Barrel Strength

Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

Barrel Strength - Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

Tone Policing

A fascinating article into the morass of Leftist discourse, feminist branch, is found in The Nation. It concerns how bitchy they are to each other, and the special little rules which, if broken, call for expulsion, name-calling, and witch hunts. It is called “Feminism’s toxic twitter wars”.

The discussion centres on “intersectionality” – do not worry what the word means; it is tripe,  but read this choice morsel:

Online, however, intersectionality is overwhelmingly about chastisement and rooting out individual sin. Partly, says Cooper, this comes from academic feminism, steeped as it is in a postmodern culture of critique that emphasizes the power relations embedded in language. “We actually have come to believe that how we talk about things is the best indicator of our politics,” she notes. An elaborate series of norms and rules has evolved out of that belief, generally unknown to the uninitiated, who are nevertheless hammered if they unwittingly violate them. Often, these rules began as useful insights into the way rhetorical power works but, says Cross, “have metamorphosed into something much more rigid and inflexible.” One such rule is a prohibition on what’s called “tone policing.” An insight into the way marginalized people are punished for their anger has turned into an imperative “that you can never question the efficacy of anger, especially when voiced by a person from a marginalized background.”

And so forth.

In my darkest period I once married a leftist,  feminist (of the toxic variety)  woman. Yes, I know, you are incredulous. So am I, now. I can attest from many painful experiences that the style of discourse is always about what is the matter with you, and never what is the matter with your argument, or about anything actually under discussion. In fact, reason is never appealed to, so far as I recall. Agreement was a fibrillation of anxiety not to be out of step with what was Correct, the Line. It was not about a rational process of discussion, persuasion and respect for difference. Obey or die. You think I exaggerate.

Take a trivial but revealing example. I had bought a set of glasses before our relationship. They were not pretty but they were, after all, just cheap breakfast glasses. You could drink from them and when they broke, you could toss the shards into the garbage with no regret. No big deal.

I was informed one day that “there is something the matter with your soul” for having bought those glasses. Not: “those glasses are really ugly, let’s get rid of them”. Or “Honey, do you mind if we get some new glasses?” No, my soul was wrong.

Every  disagreement about anything took this form. There was no objective standard or standards. Thus when Leftist women attempt to debate with one another, they have no standards of truth to which they can appeal. There is no truth; there is only “what is our line on this subject?” and a series of line-drawers, each more fanatic than the last, seeking to expel, humiliate, punish, and exclude.

It was David Horowitz, the former editor of Ramparts. who wrote in his autobiography after he had “converted” from Leftism, that the only freedom of discussion he encountered was outside the Movement. Conservatives and liberals could write for and against the Viet Nam war,  and no one was excluded from discourse. He found it strange and refreshing.

Contrast the exiliration of freedom after captivity to this. From the Nation article again:

Preening displays of white feminist abjection, however, are not the same as respect. “What’s disgusting and disturbing to me is that I see some of the more intellectually dishonest arguments put forth by women of color being legitimized and performed by white feminists, who seem to be in some sort of competition to exhibit how intersectional they are,” says Jezebel founder Holmes, who is black. “There are these Olympian attempts on the part of white feminists to underscore and display their ally-ship in a way that feels gross and dishonest and, yes, patronizing.”

It is like a Communist Party meeting, without the KGB. How they manage it, is beyond me,

The purged

They were found guilty of offending “the Cathedral”, that apex of political correctness.

Read this and contemplate whether we are in fact living in a liberal society. My short answer is no.

A  central narrative about the origins of modern anti-democratic thought is here.

A more religious interpretation of its origins is found here.

If you ask, why waste your time in this neo-reactionary bullshit? Why give mental time over to silly ranters in basements? My answer is given in part by looking at my posting on the controversy about Judge Nadon’s appointment to the Supreme Court. I cannot take seriously what passes for controversy and thought in Canada in 2014. I have other concerns. One of them is the systemic undermining of constitutional government and reasonable social order by the political Left, or the rising tide of Bad Ideas. This tide is broader, deeper, older, and more significant than contemporary controversies, which are the tide’s surface manifestation.

Dark Enlightenment

For those who are curious about the places where you really should not go on the Internet, to taste the dubious fruits of seriously reactionary thought – I do not mean conservative, I mean reactionary – you can start with this rather dispassionate survey here from Vocativ, which is an interesting site in its own right.

What is the Dark Enlightenment? As the term suggests, the Dark Enlightenment is an ideological analysis of modern democracy that harshly rejects the vision of the 18th century European Enlightenment—a period punctuated by the development of empirical science, the rise of humanist values and the first outburst of revolutionary democratic reform. In contrast, the Dark Enlightenment advocates an autocratic and neo-monarchical society. Its belief system is unapologetically reactionary, almost feudal.

Having braced yourself for your encounter with stuff so far from electoral politics that it has disappeared through the event horizon, the  definition of which is surprisingly apt:

a boundary in spacetime beyond which events cannot affect an outside observer…

you may now safely observe the blogs I am about to direct you to. Start with Occam’s Razor, which is frankly anti-democratic and reactionary, and in particular to “The Dark Enlightenment/NeoReaction gets Mainstream Notice”.

There are enough links for and against for you to follow that you can waste your time productively in the murkier recesses of reaction, and hysteria about reaction.

The essential contention of the reactionaries is that there exists an established church of opinion, which is called the Cathedral, whose laws are to be obeyed.  The laws of the Cathedral are the summary of the generally anti-white, anti-Christian, and antinomian beliefs that animate contemporary political discourse. Whether you agree with the reactionaries or not, you will probably recognize that the Cathedral represents  the core beliefs of the far political Left.

I exclude from the category “far Left” people who might want more government spending, or higher taxes, or less social inequality. Many people to the left of me are in the zone of reasonable political disagreement. I am talking about the people whom I believe to be morally deranged by anti-white racism, anti-male sexism, and anti-Christianism, among other symptoms.

The Left is hysterical about the existence of political differences. It drives them bonkers that there can be difference of opinion on, say, anthropogenic global warming, and people writing in the obscure corners of the opinion environment who believe that liberal democracy is heading us all straight to hell, or keeping us locked up there, as the case may be.

I remain much more confident about the capacities of public discourse to hold back and eventually reverse the Leftist tide, than either the reactionaries doubt or the far Left fears. In this I may utterly mistaken. I am creature of the Enlightenment in many senses:  I have no use for atheism,  I remain confident that reason will prevail, and these two beliefs are not contradictory. I am also confident that representative democracy is the only one suitable for sustaining self-government. I am a conservative, rather than a leftist,  because I believe we must govern ourselves well or else we shall be governed by others, and that requires serious education of the soul. I am a liberal, rather than a reactionary, because I believe that, more often than not, we are able to govern ourselves.


Happy delving into the depths of genuine political debate. Do not forget to come up for air.


Amy Chua does it again

The Chinese-American Yale law professor and her Jewish law professor husband have landed themselves in trouble with the usual suspects. They have written about different cultures and claimed some are more successful than others. The hand-wringers of political correctness merely bemoan them, rather than denounce them. Or maybe not.

The book is found here and here.

Amy Chua and her husband are doing us all a favour. They are broaching topics that urgently need to be discussed: the inequality of outcomes, the relationship of outcomes to family culture, and the legitimacy of making generalizations  different cultures.

Some of you may not believe that rednecks actually exist, for example. This is a true story. A fellow brought up in East Germany believed that, since everything his then mainstream Communist media taught about capitalist society was a lie, there could be no unemployment in capitalist societies. Likewise some of the readers of erudite political blogs like this one may not have actually met a redneck, not just a Canadian talking like one.

Once ages ago I ran into a lawyer from Arkansas. I met him at a conference on telecommunications in the States. He had a fringed buckskin jacket and a large bowie knife. He threatened violence just by his presence in the room. He grew up huntin’, shootin’,  fishin’ like his forbears on rivers in Arkansas. He did not drop his ‘g’s as we say, he and his ancestors had never said “fishing” in their lives. His attitudes towards other races was frankly appalling. He was not just being politically incorrect, provocative or cute; he was the embodiment of Huck Finn’s father. This was an irony-free creature, a relic of the mid-18th century alive and well in the late twentieth century. After a beer with him I felt it advisable to stay away. Mostly he engendered a feeling of incredulity that someone from such swamps ever could have made it through law school. The Scots-Irish tribe is explored in Albion’s Seed and Born Fighting. If you want a less scholarly approach to this largest of American ethnic groups, Google Rednecks.

It is currently okay to denigrate white people, particularly Christian white people, as the source of most of the world’s violence and oppression. In the left-wing paradise of current culture, they are about the only safe group left to attack. They prove the truth of Dalwhinnie’s Second Law, that there is a fixed amount of intolerance in the world, though its targets are periodically redistributed.

Thus, when Amy Chua produces facts about successful groups, she is breaking a large, pervasive tabu in modern society. Regardless of whether her book is true or rubbish, she and her husband are bringing the fight into the academic world, into the Volvo-driving classes, and making them realize that they too, bear all the hallmarks of successful cultures.


Big Brother versus Evander Holyfield

I quote from the Guardian. I am not making this up. Evander Holyfield had some remarks about homosexuality on a British TV show, about which the usual suspects were seeking a witch-burning.

Big Brother producers verbally warned the former world heavyweight boxing champion about a conversation he had with fellow contestant Luisa Zissman about the lack of openly gay sports stars, which was broadcast in Sunday night’s highlights programme on Channel 5 from 9pm.

The Apprentice runner-up told Holyfield that she thought it was bad that few people speak out about being gay in the sports industry.

Zissman said: “I think it’s good to be open like that because it’s normal.”

Holyfield replied: “But that ain’t normal.”

Zissman then said: “That’s just the way some people are born.”

The retired boxer argued: “It don’t make no difference. If you’re born and your leg was turned this way, what do you do? You go to a doctor and get it fixed back right.”

Zissman tried to change the subject, saying she thought it was an inappropriate conversation for the house.

Later, the Big Brother production team called Holyfield to the diary room to discipline him and remind him of the show’s rules regarding unacceptable language and behaviour.

Big Brother said: “While Big Brother understands these are the views you hold, they aren’t the views that are held by a large section of society, and expressing these views will be extremely offensive to many people.

“Do you understand why?”

Holyfield said: “Yes I understand why. I thought I was just, I forgot about the thing. I was just telling her my opinion but it’s not like I was going to mention [it] to anybody else. It was just our conversation.”

He has not yet apologised for his remarks.

Big Brother continued: “Big Brother does not tolerate the use of offensive language and must therefore warn you to consider very carefully the effect expressing such views may have and the harm and offence you may cause by repeating these views inside the house.”

Big Brother! They are not even bothering to disguise it.


Ramachandran on IQ

A Californian neuroscientst called V.S. Ramachandran has written a highly informative and entertaining book called The Tell Tale Brain. I recommend it to all who are interested in brain/mind issues. His approach is rather open-minded, for a neuroscientist, that is.

Ramachandran has a few tough words for the proponents of a single number to describe “g”, or general intelligence.

Ironically, the IQ evangelists (such as Arthur Jensen, William Shockley, Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray) use the heritability of IQ itself (sometimes called “general intelligence” or “little g”) to argue that intelligence is a single measurable trait. That would be roughly analogous to saying that general health is one thing because life span has a strong heritable component that can be expressed as a single number – age! No medical student who believed in “general health” as a monoloithic entity would get very far in medical school or be allowed to become a physician – and rightly so – and yet whole careers in psychology and political movements have beenbuilt on the equally absurd belief in a single measurable general intelligence. Their contributions have little more than shock value. (page 171)

To which I say, not so fast, Dr. Ramachandran. What you think is plausible is actually piffle.

  • the various diseases of the body are not even roughly analogous to the ability or abilities of the mind to engage in thought;
  • we use statistical aggregates all the time as a stand-in for measuring ongoing phenomena (temperature, gross domestic product, mortality figures).
  • You do not have to understand how cars work to understand the significance of their cost and their longevity. Likewise with intelligence testing.

More to the point, intelligence testers and neuroscientists are engaged in entirely different pursuits. The intelligence testers  are concerned with outcomes, neuroscientists with causes.

Let Murray and Herrnstein speak for themselves. From The Bell Curve at pages 22-23:

  1. there is such a thing as a general factor of cognitive ability on which human beings differ.
  2. All standardized tests of academic aptitude and achievement ,easure this general factor to some degree, but IQ tests expressly designed for that purpose measure it most accurately.
  3. IQ scores match, to a first degree, whatever it is that people mean when they use the word intelligent or smart in ordinary language.
  4. IQ scores are stable, although not perfectly so, over much of a person’s life.
  5. Properly administered IQ tests are not demonstrably biased against social, economic, ethnic or racial groups.
  6. Cognitive ability is substantially heritable, apparently no less than 40 percent and no more than 80 percent.

 Or let us hear from Geoffrey Miller, who describes himself as a left-wing secular humanist Jew, and who has written The Mating Mind and Spent: Sex, Evolution and Mating Behavior. From page 186 of Spent:

General intelligence (a.k.a. IQ, general cognitive ability, the g factor) is a way of quantifying intelligence’s variability among people. It is the best established, most predictive, most heritable mental trait ever discovered in psychology….Intelligence predicts objective performance and learning ability across all important life domains that show reliable individual differences.

 The irony about general intelligence is that ordinary folks of average intelligence recognize its variance across people, its generality across domains, and its importance in life. Yet educated elites meanwhile often remain implacable opposed to the very concept of general intelligence, and deny its variance, generality and importance. Professors and students at elite universities are especially prone to this pseudohumility….

Similarly, general intelligence is not a mental organ, but a latent variable that emerges when one analyzes functional efficiencies of many different mental organs(such as memory, language ability, social perceptiveness, speed at learning practical skills, and musical aptitude.)

 Intelligence (says Prof. Miller at page 189 of Spent) is positively correlated to:

  • brain size
  • speed of performing basic sensory motor tasks (“reaction time is a factor”, as the cop said in Blade Runner)
  • height
  • symmetry of face and body
  • semen quality (!)
  • health, physical and mental
  • longevity
  • sexual attractiveness for long term relationships

Intelligence: the gift that keeps on giving. If you want to see what life is like when you lack the necessary minimum, go live in Detroit.

Strong genetic component in academic success

A British study of 11,000 students taking GSCE exams (high school finals) has demonstrated a high relationship between academic success and genetic aptitudes.

The degree to which students’ exam scores differ owes more to their genes than to their teachers, schools or family environments, according to new research from King’s College London published today in PLOS ONE.

The study, which took place in the UK, looked at students’ scores for their GCSE’s (General Certificate of Secondary Education), a UK-wide examination at the end of compulsory education at 16 years old.

The study followed 11,000 identical and fraternal twins.

The researchers found that for compulsory core subjects (English, Mathematics and Science), genetic differences between students explain on average 58% of the differences between GCSE scores. In contrast, 29% of the differences in core subject grades are due to shared environment–such as schools, neighbourhoods or families which twins share. The remaining differences in GCSE scores were explained by non-shared environment, unique to each individual.

Commit these numbers to memory: 58% genetic/29% environmental/13% individual. The next time you find yourself arguing for the obvious influence of genetics in intelligence, when you are annoying the bien-pensants at the dinner table, cite these figures.

Hernnstein and Murray thought the figure was about 70% genetic and 30% environmental.

No matter how often the obvious link between intelligence and genetics is demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt, the environmentarians never adapt their arguments, and the press are shocked, shocked, by the racism of it all.

Saint Suzuki of the Church of Gaia considers himself a failure

Failed to turn us into a North Korea, that is.

The Vancouver Observer reports:

The federal government has been vigorously spying on anti-oil sands activists and organizations in BC and across Canada since last December, documents obtained under the Access to Information Act show.  Not only is the federal government subsidizing the energy industry in underwriting their costs, but deploying public safety resources as a de-facto ‘insurance policy’ to ensure that federal strategies on proposed pipeline projects are achieved, these documents indicate.

Before the National Energy Board’s Joint Review Panel hearings on the proposed Enbridge oil pipeline, the NEB coordinated the gathering of intelligence on opponents to the oil sands. The groups of interest are independent advocacy organizations that oppose the Harper government’s policies and work for environmental protections and democratic rights, including Idle No More, ForestEthics, Sierra Club, EcoSociety, LeadNow, Dogwood Initiative, Council of Canadians and the People’s Summit.

Excellent! Keep up the good work. People who would send us back to the levels of prosperity (or poverty) we knew in 1913, or 1813, or what they have in North Korea, are active enemies of civilization and should be monitored.

I do not think enough people are aware that the end goal of “environmentalism” is the destruction of a free and capitalist society.

David Suzuki feels as if he has failed because the transformative leap into full-scale destruction of industrial society has not taken place yet.

MacLean’s Magazine records him saying:

“Many of the battles that we fought 30 or 35 years ago, that we celebrated as enormous successes . . . Thirty-five years later, the same damn battles have started again. That’s where I think we failed,” Suzuki says. “We fundamentally failed to use those battles to get that awareness, to shift the paradigm. And that’s been the failure of environmentalism.”

It is more accurate to say that Canadians failed to shift awareness to the ecological paradigm because they were not persuaded that returning to the energy usage of 1949, or 1919, or 1880, could be accomplished without returning to the poverty (you may call them levels of wealth) of those times.

Further, they failed to convert to the religion that says man is a noxious weed and our existence on Gaia an offence to Great Mother Earth, a religion whose logical outcome is a sincere wish to reduce human numbers by mass exterminations. Suzuki and his tribe have done their best to use the battles to shift the paradigm; the reason they have failed is not for lack of trying. People want freedom and prosperity, and they have a strong feeling that the two are linked.

Suzuki wants to reduce our freedom and our prosperity, as a necessary outcome of his doctrines. Environmentalism masks itself as a concern for clean air and water, a concern which all rational creatures share. Behind environmentalism, however, is the age-old anti-human ideology that we can return to a tribe living in harmony with nature if only we surrender our rights and freedoms to the priesthood of the ecology, who will assign us to our menial tasks, and appease Gaia with sacrifices which we must make because we have sinned against her, and the rule of ecological shamans is the propitiation of our sins. They will reduce our numbers through poverty, immiseration, and disease, probably sped along by timely mass exterminations to accelerate the cleansing of our planet from the disease of humanity.

No, Doctor Suzuki, we did not fail to understand you. We understood your doctrines all too well, and all the resources of the political left, the CBC propaganda platform, and the zillions raised from the faithful have not sufficed to turn us into self-annihilating zealots. You have every right to consider yourself a failure, thank God.


Is our children learning?

A product of our current university environment attempts to argue that Movember is some form of collective hate crime:

Movember was clearly designed with a hairy white cisgender blonde guy in mind who had no problem growing facial hair but would never get pulled over at the border because of it. It was clearly designed without any intersectional analysis as to its symbolism and how hard it can be for many people to participate.

No, it is not a parody.

Bernard Drainville on the implicit question

Bernard Drainville, the PQ Minister charged with selling the restrictions on the wearing of religious symbols by Quebec civil servants, made a point today in conversation with a CBC radio reporter. Drainville pointed out that many in English-Canada wanted a discussion of the appropriate balance between signs of religious adherence and conforming to the needs of the host society, and that this debate was being suppressed in English Canada. He made the same point in an interview a few days ago with Terence McKenna.

He is correct in this assessment. Many in English Canada probably agree with the Parti Quebecois’ proposals, up to a point (40% in English Canada agree with the PQ,  he says, while 47% do not.)

You can read the giveaway lines here and there in the denunciations by English Canadaians. For example, Conrad Black writes:

And if Quebec proceeds on any more ambitious basis than requiring people to be reasonably identifiable (i.e.unmasked), it will be a watershed in Quebec’s protracted experiemtn in the conjuration and abuse of provincial state powers for contemptible – in fact, racist – purposes.

Notice, if you please, that Conrad admits that if the proposals were directed towards face-masked Muslim women, then he would not object. Neither would I, and neither would most of Canada.

Yes, many in English-Canada think the Quebec government goes too far, but they also think that it is about time for some more open debate on the role of Islam in Canadian society, and if this is the way we are going to have it, then let us have that debate. Shouting at the French Canadians because of their excessive political interference immediately opens us up to all kinds of tu quoque arguments about how ludicrous nanny-statism prevails among us.

I do not want you to think I am being too tolerant of the Quebec government in this. Their legislation is odious, but so is Bill 101′s suppression of the far more vital rights to language and education, and we did nothing about that.

The French Canadians are ahead of us, not behind us, by choosing to foment a political punch-up around a forbidden subject, and I hope they do not get shouted down. Yes I know the can be fascists, or more properly speaking, authoritarian collectivists, but they are also far more attuned than we are to not giving in to multiculturalism. They are not buying it, and I agree with them on the impossibility of real multiculturalism. Everyone in English Canada thinks multiculturalism is fine as long as it means nothing more than general tolerance. There are those among us who think multiculturalism ought to act as suppressor of our cultural immune systems, preventing us from rising to the defence of free (and therefore anti-Islamic) speech.

I happen to be a political liberal, and therefore a Conservative in the current context. Consequently I oppose French Canada’s authoritarian collectivism, but even as an Anglo I feel far less threatened in every one of my liberties by the French than I do by the insidious propositions of Islam. And I bet you feel the same way too. While I do not agree with the Parti Quebecois, they are forcing a discussion which badly needs to happen.