|DR. DREIMER'S DRIVEL||OBSERVATIONS BY TOPIC||WEEKLY QUOTATION||BANNER||FEEDBACK/NEWS||MUSIC DESCRIPTION/DOWNLOAD||WORDS/USAGE PET PEEVES|
Dr. Dreimer's Diary, 3rd Q, 2014
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.
September 24, 2014
We note that the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq seems to have captured the Attention of those who would prefer to have it directed elsewhere – to be otherwise engaged -- to be more pleasantly entertained.
Terrible things, occurring out of Sight, are more readily ignored than those presented in plain View, and broadcast to the World at large.
The Atrocities of those pretending to construct a Caliphate – made visible -- make it more difficult to pretend that Islam is essentially benign, with a few troubling Offshoots of Awkwardness.
We saw last Evening, on The Source, an Interview with Douglas Murray, who has written a Book entitled Islamophilia, which deals with the extraordinary Phenomenon of the Islamic Whitewash.
For it is the Custom of our Leaders to have always at Hand, large Buckets of Whitewash piled into a convenient Whitewash Wagon, and to have, in an accessible Pocket, a large Whitewash Brush. The Wagon is drawn to every Speech and Gathering where the Topick of Islam might be addressed, and the Contents are used to give Islam a respectably resplendent Coating – to give an Impression of Purity in Sunlight.
Mr. Murray’s Book apparently mentions, as Whitewashers, Sebastian Faulks, Martin Amis, Boris Johnson, South Park, Tony Blair, Ridley Scott, David Cameron, Liam Neeson, Justin Bieber, Random House Publishers, the BBC, Richard Dawkins, the Prince of Wales and George Bush.
Our Favourite, of course, is Mr. Obama, who recently (September 10) took great Pains to aver that:
...ISIL is not "Islamic." No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL's victims have been Muslim. ...ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.
There are doubtless many Reasons why it is considered inappropriate to criticize Islam.
First we should not discount the obvious: Fear. Terrorism, surprisingly enough, works. When a Fatwa is issued against Salman Rushdie for writing a Novel, and Riots occur after the Publication of satiric Cartoons, People begin to weigh their Commitment to Freedom of Speech in the Balance with their Desire to continue to live.
Secondly, probably in Horror at the Holocaust, western Societies have made a Fetish of Tolerance. There is a Terror of prejudicial Generalization, a Fright at the very Thought of negative Stereotype. The Idea behind Multiculturalism is that all Cultures are benign, and blessedly equal.
Beyond that, Evil has been seen as chimerical – a wretched Remnant of the Misapprehensions of a more primitive Era. Men are born good, and if their Acts are deplorable, the Root Cause is in the Oppression of Society, which has failed to meet their Needs.
Thus, the primary Impulse in responding to those who give every Evidence of wishing us Harm, is to consider how we may have offended. If we but scratch the Surface of the Suicide Bomber, we will discover a wounded Soul, requiring only the Balm of our Concern, the healing Salve of our egalitarian Ideals.
Unfortunately, there is a natural Tendency to believe that Others share our Beliefs and Ideals: it is difficult to imagine that our Ways of looking at the World are not, in fact, Universal.
Thus, when we encounter those motivated primarily by a religious Ideology which is in many Ways antithetical to our own View of how the World operates, we are at a considerable Disadvantage.
Love thy neighbour is an admirable Precept, but it suffers some small Degree of Inappropriateness if, in fact, thy Neighbour is plotting to kill you.*
Thus, it seems to us that modern Left-Wingery is ill-equipped to deal with an Ideology based on a slavish Adherence to a Seventh Century View of the World, a View which requires absolute Obedience and proclaims complete Certainty about Matters of which nothing can reliably be known. It can scarcely understand the confident Assurance which demands the Death of Unbelievers, and the Despatch of Apostates.
We think that modern western Civilization is simply too polite, too concerned with the correct Placing of the Cutlery on the collaborative Table, to imagine that one of the Knives might be put to a Use more primitive and deadly than the Dissection of a delectable, communal, conciliatory Dish.
Unfortunately the Appeasement of Whitewash is likely to be counter-productive. If you are told that your Religion is correct and unassailable, and Others give hesitant Clearings of the Throat, followed by little Murmurs of polite Assent, your Opinion is simply reinforced.
If your Views are condemned, and widely ridiculed – at least you become aware that not Everyone shares your Philosophy. This, at least, might be the Beginning of a greater Wisdom.
And, as Mr. Murray points out in his Book, both Cowardice and Bravery tend to be "catching." We have amply explored the Realm of Cowardice; a little Bravery seems worth a Try.
As a Side-Note to all this, we observe that there was recently (September 21) a Rally, in Toronto, to give Voice to "Moderate Muslims" – to support the Christians and other religious Groups oppressed by ISIS and other Terrorist Groups.
It was attended by about Eighty People. (Blogwrath, September 21)
In Contrast, in July, there were over 6000 Participants for an Al Quds Day Anti-Israel Rally held at Queen’s Park.
There is a long Journey ahead.
Buckets of Whitewash are cosmetic, not curative. The Corruption and Decay within the Sepulchre continue, regardless of the Multiplicity of Buckets brought to the Site, and in Spite of the superficial Slatherings of the anxious, hopeful Brush.
*See Observation # 72
September 17, 2014
We are intrigued to learn that Mr. McGuinty – a former Premier of Ontario – has now registered as a Lobbyist for a Kitchener Firm called Desire2Learn.
This fiscal Year, that Company has been successful in obtaining Contracts -- in the Amount of Three Million Dollars – from the Ontario Government. (National Post, September 17)
In 2011, Desire2Learn received a Grant of $4.25 Million from the same magnanimous Jurisdiction.
We had rather suspected that Mr. McGuinty would feel sufficient Shame that he would retire to a remote Cave in the Wilds of Pongo-Pongo, where he would not dare to appear at the Village Farmers’ Market without resorting to the Modesty of a heavy Jute Bag over his Head.
Mr. McGuinty’s Refusal to enforce the Law in Caledonia, his coercive Legislation requiring Municipalities to accept Wind Turbines – regardless of their Effect on human Health and Well-Being -- and his Willingness to spend exceptional Amounts of Taxpayers Money simply in order to save Liberal Seats, all suggest that he is an Individual who is – to put it discreetly -- "ethically challenged."
It has been pointed out, by Liberal Apologists, that Mr. McGuinty, in becoming a Lobbyist now, is acting within the Law. Politicians – in Ontario – are required to wait only one Year before undertaking such influential Activities. Mr. McGuinty they aver, has shown admirable restraint in delaying his Approach to the waiting, delectable, and aromatic Trough for Eighteen Months.
There is, of course, a Difference between what is legal, and what is
appropriate, just, and fitting.
The Liberals were, of course -- almost contrary to Reason -- re-elected -- despite Mr. McGuinty’s manifold Mis-Managements. Thus Mr. McGuinty is now in a Position to draw upon the Goodwill of those who were, in Effect, his Minions – and the Collaborators -- in his wretched Regime.
From the Perspective of Desire2Learn, the Hiring of Mr. McGuinty may make perfectly good Business Sense. The Cosiness of Bathtub Backscratching, the Details sequestered from the public Eye, need not be marred by the grey Foam of the unethical Bathwater, or the Ring of unsavoury Grime deposited thereby.
It does, however, suggest an Insensitivity to the Public Perception of the Act of Hiring Mr. McGuinty, and a Blindness to the Nuance of ethical Conduct.
We have just listened to Ontario Today on the CBC, which called for Comments on the Appropriateness of Mr. McGuinty’s Registration. The Reaction of the Guest, Dennis Pilon of York University, and that of virtually all Callers was negative.
In a just World, Desire2Learn would experience a Decline in their Business. The Reality is that their Business – apparently -- is done, not with the Public, but with Government.
In gaining Access to the Store of Cash, they have hired a former President of the Firm, one who knows the Location and Operation of the Alarm System, the Habits of the Watchmen, and the Combination to the Safe. In any Investigation, the reflexive Loyalties of the Bookkeeper and the Chief Financial Officer are assured.
The whole Affair has the Odour we have come to expect from the great, glistening, Piles of Poop that so often give Testament to the Quality of Government Business.
September 16, 2014
The future is sunny, and bright. All our dreams will be fulfilled. We will live happily ever after – probably in a rose-covered Cottage encircled by a white Picket Fence – the Fence repainted annually by Tom Sawyer. Failing that, we will be strumming a Harp, or making Merry with an unrealistic Number of Virgins, their Virginity in a constant Phoenix of Recyclement.
It is easy to see why, among human Beings, there is a Bias towards Optimism, and a Rejection of Gloom.
But it is our contention that Idealism – the favoured Child of Optimism – represents a great Danger to Mankind.
Last year, we were pleased to read an Article called Optimism Kills, by Roger Scruton.*
Mr. Scruton noted a Variety of unfortunate Results which might be attributed to Optimism.
The Embracing of the Arab Spring has led to the Rise of Islamism; the Provision of Mortgages to those incapable of repaying them led to the Collapse of the Housing Market; the optimistic Doctrines of Marx, Lenin, and Mao led to Misery, Death and Destruction on a Scale unparalleled in human History.
Indeed, we held forth just the other Day (September 12) on the Follies of Mr. Obama, which can be attributed to his Penchant for viewing the World through a Prism of Rose enveloped in a Haze of Hopefulness.
It is surprising how many Ills can be diagnosed simply by seeking the Germ of unjustified Optimism.
The Self-Esteem Movement, the Policy of refusing to award Zeros for non-existent Work, Human Rights Commissions, the Universal Health Care System, Multiculturalism – and – above all – oppressive Religion – all these are the noxious Flowers of the twisted Seed of optimistic Folly.
The latest Example that has come to our Attention is that of Thomas Brailsford.
Mr. Brailsford had Occasion to behead his Mother in 2010. He was found not criminally responsible in 2011, and was committed to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health for Re-Engineering.
It is not surprising that such Centres are founded upon Optimism. They are presented with a faulty Mechanism – like a Toaster that fails to pop up, or keeps the Bread too long near the Heating Element. The Challenge is merely to replace the Spring, or adjust the Timing Device, so that the Toaster can be returned to active Service.
We would note, at this point, that one of the Elements of Optimism is
often a self-congratulatory Smugness. The Optimist often revels in his
Compassion, Tolerance, and general Superiority to the Mass of plodding
Plebians whose Caution or Skepticism may be attributed to egregious
Ignorance, or simple Stupidity.
The best Example of this, of course, is shown by those who bask in the Beatitude of their benign Tolerance, their divine Conviction all Cultures are equal.
Thus, we are sure that the Experts at Centres for Mental Health easily disregard the Horror of the Ignorati. What is the Beheading of a Mother, really, but the Failure of a Spring Mechanism? If the Spring is replaced, and a drop of Oil is administered daily, the Toaster will pop reliably for many Years to come.
Indeed, it should come as no Surprise, that Mr. Brailsford is being gradually – through increasingly lenient Day Passes – reintroduced into Society.
True, there has been a Spot of Bother recently, when he failed to return on Time. The Police – Ignorati that they are, warned the Public – should they encounter Mr. Brailsford on the Street --not to Approach him.
A Psychiatrist, Dr. Sandy Simpson, speaking on the Matter, claimed that Mr. Brailsford posed no Risk to the Public. His oddly self-justifying, begging-the-Question Argument was that, had Mr. Brailsford posed a Risk, he would not have been granted a Pass. Without giving Specifics, he claimed that Mr. Brailsford’s Illness was "treatable." (Sun News, September 11)
We are all relieved to learn that Mr. Brailsford has been found, and that the Re-Engineering can be continued. Possibly a stronger Spring, and a different Viscosity of Oil will do the Trick.
We reminded of a Similar Case – that of Vince Li, who beheaded a Passenger on the Greyhound Bus on which he was travelling in 2008.
Since then, we have been given periodic Reports on Mr. Li’s Progress. These Reports, we assume, are to prepare us for the Inevitable. We have no doubt that, in a surprisingly short Time, we will see the Heading:
Medical Triumph: Vince Li unescorted Cross-Country Bus Trip scheduled for Wednesday
We cannot, of course, predict with any Confidence that either Mr. Brailsford or Mr. Li will kill again. But we do not share the Optimism of the Experts. A Man who kills because of a Deficiency in Brain Circuitry is not, really, like a malfunctioning Toaster. A "Cure" which involves continuing Medication comes with no Guarantee that the Patient, with a Surfeit of Optimism, may not decide that the Medication is no longer required.
We suspect that a Toaster proven to have electrocuted its Owner would not be returned to active Service – particularly if its Circuitry was of a Type not completely understood -- not simply a Matter of plain Copper Wires, and easily soldered Connections.
We prefer to rely on a Conclusion borne out by much Evidence: Optimism kills.
*See Diary, March 29, 2013
September 13, 2014
We are agog at the Rapidity of Progress towards Nirvana in our blessed and fortunate Land.
We understand that the forward-looking and compassionate Public Service Alliance of Canada – a Union of forward-looking and compassionate Government Employees, has requested that "aboriginal spirit friends" be added to the List of Family Members who may be appropriately mourned. (National Post, September 12)
Appropriate Mourning is conducted over a Ten Day Period, and involves the collecting of the regular Monies of Compensation -- for Work usually performed -- throughout.
We had initially thought that the Loss of Spirit Friends might be the Result of a Liquor Store Closing, or the Washing out of a Supply Route for the Transportation of Bacardi, Tanqueray, or Black Velvet Spirits.
However, it appears that the Loss referred to is of lesser Significance. The loss is of "a spiritual Leader in the community, such as an elder"-- according to a Spokesperson for the PSAC.
The Canadian Federation of Taxpayers has suggested that it might refer to Spirit Guides "commonly considered to be religious spirits or ghosts and can take human or animal form."
Surely we can only applaud the Act of Mourning as a beneficial spiritual Enterprise, and welcome any Reduction of Toil which involves no Loss of Income as a net Benefit to Society.
Indeed, we see no Reason why Periods of fully paid Mourning should not be extended to other Significant Losses which Union Members may be currently experiencing.
If we were to add -- to the List of Items to be appropriately mourned -- the Losses of Common Sense, Perspective, Probity, and Sense of Responsibility --we might well be within striking Distance – so to speak – of the ultimate cherished Goal: full Pay for hilarious Hoodwinkery.
September 12, 2014
The Apogee of hopeful Asininity
We note that Mr. Obama, who would probably rather golf, has given a Speech regarding the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Mr. Obama is doubtless motivated by the negative Symbolism of two American Journalists being beheaded by hooded Executioners – those Executioners representing Islam in its most aggressive Incarnation thus far.
But, of course, Mr. Obama is riven by certain Conflicts. His Speech in Cairo in 2009 was based on the Premise that if an Olive Branch were extended to the Muslim World, the Olives would be pressed into Oil, the Oil would be poured on troubled Waters, and Sweetness and Light would descend on the World forever thereafter.
Such are the naive Hopes of those think that Reality, when ignored, will dissipate into the Mists, obligingly, of its own Accord.
Mr. Obama, anxious to be seen as a Force for ending -- rather than continuing -- Conflict, decided, in 2012, that Iraq could be left to its own Devices. He removed American Troops. This enabled him to claim Credit for ending the War, just in Time for the Elections.
Thus the Rise of ISIS, and the recent Beheadings represent a Contradiction of Mr. Obama’s View of the World.
Mr. Obama's unease was indicated in August of 2014, when he averred that the Failure to leave Troops in Iraq was "not my decision." (cnsnews.com, Aug 9) He argued that the Iraqi Government was unable to pass Laws which would protect the Troops.
He is now in the Position of dealing with a Reality which, according
to his Philosophy, should not exist. It is the Whiff of rotten Eggs in a
World stamped and certified as One Hundred Percent Ambrosia.
It is fascinating to observe his multiple Evasions. Thus, he has declared that ISIS "has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way." But the Word "Way" suggests that very Vision: a Caliphate, or theocratic State.
He has said that "No religion condones the killing of innocents." But the Koran is replete with Notions of killing those who stray from the Faith, or who are Unbelievers. Indeed, ISIS is said to give the conquered the Options of Conversion or Death.
In his Speech, at the Beginning, Mr. Obama engages in deflective Boasting as he refers, in the Language of Machismo, to the "taking out" of Osama bin Laden. At the End, he engages in deflective Irrelevancies in referring to the Strength of American Manufacturing, and its Progress towards Energy Independence.
His View of Events seems peculiarly distorted as he claims that "American leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world." As Examples, he describes America as having rallied the World against Russian Aggression in Ukraine. In even more bizarre Fashion, he draws Attention to America’s Part in removing Syria’s chemical Weapons – a Solution, in fact, put entirely in the capable but questionable Hands of Mr. Putin.
Nor can Mr. Obama resist Reference to his preferred Cairo Image:
And it is America that is helping Muslim communities around the world not just in the fight against terrorism, but in the fight for opportunity, tolerance, and a more hopeful future.
Indeed, we see Mr. Obama as the Epitome of Left-Wingery, the Flower of modern western liberal Thinking, the Apogee of hopeful Asininity.
How Matters got to this State is the Topic of another Day.
|September 11, 2014
We regret to announce the Passing of His Majesty, the resident Feline at the Lumpenbangen Studios. The Obituary may be found in the Drivel Section.
September 6, 2014
We are intrigued to see that Brian Mulroney has decided to campaign for the Liberals.
In April of 2013, Mr. Mulroney expressed his positive Feelings for Mr. Trudeau:
I’ve known Justin since he was a child. He’s young, articulate, attractive – a flawlessly bilingual young man. What’s not to like with this picture?
(CTV News, April 18, 2013)
Alas, we can scarcely take the Time to respond fully to Mr. Mulroney’s rhetorical Question. But we do feel compelled to point out that Mr. Trudeau is primarily an Actor pretending to be a Politician. He has, as nearly as we can determine, no Ideas that have not emerged, unchanged, from the Blue Box of Left-Wingery deposited for Recycling in an earlier Trudeau era. The old Cans of Root-Causery, the crumpled Bits of plastic Muticulturalism-at-any-Cost, mixed in with the broken Glass of Dictator-Devotion and anti-western Sentiment – these have not even been sent to the Factory for a cursory Buffing, let alone a spiffy Remoulding.
The Junk is still there, as unappetizing as ever.
Recently, Mr. Mulroney has been heard to warn the Conservatives against underestimating the Liberals. In this, we think he may be correct. The unfortunate Truth about Democracy was noted by Winston Churchill, who considered the best Argument against it would be revealed in a Five-Minute Conversation with the Average Voter.
People do not vote on Policy or sensible Ideas. They vote on Sentiment and Emotion. Mr. Trudeau may have an Intellect which would feel somewhat lost in the Vastness of a Thimble, but he has Affability and Charisma – which – in the grandly regrettable Scheme of Things – carry a disproportionate Weight.
Mr. Mulroney has also seen fit to criticize, in a Radio Interview, Mr. Harper. In this, we think, he reveals both his Inability to see beyond the Ideas of an earlier Time, and a significant Trait of his own Personality.
For instance, Mr. Mulroney has criticized Mr. Harper for failing to cosy up to the unfortunate Mr. Obama. He feels that, without a chummy Relationship with the President, Canada, the Prime Minister cannot "have much clout internationally."
Possibly Mr. Mulroney has failed to notice that Mr. Obama is desperately engaged in renouncing any "Clout" that might be available to him. We have noted that Mr. Obama is the great "Sadim" – a Midas in Reverse whose touch turns Everything – especially in foreign Affairs -- to Lead. *
Mr. Mulroney has also criticized Mr Harper for failing to launch an Inquiry into the Murders of Aboriginal Women. Actually, the Facts of the Matter are well known – there is no Mystery about the vast Majority of the Crimes, or who committed them. The Rate at which these Crimes are solved is comparable to that involving Murders of non-aboriginal Women. This is why Mr. Harper has refused to call an Inquiry. This very Morning, we heard, on CBC Radio, Mr. Mulroney’s Argument in Favour of an Inquiry. It had nothing to do with Facts; rather, it had Everything to do with Public Relations: it would make Aboriginals feel better.
Finally, he deplored Mr. Harpers "Tiff" with Chief Justice Beverley McLaughlin of the Supreme Court. Mr. Mulroney seems to be living in the Age when the Supreme Court was respected. Its Decisions, in our View, have become increasingly bizarre, and give Evidence of Principle deferring to political Correctness.
A few more Tiffs – possibly ascending into Brawls – would not seem inappropriate.
We always felt that Mr. Mulroney’s great Flaw was that he wanted to be liked. He was a Willy Loman of the Prime Ministership: "He’s a man way out there in the blue riding on a smile and a shoeshine." Being liked is good, of course, but sometimes Popularity must cede to Principle.
All of Mr. Mulroney’s Criticisms suggest his Emphasis on Popularity rather than Principle. It is Mr. Harper’s concern with Principle, that Mr. Mulroney finds so inappropriate.
In the short Term, Mr. Mulroney’s Campaign for the Liberals may well turn out to be successful. There is much to be said for Popularity. It is especially felicitous when combined with great Hair.
In the End, we suspect that a Lack of Principle – a Reliance on the Blue Box of failed Ideas -- will be significantly damaging to the Body Politic.
September 2, 2014
We like to pretend that our modern Society is more knowledgeable, more sophisticated, more advanced than those of the Past.
In Fact, we suspect that human Nature has changed very little over Hundreds of Years. Men are as vulnerable to Misinformation, to leaping on deceptive Bandwagons, to following the Crowd -- for no other Reason than that the Crowd gives the Illusion of Wisdom – as they were over a Century and a Half ago.
It was in 1841 that Charles Mackay published Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds – an Account of popular Follies known at the Time. But it is clear that the Awareness of the Tendency towards popular Delusions has not put an End to them.
We note in today’s News that a Study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that Loss of Weight is achieved by a "low Carbohydrate, high Fat Diet" – as opposed to a "low Fat" Diet.
(National Post, September 2)
In the end, people in the low-carbohydrate group saw markers of inflammation and triglycerides -- a type of fat that circulates in the blood -- plunge. Their HDL, the so-called good cholesterol, rose more sharply than it did for people in the low-fat group...those on the low-carbohydrate diet ultimately did so well that they managed to lower their Framingham risk scores, which calculate the likelihood of a heart attack within the next 10 years. The low-fat group on average had no improvement in their scores.
This, of course, runs counter to the received Wisdom – that eating Fat will make you fat, and is bad for you:
Many nutritionists and health authorities have "actively advised against" low-carbohydrate diets, said the lead author of the new study, Dr. Lydia A. Bazzano of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. "It’s been thought that your saturated fat is, of course, going to increase, and then your cholesterol is going to go up," she said. "And then bad things will happen in general."
Now, what is extraordinary about all this is that the "received Wisdom" was generated in the 1950's by Ancel Keyes. He performed a Study of a Number of European Countries which showed a Correlation between Heart Disease and Consumption of Fats. The Study, while superficially convincing, was flawed. It was designed to prove a Theory espoused by Mr. Keyes. He simply chose the Countries which supported his Thesis; had he chosen other Countries, his Results would have been different.
This Fact has been known for many Years. We do not know how long. We encountered the Information nearly ten Years ago – it seems unlikely that a more general Awareness did not pre-date our Discovery by Decades.
But Bandwagons, though fuelled by Information demonstrably deficient, have a most wonderful Allure. In this Case the Bandwagon was given an extra Push by certain commercial Enterprises. For Example, the Makers of Margarine saw a glorious Opportunity to increase Market Share through the Defamation of Butter.
Even today, we would note an unsavoury and unscientifically justifiable Alliance between the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and the Manufacturers of Becel Margarine.
We think it is important to realize that the Misinformation has been perpetuated by Government Agencies, and by those claiming scientific Credentials.
We are virtually certain that the same Sort of Error will be revealed in the Matter of Climate Change, particularly with Respect to the Propagation of Wind Farms and the Demonization of Fossil Fuels. We are quite certain that the Error applies in the Matter of Statin Drugs.
We preach the Value of enduring Skepticism. With any popular Idea, it is appropriate to ask "cui bono?"* And often an Attempt to "follow the money" will confirm ulterior Motives.
We are still, regrettably, vulnerable to extraordinary popular Delusions, and the Madness of Crowds.
* "To whose Benefit?" L. Cassius Longinus Ravilla, 2nd C. B.C.)
September 1, 2014
In 2012, we took Note of the Case of Lynden Dorval.*
Mr. Dorval was the Teacher of Physics in Edmonton who called into Question one of the Follies of the Age. For it was he who thought it appropriate to award a Mark of Zero when Work was not handed in.
Mr. Lynden held to the extraordinary and outmoded Theory that Rewards should be dependent on Performance. This, of course, flies in the Face of contemporary Thinking, which holds that all are equally worthy. This theory of Equality is related another Notion of exceptional Modernity – that Self-Esteem can be derived from constant Approbation of One’s Circle – and is unrelated to actual Accomplishment.
The Policy at Mr. Dorval’s School was that Zeros should not be awarded. It was thought that a Zero would unfairly reflect on the Capacity of the Student. Marks were to be awarded for the Capacity revealed in an Assignment. If no Assignment was tendered, no Assessment of Capacity could be made. A nice Distinction was to be made between Capacity and Performance. A Lack of Performance was not a Reflection of Ability, but a Reflection of Willingness – a Question of Discipline.
No Doubt the Administrators at the Alberta Board – Ross Bradley, the Principal of the School, and Edgar Schmidt, the Superintendent at the Board, would have made excellent mediaeval Theologians, determining the Number of Angels which could comfortably dance on the Head of a Pin.
They were so concerned with their Theories that they failed to notice that in the real World, Capacity which is not revealed in Performance is, essentially, invisible. That which is invisible and undetectable will attract neither Reward nor Blame. Only in the World of Angels dancing on the Heads of Pins, will individual Angels be singled out and praised for their Talent for the Tango, or their Felicity in Fox-Trottery.
Mr. Dorval refused to subscribe to the official angelic Theory, and was relieved of his Position.
The latest News on this Matter comes to us from Sun News. (August 30)
It appears that Mr. Dorval appealed to a Tribunal which deals with
Suspensions and Dismissals of Teachers, and it has found the Edmonton
Public School Board is at Fault. Mr Dorval will receive Two Years' Worth of
lost Wages, along with relevant Adjustments to his Pension.
Our Rejoicing would be the greater, except for the Fact that it appears the School Board has learned little. The new Superintendent has made Allowance for the Awarding of Zeros – but only when Teachers have successfully jumped through Five Hoops of Paperwork.
We would argue that, at the Heart of this Problem, is a View of Human Nature. In olden Days, the View of Human Nature was coloured by the Concept of Original Sin. Human Beings were considered capable of Error, and could benefit from Correction.
The modern View is that Human Beings are blessed with original Goodness. They are born in Perfection and are dragged down by the evil Society in which they have the Misfortune to find themselves.
With this Philosophy, Error is never the Fault of the Individual; it may always be traced to a Failure in Society. This is why those on the Left, like Mr. Trudeau, seek the "Root Cause" of Upheaval in a very limited Sphere. The "Cause" is never in an evil Ideology, or in the Perversity of the human Animal, but rather in a Failure of Society to provide the correct Conditions under which the Natural Goodness of Humankind may be expressed.
Thus, human Beings are to be praised to Excess; they are to be led by Carrots alone. The Stick of negative Consequence is an Idea from a primitive Era of unspeakable Barbarity.
Sometimes one wonders how it is possible for Men to stray so far from common Sense. The Answer plays into our over-arching Theme: the Battle between the Real and the Ideal. The Ideal man is either perfect or easily perfectible: let us then proceed on that Assumption, and see how quickly Nirvana is achieved.
The Reality is that human Beings have not altered as quickly as our optimistic Perceptions. We will have more Success with some Degree of Skepticism about the Perfectibility of Humankind.
August 28, 2014
The Case of John Maguire explained.
1. Much misery arises from a devotion to unsuitable ideals. (Observation # 310)
There is much Puzzlement in the Press over the Case of John Maguire, an apparently conventional Teenager who converted to Islam, and has now become a Jihadist in Syria. He has espoused the View of Life suggested by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which has the Intent of establishing a Caliphate – a Type of Government based on an oppressive and puritanical Interpretation of Islam. No Evil or Cruelty seems to be too extreme in the Pursuit of their Goal.
We, ourselves, are not so puzzled when we read Mr. Maguire’s Pronouncements on a now deleted Facebook Page:
...evil is very prominent in Canadian culture, homosexuality, fornication, and adultery are generally accepted, drugs and alcohol are easily accessible and widely accepted as being ‘normal,’ women and men are often not properly covered, music is widespread in public places.
Surely this is nothing more than a Puritanical Recoiling from Pleasure. So dangerous are sensual Pleasures that, where they cannot be eschewed entirely, they must be restricted, and bound in, as if encased by rigid Hoops of Steel. It has been argued that the Restrictions of Puritanism, with emphasis on Industry, Frugality, and personal Responsibility had the beneficial Effect of channelling Energy into Commerce, and was in Part responsible for the Development of modern Capitalism.
Thus, the Impulse to Rigidity and Self-Denial is not foreign to Human Nature, – but, like any other Ideal – it can be taken to unrealistic Extremes.
2. The red lips and rouged cheeks of certainty have more allure than the plain unvarnished face of doubt. (Observation #250)
Secondly, we must recognize the Effect of the Appeal to Certainty. Because the World is, in fact, riddled with Doubt and surrounded by Mystery, Certainty is like a Jewel discovered in the Muck. Indeed, we suspect that a great part of the Appeal of Religion is its Claim to Certainty. If one can make the Leap of Faith, cover over the Questioning of the rational Mind with the Blanket of Belief, then much emotional Comfort can be achieved.
While our Society appears to be founded on the Bedrock of rational scientific Enquiry, the Fact is that the Scientific Method does not find a comfortable Niche in the human Mind.
Decision-based Evidence-Making is always preferred to Evidence-based Decision-Making.
For Example, exaggerated Reverence is still paid to the Notion of "Freedom of Religion" even when it makes inappropriate Claim against secular Values. Thus, the Supreme Court refuses to rule against the religious Claim of a Woman who wishes to cover her Face in Court; Turbans are accepted as appropriate Dress for Police Officers. When the Quebec Charter of Values attempts to uphold Secularism by banning the Wearing of religious Symbols by Government Employees during Working Hours, there is an Outcry from all the pusillanimous Pooh-Bahs of Punditry, an injudicious Jiggling of the very Jowls of Moral Outrage.
While Canada is far less religious than it used to be, Skepticism has hardly taken Hold. In particular, the current over-arching Religion, the Doctrine of political Correctness, ensures that anyone turning to Islam for an Explanation of the World will hardly be criticized. Rather, he will be lauded in a Smugitude of self-congratulatory Tolerance.
3. The nobler the ideal, the greater the evil which can be justified in its pursuit. (Observation #242)
Finally, once one has recoiled from the World of the Senses, and fled to the Certainty of Religion, it is but an easy Step to the Commission of Evil. Once one is on the Side of the Angels, Pacts with the Devil are easily justified.
Indeed, one might view All the Dictators of History as Idealists.* Have not Millions been killed in the Name of Communism – Equality, and the Brotherhood of Man? Was not Adolf Hitler seeking a Purity of Race? Has not Maurice Strong – a would-be Dictator – called for the Destruction of Industrial Civilization in an Attempt to retrieve the Golden Age? Did not Mr. McGuinty impose Windmills, regardless of their Health Effects, in the Name of Clean Energy and Climate Piety?
The Truth is, as Dostoevsky observed, a Man is not a Piano Key; the Palace of Crystal can never be built. But give the Idealist sufficient Power, and he will direct Citizens to play the Melody of his choosing; nor will he hesitate to sacrifice Others at the Altar of his chosen shimmering Impossibilities.
We may be naively idealistic -- but we think a mandatory Course in
Skepticism should be part of the Curriculum in every High School. We
would hope that the Level of general Stupidity might thereby be
beneficially reduced, and there would be fewer John Maguires.
*Of course, it may well be argued that Dictators use Ideals as a Ploy, and that some have no Ideal beyond their own Aggrandisement.
August 27, 2014
Beware of Politics masquerading as Science (Observation # 298)
We are intrigued to see News of a "leaked Document" from the universally revered International Panel on Climate Change.
We have donned our quaking Boots, and adjusted the Quake-o-Meter to the "High Terror" Level.
We are glad to have set the Meter to this second-highest Setting.* It appears that we "risk" causing "irreversible damage" unless we act with Alacrity:
Humans risk causing irreversible and widespread damage to the planet unless there’s faster action to limit the fossil fuel emissions that cause climate change, according to a leaked draft United Nations report.
Global warming already is impacting "all continents and across the oceans," and further pollution from heat-trapping gases will raise the likelihood of "severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.."
(National Post, August 26)
We have, of course, donned our Quaking Boots before, when Predictions have been made of Sinking Islands, Tens of Thousands of Climate Refugees, oppressive Droughts, and the Flooding of Manhattan. Each Time, we have been disappointed, and, with some Reluctance, returned our Boots to the Closet.
We do enjoy a good Scare.
Indeed, we confess that we have some mild Disappointment with this current Release. Why has it been "leaked" rather than shouted from the Roof-Tops? The Matter suggests a tentative "Trial Balloon" of Terror. The Balloon is launched, but in such a Manner that No One is around to take Responsibility.
Jonathan Lynn, a spokesman for the IPCC, declined to comment on the contents of the report. The draft "is still a work in progress, which will certainly change — indeed that is the point of the review — and so it would be premature to discuss its contents at this stage," Lynn said.
There also seems to be a bit of Hedging unsuitable to the "High Terror" Setting:
Economic losses for a warming level of 2.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels may reach 2 percent of global income, according to the panel, which acknowledged existing estimates are "incomplete," and the calculation has "limitations."
And do we detect a bit of dear old Aunt Jemima -- waffled into the Mix?
In a nod to skeptics who argue temperatures haven’t significantly warmed since 1998, the researchers said that climate models aren’t so good at explaining short-term fluctuations in the temperature and that "natural variability" may be part of what’s being observed.
But, perhaps, most tellingly, we are told that this Document –when released – will not be strictly scientific:
The draft was obtained by Bloomberg from a person with official access to it who asked not to be further identified because it hasn’t been published yet. It’s subject to line-by-line revision by representatives of governments around the world, and a final report is scheduled to be published on Nov. 2 in Copenhagen.
Let’s see. Gallileo discovers that the Earth goes around the Sun. His Conclusions, must, of course, be reviewed by Representatives of Governments around the World. The final Document will be released in Copenhagen in a few Months’ Time.
It reads: Gallileo recants. Earth reaffirmed as Centre of Universe. Move along, nothing to see here.
*The highest Setting is "Checkmate: Tomorrow you die."
August 23, 2014
We note that Richard Dawkins has raised a Firestorm of ferocious Fatuity with his Remark that it would be immoral if one knowingly allowed a Fetus with Down Syndrome to survive.
(National Post, August 22)
This is yet another Example of the Clash between Idealism and Realism – the Topic which we find of the most enduring Interest and Significance in human Society.
Mr. Dawkins is chiefly known for his Atheism. The Atheist is one who looks at the World without Bias, and concludes that the Evidence for a beneficent Deity is sadly lacking. This realistic Assessment is a terrible Refutation of the idealistic Hopes and Dreams of the Bulk of Mankind. For it is a Thought common to most People that the World was created, and is currently run under the kindly Management of an all-powerful God who has a particular – we would say vaguely unhealthy – Preoccupation with a particular Species of intelligent Mammal. This Mammal, it is held, is not merely the most advanced among many, but one that God created – somewhat narcissistically – in his own Image.
Though all this is Nonsense, it is comforting and well-established Nonsense. Reality, as we have remarked elsewhere,* is always the dowdy Sister to Fancy. Indeed, we wonder whether it is possible to view Reality for more than a few Minutes at a Time, before escaping to the Comfort of some Variety of Illusion.
But we digress.
Because of Mr. Dawkins’ Atheism, any Statement he makes is immediately examined by the Idealists to see whether it can be leapt upon as Evidence of unpardonable Sin.
Mr. Dawkins, it would appear, is motivated by a utilitarian
Philosophy – that our Aim should be for the greatest Happiness of the
greatest Number. Thus, to allow the Birth of a Fetus known to be less
fully equipped to experience and interact in the World than the Average,
and to cause Distress and Worry to Parents burdened with additional
Concerns and Expenses is "immoral."
If one takes the Position that Life is "sacred," and our Comings and Goings must be left in the Hands of "God," then, of course, such utilitarian Concerns are as but Chaff in the Wind.
We understand that there is some utilitarian Benefit to the Notion that Life is "sacred." It is helpful in deterring those who might be too casual in the Taking of it. But, of course, a Moment’s Thought reveals that the "Sanctity" of Life is but a convenient Fiction – regarded as convenient on some Occasions and fictional on Others. Penalty for Murder, the Argument of Self-Defence, War, and Abortion, all suggest that the Idea of "Sanctity" is extremely selective in Application.
We would add, that -- since assisted Suicide and Euthanasia are currently Topics in the News -- Euthanasia is routinely practised in every Hospital when it is known that an Injection of Morphine will cause Death – a Death that is, mercifully, not in the Hands of "God."
Looking at Mr. Dawkins’ Statement in the Context of actual Practice – some say that about Ninety percent of Fetuses with Down Syndrome are, in fact, aborted.
It would appear that many People become profoundly utilitarian
where their own Well-Being is concerned. Those who observe from a
Distance are able to indulge in the Luxury of Theism, and the moral
Outrage which it may inspire.
*Observation # 5
August 22, 2014
We never cease to be in Awe at the great Progress of Science.
It is a great Comfort to us that, everywhere in the World, Hundreds – nay, Thousands of People -- are diligently engaged in adding to the Sum Total of human Knowledge, and devising better Ways of accomplishing old Tasks.
We are astounded to learn that a recent Article in Nature Neuroscience Journal has revealed the Conclusion that Memorization of basic mathematical Truths – such as the Fact that Eight multiplied by Three yields Twenty-four -- is an important Step towards Skill in higher mathematical Reasoning.
(National Post, August 21)
Indeed, as we were reading this News, a Feather, floating by in the Air, struck us on the Shoulder. It was as if we had been struck by a great Weight, a Concatenation of Balls of Iron, or Irony; we fell to the Floor in a conniption Fit of Surprise.
There are Rumours, of course, that in the Dark Ages -- when little was known about the true Marvellousness of the human Brain -- Memorization was a Cornerstone of Education. However, in our present Era of Sweetness and Light, it has been a triumphant Conclusion that Memorization of any Kind represents a pernicious and soul-destroying Evil.
A careful Assessment of the essential Nobility of Homo Sapiens, and a Perception of the Divine Workings of human Cognition has suggested that Facts are mere dull Pebbles on the vast Beach of human Understanding. They may be picked up and discarded at will. One Pebble is as good as any other. What is truly important is the Ability to configure and create. Indeed, Conception trumps Knowledge, just as a complete Symphony is superior to the Scale of C.
Students are encouraged to discover Things in their own unique and creative Ways. For why should they be limited to the pedestrian and plodding Paths of the inferior Minds which have preceded them?
However, 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 are somewhat apprehensive that it may be discovered that the Memorization of Poetry – or even good Prose – may be an aid to the Development of writing Skills, and to an Appreciation of some of the Powers of Language.
We earnestly hope that Science doth not progress that far; some Persistence of established Apprehension aids us in Dealing with the Vicissitudes of the World; some Verities should remain eternal. Where would we be without our familiar and reliable Certainties?
August 21, 2014
We are presently ensconced at Wind-in-the-Pines, engaged in the ceaseless Maintenance and Repair required by the Place-of-many-Decks. We confess that we built the Structure guided by Ideals rather than Reality.
It seemed – at the Time – a worthy Aesthetic to make almost every Room have a Connection with the Outdoors; this required a Multiplicity of Doors made of sliding Glass Panels. Unfortunately, since human Capacity for unaided Flight is as yet insufficiently developed, each Door proved to require a wooden Deck fastened to the Exterior of the Building.
These Decks would allow a Human Being to exit and remain aloft, without being subjected to the sudden jolting Stops which occur when wingless Creatures sally forth from Doorways and engage in a downwards Trajectory through the Air at rapid Speed.
But further, it subsequently became clear that the Decks would require a Variety of Steps and Platforms affixed to them to permit a slow, graceful, and jolt-free Descent to Ground Level.
Further, each Deck, Step, or Platform seemed to require a Railing, also constructed of Wood, to minimize a straying over the Edge, whether from Inattention, Debility, or occasional Inebriation. Once again it seemed prudent to attempt to avoid sudden and unexpected Encounters with the unyielding Earth – often composed of Rock – below.
What we gave no Thought to at the Time was that each Deck, Step, Platform, and Railing, once stained an attractive earth-tone Brown, would not remain in the admirable State to which it had been brought. The Sun and the Rain, the Heat and the Snow, would attack and abrade the Surface. Every Year or Two, the Seven Decks would require the Equivalent of Seven Maids with Seven Paintbrushes and Gallons of Stain to preserve some Semblance of their pristine Condition.
We have discovered that the Cost of Seven Maids with Seven Mops – or
their Equivalent – has escalated enormously since the Time of Lewis
Carroll. Thus, we have been forced to take on the Seven-fold Task
without Assistance. (We do realize some Saving in that we require only
Beyond that, we have discovered -- just this Year -- that one of the Decks – one actually in the original Plans – was cantilevered outwards using the interior Floor Joists. The Company responsible for the Design, Kingrep Kastles, had failed to consider that Interior Joists are unsuitable to outdoor Applications. Nor did the Mariposa Buildings Department, to whom the Plans were submitted, catch the Error.
Indeed, such is the Reputation of Kingrep Kastles, we suspect that Mariposa Officials approved the Design with no more than a cursory Examination.
Some Twenty Years later, it is not surprising that the Joists have succumbed to Rot and Decay. We have had to cut them off at the exterior Wall, and build an entirely new Deck of Wood more resistant to the Elements. We are not certain that – after the Lapse of so much Time -- we will be successful in any Claim against Kingrep Kastles.
A casual Reader of our Ramblings may have noticed that we constantly inveigh against inappropriate Idealism, and urge a pragmatic Approach in all Matters.
Wisdom, it is said, is a sign of good Judgment. Good Judgment comes from Experience. And Experience, it is clear, comes from Bad Judgment.*
August 20, 2014
We see the Battle between religious Belief and the Requirements of a secular Society as one between Superstition and Common Sense. Thus we are invariably opposed to Accommodation of Religious Practice in any significant Matter.
For us, such Accommodation is akin to those wearing the White Hats of scientific Enquiry throwing their Adornments into the Dust, and cheerfully donning the Black Hats of those in Thrall to primitive Ideas unsupported by Evidence.
Only through such flinty Hardness of Heart, we believe, can Mankind progress towards seeing the World as it really is, and deal with Problems based on Evidence, rather than Dogma.
We accept that Dogma will always have a Place in human Society; Ritual and old-fashioned Ways of doing Things gain a powerful Hold on the human Psyche. But we feel that comforting Dogmas should not be allowed Precedence over seeing things as they are.
We know we are a significant Minority in this Position. Throughout most of the Globe, religious Belief is either paramount, or is accorded much hushed Reverence.
We have been surprised, therefore, to hear this very Day, that Ms. Kathleen Wynne, herself a Victim of much left-wing Delusion, has rejected the Notion that Sikhs be exempt from the wearing of Motorcycle Helmets. She has recently written to the Canadian Sikh Association:
After careful deliberation, we have determined that we will not grant this type of exemption as it would pose a road safety risk...Ultimately, the safety of Ontarians is my utmost priority, and I cannot justify setting that concern aside on this issue.
(CTV News, August 19)
The decision is especially odd in View of the Fact that Ms. Wynne’s
Government introduced a Motion promising to oppose any Bills that would
restrict the Freedom of Expression of Religion in Public Places – a
symbolic Act to oppose the Charter of Values in Quebec. That Charter
would have forbidden the wearing of religious Symbols by Government
Employees while dealing with the Public.
We would note that the Supreme Court, which we increasingly view as significantly peculiar in its Apprehensions, ruled in 1990 that an Officer in the Royal Mounted Police should be allowed to wear a Turban on Duty. This suggests that a Policemen does not simply represent the Laws and Values of the Jurisdiction in which he is employed, but a specific Type of religious Dogma.
In Ontario, in 2008, Justice James Blacklock ruled that the Ontario Human Rights Commission was wrong in supporting a Challenge to the Motorcycle Helmet Law. (CBC News, March 6, 2008)
Over the World, there are differing Views.
1. In 2002, a New York traffic Policeman was dismissed for wearing a Turban, but was ordered reinstated by a U.S. Judge in 2004.
2.In France, there are no Exemptions for Sikh Boys in Public Schools.
3. India, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and Australia all allow Turbans in Lieu of Motorcycle Helmets.
(All examples from Wikipedia)
Tolerance is often regarded as an Absolute – an undiluted Good. On the Contrary, Tolerance is merely a complementary Concept to Intolerance, and varying Degrees of Tolerance and Intolerance are appropriate to differing Circumstances.
An excessive Tolerance of religious Practice sends an unfortunate Message: that Mumbo Jumbo holds sway over Reason.
We are pleased, but surprised, that Ms. Wynne has rejected Mumbo Jumbo.
August 16, 2014
We are never left in Peace. Every Day – or so it seems – there is some new Stupidity, or an old one revitalized, upon which we feel compelled to comment.
Yesterday, we were reminded of the great Conflict between the Climate Alarmists and the Climate Skeptics. We are fairly certain that the Climate Alarmists will eventually be shown to be motivated by Politics, and the "Science" to which they pretend no more than a Fraud.
But that Day of Enlightenment is still far off. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Mr. Obama, and the entire Phalanx of the Left Wing cling to the Notion of Climageddon like a moronic Limpet to a fundamentalist Rock of old-tyme Religion. The Hymns of Belief are belted out in the Chapel of Commitment; Creed and Dogma are repeated in a Fervour of Fanaticism.
We commented with our usual Brevity and unassailable Acumen in the Drivel Section.
Today, we had looked forward to a Day of Respite, a Day on which only Common Sense and Sound Judgment should be on Display in the News.
Alas, when Mr. Trudeau speaks, it is as if a great Muddle has been splashed onto the Mirror-like Surface of the Sea of Sanity.
When asked – somewhat mischievously, we suspect – by a Sun News Reporter -- what he considered to be the greatest Threat to Global Security, Mr. Trudeau responded with this:
The biggest threat to global security is the kind of violence and misunderstandings and wars that come out of resource depletion, economic uncertainty, concerns of lack of hope for generations growing up in a world that is getting smaller and seemingly less and less fair. (Sun News, August 16)
No Answer could be more consistent with Left-Wingery. The Causes of our Troubles are Poverty, Despair, and Injustice. If only there could be a Chicken in every Pot, two Smart Cars in every Driveway, and Inequality relegated to the historical Dustbin, Sweetness and Light would prevail: the World would be at Peace.
We would have said there are two main Threats. One is the Realpolitik of Mr. Putin, who seeks Advantage for his Dream of Russian Influence through the Exploitation of Weakness, through the Coercion of economic and military Power.
A greater Threat is that of Islam, especially radical Islam. Islam is a Religion which has Tenets directly antagonistic to those developed over Centuries and currently maintained by western Civilizations. It favours Theocracy – which means that it looks to Ideas imagined in the seventh Century as a Template for Society. It does not favour Democracy, the Equality of Women, or Freedom of Speech. In some of its more prominent Expressions, it favours honour Killing, Stoning for Adultery, and Death for Apostasy.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria Movement, which is taking over Iraq, requires its Victims to choose between Conversion and Death. This Type of Ideology would seem to represent a significant Threat to Global Security.
We would send a Message to Mr. Trudeau to that Effect. But he is probably in a Wahhabi Mosque somewhere, lamenting the Oppression imposed by Resource Depletion.
August 14, 2014
It is a truth of human Nature that we welcome Opinions which reflect our own, especially when those Views are not universally acknowledged to be true.
Thus we were pleased last Evening to hear a Commentator – whose Name, alas, we have been unable to retrieve – state that the Success of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a signal Refutation of Mr. Obama’s World View.
Mr. Obama, you may remember, began his Presidency with a Speech in Cairo, extending a Branch of Olives to the Muslim World. Those Olives have not been pressed into Oil, and used to calm roiling Waters. Rather they have been tasted, and found encouraging of bitterness; the Pits have been hurled back in considerable Disdain.
For Example, ISIS has declared its Intention to create a Caliphate, a theocratic State. They give their Victims the Choice of Conversion or Death.
In a Googling of the Topick – Mr. Obama’s failed Vision -- we have encountered a most wonderful Exposition by Joseph Loconte in the New York Observer. (August 14) Seldom do we encounter those who place, as we often attempt to do, the Events of the Day into the Context of a philosophical View of the World. We think Mr. Loconte has pegged Mr. Obama with a Spike of great Accuracy:
In all this President Obama betrays his fundamental error, both intellectual and moral—the delusion that war is an unmitigated evil, easily avoidable, and that peace is the natural order of the universe.
Writing during the 1940s, theologian Reinhold Niebuhr assailed these "moralistic illusions" in his book Christianity and Power Politics. Modern liberalism, he said, has forgotten that the failure to use power effectively, to protect civilization, is a moral failure of the highest order. "In this liberalism there is little understanding of the depth to which human malevolence may sink and the heights to which malignant power may rise," he wrote. "Some easy and vapid escape is sought from the terrors and woes of a tragic era."
Mr. Loconte also suggests that Mr. Obama suffers from a Focus on his own Reputation* to the Detriment of foreign Policy:
Mr. Obama’s foreign policy idealism is aggravated by his hubris—not the maligned Texas swagger of a Mr. Bush, but rather a fierce and narrow political ambition that ultimately endangers America’s national security interests.
We have often made Jest that left-wing Idealists give the Impression that Evil has no Place in their World. They seem to think that, deep down, all People are well-intentioned. All Conflict can be settled by Disputants over a Glass or Two of Beer on a sunny Afternoon.
Our considerable Fear is that Mr. Trudeau – a possible Prime Minister -- is cut from the same insubstantial Cloth as that which has become so quickly threadbare, so rent with gaping Holes, as that which has found its Incarnation in Mr. Obama.
For Mr. Trudeau seems similarly naive. His Desire for Votes – like Mr. Obama’s Focus on the Politics of Popularity – seems to lead him to questionable Decisions. There is no Mosque that Mr. Trudeau will not attend, and no aboriginal Autocracy that he will not seek to appease.
These Matters may all be seen in the Context of the Battle between the Real and the Ideal. An idealistic View is often as dangerous as it is attractive.
*See also The sub-optimal President, Drivel, October 27, 2012
August 13, 2014
Tolerance is the virtue of the man with no convictions. (G. K. Chesterton)
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)
On July 22, we noted a Rally in Favour of the Palestinian Cause in Calgary. The Police, fashionably discreet, decided not to show up. They were thus able to avoid the unseemly Confrontation between the Protestors and a small Group of Pro-Israeli Demonstrators.
A number of the Counter-Protestors were attacked, injured, and taken to Hospital.
Again, according to the Fashion of the Times, there was little or delayed Mention of this Circumstance in the regular Media. There is News, and then there is News which it is uncomfortable to report. Uncomfortable News is best ignored. In this Way the Media will help to ensure that Populace remain untroubled, and content with their Lives.
The Police having kept a low Profile, saw no Need to raise their Heads above the Parapets, and actually charge anyone. The Job of the Police is to maintain a quiet Life, and, most especially, to avoid Paperwork.
We were heartened to see Mr. Ezra Levant start a Petition* to the Police requesting that they consider the novel Notion that Charges should be laid when criminal Activity occurs. He also requested that the public view Videos which might be used to help identify the Criminals.
Today, there is News that the Calgary Police have charged three People with Assault, and are likely to make another Charge in the next twenty-four Hours. (Sun News, August 13)
We suspect that, without the Intervention of Mr. Levant, nothing would have been done.
What has happened in our Society is that Political Correctness -- Tolerance carried to an Extreme -- has become a Disease – a sort of Parasitic Infection with the Power to alter the very Essence of the Host. The Vision is clouded, the Will to act and resist is paralyzed. The essential Self is altered, so that it acts not in its own Interests, but in the Interests of the infecting Agent.
At the Root of Correctness is that Type of inappropriate Idealism
which characterizes the Left. Those on the Left are suspicious of Initiative and
Success, for while Initiative and Success are Friends with Progress,
they are Enemies to Equality. Equality is the greatest Good, and a self-congratulatory Glow of moral Superiority
is gained from
cherishing those who are unsuccessful, especially if they can claim to be
The Unsuccessful, in lefterly Eyes have an innate, inner Worthiness; they should
not be held to the same Standard as Others are.
Thus, Israel, successful and unapologetic, must be reviled in Favour of the tortured and deluded Palestinians, who eschew Success in order to pursue primitive Antipathies. Being the Underdog excuses Sins mortal, moral, and multitudinous.
The same Pathology is seen with Respect to Views of Aboriginals. The Sins against them in the Past are used to justify their illegal Actions in the Present. Thus, Mr. McGuinty refused to enforce the Law against aboriginal Protestors in Caledonia, and established the kind of moral Vacuum in which public Money was spent in Tribute to the Principle of Appeasement at any Price.
The Police will not act against Aboriginals who blockade Roads or Trains, unless it is absolutely the Alternative of last Resort. Ms. Wynne has taken to uttering the Mantra of "Meegwetch" ** as if polishing, reverentially, a Bead of Blessing threaded on a String of modern political Pieties.
The Failure to enforce the Law against environmental Protestors springs from the same Source. Modern industry – which has given us Automobiles, Planes, Central Heating, and better Food – has been a Success. But that very Success is seen as a potential Danger.
Maurice Strong, a significant Figure in the early Environmental Movement, has not been reclusive about calling for the Need to destroy modern industrial Civilization. The Alternative is vague, and ill-defined, but seems to look to an earlier and simpler "Golden Age."
Indeed, perhaps that Age is much like that evoked by the Aboriginals, who pretend to represent some past Nirvana when Man was in Harmony with Nature. In that wonderful Era, Man conversed with Brother Rabbit, who hopped obligingly into the Cooking Pot, and held philosophical Discussions with Brother Beaver, who, in Gratitude, conveniently left his Skins on the Drying Rack.
Thus, when there are Protestors who inveigh against Success, and claim that the Environment is the Underdog, they are not held to Account for their illegal Actions. They claim a moral high Ground which should exempt them from the Law.***
Such is the Effect of Political Correctness, that their Claim is seen, not clearly, as destructive to the Rule of Law which is essential to the Workings of our Society, but through a distorting Prism, which requires Obeisance to any Number of flawed and inappropriate Ideals.
August 12, 2014
The transparent Mr. Trudeau
There is much Puzzlement being expressed at Mr. Trudeau’s lament over the First Nations Financial Transparency Act of 2013.
This Act has required the Publication of the Earnings of Band Chiefs and Councils, and has caused much "I told you so" Titillation -- as disproportionately high Salaries have been revealed.
Everybody’s favourite Number is $914,000 – the Amount required to compensate Mr. Giesbrecht for his Services to the Kwikwetlem Band, whose Members would be matched in Number to the Degrees registered on the Fahrenheit Scale on a moderately warm Day in July.
The Transparency seems important in two Matters of Principle. First, there is the Matter of Consistency. The Salaries of non-native Politicians are not kept secret from the Population at large.
Secondly, when so many Bands seem bedevilled by Poverty, it seems appropriate that the Sources and Expenditure of Funds be revealed, so that Band Members may express their Opinions on the Disposition and Management of Funds.
The Principle of Cui Bono, or Follow the Money, has been recognized for Centuries as a Means of explaining many human Mysteries.
It would seem that those most opposed to the Bill are those very Native Leaders who are unused to answering Questions, and are accustomed to the Benefits of a comfortable Autocracy.
Mr. Trudeau, whose Policy it is to pander to any Faction capable of casting Votes, has decried the Act, as one insufficiently respectful of the Autocracies. This gains him the Support of those such as Teresa Spence, at whose Fasting Tent Mr. Trudeau was pleased to fawn in 2013. At the same Time, he has upheld the Notion of Transparency.
This apparent Contradiction has puzzled some Commentators, whose
small Minds are troubled by the Hobgoblin of a foolish Consistency.
But, in fact, there is no real Mystery here. Mr. Trudeau merely wishes to follow the age-old Desire to have his Cake, while at the same Time eating it and licking the delicious Frosting from his Fingers.
You see, while Mr. Trudeau would repeal the existing Legislation – which is tainted by its Conservative Origins – he would obtain the same Transparency in an entirely different Liberal and respectful Manner.
We know not, of course, exactly how the respectful Liberal Legislation would differ from the heartless and insulting Conservative Denigration.
Possibly it would involve a special Transparency Ritual. Mr. Trudeau would don a colourful Headdress and repair to the indigenous Land of each Band. (It would, of course, be unseemly to require aboriginal Leaders to journey to Ottawa.) Then with Dancing, Incantations, and an appropriate Drum Circle (such as that favoured by Ontario Provincial Police), the Band Leaders and Councillors would present the Necessary Financial Information. They could receive a square Metre of transparent Gauze tied with a red Ribbon in Return. The Gauze, dated and signed by Mr. Trudeau, would be hung in the Band Office until the following Year.
Possibly there could be a Potlatch, or an Offering of Beaver Pelts to be exchanged for Locks of Mr. Trudeau’s Hair.
But we succumb to idle Speculation. The Details would be best managed by the highest Ranks of Liberal Strategists.
But there is no Puzzlement in Mr. Trudeau’s Position.
August 9, 2014
We have learned that a small Group of Hindu Priests has passed through the Pearson International Airport under special Circumstances.
It appears that the Priests did not wish to interact with Customs Officers belonging to one of the Two major Sexes. We hesitate to name which of the Sexes was the Object of their Disdain. We would not wish to cause any Offence to any Readers.
However, there are Times when Practicality must overcome one’s Fastidiousness: the Sex that triggered the Reluctance of the Priests was female.
Accordingly, the Group was allowed to proceed without that Defilement known to occur when Priests pass at an uncomfortable Proximity to One of the Two Major Sexes.
We must imagine that the Group arrived on their own Plane, or one specially chartered to exclude Stewardesses and female Passengers.
Since that Incident, Reports have come forth which suggest that this Accommodation to Sensitivity has occurred before. Five Years ago, two female Guards were put on "secondary duties" to allow a Group of Men unperturbed Passage.
We are pleased that Canada has been shown, once again, to be at the Forefront of self-abasing Obsequiousness. It is Part, we have no Doubt, of a grand Plan to extinguish all Trace of what might have been considered – in the primitive Past -- a Canadian cultural Identity.
The Attempt to maintain cultural Values is, quite rightly, seen as an
unseemly Arrogance. There is no Evidence to suggest that any one Idea is
better than any other, and to pretend otherwise is to indulge in a most
pernicious Folly – a Folly which runs the Risk of offending Others.
We look forward to beneficial Extensions of our Current Policy.
For why should a Member of the Klu Klux Klan be required to interact with a black Officer? And why should a devout Jihadist be forced to come within breathing Distance of a committed Atheist?
And surely the Airport is merely the Petri Dish for the larger Society.
Prejudices are manifold: some may have an Aversion to fat People, others to those excessively lean. Some are suspicious of those with swarthy Complexions; others see red Hair as a Sign of Propensity to Anger. We ourselves have long harboured a guarded View of those who are left-handed.
When Citizens are forced to deal with Government Authority, it seems only reasonable that they be able to specify the Sex, Handedness, Body Type, and general Appearance of those with whom they must interact.
With sufficient Care and Determination, the real and living Nirvana can be made to flower on our welcoming Shores.
August 8, 2014
We are intrigued to learn that a New York Dealer in Wines, Rudy Kurniawan, has been sentenced to Ten Years in Prison. (National Post, August 8).
Apparently Mr. Kurnian had defrauded wealthy Clients by selling them rare and desirable Wines which were less rare and desirable than he had claimed. In Essence, he seems to have placed anonymous Wines in old Bottles with bogus Labels.
He was discovered when he claimed to be selling Clos Saint-Denis (one of our favourites*) from Domaine Ponsont made between Nineteen Forty-Five and Nineteen Seventy-One. The Company, Domaine Ponsont had actually not produced the Wine until the Nineteen Eighties, and the Proprietor, Laurent Ponsont was not amused. M. Ponsont sought to bring Mr. Kurniawan to Justice for his Deception.
The defrauded Clients, such as William Koch, David Doyle, and Andrew Hobson had spent Millions of Dollars over the Years on Pretentious Plonk. Mr. Koch claims a loss of $2.1 Million and Mr. Doyle $15.1 Million.
What we find instructive is that the Clients failed to recognize the Fraud. When tasting a rare Bottle of Eau d’Oignon Vert, their Brows did not furrow, their Lips did not purse in a reflexive Spasm, their left Eyelid did not quiver upwards in a Questioning of the Stability of the Universe.
No. We must assume that they regarded the Label with that Soupcon of Satisfaction which attends the happy Circumstance of an astute and enviable Purchase, and drank it down.
One might argue that the defrauded Clients were merely Prey to the Siren Call of conspicuous Consumption. After all, if one has Money, it is incumbent upon one to make an important Decision. To flaunt, or not to flaunt: that is the Question. Whether ‘tis nobler to conceal one’s Wealth behind a Cloak of Modesty, or whether it is more fitting that one’s Self-regard should be plumped up with the envious Glances of the less fortunate Polloi – these are important Matters to be considered by the Oligoi.
But further, the Cynic in us would like to argue that Mankind as a whole is susceptible to Fad and Fashion, and the Appeal of an associated Narrative. It is almost impossible to distinguish between "real" Merit and fashionable Merit.
Thus the Wealthy surround themselves with accredited Accoutrements.
They need not have any Knowledge of Painting, First Editions, Sculpture,
or Wines. They need merely to know what the Experts have decreed. Their
Knowledge is not personal and developed, but second-hand and shallow.
In the Matter of Painting or other Art, we would accept that there are greater and lesser Skills displayed. Some Depictions may be more pleasing and affecting than Others. But the huge Prices paid for some Paintings have to do with Fashion, Rarity, and their Narrative Nimbus. Is it not likely that mute inglorious Miltons have their Counterpart in undiscovered Picassos? The Price of the work of a Painter usually goes up when he dies; the supply has now become limited. Would Van Gogh be as popular had he not cut off his Ear?
We suspect that Wines are not immune from the Effects of Fad, Fashion, and Promotion. No Doubt the Taste of Wines varies. But the Price of a Bottle of Wine – except at the Polloi Level --probably has little to do with Flavour and Bouquet.
An Investigation done in 2002 concluded:
"The truth is that you cannot define taste objectively," said Frédéric Brochet, a researcher from Bordeaux whose study won an award from the Amorim wine academy in France. The opinions of the so-called connoisseurs are no better and perhaps worse than that of the occasional drinker, he said. The greater the expertise, the greater the cultural baggage that prevents you from perceiving the actual taste in your mouth.
(From the Homepage of Alex Chernavsky)
Mr. Brochet fooled 54 Experts by dyeing a white Wine red. Not a single Connoisseur noticed. Experts were also influenced by the Label, classifying the same Wine differently according to the purported Price.
So, there you have it!
Illusion, as is so often the Case, is more important than Reality.
Mr Kurniawan simply exploited Ignorance passing as confident
Appreciation and Expertise. His Deception was not so much a Rarity, but
an egregious Part of a generally unnoticed Continuum.
*We jest, of course. We do often drink a Glass of Wine with our Meal. Much to the Disapproval of the Cognoscenti, we prefer ersatz Champagne. We do not apologize. We like the Bubbles. If the Bubbles cost more than Fifteen Dollars, we won’t buy them.
August 6, 2014
Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions. (G.K. Chesterton)
We are intrigued to see that no Degree of Pandering seems too excessive for the Liberal Leader, Mr. Trudeau. He casts a wide Net for Votes, and seems not to care whether the Waters are clear, calm, and blue, and likely to yield a savoury Catch, or whether they be roiled and steaming, black with ash, and Harbour to a rising, indigestible, volcanic Fire.
He has admitted to attending the Al-Sunnah Al Nabawiah Mosque in his Riding. The Mosque follows that Wahhabist Type of Islam practised in Saudi Arabia; the American Government has designated it as an Al-Qaeda Centre for Recruitment. (Sun News, August 5)
We saw last Evening, on The Source, Mr. Trudeau being questioned on the Matter. He attempted to suggest that he believed in Dialogue with those with whom one disagrees. But a subsequent Video showed Mr. Trudeau addressing a Muslim Audience stressing not merely Tolerance, but Acceptance. It seems unlikely that Mr. Trudeau actually makes Speeches which are critical of the Beliefs of his Audience.
Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress has remarked:
For him to pretend this is about meeting with people with whom he disagrees is intellectual dishonesty and playing ethnic politics to the advantage of those who seek Canada's destruction along with the rest of European civilization, secularism, gender equality and individual liberty. (Sun News, August 5)
We would point out that Mr. Trudeau’s all-embracing ill-considered
Tolerance does not appear to represent a sudden Lapse in his Thinking –
if, indeed, he ever engages in the Activity that that Term suggests.
In 2011, Mr. Trudeau responded to Government Labelling of Honour Killings as "barbaric:"
"You could say that it’s absolutely unacceptable as a phrase," said Mr. Trudeau, adding that the word could have the effect of making newcomers ‘defensive.’ (National Post March 16, 2011)
And again, in 2013, when asked about the Boston Marathon Bombings, Mr. Trudeau preferred to see them as the Result of Someone feeling marginalized and excluded. That Exclusion is a Result, of course, of a "Root Cause." The Term "Root Cause" for those on the Left is always a Failure of Society to be sufficiently caring; the Idea that Men might be driven by an evil and scarcely rational Ideology is not One that is comprehensible to them.
For Mr. Trudeau, the World is constructed mainly of Hearts and Flowers, with a bit of Sugar and a few dollops of whipped Cream added for Flavour and Texture. Anything that suggests otherwise – Blood and Destruction – with an Aroma of Sulphur and Decay – these are mere Superficialities which can be whisked away with a few Rose Petals and a Greeting Card Verse.
And, we suppose, the Efficacy of excellent Hair should not be overlooked.
August 4, 2014
Much Consternation has been caused by the Fact that the Contract of Employment for the Chief of Police for Toronto, Bill Blair, has not been renewed.
The Decision has been cloaked in Mists, and girdled in a Fog. Hugger has kept close Confidence with Mugger, and "Mum" has been whispered into the Silence.
All that has been allowed to escape is a Scrap of platitudinous Prattle suggesting that the Time has come to move on towards a new Future of "organizational renewal" which glows seductively, shimmers on the Horizon.
We have never met Mr. Blair. We know Nothing of the Difficulties in Running a large Metropolitan Police Force. We have never even had the Pleasure of being held in Police Custody.
However, we have never let Ignorance stand in the Way of giving an assured Opinion on any Matter.
In this Case, we must confess that we are not entirely displeased.
The two most often mentioned Deficits in Mr. Blair’s Record are the botched Handling of the G20 Riots in 2010, and the Failure to prevent an Agglomeration of Tamils from blocking the Gardiner Expressway in 2009.
Our own principal Objection to Mr. Blair is neither of these. It rests upon his extraordinary Decision to seek Officers for the Toronto Police Force who would wear the Hijab.
It has always been our Position that -- perfunctory References in dusty Documents aside -- Canada’s is a secular Society. Religious Symbols have no Place in Government Offices or as Adjuncts to the Dress of Police Officers, Judges, Military Personnel or the Like.
Government Personnel, on their own Time, may pursue Scientology, practise Voodoo, or explore the Intricacies of Oak and Mistletoe Rituals among the Druids.
But it is important that the Government present a secular Face to the Citizenry. To do otherwise suggests that the Government supports a particular Religion, or Religion in general. Such Endorsement cannot be other than divisive. Commonality of Values, not Varieties of Wing-Nuttism, is what needs to be emphasized.
A Chief of Police who deliberately seeks to proclaim an Association between the Force and a particular Religion, is either terminally stupid, or fatally infected with political Correctness.
Indeed, these two Conditions may, in fact, be one and the same – a single Circumstance to which different Appellations may be ascribed.
However, we confess that our Approval of the Rejection of Mr. Blair is muted: there is probably an excellent Chance that his Successor will be even worse.
July 31, 2014
We are intrigued to see that a Gentleman by the Name of Bulent Arinc, the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, has inveighed against Laughter in public Places.
While we ourselves consider it proper to maintain an Air of dignified Gravitas when presenting on Public Transit, or making our shopping Trips to Wal Mart, we think that Others, not so concerned with the important Matters of the World, should be permitted to give free Reign to Snickers or Guffaws – providing, of course, that they are not pointing in our Direction.
What is most interesting about Mr. Arinc’s Comments is that they discriminate on the Basis of Sex. It is only Women who should restrain their Laughter in Public:
"[The woman] will know what is haram and not haram," Arinc said according to Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News. "She will not laugh in public. She will not be inviting in her attitudes and will protect her chasteness." (National Post, July 30)
Mr. Arinc was giving a Speech on "Moral Corruption." It is evident that he sees Laughter as linked to a Lightness of Heart which is inconsistent with his View of Moral Purity:
"Where are our girls who slightly blush, lower their heads and turn their eyes away when we look at their face, becoming the symbol of chastity?" he said.
Indeed, we confess that our own Observation #280 reads: Laughter and piety do not make good neighbours.
But Mr. Arinc seems not to be concerned about the Piety of Men, who, one would assume, should be equally concerned to repress an Attitude of Irreverence in Public.
We are reminded, in Fact, of the Theory of Stephen Leacock concerning the Origins of Laughter. He speculated that the first Laughter was a Cry of Triumph, as Caveman Antrobus felled Caveman Bailiwick with a Rock to the Head.
Indeed, if one thinks of it, the Laughter at "getting the joke," is a Cry of Triumph.
As Mr. Walpole observed, "The world is a comedy to those that think; a tragedy to those that feel." Comedy represents a Kind of intellectual Triumph over the Tragedy of the Human Condition.
We find the Argument convincing: Laughter, in any Form, is an Expression of Superiority.*
This, then, is at the Heart of Mr. Arinc’s Comment. Laughter expresses Superiority, and is legitimate for Men in Public Places. Women, who are essentially and intrinsically inferior, should blush prettily, and turn their Heads away. To laugh is to reject their inferior Status.
Mr. Arinc’s Comment serves to emphasize the vast Gulfs of Understanding which separate Cultures -- Cultures which so many desperately wish to see as equal.
July 27, 2014
Reality is often unpleasant; most of us wish that many Things are not as they are.
Some Aspects of Reality are changeable; others are not. It is interesting to see how different People distinguish between the two Classes.
In today’s National Post, George Jonas refers to a recent Opinion of his Publisher, Marc Côté -- expressed in a Letter to the Editor -- on the Hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Mr. Côté begins with the Precept of his Mother: Two wrongs do not make a right.
On this Basis, Mr. Côté argues that while the Attacks of Hamas are wrong, the Retaliation of Israel is a second Wrong which does not make a Right.
He also refers to Mr. Einstein’s definition of Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. He laments the Fact that these Words have no Resonance with the Leaders of Israel.
Mr. Jonas refers to this Stance, quite correctly we believe, as "moral Illiteracy." He argues that trying to stop a continuing Attack can hardly be considered as a Wrong morally Equivalent to the initial Attack.
Beyond that, we see those critical of Israel falling into the typical Trap of excessive Idealism.
The Idealists, viewing the disproportionate and admittedly terrible Carnage inflicted upon innocent Palestinian Civilians, loudly lament that Reality.
However, as Michael den Tandt points out in another Article in the same Edition of the Post, alternative Solutions are never offered. Would they suggest as an Alternative the allowing of those who have published their Intentions of total Destruction of Israel, to proceed?
Indeed, possibly the Idealists would advocate mass Suicide on the Part of the Inhabitants of Israel in order to minimize the Fuss and Bother which might otherwise attend a more extended, piecemeal Capitulation.
What the Idealists are unwilling to accept – and this is often the Case – is that irrational Evil is a Component of the World, and it is not deterred by the Hallmark Sentiments of a Get Well Card.
As Mr. Netanyahu has pointed out, while Israel uses Rockets to protect its Civilians, Hamas uses Civilians to protect its Rockets. Hamas, we must suppose, is hardly dismayed when its Civilians suffer disproportionately in the Conflict: the Death of every Child, the Wailing of every Grandmother in the Street gains Sympathy for its Cause, and leads to exactly the Kind of Criticism expressed by Mr. Côté.
This is the Reality: Hamas has a Determination to destroy Israel; the Residents of Gaza who suffer in the Conflict are merely "collateral damage" in the Worthiness of the Grand Plan.
Those who believe that Nirvana is just around the Corner, or that Shangri-la is soon to be discovered half way up the Big Rock Candy Mountain, cannot accept this. On their restricted Screen of benign Possibilities, such Realities are invisible.
They wring their Hands and blame Israel.
July 26, 2014
Most People – and we include Ourselves in that Number -- adopt a Stance of tipsy Optimism with Respect to the Future.
There is little Future in Pessimism, and so most Contemplation of the Future is, of Necessity, optimistic.
We are sobered to learn that, in 2012, there was a solar Eruption of great Speed and destructive Capacity which missed, by a small Margin, our optimistic Planet. Had the Event occurred one Week earlier, the Earth would have been in the line of Fire, and Disruptions of Communications and Electricity would have caused Havoc in our Civilization which is so dependent upon wondrous but vulnerable Technologies. (National Post, July 23)
The Event, according to NASA, would have been "big enough to knock modern civilization back to the 18th century."
Much as we are fond of the 18th Century – especially for some of its satiric Certainties -- we confess that we have become accustomed to, and are comfortable with, the Amenities of the 21st..
Indeed, this News reminds us how much we prefer to forget the chancy Nature of Existence.
Like all Life, we are vulnerable to the Changes which occur on the Planet on which we have developed, and – at least for the Time being – prospered. In the Past, Life has been subject to five significant Extinctions and many minor ones. The most well known is that caused by the Impact of an Asteroid about sixty-five Million Years ago, which resulted in the Extinction of the Dinosaurs and the Expansion of Mammals.
Volcanoes, Floods, Changes in Temperature and Sea Levels, Alterations
in atmospheric and oceanic Composition – all these represent the Whims of Nature
upon which Life Forms depend.
And in the End, of course, the Sun will die. Before that, it will become brighter and make Life on Earth impossible. That will be in about 1.2 Billion Years; thus, fortunately, it will not disrupt our immediate Vacation Plans.
We do not live in a World of quiet and predictable Certainty.
While it is impossible to dwell on the cheerless Prospects of Extinction and Annihilation, we think there might be some Benefit to be derived from an occasional Awareness of chaotic Unpredictability.
Religion may be seen as an Escape from Chaos. No Doubt there is great Comfort in the Belief that God’s in his Heaven, and all is right a smaller, imaginary World.
But, it seems to us, too often that Belief, steeled with Conviction, leads to Oppression. Too many are convinced that the Universe is divinely ordered, and that in it, our Species has a central Place. God – though but imaginary – has decreed how human lives should be lived, and how Salvation – even Martyrdom -- are to be achieved.
Smug Certainty should pay its occasional Dues to the Doubt suggested by the real World of random Forces which are indifferent to human Concerns.
July 22, 2014
We imagine that Distrust of the Other is a Thread closely woven into the Fabric of the human Psyche. Society is, not surprisingly, tribal in Nature: our History is one of tribal Struggles. Over Time, the Tribes have become larger, but the Sentiments remain. The Tribes may be Nations, or Groups bound by broader cultural Loyalties.
In the modern Era, we have attempted to see beyond Tribalism. The Europeans have joined a Union. Multiculturalism has been hailed as the new, morally superior Paradigm.
As we are perhaps over-fond of pointing out, an ill-considered Idealism is the Cause of much Misery. The Idealist, blinded by the pure Light of his Vision, and seduced by the ineffable Beauty of that Call which promises Harmony on the Cheap, proceeds without regard to Pitfalls, Stumbling Blocks, or the jagged Rocks which threaten the very Buoyancy of the Ship of State.
It is not that Dreams should be eschewed – it is just that, as Aldous Huxley pointed out – they should be pursued in a pragmatic Way.
An Example of the Lack of Pragmatism is what we read into the News of a Rally that was held last Friday in Calgary, in support of the Palestinian Cause. The Rally was held in front of the City Hall, and the Notice of its Occurrence – and the fact that there would be a Counter-Protest – was known to the Mayor, City Officials, and the Police. (Sun News, July 22)
The Police were not on hand for the Demonstration; perhaps there were Coffee Shops in the City in dire Need of their Patronage.
In the Absence of the Presence of Police, it is perhaps not entirely surprising that a small Group of those on the Israeli Side were attacked, with some having to be taken to Hospital.
When the Police finally did arrive – in response to a 911 Call -- one Policeman said to one of the Victims: "what did you expect, bringing a flag like that?" (Sun News, July 22)
No one was warned. No one was arrested.
It would appear that, in the Interests of Multiculturalism, Canadian Laws are not to be enforced in certain selected Situations. It is far better to let the Mob have its Way, if the Mob seems to represent the Views of a foreign Nation, or a foreign cultural Group.
This is the Allure of Harmony on the cheap. Canadian Values and Canadian Laws will defer to passionate Intensity arising from Conflicts abroad.
What we found particularly interesting is that we heard no Mention of this Incident on CTV News. Nor did we find any Reference in The National Post or in the Globe and Mail.
There are some Things – apparently -- that are best not to mention. Facts, resolutely ignored, will probably drop into the Void of History, falling at so remote a Distance, that no Sound of Shatter, no Perception of Splatter, will impinge upon the serene Unconscious.
The only positive Element in this Story is that one of the Organizers of the Rally, Saima Jamal, has said that the Group responsible plans to apologize. It would appear that there are many other Apologies which would not be amiss.
More generally, it would be heartening to see a Realization that a Failure to uphold and reinforce the Right to Freedom of Speech, and a Deference to Mob Rule are not likely to Result in the desired Nirvana of Harmony.
P.S. Mr. Levant has a Website which allows for the signing of a
Petition, and the Contributing of Funds for a Lawsuit on Behalf of two
of the Victims of the Violence:
www.StopTheRiots.ca. Mr. Levant says that he telephoned a Number of
Lawyers who declined to become involved. This tends to prove our Point:
in the current Ethos, Justice will bow to a fine multicultural Coat with
fancy Buttons -- no Matter that the Hooves are cloven, the Tail
sulphurous -- and smouldering still.
Harmony on the cheap -- purchased by turning a blind eye to the transgressions of those claiming other cultural values -- may yet prove to be unacceptably costly. (Observation # 312)
July 17, 2014
Much misery arises from a devotion to unsuitable ideals. (Observation # 310)
It has been noted that there is a considerable Difference between the Responses of the Conservatives and Liberals to the current Conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.
While Mr. Harper has condemned, quite correctly, the Provocations of Hamas, an Organization not devoted to the Welfare of Residents of Gaza, but to the Destruction of Jews and the Jewish State, the Liberals have adopted a Stance of careful Impartiality. Their Voice is like that which comes from far above, from the third Cloud on the Left, a mere Thirty Feet below the Throne of Harmonious Equality.
The Liberal Statement reads thus:
The Liberal Party of Canada is greatly concerned about the escalating violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip.
We strongly urge all parties to without delay seek an immediate ceasefire. All possible steps must be taken to protect civilian life.
The only path to peace is through negotiation. All sides must demonstrate restraint and a real commitment to peace if this violence is to be quelled.
(Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic, Marc Garneau, quoted in the Landmark Report, July 13)
It is as if the most powerful Weapon in the Arsenal of Language is Platitude. The Liberal Party will wield it, with profound and devastating Effect, until Reality is quelled, weeping and begging for Forgiveness, while a smiling Nirvana sweeps to the Dais to assume her rightful Rule.
Of course, we see this as simply another Example of the Devotion to unsuitable Ideals.
In the Ideal World, Right and Wrong, Good and Evil are entirely chimerical. Deep down, Everyone is the same, Everyone is well-intentioned, Everyone is struggling for Peace and Prosperity. Black Hats, examined carefully, have a Purity of Whiteness not seen with a superficial Glance.
To declare that one Side is right, and the other Side is wrong –
well, such Assessments are simply shallow, in Addition to being rude, offensive,
and divisive. How can the greater Harmony be achieved when one Side of an
Argument is favoured over another? In any Dispute, both Sides are correct; calm
Analysis and a Determination of the Facts will show this to be true.
Lest you think we are, in Fact, rushing to Judgment in this Matter, let us recall the Comments of the Liberal Leader, Mr. Trudeau, when asked about the Boston Marathon Bombings:
But there is no question that this happened because there is someone who feels completely excluded. Completely at war with innocents. At war with a society. (National Post, April 17, 2013)
Mr. Trudeau also spoke of the Need to look for the "root causes" of the Bombings. As we have noted elsewhere,* "root causes" is a Code Phrase of the Left Wing. It does not actually mean "root causes," but rather refers to some Failure in Society which is at the "Root" of some Unpleasantness caused by Individuals.
A malignant Ideology or human Perversity could never be a "root cause." Insufficient Daycare, high Food Prices, or the Awarding of a bad Mark in a Geography Test are far more likely to be granted Root Status.
And if we should go back to 2011, we may recall Mr. Trudeau’s Comment when a Government Document termed Honour Killings "barbaric."
...Mr. Trudeau, the Liberal immigration critic, said he was ‘uncomfortable’ with the government labelling honour killings as ‘barbaric’.... ‘You could say that it’s absolutely unacceptable as a phrase,’ said Mr. Trudeau, adding that the word could have the effect of making newcomers ‘defensive.’ (National Post March 16, 2011)
Well, there you have it. We would certainly not wish to make Newcomers "defensive."
They might feel excluded, marginalized, and take to bombing People. The Root Cause would not be a Culture of perverse Values and traditional Cruelty, but a Failure of our Society to be tactful and polite.
The other Day, we spoke, somewhat in Jest, of the "looming Horror of Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister."
But perhaps our Observation #48 is relevant: Many a jest is an impolitic truth in disguise.
July 15, 2014
On July 3rd, we hailed the News that the Catholic Church had brought Exorcism into the Respectability of Canon Law.
We expressed our Gratitude that Help might be in the Offing for the casting out of our own grievous Devils – the Devil of Doubt and the Beelzebub of Berating the Bearers of Bullshit. It appears that these twin Lucifers might soon be subject to Remedy. A quick Call to the International Association of Exorcists ( 1-666-Gotdevils) might allow for a speedy Exorcism, and a charmed Entry into a blissful State of unthinking Belief.
Now we learn of further Developments – troubling Changes which can only confuse the Committed and perturb the Pious.
The Church of England, that upstart and renegade Institution, is moving in the absolute opposite Direction! It has been determined that "all mentions of the Devil are to be removed from a new alternative form of the baptism service." (National Post, July 15)
What are these People thinking?
According to the Bishop for the Isle of Man, the Rt. Rev. Robert Paterson, "the devil has been turned into a cartoon-like character of no particular malevolence."
But surely the Answer is not to banish the Devil, but to restore him to his former Heights of Moustache-twirling Malignity.
Surely it would not take a prohibitively expensive marketing Campaign to breath Life into a Cartoon Character? Have not Superman and Batman been brought to full Humanity on the Hollywood Screen?
Surely it can be suggested that behind the Ills of our Time – the
Rise of Barack Obama, Gun Violence in the Cities, the Collapse of the Middle
East, the Warmings of anthropogenic Climate Change, the Epidemic of Obesity, the
insidious Desire for the Extraction of Fossil Fuels -- and the looming Horror of
Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister – surely behind all of these it can be
suggested are the twisted Imaginings and perverse Plottings of the Devil?
The Imagination of Mankind, as it will be observed, is not captured by the Ploddings of Science, the careful and antiseptic Weighing of Evidence and the drawing of tentative and preliminary Conclusions.
No! A thousand Times No!
Mankind is attracted to a World of Drama, to the Stories of Epic Struggle, to the desperate Battle between Good and Evil, to the Apocalyptic Contest between the Guys in the White Hats, sporting white Beards and square Jaws, and the dark, shadowy Figures with cloven Hooves and incendiary Tails.
Mark our Words. The Church of England is making a serious Mistake. The World is a mysterious Place – a Place of Enchantment and Terror, Beauty and Death, Hope and Despair.
To make Sense of it all, we need a powerful God of Sweetness and Light, locked in desperate Combat with the dark Forces of Evil and Cunning.
Place your Bets.
Getting rid of the Devil is a Step towards the unutterable Boredom of Test Tube Logic and the Dreariness of Truth.
July 12, 2014
Being on the side of the angels allows for many a pact with the devil. (Observation #243)
The red lips and rouged cheeks of certainty have more allure than the plain unvarnished face of doubt. (Observation #250)
We admit that Reality is often less than pleasing, and cries out for Improvement. But there is great Danger in a wholesale Rejection, a Flight to an Ideal, to a fanciful Flower which shimmers entirely in the Imagination, which draws no Nourishment from the raw and imperfect Soil of Reality.
As we said the other Day: much Misery arises from a Devotion to unsuitable Ideals.
As an Example of these Generalizations, we would point to the Case of Andre Poulin, a Muslim Convert to Islam who died as a Jihadist in Syria. Mr. Poulin is featured in a Film of Propaganda designed to entice Canadians to the Ideal of Jihad.
Mr. Poulin is depicted as saying:
I had money, I had good family. But at the end of the day, it’s still dar al-kufr [a land of disbelief] and at the end of the day you cannot obey Allah fully as you can by living in a Muslim country, in an Islamic state.
I originally come from Canada. Before Islam, I was like any
regular Canadian. I watched hockey, I went to the cottage in the summertime, I
loved to fish, I wanted to go hunting, I like outdoors, I liked sports. I was a
very good person. (National Post, July 11)
This, to us, seems an extraordinary Perversity: the Rejection of Life as it is, in Favour of an Ideal Life based upon Suppositions about a Creator who is entirely imaginary.
We understand that Ideals are often the Engine for Improvement, but some Attempt must be made to determine the Difference between Possibilities and Absurdities.
We have long held that the School Curriculum should teach financial Literacy, so that future Citizens may have some Ideas which will help them on a Path to Prosperity.
Perhaps it is equally desirable to have a Course in Skepticism, so that some Limits may be suggested for Stupidity.
July 10, 2014
As if further Gloom were a Requirement in our already clouded Times, we note a recent Article by Rex Murphy entitled Justin Trudeau on the Upswing. (National Post, July 5)
The upward Swinging of Mr. Trudeau does not bode well for the Body Politic, but that dangerous Trajectory, we reluctantly admit, may well be in Place.
Mr. Murphy argues that the Results of recent By-Elections show that Conservative Attempts to show Mr. Trudeau as both intellectually challenged and suffering from political Aphasia, have not worked. He notes that Mr. Trudeau is insufficiently one-dimensional to be stuffed in a convenient Pigeon Hole, and possesses a "kind of pop star magnetism," which is "media charismatic."
Politics is now a "public performance," and "biography and lifestyle can trump any platform" – as suggested by the recent Rise of a certain Barack Obama.
In a Contest between costumed Actors, declaiming and strutting upon the political Stage, the Applause may well go to Mr. Trudeau rather than Mr. Harper.
We confess that we initially regarded Mr. Trudeau’s political Aspirations as a Joke – an Expression of fanciful Ambition doomed to founder on the Rocks of real Challenge.
In those Days, of course, we had a more elevated Estimation of the common Sense of our Citizenry. With the Re-Election of the Ontario Liberals, puffed with unseemly Arrogance while yet rotten to the Core with Corruption, our heady Views have encountered a Check of Sobriety.
We recall Mr. Einstein’s comment: The difference between
stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.
Mr. Trudeau’s latest Sliver of Wisdom is that a Tax on Carbon would be a Good Thing. He admits that Canada’s Emissions of Carbon are but a Grain of Sand on a considerable Stretch of Beach, but seems to think that Practicality should defer to Drama: Canada, while hobbling itself with the Shackles of Expense, may yet stumble forward bearing a great Torch of Carbon Enlightenment into the great Seas of Economic Reality.
The Applause for this noble Gesture is, apparently, worth the ignominious Sizzle, the evanescent Puffs of Smoke, and the charred black Embers which are a certain Result.
Some of our more perceptive Readers may have deduced a constant Theme in our Ramblings: much Misery arises from a Devotion to unsuitable Ideals. Aldous Huxley said: Dream in a pragmatic way.
The Dreaming is easy; the Pragmatism is difficult.
Mr. Obama made much of Hope and Change, but possessed more fine Words than workable Plans. He has been voted the worst President since the Second World War.*
Mr. McGuinty saw himself as a Leader in the Battle against Climate Change, and a prescient Supporter of Green Energy. His Legacy is one of Coercion, Corruption, and high Costs.
We see Mr. Trudeau as cast in similar Mould. With a pied Costume
of Charisma and Magnetism, he will pipe his Way through the Streets,
gathering the Innocents and Fools. They will be led to a Place darker
than anything suspected in his deficient Imagination.
*We suspect the Time Frame to be an Estimation excessively modest.
July 8, 2014
Where harmony is the greatest good, the notes of truth and justice are often deemed discordant -- harsh voices inadmissible in the reverential choir. (Observation #308)
Every illusion has its price. (Observation #307)
Last October 31, we noted that Advertisements had been removed from Buses in the City of Edmonton:
Muslim Girls Honor killed by their Families
A City Councillor, Amarjeet Sohi, had ordered them removed after receiving some Complaints. He argued that the Advertisements suggested that Honour Killings were particular to Muslim Communities.
They are not, but it is true that when one thinks of Honour Killings, Zoroastrianism or Druidical Ritual are not the first Things that leap to the Forefront of one’s Mind. Pamela Geller claims that Ninety Percent of Honour Killings occur in Muslim Communities.
If this is true, then it would appear that Complaints against the Advertisements have much to do with the cherished Notion of Followers of Islam that their Religion is beyond Criticism. Were it not for this Notion, it would seem reasonable that Muslims might overlook the Fact that Honour Killings occur in other Cultures, and welcome the Attempt to prevent further Incidents in their own.
Indeed, in a more perfect World, one might imagine Muslims in Edmonton writing congratulatory Letters to the Editor in Favour of the Advertisements, and raising Funds for a larger Stop the Honour Killings Movement.
But where Principles collide, we are never surprised to see Truth and Justice defer to Tribal Impulse and religious Folly.
Deference to Muslim Sensibilities seems to be the Fashion of our Times; perhaps it is thought that Silence and an agreeable Smile are the Keys to the City of Harmony. In the End, we suspect, it will be found that the Price of a tenuous Melody was too great; the ultimate Discord will disrupt the Concert, and shake the Foundations of the Hall itself.
It is worthy of note that the City of Edmonton is now being sued for the Removal of the Advertisements. John Carpay, of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has stated:
The City of Edmonton has silenced the voice of a non-profit group that wants to assist Canadian women and girls, protect them from honour killings, and promote gender equality...
Cities cannot discriminate based on content and bus advertisements are an open, public forum and just because a few people complained, that's not a valid reason for the city to pull the ads. (Global News, July 7)
We await the Results of this Case with considerable Interest.
July 3, 2014
The News doth often come accompanied by Thunder, wrapped in Cloudlets of ominous Gloom.
Thus we have News of Flooding in the West, and Tornadoes in the South.
The Ambassador from the United States, with mighty Condescension, tells us to play contentedly with our Toys, and not bother our older Brother with Complaints – he being concerned with more weighty Matters than our childish Intellects can comprehend.
Mr. Obama himself, not that long ago borne to the White House in a Carriage of incandescent Enthusiasm, drawn by the twin Trojan Horses of Hope and Change, has been deemed, in a Poll of Opinion, the worst President since The Second World War.
Our own Version of Mr. Obama – Obama-lite, a pretty Bauble of Feathers and Air, has garnered an Approval of Leadership of 43%, compared with 34% for Mr. Harper.
The Ontario Liberals, though pierced through the Flesh by the Worm of the insidious McGuinty, and rotten at the Core, have yet presented Wynne-polished red Apple Cheeks, and have been granted a Majority by a mindless Electorate.
In Iraq, those in Favour of Stupidity in Caliphate Form, seem destined for Success.
In Palestine, there is Exultation over the Murder of three teenaged Israelis, suggesting that Negotiations with Palestine would best be postponed until the Inhabitants have earned their Freedom from the Asylum.
Observing these overcast Skies, we must rejoice that a small Ray of Sunshine seems to be casting a welcome Modicum of Light: The Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy has recognized the International Association of Exorcists under canon law.
The Association consists of Two Hundred and Fifty Priests in Thirty Countries. The Head of the Association, Francesco Bamonte, has termed the Recognition " a cause for joy," noting: "Exorcism is a form of Charity that benefits those who suffer."
Indeed, we, ourselves, are most pleased, since, for some few Months
we have pondered a dark Possibility: could our Atheism be the Work of the Devil?
We were first alerted to that Possibility when we purchased, earlier this Year, Mr. Dawkins’ The God Delusion.
It seemed to us that the Bookstore in which the Purchase was made seemed abnormally warm. The Fact that the Bookstore was called "Coles" – a homonym for "Coals," seemed not insignificant.
The Clerk who found the Book seemed to walk with some Degree of Encumbrance, which impressed us but little at the Time, but which we now suspect was the Result of a Cloven Hoof Condition. The Price of the Book was $19.99. The Last Three Figures, inverted and reversed, read, ominously, 666.
Upon reaching our Domicile, we opened the Book; our Nostrils, ever sensitive, detected a faint Whiff of Sulphur.
While we found Mr. Dawkins’ Book utterly convincing, we could not shake the faint Sense that perhaps our ready Assent was but the Work of dark interior Forces, which we but dimly recognize, and hesitate to name.
We have consulted the Yellow Pages, under the Headings: Exorcists, 1- 666 got Devils, and Satanic Cleaning Services, but to no Avail.
We have been in a Quandary. We would not wish to approach a clerical Generalist, where a Specialist is clearly called for. We imagine that a botched Exorcism might leave us in a worse State than that in which we currently find ourselves.
Thus, this new News gives us considerable Hope. Certified and approved Exorcists are readily available. A quick call to the International Association of Exorcists will doubtless reveal that there is a Qualified Exorcist within easy driving Distance of the Lumpenbangen Studios.
Perhaps we will be able to expel the Demons, shake off the terrible Curses of Doubt and Suspicion, and find true Salvation with the Mother Church.