Lives, that they do not take them
It is, perhaps, easy to see why Climate Alarmism appeals to the Pope.
He is much concerned with the Poor, with living frugally, and with Equality. His Vision is, essentially, socialist: Humanity should live in an amicable Brotherhood where the Evils of Consumption and the Flaunting of Wealth are subsumed in a simple communal rural Existence.
This is quite consistent with the Vision of the Climate Alarmists. Mankind should repair to the Caves, and return to the Golden Age which preceded Industrial Civilization.
They both, of course, represent the insane Folly of an impossible Idealism.
As we pointed out the other Day (Drivel, June 12) – there are two great opposing Forces in civilized Existence. There is the Need for the Striving of Competition and the just Reward for Merit. Without this, there would be no Creativity and no Progress. As we are fond of saying, had single-celled Organisms adopted the Philosophy of Socialism, the World would now be populated entirely by single-celled Organisms.
Against this driving Force, are the Elements of Co-operation, Compassion, and a merciful Equality. These are Mitigations of the Law of the Jungle – but they are not a Substitute for it.
The Pope would be best advised to stick to Religion. With Religion, he can suggest a happy rural egalitarian Existence – with the added Attraction of continuous Hosannas and Praises for the Deity – in the Afterlife.
By throwing in his Lot with Pseudo-Scientists and Climate Change
Hucksters, he advances neither the Reputation of the Church nor the
Well-Being of Mankind.
*One has only to look at the early Pronouncements from the Club of
Rome, and the certifiably daft Maurice Strong.
P.S. The Pope has been observed, once again, strolling down Limerick Lane.
June 17, 2015
We are much relieved that something is finally being done about Mexico.
We have had Occasion to visit several Mexican Resorts in the Dead of Winter, in order to be reminded that not all the World is as frigid and as miserable as Canada. "Hope," as Dr. Johnson observed, "is necessary in every condition." That there should be Warmth in Mexico in Winter has always led us to believe that Spring might eventually arrive in our wretched, temperature-challenged native Land.
More recently we have heard accounts of Murders of Tourists, and the Pitilessness of those engaged in the Trade in Drugs. What we thought of as a pleasant Place for a Holiday in Winter, has become renowned for Danger.
But it appears that the spiritual Authorities have taken Note.
They have concluded that Mexico has brokered some devilish Pact with the Prince of Darkness, and is currently infested with Satanic Entities– it is overrun with the Agents of Beelzebub.
Swift action has been taken.
On May 20, the former Archbishop of Guadalajara, Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iñiguez, the Archbishop of San Luis Potosi, Carlos Cabrero, as well as several exorcist priests from various Mexican dioceses held a closed-door exorcism ritual at the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Luis Potosí.
The well-known Spanish exorcist Father José Antonio Fortea acted as master of ceremonies for the exorcism rite, which has been called "unprecedented in the history of Mexico." Father Fortea is known for his books on exorcism, including "Memoirs of an Exorcist," and "Summa Daemoniaca. (Breitbart News, June 16)
It is most reassuring to know that Exorcists of the Calibre of Father José Antonio Fortea are on Hand and at the Ready for such Emergencies as the Devil Infestation in Mexico.
So much has changed in the modern Era – the Internet, Smart Phones,
the Invention of Sport Utility Vehicles and ATM
Machines – we wonder whether there have been similar Advances
in Techniques of Exorcism. We assume the original Texts were in Latin.
Have they been updated into Esperanto, or more current Languages? Can
the Rites simply be sent by E-mail, or must they be spoken aloud?
It would be surprising if Lucifer did not have Internet Access, and a current Gmail, Twitter, or Facebook Account.
Alas, it appears that the Exorcists prefer to keep such Matters to themselves:
In a telephone interview, Father Fortea declined to give details about the ceremony, but said that "undoubtedly the abortion, Satanism, corruption, the cult of ‘holy’ death and the legalization of sexual aberrations have caused great satanic infestation throughout Mexico." (Breitbart News)
Perhaps – we speculate -- there is some Concern of a Proprietary Nature. It is understandable that the Church would not wish unqualified Personnel to conduct unauthorized, and possibly ineffective Ceremonies for just anyone who feels infested or possessed.
Of particular Concern would be Access to Ceremonies by those in the Pest Control Business.
Now that we think of it – it would appear that Exorcism might become the Source of considerable added Revenue for the Church. It might well be worth establishing an Exorcism Committee, with a View to creating a Website, a Gmail Account, and a Toll-free Telephone Number.
1-800-LUCIFER* would be easily remembered.
*1-800-GOTDEVILS is better – but has too many Numbers.
June 3, 2015
The most popular sandwiches are short
on reality, long on baloney. (Observation # 417)
There is much Commentary in the Press on the Recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, released Yesterday by the Chair of the Commission, Justice Murray Sinclair..
To begin with, we must state that we think that the Matter of Aboriginal Affairs is a complete Mess; we have little Hope of any reasonable Resolution.
Aboriginal Populations have been treated like Children, supported in remote Communities where they can engage in their "traditional" Way of Life. One might describe it as the Attempt to provide a Kind of Socialist Paradise – Government Largesse for all, with no Necessity to earn a Living.
The Results have been – shall we say -- less than Ideal. Band Funds are often controlled by the Chiefs and their Families; a Few prosper while the Rest live in Squalor. The remote Communities usually offer little in the Way of interesting or productive Employment. Only on those Reservations where there has been an Opportunity and an Attempt to embrace Capitalism, has some reasonable Standard of Living been attained.
The Thinking behind the residential School System was well-intentioned. Mr. Sinclair has described it as "cultural genocide," but it could also be viewed as an Attempt to bring aboriginal Populations into the modern World, in which a Culture of traditional Hunting and Fishing is scarcely viable.
The Execution was a Disaster. The Management of the System was put in the Hands of the Churches. That was in a Day when Religion was more highly regarded. It was thought that those with religious Commitments were of superior Integrity and Reliability. In Fact, they were human Beings with the added Deficiency of the Narrow-Mindedness which comes with a blind Belief in dogmatic Nonsense.
To this we must add that in the Heyday of Residential Schools, there was, in Society generally, a greater Rigidity and Harshness in Education than would be tolerated Today.
There is no Doubt that the Residential Schools were a Horror, and a dark Blot on the Copy Book of Canadian History.
The Difficulty that we see now is a Reaction driven by Guilt, and by a Desire for a World which is simply not attainable.
In Today’s National Post, Kelly McParland notes that Mr. Trudeau has
committed his Liberal Party to an Endorsement of all Ninety-Four of the
Recommendations of the Commission. This shows -- once again -- that
there is no Opportunity for political Pandering which Mr. Trudeau deems
unworthy of seizing.
As Mr. McParland points out, the Commission envisions the Implementation of Recommendations suitable to a Confederation of Unicorns and Chimeras engaged in the manufacture of Pixie Dust.
With Respect to Language, the Commission "wants Ottawa to acknowledge that aboriginal rights include language rights." There should be federal Funding for the "revitalization and preservation" of aboriginal Languages.
Do "Language Rights" include the Requirement that all official Documents be translated into Fifty different aboriginal Languages? Is it wise to spend Money to "revitalize" Languages which seem intent on passing to the other Side?
Similarly, with Respect to Education, the Commission seems to require a new Curriculum which includes "native Learning" from Kindergarten to Grade Twelve. Money is to be spent to "educate Teachers on how to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms." (National Post, June 3)
We hate to be unkind – but sometimes Baloney must give Way to Reality. Is it possible that such Inclusions will enhance the Self-Esteem of Aboriginals? Possibly. Will such Enhancement of Self-Esteem do anything to improve the Living Conditions of Aboriginals? We have a wonderful Bridge in Brooklyn which you might be interested in purchasing. Realistically, will our System of Education benefit from such Inclusions? We think not.
While we hate to be unkind – we admit that we – very occasionally -- enjoy the Brutality of Honesty.
We prefer Mozart to the sound of primitive Chanting to the Beat of Drums. A feathered Headdress and War Paint are not exceptionally high on our List of elegant and sophisticated Costume. If there is anything in Canadian aboriginal syllabic Writing which may be considered in the same Category as King Lear – it has not been adequately publicised, for we have not heard of it. When Galileo was proclaiming that the Earth circled the Sun, or James Watt was inventing the modern Steam Engine, we must suppose – in the Absence of contrary Evidence – that aboriginal Leaders were making Improvements to Hunting and Fishing Techniques.
Unfortunately, these are Things-Which-Must-Not-Be-Said.
The Path to Progress is often blocked by the Deference which Reality is required to pay to Fantasy.*
May 31, 2015
We find the continuing Battles over Freedom of Speech a Matter of absorbing Interest.
It is not surprising that Governments have always been concerned about Free Speech. Governments are in the Business of running Things, and telling Citizens what to do. Running Things and giving Orders are Activities most easily accomplished when there is a Singularity of favourable Opinion towards the Manner and Detail of the Running and the Ordering.
We have heard that Critics of Mr. Putin have an elevated Likelihood of experiencing accidental Death; we understand that the Communist Party of China shows a marked Lack of Enthusiasm for Dissent of any Kind.
In Western Societies, where there exists the Option of Throwing the Rascals of Government out on a fairly regular Basis, there seems to be a much greater Freedom to criticize the Rascals during their Periods of Rule.
Yet the Desire to restrict Speech is a Mole that refuses to be whacked.
The usual Argument against critical Speech -- in Western Societies -- appears to arise from a delicate Sensibility, or an empathetic Tolerance. Our Society has reached that admirable State where it is deemed that every Individual has a Right to a Perpetuity of Happy Thoughts: Nobody should experience Criticism or the hurt Feelings which might possibly result.
We have an Explanation for this, which we have repeated – probably several Times – elsewhere.
Whereas in the Past, it was thought that human Beings were imperfect, and afflicted with "Original Sin," our modern Era has made significant Advancements from such gloomy and perverse Perceptions. A more flattering and agreeable Notion has arisen -- that human Beings are, in fact, blessed with "Original Goodness." A Concomitant of this Idea has been the Rise of the "Self-Esteem" Movement. It is only logical that Beings blessed with original Goodness should feel mightily pleased with Themselves.
Taking the Logic one Step further, it would be a Devastation should originally good Beings, feeling mightily pleased with Themselves, be subjected to harsh Criticism, and experience a Moment of Doubt, Hesitation, or Insecurity.
We must also note, in our enlightened Era, a great Advance in the Matter of Tolerance, which, we believe, is an Offshoot of the great Experiment of Multiculturalism.* In order to make Multiculturalism work, it must be assumed that Cultures are essentially equal; any cultural Differences are merely superficial, and easily accommodated. Thus Tolerance of Differences is critical to the Success of Multiculturalism, and Tolerance has been elevated to a universal Good. It is like Money, or Power, or Happiness. One cannot have too much of it. A little Bit more can always be squeezed into one’s infinite Capacity for Benevolence.
Indeed, Tolerance has become a Measure of moral Superiority, and the Cause of much Holier-than-thou Smugitude.
The Notion that some Ideas are better than others, or that Tolerance is sometimes sensible, sometimes not – why – these Notions are antithetical to the Construction of the Crystal Palace of Perfection**; they must be hushed with the stern Glance of moral Opprobrium; they must be dismissed with the Fervour of the Faithful.
Finally – having mentioned the Faithful – it should be recognized
that at least one of the Cultures which we are so anxious to
accommodate, holds that their Religion, Islam, is beyond Criticism.
While most do not subscribe to that absurd Proposition, it is thought that pointing out its Absurdity is in bad Taste. It is intolerant, and might cause hurt Feelings. Indeed, such an inconvenient Truth might prove a Barrier to the Construction of the Crystal Palace.
The latest Skirmish in this Battle over Free Speech has been shown by the Actions of Pamela Geller, who organized a "Draw Muhammad" Contest in Texas recently. Drawing Muhammad is an Exercise of the Imagination in the West, but a religious Taboo among Muslims. The Venue was attacked by two Men who had decided that the appropriate Penalty for Insult was Death. As it turned out, they themselves were killed.***
Ms. Geller has subsequently prepared some Advertisements to be displayed in the Washington, D.C. Transit System. Those Posters display the winning Cartoon – a Depiction of Muhammad holding a Sword, saying, "You Can’t Draw Me!" There was to have been an additional Caption: "Support Free Speech."
The Transit Authority, faced with this critical Comment, and mindful of previous Court Decisions in Favour of Ms. Geller, has decided -- in order to Censor the Comment -- to ban all Advertisements of Advocacy for Six Months.
There are doubtless two possible Reasons for this Decision: the Fear of Muslim Reprisal, or -- a Delicacy of Sentiment – an empathetic Tolerance – a Reluctance to hurt Feelings.
Neither Reason is legitimate.
While good Manners suggest an Avoidance of gratuitous Provocation – one must ask whether the Provocation is gratuitous, or whether it is entirely justified. Surely the Claim that a Religion is beyond Criticism, and that Violence is a legitimate Response to Mockery is a Provocation in itself. It is foolish to claim that Good Manners are an adequate Response to Bad Manners. Thieves are not deterred by politely handing them One’s Wallet.
If the Reason for this Ban is Fear, then Absurdity, and religious Fanaticism have won. He who is silent – as the Spanish Proverb goes – gives Consent. One might as well advocate for the immediate Introduction of Sharia Law and make Provision for legal Sanction against Blasphemy.
The Question has become: Is Freedom of Speech worth fighting for?
With each Retreat, the ultimate Battle becomes larger, and more costly. Appeasement of Bullies never deters; it only encourages.
Taking a just Stand early is the most ethical, and the most prudent Course.
*To be in favour of multiculturalism, one must believe in the equality of cultures. To believe in the equality of cultures, one must hold that no idea about the conduct of life is better than any other – that differences between freedom and repression, church and state, gender equality and patriarchy -- between cruel traditions and the attempt to see things as they are – that all such distinctions are irrelevant. In other words, one has to be a complete idiot -- or a child of the devil. (Observation #414)
**"You believe in a palace of crystal that can never be destroyed -- a palace at which one will not be able to put out one's tongue or make a long nose on the sly. And perhaps that is just why I am afraid of this edifice, that it is of crystal and can never be destroyed and that one cannot put one's tongue out at it even on the sly." (Fydor Dostoevsky, 1821 - 1881)
***See Diary, May 5, 2015
May 27, 2015
The great tragedy of science -- the slaying of a
beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact. (Thomas Huxley, 1825 --
We are saddened to report that a Roadblock has been encountered on our Way to Nirvana.
The Reader may recall the extreme Hopefulness suggested, in recent Years, by new Ways of teaching Mathematics. The Theory was that instead of being required to trudge spiritlessly along the Dreary, confining Paths of Memorization, young Minds would be freed to gambol in the open Meadows of joyful and excited Discovery.
Thus freed, tiny Minds would be driven by their innate Love of Learning. This self-directed Learning, arising from the magical Fount of Inquisitiveness which burbles deep within each perfect Soul, would thus proceed in a Manner most meaningful and -- because of that personal Involvement -- with extreme Rapidity and Efficiency.
Nirvana would be a few Toddler Steps away. The Big Rock Candy Mountain of Mathematical Education would be reached by traversing a short Trail covered in the Rose-Petals of benign and spontaneous Inspiration.
This Approach suggested a wonderful Optimism concerning the human Brain. Indeed, it is quite consistent with the modern View of Humanity. In the old, dark Days of Prejudice and primitive religious Superstition, it was thought that human Beings were afflicted with the Limitation of original Sin.
This view was so unflattering, so gloomy, so deeply pessimistic, that it has been erased with a casual Wave of the Wand of progressive Modernity. In its Place, it has been thought fitting to enshrine the contrary Notion: that Human Beings are blessed with original Goodness. All that is required for a full Flowering of human Potential is that the natural Goodness be allowed free Reign.
It appears that the Theory, while attractive, does not work very well.
In Today’s National Post, it is reported that the C.D. Howe Institute has concluded hat the old ways of teaching Mathematics are best. Canadian Students are not performing as well in mathematical Tests as they did in 2003.
Indeed, this is old News. Last August, we heard of a Report in the
Nature Neuroscience Journal which explains why the Theory doesn’t
work. Here is our Account from August 22, 2014.
...it has now been discovered that Memorization of basic mathematical Verities helps to make a Shift in the Operations of the Brain from the frontal parietal Cortex to the Hippocampus. The Brain is thereby reorganized to allow for more complex Reasoning. The Hippocampus then fosters the Establishment of long Term Knowledge in the Neocortex.
This seems to suggest an Idea startling in its profound Novelty: a marvellously tuned and capable Instrument of Thinking is useless if it has Nothing to think about.
We recall conducting an Experiment a Year or so ago, which – had our thinking Capabilities been sufficiently advanced – might have given us some Clue to this Truth
We decided to apply our creative Abilities to the Matter of Quantum Mechanics. We turned off the Radio, the Television, and the Telephone. We reclined in a relaxed Position. We earnestly directed our Thoughts to Quantum Mechanics. After Fifteen Minutes of intense Effort, we realized that our Progress with Quantum Mechanics was Zero. We got up, turned on the Television Set, and re--set the Telephone to admit Calls.
Had we been more perceptive at the Time, we might have concluded that, not knowing anything about Quantum Mechanics was a significant Barrier to thinking about it.
Only now, with this wonderful new Research, do we begin to have a Glimmer of Insight into these difficult Matters.
We continue to see Idealism as one of the great Pitfalls for Humanity. It pleases many to think that People are inherently good, and have a magical Fount of Inquisitiveness which will make Learning a Walk in the Rose Petals. The Idealists reject the Notion that Knowledge has been acquired through much Effort over the Centuries, and that our best Hope is to take and acquire it as quickly as possible – with some attendant Difficulty – in order to build upon it.
It is not necessary for each Individual to re-invent the Wheel, or discover the Three times Table.. They have been invented. Accept the Wheel; memorize the Three times Table. A Few may use both to construct the better Chariots of the Future.
For the Rest of us, we will be content to drive to the Grocery
Store and realize that Three Cans of Soup at $1.20 will cost us $3.60.*
* We have no Idea why this is so. We learned that Three times
Twelve is Thirty-Six in our Youth. Possibly it has something to do with
See also: Diary, September 14, 2013; Diary March 1, 2014
May 24, 2015
For what a man would like to be true, that he more readily believes. (Francis Bacon 1561-1626)
War is Peace was one of the Slogans which characterized the Oceania of the Novel 1984.
It suggested the Triumph of Doublethink – the Ability to hold two contradictory Notions at the same Time – without any Troubling of the Intellect. And this Ability is, in itself, a Measure of how the human Mind, with sufficient Terror, can be manipulated for the Achievement of political Ends.
It should be remarked that Doublethink is not simply a hypothetical Phenomenon described in a dystopian Novel; it can be illustrated in recent Times.
How often have we heard that Islam is a "Religion of Peace?" It sounds so benign, so soothing – the two Words "Religion," and "Peace" seem like Soul-Mates – destined to find one another, and bind together forever in an indissoluble Whole of Perfection.
The Fact that some can believe Islam is a "Religion of Peace" while there are many Verses in the Koran which are decidedly aggressive, intolerant, and warlike may be explained by the Use of Doublethink: Peace and War are, we must suppose, in the Minds of the Optimists, indistinguishable.*
The Fact that Trade Towers may be demolished, Cartoonists murdered, and Fatwas issued against Novelists, all in the Name of the "Religion of Peace" appears to leave the Intellects of many untroubled.
We wonder how far Doublethink may extend.
It is interesting that the Leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has issued a call to Arms for Muslims against Unbelievers everywhere:
The title of the message "March Forth Whether Heavy or Light" comes from a verse in the Koran which calls on believers to "strive with your wealth and your lives in the cause of Allah." In Baghdadi’s view that striving is ISIS’s war against unbelievers.
"O Muslims, Islam was never for a day the religion of peace. Islam is the religion of war," al-Baghdadi says, according to an English language transcript of the speech promoted by ISIS-affiliated social media accounts. The transcript, which was posted online at Downrange, portrays Islam’s Muhammad as a warrior. (Breitbart.com. May 14)
This Statement from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi seems somewhat more consistent with how Islam appears to function in the World.
We think the Advantages of Doublethink are somewhat over-rated. We suspect more Progress might occur if it were more generally accepted that Islam is a Religion of War.
In our View, the best Progress would be a Recognition that all Religions are based on various types of wishful Thinking, and lack any credible Evidence. They should be relegated to the Sphere of private Entertainment and comforting Ritual. The next best Thing would be for Muslims to renounce those Elements of their Religion which are so clearly a Reflection of certain primitive, inhumane, absurd, and fanatical Perceptions of the Seventh Century.
*The Quran contains at least 109 verses that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers for the sake of Islamic rule. Some are quite graphic, with commands to chop off heads and fingers and kill infidels wherever they may be hiding. Muslims who do not join the fight are called 'hypocrites' and warned that Allah will send them to Hell if they do not join the slaughter.
Unlike nearly all of the Old Testament verses of violence, the verses of violence in the Quran are mostly open-ended, meaning that they are not restrained by the historical context of the surrounding text. They are part of the eternal, unchanging word of Allah, and just as relevant or subjective as anything else in the Quran. ( from thereligionofpeace.com)
Example: 9:29. Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
May 18, 2015
Over a period of many Years, we have discovered that we derive a rather considerable Satisfaction from paying less – rather than more -- for any necessary Purchase.
We understand that there are those with a different Philosophy. Through some extraordinary Confluence of Circumstance – some peculiar Influence of Nature and Nurture, they derive Pleasure from paying a high Price for an Item. Those so afflicted find – or so it seems – that the obvious financial Disadvantage is overcome by a Degree of "psychic" Income: the High Price is made widely known, as a sort of Advertisement of their casual Affluence and superior Style of Life.
We have never considered such psychic Income as sufficient Compensation for being out-of-Pocket. Indeed, we believe that we obtain an equivalent Satisfaction by making known the Results of our Parsimony: not only have we saved Money, but the Savings are a Tribute to our careful Thrift, shrewd Prudence, and superior Intellect.
Thus, when we discovered that the Home Improvement Chain, Lowes, was advertising a Long Weekend "No Sales Tax" Sale, we thought it an Event not to be missed.
Accordingly, Yesterday, we purchased some Deck Tile for a Roof Deck at Wind-in-the-Pines.
Today, we thought to buy our annual Allotment of Flowers for the Lumpenbangen Institute Grounds.
It appeared that we were not alone in our Philosophical Devotion to Saving.
Indeed, when we had laden our Cart with Box Plants, we found that at Each of the three Cashiers, there were long Line-ups. They were so long that they were intersected by Aisles at the Perpendicular. Thus the Patrons in each Line held back at the intersecting Aisles in order allow other Shoppers to pass through the Line-up unimpeded.
As we approached the Intersection, we noticed a Lady with a small
Collection of Flowers stopped in the intersecting Aisle to the Right.
Perhaps, we speculated, she was waiting for Someone. A Husband and two small Children would soon appear, and they would continue along the Aisle which intersected the Line-up.
She looked entirely respectable; we harboured no Thoughts of her ulterior Motive.
But, as Someone of eminent Wisdom has noted, one may smile, and smile, and be a Villain.
Just after the Gentleman ahead of us crossed over the empty Space to re-join the Line-up ahead, the Lady sidled up -- behind him, and in front of Us.
We are always too slow to react. Was she really jumping into the Queue from the Side? Where were the Husband and two small Children that we had – excusingly –imagined?
After too long a Pause, we said: "The Line-up begins back there – way back there."
"Oh," she said, "I’m sorry – I didn’t realize."
She remained in Place.
Of course she realized.
We reflect that the Queue is a sort of Hallmark of Civilization. It is a Recognition of an unwritten Rule of Fairness: "First come, First served."
The Alternative is some Version of the Law of the Jungle, in which the Place goes to to the Swift, to the Strong, or to those cunning enough to pretend that they "didn’t realize" – and bold enough not to give a Damn.
May 16, 2015
We feel compelled to issue a "Pope Alert!"
A "Pope Alert" is issued whenever the Pope is in Danger of doing Damage to the Papal Infallibility Aura. Such Damage may have widespread Repercussions throughout the Believer Community, and risks the Discovery that what was thought to be Rock, is, in Fact, Sand – indeed, possibly a sacrosanct Quicksand which threatens the very Notion of Infallibility itself.
We reported – on Limerick Lane, January 1 – that the Pope had joined the Ranks of the Climate Alarmists, and planned to Issue an Encyclical on one of the most important Theological Matters confronting our Age: Anthropogenic Global Warming.
It is true, that we did not issue a "Pope Alert" at that Time. Our only Excuse for our Lack of Action on that Front was that the Concept of "Pope Alert" occurred to us only Moments ago.
In Retrospect, the Pope’s meddling in Matters where Science meets Politics seems inadvisable. The Topick of Global Warming is a dangerous Concoction in which a little Bit of Science is mixed with a very large Amount of Politics, is placed in the United Nations’ Ovens, and is served at the Dinner Table as "The Science is Settled."
Alas, the Ingredients, the Mixture, the "Cooking" and the Presentation amount – in the End -- to nothing more than Hocus Pocus with a false Label.
Perhaps the Pope’s usual Employment leads him to focus solely on attractive Labels, and to have little Concern for the Hocus Pocus beneath.
Later –on Limerick Lane, April 27 – we noted that some Scientists, Religious Leaders, and Academics had written an open Letter to the Pope warning him of the very Dangers we have just noted – the accepting of Hocus Pocus passing as "The Science is Settled:"
"Rather than a careful reporting of the best evidence," they write, "we get highly speculative and theory-laden conclusions presented as the assured results of science. In the process, science itself is diminished, and many well-meaning moral and religious leaders risk offering solutions based on misleading science."
Now, we understand, the Pope has had Second Thoughts. Second Thoughts may pass without Comment for those without Theological Pretensions. But, in a Pope, such Reversals are not seemly.
According to Breitbart News:
A Vatican insider asserts that Pope Francis has scrapped the draft of his encyclical letter on the environment and sent it back for major revision. The letter was slated for publication in early summer, but now may not be ready until much later, he suggests. (Breitbart.com, May 15)
Apparently Argentinian Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández, an important papal Ghostwriter, drafted the original Document on Climate Change. But it is feared that Cardinal Gerhard Müller of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith might "demolish" it when submitted for his Approval.
The Reason for our "Pope Alert," is, of course, that if the Pope is seen to shy away from a resounding Endorsement of Climate Change Hocus Pocus, he will be seen as weak and indecisive. On the other Hand, should he raise Climate Alarmism to the Level of religious Dogma, he will eventually be seen as cognitively challenged.
We think the Moral of this Tale is obvious. The Pope should stick to his own Brand of Hocus Pocus, which has steady, if not spectacular Sales. Branching out into unknown, untested Brands is fraught with Danger.
May 13, 2015
For what a man would like to be true,
that he more readily believes. (Francis Bacon 1561-1626)
We see that Mr. Khadr has been released on Bail, and has been welcomed into the Home of his Lawyer, Dennis Edney.
There has been much congratulatory Gushing by the Media, who see Mr. Khadr as a Victim guilty only of Youthful Indiscretions arising from an unfortunate Family Life -- and one who was subsequently mistreated at the Guantanamo Bay Prison.
It seems generally acknowledged that Mr. Khadr has seen the Error of his Ways, will now proceed with some useful Employment, and will quietly sink into a contented Obscurity.
Mr. Edney, in particular, seems to view Mr. Khadr as an unfortunate Lamb, lost in a Thicket of Circumstance, who is now deserving of a compensatory Cuddling in the Fold.
He claims that Mr. Khadr’s Confession to the Killing of Christopher Speer and the blinding in one Eye of Layne Morris, was merely a Strategy employed as the only Means of obtaining Release from the Guantanamo Bay Prison. Mr. Khadr now plans to appeal his Conviction by the Military Court of the United States.
However, we wonder whether it is wise for Mr. Edney to make the personal Commitment of inviting Mr. Khadr into his Home. We also question the Soundness of his Judgment in accusing Mr. Harper of being a Bigot who has an Antipathy towards Muslims. Finally, we have some Doubts concerning Mr. Edney's manipulative Attempts to influence the Questioning of Mr. Khadr by the Press -- warning them that if they failed to show Respect for Mr. Khadr, the Interview would be suspended.
Our skepticism, is not, of course, unprecedented.
We can understand that Mr. Khadr was, in a Sense, programmed in a perverse Ideology by his Family. His Father, Ahmed Said, was a Friend of Osama Bin Laden, and a Member of Al Qaeda. He was killed in Pakistan in a Fight with Pakistani Soldiers in 2003. His Mother Maha Elsamnah, rejoiced at the Destruction of the World Trade Towers in 2001.
However, a Bee that is programmed to sting, while in a Sense "innocent," would still not be our first Choice as a Pet.
Mr. Levant, who has always been skeptical of the romanticised Version
of Mr. Khadr, has done an excellent Job of analysing Mr. Khadr’s
Encounter with the Press at Mr. Edney’s Home.*
In that Press Conference, Mr. Khadr expresses regret for the Pain experienced by the Families of his Victims – but says nothing about regretting his Acts. When asked about his Belief in Jihad, Mr. Khadr says it is not Something he believes in "right now" – suggesting that he might change his Mind under certain favourable Circumstances.
Indeed, as Christie Blatchford points out, an Article published in Maclean’s two Years ago, it was revealed that Dr. Michael Welner, the Psychiatrist who interviewed Mr. Khadr at the Age of Twenty-Three, concluded he was "conniving, unrepentant, as radicalized as ever." (National Post, May 12)
Indeed, we think it is worthwhile to read the Maclean’s article of September 27, 2012. Consider two Paragraphs:
At Khadr’s sentencing hearing in October 2010, Welner
testified for the prosecution, describing his interview subject
as "full of rage" and "highly dangerous"—a "rock star" at Gitmo
who has not only expressed zero remorse, but has spent years
"marinating in a community of hardened and belligerent radical
Islamists." In Welner’s words, Khadr has grown up to be
Not once does Khadr accept even a shred of responsibility for his lot, consistently shifting the blame to everyone else. Except, of course, the man who dispatched him into battle. "I think he was just a normal dad," Khadr said. "He was just trying to raise his children the right way."
We understand that Mr. Khadr has memorized every Verse of the Koran. We wonder whether he views it with Skepticism or unquestioning Approval.
In the Absence of some Proof of Mr. Khadr’s Conversion on the Road to Mr. Edney’s House, we think our Reservations are justified.
The Idea of the lost Lamb rescued from the Thicket of malign Circumstance is appealing. So is the Idea of the Big Rock Candy Mountain. We especially like the Story of the Leopard who, without Effort or Distress, changed his Spots.
*See www.therebelmedia; search for Omar Khadr Meets the Press (May 8, 2015)
May 8, 2015
We see that Rachael Notley has gained an impressive Victory for the New Democratic Party in Alberta, winning Fifty-Three of Eighty-Seven Seats in the Legislature.
We suspect that Ezra Levant, writing in the National Post Yesterday, is correct in saying that the Shift to the NDP is not about Ideology, but about Trickery. Mr. Prentice had – too cleverly by Half – convinced Many of the Members of the Wildrose Party to abandon their Posts in Opposition and join him to share the prospective Dominance and Influence of the Conservative Dynasty. Thus the Conservatives could be seen as beguiling, and the Wildrose as lacking Conviction.
Once Mr. Prentice had neutered his Opposition, he proceeded to increase the Deficit and ignore the fixed Election Date Law by calling an opportunistic Election.
Thus, Albertans may have turned to Socialism not because of ideological Conviction, but because of a moral Revulsion towards the Conservatives and a Lack of Certainty with Respect to the Wildrose Party.
In any event, they are now stuck with Socialism.
In another Article in Yesterday’s Post, it was revealed that Ms. Notley may bring in Rent Controls. Such Controls are designed to make Housing affordable for All, but, in the longer Term, they have the opposite Result. With Controls on Rent, the Government, in Effect, makes Landlords into Civil Servants compelled to do the Government’s Bidding.
But Landlords are Businessmen who attempt to earn a Profit in the Marketplace. When they are, with a Wave of the legislative Wand, transformed from Princes of Enterprise into Frogs of governmental Function, they lose a considerable Degree of Enthusiasm for Ribbetting in the socialist Chorus. They decide not to produce Housing which does not return an adequate Profit.
Indeed, this is the great Failure of Socialism. As many have pointed out, it is a System designed for Mankind – and Reality -- as they should be – not as they actually are.
Central Planning is wonderful in Theory, but it always fails in Practice – because the real World is not centrally planned. Evolution is a constant striving, a throwing up of Ideas and Possibilities which succeed or fail according to their utilitarian Merits. Marketplaces work in the same Fashion – arriving at a Production and Distribution of Goods through a Multitude of self-interested Decisions.
The Trouble with Evolution – and the Marketplace – is that they are
cruel and unfair. They represent a utilitarian Meritocracy. Evolutionary
Changes which do not work are ruthlessly discarded. Those unfitted for
the Competition of the Marketplace are driven into Poverty and Despair.
Such Ruthlessness is offensive to our Ideals. In the Ideal World, there is no Competition, no Winners, no Losers. All is in a wonderful State of harmonious Equality.
Indeed, this is the central Problem of Mankind. Man has evolved in a World of ruthless Competition for Survival, but yearns for a World of peaceful Equality.
The Impulse to modify the innate Cruelty of the World is laudable; the Danger is to attempt modify beyond the Capacity of the System to survive.
The Attempt to achieve Nirvana invariably involves Coercion – the fitting of square, irregular Pegs of Reality into the round, perfect Holes of the Imagination. As Aldous Huxley pointed out: "Everyone who wants to do good to the human race always ends in universal bullying."
Some Modification of Reality is possible. But Socialism goes too far. It wants to create a World more perfect than is permitted by the underlying Reality. That is why it is always coercive, and, ultimately, always destructive.
We conclude with four relevant Quotations:
The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule. (H.L. Mencken, 1880 - 1956)
That government is best which governs least. (Henry David Thoreau, 1817 - 1862)
It is not materialism that is the chief curse of the world, as pastors teach, but idealism. Men get into trouble by taking their visions and hallucinations too seriously. (H.L. Mencken, 1880- 1956)
That all men are equal is a proposition to which, at ordinary times, no sane human being has ever given his assent. (Aldous Huxley, 1894 -1963)
May 5, 2015
Science rests on reason and experiment, and can meet an opponent with calmness; but a belief is always sensitive. (James Anthony Froude, 1818 -- 1894)
To refrain from mocking those with foolish ideas for fear of giving offense is not wise. Hurt feelings are a small price to pay for the erosion of stupidity. (Observation # 389)
Pamela Geller is provocative, but we think she is absolutely correct.
She decided to hold, in Texas, a "Muhammad Art Exhibit & Contest," in which a Prize of Ten Thousand Dollars would be awarded for the "winning cartoon" in which the Prophet Muhammad was depicted.
This, of course, is the waving of the Red Flag of Freedom of Speech in front of the Bull which claims that it is beyond Criticism.
And, indeed, two Men decided that Criticism deserved Death, and launched an Attack at the Site of the Exhibit.
They were both killed.
We note that Some have criticised Ms. Geller.
The Esteemed Southern Poverty Law Center has spluttered its disapproval:
Heidi Beirich, head of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s watchdog division, told CNN on Monday that although Geller’s activities may fall within the bounds of the First Amendment, they are considered "cruel and unfair" because "she doesn’t make distinctions" between mainstream Islam and militant factions. (Washington Post, May 4)
We have also heard the Argument made that while the Claim of Islam to be exempt from Criticism is absurd, it is wrong to deliberately offend, because " at best there is an outright lack of respect for one's fellow citizens and at worst, outright hate and bigotry is at play." (From Washington Post Commentary Thread.)
With such Arguments, we see the kind of false Idealism of the modern Era. In the wonderful new World of the Crystal Palace, None shall be offended; the supreme Value is Self-Esteem, and before that great and powerful Good, all shall give way: Truth, Justice, and Freedom.
This is a Pact with the Devil. All Convictions are to be sacrificed to the Idea and Ideal of Harmony.
But the Devil never makes a Bargain in which he is the Loser. The Harmony so obtained is an Illusion, and it can be maintained only with further and further Concessions, until there is nothing left of the Essential Self. The Devil asks only for "Tolerance" – but -- "Tolerance is like alcohol: in moderate amounts, it softens hard edges, and lubricates the machinery of social interaction; in excess, it leads to foolishness, incoherence, the annihilation of principle, and the destruction of the essential self." (Observation # 101)
We think Ms. Geller sees clearly what is happening.
When a Religion – or some significant Proportion of its Adherents -- claims that it is above Criticism, that Folly may be tolerated if it is restricted to willing Believers. But when the Religion proclaims Death for Apostasy, the Believers may number the Willing, but also the Coerced. And when the Religion claims that all human Beings should adopt its Precepts, the Coercion is given infinite Reach.
Three Choices present themselves.
First, People may agree out of Fear.
Second, they may agree out of Kindness – from a Concern that Feelings should not be hurt.
But in either Case, the Principle of Exemption from Criticism is upheld and confirmed. And, alas, – given the Nature of human Nature – Appeasement is likely to lead to further Demands. Once Criticism is silenced, surely it is only reasonable to introduce Sharia Law, so that Believers will feel more comfortable? And then, the compulsory wearing of the Niqab would reduce the Anxiety of those who feel out-of-place among the obscenely naked Visages of the Unbelievers. Finally, perhaps, the Provision of Stoning for Adultery would not be beyond the Bounds of Contemplation.
No, the only reasonable Alternative is that chosen by Ms. Geller – to criticize in order to proclaim the Right to criticize.
Indeed, in our View, the more such Criticisms the better, for it is imperative that the Message be sent that Non-believers are not bound by the Fantasies of others. With a Multiplicity of Criticisms, there is a much better chance that the criticized will become weary. The Targets become too numerous to attack. The Tantrums, so satisfying when they are Few, and attract respectful Attention, become exhausting when they must be repeated at the Corner of every Street on every Day of the Week.
Repeated Criticism is corrosive. Self-Doubt begins to creep in. It is especially difficult to maintain Superiority based on clear and patent Absurdities. Gradually, the Believers must come to accept the act that they cannot impose their Insanities on Humankind at large.
Ms. Geller’s Approach may well result in Attacks by the most aggressive of Islamic Believers. The Question that must be asked is whether the Right to Criticize is worth fighting for.
We believe that it is.
While it may not be appropriate in every venue, and on every occasion, mockery is the guardian of reason, the enemy of pretension, and the mirror to folly. No belief, no passion, no commitment should be considered immune from the acerbic test of ridicule. (Observation # 47)
May 4, 2015
We understand that some are enamoured of their Barbecues. Vast Sums are spent on fancy Devices - which have the gleaming Appearance of small Space Modules – powered by Propane.
That has never been the Case at Wind-in-the-Pines, where Barbecuing is a rare Event. The Charms of outdoor Ritual defer to a Modesty of Budget,* the Chance of Rain, or the Convenience of an elderly Inglis Stove in the Kitchen.
That is not to say that Wind-in-the-Pines is not graced with a barbecuing Device for special Occasions. It is a small, wheeled, metal Unit which is powered by Charcoal. It is, without Shame or Self-Consciousness, out-of-date, inconvenient, and old-fashioned.
It is of a great Age. We cannot remember the Occasion of its Purchase. It may predate the New Viceroy Home of 1991. It may be able to claim Affinity with the Old Cabin, purchased in 1977. While our Memory of Events is not always reliable, our Memory for Prices is tenacious: we think it cost about Fifty Dollars.
Last Year, the Unit suffered a great Indignity. In the Winter, some enterprising Mice made their Way into the Shed where some Summer Devices are stored, and built a comfortable Nest, inside, just beneath the Grill.
This Spring, we discovered that we had left the Barbecue on the Deck all Winter. When we installed, nearby, two new, high quality, Plastic Adirondack Chairs,** we could not help but be struck by the Contrast. On the one Hand, were the Chairs, happy and exuberant, looking forward to their new Employment, ready to offer Years of high quality Service.
On the other hand, there was the old Barbecue -- missing the ventilating Control on Top, the once sprightly Fire-Red faded to an uncertain Red-Orange. It proclaimed Decrepitude, and Neglect. It cried out for Release from its Misery, citing Decades of faithful Service. It expressed a Yearning for some Barbecue Haven in the Sky – hopefully watched over by a kind and benevolent Barbecue Deity who would restore it to its former Grandeur, and lease it out to an appreciative, angelic, Hamburger-obsessed Choir.
Now, as it happened, a short Time later, we were in our favourite Emporium – Wal-Mart – and without any clear Intention -- found our Steps heading towards the Seasonal Department.
And there, amid the gleaming space Modules, proclaiming their Propane Prowess, were Packages depicting Charcoal-burning Barbecues very much like the One which has given us such faithful Service. We could not find one in Fire-Red, but Cobalt Blue seemed a reasonable Alternative.
There was no actual Unit on Display – but we have been known, in Moments of high Emotion, to purchase Items based on the Picture on the Package. It goes against our Principles, but building a Life based on Principle is exceedingly Difficult. Indeed, how can one define a principled Position except by occasionally acting in a contrary, unprincipled, but emotionally satisfying Manner?
We will leave the Topick to the Philosophers.
We looked at the Price: Forty-Eight Dollars.
Over the Decades, the Price has declined by Two Dollars.
No wonder the canny Managers at Wal-Mart had not seen fit to remove a Unit from the Package, and spend an extended Lunch Hour in assembling a Barbecue for Display!
We are pleased to report that we have purchased and assembled a new Cobalt Blue Charcoal-burning Barbecue. Since we have exceptional Skills in Assembly – we hold the Concours de Vitesse Certificate from Ikea, and the Kitchen Cabinet Craftsman Award from Home Depot, we were able to put the Thing together in about Two Hours. We lost only one small Washer, which, we suspect, was hi-jacked by an acquisitive Crow when we were otherwise engaged -- installing the Legs upside down.
The Cobalt Blue gleams in the Sunlight. The new Unit also has a Feature that the old One lacked – a "Warming Tray" which folds up as the Lid is raised. Life hardly gets better.
As we wheeled the old Unit down the Steps in Preparation for its Journey to Nirvana, the front Legs separated from the rusted Body, and collapsed.
The new Barbecue has appeared -- just in Time.
*The Making of Kraft Dinner with a Side Dish of sliced Tomatoes does not rise to the Level of an outdoor culinary Event.
**$16.95 from Canadian Tire.
May 3, 2015
While science has shed considerable light on dark prejudices, and social views have altered accordingly, religion clings, like a rather desperate limpet, to a rock of 'certitudes' made untenable in the rising tide of knowledge. (Observation # 356)
Beware of those who claim to know the "mind" of "God." They are deluded or evil, fools or liars. (Observation #225)
We are mildly agog at recent News concerning one of our favourite Topicks: Religion.
Mr. Michael Coren, Author of the Book, Why Catholics are Right, has jumped from the sturdy, ancient Catholic Ship of his Choice, to the slightly more modern Barque which flies under the Banner of Anglicanism.
While both Vessels are adrift on the Sea of Superstition, bobbing quietly in the Bay of Happy Stories, it is interesting to examine why Mr. Coren would find one Craft more agreeable than another.
We assume that Someone who has written a Book with so egregious a Title as Why Catholics are Right must have had some blinding, transformative Experience on the normally uneventful Journey to Damascus.
Indeed, it is as if we ourselves, long committed to deriding Religion because it lacks credible Evidence, should suddenly embrace Voodoo, and devote some considerable portion of our Energies to the Propitiation of the Loas.
According to an Article in the National Post (May 2) Mr. Coren had gradually found the Burden of Hypocrisy intolerable: he "could not remain in a church that effectively excluded gay people." Mr. Coren could no longer make the Argument "that is still so central to the Catholic Church, that same-sex attraction is acceptable but to act on it is sinful."
Indeed, Mr. Coren has put his Finger on one of the central Problems of the Catholic Church: its greatest Strength is also its greatest Weakness. Its Strength lies in its Claim to unchanging Infallibility. It is comforting to human Beings, that, in a World of Flux and Change, a Universe of Uncertainty and false Appearance, there are some eternal Verities, some Rocks to which one can Cling through any Storm. It is a great Comfort, for instance, to be assured that God has drawn up a sexual Plan, a sort of Blueprint of sexual Morality, from which a great Palace of Crystal Sexual Perfection may, unerringly, be built.
Cynically, we might observe that it does not hurt the grand Plan if, in Addition to showing the procedural Path to the Crystal Palace, it includes the Demonization of those who reject the Palace for dwellings less grand, but more convenient to their Propensities. Mr. Orwell showed a great Insight into human Character when he included, in his Description of the Oceania of 1984, the regular Rituals of the Two Minute Hate. Hate is a human Emotion, never more satisfying than when it can be directed with unimpeded Force against the irredeemably sinful.
The great Danger, of course, in choosing eternal Verities, is that one must be quite sure of their Pedigree. There is a huge potential Embarrassment if the Rock of an eternal Verity turns out to be a hollow Facade of cleverly moulded Plastic. It’s even worse when the Rock reveals itself as Quicksand, artfully shaped to appear solid from a Distance, but unsuitable for the Erection of Palaces of any sort – Crystal, Brick, or Wattles.
And this, of course, is exactly the Predicament of the Catholic
Church. In the Absence of full Knowledge, it has decreed eternal
Verities, and has hoped for the best. An early Example was the Verity
that the Sun circles the Earth. It seemed reasonable at the Time, but
was shown to be vulnerable to the pesky Investigations of Science.
It is the same with the Divine Plan for Sexuality. Anxious for a controlled, predictable, centrally-planned Universe, the Church has fussed over the chaotic Threat of Sex. Sex must be regulated, restricted, limited, proscribed, defined, and put in Handcuffs.* The Divine Plan has been codified, stamped, signed by the Deity, and underlined in Red. Any Hint of Challenge must be ruthlessly rejected.
As an Example --
a 1963 papal commission voted "overwhelmingly to recommend that the church rescind its ban on artificial contraception, saying that it was not "intrinsically evil" nor the popes’ previous teachings on it infallible. But to the Vatican, it was impossible that the teaching on birth control could change because this would acknowledge that the hierarchy had been wrong on an issue it had elevated over the years to a central tenet of its teachings." (www.catholicsfor choice.org)
Similarly, the Church has made its Commitment to the eternal Verity that Homosexuality is, essentially, sinful. While it has recently backed away from the Notion that Homosexuality is an "Abomination," it is still an "intrinsic disorder." As Mr. Coren notes, having Attraction to the same Sex may be an unfortunate Disorder which will not trigger Divine Wrath, but homosexual Actions are a Ticket to a Brimstone Bubblebath.
Once again, the Church is at odds with Science. It has been shown that sexual Preference is reflected in Brain Structure. According to Wikipedia, homosexuality has been discovered in fifteen hundred animal species.
The only way to make Sense of the Church’s Position is to argue that God made homosexuality a natural phenomenon, which, in homo sapiens, is designed as a random curse. Some individuals are given powerful sexual feelings, but, to please God, they are required to deny them.
Of course, once one has made the "Leap of Faith," Stupidity and Inconsistency are no Bar to a devout, pious, and admirable Life.
We think that Mr. Coren is correct in his Assertion that, "The Catholic Church is not going to change its teaching. Believe me, the Catholic Church cannot."
Mr. Coren has switched to a Religion less rigid. That is commendable. From our Perspective, it is a Pity he seems to feel the Need for any Religion at all.
It is our Faith that any serious Belief in Things which are not
true, is not helpful to the Progress of Humankind.
* It goes without saying that the Handcuffs must not be of Leather; they must be regulation Handcuffs used and approved by the (Sex) Police.
April 26, 2015
Recently, we encountered an Article in the National Post concerning Katherine Hayhoe, a Climate Scientist who hails from Toronto. It appears that Ms. Hayhoe is an evangelical Christian, a committed climate Alarmist, and – according to Time Magazine – one of the One Hundred most influential People in the United States. Ms. Hayhoe is noted for attempting to convince evangelical Christians to adopt another great Faith of our Age, Climate Alarmism.
In short, it would appear that were we to place Ms. Hayhoe on our List of most absurd Persons, it is likely she would appear very close to the Top. Only Mr. Obama might be considered her certain superior in Silliness.
First, we tend to agree with Oscar Wilde that "Everything popular is wrong." We confess we are not on certain logical Ground, but it seems that if Ms. Hayhoe is influential, she is likely popular. That very Popularity is good and sufficient Ground for thinking her wrong.
The Conclusion suggested by her Popularity is confirmed, of course, since Ms. Hayhoe is an evangelical Christian. We have great Difficulty understanding how anyone of moderate Intelligence can believe in anything so unlikely as the Christian Myth. It suggests an emotional Deficit of such needy Magnitude that it accepts all Coins of Hope, no matter how debased, defaced, or counterfeit. This speaks to a significant Failure in Judgment.
Finally, of Course, Ms. Hayhoe is a Climate Scientist. While there are a few skeptical Climate Scientists, it appears the vast Majority are Climate Alarmists. Indeed, the Term "Climate Scientist" has almost the oxymoronic Force of "Military Intelligence" or "Government Worker." For how can one be devoted to "Science" which requires that Theories be tested, and holds them subject to Alteration on the Basis of new Evidence -- and, at the same Time, be Part of that Crowd which holds that "the Science is settled?" That same Crowd holds, indeed, that Mankind should give up industrial Civilization, and return to the Caves from which they imprudently emerged Thousands of Years ago.
The Reader might imagine that it was impossible for Us to read the Article without making some Remark on the National Post Commentary Thread. If the Reader were so inclined to make that risky Leap of the Imagination, he would be perfectly correct.
We made our usual Points – that Climate Alarmism had its Genesis in political Ideas aimed at the overthrow of Democracy, and the Destruction of Industrial Civilization. We noted the Behaviour of those involved in Climategate, who seemed more interested in out-manoeuvering their opponents than discovering the Truth; we observed the Hypocrisy of alarmist Popularizers who preach Asceticism but wallow in carbon-rich Luxury.
We also noted the kind of Weasily Behaviour which is engaged in by those who know that they cannot win an Argument fairly, but only through Subterfuge. Thus the Term "Global Warming" has disappeared from the Vocabulary of the Alarmists. Indeed, if one were to ask a Climate Alarmist what he thinks of "Global Warming," the Alarmist would almost certainly give a quizzical Look, and ask for a Translator specializing in Sanskrit, Urdu, and other ancient Languages.
The reason for this Amnesia is simple: Global Warming has ceased for the past Eighteen Years.
The new Term is "Climate Change." It means Global Warming – but it is a Term far better – because it can also mean "Climate Change" – a Phenomenon which it is impossible to deny.
It is as if the Term "Robbery with Violence" had been replaced with "Mom’s Apple Pie." You’re not against Mom’s Apple Pie, are you?
Most importantly, we pointed out that the Alarmists have been unable to make accurate Predictions. The sinking Islands, Hordes of climate Refugees, and the Flooding of Manhattan -- the cheerful Forecasts made Decades ago -- have yet to be observed. The continuous Warming which all Computer Models predicted has not occurred in the last Eighteen Years. Indeed, since Greenhouse Gasses have been increasing, but the Temperature has not, significant Doubt has been cast on the Theory that there is a simple causal Relationship between the Two.
In spite of these abject Failures, the Alarmists have the Nerve to
claim that Climageddon is a sure and certain Conflagration just down the
It has always been our Point that there may actually be anthropogenic Global Warming – but it has become impossible for the average Citizen to make that Determination, or to gain any Idea of its relative Importance. What "Science" there is has become so corrupted with Politics, that no one can trust what the "Scientists" say. The "Scientists" cannot regain our Trust until they show that they can make reliable Predictions. This may be a considerable Challenge. It is difficult enough to predict the Weather for next Week. Estimating the net Effect of many Variables Decades into the Future does not sound easy.
Further to the Question of the Honesty of the Alarmists –we have just Today encountered a second Article – at Breitbart.com – which notes that a Discrepancy has been observed between the Claims of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and both the Remote Sensing Systems Network, and the University of Alabama, which rely on Data from Satellites.
The Atmospheric Administration claims that 2014 was the hottest year globally since records began in 1880. The Satellite Systems show no such Warming.
There have been accusations that the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has "adjusted" Data to suit the Theory of Warming. (We have also heard that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has altered historical Records for the same Purpose.)
An Inquiry is to be held:
The inquiry is being chaired by Professor Terence Kealey, former vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham. Launching the inquiry, Professor Kealey said: "Many people have found the extent of adjustments to the data surprising. While we believe that the 20th century warming is real, we are concerned by claims that the actual trend is different from – or less certain than – has been suggested. We hope to perform a valuable public service by getting everything out into the open." (Beitbart.com, April 26)
We hope that the Results of this Inquiry will not be "adjusted" before their Publication.
We wonder, though, whether the Tide of Opinion may be changing. Dr. John Christy at the University of Alabama, was asked to comment on the recent "Plateau" of global Temperatures:
Dr. John Christy, professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center (ESSC) at the University of Alabama/Huntsville said "That’s basically a fact. There’s not much to comment on."
He added that current government policy on climate change is a "fools errand" because the climate is too complex a system for humans to set meaningful goals with any chance of attaining them. "Our ignorance is simply enormous when it comes to the climate system, and our understanding is certainly not strong and solid enough to make policy about climate because we don’t even know what it’s going to do, so how can we make a policy that says ‘I want to make the climate do something’ when we don’t know what makes the climate do what it does?" he asked.
However, he noted, "there is still a strong belief system that greenhouse gases control the climate, and so if that is your belief system, then it doesn’t really matter what the evidence shows." (Breitbart.com, April 26)
Sometimes, amid the pervasive Gloom of Stupidity, there are little Flickers of intelligent Light.
April 24, 2015
We have noticed that Freedom of Speech is much lauded in general, but is significantly unpopular in particular Instances.
Beyond the reasonable Limitations to free Speech – Slander, Libel, Breach of Copyright, Disturbing the Peace, or causing Panic – it is thought that Freedom of Speech will allow for an Exchange of Ideas, and by Darwinian Process, the best Thoughts will triumph.*
In the modern Age, we shrink from the Rough and Tumble of that Darwinian Process. The modern human Being is born good, and deserves a quiet and untroubled Passage from a pacific Cradle to a serene Golden Ponditry (– or Platinum Ponditry-- if that might possibly be arranged) of old Age.
Thus, a new Principle has been developed – that Speech not be allowed to cause Offense.
This is precisely the Kind of idealistic Notion we see at the Root of much Evil. The Attempt to protect People from Hurt Feelings seems noble enough, but founders in the Swamp of Definition, and becomes vulnerable to the gradually devouring Quicksand of oppressive Coercion.**
The most powerful Manifestation of the Desire to silence Others --apart from the usual Dictatorships -- is seen in Islam. Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan are a useful and convenient Tool for settling Scores, and advancing one’s Self-Interest. It is like an unbeatable Trump Card in any Dispute.
A Novel by Salman Rushdie occasions a Fatwa. The Danish Cartoons ignite Blooms of fiery Outrage. The Irreverence of Charlie Hebdo is Cause for Murder.
In the Face of murderous Violence, the quiet Allure of Discretion is unmatched by the possible Rewards of Valour. The agreeable Serenity of Appeasement beats the Bother and Bombast of Battle.
This is partly from Fear, and partly from Devotion to Politeness, and civilized Ideals. But it is hard to know where one ends and the other begins.
We note two current Examples of the Restriction of Speech. They occur in the usual, expected Places – Universities -- those Castles of careful Correctness, those Towers of tentative Timidity.
At Queen’s University in Belfast, a Symposium was to be held dealing with Charlie Hebdo, free Speech, and the related Phenomenon of Self-Censorship.
The University decided to avoid a possibly rancorous Discussion, and make an Executive Decision in Favour of Self-Censorship. The Symposium was cancelled because of "the security risk and concern for the university’s reputation." (Breitbart.com, April 24)
At another Hall of Learning, the University of Maryland, the Student Entertainment Events Committee had decided to show the Film American Sniper on May 6th and 7th. However, the Showing has been postponed:
The Muslim Students Association at the University of Maryland started a petition requesting that the school pull the screening of American Sniper. In the petition, the group stated that the film "perpetuates the spread of Islamaphobia and is offensive to many Muslims around the world for good reason." (Breitbart.com, April 23)
Apparently Screenings have been cancelled at other Universities as well.
It is our Observation that the weakest Arguments, those with the flimsiest evidentiary Basis, are often those defended with the greatest Vigour.*** This is certainly the Case with Islam. There is no convincing Evidence for any Religion, and Islam must surely be the least attractive Faith currently available. It is little Wonder that it is the most strident and vociferous; with no natural Charm, it must depend on Terror and Intimidation.
Tact, Timidity, and Tolerance are no Match for Tantrums of Terror, and Posturings of outraged Offense.
* John Stuart Mill: "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others." (Wikipedia)
** We have parodied the Matter in The Valley of Hythlos. (March 9, 2011)
*** Often the greatest "certainty" seems to arise from the flimsiest evidence. Those with weak arguments "yell like hell." (Observation #360)
April 23, 2015
We are pleased to see that Negotiations with Iran are proceeding smoothly, with many Expressions of Cordiality and mutual Admiration from both Parties coming to the fore.
Mr. Obama has, in a Spirit of Generosity, put his Toe in the Waters of immediate lifting of Sanctions on Iran, as part of the Agreement. Earlier, it had been his Position that Sanctions would be lifted gradually, as Iran gave evidence of its good Faith.
His new Position is that immediate Removal of Sanctions might be acceptable, as long as they could be re-imposed with Immediacy, in Case Things should appear to be going horribly Wrong.
The Iranians have, in a similar Spirit of Warmth and Bonhomie, countered with a Notion which would ensure that Nothing should appear to be going horribly wrong.
With a brilliant Stroke of Diplomacy, they have announced Measures which will cut through the Gordian Knot of competing Interests. Brigadier General Hossein Salami, cleverly sandwiching his Remarks into the Debate, has declared:
"Not only will we not grant foreigners the permission to inspect our military sites, we will not even give them permission to think about such a subject." In case that was not clear enough, Gen. Salami added, "They will not even be permitted to inspect the most normal military site in their dreams." (Breitbart.com, April 22)
This seems entirely compatible -- in the World of Negotiations with Iran -- with the Position of Ernest Moniz, the Energy Secretary of the United States, who has said:
"We expect to have anywhere, anytime access."
In spite of this manifest Compatibility, we can conceive that there might be a few Cynics and Nit-Pickers who are uncomfortable with General Salami’s Solution. They might claim that, while his Stance does avoid any Discovery of nuclear Hanky-Panky, it fails to address the unlikely – but still remotely possible – Circumstance: that Progress towards nuclear Weapons would continue "behind the Scenes," so to speak. While Subterfuge has never been practised by Iran before, there is an Argument – weak though it may be – that secret Plotting is unseemly, and, should it occur, would not reflect well upon the earnest Efforts of those engaged in the high Art of Diplomacy.
The proper Response of the United States Government in this Matter seems – to us – perfectly clear. To avoid even the unlikeliest Hint of secret Iranian Progress towards the Development of Nuclear Weapons, it is only necessary to supply them with the Weapons they seek.
What could be simpler than for Iran to state the Quantity and Type of nuclear Weapons they desire, and for the United States to ship them via Air Mail or Fedex – whichever is most convenient and cost-effective?
We are somewhat surprised the Mr.Obama, with his noted Gift for Flexibility and uniquely innovative Solutions, has been so apparently tardy in arriving at this brilliant Stratagem.
We can only assume, that while this clever Move has yet to be announced, it is "in the Works" – and will be proclaimed with much Fanfare in the coming Days.
The World will breath a collective Sigh of Relief.
April 16, 2015
Hallelujah! An Atheist Victory!
We sometimes feel surrounded by true Believers – those who seem to believe not only that there is an interfering God --mucking about, granting a Prayer here, denying an earnest Supplication there – but that they have a special Insight into his Character, Motivations, Habits, and Preferences.
This "special Insight" is based on Revelations supposedly given to particular Individuals in the distant Past. The Distance is important – for it seems to augment, not diminish Credibility. If Someone were to appear today, claiming to have a direct Apprehension of the "Mind of God" – he would likely be given an attenuated Shrift by all those not congenitally pre-disposed to Cult Hypnosis.
Those founding Religions in the Past had a great Advantage: People had far less Knowledge of the real World, and were more inclined to believe in Miracles and in Nonsense.*
Thus, once a Religion was established among ancient and credulous Populations, it had the great Advantage of prior Acceptance, and accrued additional Reverence with each Year of uncritical Assent.
All Tradition gains Sanctity through Time; it matters not whether the Tradition is sensible or foolish.
It is our View that, while Religion may be a helpful Source of Comfort, it should not be a Consideration in the Exercise of Government Power. While there may be some sensible Ideas in Religion, there are also foolish and outmoded Ones. Ideas should be judged on their practical Merits, not on their supposedly sacred Origins.
Thus, we are very pleased to see a rare atheist Victory: the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that Jean Tremblay, the Mayor of Saguenay may not open the Deliberations of Council with a Catholic Prayer.
When all is said and done, the state’s duty to protect every person’s freedom of conscience and religion means that it may not use its powers in such a way as to promote the participation of certain believers or nonbelievers in public life to the detriment of others. (National Post, April 15.)
We are particularly pleased that the Supreme Court, which, in our View, is often not sensible, seems to have come around to our own infallible Perception on this important Matter:
The Supreme Court said Canadian society has evolved and given rise to a "concept of neutrality according to which the state must not interfere in religion and beliefs."
"The state must instead remain neutral in this regard," the judgment said.
"This neutrality requires that the state neither favour nor hinder any particular belief, and the same holds true for non-belief. It requires that the state abstain from taking any position and thus avoid adhering to a particular belief." (National Post)
We would note that other Municipalities -- those usually given to the Recitation of preliminary Prayers -- have begun to reconsider the Practice in the Light of this Decision. This is a Good Thing.
Further, we would note that we have always been in Favour of the once proposed Quebec Charter of Values which would have banned the Wearing of religious Symbols during working Hours by Government Employees dealing with the Public. The Argument, we believe, is the same: Governments should not be suggesting Approval of any religious Belief. Religious Belief is not based on any credible Evidence, and it should not be given any Form or Hint of Government Sanction. To do so is to put Superstition above Reason.
Indeed, in the light of this Ruling, we wonder how long the Wearing of Turbans and Hijabs by Police Officers can be justified. Surely such Clothing suggests that the Government Employee is not simply devoted to the Principles of the legal System of the State, but to the Mumbo Jumbo of a primitive Belief.
We recognize that there will be those reluctant to give up the Idea of God, under the mistaken Notion that He is the divine Source of the Principles of proper human Behaviour. We would argue that God is a Construct of the human Imagination, and that the real Source of his Wisdom is that evolved by the particular Societies which have created his various Manifestations.
The Pressure to conform to social Norms is not divine, but societal.
Were the Notion of "God" to be retired, and human Beings urged to act according to the best and noblest Aspirations of Mankind, we think there would be no Diminution in human Nobility. Further, some traditional Strictures concerning the roles of Women, and benign sexual Preferences would not be allowed to interfere with the Attempt to create the greatest happiness of the greatest Number.
In modern western Societies, public Opinion has moved on, while Religions cling to Notions of the Past unsupported by Science, and destructive to the greater good.**
Thank God for his increasing Obsolescence!
*There is still a powerful human Vulnerability to Belief in Nonsense – consider the Opprobrium directed towards Saturated Fat, or the Reverence accorded to the Theory of anthropogenic Global Warming – but – or so it is our Apprehension – rather less Vulnerability to Belief in Miracles.
** While science has shed considerable light on dark prejudices, and social views have altered accordingly, religion clings, like a rather desperate limpet, to a rock of 'certitudes' made untenable in the rising tide of knowledge. (Observation # 356)
April 15, 2015
While it is true that the Details have not been worked out, and Ms. Wynne is unsure of the Costs of the Scheme, we think broad general Ideas of Policy should not be allowed to become mired in a Swamp of Minutiae, or be thrown off a beneficial Track because of niggling Matters of Finance.
In this broad philosophical Framework, Ms. Wynne is merely following in the impressive Footsteps of her Predecessor, Mr. Dalton McGuinty, whose careful Stewardship has brought Ontario to the State of Wealth, Power and Influence which is so envied today. Indeed, Ontario shines like a Beacon of Hope and Progress to all those less fortunate Provinces occupying the Shadows of Misery and Despair so regrettably ubiquitous in our Land.
Indeed, we must admit Ms. Wynne has somewhat surprised us. We had thought of her as quiet and mild-mannered, occupied only with the unobtrusive Spending of Taxpayers’ Money, while given to an occasional Tweaking of the Curriculum for Sex Education in the Schools.
Little did we think that she would slip into a Phone Booth, effect a quick Alteration of Costume, and emerge as a Super Hero of the Climate Change Movement.
But this seems to be the Case.
We have heard a Recording of her very own Voice declaring that the Cost of doing Nothing will far exceed the Penny Amounts needed to fight Climate Change. As Proof, she has referred to the financial Depredations of a Recent Ice Storm. This Storm, which some might view as simply Weather, she more accurately divines as a Matter of Climate Change – the Warming of our Planet because of the Production of Greenhouse Gasses.
It is well known that global Warming is not restricted to revealing itself through Heat, but may -- through Machinations of a truly Satanic Evil and Duplicity – appear as Ice, Snow, Rain, Drought, Cold, Earthquakes, Breezes, cloudless Skies, and Tsunamis.
Some Luddites may claim that, despite an increase in Greenhouse Gasses there has been no global Warming for Eighteen Years, and that this negligible Fact throws the whole Theory of Man-Made Global Warming into Confusion and Disarray. But they are Fools or mischievous Nit-Pickers. Through Ms Wynne there shines a quiet Confidence, a greater Faith in all that her infallible Intuition divines. She is, indeed, an Inspiration to us all.
We must admit to a certain Weakness in our Constitution: the Nobility of Humankind doth often move us to silent Tears. And this was the Case when we heard Ms. Wynne, in a Video Clip, refer to her little Granddaughter. Ms. Wynne, in a Moment of soulful Reflection, imagined a Conversation with that innocent Child many Years into the Future. In that Conversation, the Granddaughter would, with grateful Reverence, ask Ms. Wynne about her role in the great Climate Challenge of our present Era.
We can imagine it now. Ms. Wynne, long retired, sitting by the Fire, the flickering red and yellow Light illuminating the Walls of the Cave; the plaintive Sound of Wolves howling in the Distance; the Bats emerging, embarking upon their nightly Forays.
The Granddaughter, now grown, gazes in quiet Wonder at the elderly Lady who once bestrode the World like a Colossus. She asks about the tumultuous Years of the Premiership. "Well," avers Ms. Wynne, in a Voice of quiet, modest Confidence, "despite the Objections of the Penny-Pinchers and the Skeptics, I – well, I saved the Planet. True we may now live in Caves, and struggle to get by on Rabbits and Caribou Meat, but the Alternatives would have been much, much worse.
The Insurance Costs for Ice Storms and Floods would have been through the Roof."
April 10, 2015
Self-delusion: short term
self-protection in exchange for longer term self-destruction.
(Observation # 393)
We note, with interest, that the United States and Iran have come to a wonderful Agreement about a Framework for coming to an Agreement. This step-by-step Approach suggests Terrain of considerable Uncertainty, a Path which is so obscure that not only must the Underbrush of Quibbles be cleared away, but great Trees of Implacability must be felled before both Parties can agree that the Destination is actually accessible from the starting Point.
Of course, it is our View that Negotiating with Iran is an Exercise in Self-Delusion. Iran is determined to obtain nuclear Weapons under the most favourable Conditions possible. It will be deterred only by the most stringent Measures conceivable.
Mr. Obama would like to believe otherwise, because he has a Vision of the World which he does not wish to give up. In that World, all the Nations are jolly Good Fellows working towards a Paradise of Equality and not building Things.
In the Balm of his Ointment we cannot resist identifying a few Flies.
First there is the excessively loud Buzzing. We discovered, for instance, that it has been the Habit of the Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif to shout at John Kerry:
Abbas Araqchi, an Iranian diplomat who is also a member of the negotiating team, is reported to have said in an interview that during past negotiations in Geneva, Zarif "shouted" at Kerry and spoke to him in a manner "unprecedented" in the history of U.S. diplomacy. (Washington Free Beacon, February 19, 2015)
We cannot help but think that Shouting may just possibly be an important and revealing Symbol of inner Thoughts.
A further Bit of troublesome Buzzing is shown in Reports of the Iranian Concept of the Agreement:
"In the framework of the agreement, none of Iran’s nuclear facilities as well as the previous activities will be stopped, shut down or suspended and Iran’s nuclear activities in all its nuclear facilities including Natanz, Fordow, Isfahan and Arak will continue," said the Iranian media report. (Breitbart.com., April 2)
It would appear that, from the Iranian Perspective, it will be "Business as usual" down Home at the Reactor Ranch.
Of Course, we have Mr. Obama’s Assurance that Inspectors from the United Nations will ensure that there is no fissionable Hanky or enrichable Panky going on behind closed Doors. Given the Infallibility of United Nations Inspectors, and the unimpeachable Integrity of the Iranians, we feel confident that Peace in our Time is a few impressive Documents and a few flourished Signatures away.
But wait. We hear another, persistent Buzz. Did not Mr. Obama say that Sanctions against Iran would be lifted gradually, as Iranian Adherence to the anticipated Agreement was proved?
There seems to be some small Degree of Misunderstanding here.
According to CNN, President Hassan Rouhani said Thursday: "We will not sign any deal unless on the very first day of its implementation all economic sanctions against Iran are lifted all at once." (National Post, April 10)
Surely these Negotiations are a Farce played out somewhere in the deepest Burrows of a diplomatic Rabbit Hole. They are a sign of the Depths of the Self-Delusion of the Obama Administration.
(For an Insight into the Iranian Mindset, see the Italicised Excerpt from Joel Pollak’s Article at Breitbart.com. in our Diary of April 6 below.)
April 6, 2015
On some great and glorious day the
plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the
White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
( [The prophetic] H.L. Mencken, 1880 - 1956)
The fact that we have absolutely no Knowledge of Foreign Affairs, is, fortunately, no Bar to the Expression of our Opinion upon them.
In particular, the Negotiations with Iran with Respect to its nuclear Program seem to call out for Comment.
Before Mr. Obama was elected, we expressed, in private Correspondence, our Fear that he would not be competent to deal with the Threat posed by Iran.
This Fear was based on two Perceptions. The First had to do with the Animosity expressed by Iran towards Israel:
In 2005, Ahmadinejad called Israel a "tumor" and echoed the words of the former Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, by saying that Israel should be wiped off the map. (Reuters, September 24, 2012)
The second had to do with our Perception of Mr. Obama. We have a very low Opinion of left-wing Optimists. It is our Observation that People who focus on Hope, Change, and unrealistically happy Outcomes, function at some significant Remove from Reality.*
We have seen no Reason to alter our Prejudices. We may be simple-minded, but when Iranian Officials express their Hopes for the Death of America, and the Destruction of Israel, we are left with the Impression that they harbour some small Degree of inner Hostility consonant with the outward Rhetoric.
Additionally, we have read a number of Opinions which suggest that Iranians are not unfamiliar with the Strategy – in particular Situations – of making Promises that they have no Intention of keeping.
(We will pause, briefly, to allow any Left-Wingers -- who have committed the silly Error of reading thus far -- to smash their internet Devices against the Wall, and seek immediate medical Attention. We wish them a conventional speedy Recovery.)
Mr. Rouhani, the current President of Iran, it appears, is no Stranger to the Concept of Deception-in-Pursuit-of-the-greater-Aim.
According to a recent Article at Breitbart.Com on a Speech given by Dr. Behzad Tabatabaei:**
... Iran’s current, Hassan Rouhani, was a lead nuclear negotiator years ago, In a 2004 speech to his colleagues, which was only made public in 2013,Rouhani admitted flat-out that the regime had been lying and buying time with Europeans in order to advance its nuclear program right under their noses.
"While we were talking with the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in parts of the facility in Isfahan. In fact, by creating a calm environment, we were able to complete the work in Isfahan." (Breitbart, March 22, 2015)
We cannot resist quoting at length from another Breitbart Article by
Joel Pollak from April 3. It concerns Persian Tactics of Negotiation. He
refers to a Comment made by a Friend concerning a cultural Gulf:
"Barack Obama has no idea how to negotiate with Persians. Making new last-minute demands is part of the game."
He shared with me the story of his father, whose first experience in real estate had been selling a home in Beverly Hills to a Persian couple. The price and the terms had been agreed, and everything seemed on track–but then the Persian couple began making new and unreasonable demands.
At first, he did not know what to do when faced with a bargaining "partner" who kept reneging on promises already made and demanding compliance with terms that were never on the table.
He approached a Persian friend at his synagogue for advice.
"Have you gotten visibly angry yet, and stormed out of the room?" the Persian friend asked.
"No," he replied.
"Ah, so they believe the deal is not done. They think there is more you are prepared to give them. Next time, try getting angry."
And so, at the next meeting with the Persian couple, my friend’s father threw a tantrum at the first new demand. "The deal’s off. I’m tired of your lies and broken promises. I won’t sell to you at any price. You’re dead to me." And he left.
The couple called the next day and agreed to his terms.
We see Mr. Obama as desperate to leave a Legacy in Accord with his Misperceptions of the World. He is anxious to show that Difficulties can be solved by Negotiation – especially Negotiation which is not too demanding, and shows a Magnanimity of Favour to the other Side. He places a naive Faith in Monitoring by Inspectors from the United Nations to discover subsequent Betrayals. The United Nations, we would suggest, operates at a level of Efficiency somewhat below that needed to run a part-time, warm-Weather-only Lemonade Stand.
With this Exercise, we imagine Mr. Obama dreams of the Genuflections and Accolades of an effusively grateful World. Not unimportantly, he basks in the Prospect of a secure Place in History as a great Saviour of the World.
We think Mr. Obama now, as in the Past, errs in a significant Degree.
*We have used Mr. Jack Layton – now deceased – as a Symbol of the Mindset of Left-Wing Optimism. (See Drivel, April 28, 2011)
** "an international business and political economist who has advised several foreign governments in strategic and intergovernmental affairs."
April 4, 2015
We see there is much Debate over a Law passed in Indiana. The Measure would prohibit State Laws which would "‘substantially burden’ a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs." (National Post, March 30)
This seems harmless enough, perhaps, but some have claimed that such a Law will enable Discrimination against Gays and Lesbians.
There have been recent Incidents in which those providing Services to the Public have withheld them, citing the Primacy of religious Principles.
In Oregon, a Bakery was ordered to pay up to $150,000 for refusing to bake a Wedding Cake for a Gay Couple. The Reason for Refusal was that Gay Marriage is "an abomination unto the Lord." (Daily News, February 4, 2015)
In 2012, a Human Rights Tribunal in British Columbia ordered Operators of a Bed and Breakfast Facility to pay $4400 to a Gay Couple to whom they had refused to offer Accommodation because of religious Beliefs. (CBC News July 18, 2012)
Also in 2012, a Woman launched a Complaint against a Barber Shop in Toronto which refused to cut her Hair. The reason given by Omar Mahrouk, a Co-Owner, was that "as a Muslim he could not cut the hair of a woman who was not related to him." (CBC News, November 15, 2012)
For a Business which is "open to the Public" and involves brief Transactions – not long-term Proximity – we think it is difficult to allow religious Principles to intrude. If they are – and Establishments post Signs reading: No Gays; Muslims only; Cars for Catholics; Atheists keep Out; Christian Only Chocolate Confectionery – where will it end? Why should religious Prejudices have a special Place among other deeply held Convictions?
Why should we not see Preferences expressed for Liberals, anthropogenic Climate Change Believers, or Advocates for the Death Penalty?
Already, in Indiana, a Pizza Parlour has declared that it will use the proposed Law protecting religious Belief to deny Services to Couples of the same Sex. Crystal O’Connor, the Owner, has said: "If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no." (CBC News, April 1, 2015)
As we have said, there has been considerable Uproar. Immediately, a Number of Mayors and Governors banned the Use of Public Funds for Travel to Indiana. Events or Shows were cancelled; public Condemnations were issued by Corporations and prominent Individuals.
In Response, the Bill has been modified.
We see this Matter as simply a Battle between Superstition and Science.
Men love their Superstitions. They confer Sanctity to Tradition. Because they are not founded on Evidence, they claim to be above the Facts, and impervious to Arguments based on Reason.
Over time, of Course, Reason niggles away, and Public Opinion changes.
This has been the Case with Homosexuality, long considered by the Religious to be an "Abomination" – or at the very least, an "Intrinsic Disorder." But Science has shown that sexual Preferences are reflected in the Configurations of the Brain; they are not "chosen," but determined.
Western Societies, in general, have increasingly accepted this View: Marriages between Individuals of the same Sex have been made legal, and social Discrimination, while still operative, has been much reduced.
But religious Notions are powerfully entrenched. Religion suggests that the World is a far more organized Place than it is. It holds out the Hope that there is one proper Path to be followed, and that Path will lead to a wonderful Salvation beyond the Grave. It involves a kind of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder of Idealism. Any Criticism of one Element of Dogma cannot be tolerated, for the Integrity of the Whole depends upon the Perfection of the Parts.
Thus the Thought that God has, perhaps, not decreed a perfect Plan of human Sexuality threatens an idealistic and comforting World View.
We suspect the Battle between Religion and existing or changing social Norms will continue for some Time.
One of the most interesting Examples is that of Trinity Western University in British Columbia, which has proposed an additional Faculty of Law. The Difficulty arises from the Fact that Trinity is a religious Institution, requiring its Students to make Declarations with respect to sexual Activity which include the Notion that Marriage is between Individuals of the opposite sex.
This public Declaration is in direct Opposition to those Laws which sanction Gay Marriage. Thus a Number of provincial Law Societies have expressed their Intention not to accept Graduates who have already voiced public Disagreement with a Law which is not trivial, but which speaks to the Principles which the Society considers important, a Law which mirrors the Heart and Spirit of the Tolerance of the Nation.
Another current Example is shown in the Debate over the Wearing of the Niqab. Some, citing Freedom of Religion, claim that it is a legitimate Headdress to be worn when a new Citizen is swearing Allegiance to the Country she wishes to call Home. Others see it as a an arrogant Mockery of the Principles of Equality of the Sexes, and the Equality of Transparency in Interaction among Citizens. It is also deemed a Refutation of Secularism and cultural Norms relating to Security.
As Science progresses, so Religion, with much Angst and Reluctance, gradually retreats. This is especially so when religious Principles seem to involve Injustice, and can find no better Validation than that provided byTradition. We are optimistic that the Forces of Reason will, eventually, triumph.
We understand the human Need for happy Stories to make the Reality of the World more bearable. But those great Longings, those imaginative Constructions, along with their soaring, tuneful Aspirations and comforting Rituals, should be Matters for private Expression.
They should not be allowed to interfere with Transactions of Business, or the Implementation of Government Policies.
For that Way lies the Psychosis of Obsession, the Folly of needless Division.