HOME PRIVACY POLICY CONTACT US/ SONGS MAP/INDEX
BALDERDASH/REVIEWS

 

DR. DREIMER'S DIARY DR. DREIMER'S OBSERVATIONS
LIMERICK LANE OBSERVATIONS BY TOPIC WEEKLY QUOTATION BANNER FEEDBACK/NEWS MUSIC DESCRIPTION/DOWNLOAD WORDS/USAGE PET PEEVES

 

Drivel, 2018

Archives:  Drivel, 2017
                  Drivel, 2016
                  Drivel, July - December, 2015
                  Drivel, January - June, 2015
                  Drivel, July-December, 2014
                  Drivel, January - June, 2014
                  Drivel July-December, 2013

                  Drivel January - June, 2013
                  Drivel July - December, 2012  
                  Drivel January -June, 2012
                  Drivel July-December, 2011
                
 Drivel January-June, 2011
                  Drivel 2009-2010

 

Exploring the Mind of Mr. Trudeau (It won’t take long.)       August 21, 2018
 

Our position is that Mr. Trudeau’s mind is reflexive rather than reflective. He assumes that virtue is correctly indicated by certain "sound-good" buzzwords – the validity of which he has never bothered to question. His primary concern is to signal virtue – to portray himself as on the side of the angels. He is less concerned with what actually constitutes virtue – where the realms of good or evil may actually lie.

Thus, in 2011, when the government labelled honour killings as "barbaric" his reflexive response was that the term was "unacceptable." The reason, he suggested, was that it might make immigrants "defensive." Logically, the only people who might be made to feel defensive would be those for whom the idea of honour killings was normal and reasonable. It would not seem inappropriate – to most people – to make them feel defensive. But Mr. Trudeau suggested that the feelings of those who acquiesce to murder should be considered more important than the freedom to call such murders "barbaric."

Later, in 2017, Mr. Trudeau averred that he had criticized the practice of female genital mutilation while in Liberia. Yet, at the same time, the warning in Canada’s Citizenship Guide that the practice is illegal in Canada was removed. We can only assume that the removal of this factual information – which suggests that some cultural practices are less desirable than others – was because it might make some immigrants feel "defensive." We would certainly not want to offend those who would favour the practice – regardless of its legality or morality.

More recently, Mr. Trudeau has been heard repeating the notion that strength arises from diversity. Speaking at the opening of this year’s Taste of the Danforth he referred to the recent shooting in that neighbourhood:

It's at the essence of what we share with the world loudly and proudly as we gather and celebrate that our differences are a source of strength, never a source of weakness...One of the strengths of our city, one of the strengths of Canada, is we celebrate our diversity. (CBC News, August 10)

The statement that differences are never a source of weakness defies any common sense view of reality – but -- perhaps -- it sounds good.

It was this emphasis on the strength arrived at through diversity that led to Mr. Bernier’s refutation: "People who refuse to integrate into our society and want to live apart in their ghetto don't make our society strong." He also noted that "Something infinitely diverse has no core identity and ceases to exist."

Finally, Mr. Trudeau was confronted by a heckler in Quebec on August 16th: She said:

                     I want to know when you are going to refund the $146 million we paid for your illegal immigrants.

Mr. Trudeau’s response:

This intolerance towards immigrants has no room in Canada...racism has no place here. (Toronto Sun, August 21.)

No doubt the heckler has a valid point: there have been many illegal* border crossings, and illegal immigrants cost money. But any objection to "immigration" is met with the reflexive response – another emotive buzzword – racism.

 

The pattern here seems clear. "Multiculturalism," diversity," and "tolerance" – even "immigration" itself are the sound-good buzzwords which betoken virtue. They are mantras that are like little hail Marys which, with sufficient repetition, will secure a safe passage to cultural Nirvana.

Such is his devotion to the signalling of his virtue, the actual direction of Mr. Trudeau’s moral compass becomes hopelessly skewed. Honour killings are not barbaric – and the illegality of female genital mutilation will not be mentioned. Some potential immigrants might – O the horror! -- be offended. When someone has the temerity to criticize illegal immigration – she must be accused, falsely, of racism.

The facts belie Mr. Trudeau’s buzzwords.

"Multiculturalism" – in any true and literal sense – is scarcely possible – since the true multiculturalist would welcome cannibalism, slavery, and human sacrifice to the Gods. In addition, he would approve of freedom of speech and laws against blasphemy in the same breath. He would stoutly maintain that religion should control government, and also that it should do no such thing.

"Diversity" – as Mr. Bernier has pointed out -- has its limitations. Without some core of shared beliefs – some gravitational ethos – a society will fly apart. The ultimate in diversity is simply chaos.

"Tolerance" is not a universal good – its virtue is determined by its direction. Tolerance of drive-by shootings is an enablement of evil – and being tolerant of intolerance suggests a dangerous stupidity.

"Immigration" may be helpful to the country of destination, and to the immigrant – but uncontrolled immigration of those with antithetical cultural beliefs can carry with it – as has been shown in Europe – significant dangers.

"Racism" is the negative buzzword used to shut people up. True racism – prejudice based on race – an unalterable characteristic -- is legitimately vilified.

But the term should not be applied to criticisms of culture – for that would suggest that all cultures are unalterably perfect. They are not – although it is true that some cultures have created more wealth, longevity, opportunities for self-fulfilment, and technological advances than others. They can also boast of significant creative accomplishments and a high degree of freedom for citizens. One of the central truths of our human universe may be stated thus: some things are better than others. To pretend that "equality" of cultures reigns may sound good – but the pretense has nothing to do with reality.

Mr. Trudeau, however, has little concern with underlying realities. He occupies himself with appearances – the connotative buzzwords which appeal to superficial, reflexive emotions. He is a man, as we have observed before, whose superficiality extends, undiminished, to his core.

 

* We understand that there have been attempts to label them "irregular" as opposed to "illegal" – as if language had the power to transform a dandelion into a rose.

 

 

The Climate Chronicles, Part I    July 30, 2018
 

We have had – from the beginning – a deep and abiding suspicion of the theory of anthropogenic global warming. We will not detail the reasons for our skepticism here – but we will attempt to provide below a few references to earlier comments.**

We have often voiced our opinion on a few online commentary threads – and have been somewhat surprised by the response. Those on the other side of the argument are so convinced of their virtue, that they seem to have little interest in objective analysis, or civilized restraint. We suppose that, if you really believe that the "future of mankind" depends upon everyone agreeing with the idea of climate catastrophe, there is little room for dispassion: all opposition must be crushed by whatever means possible.

We were recently moved to purchase a book entitled Climate Change: The Facts – published in 2017.

This volume – a series of essays by scientists and journalists – reinforces out view. The story of climate alarmism is a cautionary tale of error, misinformation, politics, deception, and stupidity. We can only imagine the bemused horror of those looking back on the current era from – say 2050. Climate alarmism will be taken as irrefutable evidence of the vast gulf between the scientific way of thinking – which requires actual evidence before arriving at a conclusion – and the typical human way of thinking – which is to follow the herd – no matter which cliff it happens to be headed for.

We would like to deal with a few of the most interesting chapters in the book to illustrate this thesis.

We will start with a chapter by Donna Laframboise, a journalist and a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, 1993 - 2001. The title of the chapter is "The IPCC and the Peace Prize."

In 2007, the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change was awarded the Peace Prize, jointly with Al Gore.* The Chairmen of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, in a fit of inconsidered elation, wrote to IPCC-affiliated academics with the good news: "This makes each of you Nobel Laureates."

It is said that the sweep of a butterfly wing can cause – in some part of the globe quite distant from the event – a raging tornado. Doubtless Mr. Pachauri was fortuitously tuned in to this inflationary wavelength of thought when he made this statement. A minor involvement in sweeping out the stables – and lo, one can become a winner of the Kentucky Derby!

As a result, those who played minor rτles in the preparation of IPCC documents began to claim Nobel Laureate Status.

Some Examples:

Mark Jaccard was among 23 people who worked on Chapter out of 47 in the IPCC’s 1995 report. Yet he was subsequently described as a "Nobel Laureate" by an activist group in 2007, in a Poster advertising a public library event in 2008, and by The Walrus in 2012.

Nor was Mr, Jaccard merely a passive participant in the deception:

When he submitted a written testimony to a regulatory agency in 2011, Jaccard said he’d "been honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize" as an IPCC contributor.

Similarly, David Karoly, a meteorologist at the University of Melbourne has been described by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as a "Nobel-prize winning scientist" – compounding the error by suggesting that he won not merely the Peace Prize – awarded by a different body than the one concerned with science – but an award for scientific accomplishment. The effect, of course, is to give credence to any statement he might make with respect to climate science.

 

 

Rajendra Pachauri himself, author of a 2010 novel, Return to Almora, was described by Amazon.com as a "Nobel Laureate." He has been similarly described by the U.S. Secretary of State, the office of the Prime Minister of Norway, the Mayor of London – among many others.

Finally, Michael Mann, the inventor of the notorious hockey stick graph filed a lawsuit against two journalists and two publishers in 2012. In that document appears the sentence: "As a result of this research, Dr. Mann and his colleagues were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize." The document went further and attempted to use this deception to suggest the likelihood of infallibility:

It is one thing to engage in discussion about debatable topics. It is quite another to attempt to discredit consistently validated scientific research through the professional and personal defamation of a Nobel prize recipient.

Two weeks after this filing, the IPCC issued a statement which affirmed that the 2007 Peace Prize was awarded to the IPCC, not to any individual associated with the organization. It did not bother to send copies to those whom Mr. Pachauri had misinformed.

James Anthony Froude once wrote: "Science rests on reason and experiment, and can meet an opponent with calmness; but a belief is always sensitive."

The picture that emerges here does not suggest the calm confidence of science. Rather it suggests a battle of beliefs that must be waged using every manipulative trick available. If the facts must be exaggerated – we will exaggerate them. If the media and the public accept our exaggeration – and carry it even further – we will keep discreetly quiet.

When – out of some belated respect for facts – or perhaps the fear of consequences – a correction must be made – it will be done with a quiet, small voice.

Those who make exaggerated claims about their status do not reflect confidence – nor are they models of integrity.

We have always had two major reasons for our skepticism about climate alarmism. The first was the failure of climate models in making predictions. The second was the behaviour of those involved. The story of the IPCC Peace Prize simply confirms our conclusions about integrity of climate alarmists.

It is one thing to put trust in the claims of a Nobel Prize winning Scientist; it is quite another to put trust in those who claim to be Nobel Laureates, but are not.

 

 

*We initially suspected that their action had something to do with the phases of the moon – or some related lunacy. It appears we were correct: the Peace Prize committee believes that climate change "will increase the danger of war." They also believe, by implication, in the theory of anthropogenic warming which has not yet been proven valid.

** Diary, October 1, 2017
Diary, June 6, 2017
Diary, February 22, 2017
Diary, October 23, 2016
Diary, September 26, 2016
Diary, February 29, 2016
Diary, February 11, 2016
Drivel, July 26, 2015

 

 

 

Some Homespun Philosophy      (July 15, 2018)
 

Occasionally we bring in the philosophy wheel from the back shed, set it up in the kitchen, and feed into it the disparate woolly thoughts that are closest to hand.

We have had no training in its use – nor do we have any familiarity with the wonderful achievements of the professional spinners and weavers of old. Indeed, our capacities of comprehension do not rise to the level required to understand the complexities of thought too abstract and removed from the world of familiar common sense.

We would like to produce a yarn of acceptable quality – but do not anticipate the ultimate achievement of a wearable intellectual garment – perhaps only a few rough and raggedy observations. It is simply a pleasant hobby – better, somehow, than leaving the thoughts in lumpy heaps – a constant hazard when the lights go out – or letting them collect dust in darkened corners.

The chief question we would like to answer is appropriately modest – we do not wish to strain either the wheel or the capacities of our fragile intellect. Our question is: Why is the human condition so difficult – why are things always in such a mess?

After much thought on this subject – about five minutes -- we believe that we have the answer. It is not, actually, an original answer – but it is the one suggested by the Taijitu symbol of Taoist philosophy. You have seen it before – it is the circle divided by an "S" curve – one half white, and one half black. In each half is a small circle in the contrasting shade of the other half. These small circles suggest that each half contains the seed of its opposite. It suggests that neither concept is an absolute -- it must always pay deference – to what it is not.

This symbol, we believe, may be used to represent the idea of complementary but opposed concepts which lies at the heart of the human condition. The circle whole of society always contains a number of opposing notions in tension. Neither one can be understood without the other, neither one can wholly triumph, or be wholly eradicated.

What the static symbol cannot portray, of course, is the element of change in real life. In real life, that "S" curve is not always in the middle – it shifts and distorts so that sometimes the black dominates, sometimes the white. The struggle is constant – but can never be finally resolved. And the odd thing is that as one expands, it tends to self-destruct – to transfer power to the other: There is a tendency towards an equilibrium of some kind.

Here is a list of some notions which can be considered "complementary opposites:"

chaos (creativity and change)/order (stability)
creativity/ conformity
competition/co-operation
freedom/restriction
equality/inequality (merit & competition)
high self-esteem/realistic self-assessment
realism/idealism
reality/illusion
individual /group (desires or needs)
independence/dependence
multiculturalism/nationalism
diversity/uniformity
open borders/closed borders
peace/conflict
tolerance/conviction
charity/self-preservation
security/liberty
socialism/capitalism
freedom of religion/freedom from religion

 

These complementary opposites represent elements which are constantly in tension in society. There can never be a "final resolution" in favour of one or the other. In many cases – although perhaps not in all – it may be seen that one element in the opposition seems more ideal, attractive, and virtuous; the other is more realistic and practical.

Constant irreconcilable tensions do not, of course satisfy our desire for perfection. Those searching for "ideal" solutions often think that they have discovered complete virtue in one element in the divided circle -- and it is their misconception to think that that virtue can and should be achieved – regardless of cost. They do not seek a "golden mean." In the determined pursuit of their preferred virtue, they forget that there may be another side to the question, or a practical limit to the achievement of their theoretical goals. The nearer they get to their destination of ideal purity, the more their virtue becomes an oppressive vice – the more they’re "slip-slidin’ away."

It would take too long to comment on all of these complementary opposites – in fact, it would be a very repetitive exercise – since – as it will soon be seen – they are pretty much interrelated. But let’s consider a few.

One of the most important tensions in society is that between competition and co-operation. While competition is the bedrock reality of existence – the struggle for unequal outcomes is the essence of all life – every society depends upon an opposing notion – that of co-operation. It is co-operation that enables the tribe to accomplish what the individual cannot. The ultimate aim is still the struggle for unequal outcomes – the success of the tribe and its individual members -- but co-operation becomes a means to that competitive end.

But, perhaps -- there are circles within circles. Within the overall competition of existence is the co-operative framework of the tribe – which contains, again, the seed of competition. Although the tribe is a co-operative enterprise, competition within that co-operating tribe cannot be simply wished away: some amount is beneficial. People are not merely socialist robots but also capitalistic entrepreneurs. If individuals are not allowed to compete and succeed, if the best ideas are not recognized, the co-operative effort will suffer. There is always a tension between the co-operative demands of the tribe, and the selfish, competitive instincts of the individuals within it.

Is there a happy balance between these concepts in present day society? We would argue there is not. There is an emphasis on co-operation because it appears to be more virtuous. Co-operation is signalled by an emphasis on harmony derived from "equality" -- which we will discuss in more detail later. That harmony and equality are pursued not simply by encouraging the weak to become strong – but by giving compensating assistance, with "affirmative action" for those insufficiently "affirmed." The idea is, paradoxically, that the remedy for injustice is further injustice.

The modern notion of "Identity Politics" requires that every group should be represented proportionately in every field of endeavour. Merit is scorned. People should be considered, not on their own merits, but according to the group to which they belong – favoured or disfavoured according to their group weight on the "equality scale." The notion that some ideas are better than others is offensive and divisive. Because all ideas about the conduct of society are equal, it is thought multiculturalism should displace nationalism – which is associated with the idea of a single consistent – and superior -- culture.

The current bias in our society is towards co-operation – equality, affirmative action, identity politics, and multiculturalism. These all sound better than corresponding competitive elements -- merit, treating people according to their individual talents and accomplishments, and nationalism. Whether they work very well – whether they enhance or retard the prospects for society -- is another matter.

In passing, we would note that the opposition between nationalism and multiculturalism is related to the concepts of open and closed borders, and diversity and uniformity – for which the implications are fairly obvious. It is also related to the notions of charity and self-preservation, and tolerance and conviction.

Let us deal first with charity and self-preservation.

Everyone sees charity as a good thing. But, in the real world, it has its limitations. If the wealthy man uses some part of his wealth to feed the poor, that is a good thing. But if a little charity is good – is much more of it better?

Perhaps. If the rich man doubles his charitable efforts to establish a free school which will enable unemployed people to become bricklayers, electricians, or bankers – that would be a good thing.

But suppose the wealthy man "finds God," gives all his assets to the poor, and moves to a cave to contemplate the meaning of life. He is now no longer able to create the wealth which formerly allowed him to feed the poor: he is now one of their number. The poor, having received his assets, but having little knowledge of how to manage them, soon sell them off, and – after a brief flirtation with a higher standard of living, are no better off than before.

The same may be said of open borders and multiculturalism. If a successful nation allows a limited number of immigrants, and is able to introduce them to the ways of thinking which have given rise to that success, that would appear to be beneficial. But if a successful nation must open its borders, is not allowed to preserve its ethos and way of life, but must distribute its wealth and abandon its principles to those less successful – will the result be an net improvement in the lot of mankind?

 

What then, should be the balance between charity and self-preservation?

Another approach to the problem of multiculturalism is through the related notions tolerance and conviction. G.K. Chesterton noted the distinction between the two by remarking that "Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions." Mr. Chesterton, of course, was a Christian apologist, but we think his argument is quite useful. We think it has particular force against all religions.

Too much conviction can be a bad thing. There is such a thing as blindness to the views of others. Our own pet peeve, as we have suggested, is those who have religious convictions – which are not based on evidence – but which are, regardless, seen as unimpeachable and infused with virtue. Such convictions can be dangerous because – as with Islam -- they can sanction oppression, cruelty, and stupidity. But too little conviction – based on the evidence of what actually works -- suggests an unseemly lack of principle and character. It is possible to be excessively tolerant.

We have often pointed out that tolerance is not, in itself, something virtuous. The man who tolerates drive by shootings or wife-beating is hardly a paragon of virtue. But "tolerance" is generally perceived as an indisputable good. It is that virtuous "tolerance" which leads to the promotion of "equality," to multiculturalism, and to the abandonment of reasonable principles.

The problem is, we think, most clearly seen today in the battle between religious conviction, and secular tolerance. The successful society, having achieved much freedom and a high standard of living through the gradual erosion of religious dogma in a sea of facts, and the gradual triumph of scientific secularism, finds itself besieged by those who want accommodation to religious beliefs. Under the principle of "freedom of religion" – what could possibly sound more virtuous? -- they wish to restrict the freedom to criticize religion, to have police officers wearing religious symbols and to see an "equality" -- often actually a "triumph"– for religious ideas.

If religious ideas were based on evidence, we might be more respectful of the conviction with which they are expressed. But they are not; they represent mere suppositions and speculations about reality for which no credible evidence has ever been presented.

This battle between "tolerance" and "conviction," of course, relates the notion of freedom and boundaries. In this case, the boundary of one freedom is the claim of another. To what extent should there be freedom of religion – as opposed to freedom from religion? To what extent should secular tolerance welcome that which would dilute its essence and destroy what it has achieved? In theory, infinite tolerance sounds attractive; in the real world, it has practical limitations, and, we would argue, real dangers.

Lastly, let us consider what is currently, perhaps, the most vexing, troubling set of opposites: the notions of equality and merit which may be seen as closely related to the opposites we have already considered. We have hardly been able to discuss competition and co-operation, charity and self-preservation, or tolerance and conviction without the idea of "equality" creeping in.

It should be obvious that equality is not in the blueprint of nature, and will not be found among living creatures. As we are fond of pointing out, if the original single-celled organisms had adopted a policy of equality – the world would now be populated entirely by single-celled organisms. The fittest survive. There is an essential "injustice" at the heart all existence – and human beings are not exempt. Perhaps it is because of this fact that equality seems so desirable.

We imagine tribal animals are, and older societies were, not particularly concerned with equality. The natural world suggests hierarchy. The chief chimpanzee is not likely elected on the basis of one chimp, one vote; monarchies have been a favoured form of government for centuries; the fact that so many dictatorships persist today – with very little effective opposition – suggests that we have evolved as herd-like creatures programmed not to challenge "the boss."

One has only to think of the caste system in India, the historical prevalence of feudal societies, or class distinctions which persist to this day – to recognize the persistence of hierarchical patterns.

Evolution, of course, does not stop, and – perhaps because of scientific advancements, and with the realization that – not only is the boss often mean, unfair, and unpleasant -- but -- he does not actually have the backing of the Gods – there has been a movement away from monarchies and dictatorships towards democracies. Democracies attempt to provide a greater degree of equality for citizens. Based on the principle that those societies are best which provide the greatest liberty for citizens – this is a good thing.

Both the French and American Revolutions represented a move towards "equality." The French slogan was "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity." The American Declaration of Independence presumes that "all men are created equal."

Democracies give one vote to each adult citizen. There are attempts to treat citizens equally before the law, and to enhance equality of opportunity by removing artificial and prejudicial barriers to employment, housing, and economic advancement generally.

These are all admirable, and it seems that the elements of equality which enhance the liberty of citizens to function and contribute to the greater good are to be encouraged.

But, as Alexander Pope noted, "The difference is too nice -- Where ends the virtue or begins the vice."

For too great an emphasis on "equality" invariably involves a diminution in the scope of merit.

The ultimate reality is that some things are better than others. Some ideas work better, some cultures have provided a higher standard of living and more freedom for citizens than others, and some individuals are more talented, or work harder, or are more effective than others. The attempt to create equality of result, rather than of opportunity is counter-productive.

In theoretical terms, "equality" suggests stasis, and death; once you have achieved "equality" – there is nowhere to go. Only dead things are equal. In the real world, inequality is the seed of all change, all life, and all progress.

Thus, although "equality" sounds like a peach – it can turn out to be a lemon.

For example, socialism – which is based on the notion that all citizens are equal – has always failed. That is because people are not equal, and the attempt to make them so – to deny their anti-egalitarian, competitive instincts -- is invariably coercive and oppressive. Liberty is not enhanced, but is destroyed.

You can see it in the socialist Canadian Health Care System – which pretends to treat all citizens equally.

Not only does it treat them unequally – some patients are more equal than others -- it can only operate by restricting the liberty of citizens to create their own competitive system with private insurance. The "customer"– able to take his business elsewhere – is reduced to a "supplicant" who must take whatever he is offered.

Similarly, multiculturalism is based on the notion that all cultures are equal; it assumes that cultures with antithetical values, which have produced radically different kinds of societies, can be "equal" -- and can function in the same country without conflict.

An example of the attempt to pretend that antithetical values are compatible is shown by the passage of Motion M-103 by the Canadian Parliament. The motion was introduced by Iqra Khalid, who is originally from Pakistan. Pakistan has laws against blasphemy which provide for the death penalty. The motion introduced clearly indicates the blasphemy mindset: religion should be protected from criticism. The term "Islamophobia" was used to suggest that criticism of Islam represents some kind of irrational, unfounded fear of a benign religion. In fact, anyone who is not fearful of the implications of Islamic texts, who can, untroubled, regard the applications of Sharia Law in places like Iran, or who can contemplate with equanimity horrific acts of terrorism based on the literal interpretation of Islamic texts would seem to have some significant mental deficit.

Yet, in passing the Motion the Canadian government appears to be upholding the Islamic notion of blasphemy – the idea that Islam must never be criticized. It expresses, in fact, a willingness to restrict the antithetical, western notion of free speech. It advocates selling the birthright of freedom of speech for the mess of pottage of superstition and religious oppression.

This is all done to promote the idea of "equality." But as Aristotle observed, "The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal."

Finally, the notion of equality is at the root of political correctness. Political correctness also restricts freedom of speech in order to preserve the notion of equality. Political correctness is politeness carried to absurdity. Feelings are assumed to be all-important and sacrosanct. Facts are irrelevant. What political correctness does is attempt to maintain an "equality" of self-esteem. Hurt feelings are not consistent with equal self-esteem: a hurt feeling is inferior to one serene and uncriticized. Thus facts defer to feelings, and freedom to criticize must defer to the expression of pleasant fictions.

Thus, while reducing the inequality of citizens may enhance liberty, the determined pursuit of "equality" itself leads to the disparagement of merit, the loss of excellence, and the destruction of liberty. The problem is finding the balance.

We hope that our amateur philosophy wheel has explained why the human condition is so difficult. In every human society there are tensions between complementary opposites. Often one of the elements appears to be on the side of virtue, but the determined pursuit of that virtue has unintended consequences: it leads to vice.

There is no handy guide to the determination of the correct balance between complementary opposites, and that balance may fluctuate according to times and circumstances. That fact assures that we will always live in "interesting times."

The Taijitu appears to be an appropriate symbol of such opposites; keeping it in mind might be of assistance in dealing with many of the difficulties at the heart of the human condition.

 

 

Worrisome Rise in Visits (June 28, 2018)

 

Hamilton, Ontario, June 28. (Special to Forward News.)

A hastily-called Press Conference was held this morning at the offices of the famed Lumpenbangenpiano Institute of this city.

The president, Dr. Idel Dreimer, his voice somewhat muffled beneath the heavy folds of his customary burka, pleaded for calm amidst multiple reports of increased visits to the Lumpenbangenpiano website: www.lumpenbangenpiano.com.

Previous increases in visits have been associated with hurricanes, revolutions in third world countries, cases of pneumonia reported in local hospitals, and calls to suicide prevention centres throughout the country.

Here is an edited version of his remarks:

"We wish to assure the public that reports of dramatically increased visits to our website, while true – should not be cause for alarm. The spike occurred during the middle of this month, but visits now seem to be returning to normal levels. There have been no significant reported increases in hurricanes or suicides during this short period of abnormally elevated visits.

For a bit of background – last year, when the Chinese Government acted to restrict access by its citizens to certain internet sites, our visits dropped by nearly one-third. While we were aware of the size of the Chinese population, we had not thought that so many of them could read English – nor did we imagine that more than two or three would be so foolish to take time from otherwise productive lives to visit our site.

While we deplore the restrictive measures of the Chinese government, we are somewhat relieved that their actions have prevented some numbers of Chinese citizens from engaging in idle browsing and obviously useless time-wasting. Indeed, we understand that shoe production in China has increased significantly since access to our website has been barred.

We must reiterate – once again – if that is not too repetitive – that contents of our site are intended only for the eyes of our dear Aunt Myalgia – who is still languishing at the Shady Hollow Psychiatric Facility in downtown Toronto. We have accepted the fact that our aunt, whose mental state, while disturbed, does not preclude large dollops of deviousness, may have enticed some of her fellow inmates into perusing the site. Our position is that the site can do little harm to these unfortunates; they are already – for the most part – heavily sedated, and safely locked away; they are unlikely to be able to influence the general public.

 

It should be evident to the most casual of observers that there is nothing useful, helpful, or even remotely interesting to be found on the site. Our opinions on politics are not informed by any knowledge of the subject, and our reflections on the human condition arise from a deep-seated -- probably pathological -- pessimism. No good can possibly come from being exposed to them. Our confident statements with respect to scientific matters reveal the truth of the old adage:* the less one knows about a subject, the more assuredly one can pronounce on it.

When the spike in visits occurred earlier this month, we do confess that we were, initially, alarmed. We thought, at first that the Chinese government had changed its mind, the former Chinese readers had lapsed into habits of lolly-gaggery, and Chinese shoe production might be in imminent danger of decline.

But we found no evidence of Chinese flip-floppery. Fortunately, we may predict that the Chinese will continue to be appropriately shod.

We confess – we also reflected on the many strange and unnatural occurrences of late, which might be linked -- in some mysterious manner – to the deplorable rise in visits. Hollywood celebrities – to whom we look for wisdom and insight in all matters -- social, political, and scientific -- have been in paroxysms of fury over the behaviour of President Trump. When revered celebrities are upset, the general public cannot be far behind. We hesitate to mention the "r" word – revolution – but these are very troubled times!

And then – abroad --North Korea has suggested that it may cease developing nuclear weapons; Iran has been visibly upset over aspersions cast on its integrity; Denmark has banned the burka. In the midst of such international turmoil – could individual mental disturbance be on the rise – and account for irrational web-browsing behaviour?

And locally, we have had some unusually warm days at Wind-in-the-Pines!

In other words – turning to the Lumpenbangen site by some exceptionally anxious individuals might simply be a sign of widespread angst and unease: when all else fails – do something stupid. Perhaps they might think that solace could be found in militant atheism, a questioning of climate change orthodoxy, or a wallowing in pessimistic skepticism.

Now -- while we cannot pin-point the cause of the anomalous visits – it appears that they were a mere aberration. While the numbers have not yet returned to normal levels -- they are heading in that direction. All the worrisome correlations – hurricanes, cases of pneumonia, and Chinese shoe production seem to be within normal parameters.

Don’t worry – be happy!"
 

*Editor’s note: This may, in fact, be one of Dr. Dreimer’s own statements. He has been known, in the past, to confuse his own insights with the wisdom of the ages.

 

 

 

Posting Peculiarities of Asinine Proportions          (April 17, 2018)

 

We frequently contribute to commentary threads in the online editions of the National Post and Breitbart News. There are many topics on which we have strong opinions – and a strong opinion – one which, of course, is invariably correct -- does not like to be hidden under a bushel. It yearns to shine forth and lighten the oppressive darkness of popular error and misconception.

The other day – concerning the topic of religious symbolism – a Quebec teenager has expressed a desire to be a police officer while wearing a hijab – an outrage to which we are violently opposed – we tried to respond to another poster. We had initially argued that citizens pay respect to those enforcing the law, not as individuals, but as representatives of the government. The "uniform" that officers wear is an important symbol used to suggest that they are not expressing private opinions and prejudices – they are representing the legal system in the jurisdiction of their employment.

When they wear, in addition to the uniform, religious symbols, political logos, or commercial advertisements – the message of "uniformity" is compromised. The citizen is, apparently, being asked to respect Scientology, the Rhinoceros Party, or Joe’s Diner. This, we contend, interferes with the important task of upholding a cornerstone of our society – the rule of law.

Another poster pointed out that the "rule of law" already allows the wearing of such symbols.

In countering that argument – that such an expression of the rule of law runs counter to our tradition – that we live in a secular society in which church and state are considered separate – and that any legal sanction of religious symbols is a betrayal of the manifest success of our secularism (societies dominated by religion are inferior in opportunities for self-fulfilment, scientific advances, creative accomplishments, and general liberty for citizens) – we wrote the following opening sentences:

Then of course, the rule of law – in that particular instance -- is "a ass" – which is not unheard of. And it is a rejection of the type of "rule of law" upon which our society has been built.*

The term "a ass" – as surely every reader will know – is a quotation from Charles Dickens. Mr. Bumble referred to the law as "a ass," and "a idiot."

Strangely, our comment disappeared shortly after we posted it.

We placed our pitiful brains on the rack of stern enquiry. Why had our post been removed?

The only thing we could think of was that "a ass" had somehow been considered inappropriate. Reference to donkeys – using the term "ass" – from the Latin "asinus" – was forbidden.

 

Assuming that the post had been removed by a minor, uneducated functionary at the National Post – possibly a high school student of modest intellect who had obtained a part-time job because of his close relationship with a reporter or editor – we thought a reference to Mr. Bumble would alert him to the fact that "a ass" was in quotation marks – and that it might be instructive to google: "Mr. Bumble a ass."

Once the dimwit had discovered the literary origins of the term, and realized that a reference to a donkey was not in violation of National Post vulgarity guidelines, we hoped our post would be allowed.

Thus, we re-wrote the sentences as follows:

Then of course, the rule of law – in that particular instance – is, in Mr. Bumble’s term, "a ass" – which is not unheard of. And it is a rejection of the type of "rule of law" upon which our society has been built.

A short time later, our post had disappeared. Either the dimwit was incorrigible, or our enemy was something completely different. The term "artificial intelligence" is everywhere these days – perhaps our post had been removed – not by a dimwit – but by a sophisticated machine, trained to respond to the word "ass" – and commence an immediate post-turfing procedure.

We are nothing, if not determined. We rewrote our post as follows:

My response to this post has been "disappeared" for a second time. I thought it might be because I used a famous phrase from Charles Dickens which refers to a donkey. In case there is actually a living human being acting as monitor, I thought I would point out the literary origin of the term. That has made no difference. But perhaps there is an automatic censor which rejects references to another word for donkey. To test that theory, I am re-posting again:

Then of course, the rule of law – in that particular instance -- is – in Mr. Bumble’s term --"a idiot" – which is not unheard of. And it is a rejection of the type of "rule of law" upon which our society has been built.

Lo, and behold: The post was allowed to stay.

We can only speculate as to the cause. We might conclude that, if there really is a dimwit moderator at the National Post – he has little initiative – and acts exactly as if he were a programmed machine.

If, on the other hand, there is a fancy machine which monitors posts, it has not read Dickens, and does not know how to google. It is no improvement over a dim-witted human being. (Although it is probably cheaper to employ.)
 

*Followed by several paragraphs of exposition.

 

 

 

 

March 19, 2018

The Revolution that (We Hope) Will Eat its Young.

 

The new religion of political correctness is both puritanical and revolutionary. Unlike previous religions, which – rather prudently – promised perfection in the afterlife, political correctness suggests that a similar pleasantness can be mandated in this one: it holds that no one should suffer hurt feelings – it pretends that language can be controlled so that it will not give offense.

We would note, in passing, that the underlying principle behind the desire to protect feelings is that equality is the natural and achievable state of human beings. The reason that feelings must not be hurt is that all human beings should experience "equally" high self-esteem. A hurt feeling – by definition – is of lesser quality than an unhurt one. The hurting of feelings is, necessarily, an insult to the idea of equality.

Once this is understood, the inevitable failure of political correctness becomes clear. "Equality" is not in the blueprint of nature, and will not be found among living creatures. Only dead things have the remote possibility of being considered "equal." Indeed, the essence of life is struggle – its necessary and inherent goal is not equality – but the inequality -- of outcomes.

Political correctness, then, is a new religion which pretends to transform the very nature of existence. It attempts to attain the impossible; it represents a revolutionary ideal which can make no compromise with reality.

It is interesting to watch the process – the attempt to achieve the impossible – in action.

We have to look no further than the University of California for examples. That august institution has recently published a list of unacceptable "microaggressions" on its official website. (Breitbart News March 17)

Among these microaggressions are saying: "the most qualified person should get the job."

We assume this is a "microaggression" because it suggests that merit is more important than equality. The current politically correct thought is that jobs should be obtained based on the principle that every possible group be represented in every field of endeavour in the same proportion as it appears in the total population.

Similarly forbidden is a statement such as "America is the land of opportunity." This is – apparently – because it perpetuates the "myth of meritocracy." Few are naive enough to think that the "best" person is always hired for a job – but it is common sense that success is more likely when employees are hired on the basis of demonstrated skills and abilities – rather than on the basis of their membership in a group.

As if such insanities were not sufficient, the University also admits that certain remarks are considered benign or oppressive depending upon the person to whom they are addressed. For example, it is perfectly legitimate to ask a Caucasian student: "Why are you so quiet?" But the same question asked of an Asian, Latino or Native American is offensive: it suggests that the individual has insufficiently assimilated into the "dominant culture." Hmmm. How’s that for "equality?"

It will be immediately seen the absurd limits to which the principle of protecting feelings – based on group identity – may be taken.

 

 

It would appear that the priests of the new religion – we suspect they must be university professors teaching courses such as "Ethical Trendlines in Big Rock Candy Mountain Villages" " Unicorn Theology," or "Social Justice Achievements of Shangri-la Aboriginals" – must spend some considerable portion of their waking hours in imagining ways in which the members of "vulnerable" groups might be offended.

The trouble with such searches is that – with sufficient ingenuity – there is no limit to success.

Even a compliment, viewed through the politically correct lens, can be interpreted as a microagression. The most infamous example we can recall is the "new shoes" compliment. Saying, "I love your new shoes" to a woman in a position of authority is a microaggression – because it focuses on the superficial, and fails to recognize the more substantial qualities of intellect, wisdom, or competence.

The principle thereby established is that any compliment which is not sufficiently effusive and all-encompassing is likely to be insulting. Do not compliment your hostess on the roast beef; her Yorkshire Pudding angst may be significantly enhanced.

Now -- you may think: "This way, madness lies" -- and you would be correct.

But there is, of course, a certain method to the madness. The priests of the new religion are not entirely fools. They recognize that the establishing a labyrinth of impossibly complex rules gives them a significant degree of control. If they create the rules, and can convince people that they represent virtue rather than stupidity, they have gained great power. They will be able to shape discourse – decide who is victim, and who is oppressor. Enforcement bodies, tribunals, social justice courts loom on the horizon. They will require chairpersons, administrators, and functionaries. All faithful ministers in service of "Equality."

If the proposed scenario sounds vaguely familiar – it should. Does not the pursuit of an unattainable perfection inevitably lead to great abuse of power? Did not the Inquisition torture people with the noble aim of saving their souls? And were not witches burned at the stake in order to remove evil from a Godly society?

And there is a certain snowball momentum to the crusade. The earnest desire to find a well-travelled broomstick in the garden shed leads to the discovery of many a rake and digging spade that seems to serve the purpose: the owner of the shed may be found just as guilty – and will burn with an equivalent, satisfying, brightness.

During the time of the French Revolution, Pierre Victurnien Vergniaud observed, "Citizens, we have reason to fear that the Revolution, like Saturn, will successively devour all its children, and finally produce despotism, with the calamities that accompany it."

Revolutions – the ones based on the notion that radical change can be achieved – that human nature can be refined in a purifying fire, that corruption can be – with the scourges of virtue – irrevocably transformed into sweetness and light -- must, initially, achieve less than satisfactory results. The solution, of course is even more radical perfectionism – the orthodoxy will be narrowed, re-defined to reveal new heretics, to justify higher, more impressive bonfires. Inevitably, the early revolutionaries will be condemned with a vigour and ruthlessness with which they will not be unfamiliar.

We think the same will be true of political correctness.

But madness cannot persist forever. Eventually, as the demands of "virtue" become more widespread and encompassing, as the destruction wrought becomes more devastating and complete, the futility of the whole enterprise will become apparent. The Equality Tribunals will be disbanded; the Microagression Reporting Centres will disappear; the doors of the Courts of Correctness will be quietly closed.

For the time being.

Virtuous revolutions – puritanical impulses – religions – whether secular or divinely inspired – may be – like extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds – a part of our genetic legacy.

 

 

 

The Equality Lens  (March 4, 2018)

But one also finds in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to want to bring the strong down to their level, and which reduces men to preferring equality in servitude to inequality in freedom. (Alexis de Tocqueville, 1805 - 1859)

That all men are equal is a proposition to which, at ordinary times, no sane human being has ever given his assent. (Aldous Huxley, 1894 - 1963)

Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality, the costs become prohibitive. (William F. Buckley, Jr. 1925 - 2008)

The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal. (Aristotle, 384 B.C.- 322 B.C.)

The trouble with "equality" is that it sounds so good! It suggests a kind of heavenly perfection in which all invidious distinctions have been bleached, like unsightly and accusatory stains, from the fabric of society: no man is more important, powerful, valued, or talented than any other. And no man feels the angst of inferiority, the rebukes of failure, or the corrosive pangs of unalleviated envy.

Such a state of "equality" is abstract, theoretical, and unattainable – and everyone knows it. But there are truths so awful, so overwhelming, and so unpleasant that no one dares utter them. This is one of those truths. Further, it is considered the height of virtue to praise "equality," and to be seen working, with unstinting diligence, towards it.

Indeed, we suspect that the status of "equality" – as a pre-eminent goal and virtue – has never been higher than in the present day.

These reflections arise from an article in Breitbart News of March 2,* which refers to an educational policy of the administration of that fount of infelicitous folly, Mr. Obama. It threatened to investigate school districts where it appeared that disciplinary measures disproportionately affected minority students. As with many "feel good" policies – facts were no defence: it was irrelevant that the behaviours for which students were disciplined were, in fact unacceptable. The aim was "to help schools prevent and address discipline practices that discriminate against students of color."

This policy will be seen as revealing a determination to find "equality" where it dos not exist.

It does not seem an unreasonable proposition that minority cultures and low income backgrounds may  be factors in how students behave. They represent "unequal" inputs – challenging elements in adaptation to mainstream culture.

But the solution – viewed through the "equality lens" -- is not to recognize that unequal inputs will result in unequal outcomes. Nor is it to focus on dealing with the unequal inputs – seeking to modify or counteract the cultural deficits. Rather, it is to put equality of result first. This, of course, cannot be achieved by treating bad behaviours equally. To do so would result in the horror of inequality -- a disproportionate number of minority and low income students being disciplined. No, the only solution is to treat students unequally – to give special consideration, and make special allowances so that it appears that students from all backgrounds are "equally" well-behaved.

 

In this way, the myth of cultural "equality" can be preserved, and the idea that there is "discrimination" against minorities can be, virtuously, refuted.

It is a wonderful, classic example of political correctness – a situation in which the unpleasant truth – that minority cultures may predispose students to unacceptable behaviour – is made to vanish. The unacceptable behaviour is simply not recognized whenever it threatens the preferred narrative – that cultures are "equally" worthy.

Of course, by failing to make an issue of bad behaviour -- perhaps alerting the police when it seems required -- the behaviour is encouraged and facilitated. No matter. At least no one will be accused of discrimination, and the myth of the equality of cultures will be, thankfully, preserved.

The "equality lens" – the perception of a state of "equality" where it does not exist is, in fact, widespread in our society.

Consider the oft-heard complaint that women have lower incomes than men, or that they are under-represented on boards of company directors. No one seeks to understand the factors which might lead to this result. No one who has any claim to a moral compass could point out that women are often less ambitious than men, and may seek jobs that pay less and are not as "life-consuming" as those which have higher salaries. Perhaps it is that women, by and large, would rather teach than climb a corporate ladder, or be nurses rather than firefighters.

No, the immediate assumption is that of "equality." Women’s and men’s interests are exactly equal, and exactly alike. The disparity in income – or the fact that relatively few women are employed as bicycle mechanics, or stevedores – is the result of the malign forces of discrimination. Evil men spend every spare moment -- when they are not otherwise employed being nakedly ambitious -- in erecting barriers to the natural outcome of equality. Every effort, therefore, must be made to raise the salaries of women, and force them to become directors of corporations, firefighters, and bicycle mechanics.

Consider, again the unfortunate fact that more indigenous persons are incarcerated, proportionately, than others.

Does anyone have the temerity to suggest that living on reserves – often in remote locations with little opportunity for employment – is a factor in leading to hopelessness, despair, and anti-social behaviour? Why the very suggestion is "racist," vicious, and unconscionable.

No, the immediate assumption is one of equality: indigenous people are exactly the same as non-indigenous people – they should be incarcerated at exactly the same rate.

It will be seen that the "equality lens" – the assumption of equality where it dos not exist – is counter-productive. It may be well-intentioned, sound good, and wear the mask of virtue -- but it draws attention away from the real causes of problems – and suggests that there are problems which do not, in fact, exist. The engineering of "equality" ignores pertinent truths and  tends to be coercive -- favouring some by restricting or limiting others.

When you do not understand the cause of a problem – your solution will simply become part of it.

 

*Teacher Coalition Seeks to End Obama School Discipline Policy: ‘A Lot of Fear in Schools’ (Breitbart News, March 2)