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A brief note on atheism.      (June 9, 2013)

We have often claimed the designation "atheist," since we think that religions are simply speculations based on wishful thinking rather than reasonable evidence. The fact that a human being claims to know, understand, or –God forbid --be God, seems to represent a highly personal perception -- an understanding not susceptible to a proof that would be satisfactory to someone else.

Most notions about God seem anthropomorphic – God is seen as a human being writ large – a super-human being with an obsessive preoccupation about human affairs and individual ‘souls.’ This, in itself, seems highly suspicious. It seems far more likely that Gods are created in the image of man, rather than the other way around.

But – just the other day – we thought that we have used the term "atheist" somewhat imprecisely. For, in fact what we reject is not so much the notion of God – but the notion of the anthropomorphic meddling sort of God which seems to have captured the yearning human imagination.

In other words, we do not reject the possibility that there might be some entity "behind," beyond," or separate from the universe – it’s just that we see no evidence that would suggest that the entity has the least concern with human affairs. Indeed, we are fond of pointing to some inconvenient truths about our world – it is not built on benevolence, but on the necessity of survival. Survival for animals is most often achieved through eating of other animals. And of all animals, men are the most efficient predators. As an added bonus, of all creatures they seem the most gratuitously cruel.

If the human being is God’s favourite, then a lot of other unsavoury elements of creation are more easily explained. We would have rather more comfort with a God who was chiefly concerned with contented, bamboo - munching pandas.

We have studied no philosophy – a measurement of our brain suggests that it is far too tiny to deal with complicated subjects. We confess that we also have the suspicion that philosophical systems – like mathematics – can proceed off the edge of a cliff and remain suspended in midair, unaffected gravity, entirely divorced from the ground of reality far below.


However, we understand that Spinoza (1632 - 1677) saw God as that which is consistent with the universe as a whole:

Spinoza was considered to be an atheist because he used the word "God" (Deus) to signify a concept that was different from that of traditional Judeo–Christian monotheism. "Spinoza expressly denies personality and consciousness to God; he has neither intelligence, feeling, nor will; he does not act according to purpose, but everything follows necessarily from his nature, according to law...."[85] Thus, Spinoza's cool, indifferent God[86] is the antithesis to the concept of an anthropomorphic, fatherly God who cares about humanity. (Wikipedia)

Since we ourselves have speculated that the Universe is "just God, struggling to create himself,"* we find this a very compatible view.

The ultimate mystery of why anything at all should exist seems beyond human scope. We are so much a part of the world of causality that we cannot comfortably conceive of something that has always existed, or that it arose from nothing.

What we are left with are the mysteries of the universe and the sentience to which it can give rise. The dust of stars – for that is what the earth is -- gives rise to consciousness; in mankind especially -- as it has been observed -- matter has begun to contemplate itself. God may be the essence, but humanity is merely one expression of that essence. We should stop looking to imaginary Gods in the clouds for salvation, and consider how best we can shape the unsatisfactory reality of which we are a part.


* (Observation # 108)




Abortion --The agreeable and useful myth vs. an unyielding reality.        (June 2, 2013)

The death of Dr. Morgentaler has drawn not unexpected comments from those opposed to abortion. Michael Coren, writing for Sun News, refers to Morgentaler’s "grimly evil legacy," and primly notes that he "made a great deal of money" as an abortionist – "far more than he could have accumulated as a hard-working doctor, helping to prolong life rather than obsessing about ending it."

We think that perhaps in the matter of abortion, is most clearly seen the conflict between an agreeable and perhaps useful myth, and a disagreeable but unyielding reality.

While few would take the matter of abortion lightly, it seems safe to say that those who are strongly opposed to it see life through a religious prism. This prism reveals life as "sacred" and the unfolding of events as part of a "divine" plan. Human beings are seen as answerable to a creator who takes an active interest in their thoughts, desires, decisions, and choices.

This world view does have some advantages. If one thinks life is "sacred" in some other-worldly context, then the heinousness of murder is underscored. Similarly, other elements of morality and good conduct can be given a "supernatural" sanction. The threat of a final accounting in the afterlife can be used to deter all kinds of anti-social behaviour.

Unfortunately, it does not take much reflection to conclude that the religious prism, while perhaps socially useful, is significantly distorted in presenting the real nature of the world in which we find ourselves.

While the existence of matter -- and its extraordinary capacity to form life -- are beyond our realm of comprehension, we see no evidence of a creator who has the least concern for anything in the universe. There appear to be no pet galaxies, stars, or planets. They seem to be subject to expanding, blowing up, or being in the right or wrong place on a completely random basis. No species on earth appears to be specially blessed. They arrive, survive, and disappear according to the conditions upon which they depend, conditions which, again, are driven by events of remarkable arbitrariness, or indifference. The asteroid which proved to be dinosaur-unfriendly is merely one example. While human beings are the most adaptable and adept of creatures, they are not immune to a larger asteroid, or a dying of the sun.

Life, while miraculous, seems a blind striving. It expands where it can, fits into a niche, piles intricacy upon complexity. When circumstances change, it alters, declines, or disappears.

It is largely voracious and cruel, with most animals being predators, prey, or both. If this is all the result of a careful divine plan, we should omit the "divine," stop calling it "benevolent," and consider more accurate adjectives. "Grim" and "evil" spring strangely to mind.

Our "legacy" is something which we can never disown, but one which we must try to shape as best we can



In the old days, of course, the conception of mankind as a benign exception to the general rules was made possible by a wonderful conceit: man was a creation between animal and angel. Though hardly angelic, he was distanced from the world of "nature, red in tooth and claw."

This fiction is no longer available to us. We now understand that we are animals, and share genetic elements with all other forms of life. We are 96% chimpanzee, and 80% mouse. We are, indeed, marvellous – but so, in their own way, are the house cat, the hummingbird, and the mosquito. We must grudgingly admit that we are part of a world which does not reflect our ideals. It is a world, as we have said, of striving. What works, survives. If the female spider eats her mate, we cannot regret the absence of joyful fortieth wedding anniversaries. If the larva of the Epomis beetle sucks the fluid of a frog, and then reduces it to a skeleton, it is difficult to fit the conception into a divine plan with a frog benefit clause.

And, if we examine human society, we see that the notion of a sacred divine plan is but inconsistently applied. We do not live in bloodless ethereality: animals by the hundreds of thousands are slaughtered in order to grace otherwise empty plates. Life is sacred, yes -- but not in self-defence, in war -- and not through the centuries of human sacrifice, hangings, or the electric chair.

Is it surprising how easily we take to doublespeak – that ability to hold two contradictory notions in the mind at the same time? Perhaps that is just the necessity encountered in reconciling our myths with reality.

And so we come to abortion. Is life "sacred?" Yes, when the concept is helpful -- but, in reality -- not in every circumstance. And the fetus is more seed than flower. Why would we wish to force those who do not wish to give birth to do so? Why would we burden women with children they do not want or cannot afford? It has often been noted that, if men gave birth, the answer would be simple: few men indeed would allow their lives to be disrupted and derailed by unwanted pregnancies, and unanticipated twenty-year commitments to the care of an unplanned for child.

There might be some merit to the argument that, if the state is prepared to assume responsibility for unwanted children, then abortions might be correspondingly reduced. But we take a dim view of the state: its capacity to manage almost anything well is, as yet, unproven.

The alternative is, as we have suggested: maintain the myth of the sacredness of life where it is helpful, but abandon it when the practical realities contradict, and are unyielding.

Dr Morgentaler provided a great benefit to Canadian society.





The Matter of Benghazi       (May 8, 2013)

Last October 27, in the Drivel Section, we wrote of Mr. Obama as "The sub-optimal President" who appeared to have promoted the notion that the attack on Benghazi was a result of a spontaneous reaction to the Film Innocence of Muslims.

Mrs. Clinton was heard to provide this explanation, and later, when doubts were raised, she responded with some exasperation, claiming that the reasons for the attack were irrelevant. She was obviously a lady protesting too much.

Mr. Obama himself came perilously close to denying the principle of free speech, and supporting the Islamic notion that the Religion of Islam must never be criticized when he said, at the United Nations:

The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.

This odd determination to blame the freedom of speech cherished in the United States (in Canada, not so much), rather than Islamic Terrorism, seems to reflect a desire on the part of the Obama Administration to see Islamic terrorism as a figment of somebody’s imagination.


Indeed, we understand that the Fort Hood shooting by Major Nadal Hassan in 2009 has been classified as "workplace violence." The fact that he shouted "Allah akbar" as a preliminary, is viewed, we suppose, as the kind of epithet that might spring to anyone’s lips in a time of nervous anticipation.

But back to Benghazi. In this Day’s National Post we learn that Gregory Hicks, the former deputy chief of Libyan operations immediately considered the attack a terrorist operation, and reported it as such. Mr. Hicks also confirms that a rescue team was prepared to fly in from Tripoli, but were blocked by the Special Operations Command in South Africa. It is Mr. Hicks’ view that lives might have been saved had the Tripoli forces been deployed.

It would appear that this is, once again, a triumph of pleasant illusion over disappointing reality. The Obama administration wishes to believe that the Islamic threat has passed; it is a bad dream that has vanished with the summer dawn.

But bad dreams, airily dismissed, may yet return as real nightmares.

It will be interesting to see whether the Matter of Benghazi can be successfully buried in denials and confusion, or whether it will be seen, at some point, as a telling indictment, the powerful symbol of a fatal misunderstanding of the real world.



Easy steps to Utopia.      (May 4, 2013)

The condition of society is always unsatisfactory, and it is natural to seek improvement. But too often the expectations from a radical action are exaggerated, and unrealistic. Utopia is always presented as being but a few short and easy steps away, whereas, if truth be told, it shimmers only from the other side of a great chasm of impossibility in the wonderful sphere of the human imagination.

The other day, we noted the remark of Daniel Pipes who said that Islamism is "yet another twentieth-century radical utopian scheme."

Thus, it might be compared to Communism, which promised an egalitarian Utopia of central planning, or Naziism which sought a Utopia through racial purity. But we wonder whether even earlier, the French sought liberty, equality, and fraternity through the simple expedient of overthrowing the Monarchy.

Even in smaller matters, we think human beings are vulnerable to the notion that a few easy changes will bring utopian results. It seems so easy to enforce a ban on hate speech through Human Rights Commissions so that no one will ever suffer the calamity of being offended.

And what could be more reasonable than a government-run system of health care to ensure that all will be treated equally?


Since Utopias are not attainable, the radical steps in their direction are neither short nor easy. The attempt to impose perfect and rational schemes on slippery and resistant realities has significant costs. Think of the deaths and suffering imposed by Communism and Naziism. We have always been impressed with the observation that Communism is a system designed for man as he should be, whereas capitalism is a system which works for man as he is.

The Human Rights Commission Utopia of not being offended is purchased at the price of freedom of expression; the equality of care promised by the government-run system is nowhere to be found, and the freedom of patients to choose is almost entirely curtailed.

So too, we can predict, with Islamism. The conditions of an Islamic state are so repressive, so opposed to ordinary human happiness, that, once created, they can persist only as long as people are willing to believe that their duty to an imaginary God trumps all else. And since repressive regimes must always create a great gulf between the rulers and the repressed – this gulf must always be accepted as the natural state of human affairs. The world is now too small, we think, for such an acceptance to long persist.

We see life as exhibiting a constant tension between the real and the ideal. The reality is that life is inegalitarian at its core. Nature is hierarchical – and red in tooth and claw. And -- "all that lives must die, passing through nature to eternity."

Ideally, life would be egalitarian and peaceful, and consciousness would continue after death.

It would be nice to think that we could regard utopian schemes with skepticism – attempt to assess the hidden costs before taking an imprudent plunge. But perhaps we are being ever so slightly utopian in thinking that this is possible.


The Redeeming Idea           (March 19, 2013)


Last evening on The Source, Mr. Levant drew our attention to an extraordinary comment by Paul Krugman, referring to climate change:

You can deny global warming (and may you be punished in the afterlife for doing so — this kind of denial for petty personal or political reasons is an almost inconceivable sin).

                                                                 (New York Times, March 15)

The similarity between belief in anthropogenic climate change and religion has often been made; it is rare that the comparison is shown so directly in the mind of a climate change believer. In Mr. Krugman’s mind, the truth of climate change* is such an uncontested fact, and of such threat to a population uncommitted to battling against it, that any questioning or denial is "sinful."

We have of course, listed our objections to the anthropogenic theory of climate change ad nauseam:

1. There has been no warming for the last 16 years.
2. Tests have shown that the effects of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have been overestimated by computer models.
3. Scientists who study the sun have linked earth’s temperature to changes in the sun’s magnetic field; currently they predict global cooling.
4. Dire predictions of sinking islands and disappearing glaciers have not been fulfilled.
5. Dramatic climate change has taken place over the millennia; we would need remarkable evidence to suggest that the lifestyle of humankind would affect such long term trends.
6. Mars is also warming, without the benefit of greenhouse gasses and Cadillac Escalades.
7. Climate alarmists have been shown to be manipulative and unreliable; their devotion appears not to be to science, but to politics.
8. Prominent climate alarmists like Al Gore and David Suzuki have been shown to be hypocrites, advocating a retrenchment from industrial civilization for others while maintaining extravagant lifestyles for themselves.
9. James Lovelock, the originator of the Gaia theory is quoted:

The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books – mine included – because it looked clear cut, but it hasn’t happened. (Mail Online, April 23, 2012)

10. Last November, one hundred and twenty-five scientists sent a letter to Ban Ki-Moon, scolding him for falsely linking Hurricane Sandy to anthropogenic climate change -- citing the lack of global warming for the last 16 years.

Fortunately, we have decided not to repeat ourselves in this matter. Instead, we have become intrigued with the notion that Mr. Krugman’s seemingly irrational "devotion" to a particular theory is a fairly common phenomenon.

We recall a comment from Marlow, in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, describing the conquest of the earth by "advanced" and "civilized" societies:




The conquest of the earth...is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretence but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea – something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to –

We think this observation to be a more general one about mankind. There is something comforting, it suggests, in sacrificing one’s petty interests to a larger, encompassing idea or ideal. Indeed, is this not the very language used by Mr. Krugman – he refers to climate denial for petty personal or political reasons as a sin?

What examples can we think of? The first, of course, is religion. The vast majority of men, unable or unwilling to think for themselves, give themselves over to an idea of God. If there were such an entity, no one could possibly know what God "thinks’ or "desires" – but millions are happy to allow their lives to be significantly influenced by what someone else – living a very long time ago – has concluded that "God" wants.

Those on the left, perhaps, sacrifice everything to the idea of equality of result, and think the 99% should be as rich as the 1%; they may be advocates of Human Rights Commissions, which will ensure that everybody has an appropriate parking space, and no one will be made to feel uncomfortable.

No doubt there are those who believe that "universality" is an ideal to be cherished, and are willing to sacrifice all kinds of freedom, efficiency, and indeed, universality in a "universal" health care system.

We are tempted to say that Ms. Wynne’s reverence for aboriginals is one of her compelling ideals; but we suspect that it is more rightly considered a "sentimental pretence." (See Diary March 11)

The dangers are obvious. Giving oneself over to a noble ideal leads to an excess of certainty. If I am willing to sacrifice everything for Glooscap, or Mohammed, or climate change, or the redistribution of wealth, or the universal health care system – it is inconceivable that others would not wish to do the same. I am on the side of the angels; those who oppose me are wretched in their sin.

In this light, Mr. Krugman’s equation of climate change denial and sin is less peculiar than might be first thought.

*From other writings we assume Mr. Krugman refers to anthropogenic climate change. Anyone who denies climate change per se knows nothing of the earth’s history.





The Peculiar Need to refer to Indigenous Lands
(A Left-Wing Phenomenon)                                                (March 13, 2013)


We have learned, to our surprise, that Ms. Wynne is not alone in her obsession with beginning speeches with a reference to traditional indigenous territories. (See Diary, March 11, 2013) From an interview with Samuel Greenfield last evening on The Source, it appears that the Ryerson University Students’ Union is given to similar irrelevant mumblings.

We initially felt that this peculiarity was a result of Ms. Wynne’s experience as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, and assumed it was a kind of political correctness acquired in that position. Now that we have learned the custom is observed more widely we feel we must examine this extraordinary phenomenon in greater depth.

To begin with, it is entirely possible to imagine a speech beginning with a legitimate reference to the history of the location on which the speech is being delivered. Consider, for example a lecture on the contributions to science of Ebeneezer Huddersfield beginning:

We acknowledge that we are now in that very chamber where Huddersfield first proposed his Damnum Soxorum – the scientific explanation for the disappearance of socks in the laundry.

Such an opening might give a sense of immediacy to the lecture, calling up the picture of the Young Ebeneezer Huddersfield, illustrating his thesis in the very room occupied by audience. The location, of course, would be relevant to the subject of the lecture.

But the repetition of a phrase such as "We acknowledge that we are on the traditional Territory of the Mississauga Band" when the subsequent material has nothing to do with that statement, suggests that it is less an element of logic than a mantra – the repetition of a word or phrase thought to have some magical or spiritual connotation.

Although divorced from the text, the mantra must, of course have some meaning. But what? What hidden meaning can this sort of repetition have?

We have cudgelled our insufficient brains – and this is all we could come up with:

1. Oh, those wonderful Indians! They lived in a golden age when man was in harmony with nature! The environment was sacred, and Al Gore and David Suzuki would have been as Gods. Men had philosophical discourse with Brother Rabbit, Brother Beaver, and Brother Bear.


When Brother Rabbit sensed that man was hungry, he jumped into the boiling pot to provide him with food, and when Brother Beaver sensed that man needed clothing, he would impale himself on a sharp Stake, and when Brother Bear sensed that man needed a bearskin rug, he would drown himself in the nearby river. It is just and fitting that we pay tribute to that golden age.

2. Those *%#? - *&%# Indians. Whenever they block a road or rail line, or when they stop other citizens from going to their homes, or when they beat them unmercifully, there is always a chance that one of them will experience some sort of minor inconvenience or injury. This would make us look really bad. At least if we establish a pattern of aboriginal reverence, we are not likely to be blamed. Look what happened to Mike Harris.

3. We have more exquisite sensitivity receptors in our little finger than the average person has throughout his whole body. We are acutely aware of the terrible history and unfortunate present of our aboriginal neighbours. The average person can think of nothing but blocked roads and merciless beatings. The clods! We will burnish our superior sensibility on every occasion. Not only does it make us look good, but we can let others worry about actually doing anything to remedy the regrettable native circumstances.

4. Frankly, we don’t deserve to be here at all. Our ancestors stole the land from their ancestors. Our culture is mean and money-grubbing; theirs is benign and spiritual. We have our bags packed, and have made arrangements with some distant cousins in Transylvania. If the Natives express the least interest in taking back what we stole from them, we will hand it over, along with our first-borns, and return to the old Country.

5. Actually, the natives are a sorry lot, suffering from the imposed socialism of the Indian Act, and seeming to have difficulty in realizing that hunting and trapping in remote and frozen areas is unlikely to provide a satisfactory existence in an age both industrial and electronic. Perhaps if we keep recognizing them as the original inhabitants, they will be overcome by warm fuzzy feelings, and feel less need to block road and rail lines.

6. The truth is, we haven’t got a fraction of a brain in our empty little heads. It all started at a great party we were having during Earth Hour. Someone thought we should recognize traditional indigenous lands, and the idea spread like wildfire. And now, it’s the in thing – just like Justin Trudeau. Pretty soon we will start recognizing the indigenous lands of Brother Rabbit, and Brother Bear. Insects and microbes should get their recognition, too. Gaia forever!



Putting the Patient First                   (March 2, 2013)

It has long been our contention that the patient can never come "first" in our universal health care system, simply because of the well-established principle:

He who pays the piper, calls the tune.

As long as the government controls the system, deciding on the number of doctors, and directing payment for services, the patient will always be in the position of supplicant, and will never have the power of a customer in the free market system.

Indeed, if the government were to take on the task of distributing food, or shoes, or automobiles, you may be assured there would be long and earnest discussions on television on the pervasive line-ups for tomatoes, the shoddy quality of free footwear, or the difficulties in maintaining minimal vehicular access for those on welfare.

We would like to point to one very small example of our complaint.

We recently had an X-Ray of the left hip. We were told that no notification would be given if the results revealed no problem.

We understand the efficiencies of this approach: the staff at the Doctor’s Office will be spared the making of phone calls where no problem has been determined, and will be able to allocate their time to other matters of more importance.

In other words, the policy helps the system.

The patient, of course, is not put first. The patient, anxious to learn his results, must simply bide his time. He does not know whether the Doctor’s Office will receive the results in three days, seven days, or two weeks. At what point can he reasonably conclude that the results are benign? He is left in a state of anxiousness.

Beyond that, he is required to place a blind trust in the system. It is not for him to speculate on the possibility that the X-Ray got put in the wrong folder, or that there was a mix-up in the allocating of the responsibility for making the phone call. He must assume that the system is without flaw.

The patient, in other words, is very much a secondary consideration in the system.

If there were a private alternative to the public system, we suspect that patients, who would be paying the bill, would express their preference for being informed in a timely fashion – whether the results were benign or problematic.



A Tale of two Cardiologists    (February 8, 2013)

We awoke this morning from a dream of two cardiologists operating in two different political environments.

The first, cardiologist "A" – we regret the paucity of our imagination does not allow for a more original designation – practises in Oceania. In our dream, he is treating Winston Smith.

In Oceania, of course, it is Big Brother who hires "A" to provide minimal services for the unfortunate inhabitants of that jurisdiction. The number of cardiologists is severely limited by Big Brother, who has no fondness for spending money on health care. Thus, there is a huge shortage of cardiologists, and "A" has far more potential patients than he can conveniently handle. "A" is paid by Big Brother for each patient he sees, and he has determined that for maximum salary, he can allot only three and a half minutes to each patient.

Over the years, "A" has acquired the complacency and arrogance of one for whom there is an almost unlimited demand. He requires his patients to confirm their appointments between the hours of seven and seven-fifteen each day. Six fifty-nine and seven-sixteen won’t work. No confirmation – no appointment. He claims that the detailed instructions – posted on his office door -- regarding the kissing of the hem of his white coat at the conclusion of each consultation is simply a joke – but it has been observed that those who fail to engage in this ritual, are never seen again.

When Winston Smith arrives at the office, he takes a number, and is seen in sequence. When the buzzer sounds, and number seventeen is called, Winston Smith hurries to the consultation room.

"A" opens a folder, and quickly reviews Smith’s file.

"Ah yes," he says, "you have either a blocked artery or a leaky valve."

"Which is it?" asks Smith.

"None of your impertinent questions, Smith. Your operation is scheduled for July 22 at 10:00 a.m. in two year’s time. Next!"


The other cardiologist, "B" practises in Libertario, where a small public health care system is in competition with a flourishing private one. "B" became a cardiologist, along with many others because the pay was good, he had an interest in medicine, and he had a facility in memorization. "B" has recently started his practice, and because of the multiplicity of cardiologists, "B" welcomes new patients, and is anxious to retain those he acquires. "B" is paid by the patient at the end of each consultation. The patient then makes a claim against his insurance provider.

"B" has tried to ensure that his office is comfortable, and that his receptionist treats each patient as a valued paying customer. He does not require patients to confirm their appointments during a fifteen minute period in the early morning. The kissing of the hem of his white coat at the end of the consultation is entirely optional; indeed no reference is made to such a ritual anywhere in the office.

On the day that "B" treats his patient, Adam Smith, the consultation has every appearance of that between a lawyer, or accountant, and his client. When Adam has questions about his condition, "B" mindful of the fact that Adam will be writing a cheque at the end of the consultation, is happy to ensure that Adam has a complete understanding of his situation.


There is not much to dreams, of course – odd fantastical constructions of our brains in "off duty" mode. But which of these scenarios seems closer to the "real life" of the average Canadian? In which of these imaginary jurisdictions is one likely to encounter the "bad care and inhumane treatment of a Staffordshire Hospital?*

Just asking.

* See Diary, February 7, 2013


Underdoggitis    (January 25, 2013)

David vs. Goliath

There is a certain natural human sympathy for David, the lad dressed in the simple tunic, armed only with a slingshot. Goliath, huge and well-armoured seems to have such an unfair advantage. Who does not rejoice when David wins? Overwhelming odds can be overcome; the righteous can conquer the oppressive; the meek shall inherit the earth; you too can fight City Hall.

However, we are given to wonder whether the championing of David can be overdone, whether the rule of David may turn out to be no less oppressive than that of Goliath, in the same way that in Mr. Orwell’s Animal Farm the pigs became indistinguishable from the farmers they had presumably replaced. This indeed is the unfortunate malady of Underdoggitis.

The Malady is characterized by a tendency to deify David. Once Goliath is slain – to universal acclaim -- there is a tendency to give David a machine gun, a lifetime supply of hand grenades, and an arsenal of nuclear weapons. This is unwise:

When Goliath is slain, do not be surprised when David tries on his shoes. (Observation # 222)

Surely something like this has happened in Canadian society. In the interests of a greater equality for those considered oppressed, increasing tribute is demanded from those deemed oppressors, or simply those deemed to be a majority.

Thus we have a health care system designed to provide care to those who cannot afford it – but, not content with that – we must also oppress the majority who might be able to afford private insurance: they are forced to wait in line in an unresponsive, centrally planned system.

Since tenants are considered the underdogs, legislation must be passed to oppress landlords, and give tenants the power to avoid both payment and responsibility for extended periods of time.

Human Rights Commissions determine that certain citizens may be classified as victims, and hence are given "legal" short cuts to wreak revenge on their named oppressors with no fear of consequence for false claims. Defendants, on the other hand can get no compensation for false accusations. Our favourite case illustrating Underdoggitis is that of Marise Myrand, who was able to obtain a parking spot belonging to another owner near the door of her condominium building – because she was fat and in poor health. The Condominium Board was fined for failing to accommodate her.


We have been so anxious to embrace the equality of cultures, to raise up those who might possibly have difficulty in adjusting to the new culture in the country they have chosen, that we overlook matters that would otherwise be of grave concern. No action is taken when the Shafia girls complain of abuse because it is a "multicultural" matter. Nor is the alarm raised when the secular public school system allows Muslim religious ceremonies, in which the separation of males and females and discrimination against those who are menstruating – concepts inimical to our principles – are apparently approved.

Consider also the oppressions of affirmative action hiring policies – in which "underdog" groups are given priority. In the same vein "equity chairing" gives preference to certain designated groups. And then, of course –there are some who will not rest until precisely half of all chess grandmasters are women. It is no surprise that the acorn lady feels that trees should be moved from the schoolyard, because her daughter has a rare allergy to acorns.

It is significant that when the CBC satirical program This is That reported that "a Canadian student sued her university for failing to accommodate her allergies to cactuses, escalators, tall people, and mauve" Harper’s Magazine took it seriously. In the age of minority tyranny, such a lawsuit is unremarkable.

Finally, of course, Underdoggitis has become a major influence in our policing. If you are considered to be one of the underdogs resenting the 1% – that gives you special status to occupy parks for months. If you are angry and disaffected, and wish to destroy the property of those of whom you disapprove – as a symbol of your rejection of the way the world works – well, that’s pretty much fine with the police, too.

And, of course, if you are an oppressed native – that gives you the right to oppress other citizens, prevent them from going to their houses, block their roads, and bring trains to a halt.

The police will join a drum circle, and wish you a good day.

By all means, David should be given a reasonable and equal opportunity; but special status and special favours simply create another Goliath.



January 16, 2013

We are pleased to report that we are close – perhaps on the cusp – well, near the very verge of receiving $4.25 million dollars.

We confess that we have not bought a lottery ticket; nor have we become involved in the drug trade, acting, or professional sport.

Nor have we invested $2.125 million in Consolidated Hallucinations Ltd, which has just doubled in price.

No, it has been surprisingly simple. We seem to share a last name with a business magnate who had an unfortunate car accident on the Barcelona-Tarragona highway. He died, along with his entire family, just after stuffing $8.5 million dollars in a trunk and committing it to a "Safe Security Company" in Spain.

Alas, the lawyer for Midas Dreimer – for that was the magnate’s name – a gentleman called Alvaro Galan, has been unable to locate any next of kin. Chancing upon our very own name from "Canadian public records," Mr. Galan has hit upon a wonderful solution for the awkward trunk full of cash.

If we were to claim the trunk, Mr. Galan assures us that with the "modality [he] has in place" – capitalizing on "some judicial loop holes" – we will be able to claim the bothersome trunk and we and Mr. Galan will then be able to split the cash inside.

This kind offer comes in a document with the letterhead: Axis Asesoria y Abogados, containing the real e-mail address of Axis Abogados y Asesores – a legal firm in Spain. It also has a circular seal at the bottom, over Mr. Galan’s signature. Just in case the firm's e-mail address does not work, Mr. Galan has provided his own private e-mail address as well.


We confess to some slight disappointment that the signature appears to be printed, instead of real. We would have thought that a matter concerning $4.25 million might have inspired Mr. Galan to have his secretary present the document for signing.

But possibly he is too busy with other trunkloads of cash crying out for timely disbursement.

We confess that we are much taken with quaint forms of expression throughout the letter – doubtless a result of Mr. Galan’s unfamiliarity with idiomatic English. We also noticed that this unfamiliarity extends to the creation of one incomplete sentence, and the faulty spelling of the past participle of the verb "release."

When we meet with Mr. Galan to collect our $4.25 million, we will be happy to offer our services for a week or two (we hope we manage to collect when the weather in Spain is at its most felicitous) to bring his English up to standard.

He is a generous man; we are certain that he will see an extra million or two for our assistance as money well spent.

With the extra money, we should be able to afford a castle in Spain.


(We can only suppose that Mr. Galan got our name from Maria Duval; see Drivel December 30, 2010)

Lumpenbangen Press Conference

Hamilton, Ontario, January 1, 2013 (Special to Forward News)


At the Lumpenbangen Piano Institute quarterly press conference today, the president, Dr. Idel Dreimer, dressed in a traditional burka for privacy and security reasons, lamented the latest results for the obscure Lumpenbangenpiano website.

"We are stunned," said Dr. Dreimer, "at the results of website traffic for December; the number of visits has increased 88.29686% from the same month last year.

The .29686% increase would not have been statistically significant; the other 88% gives us cause for concern.

Traffic for October and November appeared to have reached a plateau, and we were fully prepared to see a gentle decline into the obscurity we have so long sought. Our discussions with Aunt Myalgia, for whom the site was created, suggested that the manipulative powers of her grape jelly – by means of which she had bribed other inmates of the Shady Hollow Psychiatric Facility to visit the site – had seen their full potential.

Indeed, we had shelved our plans to draw the track record of the potent substance to the attention of CSIS and the FBI, so convinced were we that we had overestimated its seductive powers.

Further investigation will have to be made, but we now believe that traffic to the site has extended beyond the comfortable confines of Shady Hollow. We have seen visitors from the United States, Japan, China, Russia, Israel, Moldova, France, Egypt, and Germany.

There is more than grape jelly at work here: What are these people thinking?


We have no doubt that most of these foreign visits are made in error; our fear is that some significant portion of our visitors, unlike those from Shady Hollow, are actually in full command of their faculties, and are spending some minutes searching in vain in the pursuit of some perfectly reasonable and comprehensible goal.

They are certain to be disappointed, and we have no desire to add to the sum total of human frustration. The thought that some might actually be intrigued by the material on the site, and fritter away valuable time which might be used in the improvement of already fulfilling and productive lives is too awful to contemplate.

We are hopeful that we may be able to publish – in the general press -- some warnings which will alert the unwary.

1. Do not google seeking a Piano Institute. Even though the Lumpenbangen site appears on the first page, we do not offer lessons in the playing of the piano.

2. Do not google Rufus Allthumbs. He is a very private individual, and does not wish such personal information which appears on the site to be viewed by the casual web surfer.

3. Do not google The Valley of Hythlos, David Bullzuki, or Maria Duval biomagnetic bracelet.

These are topics quite unsuitable for the average reader. One of them is under investigation by the Human Rights Commission, and another by the David Suzuki Foundation. The third has been cursed by the Destiny Research Centre.

We hope that these warnings will have the beneficial effect of reducing our traffic to more reasonable levels."