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Dr. Dreimer's Diary, 2nd H, 2018
4th Q, 2017
3rd Q, 2017
2nd Q, 2017
1st Q, 2017
4th Q, 2016
3rd Q, 2016
2nd Q, 2016
1st Q, 2016
3rd Q, 2015
2nd Q, 2015
1st Q, 2015
4th Q, 2014
3rd Q, 2014
2nd Q, 2014
1st Q, 2014
4th Q, 2013
3rd Q, 2013
January - June, 2013
January - June, 2012
Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. (Oscar Wilde, 1854 -- 1900)
The idea for Dr. Dreimer’s diary came from the excerpts from the diary of Samuel Pepys published daily in the National Post. We thought it would be interesting to write a modern diary using the more formal language of an earlier era – in this case we have attempted an approximation of 18th Century expression. What is perhaps most evident is the capitalisation of nouns, which gives an emphasis, and suggests a cadence entirely missing from current written expression. The language is more cumbersome and formal, and tends to favour the use of parallel structure for rhetorical emphasis.
Style is inseparable from attitude and tone. Dr. Dreimer observes mankind as if from a great height, or from another, more sensible century.
His judgements are often unflattering, and his scorn and disdain
palpable. They may be expressed directly, but are often revealed through an
ironic approval of some mindless folly. He may appear to some as a pompous
windbag; to others as a curmudgeonly but correct observer.
As it has turned out, the diary is not a conventional diary at all. Apart from the occasional references to the mythical Aunt Myalgia, languishing in the Shady Hollow Psychiatric Facility in downtown Toronto, or to the Lumpenbangen Studios in the inner reaches of Hamilton, or to the Haven of Wind-in-the-Pines at Silver Lake, we gain little insight into the trivia of Dr. Dreimer’s own life.
The diary is, in fact, a commentary on events in the news.
|Latest additions to the site:
November 12 Diary --
Macron sees nationalism as treason. Obs. 1492 - 5
November 12, 2018
It’s a cruel world: idealistic
dreams usually end up costing as much as regular stupidity.
We see that the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, has been infected with the Idealism of the Age.
This is an Age which embraces what sounds good – but has little Regard for the Limitations on what is attainable – for what actually works. Indeed, we have described Political Correctness – the new Religion – as the inedible Fruit of unreasonable Expectations.
Mr. Macron has attempted to make a Distinction between "Nationalism" – which he calls "treasonous" – and "Patriotism" – commonly considered a Devotion to one’s Country. (Breitbart News, November 11)
The Distinction seems forced. We all would condemn violent and aggressive Nationalism – but it would appear that Mr. Macron wishes to condemn those who merely extol the Virtues of their native Cultures – and resist the Attacks which large scale Immigration often involves.
Although he says he is not a "Globalist" – we suspect that Mr. Macron decries the Rise of "Populism" in the United States – which endorses the Slogan "Make America Great Again."
He equates such Populism with not caring for others.
It is not surprising, then, that in his Speech on Armistice Day in Paris, he praised the League of Nations, which envisioned the "dismantling of empires." He also hailed the Ideals of the European Union and the United Nations – despite their "setbacks."
If Mr. Macron were to give the Matter some Thought – a radical Notion for a Politician -- he might realize that the "setbacks" are not random external Events – but implicit in any ideal Conception.
For in these Matters, we are talking about Tribalism – an instinctive Element in human Beings. We are, innately, tribal and territorial. That is how we have achieved our Success. That is how we exist in the World. We feel Loyalties to our Family, our Alma Mater, our City, our Hockey Team. While aggressive Nationalism is to be deplored – especially in an Era of nuclear Weapons -- competitive Nationalism is a Fact of Life. Mr. Macron apparently believes that Support for the Home Team necessarily involves the Desire for the Deaths of the Visitors.
Perhaps we are being overly idealistic – but we would say that it is possible to support the Home Team, without wanting to poison its Challengers.
Mr. Macron’s Position, we would suggest, is an Over-reaction to the aggressive nationalist Wars of the last Century.
The United Nations is a Failure precisely because it subscribes to the Notion that all Nations are equal. They are not. The European Union is a Failure precisely because it fails to realize that Citizens of one Tribe – no matter how friendly – do not wish to be forced to follow Policies prescribed by those in distant Territories – where they have no Say in Decisions being made.
The essence of Life is the Struggle for unequal Outcomes. Competition is in the DNA of Existence.
This is not complicated. It becomes complicated when Idealists, gazing at the Stars, ignore the Abyss at their Feet, and attempt to make silk Purses out of Sows’ Ears.
October 27, 2018
There is little Doubt that. as a Species, we live not only in the real World, but in various Worlds of the Imagination. We have Films, Paintings, Operas, Plays, Novels, Poetry, Fairy Tales, Myths, and Religions.
All of our imaginary Worlds – but one – are subject to a rational Lens: we may appreciate and enjoy them – we may see them as revealing Truths about the human Condition – but we do not confuse the Imaginary with the Real.
Religions – human Speculations about divine Possibilities – are the only Fictions deemed true. They are deemed true – but – there is a significant Measure of Energy expended and a high Degree of Determination revealed in repeated Proclamations and Defenses of their Veracity.
One may say that Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is complete Hogwash. Feathers will remain unruffled. The Believers will simply shrug their Shoulders, or raise a quizzical Eyebrow. The most they would do ask for Proof – a fatal Flaw, or a better Theory.
But if One says the God is an Illusion – or that some religious Belief is complete Hogwash – Believers are mightily offended. As we are fond of saying, "The more cherished the illusion, the more reviled is the teller of truth."
One would think that, in an Age of Science – in which it has become customary to focus on Evidence – that Beliefs based on Supposition would be less highly regarded.
This is not the Case. We suspect that irrational religious Belief is Part of the primitive human Brain Kit. It can be disabled – but only with a special advanced Tool. It is that rare Commodity, "Common Sense."
The Extent of the persistent Enslavement to Illusion is shown by two recent Items in the News.
The first is, perhaps, not so surprising: a Journalist has been arrested in Iran over "insults" to Imam Hussein – a revered religious Figure in the Country. Pouyan Khoshhal, who was being prosecuted for" insults" was arrested as he tried to leave the Country. (Breitbart News, October 25.)
Mr. Khoshal’s Crime was to use incorrect Terminology in referring to the Death of Hussein – Grandson of the Prophet – who was killed in the Seventh Century. He referred to the Death as mere "passing away" – rather than using the officially correct Term "martyrdom."
We know that Iran is a Theocracy; Insanity would seem to be a natural concomitant.
More interesting, perhaps, is the Case of a Woman in Austria who had said that the Marriage of the Prophet to a young Girl was similar to "pedophilia." A Court in Vienna convicted her in 2011 of disparaging religious Doctrines, and fined her $547 plus Costs. (Breitbart News, October 25)
The Ruling was upheld by a Court of Appeal. Subsequently, the European Court of Human Rights has held that the Conviction did not breach her Freedom of Speech. It declared that the Austrian Courts had
carefully balanced her right to freedom of expression with the right of others to have their religious feelings protected
and claimed that the Decision
served the legitimate aim of preserving religious peace.
Speech is never, of course, entirely free. Slander, Libel, Threat, and Disturbing the Peace are forbidden by Laws – and Custom forbids interrupting a Funeral Service, telling the Truth about a Friend’s fashion Sense, or complaining to the Hostess about the insufficiently cooked Brussels Sprouts.
But Criticism of Ideas would seem to be a prime Requirement for a free Society.
When it is considered, in Europe – of all Places – that People have the Right to have their "religious feelings" protected – then how soon may we expect Laws against Blasphemy?
And what, then, is the Difference between a Theocracy and a Democracy?
Feelings more important than Facts: this is Political Correctness, once again, run amuck.
We think that all religious Doctrines should be disparaged as Hypotheses. They are Ideas, not Facts. If that hurts the Feelings of those who think they are the Truth, we think that is certainly to the long-term Benefit of Mankind.
Just as People cannot be prevented from having their Illusions, so Others should have the Right to criticize and expose them. Religious Peace bought at the Cost of Freedom of Speech will prove to be a Costly Transaction.
October 3, 2018
For this relief, much thanks.
We are pleased to live in an Era of increasing Delicacy and Refinement. We are especially gratified that, at the very front Ranks of the newly Delicate and Refined, are Students at a British University.
We admit to some Prejudice in this Matter. We had sometimes thought that Students at Universities were in the Process of Refinement – that they were of a Clay as yet unsculpted into fine and finished Works of Art -- and might have some occasional Jaggedness at one or two neglected Edges.
We are relieved to discover our Error.
Speaking of Edges – as we were – it appears that at the leading Perpendicular of Delicacy is the Student Union at Manchester University. That admirable Group of Refined Sensibilities has proclaimed that Clapping must be replaced with "Jazz Hands."
We are not quite sure what "Jazz Hands" are – but we gather that they are a visual Symbol of Approval; no Noise is produced.
The refined and delicate Students have also decided to discourage "Whooping."
We suspect that the Reader may be curious as to the Explanation for the Quiet Revolution.
According to Her Delicacy, Sara Khan, who is the "Liberation and Access Officer" at Manchester, traditional Applause was not considered sufficiently "accessible."
The Union has noted that:
loud noises, including whooping and traditional applause, could pose an issue for students with disabilities, such as those with anxiety or sensory issues. (National Post, October 2)
We are excessively pleased that the Students have finally addressed this Problem. Many is the Time we have attended a Concert or Play, only to have our Enjoyment crudely interrupted by the Response of an overly appreciative – and thoughtless and insensitive -- Audience.
We have little Doubt that now that the Issue has been addressed at the Manchester Student Union, the new Phenomenon of "Jazz Hands" will sweep the Country – and eventually find international Acceptance.
There is, of course, much Work still to be done. Ambulance and Police Sirens – so painful to the Sound-Sensitive could be replaced with orchestral Renditions of Brahms' Lullaby. Automobile Horns could be made to tinkle. An effective Sound-Muffling Tube could be developed for Infants – who could be popped in, Head-first, at the first Sound of Decibel Disregard.
We assume that the Student Union is already in the Process of constructing a multitude of University "Safe Space Silence Chambers," in the Event of Thunderstorms.
It should be noted that Anxiety is a terrible Scourge with many Causes. We are confident that the Manchester University Student Union is already drawing up a comprehensive List.
We wish them Luck in their Endeavour. The National Post Article -- to which we have referred above – notes that there is keen Competition among British Universities in the Bid to eliminate Anxiety. The University of Glasgow has provided "Trigger-Warnings for Theology students to alert them that a Discussion of the Crucifixion might be upsetting.
The University of Oxford has warned Students that a Failure to make Eye Contact with their Peers could be considered an Expression of Racism.
All this News gives us much Peace of Mind. With the Universities and their Students thus busily occupied in such Matters, our own Fears have been significantly reduced.
We had begun to fear that the Sanity of those at our Universities was in Jeopardy, and we were anxious about what Measures might be taken to prevent a complete Collapse of major Universities into certifiable Madhouses. Now, there is no Point in worrying. It is too late; it is a fait accompli.
September 30, 2018
The Kavanaugh Hearing
We have always maintained that the scientific Method does not find a warm Welcome or an easy Rest in the human Psyche. Perhaps this is because of our genetic Legacy. Survival of sentient Creatures often requires instant Decisions based on little Evidence -- and Tribal Existence rewards thinking with the Herd rather than independent Thought.
For Example, the Threat of Global Warming has captured the Imagination of the Public – and despite the Fact that Projections based on the Greenhouse Gas Theory have been inaccurate -- Millions are convinced that the Boiling of the Oceans is a likely Consequence of increased carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere.
Currently, there is much Angst about sexual Misconduct, and it has been decided – without bothering about justifying Evidence – that Women are incapable of Falsehood or Error in recounting Stories of Assault.
In more primitive Times, it was thought necessary to have
corroborative Evidence of serious Accusations, but in the brave new
World of Virtue, that is no longer considered necessary. We feel
privileged, indeed, to live in Times of such
As a Result of this Progress, we have predicted that the Days of male Politicians are numbered. The Breath of ancient sexual Scandal need only be gently exhaled on a political Career, and the funeral Procession may be said to begin. Patrick Brown, the former Leader of the Ontario Conservatives could attest to that Fact.
Thus, it is perhaps not surprising to see the Surfacing of a sexual Scandal during the Deliberations over the Appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Mr. Kavanaugh represents a Republican political Viewpoint. The Democrats have been in a Funk of Anger, Confusion, and Disbelief over the Election of Donald Trump. It is their Belief that Mr. Trump is the Devil Incarnate, that Mr. Kavanaugh is a malignant Reflector of his Evil; thus, all Means are justified in the Prevention of a blasphemous Infection of the Supreme Court.
Ms. Blasey Ford, astride a white Charger, has thundered into the Hearings with a Tale of sexual Assault -- bringing the Hope of Democratic Party Rescue.
But for us, the Blasey Ford Allegations do not pass the smell Test.*
It is simply too convenient that her Story should be brought to Light, after three Decades of Silence, at such a crucial Moment in the political History of the Nation. She remembers** the Event with great Clarity – but none of the surrounding Details:
For starters, Ford still can’t recall basic details of what she says was the most traumatic event in her life. Not where the "assault" took place — she’s not sure whose house it was, or even what street it was on. Nor when — she’s not even sure of the year, let alone the day and month.
Ford’s not certain how old she was or what grade she was in when she says an older student violently molested her. (But she doesn’t plead inebriation: She described having just "one beer" at the party.) (New York Post, September 25.)
It seems significant, also, that she told No One of her Ordeal at the Time, and of the four other People she said were at the Party, not One has any Recollection of the Event. That includes her "lifelong Friend, Leland Ingham Keyser.
The are two other interesting Points from the New York Post Commentary:
This summer, Ford tried to reach out to old friends from high school and college to jog her memory. They couldn’t help her. "I’ve been trying to forget this all my life, and now I’m supposed to remember every little detail," Ford complained to one friend in July, according to an account in The San Jose Mercury News.
Yet she still pushed forward with her bombshell charge, contacting The Washington Post tip line and Democratic lawmakers, while hiring a Democratic activist lawyer. Ford is also a Democrat, as well as an anti-Trump marcher, raising questions about the motive and timing of the allegations along with their veracity.
It may also be worth noting that Ms. Blasey Ford delayed Attendance at the Hearing claiming that Flying from California was too distressing – but later admitted that she flies frequently for Holidays. This does not enhance her Credibility.
In short, this is a Matter which lacks Evidence and abounds in suspicious Circumstance.
In general, the Response of the Media seems to confirm our View of Man’s tribal Behaviour. The current preferred Narrative is that Women, giving Accounts of ancient sexual Assault, are infallible Repositories of Truth – and that is the Narrative which seems to hold Sway.
We appear to live in an Age where the Majority have seen fit to
exchange their Bullshit Detectors for more attractive Illusion
Receptors. But perhaps we are in Error: they were never in Possession of
Bullshit Detectors in the first Place.
* This Test is simple and accurate. It does require, however, a standard Grade Bullshit Detector in reasonable working Condition.
**It is well-known that Memories are vulnerable to Suggestion – and the Brain can accept such Suggestions as real.
September 24, 2018
It is understandable that People wish to create an alternative Reality, since the World as it is leaves considerable Room for Improvement.
However, the preferred Route to the Amelioration of our Circumstances lies in gradual Evolution, rather than radical Revolution. Gradualism, we admit, does not have the immediate Appeal of Revolution; it fails to satisfy the Emotional Need for immediate Action and high Drama. But Revolutions invariably – or so it seems -- attempt the impossible. They seem predicated on the Theory that human Nature is infinitely variable, and can be changed with sufficient Enthusiasm, Goodwill, Determination, or Courage. The new, revolutionary World will be utopian.
Often, at the Root of revolutionary Desires is the Notion of Equality. As we have often observed, the slogan of French Revolution refers to "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity" and the Declaration of Independence claimed that all Men are created Equal. Communism, and its Half-Brother, Socialism, promise Societies that are, in varying Degrees, egalitarian. Multiculturalism – a kind of revolutionary Rejection of Nationalism – can function, in Reality, only if it is assumed that Cultures are equally worthy – than one Culture does not have Ideas which are superior to those of any other.
The current Revolution – based on the Notion of Equality – is called Political Correctness. The Devotees of Political Correctness – which we have termed the new Religion – are determined to see a World in which all Citizens have an equally high Sense of Self-Esteem. In order to achieve this noble End, it forbids any Slight or Criticism which might result in hurt Feelings. It is a Philosophy which is concerned not only with the Equality of the Individual – but with the Equality of Groups.
It holds that all Groups, Races, and Cultures should be proportionately – that is "equally" – represented in all Fields of Endeavour. If there are too many Aboriginals in Prison, and too few employed as Neurosurgeons – that has Nothing to do with unsupportive cultural Values or a Preference for living a traditional pre-industrial Lifestyle. It is a terrible Failure of Society which has not provided for the adequate Flowering of the equal but oppressed Talents of the Native Population.
Similarly, the Fact that Women are not represented equally in the Boardrooms of the Nation has Nothing to do with innate Qualities of the Gender – those Qualities are socially constructed by an oppressive Society – it has to do with the Failure of Society to accommodate the unrecognized but real and seething ruthless Ambition of Women to conquer the World and run it -- probably in the Template of a high-end fashion Boutique.
Indeed, at the Moment, much politically correct Energy is devoted to the Problem of Gender.
It has become recognized that some People who have the physical Appearance of one Gender, believe that they are its Opposite. Because, in the politically correct System of Values, Feelings are more important than Facts, it has been thought necessary to minimize the Factual Gender and emphasize the perceived one.
Stating the Problem in traditional Terms, we might say – some people of one Gender have – unfortunately – a strong Perception of being the other; if they feel sufficiently strongly, perhaps they may wish to alter their Appearance to conform with their Perception – then this may help to create "the greatest Happiness of the greatest Number."
But Political Correctness – in revolutionary Mode – says this: For Centuries, we have believed that there are only two Genders; however, new Evidence has come to Light which shows that this is not true. Some people who are Males feel themselves to be Females; some who are Females feel themselves to be Males. These represent new Genders. They are oppressed by the traditional Classifications – their Feelings are hurt. The Facts of their Existence suggest that they are, somehow, unfortunate – but no one should feel unfortunate. To counteract the Notion that such People are unfortunate, they should be recognized with special new Pronouns – and – despite the physical Evidence – the general Population should stop thinking that there are only two Genders. Indeed the general Population should be required – by Law, if necessary, to recognize the new Genders through the Use of special Pronouns.
Now – over the Course of Time – as Things evolve – this Argument may come to be accepted. It may well be discovered that there is a physical Basis for feeling transgendered. In the Fullness of Time – as Things evolve – People may decide that they wish to alter the English Language in order to make those whose Condition is obviously unfortunate – feel less unfortunate.
Of course, it may also be discovered that a rum-infused saline Solution, injected at the first Sign of gender Confusion, counters the physical Condition responsible, rendering the Matter of special Pronouns a quaint historical Relic.
But no -- Political Correctness insists on the Immediacy of its revolutionary Path.
Consider the Case of Angelos Sofocleous, 24, of Durham University. He had the Temerity to make the online Comment: "women don’t have penises."
This Statement, which many might consider merely factual, is now Heresy in the new Religion. There was "Outrage" on social Media. Mr. Sofocleous lost his Position as Assistant Editor of Critique, the University’s philosophy Journal. He was also dismissed from his position as Editor of the University’s online Magazine, The Bubble.
In a culminating irony, he was forced to resign as President of Humanist Students – a "free speech" Society.
Here are some of the politically correct Responses to his Blasphemy:
In August, Ryan Lo, the president of the university’s Philosophy Society, sent Mr Sofocleous an email saying the group had voted to remove him from his position, claiming his tweets served to "belittle trans experiences".
Writing on the Critique journal’s Facebook page, Mr Lo said: "Durham University Philosophy Society has a duty to act within the best interests of all of its members, therefore is committed to equality and diversity and to our democratic principles as a group of Durham Student’s Union.
"We do not tolerate practices of racism, sexism, or trans-exclusionary sentiments."
The new editor-in-chief of Critique, Sebastián Sánchez_Schilling, tweeted saying he was "happy to announce" the publication would not be "tolerating trans-exclusionary radical feminists or bowing to their pressure". (Breitbart News, September 22)
In the Era of Revolutionary Thought, simple Facts – those which contradict the Orthodoxy – become Blasphemy. More ominously – it has been suggested that Political Correctness represents the Kind of Thought Control depicted in Mr. Orwell’s 1984. One of the Techniques employed by the State in that Novel was to alter History, and to reduce Vocabulary.
The Aim was psychological – to divorce Citizens from their Past, and thus from their rooted Sense of Self. They would become so uncertain of their Reality that they would have little Capacity to resist any new Idea which the State might wish to promulgate.
Here is that Suggestion, from Theodore Dalrymple:
In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is...in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to. (Frontpage Magazine interview August 31, 2005).
September 20. 2018
Political correctness values feelings over facts, fiction over freedom. (Observation #582)
We note the Appearance of the annual Campus Freedom Index – which purports to measure the Degree of Freedom in Expression at Canadian Universities.
There is, of course, a new Religion which has been enthusiastically endorsed by University Administrations -- so it is not surprising to see the Influence of a new Piety at work in the Institutions which they oversee.
Students, being idealistic, and too young to be aware of the Limitations of the real World, have turned to the new Faith in large Numbers. They are swept along in a Tide of dogmatic Zeal and fervent Righteousness; they are determined to root out Sin wherever it should appear; they keep alight the Campus Fires in Anticipation of the Discovery of burnable, heretical Witches.
The new Religion is, of Course, Political Correctness; it promises to put Scientology to Shame. It is difficult to explain, precisely, its Origin. Our own guess is that it owes much to the sweeping Tide of the "Self-Esteem" Movement -- intertwined with the always-present subterranean social Current – the yearning Desire for Equality.
The Self-Esteem Movement was unknown in our Youth. We were not expected to have much Self-Esteem except through Accomplishment – and even then – we got the Impression that Humility was preferable to Arrogance.
Apparently, in the 1980's, the Notion took Hold that low Self-Esteem was the Cause of most of the major Ills in Society, and it was concluded that it could be conferred, as a costless Gift, by constant Praise of the Young, and by the Shielding of their delicate Egos from the unseemly Ravages of Criticism.
This Notion accords very well with the oft-expressed Desire for Equality. The French Revolution proclaimed Equality, and the Declaration of Independence of the United States declared that all Men are created equal. They are not, of course, and Equality is not to be found in the Blueprint of Nature. It is to be found in our idealistic Aspirations. It appeals to our sense of Fairness – and to our Revulsion at the actual State of Affairs in the real World.
Political Correctness shows the happy – or should we say unhappy – Confluence of these two Notions.
It aims to create a World in which the Self-Esteem of all Individuals
is unimpaired. All human Beings deserve an equal Dignity. They cannot
have an equal Dignity if their Feelings are hurt, miffed, scuffed, or
even slightly ruffled. Thus Feelings are sacrosanct. Facts, not so much.
One of the Implications of this Aim is that the Ideas that People hold make them vulnerable. If you have a really bad Idea – and you think it is a really good Idea – your Feelings will be hurt if Someone criticises your Idea, or if Events contradict rather than affirm it.
This accounts for the Need for "Safe Spaces" at Universities. When Events – such as the Election of Donald Trump – or the Arrival of a conservative Speaker is imminent – Feelings are threatened. Feelings – so vulnerable to Facts -- must be protected at all Costs.
It also explains why there are concerted Attempts to forestall, banish, or interrupt Speakers who have unwelcome or distressing Thoughts. There is no Zeal like that of the Righteous. Once you have convinced yourself that you are on the Side of the Angels – little Pacts with the Devil – like banishing Free Speech – seem entirely justified.
An Example of this Righteousness was shown at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University in 2017, when an Attempt was made to censor and intimidate Lindsay Shepherd – a teaching Assistant who had had the Temerity to show a part of a television Program on which Dr. Jordan Peterson appeared – without warning her sensitive Students that they were about to witness the Devil Incarnate. Devils Incarnate may be defined as those who disagree with Ideas cherished by the "progressive" University Administration.*
No – we haven’t forgotten about the Results of the annual Campus Freedom Index. Mindful of the current Delicacy of many Feelings – we thought it best to prepare the Reader. We hope the Reader is sitting down, is in a "Safe Space," and has no connection with any Canadian University:
Sadly, the 2018 Campus Freedom Index shows no improvement over 2017. Seven universities joined the "Flunk List" in 2018. Wilfrid Laurier University, Acadia University, Dalhousie University, Saint Paul University, University of Guelph, University of Waterloo and University of Victoria earned new "F" grades in 2018 for failing to uphold campus free speech. (National Post, September 19)
The Authors of the Report, Michael Kennedy and John Carpay, of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom, express some Hope that Mr. Ford’s attempt to ensure Free Speech at Ontario Universities may help.
We think it inadvisable to hold our Breath. Religious Faith, when self-righteous and ingrained, is no Pushover.
August 22, 2018
On July 23rd, in Response to the Shooting at Danforth and Logan in Toronto, we made the following Suggestion:
We need Numbers of Citizen-Deputies, trained in the Use of Firearms, and licensed to carry a concealed Weapon. They should be at least forty years of Age, and of a calm Disposition. Our Prediction is that the Number of Deranged Shooters will decline as the Death Rate for that Class of Citizen rises – their Forays cut convincingly short by Citizen-Deputies.
We noted that such a Proposal would hardly be approved by a single Canadian Citizen. That is because Canadian Citizens cling to the Fantasy that Guns can be made so disreputable, so socially unacceptable, and so definitively illegal that they will cease to be a Factor in modern urban Life.
We confess that we ourselves once toyed with the Notion of the Power of moral Suasion. We wondered whether the Term "Gun" could be made to resound with such Horror, that it could attract so much universal Opprobrium, that Guns could approach Unicorn Status.
We must have been very young. We have now adopted the Genie-in-the-Bottle Approach. We think that malevolent Genies, once released from their Confinement, are impossible to re-stuff into their glassy Prisons. They must be confronted, since they cannot be banished.
We apply the same Thinking to nuclear Disarmament. While some sort of Reduction in nuclear Weapons might be Possible, we cannot imagine a State of the World where every Nation State can be trusted to abide by an Agreement to disarm. "Power," as we have -- cynically -- noted, "is never given up except under delusion or necessity."
While Canadian Citizens cling to their left-wing Fantasies, we have been most interested to learn that Israelis are more practical. We have long made the Point that – of Necessity – Israel consistently views the World with a Clarity apparently not achievable in Societies where the Threat of imminent Annihilation is remote, and idealistic Fantasies may be indulged without real Consequence.
Indeed, our Supposition is that Israeli Realism is what constantly inspires the angry and irrational Fury of the Left. The Left assumes that any modern western industrial Society* should have its spiritual Home on the Big Rock Candy Mountain, where the Lemonade and Lunches are free, and no Feelings are ever hurt. That Israel’s practical Realism is successful is a constant, irritating Reproach to and Refutation of their world View.
But we keep digressing.
The Inspiration for these Musings comes with this News:
Over half a million Israelis are now eligible to receive gun licenses after authorities significantly eased regulations with the stated aim of combating terror.
Any Israeli who has completed level 07 rifle training in the military, which includes hundreds of thousands of veterans of infantry units, can now legally carry firearms.
(Breitbart news, August 22)
This means that the Number of licensed Gun-Holders will increase from the existing 145,000 -- by 40,000 -- to 195,000.
The Philosophy was outlined by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan:
Skilled civilians carrying a gun in public contribute to a sense of security, act as an important line of defense against lone-wolf terror attacks and … thus increase public security. [The new policy]... strikes a balance between the need to defend the public which might be at risk and the need to protect the public from incorrect use of a firearm...
Many citizens have saved lives during terror attacks, and in the era of ‘lone-wolf’ attacks, the more qualified gun-carrying citizens there are — the better the chance to thwart terror attacks without casualties and reduce the number of casualties.
Exactly. Obviously there is a Balance of Risks and Rewards. The Risk – which would be emphasized in Canada – is that increasing the Number of Citizens carrying Guns increases the Possibility of Accident and Misuse. The Number of shooting Attacks is too small – the potential Rewards of stopping such Crimes do not justify the Risk.
In Israel, where the Likelihood of Attacks is greater, the potential Rewards outweigh the Risks.
It should be noted that the Policy has been criticized by Tamar Zandberg, the Leader of the left-wing opposition party Meretz:
[Guns] are a death machine whose civilian use needs to be reduced as much as possible. Instead of dealing with the tremendous amount of illegal weapons on the streets endangering human lives, they are simply increasing the number of gun permits.
The human Condition will never be easy – so torn are we between the Practical and the Ideal.
August 18, 2018
We note that the Bernier Cat has been loosed among the politically correct Pigeons.
We do not think that the Pigeons will fly away; they are well-fed with unending Crumbs of Support from the Media, and, no Doubt, from many intellectually challenged Citizens of our divided Land.
The Trudeau Liberals, not surprisingly – being incapable of any extended Amount of coherent Thought – find it easier to communicate with feel-good Buzzwords. Words such as "Multiculturalism" and "Diversity" have a connotative Element of Feel-Goodery at their very Core. Thus we are constantly being praised for our generous Multiculturalism, and told – as a mollifying Mantra of the Modern Age – that, "Our Strength lies in our Diversity."*
The great Advantage to Buzzwords is that they do not invite rational Analysis: they compel Assent and reinforce Assumptions through constant, mindless Repetition.
Mr. Bernier has had the Temerity to question the Buzzwords. He has said:
Having people live among us who reject basic Western values such as freedom, equality, tolerance and openness doesn't make us strong. People who refuse to integrate into our society and want to live apart in their ghetto don't make our society strong.
Something infinitely diverse has no core identity and ceases to exist.
Such Truths would appear self-evident. The ultimate in Diversity is simply Chaos; the Society which lacks a core of common Values – a gravitational Ethos – will fly apart and cease to exist. "Multiculturalism" is a fine theoretical Concept – but fails to take Account of the Fact that Cultural Values can be antithetical and incompatible.
But Mr. Bernier’s Remarks have been greeted with varying Degrees of Alarm and Horror. The Media have used such Words as "divisive," "ill-advised," and "dangerous and inflammatory." It is reported, darkly, that the Conservative Caucus has begun to see Mr. Bernier as a "Liability," and lament the Fact that Mr. Scheer would need Majority Caucus Support to get rid of him.
To be fair – there is a strategic Argument to be considered. We have long observed that Conservative Ideas – although accurate and true – have less Appeal to Voters than Feel-Good Buzzwords. "Reality is always the dowdy sister to Fancy." The cautious Approach to getting elected, therefore, is to keep relatively quiet, and let the lengthening List of Liberal Follies pile up upon the Decks, and sink the Ship without Shots being fired.
Indeed, Mr. Scheer has simply distanced himself from Mr. Bernier – by saying that his Opinions are personal, and do not represent those of the Party.**
We cannot say that prudent Caution is out of Place in this Instance.
However, we would note that Mr. Scheer now appears weak. He is unable to affirm the Truth for strategic Reasons, but also shrinks from convincingly embracing the feel-good Follies of the Day – by dispatching Mr. Bernier to the political Wilderness.
We admit that we are intrigued by a contrary Argument.
There are Signs -- here and abroad -- of an incipient popular Revolution – which might be in the Process of revealing Buzzwords in their true emperorial Garments.
Brexit occurred – we suspect – largely because of Concerns over uncontrolled and uncontrollable Immigration. Mr. Trump – a very flawed Individual – has an intuitive Understanding of our instinctive Tribalism. His great – but redeeming "Crime" against the politically correct Temper of the Age is to proclaim that some Things are better than others – that America can become "great" again. And Mr. Ford was elected as Premier of Ontario – despite the Hand-Wringing of the Media – we suspect – because of his plain Speaking rather than pusillanimous Pussy-Footing.
Would it, in Fact, be better for Mr. Scheer to recognize both the full Sea on which we are now afloat, and the benign Current, which, taken at the Flood, may lead to Fortune?
Ultimately, we have Confidence that the Truth, like a Skeleton in the Closet, will rattle its way out – eventually. "Multiculturalism" is a Term of Virtue-Signalling which has Nothing to do with the practical Difficulties of Immigration Policy. "Diversity" is not an end in itself; it carries the Risk of Chaos.
But sometimes the Truth can be resisted for a very long Time.
*We might be forgiven for concluding that we are living in the dystopian Novel, 1984 – where War is Peace, and Freedom is Slavery.’
**It has been noted that Conservatives in Canada often elect Leaders significantly lacking in Lustre. The great dilemma of conservatives is that they wish to get elected, but know that their view of reality, while accurate, is not what voters wish to hear. They often put forward as candidates, inoffensive robots, carefully programmed to sound pleasant but say nothing in particular. But robots are seldom a match for agreeable liars. (Observation #1438)
August 17, 2018
Freedom is the great and desirable Good that every Citizen wishes to have. But not all Freedoms are possible, and sometimes one Freedom is in Opposition to another, and some Determination must be made between the Two.
We note that Boris Johnson has exercised his Freedom to criticize the Burka by comparing the Women who wear them to Letter Boxes and Bank Robbers.
This Type of Criticism -- especially the Reference to Letter Boxes -- is termed Mockery. Mockery is, of course, an endangered Species of Freedom, consistently hunted down with Dedication and Determination by the Politically Correct, armed with their Rifles of Rectitude, and Shotguns of Sanctimony.*
Mockery, it should be understood, is an Invitation to Laughter – and Laughter arises from a sudden, triumphant Perception of Incongruity. The great modern Crime of Laughter is that it is agnostic with Respect to Feelings. It lacks Empathy. Indeed, if Empathy should intrude, Laughter will cease.
Our favourite Example of the Opposition between Laughter and Empathy concerns the large Man, dressed with ostentatious Elegance, who slips on a Banana Peel into a muddy Puddle. The Incongruity between the pretentious Implications of fancy Dress, and the Result of falling into the Mud, is likely to arouse Laughter. When Empathy is involved – when we learn that the Man had rented the Outfit to attend his Daughter’s Wedding, and has suffered a serious Injury to his Back which will interfere with his Employment and the Support of his seven other Children – the Laughter is likely to cease.
The Politically Correct value Feelings above all. Empathy is a Requirement, a Necessity. Not only should Laughter not be directed at an Individual, it should not be directed at any Ideas held by the Individual – since that could result in the Calamity of Hurt Feelings. Hurt Feelings are a Calamity because they strike a Blow against the cherished Notion of Equality. Everyone should have equally high Self-Esteem.
This, perhaps, explains, why the Politically Correct are required to give up any Sense of Humour they might have -- inadvertently -- acquired during their formative Years. Only if they give up that potentially cruel Sense may they obtain the Rifles of Rectitude to which we have already referred.
The Rifles obtained, the Politically Correct soon give up Laughter under any Circumstances. In their World of perfect Equality, any Incongruity is a Shame, and should be lamented. The Risk of any Sort of Laughter at all is that it carries the Possibility of Offense of Someone, somewhere. This is why the Politically Correct are always frowning and angry. It is safer and more pious than smiling.
But we digress overmuch.
Mr. Johnson, who is not numbered in the Ranks of the Politically correct, has noticed that some human Beings dress themselves up in such a Manner as to conceal the very Essence of their Humanity – the Facial Expressions which enable human Empathy. The Comparisons he makes are mocking. The less imaginative one is between the Burka-Wearer and the Bank-Robber. The Commonality is the anti-social Element. The Bank Robber uses a Mask to conceal his Identity so that he can pursue his selfish, anti-social Agenda. The Burka-Wearer expresses her Rejection of Community – her Refusal to engage with other Members of Society.
The more imaginative Comparison is to a Letter Box. The Burka
suggests so complete a Rejection of Humanity that the Wearer is a mere
Object – one capable of receiving – but not responding to "Input."
It will be no Surprise to any Reader who has not just awakened from a thirty-year Hibernation that there has been considerable Outcry resulting from Mr. Johnson’s Remarks. Because Everyone knows, deep-down, that Islam is a problematic and frightening Religion, Everyone has decided that it should be accorded special Respect, and accorded a solicitous Mollycoddling.
You see, the great Revelation of Truth in the modern Era – we are on the Road to a Damascus of Daftness -- is that there is an underlying Equality of all Things. Thus, the more unsatisfactory, unworthy, and absurd any Element of Culture appears, the more it must be supported , encouraged, and protected from Criticism. This is known as the First Law of Cultural Paradox.
Islamic Face Masks, which represent, variously, the Oppression of Women, a deliberate cultural Insult, or a Stance of Superiority which claims the Right to read Faces which it denies to Others are wonderful Examples of bad Ideas. They discourage Empathy, are a Barrier to Integration, and ensure social Isolation. That is why they must be encouraged and supported at all Cost.
It will be no further Surprise to any hibernation-free Reader, that Britain’s largest Islamic Organization The Muslim Council of Britain, has sent a Letter to Theresa May, demanding that Mr. Johnson face a disciplinary Enquiry.
We are hopeful that the party will not allow any whitewashing of this specific inquiry currently in process. No one should be allowed to victimise minorities with impunity. (The Guardian, August 12)
The Freedom they seek, of course, is the Freedom from Criticism and Mockery.
There is, of course, a Place for Empathy. The Ridiculing of Individuals should be done sparingly. We think that those of political Prominence – like Mr. Trudeau – whom we have described as having an Intellect which would feel lost in the Vastness of a Thimble – are justifiable Targets.
But bad Ideas and unhelpful cultural Practices should not be protected from Mockery. The Point of Mockery is to reveal and draw Attention to Incongruity or Absurdity. If Absurdity is protected, then we cannot complain when the Lunatics imprison us in their Asylum, and our Freedoms are but a distant Blur on an ancient Horizon.
Mockery – the appeal to Laughter -- is the acerbic Test which we must be able to apply to all Ideas to determine their true Worth.**
We await the Outcome of the Inquiry into Mr. Johnson’s Remarks with Interest. His Freedom to mock should trump the Freedom of Bad Ideas to persist without Objection.
* Do not groan. We left out Peashooters of Piety.
** While it may not be appropriate in every venue, and on every occasion, mockery is the guardian of reason, the enemy of pretension, and the mirror to folly. No belief, no passion, no commitment should be considered immune from the acerbic test of ridicule. (Observation #47)
August 15, 2018
The belief in multiculturalism is one of the chief follies of the age. It ignores the diversity of cultural beliefs, the powerful roots and bonds of traditional practice, and the essential incompatibility of some traditions with any humane continuance of the human project. In particular, religious certainties -- which have no basis in evidence -- are resistant to reason, and to the moderating effects of secular perspectives. (Observation # 1084)
Our Man in Tehran
We recently watched an Edition of Frontline entitled "Our Man in Tehran." "Our Man" is Thomas Erdbrink, a Dutch Journalist who is the Tehran Bureau Chief for the New York Times. He has lived in Iran for seventeen Years.
The Program attempts to show the "real" Iran – as opposed to that Concept held by most in the West. Mr. Erdbrink is shown speaking to many Citizens in Iran – and, true -- we observed that none of them had Horns. Iranians are – like People everywhere – trying to muddle along in the Circumstance in which they find themselves.
On the other Hand – there are significant cultural Differences between Iran and the West. What we saw merely confirmed our View – considered heretical in this Age of Political Correctness – that some Cultures are better than Others.
The most striking Difference is that Iran is a Theocracy. It is a Culture dominated by Religion.
There are some Advantages to that Fact. Religion has all the Answers, and there is doubtless some Comfort to be derived from that Certainty. It helps to create a unified Society.
An Example of that Unity is shown, perhaps, by one of the Individuals to whom Mr. Erdbrink speaks -- Hamid-Reza Ahmadabadi – an ardent and vocal Supporter of the Regime. He has a Nickname – Mr. Big Mouth. He is an Arch-conservative – who resists almost all Change. He hates America – but – as Mr. Erdbrink reveals in an Interview with David Greene, of National Public Radio (August 13) – he does not really know why. He admits that he says Anything the Leaders tell him to say. If he is told to stop saying "Death to America" – he will.
Throughout the Program – we only watched the first Part and the tail End of the Second – we get the Sense that all Citizens believe in their Religion. Hardly surprising in a Theocracy. They are entirely disinclined to question the Religion – and our Supposition is that a Habit of Mind – trusting Acceptance – leads to a Disinclination to question anything Else.
The River which disappears – and then returns when predicted on the Media – seems not to arouse much in the Way of investigative Enthusiasm. It seems – perhaps it is just Prudence – to be classified as an Act of God, rather than a Manipulation by the Government.
Of course, the Belief in Religion – and the Regime – does not arise and is not maintained without careful Management.
It is well known that finding an external Enemy is extremely useful to any Government. It is a Distraction from Troubles at Home, and unifies Sentiment. George Orwell illustrated this Usefulness with his Depiction of the "Two Minute Hate" – directed against the Traitor Goldstein in his famous dystopian Novel.
In Iran, the Chant "Death to America," and consistent Sermonizing on
the "Great Satan" – would suggest that Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader,
keeps a well-thumbed Copy of 1984 by his Bedside.
There are also many Rules for ordinary Life – especially with Respect to Women’s Dress. The coat which blows open in a Breeze, the Teacher sent Home over an garment Insufficiency, the need to "blob out" the filmed Figure of a Woman exercising – all testify to a wonderful Nit-Pickery of Approach. Perhaps this illustrates the Use of the "Broken Window Theory." When there are Rules about little Things – there is a Disinclination to contemplate serious Rebellion.
Finally, of course, there are real Consequences for displeasing the Government. One dual Citizen Journalist, Jason Rezaian, of The Washington Post, was imprisoned for four hundred Days. People die, conveniently, in Iranian Prisons. In the second Segment it was shown that a Man arrested on trumped-up Charges of Spying, died in Jail. The official Version was Suicide. Even when it was finally admitted that an Error had been made, the Man’s Wife and Sons were apprehended before they could leave on a Flight to Canada. The Sons were allowed to leave, but the Wife has been required to remain.
As Mr. Erdbrink has noted – not only is there a Multiplicity of Rules – they are enforced inconsistently and arbitrarily. This has the Effect of keeping People in constant Uncertainty. We are reminded of the similar Policy – in 1984 – of constantly revising History in order to keep Citizens divorced from Reality – hesitant to rely on their own Memories.
It is only natural that there has been some Dissatisfaction with the Regime. Revolutions never bring what they promise – because there are Constants in the human Condition not subject to Control by any State – no Matter which God it claims to speak for. Nirvana is always elusive.
Mr. Erdbrink notes that many Iranians of the Middle Class would rather drink their Coffee in upscale Cafés than become involved in Revolution. Those who have not prospered economically are less content.
Now that Sanctions have been re-imposed, more economic Hardship would seem likely. And with it, perhaps, more Protest for Change.
We confess that we see Iranians as an Example of a certain Constant in the human Psyche. We have little Doubt that human Beings are programmed for religious Belief, and that such Commitment has been a crucial Element in human History. A famous Quotation falsely attributed to Seneca – but most likely an Adaptation from a Line of Edward Gibbon reads thus:
"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful."
Iran shows how, in a Society with significant technological Sophistication, the Rulers have found Religion useful, and the Citizens – despite their Intelligence – are bound together in a child-like Commonness; the Wise, we suspect, keep their Mouths shut.
Mr. Erdbrink is so enamoured of the People in Iran, that he says he has no Intention of Leaving. He has not, of course, been sent to Prison.
We have an Aversion to Anything remotely resembling a lunatic Asylum. We would not consider visiting so dangerous and irrational a Place for ten Minutes.
July 23, 2018
We have heard this Day of the Shootings near Danforth and Logan in the City of Toronto. A Man seemed determined to kill Strangers on Sight. Thirteen People were wounded, and Two have died.
The Event is of more than usual Interest to us – since for many Years we owned a House and lived nearby in that very Neighbourhood. The Shooting sounds like those we read about in the United States, or in many now troubled European Countries. It seems utterly incongruous in the Neighbourhood with which we have been so familiar.
We have just heard on the Radio, from some of our Fellow Citizens: the usual Sputterings of the Shocked, the Angry and Righteous. The "Root Cause" is variously identified as the Inequality in Society, the Scarcity of Mental Health Treatments, and, of course, the Plethora of Guns.
Apart from the obvious feel-good Solution – firing the Mayor and the Police Chief -- no one seemed to have a Plan. Commitment, Determination, and "Working together" to eradicate these various Ills seemed most popular. Vagueness is the Refuge of Clueless Piety.
Mr. Tory, the Mayor -- who makes a very fine Parrot indeed -- has wondered why, in the City of Toronto, anyone would require a Gun. Doubtless his Solution would be to make Guns entirely illegal. This would have the wonderful Effect of ensuring that, apart from the Police, Criminals would be the only Possessors of Guns.
We look forward to that happy Day. The Prospect of limiting Possession of Guns to those without Regard for the Law induces a Sense of Warmth and Contentment which starts in our Solar Plexus, and radiates, soothingly, to every Extremity.
We would note that last April, ten People were killed in a Van Attack. We have not heard a clamorous Call for the Banning of Vans.
In Theory, we suppose, the Possession of a Gun could carry a mandatory Prison Sentence -- but that Restriction would have to be nation-wide and without Exception. The Farmer and the Hunter -- indigenous or otherwise -- would not be exempt. The Discovery of a Gun in Granny's Attic Trunk would lead to her Incarceration. Ignorance of the Law would be no Excuse. The Penalty would have to be widely advertised at the Border.
There would be an "interesting" Transition Period.
We are still not sure that Criminals would be deterred.
With Respect to Inequality: if that is indeed the Cause, then the Solution may have to wait until the Big Rock Candy Mountain is finally past the Planning Stage, and has opened its Doors to the eager and assembled Masses.
We are similarly unimpressed with the Idea that free mental Health Clinics – perhaps established in every Tim Hortons – will actually stop the seriously deranged.
Our Solution is one which is far too realistic to be given a nanosecond of Consideration by Ninety-nine Percent of Citizens – who are happy to live in the World as it should be, and are disinclined to contemplate the real one.
Our Premise is that Guns are a bad Idea, but that bad Ideas are akin to Genies: Once they have left the Bottle of Origin, they are resistant to Re-Stuffing. And, as we have suggested – limiting the Possession of bad Ideas to those with a Disregard for Laws is not Calming.
It has been noted that attempting to establish "Gun-Free Zones" is rather counter-productive. If you were a deranged Shooter, where would you seek to explore your Derangement? Would you go to a Place where you might get shot before you had warmed up to your Self-Expression -- or to one where you thought could engage in your murderous Rage for a satisfyingly long Period of Time?
No. Fire is best fought with Fire, not Fantasy.
We need Numbers of Citizen-Deputies, trained in the Use of Firearms, and licensed to carry a concealed Weapon. They should be at least forty years of Age, and of a calm Disposition. Our Prediction is that the Number of Deranged Shooters will decline as the Death Rate for that Class of Citizen rises – their Forays cut convincingly short by Citizen-Deputies.
In the ideal World, of course, only the Police have Guns. We would note, however, that when Kevin Vickers, the Sergeant-at Arms of the House of Commons fired at Michael Zehaf-Bibeau in the Canadian Parliament Buildings in 2014, there was not a Peep of Disapproval. Rather, he was hailed as a Hero.
The logical Places for such armed Citizens would be in retail Establishments, Schools, and Venues for Entertainment.
It seems likely that the not-so-deranged Shooter – the One who walks into a busy Restaurant to murder a targeted Patron, would also be deterred by the Thought that he might not survive the Enterprise.
Failing such draconian Measures, we see no Alternative but to muddle along, accepting the Fact that Criminals and deranged Gunmen will continue to take their Toll.