What science fiction got wrong

We were drinking at Irene’s the other night, guys of a certain age. We were contemplating what science fiction got wrong, what assumptions science fiction writers made in the 1960s that did prove true.

If you were young in the sixties, you were exposed to Robert Heinlein, J.G. Ballard, A.E.Van Vogt, and many others. One man who appears more and more significant as time passes is Philip K. Dick, 1928-1982, whose stories have been the basis of numerous science fiction movies, most notably Blade Runner, but also including Johnny Mnemomic, Total Recall, Minority Report and others. I have just finished reading a handsome hardback compendium of four of Dick’s most significant short stories.



Philip Kindred Dick, 1928-1982

It is curious and interesting that Dick was no better at predicting the technical attributes of what was, in 1965,  the near future of 2015, than any of the more conventional science fiction writers. Despite imagining psychoactive drugs engendering collective participatory social hallucinations, and the commercial battles for world control that would come from such hallucinogenic drugs, he was as unable as Heinlein to imagine how different the world would be socially from 1965 to 2016. Moreover, the common theme of the science fiction writers was that transportation would be the area of human endeavour   subject to the greatest changes, not communications and computers.

Thus, for all of them, it seems, it was possible to conceive of colonizing Mars by 2015, but that women would still work as secretaries answering telephones. There would still be switchboards, and paper messages left by one’s secretary.

It is quite bizarre, how completely unforeseen was the effect of the computer in the science fiction of the era 1950-1975.

Today, contrary to the order foreseen by the imaginations of 1965, the communications revolution is invading transportation. The combination of massive computer power, and ubiquitous wireless networks, will keep driverless cars on the road and not colliding. What will Google do with all the terabytes of information that the automated car will collect every block, every mile of driving? It will process the information to improve the algorithms governing the car. Cars increasingly are computers with engines and wheels attached.

You have probably heard the story of the poor computer who (should I say “which”?) was tricked by humans into talking and responding like a devoted Nazi? It is going to take as much learning as a human has to go through to prevent  other humans from conning the interface bot into a completely false appreciation of reality. How do humans treat the rube from the country? the sucker born every minute? We con them. We cannot help it.  We engender lack of trust and a resulting degree of skepticism in younger minds as a cruel duty.

If every science fiction writer I know assumed that transportation was going to be revolutionized first, and computers and their social impacts were almost completely unforeseen, then how good are we at envisioning the future, thirty to forty years out?

Which is a way of saying that Nicholas Taleb was on to something vitally important in The Black Swan. There is the known, the (known) unknown, and the unknowable, and of all of them, the unknowable is an immensity beyond …knowing.

We will rely massively on driverless cars long before we have colonies on Mars. That is predictable now. Thus it is safe to say that, projecting forty years out, society will be different in ways we cannot now imagine. Whatever that change is, it will have nothing to do with Islam, the role of women, energy policy, gay rights, human fertility and reproduction, or anthropogenic global warming. It will be unimaginable.



Indomitable: Cherokee Guns

Admiral Yamamoto, he who designed the Pearl harbor attack, had been a Japanese naval attaché in Washington before World War 2. He travelled extensively in the United States and learned English. He warned his army colleagues that America was unconquerable. He said that, from coast to coast every American home was filled with weapons and that  the people were adept at using them. The Japanese Army paid him no attention. See where it got them. See below.


cherokee guns

All Trump, all the time,,,part(10)

Last Christmas I bet Captain Walrus $100 that Trump was going to be President, and that he would beat Hillary “like a baby seal”, to steal a phrase from a southern Democrat political operative. Captain Walrus gleefully reminds me of the bet and looks forward to taking a crisp $100 from me, as I look forward to eating steak and wine on his money. People tend to become convinced of their views.

I have been watching the National Post in this regard with some wry amusement. Kelly McParland has been raving about Trump as a buffoon bigot anti-Christ. I used to concern myself with his views until I realized that he had abandoned being a journalist – a recorder of facts and analyzer of reality – and was acting under the influence of Trump Derangement Syndrome, as I am sure many other liberals and high minded people are.



Thus Michael Den Tandt’s column this morning was of considerable interest, for its evidence that the ideological ship of the National Post was beginning to make a slow course correction.

The day Donald J. Trump is sworn in as president of the United States, the received wisdom holds, pigs will fly and snowballs freeze in hell. But consider this: The received wisdom about The Donald has been wrong, dead wrong, at every previous turn. It may be wrong now.

If I were appraising  these two men as military intelligence officers, I would have had McParland sent to the infantry for complete failure, and Den Tandt dressed down for failing to appreciate the correlation of forces soon enough.

  • Trump is sweeping US primaries, pulling in two million more votes than Romney did in the previous series.
  • Positions that he took six months ago, such as paying to keep Syrian refugees in Turkey, were ridiculed at the time and constitute Angela Merkel’s policy today.
  • Democrats are worried about Hillary both as a candidate and for her vulnerability to indictment on the keeping of official emails on a private server. (Only in the US, you say).

It is, to my mind, absolutely obvious that Trump will be the next US President. As Mudcat Saunders, the aforementioned southern Democrat operative, says:

“Working class whites in the South have already departed the Democratic Party for cultural reasons. Well the working class whites in the North are now deserting the Democrats because of economic reasons,” Mudcat told TheDC. He added, “this is the new age of economic populism, man. This is about survival for a lot of people.”

He added, “Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have very similar messages; they’re just dressed in different clothes. I think you’re going to see a lot of Sanders people jump to Trump.”

To be a conservative is to admit the possibility of being wrong. I could be very wrong. But I am unapologetic for my thinking that America goes through great mood swings, and they are going through one now. This somewhat effete detached academic they have had for a President for the past seven years has been given his run, and now they want a new coach for their team, and they will have him. And it will not be her. As Trump said of Hillary, “If Hillary were a man, she’d only win 5% of the vote”.
I would refer you to the blog of Scott Adams, author of Dilbert, for consistently the best and most insightful appreciation of why Trump is winning. He will beat Hillary “like a baby seal”.
I am reminded of Brian Mulroney’s observation of Justin Trudeau before Trudeau became Prime Minister: “what’s not to like?”. Mulroney was acting as an analyst, not a partisan, when he said that. In a like manner, mildly anti-Trump people, those not yet persuaded, need to open their minds to ponder the possibility of his inevitability. Trump is not just getting the votes of the yokels, but of the college educated as well.
Do not be fooled by liberal condescension. Trump will be taking the oath of office of President of the United States of America and most people in liberal circles will still be stunned and disbelieving.

Lifting the gross national product with a set of tongs

The expression I use for a category error is “like trying to lift the gross national product with a set of tongs”. I could just as well say “he is trying to surf on a crime wave.” You cannot apprehend a statistical abstraction, such as the GDP, or a crime wave, with a physical object, a tool you hold in the hand, or a front-end loader.

Thus I was entertained by a recent interview with cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman in Quanta Magazine.

The virtue of Donald Hoffman is that he takes the conclusions of quantum physics seriously, and he addresses some issues underlying the attacks on neuroscience launched by Raymond Tallis and others. Says the article on Hoffman:

“while neuroscientists struggle to understand how there can be such a thing as a first-person reality, quantum physicists have to grapple with the mystery of how there can be anything but a first-person reality”

As you read the interview, it is apparent that Hoffman is using the worldview of quantum physics – the interaction of consciousness with matter – to put questions to an evolutionary account of human consciousness.

The argument of Hoffman tends to say that because we humans only evolve to greater fitness, we do not necessarily evolve to apprehend truth. We evolve mental apprehensions of danger, for example, called “snakes” or “traps” or “poison mushrooms”. We learn to avoid them.

Hoffman goes much further, however, by asserting that “physics tells us there are no public physical objects.” I do not believe quantum physics necessarily implies this conclusion. The many commentators on this article in Quanta magazine also appear to agree that Hoffman goes too far in that regard.

However, Hoffman takes proper aim at the neuroscientific community for failing to advance their ideas of physics from Newton to Heisenberg, from Einstein to John Wheeler.

“Not only are they ignoring the progress in fundamental physics, they are often explicit about it. They’ll say openly that quantum physics is not relevant to the aspects of brain function that are causally involved in consciousness. They are certain that it’s got to be classical properties of neural activity, which exist independent of any observer…. And then [neuroscientists] are mystified as to why they don’t make progress. They don’t avail themselves of the incredible insights and breakthroughs that physics has made. Those insights are out there for us to use, and yet my field says, “We’ll stick with Newton, thank you. We’ll stay 300 years behind in our physics.”

The many commentators on this interview provide some important perspectives, corrections and suggested readings on issues such as materialism and the role of consciousness in nature. Those who seem well grounded in philosophy accuse Hoffman of self-refuting solipsism, and more, and worse. It is an education to read them.


At first glance, it seems that Hoffman may have modernized his physics but has fallen too far into his own metaphors of consciousness as a user-illusion.By this I mean that he sees the picture that consciousness brings us is like the screen on a computer: it provides the representation of where “files” may be found in the computer, but it is not a circuit diagram and provides no insights as to how the computer works behind the screen.

I would offer the writing of Raymond Tallis as a much deeper and philosophically literate examiner of these issues of consciousness, evolution, and the adequacy of Darwin to get us to where we are.

Raymond Tallis is a British physician and intellectual who holds that neuroscience is in the grips of what he calls Darwinitis and neuromania. By this he means that, by adopting a strictly materialist position on the evolution and operation of of consciousness, we have failed to begin to understand issues such as intentionality, culture, meaning, and what it is like to be human.

All true. I recommend Tallis highly. His take on Darwin is insightful. He considers that evolutionary explanations fail to explain any form of consciousness. Here is a sampling, taken from Aping Mankind (2014) at page 183:

Much of the strength of the case for a Darwinian account of the human person and human society lies, as we saw, in the way language is used to anthropomorphize animal behaviour and animalize human behaviour. The case for the neuralization of consciousness and, in particular, human consciousness has also depended on the misuse of language, but with Neuromania the lexical trickery goes much deeper. While Darwinitis requires  its believers only to impute human characteristics to animals (and vice versa), Neuromania demands of  its adepts that they should ascribe human characteristics to physical processes taking place in the brain.

I cite Dawkins’ “selfish genes” meme, as a prime example of the ascription of human characteristics to physical processes. For a telling attack on Dawkins I recommend David Stove’s “Darwinian Fairytales“, (2006) essay 7, Genetic Calvinism, or Demons and Dawkins, which is scathing as well as funny.

And for something completely different,that is, an interpretation which sees the neuromania and Darwinitis as manifestation of a deep seated attack by the hyper-rationalist and over-developed part of the brain on our intuitive and connecting aspects of our minds, you might like Iain McGilchrist’s “The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World.”



The history of a fraud




Margaret Wente ‘s column in the Globe today exposes the history of the cholesterol fad/fraud succinctly and comprehensively. After recounting the same family eating habits as mine were: 3.25% butterfat milk, marbled steak (when we could afford it), butter on toast, she writes as follows:

That was in the 1950s. Nobody was fat, except for one lone girl at school who everybody picked on. Most kids ate like horses and were skinny as rakes.

Then the experts came along and declared that all that fat was killing us. Whole milk was banished from children’s diets so that they would not develop clogged arteries and heart disease in later life. To keep our cholesterol in check, we began to ration eggs and treat butter like a toxic substance. We gave up our juicy, marbled steaks and switched to pasta. Ever since the 1960s, the authorities have told us that a healthy diet is a low-fat diet.

The results were not what they had hoped. Obesity rates soared, but heart disease did not subside. And now, a mountain of new evidence says the experts were all wrong. One Harvard study found that people who had consumed the most dairy fat were far less likely to develop heart disease. Researchers at Oxford University discovered that the biggest consumers of saturated fat in Europe – the French – also have the healthiest hearts. Last year, a major review in The BMJ, a leading medical journal, found that “saturated fats are not associated” with mortality, heart disease, strokes or Type 2 diabetes. As Ian Leslie, writing in The Guardian, puts it, “The promotion of low-fat diets was a 40-year fad, with disastrous outcomes, conceived of, authorized, and policed by nutritionists.”

The modern history of nutrition science is fraught with controversy, flawed theory, faulty research, vested interests, suppression of evidence, and vicious battles between the old guard and the insurgents. They’re still fighting. But it’s clear that a lot of what your Food Guide says is flat-out wrong.

My own physician, who is as conscientious and diligent as one could hope for, is still in the grip of the “good” cholesterol/ “bad” cholesterol paradigm. I imagine that many physicians are like him, trying to get people to have less fat in their diets. They got their marching orders decades ago from bad science that was enforced by group think. Does that remind you of a current ideological craze?

If you are interested in the story of cholesterol as a dietary ideology, you may find Nina Teicholz’ Big Fat Surprise just the ticket. If you are still eating margarine, or a “Mediterranean diet”, if you avoid butter fats for any other reason than your taste, or allergies, if you are still concerned that fat in the diet amounts to fat on your body, you are still in the grip of the cholesterol craze.

You know, dear readers, where this is going. If 97% of dietary experts agree that fat in the diet amounts to a health risk, what are you to make of the science of dietary cholesterol? The same thing as you are to make of claims that 97% of scientists agree that humans are causing global warming.

I have written before on the long sad story of cholesterol and its analogy to anthropogenic global warming. Also here.

The analogy is precise and productive. However, in the case of global warming, we are attempting to stop a process which may not be occurring and which has much larger implications. Energy consumption is not part of our lives; it is the basis of everything we do. This is not a change of diet, in the sense of what nutrition we put into our bodies. This is a change of how we power our houses, cars, transport, elevators, buildings. It is a matter not of calories but of terajoules of energy.

Margaret Wente will not be fired for her column. By contrast, Rex Murphy had to leave the Globe and Mail in 2010 after his full scale denunciation of the AGW scare. It has now become safe to observe that dietary scientists and the economic interests it entrained (the vegetable oil industry, in particular) were entirely wrong. The different outcomes illustrate how much the cholesterol fraud has had its day. We will know when the AGW fraud is over when it is dismissed in the same terms and with the same safety as Margaret Wente, to her credit, did to cholesterol today.


New and important: practicable space exploration



Yuri Milner, a Russian zillionaire, is proposing to spend $100 million on light sail driven space probes that could reach Alpha Centauri within about 20 years. He has recruited Stephen Hawking to shill for him and has enlisted Mark Zuckerberg for his board of directors.

Alpha Centauri is the closest star to us, at 4 light-years. The light sails are expected to be accelerated to 1/5th C, the speed of light, by a powerful laser.

At noon [yesterday, in fact] today, Yuri Milner, the Russian tech billionaire, will join Stephen Hawking atop Manhattan’s Freedom Tower, where the pair will announce Starshot, a $100 million dollar research program, the latest of Milner’s “Breakthrough Initiatives.” (Mark Zuckerberg will serve on Starshot’s board, alongside Milner and Hawking.) With the money, Milner hopes to prove that a probe could make the journey to Alpha Centauri in only 20 years.

It was great to hear some hopeful news for a change.

On reflection, it is obvious that our own planet’s system might well have been mapped by tiny invisible cameras carried by light sails from another star system in any age past. Going further afield from our mechanistic 21st century headspace, we might allow ourselves to consider the view held by Terence McKenna. He held that the most practical way to get to distant stars is by spores travelling through the depths of cold, foodless, and irradiated space. His view – or, according to what the psychedelic mushrooms told him – their story, was that the mushrooms he ingested travelled as spores between star systems, and can colonize any carbon based system, and communicate with the minds of those that happen to eat them.

If you think this method of interstellar travel and communication is weirder than micron-thin lightsails being sent by lasers, that is merely a local and chronic (centred on our own time) prejudice. Expand the range of allowed possibilities. There is no reason to consider current human technologies, and human-only communications, as the only ways to get around this galaxy.

McKenna’s True Hallucinations is well worth a read. And if a taste for psychedelics makes me a bad conservative…I offer no apologies. The same taste made me immune to all materialistic doctrines: marxism, materialism, reductionism, freudianism, and any of the nonsense so well described in Roger Scruton’s Fools, Frauds and Firebrands.



The Long March takes a Great Leap Forward

Mao Dear Diary:

Well, it’s official now. The stunningly successful Long March of the Left through Canadian institutions – aided and abetted by the world’s most compliant media establishment – has taken another Great Leap Forward. In doing so it has placed the nation’s intellectual leadership into the hands of Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis – both of whom have, as journalists, been bringing you objective reporting on world events for years now.

Forget that the difference between the Leap Manifesto adopted by the NDP at its Edmonton convention this week contrasts rather dramatically with Mao’s Leap agenda in that, unlike their beloved Chairman (right), today’s progressives favour the de-industrialization of society and a return to what appears to be a more agrarian existence. And forget that the adoption of the same brings an end to the the NDP’s long history of looking out for the working man.

Naomi Klein

Every major union in the country is now fully committed to an agenda – and will use their memberships’ dues to pursuit it – that calls for “shifting to an economy in balance with earth’s limits.”

They do not care that under the guidance of Klein and Lewis (yes, the former CBC and Al-Jazeera man and son of Stephen son of David: the ailment appears to be genetic) the jobs of every auto worker, shipyard worker, airport worker, miner, auto mechanic, pipe fitter, refinery worker, oil & gas worker and oh so many others need to disappear. Now.

(Update: the Leap Manifesto is not official party policy yet – it was approved to take forward to constituency associations, etc. for more debate/approval. We were working from media reporters that stated “NDP adopts Leap Manifesto.” We should have learned not to trust media (insert face palm emoticon) and apologize to any of Barrelstrength’s many left of centre readers for any distress we may have caused them resulting in a need for the urgent establishment of ideologically safe spaces. Nevertheless, the manifesto did receive the support of a sizeable percentage of the delegates on hand.)

Oh, and because “the time for energy democracy has come; we believe not just in changes to our energy sources, but that wherever possible communities should collectively control these new energy systems,” the era of private industry and entrepreneurship is coming (we all apparently hope) as well.

Avi Lewis

To be fair the Leap Manifesto, while prioritizing Caring for the Earth, does mention “and Caring for each other.” But it sure doesn’t give a tinker’s damn about caring for one of its own. Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley, who’s passionate plea to that it was time to look more charitably upon Alberta and it’s 100,000-plus laid off workers (yes, workers – anyone remember them?) was completely ignored because “Canada’s record on climate change is a crime against humanity’s future.”

To say ignored is to understate. Lewis and Klein want an end to pipelines and tanker traffic. Right now. And they want resources left in the ground. Right now. The Leap Manifesto, implemented, kills Canada’s resources industries to put an end to these “crimes.” Notley, who recently stopped wearing her Che Guevara watch, is now trying to live life as a grownup.

The folks in the Hague are certainly going to be busy prosecuting those who have been creating happy, prosperous lives for humanity because, if Canada’s 2% contribution to global emissions constitutes a “crime against humanity,” President Obama and a lot of other world leaders – including those in the Persian Gulf who used to pay young Avi’s salary at Al-Jazeera, better start lawyering up.

Speaking of throwing people under the bus, the convention also dumped leader Thomas Mulcair. So, this should be fun. Except that this one’s in the bag. Nathan Cullen, the camera-ready eco-indigenous-Great Spirit Bear-worshipping MP from Skeena-Bulkley Valley who won the hearts but not the minds of NDP delegates at the last leadership convention, has this one in the bag.

Our first reaction, Dear Diary, is that this will drive the Green vote and the who cares about money when the world is filled with unicorns vote that fled to our current PM last October, back to the NDP. But, on second thought, it’s more likely said PM will just yoga harder to outleap The Leap. So, say goodbye to reason, say goodbye to pipelines and say goodbye to Alberta and Saskatchewan as part of Confederation.

We say the latter because compared to the intellectual insanities listed above, Hillary Clinton qualifies as a right-wing kook and could be president of the United States come next year.

Failing that and given her absolutely dismal appeal as a campaigner to anyone outside the Dem0cratric National Committee, we are of the view that a truly happy scenario involves Ted Cruz – what’s not to love about a son of a pastor, climate change-denying Harvard Law School grad? – becoming POTUS.

If that happens, the Keystone pipeline will be approved, Alberta and Saskatchewan will have the salt water access they need and they will merrily tell Avi, Naomi, Seth and others whose embrace of the climate change agenda reveals its true purpose to go Leap themselves.

On yet another cheerful note, for the first time in five years we slept in something other than the fetal position following a Canadian election last Monday night despite staying up past midnight to follow every fart and piddle of the Saskatchewan election.

Who every thought following down to the wire races in Saskatoon Fairview and Regina Pasqua could be so inspiring?

And who among us wouldn’t fit better in the riding of Estevan (oil country) where Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party took 5,386 votes. The NDP candidate, who edged out the PCer (yes, a handful still exist in some sort of post-apocalyptic mutation) by 17 votes, finished second with 627 votes.

As Wall said on election night, “God bless this Province.”

Yes, people still say this things. In Canada. Out loud.

This past weekend, April 9 marked the 99th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge – often considered the moment when Canada emerged from its adolescence and asserted its true independence from Britain by taking matters into its own hand and not taking orders from upper class twits. On that day, 3,598 young Canadian men died and 7,000 others were wounded.

Ninety nine years later, students on this continent cry themselves to sleep worrying about gender-neutral bathrooms and demand “safe spaces” when someone writes “Trump 2016” in chalk on a sidewalk.

Nothing is more illustrative of the wisdom once bestowed upon us that while civilization may be thousands of years old, it is never more than one generation deep. Something has gone terribly wrong.


Race and IQ: changing my mind

This is an official announcement: I have changed my mind about something. Or maybe it is more accurate to say that new evidence is opening my mind to other possibilities – as it should. For the longest time I was persuaded, on rational grounds, that the gap in the United States between whites and black IQ scores was a largely genetic issue (approximately 70-80 percent) . After all, better scientists than I argued this way in The Bell Curve. Richard Lynn also argued this way, on possibly weaker statistical grounds.

The success of a couple of generations of children of African immigrants in the United States has damaged the credibility of theories predicated on inherited IQ.

I cite Chanda Chisala in the Unz Review:


The fact that black immigrants to the United States have shown achievements that are superior to native black Americans has been a phenomenon studied since at least the 1970′s. At first it was just the Caribbean blacks who were a subject of this unexpected outcome. As black Africans kept immigrating into the US, they showed even higher levels of achievement than the native blacks. Many scholars theorized on the reasons for these differences, from Thomas Sowell’s proposal that this disproved the validity of discrimination against native blacks as an explanation for their underachievement (Sowell, 1978), to other scholars who suggested that these immigrants were just the most highly driven members of their home countries as evidenced by their willingness to migrate to a foreign country (Butcher, 1990).

What most of these theories failed to predict was that the children of these immigrants would also show exceptional achievements, especially academically. It is only in recent years, as the immigrants have stayed long enough to produce a sufficiently high number of offspring, that it has been observed that they are over-represented among high academic achievers, especially when compared to native blacks, particularly at very elite institutions. What has been missed in the IQ debate is the full logical implication of these achievements: they have effectively nullified any arguments for a racial evolutionary explanation of the well-known IQ test score gap between blacks and whites. Even more fatal for the racial hereditarian side of the debate has been the corroborating data of school children performance in the UK, particularly when the black Africans are divided into their respective nationalities and tribal ethnicities, as reported in the latter section of this article.

The article is long but worth reading for those who concern themselves with such issues.


Thomas Sowell, a thinker and researcher at the Hoover Institute at Harvard, has argued that American blacks adopted the culture of the Scotch-Irish crackers who surrounded them. The book is called Black Rednecks and White Liberals, published in 2005. Thus a good deal of what is blamed on black ghetto culture is ascribed to ne’er do well hillbillies from whom the African slaves picked up ideas of work, child rearing, and social display. Sowell’s argument says that African Americans should not be indulged by white liberals in what he thinks is a loser culture; whether that culture arose from contact with rednecks or whether it arose from other causes is not ultimately of vital interest to Sowell. He is concerned of the use made by white liberals of American blacks.

“A crucial fact about white liberals must be kept in mind: they are not simply in favor of blacks in general. Their solicitude is poured out  for blacks as victims, blacks as welfare mothers, criminals, political activists against the larger society, as well as those blacks who serve as general counter-cultural symbols against the larger society.” (p.57)

Sowell’s concern has been the development of a black identity fetish since the 1960s, where being authentically “black” has been associated with low achievement, where earning and culture have been depicted as “acting white”. Harry Belafonte, a Caribbean immigrant to the United States, turned  on Colin Powell, another successful Caribbean black immigrant, who had been Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff of the US military, by calling him a “house nigger”.

Sowell maintains a strongly “culturalist” explanation of apparent racial differences. The interesting thing about Chanda Chisala’s article and the evidence it cites is that we have a much stronger basis for considering cultural explanations to be better grounded now than the genetic one, for supposedly racial IQ differences. This is a cause for hope, perhaps, that some things can be changed for the better.

Sailing the oily seas of everyone’s wars on the West

oil tankers


Dear Diary:

We are often critical of mainstream media, but today we begin with a chapeau for Ryan Jespersen of Edmonton’s AM 630 CHED radio for his interview with the Prime Minister last week.

Following a listener’s puff ball question about whether or not the anointed one uses French’s ketchup (Sophie apparently prefers something exotic and organic) and an excruciating dodge to a query as to why it’s OK for eastern Canada to import oil from disgraceful dictatorships but not from Alberta, Jespersen asked, at the 4:40 mark  about the ban on northwest coast tanker traffic. Apparently, the answer is not only that the region is environmentally sensitive, it is that 20,000 British Columbians earn their living in that region in the fishing and tourism industries.

But then Jespersen asks about why, if that is so, there is also not a ban on east coast tanker traffic and the answer is gobbledigook. Which got us thinking: do people not fish or work in the tourism industries on Canada’s east coast? Are the pristine beaches of PEI, the beluga habitats of the St. Lawrence, the world-renowned tidal waters of the Bay of Fundy and the fjords of Newfoundland not “environmentally sensitive?”

Well, apparently there are no fishers or tour guides or sensitive areas anywhere there or, if there are, it is certainly not a matter of concern for anyone in high office in Ottawa these days as the government’s own statistics  show there is 16 times more tanker traffic -3,890 vs 246vessels – in Canada’s Atlantic waters than there are plying our Pacific waters. Further, while 2.2 million tonnes of oil are annually shipped out of Vancouver, 12 times as much oil and petroleum products move through Quebec’s ports alone.

The amount of oil moving in and out of ports in the Atlantic provinces is 82 million tonnes, roughly 40 times more than the entire B.C. volume.

So, we ask again on behalf of Mr. Jespersen: if tourism and fishing and environmental sensitive are reasons for no tankers on the west coast, why aren’t those same reasons applied to the east coast? Oh, never mind – we know the answer and so do you.

Say a prayer for British author Ian McEwan from whom apologies are being demanded for his “hurtful” and dangerous assertion that “call me old fashioned but I tend to think of people with penises as men.”

This shocking comment followed his lecture to the Royal Institution on the “nature of the self” where he expressed concern for the bothersome levels of political correctness and “strange sense of victimhood” sweeping university campuses.

“Such self-authorship takes us to the heart of the identity politics currently animating and troubling American campuses and some in Britain too,” he said. “The self, like a consumer desirable, may be plucked from the shelves of a personal identity supermarket, a ready to wear little black number.

 “For example some men in full possession of a penis are now identifying as women and demanding entry to women-only colleges and the right to change in women’s dressing rooms . . . Others, outwardly capable both mentally and physically identify as disabled, and there has been a recent celebrated case of a white woman identifying as black.”

Pretty dangerous stuff, wot?

Speaking of penises, if you have access to one, you’d best keep it enthusiastic. Indeed, the details of a research paper reported many weeks ago have been confirmed and we can, dear diary, state with confidence that the more sexually active a man is, the lower his risk of developing prostate cancer – the most common cancer among men.

And if you want to know how busy you need to be, the bar has been confirmed at 21 ejaculations monthly. Cowboy up.

It turns out a Belgian journalist (another rare chapeau) of Moroccan origin did a thorough report on how the district of Molenbeek had become a Jihadi hotbed years ago and she was, predictably, dismissed as suffering from a psychological pathology known as Islamophobia.

Her book Undercover in Little Morocco, was published in 2006 and was completely ignored.

 “Everyone said I was exaggerating. I was accused of being Islamophobic, racist. Some people said I had psychological problems and that I was a Muslim traumatised by Islam.”

And now, people are dead. It is worth wondering just who is suffering from a pathology.


We are all aware by now of the attempt by police in Cologne to coverup the wave of sexual assaults in Cologne on New Year’s Eve and many will be aware of the efforts by Swedish police (Sweden is now the rape capital of Europe) to do the same regarding sexual assaults at a music festival.

None of this appeared to be of consequence to Canada’s Louise Arbour, a woman with a distinguished legal career and a leader in having rape recognized as an instrument of war, when she participated in Friday’s Munk debate regarding the global refugee crisis. There, she and teammate Simon Schama were soundly defeated by Mark Steyn and Nigel Farage who managed to turn 22% of the crowd’s votes in their favour. The full debate can be viewed via a link on Steyn’s website and is recommended viewing for those inclined.

Arbour maintained that refugees and migrants will eventually adapt to Canada but also noted that they will, in turn, change us and that’s OK.
While expressing some bitterness at how religion had suppressed women (she’s from Quebec), Arbour did not seem worried at all that those changes go a little beyond the opportunity to enjoy a nice curry or pad thai. Here are some recent examples of – and remember this is pretty early stages – the way societies are being changed in Europe:

Sylvi Listhaug
Sylvi Listhaug

The good news is not just the victory by Farage and Steyn, it’s that Norway is declaring it’s not all that cool with being changed into a medieval caliphate and, having closed their border with Russia to stem the tide of migrants (Finland has done the same) using the Arctic route, is determined not to wind up “like Sweden.”

Integration Minister Sylvi Listhaug announced a series of asylum and immigration reforms because :

“We have foreign fighters who have left Norway and [we have] radical environments. We should not stick our heads in the sand and say that everything is good here. But fortunately we are a long way from the conditions we see in some other countries, for example Sweden,” she told NTB.

This, following Denmark’s action in January, hints at some revival of European culture’s will to live.