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Dr. Dreimer's Diary, 4th Q, 2013
3rd Q, 2013
January - June, 2013
January - June, 2012
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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
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.
December 29, 2013
We have driven north to find Wind-in-the-Pines encased in Snow. The Decks are humped with great Heaps of it, and the Railings are topped with huge puffed Ribbons of White. Stairs and Steps are lost in smooth Undulations which give no Reflection of the useful Gradations beneath.
Surprisingly, despite widespread Loss of electric Power in the Cities, the Residents of Silver Lake seem to have been unaffected. We had e-mailed our Cottage Neighbours, asking them to alert us in the Event of Loss of Power for any extended Period, since Wind-in-the-Pines depends on an Electric Furnace to keep the Pipes and Fixtures from Freezing. But the dreaded Notification never came.
Although the flashing Clocks gave Evidence of a Disruption, no Damage had occurred.
This is extraordinary, since the Power at Wind-in-the-Pines needs no unusual Event to fail. If a slight Breeze should pass over the Lake, the Power will go out. If a few Droplets of Rain should fall, the Power will be coyly unavailable. If Clouds should pass thickly overhead, the Power will claim a disruptive Indisposition. And sometimes, on a warm, clear, cloudless Day, the Power will prefer to go fishing.
Our Theory-- which will be familiar to our one regular Reader, Aunt Myalgia -- is that Hydro One generates the Power to Silver Lake by means of a Gerbil Farm in the immediate Area. The Gerbils are caged in exercise Wheels, which, when turned, create small amounts of Power which are, in turn, transferred to the electrical Grid.
Since Hydro One is the Epitome of Liberal Government Incompetence – a
Mountain Peak Aggregation of Stupidity and Folly, it is not surprising
that it is unable to maintain a reasonable Relationship with the
Gerbils. The Gerbils, like the mistreated Customers, become angry and
revengeful. Unlike the Customers, who have no Remedy or Recourse, who
must put up with the Arrogance and Disdain of the Pooh-Bahs of Power,
the Gerbils take the Opportunity to strike or work to Rule as often as
In this present fortunate Lack of Incident, we are certain that Hydro One has had no Rapprochement with the Gerbils. Its Insufficiencies are irredeemable. Rather, we suspect that our lucky Escape is a Result of the Efficacy of our Prayers to the great God Murphy, and the beneficial Protections provided by our personal Religion of Abracadabra.
Indeed, we think it might be appropriate to make some small Animal Sacrifice to Murphy to show our Gratitude for his protective Blessings.
There was one small Inconvenience arising from the Storm. The Satellite Dish was nearly covered in Snow, limiting our Reception to a Channel providing Information about Homes and Gardens. A short Trip through the Snowdrifts allowed us to whisk away the Blockage. We are now cleared for the next Episode of Murder, She Wrote, and a complete Return to Normalcy.
December 26, 2013
We are pleased to have survived, largely unscathed, the Frenzies of the Season.
We must confess, however, that the Festivities at the Lumpenbangen Studios did fall Prey to an unseemly Conflict concerning the Dictates of Tradition. While the Cooking of the Turkey proceeded according to Dogma, and no significant Elements of Ritual seemed to have been omitted, it was discovered – by one of the Kitchen Staff -- that the Number of Place Mats was insufficient to the Number of Diners expected.
In a lesser Setting, considering the Fact that the Table is of sturdy Oak which has survived more than a Century of hot Plates, this might have been a Matter might have been of little Consequence.
But, considering the Reverence paid to Tradition at the Studios, and our own Reputation for meticulous Fuss-Budgetry, the Matter appeared to represent a considerable Stumbling Block.
After much deliberation, and with the Clarity of Insight which can only be achieved after three Glasses of Wine, it was decided -- by those present -- that the Meal would have to be consumed in Shifts, and that those not yet arrived should be required to wait – possibly outside but cheered by the wafting of Christmas Carols through closed Windows – until those with Place Mats had taken their Fill of Turkey.
The late Arrivals did not seem enamoured of the Plan, and made strong
Arguments for Practicality against Tradition. They pointed out that the
missing Place Mats could be replaced with Napkins, old Pillowcases, or
Pages from the Sports Section of the National Post. Indeed, some had the
Temerity to suggest that Place Mats were not necessary at all, and that
some Lumpenbangen Traditions were simply a Figment of our own failing
In the End, a Vote was taken, and Tradition succumbed to Practicality by a narrow Margin.*
In the Spirit of the Season, we harbour no Bitterness about this Matter. We have, however, made Determination that potential Christmas Guests be required to respond to a simple Questionnaire which will determine their Malleability Levels, Reverence Quotients, and Familiarity with firmly established Lumpenbangen Traditions.
*5 - 1
December 22, 2013.
We seldom find ourselves in mugwumpian* Position, uncertain as to our true Opinion on a Matter.
But we are not quite sure of our Position on the vexed Question of appropriate seasonal Greetings.
Always politically correct, the CBC seems to favour "Happy Holidays." It is normally true that whatever View the CBC has may safely be opposed by those laying Claim to Truth, Justice, and Common Sense. To mouth "Happy Holidays" seems to be giving in to an Excess of Sensitivity, and to display an unseemly Timidity about proclaiming the Right to ancient cultural Custom.
On the other Hand, the alternative, "Merry Christmas" does make Reference to the religious Origins of the Solstice Celebrations, and we are on Record as being an indifferent Admirer of all religious Belief.
And yet again, we might reasonably argue that while the Origins of our Festivities are Christian, the religious Element is much diluted, and the Elements of secular Custom are dominant, even though they are considered "Christmas" Traditions. Christmas is as much Santa Claus, decorative Lights, Christmas Trees, last-minute Shopping, and inappropriate Ties from Aunt Edna as the Myth of Virgin Birth in a Manger. And while Carols based on Belief are inseparable from the Season, so are White Christmas and that dreadful Song about Rudolph.
Perhaps the Circumstance should dictate the Greeting. If the Recipient is a singular Entity, not clearly distinguished by having some powerful Commitment to another Religion, it seems that "Merry Christmas" is a fitting Upholding of our Traditions – even in the very Teeth of aggressive Multiculturalism.
If one finds oneself addressing a Convocation of Zoroastrian Priests
– we imagine them all attired in Wizard Gowns – perhaps some Recognition
of their contrary Views might be appropriate. "Happy Solstice" might
then slip easily from our the Lips of our tolerant Benignity.
Bidding Farewell to a Circle of Voodoo Adherents, a cheerful, "Spells of the Season" might show a certain urbane Tact and Diplomacy. (It might also be appropriate not to leave behind any stray Locks of Hair or Fingernail Clippings.)
In a happy Band of Scientologists, "May this Season bring you Clarity" could well be an apt Revelation of the Speaker’s Empathy. "May your inner Thetan find Freedom," would further suggest a Spirit of Goodwill towards the irretrievably Barmy.
An Aggregation of robed and wandering Druids, might well appreciate Wishes for a "Cornucopia of Mistletoe Moments."
It would appear, then that there is no easy Answer to the Discovery of an appropriate Holiday Greeting. One must thread one’s way carefully between a stout Defence of Canadian Tradition, and – especially when outnumbered – an Exercise of cultural Sensitivity and Discretion.
*Mugwump: one with his mug on one side of the fence, his wump on the other.
December 20, 2013
It is fitting, as we approach the "darkest evening of the year" that we have received a Missive from Joe Oliver, the Minister of Natural Resources, on the Matter of incandescent Light Bulbs.
It is somewhat similar to an Article by the Minister published in this Day’s Post on the same Subject: Building better light bulbs.
We initially sent a copy of our Ironic Praise of the Government Ban to the Office of the Prime Minister. (See Diary, July 6, 2013.) We have also commented on the Subject on December 14. (Of Gullibility.)
We feel lucky neither to have aspired to nor achieved political Office. Sniping from the Sidelines without regard to Seriousness of Style is, we suspect, significantly more entertaining and satisfying than defending coercive publick Policies.
We have published Mr. Oliver’s Letter, together with our incandescent Reply, in the Drivel Section.
December 18, 2013
We are open-mouthed in Wonder at the Headline:
Glaxo to pare marketing to physicians.
Indeed, while we accept that modern Medicine has provided great Advancements, our View of the large Drug Companies has not been one of unalloyed Admiration.
We happen to have gained some Insights into the Pitfalls of the Testing of Drugs,* and we have long been suspicious of the Influence of the Drug Companies over Physicians.
First, Drug Companies are able to manipulate the Process and Results of Drug Tests to their own financial advantage.
Second, their Influence over Physicians may be suggested by the Practices which GlaxoSmithKline now appears to be renouncing:
1. Paying Fees to individual Doctors – "key opinion leaders" – for giving Talks.
2. Making Drug Representative Bonuses relate to prescribing Habits of Doctors.
3. Providing Subsidies to Doctors for attending Conferences.
The Article notes that Drug Companies influence Doctors in other Ways – by "food, flattering, and friendship" employed by Drug Representatives.
We would note an important Distinction between a Manufacturer of Automobiles and a Purveyor of Drugs. The Admirable Auto Company has a direct Relationship with the Consumer. If the Admirable Automobiles tend to be less reliable or efficient than other Vehicles, the Consumer will alter his Habits of Purchase.
The Nostrum, Quack, and Toxin Pharmaceutical Company operates through an authoritative Intermediary – the Government Licensed Physician. The ultimate Consumer – unless he begins to die off in embarrassing Numbers is of lesser Concern than the small Group who actually make the Decisions. Influencing that small Group is a matter of Marketing without Regard for the ultimate Consumer.
We might also point out that that small Group, while at some risk of Loss of Credibility in the long Term, does not suffer the immediate Consequence of an ineffective or dangerous Drug.
Indeed, as long as Physicians present a united Front, and can justify their Actions under the Notion of "Standard of Care," it is entirely possible that bad Drugs may be "safely" prescribed for a very long Time.**
As a Result – at least in Part --of these "structural" Problems, we have seen considerable Numbers of Dangerous Drugs approved, and later withdrawn. Wikipedia lists over fifty in the last sixty years. Avandia, Vioxx, and Baycol are names that come to Mind.
We tend to disparage the Involvement of Government in almost Anything, but since Government is already the Gatekeeper for Physicians, we do not see how it can stand aside and pretend that Pharmaceutical Companies are driven by Motives of ideal Purity. The Means by which Drugs are tested and approved must be made more transparent, and the Coziness of Relationships between Drug Companies and Doctors be transformed with a cold and realistic Blast of justifiable Suspicion.
*See Drivel, 2010, Dirty Little Secrets, November 22, 23, 24, December 25.
** Our favourite Candidates in this Category are statin Drugs, of which we have a deep and abiding Suspicion. (See www.thincs.org)
December 17, 2013
It is widely suspected that the Lumpenbangen Piano Institute is simply a Figment of our own fevered and eccentric Imagination.
But Nothing could be further from the Truth. For when we are not engaged in writing our Diary, making our Observations, penning our Limericks, complaining about grammatical Inexactitudes, or committing our most foolish Thoughts to the Drivel Section, we are steadily employed at the Institute composing Melodies of varying Quality.
It is our Custom, at the Christmas Season, to collect some few Numbers of the most lugubrious Melodies, commit them to a compact Disc, and send Copies to our dear Aunt Myalgia and some of the other Inmates of the Shady Hollow Psychiatric Facility in downtown Toronto.
It is hoped that this Infusion of Gloom may act as a homeopathic Remedy, and cause a lightening of the Spirits of our dear Aunt and others regrettably incarcerated at the Facility.
Naturally, since there is no Expectation of Revenue from this Activity, we cannot afford the Luxury of our most proficient Pianists, and Rufus Allthumbs, habitually employed at E-Z Clean Industrial Cleaners, gives his best Effort in the Execution – so to speak – of our musical Inspirations.
This Year, we are pleased to announce a radical Departure from our
usual Practice. We intend to publish almost the entire CD on our Website
on the Music Description Page. Thus the general Publick will be able to
hear all but One of the Melodies on the 2013 Christmas Disc free of
We will also be publishing the Introductory Comments to the Disc, which are an essential Component of the Lumpenbangen Christmas Experience.
It is clear, of course, that the General Publick will not be favoured with the full Gratification to be obtained from owning a Lumpenbangen Disc. The tactile Experience of handling the expensive Cases in which the Discs are normally sequestered – the plastic in the Cases has, as we have noted before, been blessed by a Wise Man living in a remote mountain Cave in China – will not be available. Nor will the Satisfaction of removing the Disc* and inserting it manually into the playing Device of one’s Choice – be a Part of the Experience.
However, if the physical Rewards of Ownership of a Lumpenbangen Disc are absent – if the Body is missing – the Soul of the Music, through the Wizardry of Digitization, and the Magic of the Internet, will be abundantly and beneficently transmitted.
The CD may be found here.
*The Plastic of which the Discs are composed has been blessed by a Zoroastrian Priest.
December 14, 2013
We were reminded Today, by an Article by Terence Corcoran in the National Post, that the incandescent Bulb has been declared outmoded, and has been "forbidden" in the New Year.
We are hopeful that the Remains of the current Inventory will be available after January 1st, and that neither Purveyors nor Purchasers of the offensive Lights will be fined or imprisoned.
For, although we have been making recent Purchases of the forbidden Products, we will doubtless discover some particular Type of which we have an insufficient Supply.
We might be less outraged if there were some valid scientific Reasoning behind the Ban, but it appears that the primary Motivation is not scientific, but religious.
The Religion of climate Alarmism has taken Hold; its Tenets are not to be disputed; its illegitimate Origins are not subject to Question. The incandescent Light Bulb has been banned in the Name of Global Warming – the Theory that Increases in global Temperature are directly and solely related to anthropogenic Increases in atmospheric Carbon Dioxide.
The Bulb is guilty because it is considered to make inefficient Use of Electric Power. The replacement Bulbs are either extremely expensive, or contain potentially dangerous Mercury.
The Fact is that, although atmospheric Carbon Dioxide has been increasing, there has been no Global Warming for Sixteen Years. We are amused to see, this very Day, accounts that three Feet of Snow has fallen in Jerusalem, and Cairo has received its first Fall of Snow in One Hundred Years.
When extreme Climate Events occur, the Climapious among us are wont
to rise to the Steeples to bear Witness to Climate Wrath, and rail
against the Unbelievers, calling on them to repent of their evil Ways,
and to renounce industrial Civilization.
But when the Event is so obviously a Refutation of their Dogma, we hear only the Rustle of empty Wind on the Snowscape of their Disappointment.
It has occurred to us that, despite some apparent Progress in the use of Reason, there is an inert, implacable Rock of Resistance in the human Psyche. Charles Mackay noted the Phenomenon in 1841, with his Book called Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.
Indeed, this inert, implacable Rock of Resistance would appear to be a permanent Element of Gullibility woven into the Palimpsest of the human Brain, which shows in the human Response to Events.
We suspect that this is not accidental, but that it is Part of the Mechanism of evolutionary Survival. For, if every Man were to think for himself, what a fractious Babel of Opinion would there be! And how could the Tribe function without some Unity of Purpose and Opinion?
Alas, Gullibility, which thrives in the Absence of Evidence, is probably a Component needed for Survival. There must be a few strong Leaders, who call for new Directions, proclaim new Religions, and strike out for the Unknown. But there must be a vast Majority of Followers, who must believe (or at least swallow their Reservations) and bleat helpfully with the Herd.
Francis Bacon proposed the Notion of the Scientific Method some Four Hundred Years ago. Regrettably, it has yet to catch on.
December 12, 2013
We are pleased to read, in this Day’s Post, that Scientology has been recognized as a Religion in the United Kingdom.
The Recognition arose from a Request by Louisa Hodkin to get married at a Church of Scientology Chapel in London. Previously, Scientology had not been considered a Religion because of the Absence of a Deity, and the Chapel was not considered appropriate for the Conduct of Marriages.
Scientology, of course, is a wonderful Example of Barminess, and a glowing Testament to the pitiable Gullibility of Mankind.
It was founded by a Writer of Science Fiction, L. Ron Hubbard, in the early 1950's. It was originally intended as a kind of Psychotherapy to free Individuals from the residual Effects of past Traumas – "clearing the engrams." Perhaps Mr. Hubbard realized the financial Potential of Religion, and the Church was incorporated in New Jersey in 1953.
Practitioners believe that Souls are Thetans who have lived on other Planets. Some Teachings are withheld until large and sufficient Payments have been made. The Religion is aggressively litigious, and has been exposed as an often oppressive Cult.
The Religion has already been accepted in Countries such as the United States, Italy, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, and Spain. Other Countries, such as Canada, France, Germany, Greece, and Belgium have been less vulnerable to preposterous Pretensions of phony Piety.
We welcome this new Recognition in the United Kingdom, not because it elevates the obviously unworthy, but because it shows how low the Standards for Worthiness are.*
We are also given some slight Hope that our own Religion,
Abracadabra, of which the Worship of the great God Murphy is a
central Feature, may some Day be accorded Legitimacy.
We chose Murphy, of course, since he is the most reliable Predictor of human Outcomes: If something can go wrong, it will.
However, we are painfully aware of the current Insufficiencies of Abracadabra. To begin with, it lacks Followers. Secondly, it holds out no dire Threats of Punishment for evil Behaviour, such as are seen in Christianity or Climate Alarmism. Nor does it have a clearly defined Reward of Nirvana as in Buddhism or Socialism.
However, we see these as mere Technicalities which can be overcome with a little creative Imagination. If Hubbard could manage these Things, we see no Reason why, with our superior Intellect and Creativity, we should not be able to come up with some credible Notions.
Perhaps our greatest Difficulty is the lack of a charismatic Persona to sway Crowds at Gatherings of those with powerful Emotions and weak Intellects.
Mr. Gore is already spoken for, and Dr. Suzuki seems largely discredited. Perhaps Vince Offer** might be looking for a Shamwow Opportunity of grandly spiritual Proportions.
* Observation #55. An idea
does not have to be valid to be respectable; all that is required is a
sufficiency of fools.
December 10, 2013
We do attempt to maintain a Disposition which, while not sunny, is at least of a Gloominess which is consistent and unruffled.
However, we become peevish, irritable, and out-of-sorts when we see Religion being brought to the Fore, and allowed to triumph over common Sense.
For it is clear that there is not a Shred of credible Evidence for the meddling, Humanity-obsessed God, by Occasion kindly, by Occasion unreasonably tyrannical, in which so many of our Species profess such fervent and devoted Belief.
Indeed, all Probability cries out against the Notion that the Creator of the Universe – if there be one – should be obsessed with one Form of Life on a tiny Planet in a middling Solar System. Do not forget that our Solar System is one of two hundred to four hundred Billion in our own Galaxy, the Milky Way. And there are hundreds of Billions of Galaxies in the Universe.
Nor should it be forgotten that most Creatures on our tiny Planet are locked in a Scheme of necessary Murder, a Fact which, regarded objectively, might inhibit Expressions of Gratitude to an infinitely wise and beneficent Creator.*
Indeed, the Triumph of Man as the most successful Species on our remote Speck, seems to have arisen by a Series of extraordinary Interactions between Life and inanimate Matter which can hardly be interpreted as purposeful, but seem rather like blind, random Rollings of the Dice.
The Reason for our present Outburst of Peevishness arises from the News that a blind Man in Saskatoon, Mike Simmonds, has experienced Difficulties in obtaining Transportation by Taxi with his Guide Dog.
The Difficulty arises from the Fact that the religious Beliefs of some Taxi Drivers are resulting in a Refusal of Service. Dogs are perceived to be "unclean."
A complicating Factor is that Taxi Licenses are awarded and controlled by the Government, and hence the Number of Taxis is limited. If the Government were not involved, then the Choice of Taxi Drivers might be reasonably upheld: those Drivers who declined Customers on Grounds of Religion would thereby limit their Revenues. If the Taxi Business is run and restricted under Government Regulation, then the Drivers must sacrifice their religious Beliefs to those Regulations designed to accommodate the Disabled.
The Question remains, of course, as to whether, in an unregulated System, a Law should uphold the Right of a disabled Person against the religious Convictions of Drivers of Taxis. Our Opinion of Religion is so low, that we think such a Law should take Precedence.
We would note the Similarity to the Situation in Quebec, where Hospitals have indicated their Refusal to acknowledge the Quebec Charter of Values, which limits the wearing of religious Symbols by Government Workers. The Conflict arises because all Hospitals are considered to be Government Hospitals.
As much as we are in Favour of the Government showing a neutral, non-religious Face, we think that Freedom – even the Freedom to be foolish – should be upheld. We could imagine private Hospitals free to express their religious Bias through Symbols. We are not so certain that the Bias should extend to Refusal of Service to Atheists, Agnostics, or those of different Faiths.
Indeed, the sooner that Religion is relegated to its proper Place – the private Expression of a comforting but unlikely View of the World – the better off we will all be.
December 8, 2013
It is Sunday, and, as so often on this Day, our Thoughts do turn to the Comfort of Atheism.
Our Atheism is not, of course, a Comfort because it promises us a wonderful Afterlife, or even because it assures us that there is a powerful supernatural Force working exclusively for our Benefit.
For that sort of Comfort, we turn to the Great God Murphy, the Focus of the Religion of Abracadabra. Both the Deity and the Religion inhabit a sometimes useful World of the Imagination, but are subject to instant Dismissal, when the real World beckons.
The great Comfort of Atheism is that we are freed from the Chains of Certainty, those Restraints which compel us to believe in Matters for which Evidence is completely Lacking. We can engage in foolish Hopes without any Degree of Commitment to Religion, and thereby retain some Measure of Self- Respect.
We must admit that the Cause of Atheism has advanced considerably since the Time of our Youth, when it seemed that Religion was comfortably dominant. We have seen the Cause advanced by Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and others.
We are delighted and amused by the Wit and Perspicacity shown by intelligent Men over the Centuries on a Site such as www.askatheists.com/atheist-quotes.
It now appears that those having no religious Affiliation are third in Number globally after Christians and Muslims. Of course, those without religious Affiliation may yet believe in God. However, it is our Understanding that Atheism is on the Rise, and Atheists are common in Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Forty-seven percent of Chinese are said to be Atheists.
They are less common in the Backwaters of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the
We look forward to that day of Enlightenment when Freedom from Religion may contend on equal Footing with the Freedom of Religion.*
We note that, while Progress is being made, Mountains of Believers stand in the Way of the Path to Enlightenment.
For Example, an Atheist Group, the Centre for Inquiry, has attempted to place an Advertisement in Vancouver which proclaims:
Praying won’t help. Doing will.
Without God. We’re all good.**
However, the Advertising Agency, Pattison Outdoor has rejected the Poster without giving a Reason. Perhaps the fact that the Firm designed a pro-life Billboard in Halifax in October gives us a Clue to the Rationale.
To this Setback, we must add the near-universal Condemnation by Canadian Elites of the Quebec Charter of Values, which would prohibit Displays of religious Affiliation by Government Employees during Working Hours.
What sustains us in these trying Times is our clear, simple, unassuming, unequivocal Faith: eventually, Magical Thinking will succumb to Reason and the Precepts of Science.
*Observation # 277
**We must hasten to distance ourselves from the Sentiment: We’re all good. We’re all just as good would seem to be more accurate.
December 6, 2013
Tactile Talismanic Tokens for Potent Piety Promotion.
We are in a State of barely containable Excitement.
For we received in the Mail Yesterday a Communication from the Amazing Kreskin.
It appears that Mr. Kreskin, the famed "Mentalist," through his extraordinary mental Powers, while contemplating "a pile of names and database records," became aware of our own Name – Dr. Idel Dreimer – flashing across his Consciousness.
As he recounts the Incident, Mr. Kreskin found that he was being drawn to us – like Radar.
As a Result of this magical Circumstance, Mr. Kreskin has decided to invest one Year of Time in a Process of "tutoring" which will "whisk" us into "a life that may be far beyond any realm of Prosperity and Achievement" that we might have imagined.
We do confess that we have long dreamed of such a Whisking to just such a Realm of Prosperity and Achievement -- a Realm which has -- for so many Years -- eluded us.
We had thought that our considerable Holdings in Dynacor Mines might bring us to Prosperity, and – for a brief Time – we thought Maria Duval* might hold the Key to our Yearnings for Achievement.
However, we now realize that Mr. Kreskin, for the paltry Sum of Thirty Dollars, will send us a "Guidance Report" which will bring us a Future matching our Expectations.
We plan to send Mr. Kreskin the Money as soon as we are able to raise it. Tomorrow Morning -- early -- we will try our Luck with a Raising Money for Kreskin Sign at a busy Intersection in downtown Hamilton.
In the Meantime, we have been led to some sober Reflections arising from the Bonus Gift which we will receive, free of Charge, once Mr. Kreskin has received our Thirty Dollars. This Gift is a "Money Magnification Amulet." Mr. Kreskin himself has just such an Amulet, the Configuration of which came to him in a peculiar mental State twixt "vivid perception" and "biting fatigue." He had a Prototype made, and was astounded by the good Luck which he encountered, all derived by an "inert force from another dimension emanating from this amulet."
We have long been enamoured of inert Forces, especially when they emanate from another Dimension. Our Experience of the regular, active Forces which we experience in the rather humdrum Dimension in which we are currently stuck, has not always been happy.
We seem to recall that Maria Duval also offered a biomagnetic Bracelet – quite possibly from another Dimension -- which would "attract good luck, money, health and happiness."
Until this Moment, we had given little thought to Amulets, Talismans, and the like. But we begin to see their Attraction. In Matters of mysterious Forces and unknown Dimensions – in the Vagueness of undefined and undefinable Possibilities – it is only human to wish to have something real and touchable – a tactile Symbol of Worlds but dimly perceived.
Indeed, it would seem sensible that every pious unfounded Belief be given tactile, apprehendable Form with a Token or Amulet. Catholics have their Crosses and Rosaries, Maria Duval her Bracelet, and Mr. Kreskin his Amulet.
Would it not be advisable for anthropogenic Climate Change Alarmists to have miniature Suzukis to be worn about their Necks? With each passing Year of no Warming, the Talismans could be touched and given a prayerful Rub, an anxious Burnishing.
And the Proponents of our Universal Health Care System, which promises to put Patients first, – would they not benefit from a lapel Pin depicting a tiny Unicorn wearing a white Coat, festooned with a Stethoscope? As the Machinery of socialized Medicine slows with the Sands of Inefficiency, and falters with the Rise of Wait Times – how comforting to have the Unicorn of Impossibility real, clutchable, and within Grasp!
And what of the Human Rights Commissions Advocates? Would they not benefit from tiny Kangaroos -- gold-plated Figurines -- worn behind the left Ear? As it is increasingly realized that Free Speech is more important than hurt Feelings, and that the Road of patent Bias cannot lead to the City of Justice, surely the tiny touchable Kangaroos would provide Solace and Consolation?
We think the Advantages of Talismans and Tokens are, as yet, insufficiently realized. The Role of such Icons in all Areas of hopeful Belief is worthy of future careful Consideration.
*See A Letter to Maria Duval, Drivel, December 30, 2010
December 4, 2013
Men’s Brains go back to front, women’s go side to side. (National Post, December 4)
We are on the Verge of admitting that our tiny Brain is insufficient for coping with the Advancements of Science.
No sooner had we become accustomed to Radio, but Television was introduced. As soon as we had grown comfortable with Black and White, Colours became common. When we thought coloured Television was the Marvel of the Age and Murder, She Wrote the Pinnacle of Entertainment, Computers came to the fore.
We had long thought that Cholesterol was an essential Element in the Functioning of the human Organism, but Science told us that it was harmful, and developed Pills to banish it from the Body.
At one Time we thought the Sun was the most likely Cause of Climate Change, but now we have learned – from Science -- that the Earth’s Climate is under the sole and exclusive Control of human Beings.
And now, with our Brain already reeling, our Perceptions in a State of parlous Uncertainty, and our mental Equilibrium dangerously tilted towards the Abyss, we learn from this Day’s Post that the Brains of Men and Women are different! A Study published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences has found that the neural Pathways in the Brains of Men and Women exhibit contrasting Patterns.
How can this possibly be so?
From Time immemorial we have known that Men and Women are exactly the same, and that any behavioural Differences might be attributed to the malign Machinations of the CPE, the Cabal of Pure Evil.
It is the Cabal of Pure Evil which has put Men at the
Forefront of Exploration and Conquest, while forcing Women to remain at
Home, requiring them to expend their Energies in tending to the
Children which they have unfairly been fated to bear.
It is this Cabal which has decreed that Boys be given Trucks and Toy Guns for Christmas, while Girls have been ordered, against their natural Inclinations, to pretend a Fondness for Dolls, as well as their Clothing, and their attendant Shelter.
It is the Cabal of Pure Evil which has rigged Chess Matches all over the World in order to preserve the Myth of Male Ascendancy in the Game. It is the same Cabal which has prevented Males from fulfilling their fondest Dreams of Caring Nurture as Nurses, or attaining their Peaks of Power and Influence as Governesses.
We admit we were pleased when the Power of the Cabal appeared to be under Attack. Women were becoming the Presidents of Evil Government Utilities, and Premiers of socialistically - minded Provinces. Men were becoming accustomed to remaining at Home, watching Football on Television, and raising Children.
Margaret Thatcher, alone, showed how the Cabal could be given a resounding Punch in the Nose.
And now Science comes along to pretend that Nature might trump Nurture!
Well, my Friends, this is not Science at all. This is the Cabal , working behind the Scenes to regain its former exalted Position of Evil Influence. This is a temporary, unsustainable Blip. Mark our Words: we will see a female Prime Minister, and she will lead us to resounding Victory in a War of Conquest against badly-run Daycare Centres.
December 3, 2013
We note that two Politicians have encountered Criticism for being politically incorrect. (National Post, December 3)
Joachim Stroink, a Member of the Legislature in Nova Scotia, was photographed posing with Zwart Piet, a traditional Dutch Christmas Character. The Character is played by Someone with a white Skin painted black.
In the modern Era, it is unacceptable for Members of one Race to dress up as if belonging to another. This is why Queen’s University banned the wearing of Sumo Wrestling Suits in 2010. The same Thinking is probably behind the move to avoid the use of Indian Names for Sports Teams, such as "Redskins," when the Players do not have red Skins.
Indeed, it is considered a great Insult to write a Story in which the Narrator has a different Race from that of the Author. Thus, a Person with a white Skin must not write a Story in which the Narrator purports to have a blue, green, black, or red Skin.
In this Manner, the Notion of the Importance of Skin Colour is greatly minimized, and People’s Minds are left free to contemplate not the superficial Appearance, but the true Character and underlying Humanity of all People.
As with any Rule, there are a few Exceptions. If an African Tribe should possess or acquire a Tradition in which – say – a Christmas Character were to be presented in whiteface -- that would be quite acceptable. And if Japanese Sumo Wrestlers were to pretend to be white North American College Students, that would be fine, too. Sports Teams consisting entirely of those with green Skins, might quite reasonably be named The Spanish Explorers, or the Irish Roustabouts.
Similarly, no one would have the slightest Objection to Someone with a yellow Skin writing as a white Wall Street Executive.
We are pleased to have been able to explain these relatively simple
Customs among those of advanced Thinking in our Society.
The other Politician, Brian Pallister, the Leader of Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative Party aroused some Controversy with this Statement:
I wanted to wish everyone a really, really Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah...all you infidel atheists, I want to wish you the very best also. I, myself celebrate the birth of Christ, but it’s your choice, and I respect your choice. If you wish to celebrate nothing and just get together with friends, that’s good too.
It appears that some Atheists have objected to the term "Infidel."
As a devout, practising Atheist, with occasional Lapses into the Worship of the Great God Murphy, we wish to state that those exquisitely sensitive Atheists do not speak for us. We see the Remark as somewhat dismissive, but probably – with a few Months of intensive Psychotherapy --survivable. If there is a lingering Odour to the word "Infidel," then there is no better Febreze of Dissipation than in a cheerful Adoption and Acceptance of the Term.
In this Way, by not seeking to find Offence, or manufacturing it out of whole Cloth, much social Friction can be avoided, and more Time be devoted to Matters of true Import.
And we would note that those who proclaim clearly what causes them unpardonable Offense have little Knowledge of the World, for they thereby make themselves vulnerable. An exaggerated Sensitivity is an Invitation to the Mischief of Mockery.*
December 2, 2013
Hope, Change, and the Big Rock Candy Mountain Over the Rainbow
It has been said that there is no Future in Pessimism.* On the other hand, Optimism seems often to engender Disappointment.
Indeed, we think that Hopefulness should never venture abroad, but that it be attended by Wariness as a helpful and faithful Companion.**
We see that Mr. Obama, a noted Purveyor of Hope and Change, has received new Criticism from Press Photographers, who complain that their Ability to take unscheduled Photographs is being blocked. They accuse the President’s Men of supplying, instead, flattering Photographs of Propaganda reminiscent of Soviet Practice of old. (National Post, December 2)
Propaganda is never more necessary than in a Universe of disagreeable Realities.***
We recall expressing in private Correspondence – before Mr. Obama was elected -- Doubts about his Ability to deal with Iran. It is our considered Opinion that those on the Left are so blinded by a sunny Optimism, that they are unable to see the dark Chasms which open at their Feet.
Or, if they are aware, but vaguely, of some menacing Presence, they think that a pleasant Chat of a sunny Afternoon, fuelled with an alcoholic Libation of sufficient Potency, will cause Chasms to disappear in a smooth and obliging Movement, and the Faces of formerly opposing Cliffs come together as one.
We see that there has now been an Agreement to lift punishing Sanctions on Iran in Return for agreeable Promises.
We are, of course, completely unqualified to pronounce on the Wisdom
of the Agreement, or indeed, on foreign Affairs in general. But we have
never let Ignorance bar us from the Expression of Opinion. In this
Instance, we suspect that Iran is merely a Leopard with a new Brush and
a Can of Paint. The Spots may appear to change, but the Paint is soluble
in Water, and subject to rapid Dissolution in a light Rain.
We will allude only briefly to the Scandal of Benghazi, in which a hopeful Narrative suggested that casual Confidence befitted Victory. When the Confidence resulted in an unseemly Napping at the Switch, the Blame was placed elsewhere, on the Film Innocence of Muslims. In the Process, Mr. Obama suggested that the Principle of Freedom of Speech should bow reverentially to the Notion of religious Infallibility.
Finally, we must refer to the Infelicities of Obamacare, where Promises were made that were not merely unfulfilled, but were known to be false even as they were uttered. And it is no News that Competence is never an essential Component of Hope and Change. As might be expected, the Construction of a Palace of Crystal by those without some basic Skill in fashioning Huts of Mud or Dwellings of Brick does not proceed without some Splits and Shatters, with the Shards occasionally piercing Flesh.
And all Palaces of Crystal – those Ideals which promise Security – exact a Toll in the Coin of Freedom.
In some of our less lucid Moments, we wonder whether a Politician could ever get elected with a different Message: There is no free Lunch. Everyone has to provide an Apple and a Sandwich. All we can offer is Effort, Ingenuity, and Competence.
Hmmm. Not likely.
November 30, 2013
We have read with Interest of a Speech given by John Manley to the Canadian Club, lamenting poor literacy and numeracy Skills of Canadian Workers. Mr. Manley is a former deputy Prime Minister, and currently President of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.
According to Mr. Manley, "our performance in international rankings is getting worse."
We are in no Position to comment on Skills in Numeracy. We have always had Difficulties in adding Columns of Figures, and have found mathematical Reasoning, for which we have an insufficient Brain, rather intimidating. We view Numeracy as a rarefied, specialized Area which sensible People can avoid by the use of Calculators and a judicious Choice of Occupation.
However, we are not surprised to hear that Literacy might be found wanting, and we see it as something more essential in daily Life.
We should preface our Remarks by saying that Expression of the Fear that the World is going to the Dogs probably predates the Existence of Dogs. And perhaps Mr. Manley’s Concerns are without Foundation.
However, it is our Perception that Literacy is declining, and that People have little Concern for Correctness.
It may be simply that this is the Age of the Common Man. When only the Elite was educated, more, perhaps was expected in navigating the Intricacies of Language. Now, in the Age of the Common Man, less is expected, and Standards have been modified in the Light of a Reality of Diminishment. A Surfeit of Sows’ Ears and a Deficit of Silk reduces the Expectations of Cornucopiae of Silk Purses.
We would note also a general Decline in Respect for Authority. It used to be that Dictionaries were Prescriptive – they would show the "proper" or "correct" Meanings. They would indicate what Usages were considered Slang or of lesser Validity. Now, Dictionaries have relinquished their claim to Authority, and aim simply to describe common Usage. Thus "whatever is, is right." Authority is not with the Fortress constructed as a Bastion at the Water’s Edge, but rather with the Tide itself, the Ebb and Flow of popular Usage.
Of course, Language always changes, but when there is little Attempt to slow the Change, People feel more free to do as they please.
When there is no Standard to which one might aspire, Pride in Competence also goes by the Wayside. People who dress well, and are concerned about the Neighbourhoods in which they live, or the Vehicles which they drive, are careless about revealing their Ignorance – or Disdain – in Matters of Language.
We can only assume this to be the Case from reading the Stockhouse Bullboards. People who give Evidence of some Intelligence and considerable Wealth, do not care if "they’re" is spelled "their" or "there." They do not see such Errors as a Reflection of their Competence or Worth.
We must also add an Element of Egalitarianism. In the Era of
Equality, it seems unseemly to correct anyone. If People wish to say
"Phenomena" when they mean "Phenomenon" – even someone who knows the
Difference is likely to keep quiet. This very Morning on the Radio we
heard the Head of an important Hospital say "incredulous" when he meant
We will not be writing a Letter to express our Dismay. The good Doctor will probably go to his Grave not knowing the Difference.
Indeed, we used to write to CTV to complain of their Errors in Language on National Newscasts.
They never gave us the least Acknowledgement.
In Fairness, we have pointed out to some Writers in the National Post the Misuse of "May" and "Might," and received a positive Response. But Silence -- or a Reply which indicates a lamentable Incomprehension -- is far more common.
Finally, if this is an Age of the Common Man, of the Decline of Authority, and of Egalitarianism, it is also an Age marked by Utility.
Language is a workhorse; as long as it hauls Meaning from one Mind to another, we will not complain that it is unkempt, ungroomed, unimaginative, and staggers with a pronounced limp. Twitter, which might engender a Brilliance of Creativity, simply calls forth an Ugliness of Abbreviation.
In other Discourse, no one strives for Elegance. Politicians do not rouse us with high Language to Matters of Principle, but plod forward, Eyes fixed on the Ground, their Prose as pedestrian as their Conceptions. To do otherwise, in a grey utilitarian Age, might stir Mockery rather than Passion.
This Utilitarianism is not confined to Language. Important Ideals such as Freedom of Speech, and Separation of Church State are compromised to accommodate the importunate Demands of those impatient for Nirvana, and the Clamourings of Religion. Appeasement trumps Principle at every turn.
A significant Symbol, we believe, is the modern Automobile. It remains beyond us how Automobiles have declined from any Aspiration of Elegance to making a determined Statement of unrepentant Ugliness. They eschew any Suggestion of a parallel relationship to the Ground on which they travel, in a sort of suicidal angling into the Roadway. The Designs seem capricious in Configuration, and peculiar in Proportions. They are the ugly Workhorses of Transportation, just as Language has become an inelegant and careless Means of transmitting Thought.
In spite of Mr. Manley’s Exhortations, we see nothing on the Horizon which would halt the Decline in Literacy of which he complains. Ours is an Age, not of the Exceptional, but of a self-satisfied and determined Mediocrity.
November 28, 2013
We know not how to contain our Shock.
We have just read – in Today’s Post – that Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London has said that economic Equality will never be possible.*
No one of any Sense could dispute the Truth of this Observation. But there are some Truths considered better left untold. It is, perhaps, far better for those on the Left to believe that all kinds of Equality are attainable. This gives them something to complain about and work towards. Thus it keeps them devoted to a Sisyphean Task, and doubtless prevents them from getting into less predictable Mischief.
We would be less than candid did we not admit that observing Mankind strive for the clearly impossible provides us with a Source of Amusement, and bolsters our innate Sense of Superiority.
But Mr. Johnson has not been content with this Trespass on Pious Expectations.
He has gone much further by stating that "some people are too stupid to get ahead in the modern world."
Again, this is another Truth that usually dares not speak its Name. In our Lifetime, we have observed the somewhat frantic Desire to emphasize Nurture over Nature. If Nature is predominant, then the Dream of Equality faces great Difficulty. If some People are born with Potential to be better Runners, Singers, or Chess Players, how disappointing to our fond Desires.
How much Emphasis must be placed on Nurture, and the Notion that
there are no Obstacles too great to be overcome with sufficient Training
We see the Problem especially in the Attempt to ignore Differences of Gender, to seduce Boys with Dolls and Girls with Bayonets. The aim, we assume, is that Boys will aspire to be nurturing Nurses and Girls, aggressive Astrophysicists.
We are not, of course, arguing against Determination and Training, or in Favour of the Assumption that Boys will never become Nurses, and Girls, Astrophysicists.
But we think, at some Point, it should be accepted that our Aspirations for Equality are not reflected in the Universe of which we are a Part. Some Things can be changed, and Others cannot. There is much Wisdom in attempting to determine the Difference between the Two.
We are not surprised that there has been Outrage at Mr. Johnson’s Remarks. And while we think that there is often laudable Politeness and good Manners in a restrained Silence, there is also Danger in a Refusal to face Facts.
On the Whole, in the current Universe of hopeless Desires, a
Reminder of Reality does not seem out of Place.
* Observation #8: If, in the interests of an ideal circumstance, single-celled organisms had chosen equality as the ultimate good, then the present population of the world would consist entirely of single-celled organisms.
November 26, 2013
We noted, with Shock, that Michael Enright, on CBC’s The Sunday Edition, made casual Reference to the "Fact" that 97% of Scientists believe in anthropogenic Climate Change.
This is absolute Nonsense, of course. Unfortunately, we feel a Compulsion to battle Nonsense wherever we encounter it. This accounts for our general Weariness, the Bags under our ocular Devices, and our Horror of early Rising.
We have just completed our Letter of Disapprobation, which we have published in the Drivel Section.
November 25, 2013
We suppose that we should express some Gratitude that the Follies of Mankind are so widespread and persistent. For, if the World were a more or less sensible Place, we should have correspondingly Less to complain about.
Since the World is far from sensible, we are provided with much Busyness of Complaining, which, no doubt, doth keep us from other Mischief less laudable.
Today, we see that the Police in Edmonton have hit upon a wonderful Means of advancing our civil Society: they are about to ‘unveil’ an official Hijab to be worn by Officers on the Force. We understand that the Hijab will not, initially, be compulsory, but only available to Female Officers who wish to display their religious Affiliation.
Our Opposition to such Folly is based on the Idea that a Police Uniform is an important Symbol.
The Uniform reminds us that the Wearer is a Representative of certain Values – those Values embodied by the legal System in the Jurisdiction in which the Officer is employed.
It is our Assumption that legal Systems in Canada are secular; they are not beholden or subservient to a particular religious Viewpoint. There is a Separation of Church and State.
We would note that those Countries which are essentially theocratic have been far less able to provide Freedom and Ease of Living than those which have made Religion separate and secondary.
The Idea behind a Uniform is the Suggestion that the Citizen is assured some Element of Uniformity of Treatment. We know that this is an Ideal. The Officer suffering from a Stomach-Ache may act differently from his Peer, whose Digestion is blessedly untroubled. But, we think, it is important to state clearly our Ideals and Aspirations: The Police Officer is a Representative of the Law, not a Muddle of personal Whims, Prejudices, and Predilections.
When the Uniform is compromised with other Messages of a Personal Sort, so too is the Message to the Citizen. Should an Officer wear an Indian Headband to indicate his Ancestry? Or a red Hat because it is his favourite Colour? Or should he wear a Button proclaiming his Allegiance to the New Democratic Party, or his Membership in the Old Moosehead Lodge?
We think all such Proclamations are irrelevant and confusing. So too, is the wearing of a Turban, a Hijab, a Faravahar, or a flattering photographic Image of L. Ron Hubbard.
Indeed, we think religious Symbols are extraordinarily inappropriate for any official Representative of a secular State. The Message sent to the Citizen is that the State approves of a particular religious Viewpoint – or of Religion in general.
The Argument given for this proposed Act of Stupidity is that it is a "gesture of inclusion" to the Muslim Community. This phrase is used by City Councillor, Scott McKeen.
The real Reason is suggested by a longer Comment from Mr. McKeen.
One of the perceptions about Edmonton and Alberta is that we’re kind of redneck. [Offering the hijab] is sort of saying we want to have a diverse police service that reflects the diversity and multicultural aspects of Edmonton...I’m proud of us.
The real Reason for the Proposal is not that the Uniformity of Message for all Citizens will be preserved, and the Idea of the Separation of Church and State will be maintained.
The real Reason is that it makes the Proposers feel warm, welcoming, and inclusive. The dreadful Image of "redneck" will be at least softened, and perhaps expunged. The Aim is not the Good of Society, but the Basking in the Warmth of a self-congratulatory Tolerance.
We think our Observation (#101) on Tolerance is relevant:
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.
We see this Proposal as simply another foolish Move to give Religion a Voice where it should remain appropriately silent. Just as it is inappropriate for the Atheist to interrupt a religious Service with Denunciation, so is it inappropriate to suggest that Government has been seduced by Religion.
November 24, 2013
The default position
We happened to hear the other day -- on the CBC -- a few Remarks by a learned Professor who disagrees with the Quebec Charter of Values – that Charter which would restrict the Wearing of religious Symbols by Government Employees during working Hours.
We did not listen to the Entirety of his Comment, but we suddenly realized that the Difference in our Assessments might be accounted for by our Default Positions – those Circumstances which we consider to be the normal, natural State of human Affairs.
We would liken it to a View of Music being played audibly on Silver Lake during the Summer.
Our Default Position is that Silence – apart from the Sound of Wind in the Pines, or the Cry of the Loon – is normal and natural. Music is an Intrusion, and is unwelcome.
If, on the other Hand, one’s Position is that Music is an unalloyed
Good, a natural Background for living Organisms, then the playing of
Music would be received in a far different Manner. It would be seen as
an inalienable Right, to be tampered with at One’s Peril.
Those who are so opposed to the Charter, we must assume, think that Expressions of Religion are normal and natural. The Expression of a Variety of different religious Viewpoints during the Conduct of Government Business is as natural as the Exhalation of Air; to restrict it would be unconscionable. In Addition, they take Solace and Support from the oft repeated Notion that "Freedom of Religion" is a legal Right.
It is only those who see Religion as an indefensible Excrescence, a Weakness of the Mind, an Embarrassment of Folly who find it so objectionable in such a Context. They seek not so much Freedom of Religion as Freedom from Religion – a Return to the natural States of Skepticism or Disbelief.
There is little Doubt that the Majority of Mankind is still in Thrall to the Demands of Religion. Until the Majority is doubtful and skeptical, it may well be that the Quebec Charter of Values will find Difficulty in gaining Acceptance.
November 23, 2013
We must note an Article in this Day’s Post by George Jonas entitled The Statist Model.
Mr. Jonas observes that there is a natural Tendency for Governments to intrude upon the Lives of Citizens:
As I’ve argued over the years, governments, including free and democratic governments, are not really friendly to freedom and democracy. They abhor any rule of law that limits their powers and penchant for social engineering.
We think that Mr. Jonas is absolutely correct in this. He sees this Tendency as a kind of "defensive response" to the "totalitarian tyrannies of the 20th century, and partly as an adaptation to them."
Every removal of a legal safeguard is justified by the need – often valid – to protect society against the depredations of criminals and terrorists, but ends up as the protection of the state from its citizens.
We think that the "penchant for social engineering" is perhaps even more important in the Intrusion of State Power. For what is the Point of having Power, full of Potential, but leashed and circumscribed? This is especially so if the purported Aim is to enhance the Lives of Citizens.
But being on the side of the Angels, as we have elsewhere remarked, allows for many a Pact with the Devil. The Desire to create a Crystal Palace conveniently overlooks the Fact that the Construction requires some Degree of Enslavement of the benefiting Citizens.
Thus we have Human Rights Commissions which express Concern that none be offended, while at the same Time offending against basic Principles of Justice by favouring Complainants over Defendants.
We have a Health Care System which pretends to Equality – but even
that false Equality is purchased at the Cost of Individual Freedom to
eschew the public System and obtain the best care possible.
We have a Law Enforcement System which suggests that a Victim should not resist, but should appease his Assailant. If he should die in the Process, we may take Satisfaction that there was no unseemly civilian Interference in the Exercise of Responsibilities by competent, caring Government Professionals
The City of Vancouver, full of heartfelt Pity for potential Residents with clasping Deficiencies, decrees that all Citizens must, in Future, renounce Doorknobs in Favour of Levers.
Indeed one of the Symptoms of the Disease of ill-considered Interference is the Tendency to accept the Tyranny of the Minority. One of the best Examples of this was shown by the Lady who wished Oak Trees removed from the School Yard because her Daughter was allergic to Acorns. She was unsuccessful in her Attempt, but the Attempt itself reveals much about current Thinking.
Thus, Governments, under the Guise of Safety, Security, and the Demands of an unachievable Perfection do increase their Power. We see this as an essential Element in human Nature.
Our Observation # 267 reads thus: An aggressive action to remedy a social ill should always wait upon the paramount preliminary consideration: Is the cure worse than the disease?
However, we think that such a Level of Sophistication in Approach lies far in the Future.
November 22, 2013
Magical Thinking: the Mole that won’t be whacked.
We have not been entirely surprised to see Al Gore, the spurious Salesman of Climate Alarm, appearing in a Coziness of reciprocal Admiration with Kathleen Wynne, the Premier who continues the Legacy of the awful McGuinty in the Folly of Green-Schemery.
Ms. Wynne has announced her Determination to close all remaining Coal Plants, and make it illegal to generate Electricity by burning Coal. Mr. Gore thinks this is a good Idea.
Quite possibly Ms. Wynne believes that a Sufficiency of Windmills and a Plenitude of Solar Panels is the Nirvana of the Future. Or possibly she believes that if there is a Sufficiency of People waving their Arms and a Plenitude of hot Air exhaled in Argument, the Demand for Electricity will be much reduced.
Many Years ago, Francis Bacon (1581 - 1626) suggested a new way of Thinking – that Conclusions be drawn from Evidence of Particulars, rather than seeking Particulars to support a pre-conceived Conclusion.
This Suggestion has proved far more difficult to follow than one might think. For Example, Climate Alarmism has been based on the Notion that an increase in atmospheric Carbon Dioxide will lead to an Increase in Temperature.
The Support for this Theory has recently encountered an evidential Snag: although the Levels of Carbon Dioxide have risen, there has been no Global Warming for the last Sixteen Years.
Such an inconvenient Truth would be a bar to scientific Thinking – the Approach recommended by Mr. Bacon – but has no Effect whatsoever on magical Thinking, which comes naturally to the human Mind.
We know not if there is a Definition for magical Thinking – but we will propose one here: Magical Thinking is a steadfast Belief in a Cause and Effect Relationship, where the Validity of that Relationship has not been established. In Scientific Thinking, the Absence of this Validity is considered fatal; in magical Thinking, it confers Sanctity, and garners both Respect and Reverence.*
We would note how little Reverence is given to Scientific Thinking.
Mr. Einstein’s Law of Relativity is not afforded the tiniest Bit of
legal Protection. People may dispute it, poke Holes in it, and replace
it with whatever is shown to be superior, with whatever gives a better
Explanation of Reality. Nor is there any Reverence accorded the Three
Times Table. It may be mocked, jeered, or hooted at in the public
Streets. Frankly, no one gives a Damn.
But when it comes to magical Beliefs, those in which the Operation of Cause and Effect is mysterious and unclear, how much Protection is given; how much is Sanctity proclaimed! How much Outrage is on a Hair Trigger, to be unleashed at the slightest Questioning!
We refer, of course, to Religion, where Laws against Blasphemy exist in – for Example – Pakistan and Russia. Riots in the Streets may be expected if Islam is mocked in a Cartoon. When Quebec proposes to ban the Wearing of religious Symbols by government Employees, there is near universal Outrage. Belief in the Theory of Relativity – who cares? Belief in the great God Thingamabob, whose Existence and Characteristics are entirely Matters of Supposition – Matters of magical Thinking – this Sort of Belief must be protected, cherished, and reverenced at any Cost.
How neatly Belief in anthropogenic Climate Change fits into the religious, magical Pattern of Thinking. There is Sin, Guilt, Armageddon, and the Possibility of Redemption. Don’t ask us for Proof: believe. And if you believe -- act and you will be saved.
It is no Accident that Mr. Gore sees the Battle against Climate Change as requiring "moral courage."
It may well be that human Activity has an Effect on Climate. It is not clear how important that Effect is. In View of the Fact that the Earth’s Climate has changed radically over the Millennia – long before human Beings ventured from their Caves – it would seem to be prudent to make a concerted Effort to assess the Role of the Magnetic Field of the Sun in the Earth’s Climate. A burning the Furniture of Industrial Civilization and a Retreat to Spelunkable Alternatives would seem somewhat premature.
*Observation # 266
November 20, 2013
Freedom vs. Repression
At Wind-in-the-Pines, our daily Walk takes us along the Lake Road to an arbitrary Destination Point – a little Bridge which spans the Waters between Silver Lake, and a small, shallow Bay of the Lake. While there is a Sign near the Bridge which warns that both the Road and Bridge are privately maintained, there is no actual Prohibition to our Perambulations.
At the Lumpenbangen Studios in central Hamilton, there is, within a short Distance, a Trail along the Foot of the Mountain which runs through Woods, and allows one to imagine that one has escaped from Houses, Pavements, and Traffic entirely.
The most convenient Approach to this Trail, alas, lies across some Railway Tracks. The Railway Company, wishing its Privacy, and doubtless anxious to avoid any unequal Contest between Steel and Flesh, has erected a Chain Link Fence along the Track to deter Trespassers.
Inexplicably, just at the most likely Point of Entry onto its Lands, it has provided a Chain Link Door, which is secured shut with a Padlock of forbidding Heft and Size.
We have never understood the Thought – we assume there is a Thought – behind this Phenomenon. On the one Hand is the Door – suggesting the Possibility of Access, the Freedom to cross the Tracks and attain the sylvan Trail beyond. On the other Hand is the Stern Prohibition of the Padlock, implacably fastened in Place.
Why are they trying to mess with our Heads?
We have noted before that the Circumstance has created an endless
Battle. Citizens wishing to gain Access to the Trail effect constant
Modifications to the Barrier. The Railway, doubtless in high Dudgeon,
constantly repairs the Door and provides increasingly impressive
Over the past few Weeks, the Door has been kept resolutely shut. We ourselves have determined that with a Pair of Vise Grips, the Elements joined by the Padlock could be fairly easily dismantled. We have been tempted, but have been deterred by our Apprehension that, of all human Beings, we are especially subject to Murphy’s Law.
Frankly, we fear the Indignity of being discovered, under Cover of Darkness, engaging in an Act of shameless Vandalism.
Our Policy has always been to let Others do the dirty Deed -- and take the Rap, if Murphy’s Law should inconveniently be invoked.
Our Patience is always rewarded. This very Morning, we noticed that someone had removed a single Strand of Wire from the Fence near the Gatepost. This has allowed the Fence to be folded back to allow an easy Passage onto the Railway Lands.
We rather prefer the Elegance of our own Solution. But we will not quibble; we are pleased to take our Freedom however it is offered.
November 19, 2013
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
Oh, the buzzin' of the bees in the peppermint trees
We have learned that Jennifer Lynch, former Head of the odious Human Rights Commission, has died.
We were surprised to read an Announcement of her Passing in the National Post of November 18, by Joseph Brean. We were surprised because we had the Impression – from reading earlier Articles – that Mr. Brean was sensible. It is sobering to admit that we are capable of Error so egregious and remarkable.
We can understand not wishing to speak Ill of the Dead, but surely some Restraint is required in praising those whose Impulse to Good has become perverted into an evil Totalitarianism.
The Heading of the Article reads thus:
Former human rights chief dies months after commission stripped of mandate to fight hate speech.
Note the Implication that there is a Relationship between the Death
of Ms. Lynch and the Rejection of some Element of the oppressive Powers
of the Commission. Are we to assume that she died of a broken Heart when
the Government callously interfered with her noble Work?
Certainly, the Language suggests as much. Ms. Lynch’s Commission had a "mandate" to "fight" "hate speech." It was not wisely removed in the Interests of Freedom, but was "stripped." The Term "stripped" suggests an aggressive Act of Humiliation.
Nor does the Bias stop with the Heading. Mr. Brean says that Parliament "erred" on the side of Free Speech when it removed the hate Speech Provisions of the federal Legislation. Surely this was not an Error, but a much needed Reassertion of the Freedom expected in a Democracy.
We have Difficulty in Understanding how anyone of Integrity could be a Part of -- or support -- a Human Rights Commission. These Bodies are not required to operate using the legal Safeguards developed over the Centuries and enshrined in our legal System.
They provide free legal Aid for Complainants, while requiring Defendants to bear the Costs of their own Defence. Frivolous Claims are not penalized, nor is there Compensation for Defendants in the event of false Claims. The Truth of a Statement is not a Defence against a Finding of Guilt.
Human Rights Commissions have, quite accurately, been designated as Kangaroo Courts.
Mr. Brean’s Article ends with a eulogizing Statement from a Death Notice which we can only describe as a Gilding of Poison Ivy.
In her Defence, all we can say is that Ms. Lynch fell Prey to a Common Error of Mankind: the Belief that there is a Shangri-la somewhere over the Rainbow, a Nirvana to be had in the Big Rock Candy Mountains. All that is necessary, is for us to establish a Mrs. Grundy powerful enough to make Everyone behave, to observe the Requirements of Propriety. A small Group of Mrs. Grundys, under the Direction of a Chief Mrs. Grundy will decide how Propriety is to be defined.
And that is all that is necessary to produce a World where the blue-horned Unicorns gambol beneath the Peppermint Trees. A World where Everyone will live happily ever after.
November 18, 2013
We have been ensconced at Wind-in-the-Pines, where, last Evening, the Winds did huff and puff, in a seeming Attempt to blow the House down.
We are pleased to report that the Cottage remains standing, with Decks and Roof intact.
We must have been at the Periphery of the Storm, for the Power did not go out.
This is extraordinary, for the Power goes out at Wind-in-the-Pines even as Snow, Rain, or any other Type of inclement Weather is forecast.
We attribute this to the System by which Power is supplied by Hydro One. For it is widely suspected that Power in our remote Location is created at vast Gerbil Farms in the Area. At each Farm, thousands of Gerbils are encased in exercise Wheels, and as they engage in their Sisyphean Task, tiny Wires take the Power to the Grid.
The Gerbils listen to the Radio, and take the Opportunity of News of Weather Disruption to go on Strike, demanding better Food and more Leisure Time.
Hydro One, of course, being an Organization of unparalleled Ineptness
and Stupidity, an Organization which treats its Customers with the
utmost Contempt, is – how shall we say – less than skilled at dealing
with Labour Issues.
Hence the frequent Power Outages, as the mistreated Gerbils attempt to improve their working Conditions.
We can only imagine that last Evening, the Radio to which the Gerbils habitually listen was on the Fritz. Or perhaps a rogue Gerbil had tuned the Device to a Station which plays only Sisyphean Music, and eschews the News.
It is a Mystery.
In another Matter – we were recently dumbfounded to discover that Murder, She Wrote had been displaced on our Television Set by the Evangelist, Billy Graham. Our Universe wobbled significantly. Our Habits were disrupted, and our atheist Principles severely offended.
Our Account of this Outrage may be found in the Drivel Section.
November 17, 2013
In a remote Village, where the Residents own a total of Four Hundred Goats, the Owner of a Herd of One Hundred is well advised to dispose of his Holdings but gradually, selling two Goats today, a third next Week, and Four thirty Days hence.
For, if he should awake on a fine Spring Morning with a Determination to sell all his Goats before Noon, the Price he is likely to obtain for them will be much diminished.
This Apprehension is so much a Matter of Common Sense, that when one sees a Posting of "One Hundred Goats for Sale," one begins to question the Sanity -- or suspect the hidden Motives -- of the Seller.
And so it is with Gold.
In this Morning’s Pinnacle Digest, we find our own Suspicions in the Matter of Gold Price Manipulation reinforced.
The Digest notes that, over the past year, on Occasions when it might reasonably be expected there might be an increase in Demand for Gold – since Gold is a Currency of Safety – large Amounts have appeared for immediate Sale.
On October 11, when the United States Government was under Budget Duress, Two Million Ounces appeared for Sale.
And on April 13, a Total of 400 tonnes of Gold was put up for sale, causing the Price to drop by $200 – the largest fall in Thirty Years.
The Sellers in both Cases can hardly have been acting in the Interest of gaining the maximum Price. Rather, it would appear, that they were interested in causing the Price to fall.
When the Price of Gold falls, then the Weakness of other Currencies is masked.
When we say the "Price of Gold" we refer of course the Price of Paper Gold – the Pieces of Paper which represent an Obligation to produce the actual Metal. One of the Disadvantages of Gold itself is that it is heavy and cumbersome. It is difficult to transport, and needs Security in Storage.
"Paper Gold," on the other Hand is – like fiat Currency – merely a Promise – and can be transmitted from one Account to Another by Computer – electronically. It has become, in Effect, just like any other "fractional reserve currency" – where the Amount in Circulation is not limited by its Relation to something real – but is allowed to expand according to the Desires of those issuing the Currency.
One might argue that fiat Currencies are backed by the Goods and Services which the relevant Economies are capable of producing. But it is still possible to have too much Currency and too few Goods – the classic Definition of Inflation. When there is too much Currency, Trust is lost, the Value declines, and more and more Currency is required to purchase any particular Good.
It is said that the Demand for real Gold – by Countries like China – is exceedingly strong. But until the Bluff of the Paper Providers is called, and Purchasers require Gold instead of Paper, the merry Manipulation will continue.
Will the Trust in "Paper Gold" eventually collapse?
Logic suggests that it must, eventually. The News that the Bank does not have enough Money to pay its Account Holders causes a Run on the Bank. If enough people think that "Paper Gold" is actually only redeemable in fiat Currency, and that real Gold is almost impossible to find, then the Price of real Gold must rise.
As a Holder of Companies processing and owning Gold, we have a longing for Logic.
But, consider. Religion – despite complete Lack of Evidence – continues, after Centuries, to attract fervent Believers.
One Hundred and Fifty Years after The Origin of Species, and the subsequent Discovery of the genetic Similarities of all living Creatures, many still believe that human Beings are not Animals.
After Sixteen Years of a Lack of Global Warming -- despite an Increase in Carbon Emissions -- many Alarmists still believe that Man is responsible for Climate, and the Oceans will soon boil unless Industrial Civilization is destroyed.
Unfortunately, you can fool a lot of the People for a very long Time.
November 15, 2013
We have always supported Toronto’s Mayor, Mr. Ford because he seemed -- almost alone among Politicians – to have some Concern for the Taxpayers’ Money. While most Politicians spend their Days plotting Strategies in the spending the Money of Others, and their Nights dreaming of new Projects by Means of which they can enhance their Stature in the Eyes of the Recipients of their Largesse, Mr. Ford seemed devoted to a prudent Miserliness.
However, it appears that Mr. Ford’s occasional drunken Stupors are not isolated Incidents, but rather betoken a fatal Weakness, a curious Deficit of Character, an odd Perspective which fails to accept that Chief Magistrates are bound by the Laws, and that Public Figures risk Disapproval when they defy some social Conventions.
In short, there appear to be too many Apologies for too many Blunders in too short a Time.
It is unfortunate to see Competence display Seams, betray loose Ends, and then watch the Threads, little by little, being tugged away, to reveal the amorphous, ill-defined Stuffing inside.
A complete Re-stitching would seem to be in order.
On another Matter, we happened to hear Judy Rebick this Morning on
"Q." We always disagree with Ms. Rebick. Indeed, if some awful Occasion
should arise and we found ourselves in Agreement with her, we would
repair in Haste to the Shady Hollow Psychiatric Facility in Downtown
Toronto for a complete Brain transplant.
We are pleased to report that we are not in Need of such radical Replacement, since Ms. Rebick was heard to lament that no one was paying Attention to the Climate Change which has caused the recent Disaster in the Philippines.
We take from this that Ms. Rebick, like Dr. Suzuki, sees Climate Change as the Responsibility of Mankind, and thinks that some kind of radical Action on the part of Human Beings will achieve an admirable Stasis in the World Climate.
Of course, not only has there never been Stasis in World Climate, but the Theory of anthropogenic Climate Change – while Ms. Rebick has been asleep -- has received a significant Setback in recent Times. While Carbon Emissions have gone up, no global Warming has occurred in the last Sixteen Years.
Of course, it is too much to expect Facts to have an Effect on any Theory in which so many Reputations are heavily invested, and which gives such wonderful Opportunities to run other Peoples’ Lives.
November 14, 2013
Beyond Satire, beyond Parody.
We are always pleased to see Progress being made on the International Scene.
Thus we note that Algeria, China, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam have all been elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
No doubt, we will see, as a Result, great Strides made in the Matter of Human Rights all over the World.
For, as it has been justly said, it takes a Thief to catch a Thief.
The only minimal Hesitation we harbour in the innermost Reaches of our Consciousness, is whether the Thieves in this Case will have any Interest in either the Pursuit or Capture of other Thieves.
Indeed, we must conclude that the United Nations has now gone beyond Satire, and beyond Parody, having reached a level of Corruption and Stupidity so opposite to its idealistic Pretensions, that we wonder why the more respectable Nations do not renounce their Memberships.
Upon Reflection, we see the Problem as traceable to the Siren Call of the Notion of Equality.
Certain kinds of Equality are admirable: it is noble to provide
Equality of Opportunity, and Equality before the Law. But the Pretense
that all Ideas, all Cultures, and all Principles of Governance are equal
is a Quicksand which cannot but lead to a paralysing Entrapment, a
submerging of Principles, and a fatal Smothering of Sense.
The United Nations should be divided into competing Teams. There would be the Teams of Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Coal. The Gold Team would be in a position of Power, with the Teams of Silver and Bronze vying to gain Admittance. The Coal Team would aim for the respectability of Bronze or Silver.
And how, you may ask, should the Composition of the Teams be determined? We do not think that this is a Matter of great Difficulty. It is our Assumption – perhaps naive – that human Beings, given an uncoerced Choice, prefer Freedom to Slavery, Comfort to Misery, and Wealth to Poverty. A secret Vote of the Earth’s Inhabitants might be an impossible Ideal. But, faut de mieux , one might look at those Countries which People are anxious to leave, and compare them with those Countries People prefer to move to.
The Composition of each Team could thus be easily determined.*
Competition good. Equality bad. Once the United Nations has been set up as a competitive Enterprise, we think that there is a good Chance it might find a solid Footing, and gradually rise from the Muck and Mire, the Sands of Stupidity in which it seems so irretrievably and unredeemably trapped.
*We would, in the Interests of Progress, be happy to serve as a final Arbiter in the Case of any Disputes as to the Composition of each Team.
November 12, 2013
Gaffology: A Field of Study based on the Fallout from Trudeaumania.*
We are grateful that Mr. Trudeau continues to provide us with Titillation and Amusement.
His recent Remark about China continues to reverberate in the Press:
You know, there's a level of admiration I actually have for China because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to actually turn their economy around on a dime and say 'we need to go green fastest . . . we need to start investing in solar.' I mean there is a flexibility that I know Stephen Harper must dream about of having a dictatorship that he can do everything he wanted that I find quite interesting.
First, we have Mr. Levant, of the Sun News Network, pointing out that Mr. Trudeau’s Gaffes are consistently minimized or defended by the "Mainstream Media." Although there were Representatives of various Purveyors of News at "Ladies Night," only Sun News drew Attention to the Inappropriateness of expressing Admiration for Dictatorship.
Following that lonely Voice crying in the Wilderness of Trudeaumania, CTV obtained the damning Video, and showed it. But the CBC waited for three Days before attempting to explain Mr. Trudeau’s Remarks as a Joke.
We have not been so amused since dropping a Block of Cement on our big Toe in 1995.
Further, The Toronto Star has yet to acknowledge that Mr. Trudeau said anything worthy of Comment.
We find it interesting that Andrew Coyne has an Article in this Day’s
Post on Mr. Trudeau’s Penchant for Gaffes.
We find it interesting, because, while we have always considered Mr. Trudeau a laughable Choice as Liberal Leader, we have the Impression – alas, we cannot give Specifics – that Mr. Coyne has been wait-and-seeish on Mr. Trudeau’s Prospects. (We would record that Conrad Black and Brian Mulroney are others who have evinced a similar regrettable Deficiency of Vision – they have failed to express our own penetrating Insight into Mr. Trudeau’s Lack of Promise.)
But in his Commentary, Mr. Coyne notes previous Mis-steps. For Mr. Trudeau has expressed the idea that if Canada were truly to become "the Canada of Stephen Harper," he would support the Separation of Quebec. Mr. Trudeau has also declared a Mistrust of Alberta, seeing it as "controlling our community," and has suggested the tired, left-wing, "root cause" Explanation for Terrorism as a Result of Marginalization by an uncaring Society.
At the End, speaking of Mr. Trudeau, Mr. Coyne declares:
It is the gulf between his intellectual reach and grasp that his reputation as a ninny has been earned.
It will be fascinating to see whether fine Hair above and a vacuous Mind below will lead to Mr. Trudeau’s Election as Prime Minister. In that unhappy Event, we hope only that there will be sufficient Adults on Deck to steer the Ship, while Mr. Trudeau dances with the Ladies in the Ballroom below.
*Observation # 264
November 11, 2013
We are intrigued to learn that the Rideau Institute in Ottawa is supporting the wearing of White Poppies on Remembrance Day.
The Version we have observed contains the word "Peace" in the Centre.
The Implication – as many see it – is that the Red Poppy of Remembrance is somehow a Glorification of War; the White Poppy is a symbolic Refutation of that Glorification.
An Article in this Day’s Post informs us that the White Poppy appeared in 1933, as a "symbol of the pacifist left."
We confess to a certain small Amount of Gratitude in the current Attempt to promote the White Poppy: it is probably appropriate that we be reminded, from Time to Time, of the human Capacity for vapidity of Thought, the Persistence of vague, mindless Longings, and the unhappy Penchant for Posturings of Superiority.
For those who endorse the White Poppy – it seems to us -- posture on a Grandstand of moral Superiority: the inferior Others favour War; we, the angelic, support Peace.
Despite our small Gratitude, we do confess that we find a Surfeit of such Posturings tiresome.
It seems never to have occurred to the "pacifist left" that Everyone is against War. Everyone is against Cancer and Influenza. Everyone is in Favour of Sunshine and against Tornados. Everyone is against Hate and celebrates Love. Everyone is in favour of Sweetness, Light, and high Self-esteem. Everyone is against Death, Destruction, and Depression.
Thus, expressing these Sentiments does not confer moral Superiority. Nor does it alter the Reality of the human Condition. This Reality must be dealt with in practical Ways; it is not vulnerable to wishful Thinking. Good is not achieved except through Engagement with Evil.
The Fact is that some Element of Striving and Competition is woven into the Fabric of all Life. We are fond of repeating our Observation #8:
If, in the interests of an ideal circumstance, single-celled organisms had chosen equality as the ultimate good, then the present population of the world would consist entirely of single-celled organisms.
If Creatures did not have the Impulse to triumph and survive, they wouldn’t. All Species represent the Triumph of Success against the Obstacles of their Environments.
Nor does it seem to be within the Realm of Possibility that human Emotions of Anger, Hatred, Envy, or Greed will ever be extirpated.
The Left is characterized by a mindless Desire for an impossible World, a Big Rock Candy Mountain of idle Stupidity, where Evil does not exist.
We know not whether, in some Future Century – that War might be tamed – reduced to the Ritual of a sporting Event -- or held in Abeyance by the Principle of mutually assured Destruction.
The Reality now is that War is sometimes necessary in order to avoid Slavery or Annihilation, to protect Freedom, and the Pursuit of the best of human Potential. Appeasement of Bullies does not placate, but emboldens. Everyone wishes that it were not so. But so it is.
Save us from the Posturings of moral Superiority symbolized by the White Poppy.
Let us remember and regret Wars fought for Freedom and Peace.
November 9, 2013
Style vs. Substance: putting the best Foot forward.
We assume it to be true that sleek Styling sways many a Purchaser. An enticing Appearance may distract from boring due Diligence into Records of Repair, Ratios of Kilometres per Litre, and retained Resale Values.
It is commonly believed – though it may be mere Prejudice – that Women can be overcome by a splash of Chrome, or the Feel of Quality in Leather Seating, while Men enquire earnestly into the Type of Engine, and the History of Cooling System Repairs for the Model under Consideration.
Mr. Trudeau’s recent Gathering for Cocktails, Candid Conversation, and Curiosity-Inducing Ideas was reserved for Ladies, and made no Attempt to debunk some common Assumptions.
The Curiosity-Inducing Ideas referred to included a proposed Discussion of the favourite Virtues and Real-Life Heroes of the Participants. Possibly it was hoped that the Debate would continue into the vexed Matter of Colour Schemes appropriate to blue Carpets, innovative Table Decorations for Thanksgiving, and the potential Role of Yoga in attaining Emotional Balance.
It is well known that Mr. Trudeau’s Transmission has a History of random Slippage, and his Engine is as yet unrated for heavy Hauling, so we can hardly blame him for holding a Ladies’ Night, with a Focus on Chrome Splashes and the suggestively tactile Attributes of magnificent Hair.
If one has two stubbornly inegalitarian Feet, it is sensible to advance the more attractive of the Two.
But even the most stylish Vehicle may be betrayed when the Starter Button is depressed, the Engine whirs, a Clatter and Bang is heard, and an unseemly Fog of Nonsense emanates from beneath the Hood.
One of the Ladies – possibly a Devotee of Consumer Reports – wary of Lemons – asked the following:
Which nation, besides Canada, which nation's administration do you most admire, and why?
Mr. Trudeau thought for a few Seconds before expressing his Admiration for China:
You know, there's a level of admiration I actually have for China because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to actually turn their economy around on a dime and say 'we need to go green fastest . . . we need to start investing in solar.' I mean there is a flexibility that I know Stephen Harper must dream about of having a dictatorship that he can do everything he wanted that I find quite interesting.
Dictatorships, like Five Year Plans, and National Strategies, have a powerful Appeal to the human Heart. There is Something in us which yearns to cut through the Muddle of competing Interests, organize Society for its own Good, and create a permanent Palace of Crystal.
Of course, this is an Illusion. The dictatorial Striving always necessitates human Sacrifice for the great Vision, the over-arching Goal. The Dictatorship in China is fond of Executions for Dissidents and Persecutions of the Falun Gong. Prisoners are executed for minor Offenses and their Organs harvested. China is more enamoured of coal Plants than Solar Panels. Cities are built by fiat and remain unoccupied.
Yet Mr. Trudeau admits to a Fascination with the Potential of Dictatorships.*
Does this not show, once again, that Mr. Trudeau is a man bewitched by Style -- careless of both Substance and Consequence?
What would his Approach to governing be, if he were elected Prime Minister?
*In this, he seems to reflect the Thinking of his Father, who expressed Approval of the leftist Ambitions of Russia, Cuba, and China.
November 7, 2013
We note that Mr. Ford is much in the News of late, he now having admitted to smoking crack Cocaine, * after a considerable Period of Denial and Obfuscation.
And yet, it has been noted that his approval Rating has not suffered, despite the Hand-Wringing of the Media and sensible People everywhere.
We must admit to our Bias. We were always impressed with the Fact that Mr. Ford, when a Councillor, had the lowest Expenses among his Peers. We were attracted to his Philosophy of Pinching Pennies, which is virtually unheard of in the World of Politics. We were pleased by his Promise to "Stop the Gravy Train" at Toronto City Hall, and applauded his Devotion to a Saving of Taxpayers’ Money.
We have also been sympathetic to him because he ignited the Fury of the uncomprehending Left.
Mr. Smitherman, a Stalwart of the mis-spending provincial Liberals, a Symbol of downtown Sophistication – just like David Miller – was supposed to have won the Election. That he lost in an overwhelming Manner to the unpolished, untrendily suburban Mr. Ford, was a Refutation of their View of the Order of Things. It was as if their Universe, cosy, warm, and welcoming, had been rudely transported to a wider Galaxy of unfashionable Values and unacceptable fiscal Responsibility.
"Cunning is the dark sanctuary of incapacity," noted Lord Chesterfield, and the apoplectic Left channelled their Outrage into Lawsuits and Devious Ploys of Discreditation.
We must also note that Mr. Ford is refusing to play by the established Rules for indiscreet Behaviour. For it is the Custom in such Circumstances for the Offender to repair immediately to an Accredited Facility so that he can be worked on by accredited Professionals and be pronounced rehabilitated. Thus far, Mr. Ford has declared his Intention to soldier on. He has not evinced even a modest repentant Desire to spend a few Days with an accredited Guru on a remote Mountain Top.
We suspect this final Thumbing of the Nose at polite Society may lose
Mr. Ford some Support.
It is interesting to play with Context. We note that Mr. Trudeau recently admitted to smoking Marijuana – even while he was a Legislator voting in Favour of restrictive Drug Laws. Of course, in the Hierarchy of
Drugs, Marijuana is a lesser Evil. And Mr. Trudeau was sensible enough not to make a public Display.
The Admission did, however, pass with scarcely a Murmur. We can only speculate on the Weight of Mr. Trudeau’s excellent Hair and impeccable left-wing Credentials in the Balance of the Response.
We find the Comparison with Mr. McGuinty even more interesting. Mr. McGuinty cared not for the Rule of Law, nor the financial Plight of Taxpayers. His Preoccupation with Green Schemery was Folly, and his Devotion to political Survival was single-minded and all-encompassing. But Mr. McGuinty’s Disgrace was accepted as Business-as-Usual.
Given the Choice between Mr. McGuinty -- reckless in Sobriety -- and Mr. Ford – prudent but given to occasional drunken Stupors – we would take the Lesser of the two Evils.
*We thought it appropriate to look up the Term. From Wikipedia: Crack cocaine is the freebase form of cocaine that can be smoked... it is said to be the most addictive form of cocaine, although this has been contested. Crack rocks offer a short but intense high to smokers. Crack appeared primarily in impoverished inner-city neighborhoods in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami in late 1984 and 1985.
November 4, 2013
The Senate Scandal
(The World of Nudge-Nudge, Wink-Winkery)
We generally take Delight in making Comment on those Subjects in which we clearly have no Expertise. It is our Apprehension that the lesser our Knowledge of a Subject, the greater our Freedom to pronounce upon it with Assurance and Authority.
It is a Puzzlement, therefore, why we have thus far made no Pronouncements upon the Scandals which now rock the Senate, and which have caused the Prime Minister to give every Evidence of being in an unaccustomed State of Flounderment.*
We think it is high Time that we made Remedy. Herewith is our Explanation of the parlous State in which we do currently discover ourselves.
In olden Days, it was assumed that Senators, upon the Completion of their arduous Sittings in the plush Chamber, would immediately repair to the Provinces which they represented. There, in such under-populated Places as Prince Edward Island, they would occupy a Rocking Chair on the Porch of the General Store, greeting Passers-by, and engaging Customers in topical Chit-Chat.
In busier Locations, they would remove their metaphorical Ears, and put them to the Ground, thereby apprehending the Rumblings of Trains of Thought, and sensing the Vibrations of Public Opinion. In this Way, they might truly be thought to represent their Home Provinces.
Because these Senators had to bear the cost of maintaining, in addition to their Principal Residence, an Accommodation in Ottawa, it seemed reasonable to give them an Allowance for this added Expense required by the Location of their Employment.
However, as Time passed, this World became more theoretical and Ideal. With rapid Delivery of Newspapers, with Radio, Television, and the Internet -- the need to sit on the Front Porch of the General Store became less pressing. As well, the Fleshpots and Giddiness of Ottawa seemed to hold more Attraction than fastening the Metaphorical Ear to the Ground in remote and peripheral Locations.
In the real World, Senators often preferred to spend more Time in
Ottawa, and less Time rocking on the Front Porch.
Where there is a Gap between the real World and the Ideal World, a new one is often created. This is the World of Nudge-Nudge, Wink-Winkery.**
In this World, Senators lived in Ottawa, while pretending to live in their Home Provinces. There was, of course, an excellent Argument for retaining their Housing Allowances: in the World of Nudge-Nudge, Wink-Winkery, they were still obligated to maintain two Residences – their real One, and the theoretical One in the Home Province.
Surely, when Mr. Harper appointed Mr.Duffy to the Senate, he could hardly have been unaware that Mr. Duffy lived in Ottawa – and had for many Years. Mr. Harper nudged; Mr. Duffy winked.
Now, the World of Nudge-Nudge, Wink-Winkery has a certain Element of Vulnerability. As long as the Nudges and Winks are exchanged by all the Participants, everything runs smoothly. But, when someone refuses to return a Nudge, and seems oblivious to repeated Winks, a loose End is created. If someone is so injudicious as to start tugging on the loose End, then the whole Fabric is in Danger of unravelling.
Perhaps the loose End was Mr. Brazeau, who claimed Maniwaki, Quebec as his Residence, though he lived but Five Miles from Ottawa. Someone unudgeable, with a diminished Wink Capacity, determined that no one had ever seen him at the House in Maniwaki, which belongs to his Father.
Once one loose End is discovered, the Temptation to tug becomes virtually irresistible.
The Unravelling has proceeded from Housing Allowances to other sorts of Hi-Jinkery --which might well never have been discovered -- and has led to our current State of Parlousness.
The Moral of this Tale is to be wary of the World of Nudge-Nudge, Wink-Winkery. The Conflict between the ideal World and the real One might better be addressed by acknowledging the real One.***
*A Neologism delivered, just this Moment, from the Great God
November 2, 2013
The four most beautiful words in our common language: I told you so. (Gore Vidal, 1925 - 2012)
We were intrigued yesterday to read an Article by Lawrence Solomon which refers to "the growing scientific consensus" in the 1960's and 1970's "that the Earth was entering a period of global cooling." (National Post, November 1)
This Prediction of Cooling, of course, was refuted by the Warming which followed. But, as everyone except Dr. Suzuki knows, the Warming has ceased for the past Sixteen Years.
We now learn that Professor Mike Lockwood of Reading University believes that Solar Activity is now falling extremely rapidly, and there is a risk of a "Little Ice Age" such as that which occurred in the early 1800s, when Sunspots almost disappeared.
It has been fashionable, during the recent Rise of Climate Fundamentalism -- with Climavangelists in the Ascendant, preaching to huge Crowds of avid Worshippers prepared to burn their Furniture and return to the Caves -- to ignore the Effect of the Sun on the Earth’s Climate.
The Climavangelists appear to have taken the Position that the Sun, at a great Distance of Ninety-three Million Miles, is little more than a quaint Decoration, a pleasing Source of Light, perhaps -- but otherwise a Bauble of the Firmament, a charming Irrelevancy in the real Work of making earthly Climate, which is solely the Burden and Responsibility of Mankind.
In Fact – of course Religion is generally unconcerned with Facts -- the Temperature of the Earth rises and falls in Accordance with magnetic Activity of the Sun.*
Indeed, it appears that Scientists are now beginning to focus more on this unsurprising Truth.
For ourselves, we would just as soon see the Earth continue to warm. If we had the appropriate Magic Wand, we would banish Winter entirely, and reap not only the psychological Benefits, but experience a welcome Reduction in monthly heating Expense.
However, a Period of Cooling might have compensatory Benefits.
It would be amusing to watch Dr. Suzuki in a Shiver of Surprise, his smug Sanctimony sunk into a shamed Silence. Nor would we be opposed to see Mr. Gore, held out as an egregious Example of hypocritical Ignominy, hung on the grappling Hook of his own failed self-serving Predictions.
*The Mechanism is explained in the Diary of March 7, 2012.
November 1, 2013
Halloween has come and gone. We have learned of its increasing Popularity in the World at large, and also of some Hesitancy on the part of some local Schools.
We speculate that Halloween has become popular as a Concomitant of the Decline of Religion. If we must have Drama and Dress-up – which seems likely – let us have our imaginary World, our encounter with the frightening Unknown -- something that we do not have to take too seriously.
The Ghouls and the Goblins, the Witches and Ghosts can be put away with the Folding of the Costumes, the Removal of the Masks, and the Relegation of the Paraphernalia to the Cupboards of convenient Forgetfulness.
The Evidence for the Relationship between Religion an Halloween is suggested by the Fact that, in 2009, the Catholic Church expressed its disapproval of the Celebration of a pagan Night of "terror, fear, and death."
(The Scotsman, October 30, 2009)
The Schools which express Hesitancy may be doing so on religious Grounds.
But the malign, twisted Logic of political Correctness also shows its scary Hand: Fear is expressed that those from other Cultures may be bewildered by the bizarre Nature of our traditional Rituals. Heaven forfend that we not adapt our Culture so that it will be as inoffensive -- and as uninteresting -- as possible. We are but a blank Slate, an unformed rubber Stamp, waiting for the benign Imprint of those superior Beings from afar who have seen fit to grace us with their Presence.
We confess that –for us – one of the most interesting Things about Halloween is the Tendency of the Ignorati to pronounce it Holloween.
We initially thought that such Mispronouncers were simply reflecting the Emptiness within.
Upon Reflection, we have realized that they are simply under the Misapprehension that Halloween was created in a tiny Hall – possibly suited to the diminutive Stature of Elves and Goblins. The weeny Hall has become Halloween. (Pronounced, of course, Holloween. )
We are old enough to remember when the Spelling was Hallowe’en – reflecting the Fact that it refers to All Hallows Eve – Time of the Year to remember the Dead – Saints and Martyrs.
To hallow is "to make holy or sacred, to sanctify or consecrate, to venerate." (Wikipedia)
All Hollows Eve suggests a Celebration of Nothingness – which seems somewhat less compelling than Drama and Dress-up.
October 31, 2013
We note that the Edmonton Transit System has removed some Advertisements from its Buses which offer Assistance to Muslim Girls fearful of Honour Killing.
The Advertisement depicts seven Girls who have been killed for "Honour."
The Text reads:
Muslim Girls Honor killed by their Families
An Edmonton councillor, Amarjeet Sohi, had the Advertisements removed, claiming they were "discriminatory and racist*," and showed Bigotry.
This is, of course, a Battle between the Truth, and political Correctness. Although we are firmly on the Side of Truth, we are surprised to find ourselves giving a few Points to political Correctness.
First, of course, we think all Religions to be foolish, and best practised as a Source of private Comfort only. And we think of all Religions, Islam – both from Theory which might be derived from Verses in the Koran, and from the Evidence of a significant Portion of Practitioners -- is the most dangerous, cruel, and oppressive in wide Practice in modern Times.
It is especially troubling, that while Extremists commit Atrocities,** the Moderates – who everyone claims are numerous and benign – see fit to embody a simian Response – they see, hear, and speak no evil. The relevant Spanish Proverb is: He who is silent, gives consent.
Thus, it would have been more encouraging had Amarjeet Sohi accepted the Fact that Honour Killings are a cultural Factor among Practitioners of Islam, and welcomed the Attempt to protect Girls who might be vulnerable. His Response is, instead, very typical of the Religion, with its absurd Insistence on being above Criticism.
However, he may have a Point that Honour Killings are not encountered solely among Practitioners of Islam, and that it might be considered injudicious to suggest that they are by addressing the Advertisements only to Muslim Girls.
We can also accept that the Advertisements may be disingenuous. They offer Assistance, while making sure that the Link between Islam and Honour Killings is made clear. We would actually prefer an Advertisement which simply gave Facts and Figures on the Prevalence of Honour Killings in Islamic Communities.
If one is to be impolitic, it is best to be so honestly, rather than covertly.
The Matter of prejudicial Generalizations is interesting. We note that it is perfectly acceptable to say that the Chinese are clever and hard-working, but not that they are disproportionately bad Drivers. One can say Americans are loud or Englishmen stuffy, but must be very careful when alluding to the perceived Flaws of Groups considered vulnerable to Deficits of Self-Esteem.
We think Islam should be criticized constantly and vociferously for its obvious Flaws. But it may be a Mistake to suggest that it is the sole Culprit in any particular Aspect of Mediaeval Thinking.
*The term "racist" is used most carelessly. People fail to distinguish between "Race" and "Culture" –and, in this case, Religion. Anti-Muslim Comments may be discriminatory, but are not racist. "Racist" has become a convenient, catch-all Epithet, because it is considered unanswerable.
**Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. (Voltaire, 1694 - 1778)
October 30, 2013
The Big Picture
Once again, we give Thanks that we live in such enlightened and progressive Times.
We note in this Day’s Post that in the advanced City of Calgary, St. Basil Elementary and Junior High School has decided to suspend the Honour Roll. The Justification, sent by Letter to Parents reads in Part:
Awards eventually lose their lustre to students who get them, while often hurting the self-esteem and pride of those who do not receive a certificate.*
We see this, of course, as a wonderful Advance for Pride and Self-Esteem in the Roster of Things desirable. It is also a Triumph for the Idea of Equality. Why should some Students be considered more worthy than others? Are they all not created equal?
We tend to see these Matters in a Context – in a Big Picture, and while Pride, Self-Esteem, and Equality are undoubtedly wonderful, we must give some Thought to their relative Importance.
In a few short Propositions, here is – from our own infallible Perspective -- the greater Landscape:
1. The Universe is, essentially, cruel, indifferent, and competitive, thus -- from a human Perspective -- unfair.
2. Man’s Imagination allows him to conceive of Worlds quite different from the real One. In those Worlds, there is Kindness and Caring; Achievements come easily; Equality is the underlying Reality, which needs to be rescued from the Distractions of artificial Hierarchies. Religion is a perfect Example of the yearning Imagination: in the Afterlife, Wrongs will be made right, Perfection and Equality will reign.
3. While there are many Advantages to be gained from a Rejection of the worst of the Cruelties of the indifferent Universe, certain apparently desirable Propositions have an awkward Habit of turning out to be deceptive. For Example: If a little Movement towards the Ideal World is a good Thing, then a Lot of Movement is even better. This Proposition, while attractive and seemingly irrefutable, founders on the obdurate Nature of Reality.
4. The obdurate Nature of Reality is that it is founded upon all the
Things we – obsessed with the Worlds of our Imagination – abhor.
Consider, for Example, the Notion of Equality** -- a wonderful
Characteristic of the Ideal World. Our Observation #8:
If, in the interests of an ideal circumstance, single-celled organisms had chosen equality as the ultimate good, then the present population of the world would consist entirely of single-celled organisms.
In other words, the Essence of Improvement is found in Inequality. Blissful Content is no Match for anxious striving.
Consider again, that the Desire for Equality wears a deceptive Mask. It is not at all what it appears to be. For, when the Matter is examined carefully, it will be seen that those who cry out for Equality of Circumstance do not mean what they say. For, if that Equality should result in a Reduction of their own Wealth or Comfort, their Enthusiasm would wane considerably. And should they achieve some desired Element of Equality with their Neighbour, would they be content? Most assuredly not. They would seek further Improvement, even if that should result in Inequality.
5. Thus, the great Art of Life in Society must be to find an appropriate Balance between the underlying Reality of a competitive Struggle for Improvement, with the Desire for a World where all are equal, and Blessings fall with undiscriminating Benevolence, as Manna from Heaven.
In that nice Discrimination – between the World of Reality, and the World of the Big Rock Candy Mountain, we think the St. Basil Elementary and Junior High School is making a significant Error. Excellence -- not Equality -- should be encouraged. The Pride and Self-Esteem of the less competent, which can be bolstered by Recognition of Improvement, should not have Primacy of Place in the Hierarchy of Values. Our Observation #168:
When equality is the aim, mediocrity is the result; when excellence is the aim, equality finds its true place.
*If allowed to quibble, we would deplore Infelicities in this Sentence. Do not the Awards have Lustre "for" rather than "to" Students? And the switch from "lose" to "while hurting" seems awkward. "...while the pride and self-esteem of those who do not receive a certificate are often hurt" would seem preferable.
**We do not speak of the Desire for Equality of Opportunity, or Equality before the Law, or the Equality of the Queue, etc.
October 29, 2013.
We learn in this Day’s Post that median Wait Time in our marvellous System of Health Care has risen about three Days from last Year – to 18.2 Weeks.
The Wait Time refers to the Length of Time from a Referral by a General Practitioner to a Specialist to the Commencement of Treatment.
In 1993, the Wait was 9.3 Weeks.
In contrast, we suspect that were our Resident Feline, His Majesty, to require some special Procedure, it could probably be scheduled within Days, if not Hours.
It is also well known that in Countries like Australia and Switzerland, Wait Times are reduced through the Existence of alternative Private Systems.
It is a Truth almost universally acknowledged, that Goods and Services obtained through a free Market System are provided with minimal Delay. When Goods and Services are removed from economic Reality, they must be rationed through some Mechanism other than Price.
The Rationing still takes Place, but the Cost is in Terms of Time, or in Terms of Membership in some select Group. The Pretence is that all will be treated equally, but this cannot be the case.
The Government may declare its Aim is to put the Patient first, but
the Patient – the Consumer -- may only hear the Tune of his Choice when
he has the Power to pay the Piper. When the Government pays the Piper,
it obtains the Melody most pleasing to its own bureaucratic Ear. The
Patient can be no more than a piano key in the ultimate Disharmony of
It is interesting to hear the Response of Dr. Michael Rachlis, with the Canadian Health Coalition:
We do tend to wait too long, but it has nothing to do with us [sic] having a public system. It has a lot to do with how we organize services. We can eliminate virtually every wait time by better management.
The Devotion of Central Planners to their flawed Concept is touching, but potentially disastrous.
For them, alas, the ideal of the Central Plan is a Phoenix too frequent: from the Ashes of any flawed grand Universal Scheme -- from the Immolation of Inefficiency, or the Conflagration of Collapse –must rise again the same Remedy -- improved Central Planning.*
We are reminded of Albert Einstein’s Definition of Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
*Observation # 262
October 28, 2013
We confess that the Needle on our Appall-o-Metre went off the Scale at the Results of a recent Poll which attempted to determine the most admired Canadian.
Indeed, the Machine has now taken to beeping mournfully to mark the Passage of each Hour, and makes a clattering Noise whenever the Microwave Oven is activated. We suspect the Damage is irreparable.
For, lo, and behold -- it was the Arch-Hypocrite David Suzuki, who gained Primacy of Place in the Rankings. We can only assume that Canadians have become wearied and cynical, and now see the Ability to sell dubious Propositions -- especially dubious Propositions which one personally clearly holds in low Regard -- as a Skill worthy of Admiration.
It has been pointed out, of course, that Respondents to the Poll were not given free Reign in their Estimation of the most admirable. Rather, they were restricted to a List chosen by the Pollster, Sachi Kurl, who claims that "most" of the Figures on the List had recently made Appearance in News Headlines.
Even so, we would have suspected that Dr. Suzuki would have ranked in the same nether Regions as Mike Duffy, (15th) Thomas Mulcair (10th), and Belinda Stronach (11th).
As a Counter-Weight to this Survey, the National Post has this Day published the Results of its own Request to Readers to choose their own "most admired Canadian."
We were pleased to see Mr. Ezra Levant garnered five Votes – the most
Votes for anyone mentioned in the published Letters.
We think this is entirely fitting. Not only has Mr. Levant been at the Forefront in exposing Dr. Suzuki’s Ignorance in Matters of Climate Change, and his Hypocrisy in living an expansive Style of Life while urging others to return to the Caves – he is, generally, the wonderful small Boy who sees naked Emperors where others are taken in by the Obfuscation of Illusory Garments.
It is Mr. Levant who has drawn our Attention to the deceptive Grandstanding of Chief Teresa Spence, the Guilt of an unrepentant Omar Khadr, and the Ignorance of Paid Protestors who appear at Rallies decrying almost anything to do with the Development of Resources of Oil.
It is he who has exposed false Charities, the Influence of foreign Corporations in our public Debates, the Human Rights Commissions for their Kangarooitis, and the general Media for their Cowardice and cosy Complicity in advancing the flawed Ideals of the Left.
We have always harboured the secret Thought, that, if we won the Lottery, or the Stock Market Gods should favour us with the Riches we deserve, we would establish an annual "Emperor’s Clothes Award" for the Writer most prominent in exposing those pretentious Follies of Society which have gained wide Approval and unthinking Regard.
We suspect Mr. Levant would win such an Award every Year – for as long as he continued to seek the Truth, and show such admirable Fearlessness in the Revelation of his Discoveries.
October 23, 2013.
The world has achieved such a State of Parlousness, with Follies and Errors being committed with depressing Regularity -- and consequent oppressive Predictability -- that it is our Custom to read the News each Day for any small Signs of Amelioration or Progress.
You may imagine, therefore, our Surprise and Delight this Morning when we learned that the State of Brunei is -- at last -- about to enforce a new Islamic criminal Law. (National Post, October 23)
The Islamic Courts were formerly confined to the Handling of Family Disputes, but, in a great Leap forward, will soon deal with criminal Matters which may involve Amputation for Theft and Stoning for Adultery.
The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, educated at Sandhurst, and the Recipient of numerous honorary Degrees, has apparently long sought this benign and progressive Outcome. We are pleased that, at the age of Sixty-Seven, he is at last able to announce:
Our duty to Allah is being fulfilled.
We understand that some intellectual Dinosaurs, mired in the Muck of their primordial Thinking, crabbed in Spirit and intolerant of the new Light about to shine in Brunei, have expressed some foolish Concerns.
We are pleased that the Leading Islamic Scholar of Brunei, Mufti
Awang Abdul Aziz has been quick to silence such inappropriate Rumblings.
He has stated that the new Approach "guarantees justice for everyone and
safeguards their well-being." Of the Cutting, Stoning, and Caning of the
new Enlightenment, we are assured: "It is not indiscriminate cutting,
stoning or caning."
Coming, as they do, from such an infallible Source of sacred Wisdom, his Words give us great Comfort.
We are also pleased to see that the Leading Scholar has no fear that Tourists, under a terrible Misapprehension, might seek to avoid the Nirvana of Sharia. He has explained it thus:
Please listen to our answer. Sir, do all potential tourists to Brunei plan to steal? If they do not, then what do they need to fear?
Now, in any lesser Jurisdiction, we might imagine some terrible Abuse. Goods might be planted in the Luggage or Shopping Bags of unwary Tourists. Accusations might be made, and Charges might be withdrawn upon Payment of exorbitant Sums. However, we are speaking here of Brunei. With the new Regime of Sharia Enlightenment in that favoured Place, Human Nature will undoubtedly experience a radical Shift towards an agreeable Perfection. We would have, of course, no Concerns.
Indeed, although, heretofore, we had given the Matter but little Thought, it might be instructive to visit Brunei at our earliest Opportunity. We might then be favoured with a Chance to observe one of the great social Advances of our Time -- at First Hand.
October 22, 2013
Religion is a Token of such Silliness in the human Condition, that one might conclude that the only sensible Comments that might be made upon it are those which are dismissive.
This, of course, is not the Case. Religion may be silly, but it is not to Believers. If it is a Folly, it is a persistent One, and capable of influencing People for Good and Evil.
At the Moment, we are not concerned about the Influence of Zoroastrianism, or the unseemly Spread of Druidical Practice; nor do we spend sleepless Nights over the ancient Mayan Penchant for human Sacrifice. But Islam seems to be the precipitant Force for much Evil committed in the Name of Piety.
Thus, we welcome a Comment in this Day’s Post by Afsun Qureshi, entitled: It’s time for the ‘Muslim 500'* to make their voices heard.
In discussing the recent Massacre at the Westgate Mall in Kenya, Ms. Qureshi asks who –among Muslims – has spoken out against it. She notes Expressions by The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, Al Amin Kimathi of the National Muslim Human Rights Forum, and the Somalian president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
But she characterizes the Responses as "brief and desultory," having little Effect in Muslim Communities.
Instead, Ms. Qureshi calls for Condemnation by "the top 500 most influential Muslims worldwide."
Among these would be the King of Saudi Arabia, the Moroccan King, the Aga Khan, Queen Rania of Jordan, Sheikina Mozah of Qatar.
This seems entirely sensible. But of course, all that is heard is "a deafening silence."
We are reminded of the Spanish Proverb: Quien Calla, otorga – He who is silent gives Consent.
As to the Reason for the Silence – that may be the most profound Element of Condemnation of the Religion:
The truth is, the Aga Khans of the world – and the other people on the Muslim 500 list – like their lives peaceful. Protesting fundamentalism can bring controversy.
What can be the true Nature of the Religion which has the Power to terrify its "most influential" Adherents?
*A list compiled by the Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in 2012.
October 19, 2013
The other Day (October 17), we noted some of the Disadvantages of our socialist Health Care System.
We admit, of course, it is only civilized that a modern industrial State should wish to provide Health Care to all of its Citizens.
For some Reason – we suspect it may be Purity of Heart – some Nations cannot abide the Notion that Health Care might be provided to some by Means of Market Forces – and to others by socialist Benevolence. This Notion flies in the Face of the egalitarian Ideal.
Those Nations afflicted with Purity of Heart are North Korea, Cuba, and Canada.
We note that Mr. Obama has taken a slightly different Approach. As we understand it, Obamacare does not make the Government the sole Provider of Care; it simply requires that all Citizens purchase Insurance.
We were interested to hear – on Sun News last Evening -- Mr. Charles Ortel suggest that Obamacare will not succeed.
He notes that young People, who believe themselves to be immortal, are required to purchase Insurance in order to help pay for those older Citizens who have greater Need of Care. He suspects that many will refuse to do so.
In Addition, the Application for such Insurance involves the
submitting of private Details of medical History, and of Banking
Information. There is no Guarantee of Privacy in such Submissions.
Finally, he notes that the Website on which such Applications are to be made is afflicted with significant Dysfunctions.*
All Societies, of course, have a certain Amount of Coercion at their Core. There must be Laws and Penalties for breaking them. But it would seem reasonable that most Citizens prefer Freedom to Coercion. Capitalism tends to emphasize Freedom of Choice; Socialism coerces a Sacrifice of Freedom for the Ideal --unattainable, of course --of Equality.
Why cannot Health Care remain essentially capitalistic – with Citizens buying private Insurance, and obtaining medical Services on the same Basis that they hire Accountants, Lawyers, and Hairstylists?
For those unable to function in a free System – provide another which is funded by Government.
We understand that there are a number of Countries – such as France, Germany, and Denmark – which have two-tier Systems. They seem unafflicted by interminable Waiting Times.
Sometimes Purity of Heart must be sacrificed to Excellence and Efficiency.
October 17, 2013
The Ideal of Socialism is so attractive – shimmering like a welcoming Beacon – a wonderful soft Light of Benevolence in the encircling Gloom – that those with great Hearts and limited Intellects are drawn to it, Wings fluttering, and Antennae submissively a-quiver.
Alas, soft, welcoming, and benevolent Lights must be assessed very carefully, for sometimes they have the Power to singe, and, ultimately, to destroy.
For Socialism promises Equality, but can provide only Poverty and Mediocrity.
This is precisely the Case with Canada’s Health Care System, which pretends to Equality, but exacts the Costs of Excellence and Efficiency.
We say "pretends" because it is well-known that Equality is found only among the Populace of Unicorns. In Fact, Saskatchewan Roughriders, Clients of Workers’ Compensation Boards, those within the medical System, those of Prominence, and those who know influential People all manage to manipulate the System to their Advantage.*
Everyone knows that Mr. Pooh-Bah will not die, unattended, in the Emergency Waiting Room.
And, like all centrally planned Systems, it is a Procrustean Bed. Patients are not free, independent individual Citizens, able to choose Doctors as they would Veterinarians, Auto Mechanics, or Hairstylists.
Rather, they must be Supplicants, anxiously polite, waiting to be vouchsafed an Interview, an Assessment, or a Procedure.
The Price of a bogus Equality is a loss of Freedom, of a Sense of Independence, and a Mountain of Mediocrity and Inefficiency. Ours is a System which cannot put the Patient first, because it is the Government who pays the Piper, and, correspondingly, calls the Tune most pleasing to its own Ear. The Patient is but a Piano Key to the Disharmony of bureaucratic Practice.
We are pleased, therefore, to see in this Day’s National Post, the News that two Albertans are challenging the Ban on private Medical Insurance in that Province.
Dr. Darcy Allen, a Dentist, had to give up his Practice in 2009 because of the Effects of an Injury. He paid $77,000 to go to Montana for surgical Relief.
Richard Cross paid $24,000 for Surgery on his Back in Arizona, after being told he would need to wait Years for Remedy in Canada.
We hope that their Challenge meets with Success.
It has long been our Contention** that the Option of Private Insurance is a Freedom which must be provided in any State which aspires to rank above mere Dictatorship in the Lexicon of Governance.
*We know from the Experience of one among our personal Acquaintance, who, through knowing an influential Person in the System, was able to obtain an MRI Appointment in a surprisingly short Period of Time. When he announced his Success, the Response of his Doctor was: "Who do you know?"
**See The Outrage of Nanny Care, Drivel, October 31, 2010
October 15, 2013
The Wonders of Technology
The previous Owners of the Lumpenbangen Studio Building had seen fit to construct a wonderful Two-Storey Deck which spans nearly the entire Width of the Rear of the Building.
We suspect it was constructed about fifteen Years ago, and represents a Blend of old and new Technology. It was reputed – possibly as a Seduction at the Time of our Purchase -- to have cost Ten Thousand Dollars.
The old Technology is represented by the Use of Cedar throughout, for everything except the main support Beams. The new Technology is represented by the use of wonderful laminated Wood Beams which, by their small Size and Length of Span suggest a Strength rivalling that of Steel.
It was a few Weeks ago that we faced the Reality: the Old Technology had been found wanting. The Cedar Steps leading up to the lower Deck gave Evidence of extreme Weathering and Fragility, with Gaps appearing where one would prefer to see something reassuringly solid. We feared they verged on Collapse, and would probably choose some inopportune Moment – possibly the Occasion of the Importation of our weekly Supply of spirituous Liquors – to wreak their Havoc.
We estimated the cost of the Lumber – $200 -- emptied the Piggy Bank, and determined that if we switched to a Diet of Lentils – supplemented with the occasional Tin of Cat Food – we would be able to afford and effect the Repair.
The Lumber, duly ordered, came to $198.73.
As we dismantled the old Steps, we observed that the Deck itself had acquired some unseemly Sloping.
Such Moments may justly be described as "pivotal."
Should one ignore the Sloping, attribute it to the temporary Effects
of spirituous Liquors, and forge ahead?
Or should one, unwilling to build new, level Steps, and attach them to a suspiciously tilted – possibly inebriated – Deck – investigate further?
A little Knowledge, it is said, is a dangerous Thing. What Mr. Pope neglected to point out, is that even more Knowledge can be disastrous.
An Examination of the Underpinnings of the Deck revealed that the wonderful laminated Beams, the impressive new Technology, the Beams with the Strength of Steel, had been reduced in key Areas, to a Collection of Ribbon-like Peelings.
We have googled "laminated wood beams" – and been impressed with their reputed Qualities.
We can only assume that the Version used in the Ten Thousand Dollar Deck was not rated for outdoor Use. If it was, then we think the World of Technology should brace itself for Surprises of some considerable Magnitude.
We are in the Process of rebuilding the vast Bulk of the Structure. We are using a Middling Technology – Lumber which has been pressure-treated.*
The final Result should provide adequate Support for the weekly Importations of spirituous Liquors. The Irony is that we will no longer be able to afford them.
* We know from personal Experience (at Wind-in-the-Pines) that it will perform admirably for far longer than Fifteen Years.
October 13, 2013
It is not surprising that Religion, which plays on irrational Fears and irrational Hopes, does often attract the hypocritical Huckster, the falsely eloquent Evangelist – who preaches Probity while deceiving, Self-Denial while indulging, and Piety while profaning.
The Religion of anthropogenic Climate Change – for thus it must be considered – is just such a Beacon for enterprising Opportunists.
And none of such Opportunists is more well known in Canada than Dr. David Suzuki.
Mr. Levant, in this Day’s Sun News, describes the Two Suzukis – the Saint Suzuki and the Secret Suzuki. The Saint Suzuki urges us to consume less -- to reduce our Consumption of fossil Fuels. He thinks the world is overpopulated, and rails against corporations – their Obsession with Profits, and their lobbyists.
The Secret Suzuki owns three Homes – one worth at least Eight Million, has five Children, owns Land in Partnership with an Oil Company, and has his own Corporation, the David Suzuki Foundation, which employs nine Lobbyists. He charges Thirty Thousand Dollars plus Expenses to give Speeches to Students.
It is little Wonder that Dr. Suzuki retreated to his Automobile when Mr. Levant approached him at an Event held to publicize the coming Trial of David Suzuki to be held on November Sixth. The Peddlers of Nostrums are not overjoyed to encounter those for whom the touted serpentine Oil has proved less than efficacious.
Dr. Suzuki, as has been shown in a recent Appearance on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, knows very little about Climate Change beyond the Fact that it provides him with a very good Living. He is especially vulnerable to Criticism which exposes the Difference between his Pronouncements and his Actions.
In Fact, we think the most important Facet of the David Suzuki Story is his Durability as Media Darling.
It appears to us that, in many Ways, Canada is little more than a small Town. Everybody knows that the Town is controlled by Mr. Left, who owns the Mill, the Hotel, and the two Gas Stations. His Brother, Hubert, owns the Newspaper. His Cousin, O'Brien, runs the Human Rights Commission. The local Judge is related by Marriage. Yes, the Mayor – by some Freak of the Ballot Box – has no special Regard for Mr. Left – but he’s an Interloper from the West. He’s not really chez nous, at all.
As a Result, there are certain Things that can be said, and much that
is best left unsaid. Do you want to keep your Job at the Mill, the
Hotel, the Gas Stations or the Newspaper? Do you want to tangle with
O'Brien? Then Discretion is the better
Part of Valour.
It is interesting that at the mock Trial of David Suzuki – a publicity Stunt designed to brush away an unseemly Film of Tarnish -- and burnish the Lead beneath -- a real Judge, Harriet Sachs, Wife of the single-winged Clayton Ruby, agreed to act as the Mock Trial Judge. Mr. Ruby is "currently involved in litigation with government over environmental regulations." (Sun News, October 11)
The Trial of David Suzuki may be seen as part of a larger Movement against the Development of the Oil Sands.
How very cosy it all is:
I mean, we are all on the side of the angels*, aren’t we? Mr. Left owns the mill, the hotel, and the two gas stations. His brother, Hubert, owns the newspaper. His cousin, O'Brien runs the Human Rights Commission. I am related by Marriage. Who else matters? What possible conflict of interest could there be? I might have to appear impartial in some future litigation involving oil companies and environmental regulations? What utter nonsense!
It is rather interesting that Ms. Sachs has decided to "relinquish" her Mock Trial Judgeship.
Could it possibly be that the Town is becoming just slightly more sophisticated?
May we look forward to the Huckster moving on to another Town – perhaps in another County?
Another Country? We hear that Bhutan is quite lovely – low in Gross Domestic Product, but a Haven of environmental Joy and Happiness.
Observation # 243. Being on the side of the angels allows many a pact with the devil.
P.S.: Dr. Suzuki has been observed on Limerick Lane.
October 11, 2013
The Siren Call of the Five Year Plan
A recent Report from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada suggests that One in Six Graduates in Medical Specialties cannot find Employment.
At the same Time, we require no Report to tell us that Patients are not complaining of a Surfeit of medical Specialists. They are not pestered by unwanted Telephone Calls at the Supper Hour, offering cheap Angioplasty or cut-rate Bariatric Surgery. No Itinerant Specialists show up, unannounced at the Door, offering Brian Tumour Removal, or painless Prostatectomies.
What intrigues us most is the Response to this State of Affairs – a Response which suggests a viral Contamination of the Brain Cells, an Troubling Astigmatism of the Perceptive Process, and a Failure of the Immune Defence Mechanism (against bad Ideas) one might associate with a healthy Body Politic.
Let us give four Examples.
1. Steven Lewis, a Health Care Consultant in Saskatchewan:
We didn’t think it through as a country.
2. Dr. Christine Herman, a recently trained but unemployed cardiac Surgeon:
Long term planning, committee planning for job availability is needed.
(CBC News, October 10)
3. Dr. Alan Drummond, chair, public affairs, Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians:
For years [our organization] has requested a health human resource strategy to determine the number and type of emergency physicians required to meet the needs of 15 million Canadians who seek emergency care.
4. Dr. Evert Tuyp, president, B.C. Section of Dermatology:
What we need is a group that is charged with overseeing the whole picture of medical human resources.
(Letters to the Editor, National Post, Oct. 11)
Now, this is all well and good. But where are the Calls for a Strategic Overview of the Need for Forensic Accountants in rural Nova Scotia in 2018? How on Earth are we to know how many Veterinarians for Parakeets and Gerbils will be required in Northern Ontario in the Year 2019? Who will undertake the necessary Study to determine our National Requirements for Barbers in Quebec in 2020, and Hairstylists in Manitoba for 2025?
We think it extremely odd that no one seems to give a Fig for determining the Numbers of Accountants, Veterinarians, or Hair Stylists required in various Regions for Years in the Future.
Why is it that the Siren Call of the Five Year Plan has no Appeal in these Matters – but seems of such vital Importance in Health Care?
The Answer, of Course, is that Health Care, by Government Fiat, has been divorced from market Forces and economic Reality. It is not surprising to discover that those in the System have fallen Prey to the malign Effects of the genetic Distortions which are "central" to the Flawed Concept.
It is, we suppose, human Nature to yearn for the Five-Year-Plan, to succumb to Central Plannitis, to be seduced by the National Strategy Syndrome.
We ourselves would look favourably on a National Strategy to ensure that all Graduates of High School be adept in the correct Use of the Semi-Colon. But we suspect that it would be better to have an Educational System in which Schools competed to achieve Excellence.
Similarly, the Need for National Strategies in Health Care would fade if there were a Private System in Competition with that weakened and crippled by a systemic Defect -- the Poison of Central Planning.
Observation # 173: Evolution trumps revolution. Great changes are achieved incrementally, each step building naturally on the last. It is the folly of government to believe in the efficacy of great leaps -- and its hubris the attempt to implement them.
October 10, 2013
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Lord Acton (1834 - 1902)
We have learned that the Cost of changing the Location of Gas Plants in Ontario has now been estimated at over a Billion Dollars. (National Post, October 9)
We cannot fully comprehend this Amount, our own Finances being reckoned in Figures considerably more meagre. Sixty Dollars will fill up about Half of the Tank in the Serviceable Six. That seems like a lot. A Billion Dollars must be a very large Sum indeed.
The Construction of the unpopular Plants was halted in order to assist the Liberals in winning the last Election.
We note that Mr. McGuinty, a Man so inured to Shame, so slickly brazed to Criticism, that he continues to appear in Publick, his Head unadorned by the concealing Paper Bag appropriate to his Circumstance. Indeed, he argues his own Righteousness. One of the Plants, he maintains, should never have been located so close to a Hospital. From his Stance, one would assume that the Location had been decided by a previous Administration, or imposed by some errant Higher Power. Mr. McGuinty should, therefore, be congratulated for righting so grievous a Wrong.
With every Backtracking from egregious Error, Mr. McGuinty is soothed by the Mantra: "It’s never too late to do the right thing." Thus every wrong Thing is magically transformed into the right Thing, and Mr. McGuinty stands modestly by, a humble Recipient of the deserved Accolades.
A few Months ago, we were given the Impression by Ms. Wynne, Mr. McGuinty’s Successor, that she was "out of the room" when importantly awful Decisions were made.
Now, we have seen her on Television taking, as a Member of Mr.
McGuinty’s Cabinet, "full responsibility," and offering "a full
Words, words, words.
Ms. Wynne does not offer to call an Election so that Electors may make Judgement on her Actions.
Lord Acton’s Remark on the corrupting Effects of Power is well known.
We ourselves have tried – as a kind of mental Game – tried to imagine the Process of Corruption taking place. We imagine that it happens, little by little, as the Big Picture swamps the niggling Niceties. Our Conclusion is summed up in Observation # 243, which reads:
Being on the side of the angels allows many a pact with the devil.
For, here we are in Government. Think how the little Children depend on us for Vaccinations and School Lunches. Think how distressed Mothers require Housing and Social Assistance. Think how the Sick and the Elderly depend upon us for Hospitals and Nursing Homes. Think how the mighty Machines of Industry depend upon our Roads, our Rails and our Regulations. Our Roles are so complex, the Demands upon us are so importunate, that Perfection – nay, even Competence – is a bit much to expect. Indeed, we do so much Good, overall, that a little Evil here and there – well it’s part of the Complete Package. What, in the end, is most important? A few niggling Principles, or the Great Work which our Party has done in the Past, and continues to do even now?
That is our best Guess as to how it happens. And that is why it is necessary to throw the Rascals in Power -- out on a regular Basis.
October 9, 2013
We see that the Dark Forces against Halloween have struck again.
At McKay Public School in Port Colborne, it has been decided to have a "Spirit Day" instead.
And the Canadian Martyrs School in St. Catherines, is allowing Students in the lower Grades to dress up, but not those in Grades Four and higher.
(National Post, October 9, 2013)
It is argued that "Spirit Day" is a Benefit to the Poor – whose Children may not be able to afford Costumes. But what is the Cost of an old Bed Sheet?
The Principal of Canadian Martyrs School, Al Creeman, feels that Halloween is somehow inimical to the Catholic Faith.
Indeed, in 2009, the Catholic Church urged Parents to forbid Children to dress as ghosts and ghouls during a pagan Night of "terror, fear, and death."
(The Scotsman, October 30, 2009)
It is not only Christians who are made uneasy by Halloween Rites.
According to the Canadian Council of Muslim Theologians, Halloween is
contrary to "fundamental Muslim Belief."
After all, what is it but a Tip of the long pointed Hat to an earlier Era, when People understood far less about the real World and believed in Witches, Goblins, and Spells? It is wonderfully scrubbed clean of any Reference to the Odour of Burning Flesh and the Rigours of Water Tests.
The modern Celebration is a Tribute to Spookiness, a Chance to dress up, and engage in an absurd Ritual of going from Door to Door to collect Ingestibles bad for the Teeth.
The Puzzle of the Matter became clear to us, when we heard Richard Dawkins on the Radio, responding to what he thought of the proposed Charter of Quebec Values. He was obviously unaware of the Details of the Proposal, but made the point that Religion should not be used as an Exemption from the Rules which apply to everyone else.
Your Religion, just like your aesthetic Taste, cannot be used to gain Exemption from a Dress Code imposed by the Employer.
We suddenly realized what it is that Religion and Halloween have in common. They both provide Exemptions from the ordinary Rules of Common Sense, the often dreary Requirements of Rationality. They allow one to believe – or half-believe -- in a World of spooky Mystery. The Sobriety of Reason is suspended so that one can dress up, pretend, and engage in silly Rituals -- the Origins of which are lost in the Mists of Time.
Rather than Halloween being sacrificed to the Requirements of religious Sensibilities, would the World not be much improved if Religion became like Halloween? Simply take – for Example – Four Days from the Calendar -- and devote them to Religoween. The Populace could engage in a Variety of silly Beliefs, Parades, Costumes, and Rituals. Then completely forget about them until the next Day of Exemption.
It would work well for us.
October 7, 2013
"Mommy, where do grown-ups come from?"
"Why, my poor child, they come from children just like you!"
Life is, by and large, less satisfactory than we would wish. Thus, it is not surprising that much Effort is expended in Schemes of Improvement. The great Art in that Endeavour, it seems to us, is to understand what Matters call out for Improvement, and those which exude an Aura of satisfied Silence, and may reasonably be ignored for the nonce.
The Error most often committed, we would contend, is to choose Matters which have achieved a workable Adequacy, and attempt to worry them into a Perfection which is either unattainable, unsuitable, or both.
The occasion of our Remarks is an Interview we heard this Morning of Ashley Merryman, the Author of a recent New York Times Article entitled Losing is Good for You, by Jian Ghomeshi of the CBC.
Ms. Merryman’s Article deals with the current Practice of giving Children Trophies which they have not earned, in an Attempt to create a Nirvana of Self-Esteem from which they will go on to scale impressive Heights.
It is her contrary Conclusion that:
... nonstop recognition does not inspire children to succeed. Instead, it can cause them to underachieve.
(New York Times, September 24)
The Problem is that unmerited Approbation leads to an unrealistic
Assessment of Self-Worth. When Failure is encountered, the fragile,
artificially cultivated Sense of Superiority shatters, and the Child
retreats from all subsequent Challenge.
Ms. Merryman notes that by the age of about Five, Children are no longer fooled by phony Flattery. Those who excel feel cheated when their Accomplishments are not recognized. Those who do not excel have no inner Resources, no Experience of Challenge, Failure and Success by which they may better their Circumstance.
These Things, of course, have been known for Centuries. The real World is cruel, competitive, and unfair. The Effects of this Reality may be mitigated, softened, but never erased. Without Challenge, Life is deprived of its Essence. There can be no Success without the Failure by which it can be measured, no Triumph discernible without the complementary Concept of Defeat.
To attempt to protect Children from Loss and Defeat, to pretend that Life is a Garden from which thornless Roses are there for the Plucking, is to do them a grave Disservice. It will not prepare them to become Adults, who, inevitably, will be expected to confront and overcome Challenges.
The "Self-Esteem" Movement is simply a Part of that longing for an Ideal World in which the Real one can be is safely ignored. It is a doomed Attempt to create a World of instant Equality, a World of costless, magical Self-Regard. In Fact, the only Self-Esteem worth having is that which is earned – earned through the Process of encountering, and triumphing over Obduracies and Difficulties.*
Speaking of Difficulties, we were amused at the Dismay evinced during the Interview by Mr. Ghomeshi – who -- we would hazard a guess – has never encountered a left-wing Idea which he has not unthinkingly embraced. He struggled, audibly, with the novel, perplexing Concepts proposed by Ms. Merryman. It was clear that he much prefers the World of unearned Trophies and gratuitous Pats on the Back.
That World is to be found over the Rainbow, just past Shangri-la, in a lush, verdant Meadow on the Big Rock Candy Mountain.
*Observation #37."Self-esteem" acquired without accomplishment is nothing but a dangerous arrogance.
October 6, 2013
The world is made up for the most part of fools and knaves. (George Villiers, Second Duke of Buckingham 1628 -1687)
For what a man would like to be true, that he more readily believes. (Francis Bacon 1561-1626)
Before Mr. Obama was elected, we expressed our Doubts about his Suitability in a private Correspondence. Our particular Concern was how he might deal with Iran.
Five Years later, we wonder whether Mr. Obama might actually fall for the "Charm Offensive" of Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani.
For it is our Contention that the chief Flaw of those on the Left is their Naivete.
In that Ideal World of the Sinister, Success is achieved by following a few simple Principles. Take Money from the Rich, and give it to the Poor. Self-Esteem may be created by earnest Wishes and simple Declaration. Man is born noble, strong and free, and should neither feel the Sting of Reproach, nor taste the Ashes of Defeat. There is no Conflict but that it may be settled with a Chat on a sunny Afternoon with a Glass or Two of the Brewer’s Art.
Mr. Obama, having received the initiating Telephone Call, is doubtless envisioning the sunny Afternoon, and deciding which Samplings of the Brewer’s Art -- cold and, above all, frothy -- might best be served.
Mr. Netanyahu, on the other Hand, sees Mr. Rouhani’s Bleatings as mere Cover for a more ominous lupine Growl.
Mr. Rouhani is no Stranger to Duplicity. As Iran’s chief nuclear Negotiator in 2003 - 5, Mr. Rouhani had pretended that the nuclear Program had been suspended. In Fact, Iran merely suspended "ten centrifuges." He is quoted as saying: "By creating a calm environment – a calm environment – we were able to complete the work at Isfahan." (The Times of Israel, October 6)
In this Day’s Huff Post Politics, Irwin Cotler notes that Executions in Iran have continued unabated under Mr. Rouhani. Nor has the new President taken any steps to stop Torture, the Persecution of religious Minorities, or improve the Rights of Women.
One could argue that, in Thrall to a demented religious View of the World, Mr. Rouhani is as much of a Fool as Mr. Obama.
Perhaps the Duke of Buckingham’s View is too simple. There are plain Fools, and Fools who recognize the Advantages of Knavery in the Commission of their Folly.*
*Observation # 259
October 4, 2013
We are intrigued to read, in Today’s National Post, of a Cancer Research Paper written by John Bohannon.
It was designed with fairly obvious Flaws, and was submitted to a Number of Journals for Publication. One hundred and fifty-seven offered to publish it without Emendation; ninety-eight turned it down; thirty-six pointed out major errors, but of these, Sixteen offered to print it regardless.
The Journals referred to are published online, and the Authors pay the Costs of Publication.
We would like to believe that we have made great Progress since the Middle Ages, since we have turned away from Religion as the Source of Knowledge, and used Science to discover how the Real World works.
As a result, the Words "Science" Scientist" and "Scientific" have acquired a Force which seems to compel Assent. The great Difficulty is that there is little to say the warm woolly Sheep Scientist Mantle may not be donned by ordinary, run-of-the-meadow Wolves.
The One hundred and fifty-seven Journals referred to in this Article pretend to bleat for Science, but, in fact, prowl for Money.
Nor should Motives of Fame and Advancement be overlooked.
We understand that crooked Scientists are on the Increase. The United States Office of Research Integrity received 419 Allegations in 2012, nearly double the Number recorded in 2011. James Dubois, of St. Louis University has begun a Rehabilitation Program for wayward Scientists: Restoring Professionalism and Integrity in Research.
Our best Examples of phony Science are found in the Matter of Climate Change – and in the Field of Health.
Many Climate Scientists are more impressed with the Theory of Warming than with the Evidence which supports it. For the true Believers, the Lack of Warming over the last Sixteen Years is no Deterrent to Predictions of boiling Seas in the Future.
In Healthcare, many Drugs undergo supposedly rigorous "scientific" Testing, only to be found later to cause inconvenient Deaths. The Argument that saturated Fats cause Heart Disease was based on a flawed Study made in the Nineteen Fifties designed to show, not the Truth, but to prove a pet Theory. Decades later, People still believe it.
There is probably an Antagonism between the Scientific Method, which requires an Attitude of Skepticism, and accepts only Conclusions based on Testing and Evidence -- and the Operation of the all-too-human Brain. On the one Hand the human Brain is programmed to seek Triumph and Advancement through any means possible; on the other Hand, it is supremely credulous, willing to believe in both magical Wonders, and apocalyptic Terrors.
We have made Progress since the Middle Ages. But not as much as you might think.
October 1, 2013
We note a long Article in this Day’s Post by Judith Curry, Chair and Professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences At the Georgia Institute of Technology.
The Article appeals to both the reasonable and emotional Elements in our Being, to our calm Rationality and our but ill-repressed murderous Instincts.
It is entitled Kill the IPCC.*
Ms. Curry notes the Failure of Climate Models to predict the current Pause in Warming, the Decline of political and scientific Influence of the Panel, the Impossibility of meeting Emissions Targets, and the Move in Europe and Australia away from unpopular and costly Emissions Policies.
She also notes that the IPCC is devoted to Computer Models based on the oversimplified Notion that Greenhouse Gases cause Warming. More Research is needed into the Dynamics of Climate Change – particularly into the Effects of the Sun.
Of course, the Chances of the IPCC being killed are approximately Zero.
All Bureaucracies are genetically similar; they are programmed for
unlimited Expansion as has been perceptively noted by C. Northcote
Parkinson. The Essence of bureaucratic Spread is encapsulated in his
Remarks on Committees:
A committee is organic rather than mechanical in its nature: it is not a structure but a plant. It takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts, and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom in their turn.
No, there is no self-terminating, necrosis Factor in any
Bureaucracy. "And what about Assassination by an outside
But reflect for a moment. The Bureaucracy is nestled in the capacious Bosom of the Mother of all Bureaucracies, the United Nations. It surrounded, topped, and bottomed by protective Bureaucracies of its very like. The outside Operative would have to destroy the whole Lot – a Task not, alas, currently within the Realm of human Capability.
No the best that we can hope for is that the IPCC will, gradually, direct its Efforts to less harmful Pursuits, and beaver fruitlessly away in other Areas of long standing Difficulty.
We still await landmark Studies on why the Principles of Scientific Method are so difficult for human Beings to grasp, why Citizens are subject to extraordinary popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, and how Socks manage to wriggle, inexplicably, to their Freedom in the Laundering Process.
*The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.