Senior educated white male.

Senior educated white male.

Doom: The Complete Version

 

It is all the fault of fluctuations in CO2. So says Peter Brannen in “The Ends of the World”. This is a terrific book even if you disagree with it, as I do, on no grounds I can think of except that he is a doomist.

Every few scores of millions of years, there have been massive exterminations of species. Brannen relates the best recent evidence for how these extinction events came about. There have been five of them, at least. Usually the underworld opens up and continents of lava spew forth, killing everything in their continent-sized lava flows, and what is not killed directly is then wiped out by ocean acidification (CO2 again). Or so much CO2 is belched out of the ground by volcanism that the planet gets too hot, such as 40C seas at the equator, which is hot-tub hot.

Obviously Brannen thinks that all of current human civilization is pumping massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere with such abrupt speed that nature has no chance of adapting to it.

It is not hard to find a paragraph that supports his contention.

As a result of this innovation [coal burning], human civilization is now propped up by a continuous explosion f energy, a global megametabolism, with hundreds of millions of years worth of sunlight being released all at once in combustion engines and power plants. Carbon dioxide is a by-product of this new civilizational metabolism, and we now emit 100 times more CO2 each years than volcanoes. This far outstrips the  ability of the earth’s thermostat to keep up with rock weathering and ocean circulation, operating as those processes do on 1,000- to 100,000 year timescales. (at p. 236)

Nitrogen-fixing from the air, which is the technology that gives rise to artificial fertilizers, is also to blame for runoffs that take the oxygen out of seawater.

And it goes on. We are rapidly wrecking large parts of the planet, and he gives the reasons why this is so.

I must confess that Brannen makes my skepticism about the doomist view more difficult to maintain. However, he is well worth the effort, first because his science is good, second because he points out the enormous spans of time this planet has been around –  spans so large that the earth  has in effect been several different planets in the course of time – and third, because I think that every global warming/doomist skeptic needs to know the full argument, not just the IPCC version. Brannen has been hanging around with real scientists, not with atmospheric trend projectors and data falsifiers, such as NOAA and HadCrut and the IPCC pseudo-scientific international bureaucrats.

In my view, doomism is justified if we cannot get human population to shrink. There are several ways that the human race will make less impact on the planet in the next few hundred years.

Population reduction through lifestyle changes are already well underway. Everywhere women can guarantee that their children survive, they stop producing more than two children. See Hans Rosling on this issue.

The other traditional method is war, famine, pestilence and death. That is what will happen if we fail, and maybe it will happen anyway. If the world starts to go to hell through ecological disasters, war will inevitably follow, and with it the usual population correctives.

We could reduce population peacefully by conscious choices and end up in prosperity for the remaining few billions who will be found at the end of this process. We could reduce it by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and end up in a low productivity, high birthrate world, such as we began to get out of on the 18th century.

Maybe we are like bacteria on a Petri dish, and our numbers will expand until we die off catastrophically, as we exhaust our resources. That was the view of the biologist Lynn Margulis.

This question was also ably examined, in a more balanced way, by Charles C. Mann in his The Wizard and the Prophet. But Mann’s book, while more balanced than Brannen’s, deals with two scientists with two points of view, doomist and meliorist, whereas Brannen coneys a vast amount of information about how hellish the earth has been in the Great Extinctions that have ravaged the earth over time.

The disturbing aspect of Brannen’s argument is that, in his view, humans are acting as the unconscious agents of destruction. I do not see any happy outcome, but I hope I am spectacularly wrong.

 

 

 

The Thirteenth Warrior

 

Image result for the thirteenth warrior

 

 

I saw the Thirteenth Warrior again after a gap of many years. My friend, who had never seen it until yesterday, is now another convert to this outrageously wonderful movie.

Let’s face it, it is a national socialist movie. No, I do not mean National Socialist as in a celebration of hideous Hitlerian totalitarian doctrines. It is the story of Beowulf retold,  where Grendel becomes a collective monster, a  tribe of cannibals who eat humans, and who think they themselves are bears.  The humans, northmen all, are fighting for their lives against an apparently superior force of anti-human evil, the Wendol, the collective of cannibals. It is based on the clever Michael Crichton’s story, Eaters of the Dead.

In writing this little article, I came across the negative review by Roger Ebert. Pay him no attention. Lisa Schwarzbaum called it “the most unexpectedly audacious, exhilarating, and wildly creative adventure thriller I have seen in ages”.[12]

As a friend once said, The Thirteenth Warrior is the same movie as Cross of Iron (1977), or Aliens (1986). A group of warriors who think they are the toughest meanest sons of bitches have to take on an overwhelming force of alien evil, and they discover the limits of their powers.

It is also outrageous fun. Watch it with other males.

Lo do I see my father before me

Lo do I see my mother, my sisters, my brothers before me

Lo do I see them back to the Beginning

Lo do I see them in the Halls of Valhalla

Where the brave may live forever!

It will get you pumped. Pajama boys will need to retreat to a safe space to recover.

As the bard says to the Arab diplomat character about the Wendol, after he has killed a few of them, “Don’t worry little brother, there are more!”. That is to say, aliens left to kill. The struggle is eternal.

 

 

 

 

 

What makes Steve Bannon so controversial?

The fast answer might be “the same thing that makes Jordan Peterson so controversial”, but that would be inaccurate. Their enemies are far closer to each other than Bannon is to Peterson. What their enemies want in each case is to shut them up, to dislodge them from  the public stage, to prevent anyone from hearing their arguments.

So what exactly makes Bannon so objectionable? More precisely, why do the lefties of Toronto want to prevent him from appearing at the Munk Debates?

Several organizations banded together Tuesday to call for the event, part of the Munk Debates, to be called off in light of last weekend’s deadly attack at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

They said giving Bannon a platform to express extreme views contributes to a climate of hatred that can encourage violence against marginalized or racialized groups.

“We’re at an important and terrifying moment as we watch right-wing governments come into power all over the world. The hate we are witnessing is serious — in fact, it is deadly,” said Rachel Epstein of the United Jewish People’s Order.

Ignoring the sinister sound of the United Jewish People’s Order for a moment, why do people object to even hearing Steve Bannon?

Let me recite his arguments from memory.

  • The working class of the United States and elsewhere has been relatively impoverished by policies that have driven factory jobs overseas. This was caused by NAFTA in particular and freer world trade in general.
  • These job losses have been part of a policy of globalization, by which the working classes of third world economies have been lifted out of poverty.
  • Free trade has benefited many, but not everyone, and the people left behind happen to be the citizens of fly-over country, west of the Appalachian mountains and east of California.
  • In addition, lack of adequate immigration controls in the United States have served the interests of rich Republican factory owners and of Democratic organizers, but the flood of illegal immigration has drastically lowered the standard of living of the American working class, white black and brown.
  • After the economic crash of 2008, a vast lot of people lost the value of their houses, but everyone who owned an asset such as intellectual property or stocks has made out like bandits.
  • None of the perpetrators of the financial crash has spent a day in jail.
  • The interest of Bannonite policy is whether you are an American citizen, not what colour or ethnicity you are. US policies should be directed to the benefit of citizens, not sub-groups within the United States. This is not white identity politics, but American identity politics.

This set of policies and concerns may be described as nationalist,  backward-looking, reactionary, anti-free trade, misguided, or mistaken. It cannot fairly be described as racist or hate-filled. Nor can it be said to be “extreme”, if words are to have any meaning.

But as I have been saying for some time now, all the Left can say these days is “sexist, racist, fascist, nyah nyah nyah”. Their minds have atrophied to the extent that actually confronting reasoned debate is a challenge they would rather not face. Especially as Bannon, not they, is defending the interests of the working classes. Long ago the Left  abandoned the working classes and has sought to get the Supreme Court (in the States and Canada) to do for them what votes could not.

And who is the United Jewish People’s Order? It is here: https://www.winchevskycentre.org/staff.
My kind of obnoxious zealots.

Angela Merkel is not yet gone, and the damage continues

Related image

 

 

This from our social betters at the CBC, by Don Murray:

“I stood on the border between Hungary and Austria as the gates opened in September 2015 and the refugees flowed through, most to be taken by train to Munich. People cheered. Europe, and much of the world, applauded.

But beside me a German cameraman from Bavaria muttered, “The Germans aren’t going to like this.”

I was surprised and dismissive, but I shouldn’t have been. The Germans swallowed and took in an estimated one million refugees, but almost from that moment Merkel’s popularity began to drop. And just as significantly, the AfD, which was born as an anti-euro and European Union party, shifted dramatically. Its target now became immigrants and refugees, and it rose dramatically in the opinion polls.”

“I was surprised and dismissive.”

In older times the CBC  had a few old European refugees from Nazis and Communists, people who knew which end was up, like Joe Schlesinger, of blessed memory, a Czech Jew. CBC had a few people who had seen combat, or reported on it close up, like the elder Mathew Halton. Nowadays the better sort of commenter is a downtown Toronto Volvo-driver who would know what lies north of the 416.

Here we see a man watching a vast column of Islamic refugees, mostly male, mostly of military age, and he is incapable of seeing the implications of what is before his eyes. This is an invasion. And ineluctably the Cologne mass attack on German females followed. Duh! What is it about Islam these idiots do not understand? Oh! Everything!

As a German friend of mine said: “These people all lost their passports somehow but kept their cellphones”.

Finally, Angela Merkel, pounded by electoral defeats, has decided not to run for re-election as party chairman but not actually resign as Chancellor until the next elections in 2021. Imagine the long drawn-out death scene.

The Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats are each being hammered by the electorate, and no wonder. The AfD on the right and the Greens on the left are gaining.

I asked my Austrian correspondent for his views this morning. He writes:

Well, [Merkel is a] lame duck for sure, but she’s working hard to implant her clone, Annegret
Kramp-Karrenbauer (AKK), as her legacy, and the CDU has been completely castrated – no
leadership potential and substance left.

AKK is certified charisma- and thought-free, just as AM

Some people throwing their hat in the ring now:

Her old enemy Friedrich Merz is just another European superstate cheerleader.

The guy from NRW (North Rhein Westphalia) , Armin Laschet, is a walking joke.

Then there’s Jens Spahn, 38, gay, a bit of a hipster, a tad more conservative – that’d be the best option (and not much at that).

You’d have to be a special breed of idiot to take over the party at this point and leave Merkel as chancellor to continue driving Germany against the wall, just to be ready to take the blame for the next election disaster.

what I do not understand is – the greens are going through the roof and now routinely overtake the SPD, which is fried and in free fall.

Obviously the shit hasn’t hit the fan hard enough; Germans are – I am sorry – an electoral idiocracy and wholehearted preference falsifiers. As long as the CDU is in this sorry state I don’t see that trend abating

So – no great cheers coming from over here.

-Baron Steiermark

 

 

Jack Ziegler is dead, and the New Yorker is getting worse and worse

 

 

 

 

“The only solution I can see is to hold a series of long and costly hearings in order to put off finding a solution.”

 

Jack Ziegler was the sharpest, funniest New Yorker cartoonist. I have been missing him for over a year now and I had wondered whether the New Yorker was purging male cartoonists of talent. That would be consistent with its rabidly anti-Trump political posturing. Alas! It was worse than this. Jack died last year at the early age of 74.

If you ever want to buy a great, and enduringly funny, book, get yourself a copy of his hardback collection about drinking alcohol, Olive or Twist? My wife and I found it in a Halifax bar chained to the counter, and I know why it was guarded so carefully. We laughed steaduly for half and hour as we perused the cartoons. I ordered a copy immediately. Do yourself a favour, and buy one. It will bring joy to your heart for years, and a good guffaw every few months when you re-read it.

His New Yorker obituary is here.

I had thought that New Yorker cartoons had fallen in quality under the editorship of Bob Mankoff, but he is no longer in that position. The recent decline is matched by the increasing number of twee female cartoonists. I also ascribe the decline to the New Yorker’s pervasive leftist mindset, which is infecting the cartoons. When I say I only read the New Yorker for the cartoons, I am not kidding, and only slightly exaggerating.

 

 

Non-corporate mentality

Susan Ray’s kitchen, Nantucket, 1875 and Bill Gates

Occasionally a picture is worth a thousand words. This painting would have been made sometime in the latter half of the 19th century, around 1875, on Nantucket, a prosperous whaling island off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts,

You will note the absence of everything that makes a modern kitchen convenient. Start with the absence of pipes and of cold (not hot) running water. No sink. No wood stove, only an open fire. Mrs. Ray emerges from a larder in which  food is stored.

No electricity: and thus no dishwasher, refrigerator, washing machine, dryer or lights. Scarcely a counter-top on which to cut and prepare a meal. In case you wonder about what is hidden at the other end of the kitchen, the painter did the other end too. You can see a sideboard, a small table, a mirror, a sconce for a candle, and the fireplace. Not even a wood stove!

These were prosperous people of the time. Not rich, but not suffering either. Note the fine piece of furniture below the mirror. Note the wide (16-18  inches?) sawn planks of old growth pine and the lack of water stains on the whitewashed ceiling. They lived in a comfortable house, by the standards of the time.

All this is a world before fossil fuels or electricity. Doubtless it had a very low carbon footprint.

When I read about carbon taxes, and rich magnates like Bill Gates saying we have to get carbon neutral by some date in the near future, I ask myself, do these fools understand what it was like to prepare a meal in Susan Ray’s kitchen?

Says Bill Gates:

To prevent the worst effects of climate change, we need to get to zero net greenhouse gas emissions in every sector of the economy within 50 years—and as the IPCC recently found, we need to be on a path to doing it in the next 10 years. That means dealing with electricity, and the other 75% too.

50 years is nearly twenty years less than what I have lived already. Two hundred years would be a more reasonable time horizon.

Read him, he exemplifies a kind of insane rationality that fails to understand that the world cannot get to carbon neutrality at any price we can afford, political or economic, in fifty or a hundred years, if ever. Insanity is not the absence of rationality, but the excess of it. Just think of Susan Ray’s kitchen when you think of a low carbon footprint, but  you should take out the fireplace and replace it with a wood stove, if the authorities will permit it. That is a low-carbon footprint kitchen. Why is it so difficult for the intelligent of our time to understand that they have embarked upon a course of folly and destruction?

Global warming catastrophism is a disease of the intelligent, like Communism in the 1930s.

_____________________

Wikipedia relates

Eastman Johnson, (July 29, 1824 – April 5, 1906) painted “Susan Ray’s kitchen”. Hewas an American painter and co-founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, with his name inscribed at its entrance. He was best known for his genre paintings, paintings of scenes from everyday life, and his portraits both of everyday people and prominent Americans such as Abraham Lincoln, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. His later works often show the influence of the 17th-century Dutch masters, whom he studied in The Hague in the 1850s; he was known as The American Rembrandt in his day.

Let me now praise a forgotten Liberal

I have been mildly dismayed by the paucity  of public recognition and outpouring for Donald Stovel MacDonald on his death this past Sunday October 14th, at the age of 86.

Donald Macdonald exemplified a certain code of public service which used to animate the upper reaches of Canadian society. He had been Minister of many important portfolios in the first Trudeau governments. He was a modest, accomplished, self-effacing, and highly capable man.

I think his most important accomplishment was his chairing of the Macdonald Royal Commission on the Economic Union and the Prospects for Canada. Its conclusions reversed a century of Canadian protectionism and opened the door for Prime Minister Mulroney to advance the negotiations that led to the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has led to a vast increase in Canadian prosperity, and opened Canada’s conception of itself. I think it took a Liberal of his status to point out that the nation had been following the wrong path and to recommend the necessary change. He did not fail to encourage necessary reforms.

We do not appreciate these sorts of people enough. They are the backbone of the nation.

Andrew Cohen has recollected his life more completely here.

His family’s eulogy is here.

 

Stages in the acceptance of Bannonism

JBS Haldane wrote

“The four stages of acceptance:
1. This is worthless nonsense.
2. This is an interesting, but perverse, point of view.
3. This is true, but quite unimportant.
4. I always said so.”

(Review of The Truth About Death, in: Journal of Genetics 1963, Vol. 58, p.464)”

I have noticed that the arguments of Steve Bannon are gaining traction in broader and more polite circles. Essentially, Bannon claims that the working class of the United States had been abandoned by governments of the right and the left, and that while globalization and its attendant philosophy of globalism have benefitted the top 1%, the people who actually compose the United States, fight its wars,and serve in its factories and police forces, have been abandoned to excessive immigration, held up for ridicule as “white”, “male” and old, and have been the subjects of an opiod crisis that, if it had occurred in a sexual or coloured minority, would have been treated as a second AIDS crisis.

The average age of death of American whites was declining: people are dying younger. As the study hyperlinked above wrote:

“The unfavorable recent trends in premature death rate among non-Hispanic Whites outside large urban areas were primarily caused by self-destructive health behaviors likely related to underlying social and economic factors in these communities.”

Bannon calls the policies and the situation he opposes the product of Davos man.

Steven Harper has taken up the same message in his latest book, Right Here, Right Now, excerpted here. Harper is a much more respectable figure than Bannon, and the fact that the same arguments are being propagated by both men is a sign that Bannon’s analysis is seeping through the defences into higher plateaux of acceptance. As Harper writes:

Trump, Brexit, and the European populist movements are exposing a fault line in modern Western societies. The division is between, as David Goodhart describes: those who live “anywhere” and those who live “somewhere.” The rise of globalization in the past quarter-century has transformed an element of the population. Segments of urban and university-educated professionals have become genuinely globally oriented in their careers and personal lives.

 

Harper cleverly speaks of the gap between the ‘anywheres’ and the ‘somewheres’: those who might work anywhere on the planet and those who could not work outside the country of their birth.

Imagine yourself as someone who works for an international consulting firm or in a globally focused academic career. You can wake up in New York, London, or Singapore and feel at home. You may rent or even own regular accommodation in all of these places. Your work is not subjected to import competition or threat of technological dislocation. You may attend (or aspire to attend) the Davos conference. You probably read The Economist and, like Thomas Friedman, believe that the world really is flat. Your spouse or partner has a similar professional background, although he or she is from somewhere else in the world. You are motivated by climate change and suspicious of religion. You are unequivocally pro–free trade and support high levels of immigration. Your values can broadly be described as “cosmopolitan.”

Such cosmopolitans, or “Anywheres,” or just plain “globalists” have an increasingly weak attachment to the nation-state. Their professional, personal, and even familial relationships are increasingly with people like themselves from a range of countries. 

Harper correctly predicts that populist movements will only grow. “My diagnosis is simple: the populist trend will not stop until the issues driving it are being effectively addressed.”

Amen. Yet the resistance to realization is extremely powerful. This brings me to the second theme of this essay, that the Democrats are still at stage one: “This is all worthless nonsense”.

I continue to be amazed and not a little disturbed by the degree of heat, denial, snobbery, and plain mendacity in the reaction of the bien-pensants to what is going on. For them, it appears to be something about Trump. Bad boy! Rude man! Going into the kitchen and breaking dishes. Fighting with NATO allies. Being too cozy with Putin (for which there is no evidence whatever). I can understand why Trump is not one’s cup of tea, but I have greater difficulty understanding why the opposition to him is so slow to understand why he came to power. I do not mean the technical reasons of campaigning and messaging; I mean the underlying economic and social malaise to which his policies were appearing to be remedies.

The Democrats have been in complete denial that they even lost the election. The last time this happened, during Bush Junior,  they withdrew into The West Wing, where a Democratic President Jeb Bartlett ruled an imaginary United States as an all-wise avatar of decency and enlightenment. This time they have no West Wing to occupy their minds. Now they find themselves in the wrestling ring with a mad orange-haired troll in a weird suit who keeps slamming them into the floor and throwing them against the ropes, while the mob howls for more.

The Democrats will be equally shocked when they lose the midterms. I fail to see is any sign that they have a capacity to understand and adapt to what has hit them. They seem to prefer the fictional world of a Putin-Facebook- targeted ad campaign that deprived them of their rightful place as the permanent government of the United States. On the face of it, the claim is absurd: that a few hundred thousand dollars, if that much, of targeted Facebook ads could overcome the billion or two that Hillary Clinton spent on her campaign, the bad messaging, the self-regard, the bad campaigning, and the complete inability to see that the world she thought existed, did not.

Drowning men clutch straws, we are told. I do not see the Democrats recovering until they come to grip with why they lost.  Right now, they are both denying that they lost and asserting that that any argument that they lost for a reason is worthless rubbish.

 

Right Here, Right Now: Politics And Leadership In The Age Of Disruption by Stephen J. Harper

 

 

I work for government

Scene: Ron Swansons’s office in Parks and Recreation

Secretary opens door and asks: “Am I interrupting anything important?”

Ron Swanson: “Impossible, I work for the government”.

While not exactly true, Ron Swanson still delivers a good line. Lower layers of government can use a few staunch libertarians. Higher levels of government can use some conservatives, if by that you mean people with the tragic view of life. The limited vision of government praised by Thomas Sowell.