Why are the equinoxes not statutory holidays?

As we come from a country where seasons forcibly affect our beings, where we suffer from winter, rejoice in spring, relax in summer and get to work in the fall, why do we not have appropriate holidays to mark the seasons?

Yes I acknowledge that Christmas (25th December) is laid over the winter solstice (December 21st) in the northern hemisphere, by religious and social fiat. That is one out of four.

Easter varies by 28 days (a lunar month) + 7 days. It is celebrated  on first Sunday after the first new moon after the spring equinox. As a movable feast, it is useless as an equinoctial celebration. As the observance of the death and resurrection of Jesus, Easter is too explicitly Christian. It has never taken off the way Christmas has, largely because the pagan origins of Yule coincide with the solstice, whereas Easter was made a movable feast by a decision of the Church in the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. The summer solstice is overlaid with  St Jean Baptiste Day in Quebec and a week later English Canadians get July 1st, but neither is explicitly about the summer solstice.

We are too busy working on September 21st to pay much attention to the autumnal equinox, but we ought to mark the passing of the year more formally.

My plea is for a set of holidays that acknowledge we are on a planet that revolves around a sun, and which tilts and wobbles. We do not mark sufficiently our place in the universe.  Having holidays like this would allow parents and educators to instruct the ignorant. If you think I exaggerate, I can relate my experience of a nice 50-year old taxi driver I had in Washington, D.C. last year, for whom the relationship among the solstices, the tilt of the earth, and  the relationship of the seasons to these facts, was a revelation. I am not kidding, and he was not kidding me.

So yes, folks, for this and many other reasons, I favour statutory holidays on the summer solstice, and the spring and autumn equinoxes. Christmas is well covered, thank you.

Read David Warren

I have had and continue to have the greatest respect for David Warren but in this speech he overtops himself. You should read this speech he gave recently. It summarizes completely my attitude towards the general trend of Canadian society and the Liberal regime, which he calls the Twisted Nanny state. The specific instance is the checking the boxes issue for receiving funds from Trudeau’s inclusive liberal state.

He has posted a series of essays in recent days that ought to have the widest possible circulation among conservative people.

No State really cares what its people believe, so long as they keep it to themselves, and salute the State’s gods on all State occasions. The State’s gods today may be Abortion and Sodomy and Gender Metamorphosis. We might want to laugh at the idiocy of it. But they are gods, State gods, and every citizen must salute, as we see in this form-ticking exercise. Those who refuse must confront the State’s high opinion of itself.

Remember:

Diversity means ‘uniformity of thought’

Inclusion means ‘exclusion (of whites, males and Christians)’

Progress means ‘anything progressives say it means’.

Anglican tourism

One of the pleasures of being in a nearly world-wide religion associated with the British Empire and its offshoots is to go into a church and know roughly what sort of people you will meet (educated and pleasant), what sort of religious thought you will be exposed to (Christian eclectic), and to be among the faithful. I have been at St. James in Paddington, London, St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, built in 1191 (the established church kept the cathedral at the time of the Reformation), and elsewhere across the planet.

Today it was Christ the Redeemer in Sarasota, Florida, where our hosts are congregants. By happenstance, we ran into an organist practising there, who welcomed us in. We were treated to Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in A-minor, BWV 543, described by the organist as a mature work of the great master, and a transcription of Fredrick Delius’  “On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring”, appropriate because the composer spent time in Florida. It produced in me a spiritual stillness for which one longs but seldom finds.

A youtube version is found here.

The organist is James Walton. He referred me to his youtubes, one of which is here.

Finally, I give you Robin Williams’ ten top reasons for being Episcopalian.

Top Ten Reasons for being an Episcopalian:

10. No snake handling.

9. You can believe in dinosaurs.

8. Male and female, God created them; male and female we ordain them.

7.You don’t have to check your brains at the door.

6. Pew aerobics.

5. Church year is colour-coded.

4. Free wine on Sundays.

3. All of the pageantry, none of the guilt.

2. You don’t know how to swim to get baptized.

1. No matter what you believe, there’s bound to be at least one other Episcopalian who agrees with you.

A more serious and profound set of reasons in presented here.

Why I do not need to believe in climate change, I know there is climate change

Here is an aerial view of the outskirts of Naples. Those are volcanic craters, with magma seeping upward close to the surface. They are called the Campi Flegrei, the fields of fire.

 

Why would anyone build over a volcanic caldera? Because the last time it seethed with magma was in 1538, and who remembers that, aside from a vulcanologist?

“It’s much more dangerous than Vesuvius because we don’t know where the eruption will be,” said Morra. Unlike Vesuvius, where the eruption is likely to come from the top or side of the cone, a caldera has the potential to erupt in many different locations simultaneously. “But people are more scared of Vesuvius because with Campi Flegrei you don’t see the cone, so there is not the same perception of danger,” he said.

So let us build a city on top of it, shall we?

Yet it is perfectly rational to do so, if your time horizon is short enough. And what I am going on about today is time horizons. We humans have the lifespan of grass, of mayflies, compared to the time spans that govern the earth. Consider this piece of short-sightedness, if you were a being that lived 50,000 years, of settling in northern North America.

So why would you ever build in Montreal, when it is periodically crushed by 10 thousand feet of ice? The height of ice was 10,725 feet, or 3300 meters.

By comparison, here is a map showing the thickness of ice over Greenland today.

http://www.athropolis.com/arctic-facts/land/greenland-thick.gif

 

Or here is a map of the world covered by ice a mere 21,000 years ago, at the height of the last ice age.

 

http://www.humberriver.ca/images/worldmap1.jpg

So, do I believe in climate change? No, I do not need to believe, as we would believe in God, or even believe in the idea that Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 43 BC.

I let a pencil fall from my hand, I know it will hit the floor. Belief in the operation of gravity on this planet would be superfluous.

For this reason I do not believe in climate change, I know it. And by a similar process of reasoning, I know that humans have not caused the extent of climate change that keeps Toronto, Montreal, Chicago and Boston ice free (most of the year).

If some person asks you to believe in climate change, they are unaware. Belief is superfluous.

But to believe that we are causing it, now that takes belief.

 

 

 

 

McGill Students, Marxism, Jews and BDS

 

What a perfect trifecta of provocations this morning! I must apologize in advance for this blog because my thoughts are ungenerous. Extremely un-PC. They have been prompted by a report of the expulsion of a Jewish student from a student governing board. The Post article explains:

Students at the bi-annual General Assembly of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) voted to remove a Jewish student, Noah Lew, from the society’s board of directors. Lew later wrote on Facebook that he had been targeted for his Jewish identity. Before the vote, Lew and two other directors were publicly accused of corruption by a student political group for their affiliation with Jewish political organizations such as the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee (CJPAC).

The actions of the students are discriminatory in the worst sense of the word, anti-Jewish, and wrongly motivated, to say the least. Entirely typical of left-wing thought and behaviour. How did we get to this? I offer some observations as an eye witness to events long ago .

When I went to McGill some 45 years ago, almost the entirety of the student Left was Jewish, and for various reasons not clear to me the Faculty of Arts was about 80% Jewish. I attended classes where the three, four or five goyim would sit together among the 25-35 Jews. That was just the way it was then. It did me no harm, and in a large measure being in an ethnic and religious minority constituted an important education in itself.

What blew my mind – if a I may use a term from that time – was that the political coloration of about a quarter of those Jews (maybe as much as a half)  was some flavour of Marxism. Marxist, Marxizing, Marxian, Marxoid thought was esteemed as historically correct. Franz Fanon was then all the rage. RD Laing. Herbert Marcuse. Norman O. Brown. The intellectual atmosphere was soaked in Leftist assumptions, methods, and political fashions. That toxic stew has since evolved into the anti-Israeli movement called Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) which roils the student politics of McGill, York and many other Canadian centres of higher education.

I am making claims that may need to be teased out.

1) Forty years ago, student Leftism was very largely a Jewish phenomenon. That is provocative but accurate description of the SDS and its allied organizations. Jews so preponderated in left-wing politics that when non-Jews wanted their own party (quite contrary to scientific materialist doctrines) they formed a “Maoist” group. The Maoists were composed principally of rich kids from Third-World countries: India, Argentina, and the like, plus a few police infiltrators from Saskatchewan. Thus, the Marxist orthodox and the Maoists splitters could shout slogans at each other, decry the others’ heresies, apparently oblivious to the fact that a group composed entirely of Jews and another group entirely non-Jewish (atheists from Sikh, Roman Catholic and other backgrounds), had formed different political clubs. Their political religion had split on lines of religion and ethnicity, forces whose reality and legitimacy were inadmissable to them.

2) Forty years ago, the Marxists were siding with the working class of Quebec, so that its targets were the WASP administration and the English minority in Quebec, and its supposed allies were the French-Canadian working class. The BDS movement of its time dealt with South Africa, not Israel.

3) Today, Jews are victims of that same leftism. After the fall of the Soviet Union, leftism did not die, on the contrary it went from strength to strength. Once Leftism dissociated itself from any sort of intellectual discipline – and Marxism was an intellectual discipline even though its doctrines were murderous in consequence and fatuous in content – Leftism was free to become  what it now is: anti-white, anti-male, anti-Christian, anti-civilization, anti-economic progress, antinomian. And especially anti-Jewish. When in doubt, blame the Jews. When not in doubt, blame the Jews.

I have had very cautious conversations with people who were at McGill back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The politically correct denied absolutely that the Left at McGill was, at the time, a largely Jewish phenomenon, the Maoists excepted. With those honest enough to recall what was then evident to their eyes, the conversations have been more productive, in the sense that much of what made McGill such a drag in those days was the joyless tone favoured by the spoiled-kid Marxist rabble from middle class Jewish homes, where clearly the apples had not fallen far from parental trees. Dinner tables where a civil conversation had never occurred, where ideas were not for play or exploration, but for bludgeoning, where absolutism was the prevailing mental style: these  Marxists had come from parents who had taught them how to feel and think; they had not sprung like Athena from the brow of Zeus.

Did they get their Marxism from their grandparents in eastern Europe? Were we getting the blow-back from Tsarist repression three or four generations later? Because, for a certainty, the Jewish Marxists I encountered seemed still to be living in a shtetl of their own mind, expecting any day the Cossacks to come and suppress them with whips, and they seemed oblivious to the liberal political culture of Anglo-Montreal and North America in which they then lived. When you cannot tell a liberal state from a fascist one, you are ideologically blind. And they could not discern the difference between freedom and repression. Too much Marcuse, with his ideas of “repressive tolerance”.

There is an ignoble part of me that says to the Marxist Jews of that time: you brought this on yourselves. You spent years and years creating and fostering a culture of leftist opposition to the true, the beautiful and the good, to British constitutional thought and civilized political discourse, to a reasonable, sane and balanced appreciation of politics, to a non-hysterical approach to political division, to an adaptive accommodation to social change, to a spirit of inquiry and compromise, to the possibility of reasoned political discourse that admits the legitimacy of other points of view.  The Marxist Jews of my time were the instigators of Marxist phenomena like political correctness – the notion that politic thought is capable of being right or wrong like an arithmetical sum. They instigated thought crime trials, repressions, schisms,  self-repressions, and mounting hysteria about political divisions. Now that the Left has abandoned Marxism, but retained its oppositional spirit, the Jews find themselves the targets of forces that their Leftist co-religionists abetted and exemplified back in the Soviet era.

You have sowed the wind, and are reaping the whirlwind. I am bold enough to think that some of the Marxists still alive might grudgingly admit the truth of this.

How does it feel to be on your own, with no direction from home, like a rolling stone?

As I said, my thoughts this morning are neither noble nor forgiving. I hold those Jewish Marxists in that time responsible for much evil that has come, is here now, and is yet to come. That the evil is happening now to Jews, however undeserving, provides the unseemly frisson of schadenfreude.

Materialism: the assumption that proves itself

As Thomas Nagel once said, materialism is a vast limiting assumption about what is real, and whatever could be real. I bought a book by a famous professor, Robert Sapolsky, called Behave. (As you may have gathered, I read people with whom I do not agree). Sapolsky was speaking in an interview recorded in MacLean’s Magazine:

 

You’ve written a lot about neurology and the law. You’re not really impressed with the concept of free will.

Nah. I used to be polite and say stuff like I certainly can’t prove there isn’t free will. But no, there’s none. There simply is nothing compatible with a 21st century understanding of how the physical laws of the universe work to have room for some sort of volitional little homunculus crawling around in our heads that takes advice from the biological inputs but at the end of the day goes and makes this independent decision on its own. It’s just not compatible with anything we understand about how biology works. All that free will is, is the biology we don’t understand yet. If you’re willing to look at the trajectory of what’s happened with knowledge, anything that still counts as free will we’re going to have an explanation for at some point soon.

Observe how what is assumed is consequently proved. Since we are nothing but a meat machine (a purely material occurrence), free will “cannot be compatible with anything we understand about how biology works.” Ipso facto.

 

 

If your understanding is materialist, your understanding is materialist. He starts  from his out of date understanding of physical laws: quantum indeterminacy has not been discovered in the Sapolsky view. Then he writes a huge promissory note on the future. “Anything that still counts as free will we’re going to have an explanation for at some point soon.”

In other words, if we cannot explain free will and consciousness, do not worry. We will do so soon. In the meantime take my materialist notions on, what would you call it? – faith.

And this guy has a McArthur Foundation genius grant?

From the Wikipedia article on him:

Sapolsky describes himself as an atheist.[5][6] He stated in his acceptance speech for the Emperor Has No Clothes Award, “I was raised in an Orthodox (Jewish) household, and I was raised devoutly religious up until around age 13 or so. In my adolescent years, one of the defining actions in my life was breaking away from all religious belief whatsoever.”[7

At least his materialism is consistent, unproven, and thorough. Assuming the truth of his assumptions, there can be no free will. Bully for him

My answer to aboriginal political exploitation of liberal guilt about their dire fate

 

From Francis Parkman, France and England in North America, volume 1,  Chapter XXIII, 1645-1648,  A Doomed Nation

It was a strange and miserable spectacle to behold the savages of this continent at the time when the knell of their common ruin had already sounded. Civilization had gained a foothold on their borders. The long and gloomy reign of barbarism was drawing near its close, and their united efforts could scarcely have availed to sustain it. Yet, in this crisis of their destiny, these doomed tribes were tearing each other’s throats in a wolfish fury, joined to an intelligence that served little purpose but mutual destruction.

Read Parkman on the early relations between whites and “Indians”, and among Indians themselves. It is a tale of ghastly tortures, raids, massacres, enslavements, kidnappings and discriminate slaughters of men, women and children by Indians, our native brethren, of other Indians and whites. Do not believe a word of this stereotype of Indians as the peaceful ecological guardians; they were engaged in a wars of brutish domination. The Iroquois tribal alliance triumphed over Huron and other tribal alliances from Hudson’s Bay to Tennessee. The Iroquois alliance exterminated the Hurons and the Neutrals; even the Nazis did not get all the Jews, nor the Turks the entire Armenian nation. And do not think I mean any insult to the Haudenosay Alliance; they were just the victors in the situation, as were the Aztecs in Mexico.

As to the Aztecs, no understanding of Amerindian culture can take place without reading the Conquest of New Spain, by Bernal Diaz.   The Aztec culture was based on ritual slaughter of victims whose hearts were torn out of their chests as they lay across stone altars at the top of cués, those sacrifice pyramids visited by tourists (which I view as an Auschwitz raised into a publicly proclaimed religion). Human sacrifice was their Mass. It was depicted in Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto. It is recorded that on the accession of Moctezuma to the Speakership of the Aztecs, 30,000 captives were slaughtered and eaten in a gigantic cannibal feast. In 1521, on the final assault of Cortez’ band across the causeways that protected the city of Mexico, some of the Spanish were captured. This is what happened:

“the dismal drum of Huichilobos [the Aztec sun god] sounded again, accompanied by conches, horns, and trumpet-like instruments. It was a terrifying sound, and when we looked at the tall cue from which it came we wsaw our comrades who had been captured in Cortes’ defeat being dragged up the steps to be sacrificed. When they had hauled them up to a small platform in front of the shrine where they kept their accursed idols we saw them put plumes on the heads of many of them; and then they made them dance with a sort of fan in front of Huichilobos. Then after they had danced the papas laid them down on their backs on some narrow stones of sacrifice and, cutting open their chests, drew out their palpitating hearts which they offered to the idols before them. Then they kicked the bodies down the steps, and the Indian butchers who were waiting  below cut off their arms and legs and flayed their faces , which they afterward prepared like glove leather, with their beards on, and kept for their drunken festivals. Then they ate their flesh with a sauce of peppers and tomatoes. They sacrificed all our men this way, eating their legs and arms, offering their hearts and blood to their idols as I have said, and throwing their trunks and entrails to the lions and tigers and serpents and snakes that they kept in the wild beast houses I have described in an earlier chapter.

The Conquest of New Spain is a book of such astonishing marvels and ghastly deeds that it reads more like a science-fictional account of an alien planet than it does a sober history, but it has the rare distinction of being an account of what an intelligent young soldier actually saw with his own eyes. Its veracity is overwhelming.

Do not weep with false pity for our North American Indians; they fought us every step of the way and the last resisters did not lay down arms until the early 20th century.

At the core of Amerindian religious conceptions was human sacrifice.  Even Quakers would have taken up arms against it.

Torture and human sacrifice of captives is not the whole story, nor is it a balanced story. But it happened, was endemic, and made wars with and among Indians particularly horrible.

The next time you hear some twat announce that he is giving a speech on traditional territories of the Ottawa, Huron, etc, do something rude.

 

PS: For more of the same, see the article in the Federalist on the same topic. Everyone has a cannibal and a slaver up the bloodline.

Iroquois Indian scalping white man in Canada from Encyclopedia of Voyages 1796 by Grasset de Saint Saveur and Labrousse

Books I am reading now

 

Utopia is Creepy, and other provocations, by Nicholas Carr

A series of excellent blog posts of essay quality by the former executive editor of the Harvard Business Review. If you feel as I do that most of what passes as novel and revolutionary in Silicon Valley is twaddle, and is heading us into a totalitarian state, this is your book. Internet 2.0 – remember that? If yes, you now know it meant nothing. If no, you cannot remember Internet 2.0, it illustrates the importance of not paying much attention to buzzwords out of the Bay area. Carr was the guy who first saw contributors to Facebook as “digital sharecroppers”, where the only person to reap the economic value of everyone working for free was Mark Zuckerberg. It is a better book than I have described here.

 

The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen 

This book deservedly won the Pulitzer prize. Here we have found a true son of the English language in this Vietnamese emigré. A biting satire about a South Vietnamese secret police officer of cultivated tastes who reports to his bosses in the North, after the escape from Vietnam to California. Droll, ironic, high-spirited, and scathing, though it never ceases to be funny. Quite an accomplishment.

Russia at War (1941-1945) by Alexander Werth

Alexander Werth was a British journalist of German-Russian origin. I recall Professor Vogel praising it back in 1968 at McGill, and I finally came across a copy. It fulfills every expectation of history and good reportage. The book contains many first hand accounts of what he saw, or was allowed to see, of the Russian front. Though Werth was a left-wing journalist, you will not be led astray by his hopes for the Soviet Union, or by what he recounts. That the Russians raped their way through Germany at the end of the war will become better understood if you read this dreadful account.

The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin’s forgotten theory of mate choice shapes the animal world, and us, by Richard O. Prum

Everyone acts as if Darwin had devised only one theory of evolution when in fact he devised two: natural and sexual selection. I cannot tell you much about it yet, but if it turns out to be half as good as Geoffrey Miller’s The Mating Mind of 2001 or Jared Diamond’s Why is Sex Fun?  of 1998, the book will be important. My theory of sexual selection is that Darwin found that natural selection could not explain the speed or directedness of human evolution: why we got so smart, so fast, and bravely set out to explain how that could have come about by mutual choice of each sex for certain characteristics in the other. My brief glimpses into Prum’s book assures me that he disposes quickly of some contemporary rubbish about sexuality.

Behave: The Biology of Humans at our Best and Worst, by Robert Sapolsky

Too soon to tell, but it looks to be a powerful work of a wide-ranging intellect and great writing style.