Barrel Strength

Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

Barrel Strength - Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

Mr. Harper? Sir? You ARE awake.

The Liberals are running against tax cuts? Some days, the prime minister must need to close the door and just simply have his laugh. (When I saw Trudeau’s remarks about income-splitting, my wife thought I was having a fit.) No matter how valid the criticisms of yesterday’s package might be, there is one ineffaceable image in my mind – the manager of a household comparing a pay stub or tax return with a list of monthly expenses before rounding up the partner and heading out to vote.

A reminder to “root cause” apologists

From the Protein Wisdom blog on the wages of appeasement, as true now as it was in 2005:

Overheard inside a Najaf bunker

First militant:  “You know, Qasim, I’m really beginning to like this Cindy Sheehan infidel.  Unusual to find an uncovered cur so willing to sing the heavenly music of Truth.”*

Second militant: “I agree, brother.  When we conquer the Great Satan and take his land by force of fiery sword, we shall have to remember to slit her throat last.”*

First militant:  “Exactly.  Allah be praised.”

Second militant: “Allah be praised.

Takimag peddling the old lefty-Canada shibboleth

The always entertaining TakiMag is pissing me off. In particular, its two resident Canadian writers, Gavin McInnes and Kathy Shaidle, are peddling a line of crap to their American readership.  The country they discuss – Canada- is not the one I live in. The fact they are peddling this line suggests it is what the American readership, or editorial direction, expects of their Canadian correspondents.

Generations of multicultural pandering have turned Canadians soft, and even before the shooting we were hearing about how crucial it is to reserve judgment regarding Islam. On Monday morning, another radicalized nut job, Martin Couture-Rouleau, assassinated Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent by smashing into him with his car. Instead of getting angry, Canadians called for tolerance. They refused to call the terrorist a terrorist and insisted it was some poor, disenfranchised youth who was mad at us for taking too long to renew his passport

My point is, this is the only version of Canada that American conservatives read or hear. The stereotype remains a Canada fixed in the Trudeau-era that passed away by 1984, thirty years ago.

“Instead of getting angry, Canadians called for tolerance”.

Exactly who, Mr. McInnes? Some flakes at the Toronto Star?

When you consider that the American electorate has twice selected as President an academic wanker who got there because he appeared a) mulatto and b) intellectual, it takes some gall to assert that Canada is in thrall to leftism. Nine years of Harper and the message still has not changed.

Taki Theodoracopoulos, there are Canadian conservatives  who would be happy to pen an essay or two for you, whose views of Canada are not stuck in the past. Shaidle and McInnes, take a look at the United States, and tell me if you sincerely believe Canada to be more left-wing in 2014. Stop catering to this idiotic view!

The arrogant Mr. Kay has it partly right

“Please get a grip, folks. This is not “war.” It’s one Islamist-inspired lunatic killing one guy and then getting killed in a famous building” While referring to a fallen soldier as ‘one guy’ is singularly infelicitous, and something I suspect he regrets, it is true that the murders of Canadian Forces personnel and the assault on Parliament are not deeply significant. However, we really are in a war with Islamic extremists and their abettors. At the fringes, troubled or variously motivated individuals will commit what security forces sometimes call ‘spectaculars’ – low-risk, high-publicity attacks like the Boston bombings. Unlike the World Trade Center, London and Madrid attacks which required coordination and training, anyone possessed of a firearm, edged weapon or chemistry set and bus fare can commit one of these crimes, make headlines and unfortunately influence behaviours, attitudes and policies. As a civilization at war with barbarism, we must expect  these attacks, maintain our values and keep what Mr. Kay so condescendingly called our ‘grip’. But we must show our citizens that we can and do fight back. Bombing ISIL is not quite pointless, but it does at least show resolve. A review of immigration policy would actually mean something, but we are not yet wounded, frightened and angry enough for meaningful action.

We will not start getting this right until we can say what Islam is

I said it before. I will say it again. If a man dressed up as a Nazi and hurled abuse at Jews and spoke of the Jewish plot to control the world, people would connect the dots between the doctrines espoused and the man’s belief in Hitler’s vision. But when a Muslim, recent convert or not,  kills people for Islam, and says he is doing so for Islam, they will NOT connect the dots between the doctrines of Islam and the behaviour they observe. He is not killing people because he was deprived as a kid. He is killing people because his religion authorizes, condones, encourages, and indeed commands him to. What religion is that? The one he espouses: Islam.

Calling him a terrorist, is beside the point. He is an orthodox Muslim. He is taking the Koran seriously. The Koran authorizes and condones this sort of behaviour. Is this not obvious? Then when are we going to start to deal with Islam as if it were a totalitarian and murderous ideology?


The Nationalization of the Family

Your meme for today is the phrase Mark Steyn is touting as the catch-all explanation for Western cultural decline: the nationalization of the family.

My problem with Steyn is a complete inability to think of any better explanation when I read him.

The lure of cosmic cultural pessimism is strong, and the 20th and 21st centuries offer much confirmation that Western civilization is in the tank.

But for every Spengler, or David Bentley Hart, life offers rational optimists, like Matt Ridley. And to tell you the truth, I do not know where I sit between these uncomfortable prophets of doom and the dwellers in the sunny uplands of improvement.

The obvious point is that the physical circumstances of life are improving for all, and the cultural milieu in which we live is largely the wasteland of post-Christianity. And some react to the wasteland by going for the black and white certainties of Islam.

Multicultiuralism and anti-whitism have left us defenceless before the Ebola of religions.

The Bell Curve, 20 Years later

Twenty years ago Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray published The Bell Curve. It had the effect of a large stone thrown into the still pond of “settled science”.
a) there is such a thing as g, general intelligence
b) it is largely heritable
b) IQ tests measure g quite well
c) IQ test outcomes predict a great many social results, including propensities to success or pathologies with better accuracy than any other measure, including years of education, family income, and social status;
d) social factors interact with genetic endowments, and
e) IQ results differ by race.

The Left has been in paroxysms of rage and denial ever since.

Charles Murray was interviewed about the Bell Curve recently in the policy blog of the American Enterprise Institute. Here is a snippet. Go the article for more.

American political and social life today is pretty much one great big “Q.E.D.” for the two main theses of “The Bell Curve.” Those theses were, first, that changes in the economy over the course of the 20th century had made brains much more valuable in the job market; second, that from the 1950s onward, colleges had become much more efficient in finding cognitive talent wherever it was and shipping that talent off to the best colleges. We then documented all the ways in which cognitive ability is associated with important outcomes in life — everything from employment to crime to family structure to parenting styles. Put those all together, we said, and we’re looking at some serious problems down the road. Let me give you a passage to quote directly from the close of the book:

Predicting the course of society is chancy, but certain tendencies seem strong enough to worry about:

An increasingly isolated cognitive elite.
A merging of the cognitive elite with the affluent.
A deteriorating quality of life for people at the bottom end of the cognitive distribution.

Unchecked, these trends will lead the U.S. toward something resembling a caste society, with the underclass mired ever more firmly at the bottom and the cognitive elite ever more firmly anchored at the top, restructuring the rules of society so that it becomes harder and harder for them to lose. (p. 509)

Remind you of anything you’ve noticed about the US recently?


Platists versus platterists

As you were growing up, were you served on a plate? Then your family were Platists. Did you serve yourself from a platter passed around on the table?  Then your family were Platterists.

The difference in family style may explain a lot. Platists control the food portions. Mother and dad served the plates. The food was arranged. You got the food they thought you should eat. You got the portions, the kinds of food, and the amounts of food that they thought were appropriate. Platists are top-down directors, and the children are taught from the beginning that what is required is to eat the food on the plate, whether or not they want it. It is superfluous to tell a child to eat its vegetables, say, when he has not served himself any. A Platist parent is always telling the child to eat up the food he has been served, because the decision as to what the child is to get has been made by the authority.

Platterists, by contrast, pass the food around on a big platter. You get the food in the amount you choose, within limits set by the hunger of others at the table. The decision as to what to eat has been devolved to the child. Mother might tell a child to eat some vegetables, but that is not the same as deciding how many or of what type to place on a plate.

I was brought up in a Platist household. My mother had had servants in her youth, and never questioned the assumption that food was something that was to be served. She and dad became both the distributors of food. The child  might be consulted, but whether his plate was loaded with disgusting turnips or not was not the child’s choice.

My wife was brought up in a Platist household, where five pork chops were bought for five people. There were no leftovers, by design. The only time they experienced plenty was at the Sunday lunch, where they served themselves from a platter.

How can you tell when another person has been brought up in a Platist household? There is one infallible sign. After the main course has been eaten, they take the plates out to the kitchen, but before the dessert is served, they attack the haunches of meat served for dinner like ravenous beasts, because they have not eaten enough of the main course.

I once knew a most elegant lady, at whose home I dined. Her taste and comportment were impeccable.  After the main course,  I took my plate out to the kitchen. She was already there, ripping wings off the chicken carcase, fingers greasy, and scoffing it down as if she were hungry. I knew immediately what kind of family she came from, one like mine, one where you never got enough to eat at dinner. It had never occurred to us from Platist households that the purpose of dinner was to satisfy hunger. For a Platist, dinner was a long exercise in self control, and overcoming or managing one’s dislikes of dreadful food. Hunger was something you satisfied in raids on the fridge, or stripping the thighs off the chicken in the kitchen, after dinner.

Platterist families, when I first encountered them, seemed a little odd. You mean you can actually pass a plate of food around at a dinner table? And not knock over the glasses? Shocking. And there is no authority deciding how much you get? Only the desire not to appear too piggy restrains the inner barbarian? Wow!

Since having eaten with Ukrainian, Italian and Jewish families, where the assumption was that, if you had food, you should not go hungry,  I have come to wonder whether Platism is of British origin.

Anthropologists need to explore the implications of Platism and Platterism in more depth. A doctorate lies here somewhere. As most politics is the playing out of how you were raised, and what roles father and mother had, the differences between Platism and Platterism may be the basis of some attention-grabbing pseudo-science for someone somewhere.