Living in the Matrix

Scott Adams of Dilbert fame believes we are living in a matrix (see his March 3, 2019 panel below for the wittiest exposition of the idea). The word has come to signify a cosmic structure in which we humans exist, that has the following qualities:

  • we live in an artificial structure
  • it is made by a conscious designer
  • that designer has God-like powers relative to us
  • we are designed so as not to inquire successfully into the nature of the matrix we live in (quantum indeterminacy and so forth)
  • The matrix in which we live could be encapsulated with in a larger matrix, and so on ad infinitum, possibly

Ages ago I wrote a piece called “Allah’s holodeck”. It sought to explain the Islamic idea of God, that he was so all-transcendent, so all-powerful, that he could snap his fingers and annihilate the universe. In principle He could delude us into thinking two plus two made five or worse, that the rules of arithmetic could actually change and 2+2 could equal 5.

I think we have seen where the thought of God as an arbitrary sovereign leads us in practice. The profound lack of curiosity in the Islamic world about the nature of reality is predicated in a religious idea, that Inquiry into the ways of God is a form of blasphemy. Inshalah – as God wills. Everything is God’s will. It is a dark thought to imagine oneself powerless, that one does not have moral agency.

The matrix idea may have the opposite effect. It may stimulate research in an entirely different direction, the same direction as Western science has always followed, which is to understand the mind of God. In the case of atheists like Scott Adams, the inquiry will be directed at showing how the Mind of the designer works.

A physicist once said that the universe is much more like a thought than a thing.

My hunch tells me that the matrix idea is a way for materialists to rationalize to themselves their intellectual curiosity without admitting to a theistic interpretation of the matrix. So that, if we are Sims in the Simulator, no feelings of religious awe are obligatory. The creator was just some Joe or Jane doing what we think is God-work for some metaphorical equivalent of an hourly wage, kind of like a Niebelung slaving away in the factories owned by Fafner which are protected by Wotan.

In the end I am persuaded that the matrix idea is the thin little envelope slipped under the door into the atheist’s bunker, which when opened produces revelations.

What would be tipped off to, Scott Adams? Anything we did not already know?

Scott Adams’ Deep Dive

I have been listening to Scott Adams, Dilbert’s creator, for some time now. His style is cool and rational. I recommend him. On the downside, he can ramble, and the level of preparation for the show is wanting. Putting it another way, a little editing would improve the show.

For the past few weeks he has been conducting a “deep dive” into anthropogenic global warming. He professes skepticism towards all claims for and against man-caused global warming. He keeps asking the right questions, namely, what fact or facts, if shown, would be decisive to a rational mind that man-caused global warming was both happening and serious.

On the downside – and I confess to having listened to him too much – he needs to do something about his nose. As in blowing it to clear the nasal passages. If that is insufficient, would he please take some claritin or anti-histamine? Thank you, Scott.

His contribution to rational discourse is hugely important.

 - Dilbert by Scott Adams

Trashing the INF Treaty—More American Humbug?

The Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty negotiated in 1987 between President Reagan and Soviet President Gorbachev, removed intermediate-range missiles, American cruise missiles and Soviet SS-20s, from Europe. Following the collapse of communism and the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, further steps were taken to reduce tensions in the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 whereby Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan would surrender the Soviet nuclear weapons on their territory to Russian control.

Also, during the 1990s, repeated assurances were given to the Russian Federation that NATO would not engage in a continuous expansion eastwards, extending a military threat right up to the Russian border. NATO, essentially the Americans, have reneged on these commitments numerous times. An article in Der Spiegel is useful here.

When the Yanukovych government was overthrown in Ukraine, by an obvious CIA-inspired and executed plot, Victoria Nuland, the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, was handing out cookies in Maidan Square to celebrate. Is it any wonder that the Russians were concerned?

The very real possibility existed that a NATO puppet government would take over in Ukraine and possibly the only warm-water port of the Russian Navy would fall to NATO. Further, Crimea has always been part of Russia proper; it was only handed over to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic in 1954 by Khrushchev, allegedly in a drunken stupor at the time. So what “legitimacy” can be claimed for that?

The Russians made the only possible geostrategic decision—retain the port by retaking Crimea. This was a popular move in Russia and in Crimea, particularly as Ukraine has continued to become more chaotic.

Fast forward to the present when the US foreign policy establishment has decided to tear up the INF Treaty.

According to Scott Ritter, a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD, in an article in The American Conservative (no less)

The United States has a track record of asking nations to prove a negative when it comes to compliance with arms control agreements, and then holding them to account when they fail to do so. The deficit of integrity over U.S. claims against Iraq regarding weapons of mass destruction and Iran and its nuclear program speaks volumes about how corrupt America’s policymaking apparatus has become. Now the United States is making the same mistake again by pulling out of the INF Treaty, which it claims Russia violated.

Further,…

According to the current director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, the intelligence community “assesses Russia has flight-tested, produced, and deployed cruise missiles with a range capability prohibited by the Treaty.” Coats named the system in question as the 9M729. He noted that the Novator design bureau was the responsible agency, and that the 9M729 missile closely resembled other cruise missiles Novator was developing at the time.
According to Coats, “Russia conducted the flight test program in a way that appeared purposefully designed to disguise the true nature of their testing activity as well as the capability of the 9M729 missile.”

In the US claims, there are many things that “appear” or “are probably” something or other with very little to back up the claims. The main claim is the recently developed missile, the 9M729, a ground-launched cruise missile, has a range longer than the 2,500 miles permitted by the INF Treaty.

To cut a long story short (you can read the details in Ritter’s article), the new missile has a propulsion system the same as its predecessor, which operates within the limits of the INF Treaty. Indeed…

…Russia has indicated that it is willing to go further—perhaps removing the missile from its sealed launch canister for a more technical evaluation by U.S. specialists—to reinforce the 9M729’s compliance.
The U.S. has refused to participate in such an exercise.

Acting Deputy Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) Thomas Graham, Jr, in 1994 said,

…“A high degree of confidence is required before the United States will publicly charge another party with violation of an international agreement.”

As Ritter drily points out…

The words of Thomas Graham hang heavy in the air today. There is nothing about America’s case against Russia that meets that standard. Instead, the U.S. seems intent on following in the same path as previous intelligence failures in Iraq and Iran.

Since the fall of communism, the US foreign policy establishment has learned nothing and forgotten nothing. They resemble the fossilized Soviet nomenklatura, hidebound and incapable of change.

Instead of seeking a rapprochement with Russia, welcoming her back into the fold of Western Civilization after suffering under communism for seventy years, uniting in the fight against the real threat to the West—Islam—the US nomenklatura is continuing its fratricidal and myopic foreign policy of incessant war-mongering.

Perhaps President Trump should be seen as the American Gorbachev, struggling to bring some glasnost and perestroika to an establishment desperately in need of some fresh thinking. Trump is Y-u-g-e, but not superman.  He cannot do everything he would like to do; with all the seditious rabble in the Democrat Party offering nothing but hysteria and hatred, it’s quite remarkable what has been done. At least he has been trying to show some common sense about Russia, pretty hard to do when the Fake News media, the Deep State and the chattering classes are all so deluded about the current state of the world.

Rebel Yell

“What?”

The Prime Minister this morning maintained in essence that his chief fault in the whole affair was not to make clear to his staff and his ministers that his door was always open for them to come and air their grievances and concerns. Jody Wilson Raybould might have availed herself of the opportunity for an open-hearted chat if only had had been clearer on this point.

No money exchanged hands in the recent Raybould affair. For some people, the absence of an illegal act means there is nothing to the scandal. This was the view of Barbara Yaffe in the Globe a few days ago. As soon as I saw that piece, I recollected that Gerald Butts or someone in the regime said that they could sprinkle op-eds around the system minimizing the damage.

The French press wonders, with some justification, why the English are in one their periodic outbursts of indignation. But they too have noticed that Trudeau has done great damage to the Liberal brand. I am reminded of a great scene in a movie about Queen Elizabeth 1 when she was being courted by the French Duc D’Orleans, successor tot he throne. His problem was that he was actively homosexual. When he failed to show up for a state dinner, Elizabeth and her chief counsellor Lord Burleigh visit the Duke of Orleans state apartments. They find a party going on, with the Duc d’Orleans dressed in the Queen’s clothes being courted by homosexuals. Outraged at this interruption of his good times, the Duc d’Orleans yells “Whaaat?” to Elizabeth, completely unembarrassed. As in, “what are doing here, you bitch, interrupting my private amusements?”.

“Yes I was wearing a dress”, said the Duc d’Orleans. “So what? It is what I do on private with my friends.”

I suddenly thought of Justin Trudeau, saying, in so many words: “What?” What scandal? Who me? You must be kidding!” Then after a few weeks of this, he realizes that maybe he has committed a small boo-boo. The English and their stupid ideas of rectitude.

It has been a good week

Jody Wilson-Raybould eviscerated Justin Trudeau in detail, and revealed him for all to see as a floundering, feckless, effete fop. His moral preening about being a feminist and pro-native has been eclipsed by the light shone on his and his government’s behaviour.

Trump bats it out of the park in his address to the Conservative Political Action Conference. A relatively neutral observer, Nick Gillespie of Reason Magazine, wrote:

“It’s way too early to be thinking this, much less saying it, but what the hell: If Donald Trump is able to deliver the sort of performance he gave today at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the annual meeting of right-wingers held near Washington, D.C., his reelection is a foregone conclusion.

“There is simply no potential candidate in the Democratic Party who wouldn’t be absolutely blown off the stage by him. I say this as someone who is neither a Trump fanboy nor a Never Trumper. But he was not simply good, he was Prince-at-the-Super-Bowl great, deftly flinging juvenile taunts at everyone who has ever crossed him, tossing red meat to the Republican faithful, and going sotto voce serious to talk about justice being done for working-class Americans screwed over by global corporations.

Jussy Smollett’s hoax was fully exposed as a complete fabrication.

All the Usual Suspects supported Smollett the same way they piled on to the poor kids at Covington High School. Hate hoaxes are numerous because they fit into the prejudice that white people are seething with hate against lefties, darkies, and queers, whereas the hate is almost entirely directed by left-wingers at normal people.

The Michael Cohen expose of Trump’s misdeeds before Congress went badly: he refused to confirm any of the Demented Party’s favourite calumnies against the Donald. Two years’ worth of nonsense was denied by Cohen, but you had to watch carefully because Cohen was repentant for being toxicly male. Tucker Carlson shows how much Cohen in substance effectively denied the Russian collusion myth.

The Green New Deal, the plan for destroying the American economy, will continue to undermine the Demented Party’s chances in 2020.

I may be entirely wrong, but I am feeling that this past week marks the beginning of the end for Trudeau Junior, and has provided further evidence that all the enemies of Trump will be confounded. The enemies of Trump are blinded by their hatred. I did not think that blind hatred was a real thing but I see too many well-educated intelligent people who have lost their minds over Trump. Their reason has gone. Their aim is off the mark; they cannot see him, they only see their hatred.

To quote The Donald: “If we don’t go off script, we won’t save the country”.

Empty Planet: the shock of global population decline

This is a useful introduction to the next 70 years. The authors Darrell Bricker and John Ibbotson trace the debates about total human population, they side for good reasons with the view that the media UN demographic projections are too high, and they speculate on some of the effects that decreasing population will have on economic growth (bad), global warming (good) , and the extinction of small cultures (ongoing).

The argument is simple: women are becoming less fertile – having fewer babies – under the influence of higher education, moving to cities, greater aspirations, and the decline of social control of their reproductivity. This decline is occurring nearly everywhere, including in non-industrial societies, advanced industrial societies, and regardless of whether the people in question are Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, secular, or Islamic. The fertility decline is occurring with especial speed in Islamic societies, and formerly strongly Catholic ones.

This is counter to what you have been taught in university back in the days of the Club of Rome report (1972) and in the doomist press. Births are below replacement rate (2.1 per woman) in most parts of the world. Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Mali are exceptions, though birth rates will fall there shortly, too. The point of demographics is that it correctly predicts the shape of societies for decades to come precisely because people tend to live by statistically valid durations of time. Lifespans are calculable.

Overall, the global average length of life has doubled to 70 years since 1900.

The UN predicts in its medium growth scenario a global population in 2100 (roughly 80 years away) at 11.2 billion, at which point it holds stable and then starts to shrinks. The low variant of UN projections say that the world population will peak at 8.2 billion around 2050 and decline to 7 billion, where we are now, by 2100.

A good portion of the argument of Bricker and Ibbotson is that the low variant will prove to be the correct one. I encourage you to read the argument.

The authors indulge themselves in later chapters with some attacks on nativism and Trump’s policies, which express Toronto-centric Upper Canadian snobbery and fail to address that the issue for the US is illegal immigration. Legal immigration to the United States continues to be high and is socially approved of, at about 1.1 million a year. Undocumented immigration has amounted over the years to more than 10.5 million US residents, and this is what excites the antipathy of the US citizenry.

They do venture to observe that declining world population, coupled with roughly stable energy use per person, will alleviate the global warming crisis (as they would see it). “Urbanization, innovation, and depopulation might be the best solution to halting the march of climate change.” (p.231)

However, the chief merit of this book is to draw attention to the shape of the next 80 years, as population rises until mid-century and begins to drop, in some cases precipitously, by 2100.

The same material is discussed from a deeply religious (meaningful) viewpoint in David Goldman’s How Civilizations Die (and Why Islam is Dying too). Both books start with UN statistics on population, but the resemblance ends there. Goldman links fertility, past and future, to the tenacity to which people hold to their religious creeds. This will be an unwelcome thought to the purely secular minds of Ibbotson and Bricker, and many other reasonable people. Yet of the subject of the world’s population interests you, Goldman’s interpretation of the facts evokes much deeper issues than urbanization and female empowerment. Says Goldman:

“Two cultures are contending at the family level throughout the world: secular modernity and renewed faith. Secular families have few children and religious families have many. That means that in each generation, religious families will increase in number and secular families will diminish” (at p 197)

Thus, says Goldman, the path out of secular population decline will necessarily require a change of views regarding family, women’s roles, fatherhood, and the really important issues of life. These are what I mean by the word “religion”. I do not see anything like this happening soon, and maybe it will never happen. By 2050, in a world that is shrinking in population, radical alternatives to population decline may seem more achievable and desirable. Or maybe we will have been assimilated by the Borg by then.