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Dr. Dreimer's Diary, 3rdQ, 2015
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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 28, 2015
Capitulation, not Courage. Forfeit Freedom in Favour of Fanaticism. (From Observation #439)
We make no Claim to that Perspicacity which allows for rapid, accurate Judgments.
We tend to be of a meandering, unready Disposition.
For Example – we have had, for some Time now, a vague Sense that the World is descending into a Rabbit Hole, where the cups and Saucers are laid out, awaiting the Arrival of the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, and the Dormouse.
For Hints of Madness -- we have seen Politicians become convinced that Mankind is responsible for Global Warming, despite the Failure of Alarmist Predictions, particularly the Failure of continuous Warming in the light of increased Greenhouse Gasses. This Circumstance shows – to any rational Being -- that the Theory upon which Predictions are based – that Warming arises from Gasses -- is flawed, and in need of rigorous, unbiased Investigation.
We have watched Americans elect, and then, astoundingly, re-elect as President, a Man not merely an incompetent Blusterer, but one devoted to the Destruction of the traditional American Ethos.
We have noted the Popularity of a Pope, armed with the Dreams of Religion, and the discredited Sword of Socialism, tilting, with the Panache of Piety, at Windmills quite distant from his Understanding.
And yet, until Today, it had not dawned upon us that the World is, quite certifiably mad. Nor, we should add, do we see any hopeful Remedy.
What has convinced us that we live amidst the Ravings of the Asylum is this News:
A piece of satirical artwork mocking the Islamic State (IS) has been removed from a free speech event in London, after police warned it was "inflammatory."
The Syrian-born Jewish artist behind the work said she created it to challenge the idea that tackling extremism is somehow "racist" and spoke of the "threat to… freedom" posed by "Islamic fascism" after her art was censored.
The name of the work is Isis Threaten Sylvania. It consists of a series of seven models in light boxes, depicting scenes reminiscent of recent terrorist attacks. The model featuring children’s soft toys called the Sylvanian Families, who are being stalked by other heavily armed soft toys called "MICE IS." (Breitbart, September 26.)
The Event referred to is the "Passion for Freedom" Exhibition.
What is revealed is that " Freedom" is subject to certain practical Considerations. The Police informed the organizers that if the Work were to be displayed, an extra £36,000 would be required for Security Services.
It appears that the Claim that ISIS is threatening is far too bold a Statement to be made amid the Clatter of Teacups and the Chatter of polite Society. Let’s talk about the Weather. Perhaps the Hatter has a Forecast. Perhaps the March Hare has a divining Flare-up of Arthritis. The Dormouse is, fortunately, asleep.
The significant Message is that Terror really does work. When it is thought that Terrorists might be "inflamed," it is best to remain quiet, and hope that they don’t notice Anything.
There is a Balance between Liberty and Security. The Price of Security is always Liberty. The precise Diagnosis of the Madness is that western Societies suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Their Obsession is with Security; they have a correspondingly lesser Desire for Liberty.
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. (Benjamin Franklin, 1706 - 1790)
In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all – security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again. (Edward Gibbon, 1737 - 1794)
September 26, 2015
In the pigsty of reality -- always the cruel hope of a silk purse. (Observation # 447)
The Pope has arrived in the United States, has made some Speeches, and has caused more than a Frisson of Excitement.
It is as if a renowned Story-Teller has appeared at the Campfire, to weave his Tales of Distant Lands and ghostly Encounters, to spin his mythic Yarns of strange Gods, to paint again those Utopian Towers, which, it is said, rise in Magnificence just a few Steps beyond the Rainbow. With such Magic, he holds the eager, wide-eyed Campers bound in the Spell of Fantasy.
We must assume that People become weary of the Humdrum of Reality, and, for Respite, welcome an altered Perspective, a View through a welcoming Prism of Roses and Light.
Not surprisingly -- for a religious Leader -- the Pope spoke of Sin and Redemption.
The environment is being destroyed by "selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity." (National Post, September 26)
The religious View is that God was the original Central Planner. Thus Central Planning – so beloved of the Left – is the obvious Answer to the Difficulties of Life.
If greedy Capitalism is the Sin, then Governments are the Saviour. They must provide "lodging, labour, and land" to the Poor (Breitbart News September 25.)
These two Elements – Sin and Redemption -- are of course, merely Reflections of a grand mythic Battle. On the one Hand, there is Jesus, full of Joy; on the other Hand there is the Devil, whose Aim is Sadness. The Pope told Schoolchildren in Harlem: "The devil always sows sadness because he doesn’t want us happy. He doesn’t want us to dream."
The Word "Dream" of course, is significant. For what does Religion deal with if it is not the Dreams and Aspirations of Mankind?
Our own View is that there is a thin Line between Dream and Nightmare. As an Example, consider that the Pope envisions a Ban on nuclear Weapons. Indeed, he has looked favourably upon the recent Negotiations with Iran on this very Matter:
The Pope commended the nuclear deal recently reached between the UN powers and Iran as "proof of the potential of political good will and of law, exercised with sincerity, patience and constancy," pushing for further application of the non-proliferation treaty with the ultimate goal of completely prohibiting nuclear weapons. (Rt.com, September 25)
Now, of course, Everyone is in Favour of a Ban on nuclear Weapons. If a magic Wand could be waved and nuclear Weapons could be safely destroyed, and the Knowledge required for their Construction be wiped from the collective Memory Bank, who would not vote for such a beneficial Gesture?
But this is not possible. And any Agreement by Nations possessing Weapons could never be trusted. The actual Truth is that People lie, and People cheat. The Fact that the Pope praises the Arrangement with Iran – which has no Intention of refraining from constructing nuclear Weapons – is a telling Marker of his Naiveté.
No, the Pope deals in Dreams, not Reality. It is Stuff pleasant enough, but cannot be taken seriously in the real World.
The Fact is that we are not the Creatures of Central Planning, but of the very competitive selfish Materialism which the Pope condemns. All Life is the Result of competitive, ruthless, Striving. We may dream, and modify that Reality, but never expunge it. That, perhaps, is the great Tragedy of Humankind -- that it aspires to create a World of silk Purses from an available Supply of Sows’ Ears.
Our best Hope is to construct the most serviceable Wallet possible from the Ears at Hand.
The Pope is an Entertainer, a Spinner of impossible Yarns, a Raconteur of old, mythic Battles.
He may be welcome at the Campfire, but, eventually, the Fire must die down, the Embers must be extinguished. At Dawn, the Daylight Journey, with all its Rocks and Rapids, Storms and Predations, must be recommenced.
September 23, 2015
It is our Conclusion that every human Brain has a Silliness Centre.
The Silliness Centre is a Kind of Escape Valve from the Real World. The Real World lacks a certain accommodating Sweetness and Light; foolish Decisions tend to have negative Consequences; even without foolish Decisions, things often end badly.
Who then, can blame the human Brain for developing a Silliness Centre? The Silliness Centre is far more forgiving than the real World. It is a place where Fantasies can roam unchecked, where alternative Realities may be asserted, and where the Rightness of every personal Perception may be maintained without the Need for any corroborating Evidence.
We would note a couple of Examples of the functioning of the Silliness Centre in recent News.
The first is the Case of Ranee Panjabi, a Professor at Memorial University in Newfoundland.
She had been requested by a Student with a hearing Impairment to wear a Device which would transmit Sound to the Student’s hearing Aid.
While the Request does not seem unreasonable, Ms Punjabi declined to do so on the Grounds that her Hindu Beliefs were unalterably opposed to such Actions.
The Student, William Sears, transferred to another Course.
The Playing of the Silliness Centre allowed Ms. Punjabi to play the societal Trump Card – the Silliness Card – and sail, unencumbered, by. Mr. Sears made a discreet, strategic Retreat.
Not quite so lucky has been Kim Davis, the County Clerk in Rowan County in Kentucky. On the other Hand, her Story does show the Power and Influence of the Silliness Centre.
Ms. Davis has had an interesting Past:
By now, everyone knows that Kim Davis is the face (behind bars) of anti-marriage hatred. Everyone also knows that she’s a hypocrite of the first order. Davis has been married four times (twice to the same man). Two of her divorces were separated by just two years. Just to up the Jerry Springer component, she was pregnant by her third husband while still married to the first. She gave birth to twins just five months after she married her second husband, who adopted the kids even though he wasn’t the biological father. (Queerty)
However, since those Days of Flexibility, Ms. Davis has had a wonderful Conversion to a comforting Rigidity-- something sometimes found in the Silliness Centre. Further, she has declared that God has forgiven her.
Armed with this new Purity, Ms. Davis has seen fit to deny Licenses of Marriage to those of the same Sex – in defiance of the Laws which allow them.
Ms Davis was jailed for Contempt for Four Days, and has since returned to her Job. It is claimed that she has, subsequently, altered the Licenses issued during her Absence in such a Manner as to cast Doubt on their Validity.
In spite of her Jailing, Ms. Davis has garnered significant Support from those anxious to protect the Inviolability of the Silliness Centre. In some Respects, it may be considered that she is a Beacon of Hope for those who put Silliness above the Law.
We will mention only in Passing the Case of Zunera Ishaq, (See Diary, September 17) whose Desire to become a Canadian Citizen is not equal to her Desire to express Disdain for the cultural Values of Canada. She will only become a Citizen of that Country on the Terms that it will symbolically renounce its Values. She has successfully – thus far – gained legal Support for her Defiance of a Law which would ban the Niqab – a prime Symbol of Silliness – during a Citizenship Ceremony.
Once again, the Silliness Centre is shown to be a Region of the Brain given a Prominence and Respect beyond any Other.
Altogether, we must conclude that the Silliness Centre occupies a Place of great Repute – often of Supremacy -- in our blessed Land. It is not hard to guess why. Reason and Common Sense are Task Masters of an unforgiving Nature – how we long to escape their cruel Hallmarks of Oppression and Duress!
How welcoming, in Contrast, is the Silliness Centre, which allows us to live in a World of our own choosing, where Evidence is irrelevant, and our Sense of Superiority is assured.
We suspect that the Silliness Centre will maintain a cherished Place of Inviolability in our Society for many Years to come.
September 17, 2015
Tolerance is like alcohol: in
moderate amounts, it softens hard edges, and lubricates the machinery of
social interaction; in excess, it leads to foolishness, incoherence, the
annihilation of principle, and the destruction of the essential self.
(Observation # 101)
We see that the Federal Government has lost its Appeal against a Lower Court Ruling that the Government Ban on the Wearing of the Niqab at Citizenship Ceremonies is not legal. (CTV News, September 15)
There is a Time and a Place for Everything.
No one objects to the wearing of the Niqab in the Privacy of a Home.
While we object to the wearing of a Niqab on the Street, we would not ban the Practice. Rather, we would take every Opportunity to send the Message that such Dress is inconsistent with the Values of our Society.
In Canadian Society – as it has come to be – it is considered appropriate to be able to see the Faces of other Citizens, so that there is a Transparency of social and commercial Interaction.
He who hides his Face adopts a Position of Superiority to his fellow Citizens. He may view the Message Screen of the Faces of Others, and make Judgments accordingly, while keeping his own Display blank and Opaque.
This Method of Opacity is traditionally employed by Criminals, who wish to avoid Recognition and later Detection.
Further, the Niqab is a Symbol of cultural Values antithetical to our own. It is a Symbol of the Repression of Women, and of the Supremacy of Religion in the Governance of Society.
As we have pointed out elsewhere, Symbols do matter.
It is inappropriate to scrawl a Swastika on the Door of a Synagogue, just as it would be inappropriate to draw a Muhammad Cartoon at the Entrance to a Mosque. It would be inappropriate to raise an ISIS Flag on the Lawn at 24 Sussex Drive, just as it is inappropriate for Officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to wear Turbans, Yarmulkes, or any other religious Symbols.
It seems, therefore, entirely appropriate to send symbolic Messages
about offensive Symbols.
What better place to send the Message that the Niqab is a Symbol unwelcome in Canadian Society, than at a Citizenship Ceremony? Surely we must require that those becoming Citizens should respect our cultural Values.
If we do not make such a Requirement, we are announcing that we have no cultural Values worth protecting, that we do not, in fact, stand for Anything at all.
Further, by Default, we are accepting as valid the Proposition that Religion is more important than Secularism, Security, Transparency, and the Equality of Women.
Doubtless the Court feels that it is upholding another, superior cultural Value – that of Tolerance.
If that is their Thinking, we must protest that they are mistaken, and have been caught up in an Enthusiasm for a Concept which they have not adequately considered. G.K. Chesterton correctly observed that "Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions."
It has become the intellectually lazy Habit to think that Tolerance is a Universal Good – that one cannot have too much of it.
This Proposition is, of course, preposterous. One does not tolerate Murder, Theft, Fraud, Slander, public Nudity, profane Outbursts during a Sermon or a Symphony, Sex in Coffee Shops, or falsely crying "Fire" in a crowded Theatre.
It is the Fashion not to consider that "Tolerance" and "Intolerance" are either benign or inappropriate, not in themselves, but according to Circumstance.
So imbued have Citizens become with the Notion that "Tolerance" is a universal Good, and that they may obtain a Sense of smug Superiority by proclaiming and exhibiting it – that they have abandoned common Sense. What they see as a Virtue is, in Fact, a Refusal to exercise their Capacity to make Judgments.
This is, perhaps, a particular Example of a more general Failure – the Failure to understand the Nature of Reality, the Fragility of Rationalism, and the Limitations of human Nature.
September 13, 2015
We are intrigued by the Case of Michael Derrick Hudson, a Creator of Poetry who experienced some Difficulty in getting a Poem accepted for Publication.*
Apparently Mr. Hudson had submitted The Bees, the Flowers, Jesus, Ancient Tigers, Poseidon, Adam and Eve for Publication some forty Times without Success. (National Post, September 8)
Being a Man of some Resourcefulness and Ingenuity, Mr. Hudson then submitted the Poem under the Name Yi-Fen Chou.
With the new purported Authorship, the Poem was rejected Nine Times before being accepted by Prairie Schooner
Subsequently, the Poem has been accepted for Inclusion in the Best American Poetry Anthology for 2015.
While Randomness cannot be ruled out as an Explanation of these Circumstances, it does seem likely that the Quality of the Poem has not been objectively assessed. Rather, it appears that Assessment is based in Part upon the Name of the Author.
In Fact, this should come as no Surprise. We have remarked earlier on the role of "Story" in the price of Art.** We suspect that Mr. Van Gogh’s Paintings would sell for somewhat less, but for the Fact that he cut off his Ear.
Indeed, we have had Occasion to recommend this Stratagem to a Number of struggling young Artists. However, we regret to Report that their Dedication to their Craft – or their Faith in their own Genius -- has, thus far, seemed to be insufficient to the Remedy.***
In this Case, the Poem has been given the Snippet of a Story. This is not the Poem of a humdrum Employee at the Allen County Public Library in Indiana. It is, rather, the Work of one -- quite likely -- a Stranger to our Shores. Who knows what Obstacles have been overcome, what Dedication to Art is represented by The Bees, the Flowers, Jesus, Ancient Tigers, Poseidon, Adam and Eve?
Is the Poem inscrutable, puzzling, reluctant to give up its Secrets? But is this not reputed to be a Wellspring of the Chinese Culture, a Characteristic to be treasured for its unbending Opacity?
What Mr. Hudson has done, simply, is to give his badly titled Poem an exotic Flavour. It is a Dash of Garlic, a Splash of Parsley to a Dish which might otherwise be dismissed as a Blandness of mashed Potatoes.
More importantly, perhaps, he has drawn Attention to what most People already know: the Assessment of Art is subjective, and may be influenced by Factors which are unrelated to the Work itself. Often, the "Story" is the chief Element in how Something is valued.
Beyond that, we were intrigued by a Statement in the National Post Article:
Hudson’s attempt to game the poetry submissions system is, of course, unethical. He lied to reap the benefits of affirmative action, a set of practices designed to ease the effects of ingrained injustice. BAP stunts aside, it’s still much more difficult for female writers and writers of color to get published than for white men.
We think this is utter Nonsense. It assumes that affirmative Action is a valid and legitimate Set of Practices. On the Contrary, it is a misguided Attempt to create Equality through Discrimination. We will concede only that it might be used – for a limited Time only – as a Means of shocking People out of their Prejudices. But what has happened is that certain Groups have been given Advantage in Perpetuity. This simply institutionalizes Discrimination under the Banner of banishing it. It is a wonderful Example of the Stupidity of Humankind. It requires Merit to defer to bureaucratic Favouritism.
Indeed, if the Topic of Discrimination is introduced into the Affair, it becomes clear that the Poem was selected on the Basis of political Correctness. Mr Hudson should be congratulated for exposing Racial Discrimination as a Factor in assessing the Merit of Poems.
It has been reported in the Washington Post (September 8 ) that Mr. Sherman Alexie, who was responsible for selecting, The Bees, the Flowers, Jesus, Ancient Tigers, Poseidon, Adam and Eve, has admitted to being biased with respect to Race:
And he acknowledged that he was "more amenable" to the poem because he thought its author was Chinese American. There was nothing explicitly culturally Chinese about the poem — indeed, it seems obsessed with imagery from Western culture — but that only made it more interesting to Alexie. The award-winning Native American author, who has been involved in the "We Need Diverse Books" campaign, said that "Yi-Fen Chou" benefited from a form of minority writer nepotism, just as many white, male writers have long benefited from white, male writer nepotism.
What then, is the Point of selecting the "Best Poems?"
We think that the World has become almost unbearably silly. Instead of seeing People for who they are, we insist on seeing them as Members of Groups. The Individual becomes lost in some Generalization about a Group that he or she belongs to. Each Group sees itself as composed of Victims who must jealously guard against perceived Slights.
As an Example of how far the Madness has gone -- it is considered a Scandal to write a Story from the Perspective of a Member of a Group different from One’s own. Thus a white Writer cannot write a Story in which the Narrator is Black, or Chinese, or Aboriginal.**** Carrying that Principle to its logical Conclusion, no Female could write from the Perspective of a Male, and no young Person could pretend to be old.
Once again, at the Core of this Stupidity is the perverse Notion that the best Path to Equality is through determined Policies of brazen, shameless Inequality.
Thus, we have much Sympathy for Mr. Hudson. We are not, of course, familiar with his Work; therefore, we cannot be sure that his Genius is equal to our own, and that the Injustice he has encountered is of the same Magnitude. The truly awful Title of his Poem suggests that his Mistreatment is of a significantly lesser Degree than our own.
** See Diary, July 5, 2010
*** We have briefly considered some similar Approach to gaining Fame and Fortune; however our highly developed aesthetic Sense has been a Bar to Action. The one-eared lack a certain Symmetry which we consider essential to an ordered Universe. We have decided instead, to take a Page from Mr. Hudson’s Book, and change our Name to Zen Chou Lai.
****Not surprisingly, the Principle works only to condemn white Writers. A Chinese Person writing as a young black Girl would be perfectly acceptable.
September 9, 2015
We note that Mr. Harper’s Conservatives are now the least favoured Party in the federal Election Campaign – according to the current Polls.
We suspect that Mr. Harper’s Lack of anguished Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis may have some Part in this Result.
According to an Article in Yesterday’s Post, Mr. Harper was interviewed by Peter Mansbridge, and asked whether Canada was doing enough to assist Refugees from Syria. Mr. Harper responded with the Question: "What is enough?"
His Point is that there are Millions of Refugees, arising from many Conflicts, and that the Problem cannot be solved by simply transporting Refugees to other Countries. To borrow a left wing Term – that does not deal with the "root cause" but only the Symptom of the Malady.
We think Mr. Harper is correct, but, of course Human Beings are swayed by Ideals and Emotions; cold, rational Analysis can be a Betrayal of human Aspiration.
We heard one Caller to a CBC Radio Show whose Antagonism to Mr. Harper could only have arisen from a Belief that Mr. Harper had personally travelled to the Waters near Turkey to overturn the Dinghy in which Aylan Kurdi was travelling in order to cause his Death.
Doubtless this Belief had its Genesis in the Misinformation – widely reported in the Media – that Canada had rejected an Application by Tima Kurdi for Refugee Status for her Brother, Abdullah, Aylan’s Father. That Application had been made for another Brother, Mohammed. Even if the Application had been for Abdullah, the Boy’s Death could not have been attributed to a rejected Application.
We do not pretend to have a Solution to human Tragedy. Anyone
answering his Door and faced with a particular desperate Request for
Aid, is likely to respond with Generosity.
But there are always practical, general Considerations. Mr. Harper has indicated that there is Concern for Security in admitting Thousands of Refugees from a Part of the World where Terrorism abounds.
Our own Sense of Practicality is driven by the Apprehension of ancient Grievances and radical cultural Differences.
We think that it is reasonable that those answering the desperate Pleas should take precautionary Measures of Screening. In Addition, the ancient Principle – "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" – has not, in our View, been superseded by the modern Principle that cultural Differences are irrelevant. When there are large Numbers of Refugees, a Course devoted to an Explication of that ancient Principle seems only sensible.
We understand that our View runs counter to the idealistic Precept of Multiculturalism – that hopeful Perception that all Cultures are equal. We think that idealistic Precept is, to use a technical Term from Anthropology, completely bonkers.
Does the truly practical Man take Account of hopeful and idealistic public Sentiment?
We suspect that Mr. Harper could undoubtedly turn his political Fortunes around fairly quickly. He simply needs to bend to the prevailing Winds. A Granny Flat constructed on the Grounds of 24 Sussex Drive -- with an Invitation to Syrian Families -- should be given some earnest Consideration.
September 2, 2015
Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. (George Orwell, 1903 - 1950)
The claim that something should be beyond criticism is a sure sign of its inadequacy. (Observation # 416)
A concerted attempt to shield people from experiencing hurt feelings may appear noble; but a price is paid in the coin of freedom, and in the currency of truth. (Observation # 407)
We are pleased to be living in Times of such Benevolence and cultural Sensitivity.
It is surely a Truth universally acknowledged that Mankind is destined to live in Harmony, and the various Cultures, with sufficient Accommodation and Goodwill on all Sides, will achieve the pleasant Solidarity of the Hive, with a contented and mellifluous Buzzing the Signal that the universal Plan of Nirvana has finally been achieved.
We note that at the very Forefront of our Efforts of Benevolence is the Province of Quebec, the Home of a People long noted for their Sagacity and Wisdom in Matters of cultural Bonhomie and generous Tolerance.
It has come to our Attention that a new Bill -- Bill 59 -- is proposed which would allow Lawsuits against those critical of Islam. We understand that a Fine of up to Twenty Thousand Dollars might be levied in a successful Prosecution.
According to an Article in this Day’s Post, the Impetus for this much needed Bill comes from an expectedly benign Source, the Quebec Human Rights Commission.
The Director of the Commission, Jacques Frémont, a man of large Vision and expansive Understanding, sees the Prosecution extending to Internet Sites promoting undesirable Ideas. His stated Aim is to "change mentalities" in order to "change culture." (National Post, September 2)
We are most grateful that a Man of Mr. Frémont’s Perspicacity and High-Mindedness has appeared to rescue us from the Squabbling and Dissension which we find so troubling and counter-productive. There is no Doubt that – as a Director of the esteemed Quebec Human Rights Commission -- he is in an unimpeachable Position to determine what should and what should not be expressed.
If we have one small Quibble, it is that the Penalty for Criticism of Islam – the Twenty-thousand Dollar Fine -- may be too light, and those devoted to the Evil of voicing contrary Opinion may be insufficiently deterred.
Islam itself has a certain Predilection for rigorous Punishments, such as Amputation, Stoning, Lashing, and Decapitation. If Mr. Frémont wishes to put his benign Vision into Reality on a timely Basis, he might wish to consider the Implementation of such no-nonsense and effective Options.
In other News of this Day, we note that, in Germany, an Afghan Man tore pages from a Koran and threw them into a Toilet.
This caused such righteous Indignation among the justly offended, that a Riot ensued:
an angry Syrian migrant mob reacted by chasing him through the streets of a refugee area in Suhl, Germany...The Syrian men, armed with iron rods, bricks and concrete blocks, then they went completely berserk. They smashed doors, windows, police cars chased the journalists and tossed about with furniture and other things..." (Breitbart News, September 2)
We cannot but help seeing a Link between these two stories. Surely, if Bill 59 were the Law in Germany, the Afghan Man’s Mentality would have been such that he would never have acted in so blasphemous a Manner. His Life would never have been put in Danger, the Syrian Men would not have gone berserk, Property would not have been damaged, and the Police would not have been required to intervene.
We think that Bill 59 should be enacted and enforced as soon as possible.
Peace and Harmony must be the chief and undiluted Aim of all right-thinking Citizens.
August 20, 2015
Amid the Doom and Gloom of declining Stock Markets, political Uncertainty in Canada, and Trouble in the Middle East, we are pleased to find at least one Ray of reassuring Sunshine.
We have learned today – from Breitbart News -- that –at last -- some clarity, efficiency, and common Sense has been brought to the vexed business of the Nuclear Program in Iran.
There has been considerable Worry that Iran is determined to develop a nuclear Bomb, and a recent Agreement has been reached which limits the Pace of that Development. The World is relieved that Iran will be allowed to develop the Bomb at a "Goldilocks" Pace – not so quickly as to alarm, unduly, its Neighbours, and not so slowly as to make the Iranians anxious, irritable, and uncharacteristically out-of-sorts.
There has been some lingering Concern among Worrywarts, that Inspections of the Proceedings in Iran will be insufficient, and the Pace of Development might be secretly accelerated, making Mr. Obama and his Administration look like complete and utter Fools, the mere witless Toys and naive Playthings of the Iranians, the feckless, hapless Losers in a one-sided Battle against superior Determination and Cunning.
We are most pleased that all these minor nagging Concerns and minimally bothersome Apprehensions have been put, convincingly, to rest.
An agreement between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran – a "Side Deal" to the main Agreement -- has stipulated that the Iranians themselves will be responsible for inspecting the Parchin Site, where it is alleged that nefarious Activity has taken Place. Iran has refused any Access to the Parchin Site for many Years.
We are always elated when Chaos gives way to Order, Muddle defers to Clarity, and clear, rational Analysis shines a revealing Light through a Fog of Confusion.
The Solution is Brilliant in Conception, and admirable in its
Who would be more knowledgeable of the Activities conducted at an Iranian Site than the Iranians themselves? There will be no need for Iranian Inspectors to muddle about, wandering through Labyrinths, seeking for the Location of nefarious Activities. They will not waste Time -- asking needless Questions, or fiddling about in Areas of no Consequence. They will be able to proceed immediately to any Chambers of Nefariousness, make a detailed Report of clandestine Activities, and send E-mails to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
A second great Advantage is in the Matter of Cost. If International Inspectors were to arrive in Iran, they would have considerable travel Expenses. There would be Plane Fares, Taxi Rides, Meals and overnight Accommodation. As Foreigners, they might be tempted to view Tourist Sites, Prisons, or take in some public Hangings. This would entail further Transportation Costs, and egregious Wastes of Time. Far better to have local Iranian Inspectors who live nearby – perhaps within Walking Distance of the Facility.
Indeed, it would seem advantageous to employ those already working at the Site. Inspections might well be carried out during Lunch Breaks, or in the few Minutes available at the Beginning or Conclusion of a regular Shift.
Finally – a relatively minor Advantage – there would be no need for expensive Translators, and no risk of Mis-Communication. If an Inspector were to ask: "Where is the most secret and forbidden Activity taking place today?" – there would be no Language Barrier. The Inspector would be readily understood, and would immediately be directed to the area of the most significantly nefarious Machinations.
We do tend to worry a little about these Things. (We suspect that it may be a Result of congenital Nervousness combined with the anxious Fussbudgetry so typical of advancing Age.)
We are most pleased to learn of this sensible, efficient, cost-effective Solution.
August 12, 2015
What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! (Hamlet)
One does not have to read deeply into the Day’s News to find see the Irony of these fine Sentiments.
We have learned that in the progressive City of Dubai – in the United Arab Emirates – "a global city and business hub of the Middle East,"* a Father allowed his Daughter to drown, rather than have her rescued by male Lifeguards.
The Touching necessarily involved in the Rescue would have "dishonoured" her. The Father evidently subscribes to the Notion that Death should come before a peculiar Concept of "Dishonour."
This reminds us of the Incident in Saudi Arabia in 2002, in which Schoolgirls were prevented from leaving a burning School, since they lacked the appropriate Islamic Dress for Appearances out of doors.
We did not need further Proof of the potential Insanity of Religion – but these two Incidents provide it in ample Measure.
What is even more distressing is that Religion itself – with its cruel Hold on the human Imagination – is merely a Symptom of a terrible Vulnerability in the Nature of Man.
We saw last Evening an Account of "The Third Wave" – a "Thought Experiment" conducted in a Pao Alto High School in 1967 by one of the Teachers, Ron Jones.
A Student had asked why People had followed Hitler. Why did people not reject the Path down which they were being led?
Mr. Jones responded with an Experiment. He created a new Community, "The Third Wave." Students who participated would receive a Grading of "A." Those who did not were banished to the Library.
With such a Carrot, most Students participated. They were given Mantras to live by. "Strength through Discipline" required a disciplined Stance and Behaviour in the Classroom. "Strength through Community" emphasized the Accomplishment of Homework Tasks through Co-Operation and Community Effort. "Strength through Action" required an aggressive Campaign of Recruitment among Students in other Classes.
Informants were chosen to report on those not living up to the Ideals of the Community. But Informants became common – even though they had not been designated as such. Mr. Jones suddenly acquired Bodyguards.
When Posters of Criticism were mounted, they were torn down by Community Members. Dissidents were banished, and Adherents, anxious to be Part of the new Wave, grew. A special new "Third Wave" Salute was developed – which identified Members of the Group. If a Student expressed Doubts, he would be "shunned" by his former Friends.
The Community was remarkably successful – with many Adherents from other classes.
Finally, Mr. Jones revealed that the Community was merely Part of a Nation-wide Movement designed to create a new Political Party. The Leader of the New Party would be announced on Television, in the Assembly Hall, at a particular Date.
When the Community assembled, Reporters gathered, and the Television Set was turned on. At first, there was only Snow – then – Images of the Leader -- Hitler -- appeared. In Addition, there were Film Clips of enthusiastic, marching Nazi Youth.
The point that was made is that Americans are no different from Germans. Human Beings, properly manipulated, are capable of great Error, great Stupidity, and, eventually, great Atrocity.
Surely that is what we see with Religion. The carrot is the Afterlife; the Sauce is the Sense of Belonging and Community. The Cost is in Freedom, and common Sense.
We have observed that Religion is, essentially, tribal in Nature. Man has progressed through the Co-operation achieved by Members of Tribes. That Willingness to co-operate for Reward and Belonging has a dark Side: the Limits of Acquiescence seem distant and scarcely discernible.
Every Tribe needs some Degree of Uniformity, some Element of Agreement in order to function. But the Danger is that Freedom is banished, and common Sense is ignored. Daughters are drowned, and Schoolgirls are burned to Death because of some ludicrous tribal Taboo.
We think that all High Schools should teach a Course in Skepticism.
August 5, 2015
We confess that we are of a generally gloomy and dour – we might even say sour -- Disposition. We suspect that a genetic Predisposition, coupled with what we have been able to observe of the World – the Pervasiveness of the Operation of Murphy’s law – the Inevitability of Death and Taxes – the Triumph of Climate Alarmists in promoting Climageddon --and the Obdurate Mess of local Politics and International Affairs – all these have resulted in our present State of unrelieved Pessimism.
Thus it is with some –admittedly tempered – modicum of Delight that we have responded to the News of a significant Expression of Humour from the Country of Iran.
Iran, as might be expected, is in a rare Condition of Jubilation and Self-Congratulation.
The great American Leader, Barack Obama, renowned for his Accomplishments, Prescience, and generally unimpeachable Solomonic Wisdom, has -- along with other Countries -- concluded an Arrangement with Iran with Respect to their nuclear Program. In Return for Billions of Dollars, it has been agreed that the Iranians may do anything they please, as long as they do not draw undue Attention to whatever it is that they are doing.
Under these benign and favourable Circumstances, it is perhaps not surprising to see a Bubbling Up of that irrepressible Wellspring of satiric Humour for which the Iranians are justly famous.
The supreme Leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Ali Khameni has released a new side-splitting Work –regrettably only in Persian -- which scales new Heights of Risibility – even for the Iranian Sensibility.
Mr. Khameni, brings the Art of intimate, inter-country Joshing to a new Level, as he reiterates the three important Words for defeating Israel:
"nabudi," which translates as "annihilation," "imha," which means "fading out," and "zaval," meaning "effacement." (Breitbart News, August 4)
We have not actually read the Work – but this Glimpse suggests that it is, truly, a Scream.
Riotously, Khameni goes on to muddle about in ancient History to find Justification for this mock-Annihilation. Apparently – get this – because Muslims once conquered Jerusalem, it is in the proper and natural unfolding of Things that Jerusalem must forever have a Muslim Government.
Knowing the Appeal of tried-and true Humour among the Iranian Populace, Mr. Khameni brings in the old Joke about America being the Great Satan. It is Israel’s close Association with the American Scheme to take over the Heartland of the Muslim World, that makes it a Target for Effacement.
Such Conceptions -- we can scarcely repress a Guffaw -- reach beyond Absurdity to the Ludicrousness of near-Insanity!
It sounds as though Mr. Khameni has a real Winner on his Hands! It is a Pity that his Work – not being of Canadian Origin -- will not be eligible for the Leacock Medal.
As we have indicated, we have not read the Book – our Knowledge of Persian is less than mediocre. But from what we have read concerning the Contents – well -- we are in a State of considerable Excitement regarding a possible Translation.
It may well be that Mr. Khameni’s comedic Skill has produced an ironic Masterpiece –which could be just the Ticket for a some hearty Chuckles – and a temporary Relief from our habitual Gloom.
August 2, 2015
We may be accused of excessive Optimism, but we are beginning to hope that the Prince of Darkness is, at last, being treated with the Seriousness he deserves.
For many Years, in this ungodly Age, the Devil has receded from the public Imagination. The Sounds of his cloven Hooves upon the Cobblestone, the Sight of his Horns and Pitchfork, the Whiff of Sulfur emanating from his Presence have become -- like the fiery Region of his Abode -- no more than Shadows. He has become like the harmless conceptualized Villains of Fiction – like the imagined Characters of a Child’s Comic Book.
We blame this unfortunate Decline on Religion itself, which has sought to pander to popular Taste. The Notion of everlasting fiery Torment, used for Centuries to terrify the common Folk -- illiterate and ignorant -- having limited Knowledge of the real World – has been seen as inconsistent in an Age in which Science has brought us Washing Machines, Television, and the Internet.
The prosperous Parishioner of modern Times, is less likely to give to the Collection Plate when threatened with Hellfire than when made to feel important in responding to an Appeal to repair the aging Pipe Organ.
As we have noted many Times in these Pages, the wonderful old Belief in Original Sin has been replaced with the shiny, modern, and patently false Belief in Original Goodness – much to the Detriment of Society as a Whole.
It is almost certain that the Devil -- or the Lack of him – has had much to do with the many social Ills of the Age.
As Mr. Dylan so correctly observed, the Times – they are a-changing.
The other day – (See Diary, July 31) – we were informed of an Exorcism to be broadcast "live" on October Thirtieth. We cannot place a great Deal of Importance on this Event – since it appears to be an Amateur Effort. Or at least, no Names of religious Authorities were announced Thus, while the Event does help to bring Beelzebub out of the Shadows, it does not have the Force and Significance of an Exorcism conducted with all the Gravitas of ancient Ceremony conducted bythose with an intimate Knowledge of the Devil and his Works.
More significant was the Exorcism performed for the Country of Mexico in June. Religious Authorities, quite rightly in our View, had determined that the entire Country of Mexico was suffering from a grievous "satanic infestation."
We understand that such Infestations are akin to Plagues of Locusts
and Inundations of Imps. Only the strongest Incantations, chanted by the
most powerful and experienced Exorcists can have any Hope of undoing
such terrible Possessions.
Indeed a "Magno Exorcismo" was performed.
And in this particular Case, Mexico was much benefited by having the "Exorcismo" conducted by Father José Antonio Fortea, a Justin Bieber of the Incantatory World Stage of Spiritual Purification.
We confess that we have not heard of all the Results of Father Fortea’s Efforts; doubtless a List of beneficial Changes is being compiled even as we compose these Words of awed Appreciation.
Our Optimism is reinforced by the News which we have just received Today: an Exorcism has been performed over the entire Italian Town of Castellammare di Stabia.
The town had been suffering from "profanations, sacrilegious thefts from churches, and destruction of crosses." (Breitbart News, August 1)
These Evidences of the Devil are no doubt related to other ominous Manifestations: the Town’s thermal Baths have closed; its Cable Car to Mount Faito has been shut down ; Crime is high – and the Harbour is unswimmable because of Pollution.
We have no Indication of the official Designation of the Exorcism conducted.
Apparently, there were Prayers and a Sprinkling of Holy Waters over the Town. This was done from a rented Helicopter. We must suppose that the Vatican is in Possession of its own dedicated Exorcism Helicopter; the Fact that a local, rented Helicopter was used suggests that the "Exorcismo" was not "Magno."
We suspect that it was, perhaps, an "Exorcismo" somewhat "modesto."
If the Helicopter was really old and clunky, and the Exorcist-in-Charge was, correspondingly, of the third Tier, it may even have been an "Exorcismo" of the "minimo" Variety.
Regardless, the Important Element here is that the Devil is being given his Due. He is being treated with exactly the Kind of Seriousness appropriate to his Rôle in our ever-changing modern Life.
July 31, 2015
We are close to a Conniption Fit of Excitement!
We have just learned that an Exorcism is to be performed this October Thirtieth, and will be broadcast on Television on that same Date. The program is called Exorcism: Live!
We confess that seeing a "live" Exorcism is very high on our "Bucket List." Indeed, it is preceded only by our Desire to discover the true Cause of the Disappearance of Socks in the Laundry, and to see the Pope, so troublingly possessed by Climate Alarmism be brought back to a State of Grace.
All three Items on our List concern the Activities of Satanic Forces; the Battle against these Beelzebubbian Abominations has been a Topic of consuming Interest for many Years.
One positive Sign for the Exorcism – we note that, by October Thirtieth, the Canadian Election will have been held, and the Threat of Evil Spirits emanating from a Trudeau Government – something virtually guaranteed to hinder Exorcisms world-wide – will – if our Prayers are answered – have thankfully passed.
The Deal with Iran with Respect to its Nuclear Facilities will also, no Doubt, be in Place. Thus, the evil Wavelengths from that Country, which have so long roiled and disturbed the Spirit World, will no longer be an Issue. Instead of developing a nuclear Bomb, the Iranians will be focussed on the Improvement of public Gardens throughout the Middle East, and the Establishment of affordable Day Care Centres in major Iranian Cities.
When we first read of this News, we had hoped to see Father José Antonio Fortea – who recently conducted an Exorcism in Mexico* – in Action.
However, it appears that this Exorcism is to be conducted on the House in St. Louis which was featured in the Film, The Exorcist. Father Fortea is probably called in only when a whole Country, such as Mexico, is in the Grip of the Prince of Darkness.
The House in St. Louis is much smaller, and is described as having "lurking spirits and demons." (Breitbart News, July 31) The "Lurking" – while not pleasant – does not seem to amount to the Degree of Evil in Mexico, which was described as a "satanic infestation."
In fact, the Names of no Prominent Exorcists Are given; we think this is a Mistake. A Concert given by Justin Bieber will naturally attract more Interest than one given by Willie Loman, of Hoboken, New Jersey. Indeed, as we re-read this News Announcement, there is no Indication that any Spiritual Authority will be present.
Surely this whole Affair is not to be left to Amateurs!
Amateurs are the Kiss of Death in the Exorcism Business! Many is the Time – troubled by minor Hauntings in the upper Hallway, and unseemly Poltergeist Activity in the Bathroom -- and unable to afford recognized spiritual Authorities -- we have called in non-religious Entities. Our Conclusion is that the Pest-be-Gone and Devil-Duper People are simply not up to the Job.
Frankly, our Excitement over this Exorcism has cooled considerably.
We may still watch on October Thirtieth. But our Priorities will
shift to Socks and the unfortunate demonic Possession of the Pope.
*See Diary, June 17, 2015
July 30, 2015
And this alone the skeptic's daunting task:
The Idealists believe – or so it would seem – that human Society is no more than a complicated Clock. When it is wound up correctly, when the Gears are properly regulated, it will tick along nicely, chiming a harmonious Bell at the Hour, and showing Time to be a Child of some great Universal Regularity.
Thus the traditional Approach to Bullying sees the Bully as a flawed, eccentric Gear. He carries the Grief of some unfortunate Happenstance of Misalignment, some Error of inadequate Circularity, some accidental Mark of early Twistedness, which, once addressed, will allow him the Function of his inherent, complementary Perfection in the social Mechanism.
In other words, the natural State of the World is Perfection, and, if it is sick, disturbed, and fails to function according to our Expectations, there is, somewhere, a Physic for the Body, a Remedy for the Mind which will restore all to the Health and Sanity of natural Balance.
We, of course, have always maintained that Society is at constant War within Itself. Our Legacy of Evolution – the competitive Spirit of the Law of the Jungle, the Constancy of innate Striving -- is in unending Battle with our Idealistic Notions of Harmony, Equality, Peace, and Rest.
We are always gratified to find some Confirmation of our undoubtedly correct Insights.
Thus we are pleased to learn of a new Canadian Study which claims that bullying behaviour is "in the genes." (National Post, July 28)
The competitive Element in our Nature is delighted to exclaim: "We told you so!"
A Survey of Vancouver High School Students revealed that "bullies were the least likely to be depressed, had the highest self-esteem[,] and the greatest social status."
Jennifer Wong, the Professor of Criminology who led the Study claims that "Humans [sic*] tend to try to establish a rank hierarchy."
This seems to make perfect Sense to us. It is our evolutionary
Legacy. "Equality" is the impossible Ideal which may temper competitive
Striving – but never replace it.
Thus, while the Idealists try to find the "Root Cause" of Bullying, with the Aim of extirpating it with a Dose of Sweet Reason, and idealistic Happy Thoughts, Realists would argue that Roots cannot be extirpated without killing the Plant.
Naturally, we are not arguing in favour of Bullying. We still remember the obnoxious Child who used to threaten us at a particular point – we think it was a Bus Stop – on our Route to Ryerson Public School in London, Ontario – many decades ago.
The Solution, apparently, is not to sweet talk "biologically hard-wired" Behaviour into Reform – but to re-direct it. Increasing the Range and Scope of competitive Activities in the School is the Prescription.
A pilot project at an Arizona school sought to steer students identified
as bullies into high-status
It is reported that "bullying fell dramatically."
We need no further Arguments to convince us of the Truth of these Revelations. They are, of course, in Accord with our long-held World View.
We do not think, however, that such Ideas will be welcomed by the Idealists. They are besotted with the Notion of Equality. They seek to get rid of Competition, not expand it. In their perfect World, every sporting Event ends in a Tie - or, better still – no Score is kept at all. Students should not receive Marks, since this invites invidious Comparisons, and is likely to damage the fragile Egos of the less successful.
In their World, Self-Esteem is the chief Good; Merit and Accomplishment are – ironically -- judged – and given a failing Grade.
The Trouble with their World is that, it looks good, and it sounds
good -- but it is a Clock that won’t run. It simply cannot tell you the
Time – or the Truth.
*We do wish "human" had resisted the impulse to become a noun. It functioned perfectly well as an adjective -- as in the phrase, "human being."
July 28, 2015
Tolerance extended to intolerance looks very much like stupidity. (Observation # 234)
It is our considered Opinion that Idealism presents a great Difficulty for Mankind – since it acts as a Barrier to seeing Things as they are, and as a Roadblock to becoming aware of the Limits to Things as they might be.
A Modicum of Idealism is useful – since it is a Spur to Improvement. "Things as they are" are usually flawed, and it may be helpful to measure them against an Ideal. But too often the Desire to change what is unsatisfactory leads to a Commitment to creating the Impossible. In baking the social Cake, it may be perceived that a Dash of Peppermint will improve the Flavour; the Danger is to conclude that three Cups of Peppermint will provide a gastronomical Delight suitable to, and blessed by, the Gods.
This, of course, is precisely the Error of Multiculturalism.
In an Effort to achieve the Ideal --to appear more tolerant than is humanly possible, our Societies have been brainwashed into thinking that all Cultures are equal. Once this Premise is accepted, no Criticism of any Culture can be made – since no Idea about the Conduct of Life can be deemed better than any other. Thus, the Differences between Freedom and Repression, Church and State, gender Equality and Patriarchy, between cruel Traditions and the attempt to see Things as they are – all such Distinctions are irrelevant.*
This is, of course, complete Nonsense. However, it is Nonsense which has official Approval, and –initially – is the Source of much self-satisfied, holier-than-thou Smugness.
It is only Natural that Flaws to the Ideal should begin to appear.
It is well-known that the general Muslim Belief is that their Religion is beyond Criticism, and a significant Number of Muslims feel that Death is an appropriate Punishment for Mockery. There were fatal Riots when the Danish Cartoons were published in 2006, and Eleven People were killed on January Seventh of this Year in a Raid on the Offices of the French satirical Magazine, Charlie Hebdo.
This arrogant Belief – that a Religion – a foolish, unverifiable Hypothesis about Matters of Fantasy, about Matters not amenable to Discoveries of Fact – should be exempt from Criticism upon Penalty of Death – is simply not compatible with the Beliefs of essentially secular Societies – Societies which have achieved Freedom and Prosperity in large Measure by rejecting Superstition --by separating the Spheres of Church and State.
Indeed, we see the Attempt by those committed to Religion to enforce such primitive Absolutism on the World at large as an egregious Provocation.
There are two Responses to such Provocation. The First is to submit quietly. Whether that Submission is justified as a Prudence of Fear or as a Magnanimity of Tolerance – the Effect is the Same. The Message is that we will submit quietly, and that further Demands will be received in the same Spirit. Bullies are encouraged, not appeased, by silent Compliance to their Demands.
The Second Response is to fight back. Our Society holds that Mockery is legitimate, and that Citizens should have the freedom to express their Opinions.
How should this Battle be waged?
Earlier this year, Pamela Geller held a "Draw Muhammad Contest" in Texas.** This Contest is an Assertion that our Society is not bound by the Requirements of a repressive, fanatical Religion. Not surprisingly, it was attacked by two Fanatics. Fortunately, it was they who were killed.
It is our Belief that "Draw Muhammad Contests" should be held as
often and in as many Locations as possible. People who engage in
childish – though murderous – Tantrums must be shown that their barbaric
Rages will have no Effect. When Expressions of Freedom are muted and
small in Number, they are vulnerable to Attacks. When the Expressions of
Freedom are widespread and numerous, the barbaric Rage is divided, is
dispelled in many Directions, and must lose its Force.
No doubt the Religion of Islam can be practised without the Barbarities of Fanaticism. At the same time that "Draw Muhammad Contests" are held, we must find some Way of indicating that peaceful religious Practise is acceptable.
We have learned that a "Draw Muhammad Contest" is planned in Britain. (Breitbart News, July 27) However, a Left-Wing Organization called "Hope not Hate" believes that the "Authorities" should act to restrict the "Counter-Jihadists."
We think that the Name of the Organization should be changed to "Capitulation, not Courage."
As further Proof to our Thesis, we would note that a Frenchwoman was attacked and beaten recently by some young Women, aged 16 -24, in a Park in Reims. Her serious Offence was the wearing of a Bikini. It is assumed that the Attackers were from a nearby Housing Complex with a large Muslim Population. (The Independent, July 28)
This Assumption of Islamic Motivation may appear like a Leaping to Conclusion – it may well be that they were Druids from a nearby Cave. Druids are known – far and wide – to oppose Bikinis on religious Grounds.
The Response, we believe, was exactly correct:
Protesters organised a demonstration in bikinis and other bathing costumes in the park where the attack occurred, in Reims in northern France. Although drizzle and cold winds meant only about a dozen people turned out, hundreds across France responded to a Twitter appeal by the anti-racist organisation SOS Racisme to post images of themselves or others wearing skimpy bathing costumes in public places, under the hashtag #jeportemonmaillotauparc (I wear my swimsuit in the park). (The Independent, July 28)
If a Bikini were not so utterly inappropriate to our Age, Dignity, and a Plethora of corporeal Inadequacies, we would consider proceeding to Gage Park – which is within walking Distance of the Lumpenbangen Studios – in precisely that Attire.
It is time to stop pretending that some cultural Values are not better than others. Some Things are better than Others. This is a universal Principle which lies behind all Evolution, all Progress, and all Improvement. Those who derive a sanctimonious Sense of Superiority from showing Tolerance to bad Ideas are making a foolish Bargain. Appeasement of primitive, aggressive superstitious Belief will only result in a greater Conflict later on – when the Demands escalate from merely egregiously oppressive to absolutely, unthinkably intolerable.
* Adapted from Observation #414
**See Diary, May 31, 2015
July 23, 2015
We expect the World to contain and display a certain Degree of Folly. Indeed, if the World were more nearly rational, it would be far less interesting, and the Scope for our Commentaries upon it would be much reduced.
However, sometimes we feel an unexpected Affinity for Alice, who, it is said, one Day found herself hurtling down a Rabbit Hole, to land in a World of Topsy Turvy which had all the Characteristics of a disjointed, bizarre, and surprising Dream.
Today is one of those Days when this Affinity is most pronounced.
According to Breitbart News, Susan Rice, the National Security Advisor for the United States "has admitted the existence of two secret ‘side deals’ between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to accompany the main Iran nuclear deal agreed last week between Iran and the P5+1 powers..."
These "Deals" concern the Parchin Military Site, and the Military Dimensions of the Iranian nuclear Program.
They have been discovered by Senator Tom Cotton and Representative Mike Pompeo who met with the Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna last Week. They "will remain secret and will not be shared with other nations, with Congress, or with the public." (Breitbart News, July 23)
Of course, it was understood that the United States Congress was to be provided with complete Information before reviewing the Agreement with Iran for Approval.
But it would appear that, in the Mad Hatter World of the Obama Administration, the Congress is expected to pay good Money for a Dormouse in a Poke.
As Mr. Pompeo has said:
This agreement is the worst of backroom deals. In addition to allowing Iran to keep its nuclear program, missile program, American hostages, and terrorist network, the Obama administration has failed to make public separate side deals that have been struck for the ‘inspection’ of one of the most important nuclear sites—the Parchin military complex. Not only does this violate the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, it is asking Congress to agree to a deal that it cannot review.
And Mr. Cotton has noted:
In failing to secure the disclosure of these secret side
deals, the Obama administration is asking Congress and the
American people to trust, but not verify. What we cannot do is
trust the terror-sponsoring, anti-American, outlaw regime that
governs Iran and that has been deceiving the world on its
nuclear weapons work for years. Congress’s evaluation of this
deal must be based on hard facts and full information. That we
are only now discovering that parts of this dangerous agreement
are being kept secret begs the question of what other elements
may also be secret and entirely free from public scrutiny.
Beyond the Absurdity of the Matter, we are left to wonder at the Motives for Secrecy. People tend to conceal in Darkness those Matters subversive and deadly, those Agents of Infection and Contagion which they know will wither and die when exposed to the clear, purifying Light of Day.
July 21, 2015
It is natural that Iran, having come to an Agreement with other leading Nations with Respect to its Plans for Development of a nuclear Industry – an Agreement which involves only a minor Delay in the Creating of a Bomb, and which provides for the lifting of oppressive economic Sanctions -- should be much contented, and its Leaders given to the benign Expression of warm and happy Thoughts.
No Doubt the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has searched the Racks of his local Dollarama Branch for suitable Hallmark Cards to be sent as an Expressions of Gratitude and general Bonhomie to each of the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany.
It may well be that the other Cards have been sent, along with the required Box of Laura Secord Chocolates, but, apparently, Mr. Khamenei has been frustrated in finding a Card for the United States, and has decided to express his Feelings of Warmth and Good Fellowship in a special Speech.
Speaking of his high Regard for the United States, it is reported:
"Our policies toward the arrogant government of the United States will not be changed at all," Khamenei said, reminding Iranians that "American policies are 180 degrees different from us." (Breitbart News, July 21)
With a Catch in his Voice, and a visible welling in his Eyes, Mr.
Khamenei revealed the powerful Emotions burbling away in the Milk of
Human Kindness which is now the chief Ingredient of Iranian foreign
Policy in the Region:
"We will never stop supporting our friends in the region and the people of Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Lebanon," he said. "Even after this deal our policy towards the arrogant U.S. will not change." (Breitbart News)
It is virtually certain that a new Era of Sweetness and Light is dawning in Iran. Cheerful Cries of "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" were heard during the Speech – obviously Examples of the good-natured Joshing that is so characteristic of the Iranian Culture.*
It is a Pity that Mr. Kerry, a Dolt of the First Order, seems to have misunderstood the new Iranian Reality.
He has termed Mr. Khamenei’s Remarks as "disturbing" and "troubling," and has leaped to the Conclusion that he will "have to wait and see."
Why Mr. Kerry should appear so oblivious to the Reality of the new, enlightened Iranian Mind-set – well, it is simply beyond us.
July 20, 2015
We expressed our Opinion the other Day (July 18) that The Agreement reached between Iran and Six other World Powers – with respect to Iran’s Nuclear Program – represented a wonderful and naive Optimism.
We tend to be pessimistic about the Possibility of a Leopard’s achieving Spot Alterations without extensive Surgery, and view sudden Conversions – whether on a Road to Damascus or on the Path to nuclear Achievement – with a derisive Skepticism.
It is our Understanding that Iran has often expressed the Desire to obliterate the Country of Israel, that the Country is led by fanatical Theocrats, and that their Words and Protestations inspire a Confidence equivalent to that engendered by the Reliability Record of a 1971 Lada.
We see no Catalyst that might change any of these Elements. Indeed
the Nuclear Agreement appears to be a Reward for bad Behaviour; we
hesitate to appear doctrinaire, but we think that, on Balance, such
Reward is likely to encourage, rather than discourage, further
If we had the slightest Doubt about our Assessment of the Iranian Situation, it has been dispelled by News from the United Nations Security Council today. The Council has voted 15 -0 to endorse the Agreement. They have also "authorized a series of measures leading to the end of the U.N. sanctions that have hurt Iran’s economy." (National Post, July 20)
Since the United Nations is a thoroughly corrupt and incompetent Organization, their Endorsement is a virtual Guarantee that the Agreement is contrary to Prudence and good Sense, and will have unfortunate Consequences in the Future.
July 18, 2015
We have been rendered vulnerable to the Breeze of a passing Feather!
Mr. Obama has come to an Arrangement with Iran!
We had thought that Mr. Obama, known for his high Principles and no-Nonsense tough negotiating Strategies, would have walked away from Talks with a Country well-known as a Supporter of Terrorism.* Once he saw that the Iranians were determined to proceed with their Nuclear Program, and were merely toying with him, insisting on Concession after Concession, we predicted that Mr. Obama would attempt to salvage some tattered Remnant of Dignity, pick up his Marbles, and go Home.
We were wrong.
We must accept the Fact that our Capacity for Predictions in the Arena of International Affairs is woefully inadequate. If we were sensible, we would stop making Predictions entirely.
It appears that Mr. Obama’s Need to conclude an Arrangement in order to list that Accomplishment on his presidential Résumé, and to receive Accolades from the adoring Multitudes, has trumped all.
Thus, a bad Deal is seen as superior to no Deal at all.
Our most optimistic Interpretation of these Events is that Mr. Obama believes that in the nominal Eight Year Delay before the Iranians officially produce a Bomb, they will become so enamoured of their upgraded Status, become so comfortably Cosy as a respected and powerful Nation, that they will have an Epiphany.
Epiphanies, we understand, while formerly quite rare and found only on Roads leading to Damascus, have now become commonplace, and may be purchased at very modest Cost at The Home Depot.
Thus, Iran will decide that Terrorism only adds to World Turmoil, and will direct its Efforts to the Improvement of Public Gardens in the Middle East. They will also create a Foundation for the Creation of a Network of World Landscape Architecture Colleges.
Further, the Iranian People, in a free Vote, will decide that they
have grown just the teeniest Bit weary of Theocracy and wish to
experiment with less oppressive Forms of Governance. The current
Theocrats will graciously accept this Decision, and seek Employment in
the many Positions gradually opening up in the burgeoning Network of
World Landscape Architecture Colleges.
The Threats to destroy Israel will be rescinded. The Idea that the United States is the great Satan will fall, through benign Neglect, into the Dustbin of Disuetude.
The Bomb, which seemed so important as an Expression of theological Fanaticism, will be seen simply as a massive a Waste of Time. The Nuclear Plants will be converted into Day Care Centres for the impoverished.
All right. That is our optimistic Interpretation of Mr. Obama’s Thinking.
It looks, in Fact, like a "Hail Mary" Pass such as might be found only in the Miracle Grove of the Sacred Pool in Big Rock Candy Mountain.
In 2011 we read an Article which suggested that the Difference between Liberals and Conservatives was reflected in the Structures of the Brain.** Apparently Liberals have large anterior cingulate Cortexes, which make them fearless and optimistic.
Conservatives, on the other hand have larger Amygdalas, which render them fearful and pessimistic.
If our Interpretation of Mr. Obama’s Thinking is correct, we suspect that he has the largest anterior cingulate Cortex yet developed in the Species Homo Sapiens.
We confess that we, on the other Hand, have an anterior cingulate Cortex which is significantly underdeveloped; our Amygdala would be comfortable in the Brain of an Elephant.
We are apprehensive. We have always maintained that Leopards change their Spots but rarely, and only under exceptional Duress.
We are wary of making Predictions, but we doubt that this Matter will end well.
*"US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice elaborated stating, ‘Iran has been the country that has been in many ways a kind of central banker for terrorism in important regions like Lebanon through Hezbollah in the Middle East, in the Palestinian Territories, and we have deep concerns about what Iran is doing in the south of Iraq.’" (2007) (Wikipedia)
** See Diary, April 8, 2011.
July 16, 2015
We feel compelled to issue a second "Pope Alert" for 2015.
These Alerts are proclaimed whenever we determine a Threat to the Aura of Infallibility which surrounds the Papacy.
Our first Alert was issued on May 16, when the Pope officially joined the Ranks of the Climate Alarmists as an Ancillary Bugler. We think the Theory of anthropogenic Global Warming to be in such Disrepute, and the Marching Band which accompanies it to be composed of such dodgy Characters, that the Pope’s Acceptance of the Position of Ancillary Bugler is a significant Error, which can only harm the Aura of papal Infallibility.
We fear that he will rue the Day of his proclaimed Association, and find Himself in an unfortunate Position of Repentance and Self-Castigation for Foolishness.
Alas, the Pope seems to lurch from one Error to the next, as if his divine Global Ideas Tracking System is on the Fritz.
He has recently decried the "unfettered pursuit of money" as the "dung of the devil." (The Guardian, July 10.)
In Essence, the Pope seems to see Capitalism as evil:
"Let us not be afraid to say it: we want change, real change, structural change," the pope said, decrying a system that "has imposed the mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature". (The Guardian, July 10)
We suspect that the Pope would be in favour of a socialist Society comprised of smiling egalitarian Peasants.
We do not think that the Pope has reflected deeply on the true Nature
of Civilization. Like many Others, he sees how the Capitalist System
works, notes its competitive, inegalitarian Nature, and calls for
something better – something more reflective of the Big Rock Candy
Mountain which possesses the Imagination of so many Idealists.
The Truth is that there are two great and opposed Forces at work in any human Society.
The First is the Law of the Jungle. We are creatures of a cruel, competitive, and unfair System of Evolution. Merit is Success -- and is rewarded; Incompetence is Failure -- and is destroyed. The Capitalist System was not planned, but grew, organically, out of the Interactions among human Beings pursuing their Self-Interests.
The Moralist may decry Competition, Success, and Self-Interest. However, while they can be modified, they can never be eradicated, for they are inherent and intrinsic Truths; they are Strands of Reality from which the very Cloth of Life has been woven.
The second great Force is composed of the modifying Elements, for Civilization depends upon Co-Operation, and from Co-Operation arise such Notions as Compassion, Equality, and Harmony. In the Ideal World, these Notions are triumphant; in the Real World, they encounter obdurate, unyielding Restrictions.
Perhaps these Forces may be regarded as Yin and Yang – the opposing yet complementary Elements which make up the Whole.
The Pope has declared a Desire for "real structural change" – but, like Canute, he is seated on the Shore, contemplating the Waves. One may build a Pier into the Sea, or cut a Channel into the Land, but the human World is still composed of Sea and Land -- and neither can be wished away.
The Pope is an indifferent Philosopher.
July 11, 2015
The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples' money. (Margaret Thatcher)
Self-delusion: short term self-protection in exchange for longer term self-destruction. (Observation # 393)
Pretending there is no abyss will not repeal the law of gravity. (Observation # 321)
We see that the small Country of Greece is much in the Headlines, and is causing much Dismay and Trepidation.
It is feared that Greece, because of its Addiction to Other Peoples’ Money, may be forced to renounce the Euro and return to the Drachma.
The Fear arises from the Fact that it is generally believed that the European Union is much like Humpty-Dumpty. The Greek Crack will cause Mr. Dumpty to lose his Balance, and fall precipitously from the Union Wall. Further Cracks will then occur -- the Spain, Italy, and Portugal Fissures -- resulting in a complete Disintegration of the Whole. Enough Egg may be scraped together for a small Omelette, but Mr. Dumpty’s Chicken Potential will be – forever -- lost.
We say "forever" because there is much Pessimism about Re-Integration – that daunting Task of Re-Eggification. It is widely believed by Readers of Nursery Rhymes everywhere, that Humpty-Dumpty, once Fragmented, cannot be restored, even with the Efforts of large Numbers of German Horses, and the entire Contingent of King’s Men from the United Kingdom and France.
Thus, there is much apparent Desperation to give the Greeks more of other Peoples’ Money, so that the European Dream may be preserved.
"What Fools these Mortals be!"*
Once again, fond Dreams founder on obdurate Realities.
First, disparate Economies cannot be linked effectively with the single Strand of Currency. Secondly, it is only with great Difficulty and expensively large Amounts of Javex that Leopards can change their Spots.
It is well-known that Greece was economical with the Truth when it joined the European Union. In an Attempt to appear like a desirable Silk Purse, it applied Ribbons to its Sows’ Ears, and used liberal Quantities of Fiscal Lipstick and great Dustings of the Powder of Financial Prudence in order to improve its rather unprepossessing Visage.
This flirtatious Relationship with the Truth appears to be a Matter, not of suddenly inspired Opportunism, but rather a cultural Trait.
We are intrigued to read, in this Day’s National Post, the Story of "The Island of the Blind"
On the Island of Zakynthos in the Ionian Sea, Seven Hundred of Thirty-Five Thousand Residents claimed to be blind, in order to receive Compensation of the Equivalent of $477 per Month.
In some Instances, the medical Evidence was provided by a Urologist.
According to one Resident, "What we have is the mentality that rules are meant to be broken."
Accordingly, Tax Evasion in Greece is widespread. There have also been cosy socialist Schemes such as that which allowed Forty Thousand unmarried Daughters of Public Service Employees to collect a Portion of their Fathers' Pensions – even after the Workers had died.
In other Words, like Everyone Else, The Greeks wish to live in a World of Fantasy in which the benevolent Piper plays an unending and cheerful Melody, but never asks for Payment. Unlike Everyone Else, the Greeks think that, with a little Deception here, and a little conveniently manufactured Blindness there, the Fantasy World is achievable.
The Greeks should return to the Drachma, and do what they can to function in the real World.
But the European Union has its own Fantasy; that Dream may extend the Greek Folly well past the Expiration Date marked "Absurdity."
This entire Saga proves, once again, the Validity of our
Skepticism with respect to Dreams and Ideals. Every idealistic Scheme,
every fanciful Nirvana of Hopefulness, should be examined in the Light
of the human Propensity to step confidently over the Edge of Stupidity,
tumble blindly into the Abyss of Corrupted Self-Interest.
*Puck, A Midsummer Night's Dream
July 9, 2015
Many Years ago, we claimed the part-time Occupation of "Small Landlord."
The "Small" had nothing to do with our Girth or Stature – the Word was used to indicate that we were not a Property Mogul or a Condo Midas; we had three Houses with two Units in each.
We sold our two rental Houses when it became clear that the Government had set up an adversarial Relationship between Landlords and Tenants. They had arranged a Match of perpetual Innings, and had awarded the Bats and the Ball to the Tenants, while requiring Landlords to wear a Blindfold and Leg Irons for the Duration of the Entertainment.
Because of this past Experience, were intrigued by the Title of an Article in Yesterday’s National Post by Karen Sellick. It was called "Deputizing the Landlord."
Ms Sellick’s Article deals with the Owners of a Twelve-Unit Building in Chatham. The Building was Home to a Variety of petty Criminals. Despite many Arrests, the Criminals were not jailed for sufficient Periods of Time to discourage their Tenancies.
In 2012, a Judge ordered that the Property be forfeited to the Province, since the Owner had failed to make sufficient Efforts to evict Tenants.
Ms. Sellick argues that this is an Example of the Government punishing Landlords – their Deputies -- for failing to do what the Courts and Legal System were also unable to do.
Without dealing with the Details of this particular Case, we would point out that it is merely an Example of a more general Government Approach.
We live in an Era of increasing Government Reach and Control. People seek Security, and Happiness, and expect Governments to provide both. In turn, those in Government seek to get re-elected, and make every Effort to be seen as providing Security and Happiness.
Thus – the Government wishes to ensure that every Citizen has a Place to live. The Government does provide some Housing – but is disinclined to take over the Landlord Business. It is not entirely stupid. The next best Thing is to "deputize" the Landlord. His Business Instincts are to be suppressed for the greater Good.
Is he disinclined to rent to Someone with a Criminal Record? Does he
recoil from the Appearance or Behaviour of a prospective Tenant? Is he
suspicious of Claims of Income from the Consolidated Mafia Manufacturing
Corporation or personal References from the King of Siam?
These are mere Matters of Prejudice; they must not be allowed to interfere with the Provision of Housing for All. Those with Criminal Records, Those employed by the Mafia Corporation, and Those on friendly Terms with the King of Siam do, after all, require Housing. The Government, itself, would be reluctant to provide Housing in such Situations, but would prefer not to appear heartless. Much better – by far -- to require private Landlords to act foolishly – and take the Consequences.
And once a Tenant is in Place, the Landlord cannot raise the Rent or evict a Tenant except on Terms dictated by the Government.
Thus the Landlord is made, essentially, a useful Puppet. He is a theoretical Entrepreneur, but can act only according to the Promptings of socialist Strings to which he has been attached.
The Government has also, of course, deputized Doctors. A magnificent Scheme has been set up in which Doctors, like Landlords, are restricted in the Amount they can charge, and the Remedies that they can offer. It is our Understanding that, unlike Landlords, they may reject Patients. We know not how long that may last.
Patients have not, of course, been deputized; that would be unconscionable.
They have been merely enslaved. They have been reduced to anxious Supplicants, timid as Mice, hoping that adequate Care may be dispensed according to the Whims and Schedules of the Puppet Doctors.
It is all happening in the Name of Security and Happiness.
We look forward to the Day when Government deputizes the Providers of Food.
Food will be free – or very cheap. The Stores will be open from Nine in the Morning until Four-Thirty in the Afternoon – regular Government Office Hours. The Profit of Store Owners will be restricted, and the Quality and Variety of Foods will be specified according to Weekly Proclamations by the Government.
Do not expect Blueberries in February.
The Price of Security is always Liberty.*
July 3, 2015
Religious conviction is exceedingly dangerous because it
is rooted in the air, founded on unsubstantial wisps of faith. It
towers to the sky with the weightless bricks of fancy. It is
not subject to the logic of common discourse; it remains, inviolable,
apart from the realm of facts. It is dangerous precisely because it
pretends, falsely, to the immutability and infallibility of the divine.
(Observation # 426)
We have written earlier on the Disputes between Trinity Western University and various provincial Law Societies.*
The University proposes a Law School, and some Law Societies have determined that they will not accept the Graduates. This is because the University requires Students to sign a Covenant which expresses the Belief in the "sacredness of marriage between a man and woman."
We are not sure of the precise Arguments used by the Law Societies, but we gather that Part of their Reasoning is that Trinity Western University is an Institution which discriminates against those who do not share its Christian Beliefs.
An Ontario Court has now upheld their Position, arguing:
"Individuals who may not believe in marriage, or LGBTQ persons, may attend (Trinity) but they must first sign the community covenant and thus, in essence, disavow not only their beliefs but, in the case of LGBTQ individuals, their very identity."
Thus the Court argues that the Law Society may discriminate against an Institution which is itself discriminatory.
We see this Matter more as an epic Battle between religious Freedom – with attendant claims to Freedom of religious Practice – and the Values of a Society which is, essentially, secular -- which looks not to Faith – but to Evidence and common Sense for its Governance.
We have always argued that "where there are gaps in knowledge, religion tends to seep in." Conversely, as Knowledge has increased, Religion, which has only Faith as its Evidence, has been forced to cede Ground.
Thus, it is now seen that the Earth travels around the Sun – not, as
was held by Religion – the other Way around. The Fossil Record indicates
that Creatures evolved; they were not created, fully formed, by divine
Inspiration. Similarly, we now know that Man is not a special Focus of
God, a wonderfully wrought Creature, part Beast and part Angel. He
is constructed, not through the Wave of the divine Wand passed over the
Mud, but with exactly the same genetic Building Blocks used for all
other sentient Creatures.
In the Matter of Sexuality, there appears to be less of a benevolent divine Plan, and more of a surprising "whatever-works" Variety. Some female Spiders eat their Mates, and the Female Praying Mantis sometimes beheads hers. Homosexuality has been observed in fifteen hundred animal Species, and sexual Orientation seems to correspond to Variations in Brain Structure.
In modern Western Societies, religious Notions about the divine Plan for Marriage and Procreation seem to be receding. Instead, there is a greater Willingness to see things as they are.
The Case of Trinity Western University is an interesting one. One might argue that a discriminatory University is acceptable if it is private. No one is forced to attend; those who apply have other Options if they do not agree with the Philosophy of the Institution.
But we still see some Difficulty with Law School Graduates who hold Opinions inimical to the secular Laws and Values of our Society. That is because they are religious Opinions, and pretend to a kind of divine Infallibility. They are Opinions not privately held, but publicly expressed in writing. Those holding them are not scattered and diverse, but are Members of a defined Group.
We imagine the hypothetical Situation of the religious University – dear old Retrogression U – whose Inspiration is the great God Retrogressus. The Students are required to sign a Covenant expressing their religious (that is, incontrovertible) Belief in the Institution of Black Slavery, the Revocation of Women’s Right to Vote, and the Establishment of a Theocracy. Would it be appropriate to accept Students with Law Degrees from such an Institution as "Officers of the Court" in a legal System which has decided that black Slavery is an Abomination, that Women should have a Voice, and that there should be a Separation of Church and State?
We might say "Yes" if these Values were merely Matters of private
Opinion. But when they are publicly stated, when they represent
"institutional" Values and claim the Mantle of Religious Conviction and
"divine" Sanction – we think they should have no Place in a modern legal