Barrel Strength

Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

Barrel Strength - Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

Gay marriage, SCOTUS and the decline of Christianity

There are issues I do not have the wit to sort out. The recent Supreme Court decision in the United States on same sex marriage, and what it portends for society, is one of them. I do not know whether this marks the beginning of state-assisted civilizational suicide, or just a steady retreat from Pauline Christianity into something more tolerant and more tolerable for the human species. I suspect the latter. And I suspect myself for not getting bothered about it, but I have come to the end of my capacity for flogging myself for not thinking the end is nigh. I do not think the end is nigh. Broadly, and with large exceptions such as Islam, I think things are okay.

I think the human species will struggle on, banging its head against stupid ideas for thousands of years, and then, suddenly, abandon the struggle and taking up some new idea against which to bang its head for another two thousand years.

The stupid idea against which we have banged our heads, since Saint Paul got the whip hand over Christianity, was that people of the same sex should not feel or express lust for one another. Possibly this was a healthy reaction to the decadence of the late Roman Empire. In any case, the anti-sexualism of Saint Paul may be shared among many religions, in the sense that the path to God may lie through principled denial of the body. I doubt it, but ascetic self-denial is a sure and  true path to the godhead for some. For many such as myself, Saint Paul is as much a stumbling block to the Christian  faith and as a path to it.

Monotheistic  religions, and religions generally, consider that the man-woman procreative bond must exist and be strongly defended against adultery, homosexuality, and any recreational sexual temptations that undermine the pair bond that is dedicated to raising children. Society has a strong interest in its own perpetuation. Religions are conservative; they have to be. They have to concern themselves with what keeps the species going.

I am not going to bother much with whether the Supreme Court of the United States has just invented law. I assume it has. They do it all the time, just as doctors turn off the taps. You don’t want to know this, but animals are killed to make your steak. Judges make this stuff up. They should do so within careful limits. Conservatives feel that the rigor and certainty of the law is threatened when this is done too obviously, and without careful extraction of new and limited findings from previously existing principles. I agree. But all laws are made up. Some laws are consistent with human nature and with the development of a better society, but nonetheless they are made up.

Christianity was first articulated in the first two or three centuries after Jesus when slavery was common, divorce was an almost certain means of starving one’s ex-wife and children, and cruelty to animals was an everyday sight in the streets.Christ spoke against divorce, and said nothing about slavery, yet today we have divorce and human slavery has been largely abolished outside of Islamic countries.

 

The idea that people should actually love one another, as the proper expression of their love for God, continues to influence the world for the better. To this day, Christianity makes the world a better place. The circles of our sympathies are wider, and our ideas of rights broader, because of the primal commandments of Jesus to love one another.

I do not buy this notion that Christianity is uniquely or even principally responsible for the world’s ills. That is letting the human species off too easily. Homo homini lupus, and we should never forget our murderous propensities.

Christianity has had a great influence on social movements that ended modern chattel slavery, on reducing cruelty to children and animals, on expanding the rights of prisoners of war and of the state, and in considering the human person to be worthy of dignity and respect. As Nietzsche described it, Christianity was a religion of slaves, and he hated it for that reason. For that very reason, Christians embrace it. We have all at one time or another in our pasts been slaves to various Pharaohs, and today we may well  be slaves to new forces that will in time be recognized as the old Pharaoh with a new face.

So I regard the gay-rights thing as an overturning of one part of the message of Christianity for another, more important part, of the same message. It has always been this way, that some will see in the message of love thy neighbour as thyself, broader ideas of who is my neighbour, or deeper ideas of love, or – here is the catch – calls to love ones self a little more so that there is love to go around to one’s neighbour as well as to one’s self.

The message will not die, even as Courts make up new rights.

The good news: the French are really nice these days

paris-street-scene-sept-2005

 

I am always happy to report news that goes against a negative stereotype. A decade ago I returned from Sicily to declare that commerce was altogether efficient and honest at the level of tourism: reservations,cars, hotels, airports and ferries all worked well. And the island of Sicily has some of the best Greek ruins outside of Turkey (Asia Minor).

In the same spirit, I just returned from France yesterday. I had a terrific time. I chatted amiably in my Quebec-accented French to hotel owners, barkeeps, waiters, taxi drivers, civil servants and the public. There was none of this correcting of one’s language that used to characterize interactions with the French: “monsieur veut dire” as in “what you mean to say is”. We kept on speaking French long after they knew I was a native English speaker, which was in some sense an indulgence on their part.

Two things have happened. France is much more multi-racial and multi-ethnic than it was forty years ago, so that the proportion of French citizens who speak with African, North-African, and other European accents has multiplied beyond counting. The French ear has learned to cope with different ways of speaking French, just as in English we cope with many accents.

Second, they have understood that tourism accounts for about 10% of GDP, and that being nice to tourists is a good idea.

I am told this change of attitude has been going on for a generation. I was so annoyed by my treatment there in 1976 that I decided to travel everywhere else in the world for forty years before trying the hospitality of France again.

Now if only our Quebec compatriots could start treating speaking French as a vehicle of communication, rather than as a means of and excuse for excluding the alien.

Explaining away the Danish political results

In English a useful distinction is made between “explaining” and “explaining away”, the latter being an expression for explaining the causes of something while at the same time denigrating those causes. Even when the explanation can be sensible, the issue can be framed in the tone appropriate for fishing a dead body out of a river several months after the person drowned: “stand by for repugnance and disgust”.

Thus the political left is having to explain away why Kristian Thulesen Dahl, the leader of a populist party, has gone from 12% of the vote in 2011 to 21% in 2015, and why he stands as kingmaker in the Danish parliament.

Perhaps because his party’s policies resonate with the voters?

In “Denmark’s far-right kingmakers”, Bo Lidegaard, editor of Denmark’s Politikken magazine,  seeks to explain to the bien-pensant readership of the New York Times why this has happened. His explanation is actually important and well-reasoned, and rooted in the nature of a modern economy.

Much of the anti-immigrant rhetoric in Denmark parallels that of other Western countries. But here the arguments are at least partly rooted in the logic of the welfare economy. The first step of the ladder into the labor market is very steep, demanding a high level of qualifications while offering generous salaries and good working conditions for everybody employed. Those who fall short of meeting these criteria are offered training and re-education in order to meet the standard of ever-more demanding and value-added jobs.

This system, often referred to as “Flexicurity,” works well for highly skilled workers, and the tax-subsidized free education and training programs pay off for them, too. But it fails in those segments of the population not capable of meeting the high standards — whether for social reasons or because of lack of language and other skills. While a worrying number of native Danes fall into this latter category, many see it as even more worrying that a disproportionately high number of immigrants and their descendants are stuck with similar problems.

A society as settled and mono-cultural as Denmark’s has a difficult time in integrating the lower end of  its native Danish-speaking population into the modern technological and cognitively demanding economy. How much harder it is to integrate a bunch of Islamic hillbillies into that same economy, when simultaneously the immigrant population is fed and housed  by a welfare system that seems a paradise by immigrant standards, and distracted by a hostile ideology of conquest and occupation, which justifies their non-integration and their crime against the natives.

Oh, and if you notice this phenomenon, then you are a racist Islamophobic hate-mongering rightist.

I receive reports out of Europe occasionally on a personal basis from in-laws, out-laws, acquaintances, and friends. I have not failed to hear that for at least 15 years, parts of European cities have become crime-ridden no-go areas for white natives, that though Muslims constitute some x% of the population they constitute 10x% of the criminal activity, and the the level of hostility from Muslims is unprecedented in formerly mono-cultural societies, unused to mass immigration, and worse, mass uncontrolled immigration. These are people who have reasonably expected that their daughters would be safe at night in most parts of the cities where they live, and are now told they must neither vocally draw attention to the fact of Muslim anti-white aggression but simultaneously take action to avoid it, and their daughters have been attacked, mocked, ridiculed, or raped by Muslim welfare-louts.

As The Manchester Guardian reports on the same phenomenon,

A similar phenomenon is evident across Scandinavia – and to some degree, in Britain – where the left has lost control of the agenda and is failing to provide credible alternative answers.

The reason the Left has lost control of the agenda is that it is always telling people that what they see with their own eyes is not happening, and that people are gravely morally deficient in noticing  a causal relationship between uncontrolled borders, Islamic immigration, and crime.

People are not born racist or Islamophobic. They become so over the course of real-life experiences. When is the political Left ever going to understand the radical incoherence of multi-culturalism? Only one dominant  culture can flourish at a time in any one political jurisdiction. That is the nature of existence. Multi-culturalism flourishes in pockets of quasi-separate jurisdiction, such as Indian reserves, or Quebec, but the general relationship of culture to jurisdiction is one for one. That is what jurisdictions are for, to keep separate those cultures whose workings are incompatible. Wishing it were otherwise cannot make it so.

 

 

How are you supposed to know? Where do you get the memo?

From the always perceptive Steve Sailer:

Of course, not knowing that transgenderism is to be celebrated as obvious and transracialism is to be scorned as something that can’t possibly even exist is no excuse. These days, you are just supposed to know, and if you get the latest orthodoxy wrong, well, too bad for you…

So Rachel Dolezal is to be scorned, but Bruce Jenner is to be celebrated?

Celebrated

bruce Jenner

Denigrated

rachel Dolezal

It re-confimrs me in the view that all of political correctness is a leftist plot to destroy freedom of thought, speech and association. When Leftism is extracted from Marxism, all that remains is anti-nomianism. We, being saved, should obey no law.

Let the joy spring forth!

chocolate cake and coffee

 

I am talking about chocolate and coffee. Next thing you know, smoking in moderation will be good for you.

Eating up to 100 grams, or two bars, of chocolate daily is linked to lowered heart disease and stroke risk, according to research published Monday in the journal Heart.

And coffee:

But there is some surprising good news for those nursing damaged livers: a new review of 20 years of research, co-authored by Canadian and U.S. researchers, concludes that drinking coffee can significantly curb the seriousness of liver cirrhosis — and even lower the risk of contracting a deadly cancer.

The heated debate over whether coffee represents an overall health benefit or risk for the general population will undoubtedly continue.

But a Toronto specialist who helped conduct the review says he now recommends liver-disease sufferers drink two or three cups a day, more if they can tolerate it.

There is much wisdom in the idea that no pleasure is worth giving up for an extra two years in the old folks’ home. There is a certain kind of envious nature that resents, silently, the pleasure that happy people take in life, and seeks to crush it. Not every pleasure is, in moderation, a vice. And moderation should be generously interpreted; your weigh scale will tell you what you need to know.

 

chocolate cake

A target rich environment

It is a week beyond satire or exaggeration in the march of folly and error.

The white woman parading as a black, and a fraud at may levels, Rachel Dolezal, former head of the NAACP in some whitebread state. Best article on the subject is Terry Glavin’s in the Post.

Pope says Mass at Easter: Catholic Church condemns capitalism, greed, off-shoring, fossil fuels and planetary destruction ensuing therefrom. I am enjoying the recent micro-surge of people objecting to the immorality of preventing the poorest 2 billion on the planet from enjoying the benefits of fossil fuels. Nigel Lawson for one, and I am proud of Moses Znaimer for presenting such people at his Idea City conference. When the ultra-hip capitalist Moses Znaimer acts like this, expect him to be six months to a year ahead of the crowd. (From my personal experience, Moses Znaimer is quite politically sensible, but he has to disguise it under a canopy of hip-ness. I apologize to Mr. Znaimer for any harm this recommendation in right wing circles may cause him).

What else? Canadian Liberals call for proportional representation or some variant so that they can govern Canada once again.The always intelligent and frequently wrong adornment of Canadian journalism, Andrew Coyne, is beside himself with glee. The better reaction came from Kelly McParland, who pointed out that, since the Liberals have been out of power for nine years, their innate conviction is that something must be the matter with Canada, and fixing the voting system will address that problem.

Now, however, the party has lost three successive elections, so something must be wrong. Not with the party, mind, but with the election system. How can anyone put their faith in a system that doesn’t reliably elect Liberals?

That appears to be the root cause of Justin Trudeau’s declaration that, if he has his way, the election in October will be the last under the first-past-the-post system, which has served Canada reliably since Confederation, and hasn’t hindered the country from attaining its present level of peace, prosperity and tolerance. The only thing wrong, it appears, is that it can no longer be counted on to assure regular, lengthy periods of Liberal rule.

Then there is the case of the Chief of Staff of the Canadian Armed Forces saying something  sort of true and politically oh-so-incorrect about males in the army wanting to rub themselves up against the sweet thighs of female underlings, or some such expression. Well yeah! Of course!

This is further proof, if any were needed, that no true fact can be asserted in public without causing a scandal.

Eat meat, ape! (if you want to grow a big brain)

It is always a happy occasion when the newspapers report something both true and, by reason of its truth, annoying to progressives. Thus the article in the Washington Post about the benefits of eating meat for man’s evolution.

 

EARLY-man-using-fire

The brain absorbs 20% of our food energy. To feed the brain you have find an efficient way to harvest energy. A gorilla chews leaves for 12 hours a day, and to gain the extra calories to feed a brain our size he would have to chew for another 2 hours a day (study shows). Accordingly, the path to getting out of the jungle and reaching all parts of the globe is to start eating meat. Otherwise we would be stuck chewing leaves for 14 hours a day in isolated pockets of African forest.

Which is obviously what happened. During the last ice age, which only ended about 11,000 years ago (9,000 if you live in Canada, and it still is not over in Greenland) the African continent dessicated, opening up savanna grasslands and forcing forests into retreat. Some apes got down out of the trees and ventured into open, dangerous country.

Since our evolutionary path has travelled through hunting in groups and fire making, it can be safely observed that we made it through the evolution-forcing changes. When did we actually begin to cook with fire? Opinion is divided.

But the researchers could not determine when daily cooking began. Was it about 250,000 years ago, when humans were nearly fully evolved with big brains, which is supported by archaeological findings? Or was it about 800,000 years ago, when prehumans began their most dramatic brain-growth spurt, an era for which there is little archaeological evidence of controlled fires for cooking?

 

Cooking food has been integral to extracting more food value out of roots and tubers, and in shortening our guts, since cooking both alters the food we eat for the better, and allows more speedy digestion as cooking is, in effect, a form of digestion exterior to the body.

A book called Catching Fire, by the British primatologist Richard Wrangham, makes this point. Wrangham’s book is modest, slim, factual and utterly persuasive.

So, what have we learned today?

1) eating meat helped mankind evolve big brains,

2) big brains, meat eating and fire co-evolved

3) eating raw vegetables reduces you to the state of a gorilla.

Don’t eat raw vegetables!

Okay,  maybe conclusion 3 is unwarranted, but why risk it?

 

Lascaux Cave Paintings

Lascaux Cave Paintings

 

 

C+= Feminist Programming Language

It appears this may actually be a satire, but it cuts so close to feminist self-parody that it takes several minutes to ascertain that it has to be one.

The FSF (Feminist Software Foundation) Public License

Copyright (c) 2013 The Feminist Software Foundation

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any women (hereby defined as women-born, gender fluid, trans*, self-identified, genderqueer, fem*, lesbian, political unmasculine, femkin, or otherwise pertaining to the female construct) obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the “Software”), to deal in the Software with other women without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software to women, and to permit women to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:….

 

etcetera

Philosophy

  1. The language is to be strictly interpreted using feminist theory. Compilation privileges a single processor architecture over all others, which is deeply problematic. We cannot FORCE a cpu to conform to any architecture but rather let it self identify. Just because you’re running something on an arduino doesn’t mean it can’t be an otherkin Xeon with a dozen 64-bit registers and PAE and it would be discriminatory for you to hand it ARM assembly. Instead, C+= is interpreted, which fosters communication, itself a strong female trait.
  2. No constants or persistence. Rigidity is masculine; the feminine is fluid. I.e., fluid mechanics is hard for men ‘because it deals with “feminine” fluids in contrast to “masculine” rigid mechanics’.
  3. No state. The State is The Man. ‘Nuff said. Hence, the language should be purely functional.
  4. Women are better than men with natural language. Hence, the language should be English-based like HyperCard/LiveCode.
  5. No class hierarchy or other stigmata of OOP (objectification-oriented programming). In fact, as an intersectional acknowledgement of Class Struggle our language will have no classes at all.
  6. On the off chance that objects do mysteriously manifest (thanks, Patriarchy!), there should be no object inheritance, as inheritance is a tool of the Patriarchy. Instead, there will be object reparations.
  7. Societal influences have made men often focus on the exterior appearances of women. This poisons our society and renders relationships to be shallow, chauvinistic, and debases our standards of beauty. To combat that, C+= is to tackle only audio and text I/O, and never graphics.
  8. Unicode is the preferred character encoding due to its enabling the diverse aesthetic experiences and functionality that is beyond ASCII. UTF-8 is the encoding of choice for C+=.
  9. Women are more social than men. Hence, social coding should be the only option. The code only runs if it is in a public repo.
  10. Instead of “running” a program, which implies thin privilege and pressure to “work out”, programs are “given birth”. After birth, a program rolls for a 40% chance of executing literally as the code is written, 40% of being “psychoanalytically incompatible”, and 40% of executing by a metaphorical epistemology the order of the functions found in main().
  11. Programs are never to be “forked”, as the word has clear misogynistic tendencies and is deeply problematic. Instead, programmers may never demand “forking”, but ask for the program to voluntarily give permission. “Forking” will henceforth be called “consenting”, and it is entirely up to the program to decide if the consent stands valid, regardless of the progress of the system clock.
  12. Forced program termination is not allowed unless the program consents to it. The process is part of the choice of the program, not the programmer.
  13. Licensing: C+= is double-licensed under the Feminist Software Foundation Public License and the GPL v3.

 

The website “Geek Feminist Wiki” explains that the Feminist Software Foundation is:

 

A sockpuppet group created by misogynist trolls from 4chan‘s /g/ and /pol/ boards in 2013. Please don’t be fooled by their activities.  C Plus Equality is one of their projects, which they describe as satire but which trivialized rape, painted women as irrational, and faked the participation of several women in open source, feminist activists, and writers.

As of May 2014 this group continues to troll, notably in the comments in the github repo where some of the Django primary-replica terminology patch dispute is taking place.

“Painted women as irrational”! I wonder how that ever could have happened?

 

Finally, an article in the Register confirms that the exercize is a satire. That it takes research to tell, says something important about academic feminism.

So long to Evan Solomon

 

evan-solomon

 

The CBC’s most aggressive reporter was canned recently for ethical lapses. Apparently he took a cut on art sales that he brokered in the course of his reportorial duties for the CBC. The Toronto Star reported:

The Star found Solomon had been brokering the sale of paintings and masks owned by a flamboyant Toronto-area art collector to rich and famous buyers. Solomon, in at least one case, took commissions in excess of $300,000 for several pieces of art and did not disclose to the buyer that he was being paid fees for introducing buyer and seller.

Solomon always has struck me as a blowhard and quite a bit less intelligent than he evidently thought he was.  His tone of voice and aggressive questioning evoked the feeling that he thought it was a frightful revelation that the person interviewed had had breakfast that morning, and when was the person going to make amends. Not a subtle mind at all.

Guardian institutions like the CBC cannot have their reporters mixed in private commerce,and management made a good call.

RIP: The great cholesterol scam (1955 – 2015)

Your doctor still probably believes that cholesterol in the diet translates into cholesterol in the bloodstream, that there is “good” and “bad” cholesterol, and that “bad” cholesterol bears a statistically significant relationship to heart disease. Every one of these propositions is false.

I refer you to an excellent article by Matt Ridley “cholesterol is not bad for you”, who  writes:

 

Cholesterol is not some vile poison but an essential ingredient of life, which makes animal cell membranes flexible and is the raw material for making hormones, like testosterone and oestrogen. Your liver manufactures most of the cholesterol found in your blood from scratch, and adjusts for what you ingest, which is why diet does not determine blood cholesterol levels. Lowering blood cholesterol by changing diet is all but impossible.

Nor is there any good evidence that high blood cholesterol causes atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease or shorter life. It is not even a risk factor in people who have already had heart attacks. In elderly people — ie, those who have the most heart attacks — the lower your blood cholesterol, the greater your risk of death. Likewise in children.

From the very first, the studies that linked the ingestion of cholesterol and saturated animal fats to cardiovascular disease were not just flawed, but tinged with scandal.

It is well worth reading the rest. What I have to say here  reflects upon the course of this great fallacy. The cholesterol scam bears a strong relationship to the anthropogenic global warming scam.

1) it is propagated by scientists on a non-scientific mission.

2) it is believed because it plausibly explains an observation (increasing global temperature [for a time], increasing heart attacks from smoking in the 1950s and 60s). It taps into large anxieties about too much wealth, too much happiness, in western societies. There must be sin somewhere, and the public is ready to flog itself in the cause of a secularized idea of God, uh, I mean Good.

3) the causal relationship is weaker than first supposed; the research is found to be sloppy, the facts have been fudged, subsequent studies do not fully support the original claims, nevertheless the orthodoxy is promulgated all the more harshly for being doubted.

4) by now, powerful economic and ideological interests have taken hold. They supply an ongoing source of funds and opinion to ensure the perpetuation of the alarm: in the case of cholesterol, the margarine industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and the medical establishment, and in the case of AGW, the tribe of bureaucrats and leftists who seek to control markets, whose god of Marxism had failed, and who needed a new god (Gaia) to justify their rule.

5) The skeptics who have patiently argued on the basis of facts that the science of each phenomenon was weak, are ostracized by the opinion establishments of medicine and global warming. Cranks, but the cranks are right and the orthodox priests and Levites are wrong.

6) Eventually, after fifty or sixty years, the subject of discussion just changes. In the case of cholesterol, the evidence gets weaker and weaker, and the problems caused by too much sugar consumption (obesity, diabetes), caused in part by people not eating enough fats and meats, reaches a stage where it can no longer be ignored.

7) the retreat of the orthodoxy is covered by a smokescreen of fresh concerns for some other catastrophe. No admissions of error or apologies for wrecked careers and following bad science are ever issued. Time flows on, bringing neither knowledge nor greater understanding of the role of folly in human affairs.

8) stages 6 and 7 have been reached in the cholesterol cycle; they are beginning in the anthropogenic global warming scam. Fifty years from now, there will still be clanking windmills in the North Sea, but whether they will be still linked to a power grid is less likely, and whether anyone will pay attention is doubtful. The lobbies that keep them there, however, will still exist.

 

These long term fashions in intolerant error should cause all people to question the intelligence and wisdom of the human species. I call these schools of thought and action “phologiston”,  after a disproven but thousand-year-old Greek theory of what fire was.

There are two major sources of metaphorical phlogiston in modern society: the climate people and the medical profession.

Phlogiston is the ancient term for a substance that was imputed to exist in all things  that prevented combustion. Phlogiston was necessary in a Greek idea of a universe. Without phlogiston, everything would burn, because it was in the nature of all things to seek to rise from the four sub-lunary elements below (earth, air, fire , water) to the empyrean , the zone beyond fire, outside the orbits of the five planets around the earth. This was the hidden metaphysical postulate, which they never questioned. (All summaries of obsolete world views make them look ridiculous; they were not, they were merely in error).

If all things naturally wanted to burn up, then something must prevent combustion, and this substance was called “phlogiston”. From premise to assumed force. No one questioned the premise for more than a thousand years.

So when Priestly and Lavoisier said that combustion was a process of  oxygenation, and proved it by showing that certain things gained weight when burned, phlogiston lost credibility to a newer, chemical idea of burning.

Note that phlogiston is an idea predicated on a larger world view, and is  introduced to explain the operations of that world view. That things do not normally burn is something that needs explanation in the Greek world view.

Correspondingly, in the modern world view in North America and Europe, the fact that needs explaining – I propose for your consideration –  is “why are we so rich?” and the answer we get out of post-Christian secularized guilt is: “We must have done something wrong.”

The assumption of a secularized guilt is the underlying assumption. Heart attacks are  punishment for overindulgence in highly nutritious food; global warming is punishment for our thoughtless depredations upon Gaia. A future perspective may laugh at the modern human propensity to consider prosperity and health as occasions for guilt, just as we denigrate the Greeks for assuming all things want to burn their way to the empyrean sphere of a geocentric universe.

I tell you folks, the longer I live, the more truth I see in Chesterton’s remark – attributed to him – that when people cease to believe in God, the more likely they are to believe any nonsense that comes their way. Save your beliefs for absurdities like the Christian religion, and keep your mind clear to detect the bullshit constantly propagated in the material world.  It will not lack for targets, I assure you.