Brexit Comic (First Draft)

 

fear campaignyou must submityyou should reconsiderwill not submitwe wont be threatened 2madness 2this is sparta

 

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What is a Racist?

racist

Its unclear what anyone means when they call Donald Trump a racist. If we accept the definitions provided by Google’s dictionary; it would imply that he has either taken some action against someone because of their ethnic type or that, while he has not acted on it, he regards belonging to some ethnic types as sufficient grounds for disliking someone. Although I searched, I have not been able to find any evidence to support a claim that Trump is guilty on either charge. What I have seen repeatedly is reference to some comments made about America’s immigration policy. The reference is often accompanied by the assertion that Trump “hates Mexicans”.

My initial concern is that ‘Mexican’ might not count as an ethnic type. I understand that there are several distinctions to be made between the groups of people who inhabited the lower peninsula of North America prior the modern United Mexican States. In addition, whatever ethnic distinctions there are to be made between the people of this region, those titles do not respect national boundaries.

Lets say we were to expand the meaning of “racist” to include a dislike of or actions against people based on nationality. Trump has never declared a loathing or even a grievance against an entire subset of people. In fact, you would be hard pressed to identify a demographic for which he has not declared he is in a mutual, loving relationship.

What trump actually said was:

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

The story that I pulled this quote from challenges the validity of his comment. They cite some research which supposedly demonstrates that there is no higher rate of criminal activity among immigrants than among native born citizens. Criticizing his comment in this way acknowledges, though not explicitly, an important point: Trump’s focus is not on pigmentation or nation of origin in and of itself. Instead, even if he is incorrect, he is attempting to utilize identity type as an indicator of something else.

For the sake of argument, lets imagine that Trump’s comment was something more like “We should not allow any Mexicans to enter the United States.” Could we say, based on this comment, that Trump believed that Mexicans where inherently inferior? Well, it is hard to know what is meant by “inherently” in this context since nationality is not necessarily a permanent condition.

Let’s stop talking about Trump in particular and just focus on the issue of ambiguous language. For the sake of example, lets look at a hypothetical policy. The policy is : no red haired people can cross a checkpoint. Does this policy count as racist? If your first instinct is to say ‘yes’ because it involved distinctions in pigmentation, think a little further. Is it the case that policy makers have a belief about the inherent inferiority of red haired people? It might be, but I think it’s too early to judge.

Now I will introduce some more information for you to consider. The policy makers are in charge of physical security in a walled city where the inhabitants all have black hair. In most of the neighboring lands, red hair occurs in roughly 5% of the population. In addition, the city suffers occasional attacks from a nation to the west. In this hostile nation, roughly 80% of the population has red hair. Equipped with this knowledge, the city guards cannot be certain that no people with black hair pose a threat. However, they can deduce that any person with red hair is not native to their city and that they are more likely to be (though not certainly) hostile.

Notice that the guards of the city are attempting to use statistics to improve their defensive strategies. This does not necessarily reflect a belief that pigmentation is responsible for hostility or inferiority.

So, are the guards racist?

 

 

 

Will Paul be Johnson’s Goldwater?

In 1964, Barry Goldwater was the republican candidate for president of the United States. He was crushed by Lyndon Johnson in the electoral college; 52 votes compared to 486. However, Goldwater’s campaign was a turning point in the history of the Republican Party. He campaigned on a promise of preserving and extending individual freedoms for American citizens. Though he failed to be elected, his message inspired many.

During the subsequent administrations of Johnson, Nixon, and Carter; the American people watched the government grow and liberty recede. There was plenty of blame to go around. After all, it was Nixon, a Republican, who allowed for the creation of the EPA and ESA; both major expansions of federal control.

Finally, the American people had had enough. When the charismatic Ronald Reagan offered them Goldwater’s message once again in 1980, he received landslide support. All but three states were won by Reagan in his race against the incumbent President Jimmy Carter. Reagan lost only Minnesota when he ran for re-election in 1984 and is still a beloved figure for most conservatives. He was the last best president in our history.

I cannot help but see some parallels between this series of events and what I have seen in the last few presidential elections. After President Clinton’s liberal administration was replaced by Republican George Bush, many liberal minded conservatives were disappointed with the same ole’ big government and bailouts for the banks. President Obama has taken us further away from the liberal ideal than we have been at any time in modern history.

All the while, Ron Paul was fighting the good fight and losing even worse than Goldwater did. However, like Goldwater, Paul’s message has reached many of us and inspired a new generation of pro-liberty Americans. Now, the Libertarian party is coming into it’s own.

doom

I feel like this image encapsulates the outlook of many Americans and it means opportunity for a new voice.

 

The major obstacle for third party candidate has always been the funding and advertising system which favors the major parties. However, Trump’s campaign seems to be out of money. In addition, Gary Johnson (the Libertarian candidate) is polling in the double digits. With just a bit more progress, he will be eligible to participate in the televised presidential debates.

As for Hillary, I think the odds are against her. It seems more appropriate at this point that she should be drawn and quartered than sworn into office. Even the liberal media isn’t letting her off the hook anymore.

The Cave Analogy Revisited

cave

The analogy of Plato’s cave involves a man who breaks free of his restraints and emerges from the cave where he has always been held captive into the daylight where he can perceive depth, color, texture, etc. He returns to the cave and attempts to share an account of what he has seen with the prisoners who are still restrained. They cannot imagine what it was like for him to perceive ‘reality’. So, it is implied that the conception understood by the escapee is more accurate a depiction of reality than those held by the other prisoners.

Imagine; a variation on this analogy wherein the other prisoners are also able to perceive the world outside the cave. Maybe with the help of a camcorder or perhaps they are also freed. Can the prisoners then be confident that they share a perspective which allows them to perceive the world more accurately? What would that mean about a scenario in which the sequence of their experiences was reversed? Is it just as likely that men who were free until adulthood would regard imprisonment with the conditions described in the original analogy as enlightening?

What if you were to present to a person in the condition of ignorance a palette with the three primary colors and attempt to explain how all things appear as some combination of them when exposed to light? If I ask you whether or not, after convincing him, you had made given him a more accurate way to understand things: wouldn’t this be the same as asking you whether or not it had given him something useful?

When we deal with the abstract, we do not rely so much on our senses to construct impressions for us. Instead, we invent distinctions like color, the distinction between genders, between good things and bad things. To whatever degree these abstractions allow us to interact with and predict consequences within the physical world, we should regard them as sufficient. We should also be mindful that perceiving the world through various lenses only makes sense if it aids us in some way.

Kanye-West-Glasses

This is optional but not recommended.

The left craftily introduces distinctions while feigning objectivity. Their audience is meant to feel as though the messages they receive do not contain moral assumptions. However, relaying an abstract concept is a sort of endorsement in itself. They are saying “Hey, there are 10 different gender categories. One of them applies to you, or maybe more than one. I’m not telling you how to feel about it (sometimes) but you should know the distinctions.”

The problem is that all these social constructs are only perceived social realities. I think it is a bit ironic to make this point as a criticism of the left since it is the same point they use to deconstruct the social norms which have contributed to the success of many western nations. While it is true that things like traditional gender roles are socially constructed ideals, it is also true that things like multiculturalism and classlessness are socially constructed ideals.

Once we acknowledge that our ideas about people and society are no more than tools, we can focus on results. When individuals realize that they cannot be made to possess every material good or social opportunity that appeals to them, it is possible to accept limitations as a feature of life. If individuals dwell on inequity, there can never be an end to the conflict. We need to advocate for social norms that facilitate cooperation and good will. We need to take responsibility for our lives, even when some things are out of our control.

An Open Letter to My Limey Cousins

Image by Ben Garrison

The set of ideas espoused by what Americans call ‘the left’ is toxic. For any culture to ingest these ideas is suicide by pain of poison. Victims of this poison include Catherine’s Russia,  Napoleon’s France, and Bismark’s Germany. Merkel has poisoned(1 2) the well in the village of European states. The great nations of the United Kingdom must now amputate a rotting limb.

Between the first and second world wars, the French nation lost it’s will to survive. It’s death rattle was the words of pacifist spokesman Jean Giono who said “What’s the worst that can happen if Germany invades France? Become Germans?” Three years later, the Nazis invaded and there was no will to resist them. Unfortunately for the young and mighty German nation as well as the Russian Empire, the symptoms of the late France were contagious. Germany succumbed to a nationalist strain of disease and Russia to a universal strain which was more natural to it’s expansionist tendencies.

The European Union is Hitler’s legacy, nursed back to health by well meant idealist policy makers of the United States. This Frankenstein’s monster threatens to swallow up the legacies of Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill, Isaac Newton, John Stuart Mill, Edmund Burke, and Robert the Bruce. If a vote does not pass to to free the United Kingdom from it’s clutches; I will mourn it’s fate. As the American ship takes on water and a dedicated crew struggles to keep it afloat, we are also praying for our cousins across the pond. If it is our fate to decline to the point of failure, I would take some comfort in knowing that the flame of civilization was kept alive else where.

 

Trump’s Get Rich Quick Scam

-Video from Metalocalypse

We’ve all heard about get-rich-quick scams. They prey on our laziness and desire to get where we want to be without the time and effort required by other means. Whether its the prince of some obscure nation who just needs your bank information or an investment that can’t fail. You’ve probably been solicited to invest in some of these things and were wise enough not to. Still, every day people are tricked into pyramid schemes and the like. In the most regrettable instances, people’s livelihoods are destroyed by con men.

Recently, folks have been making a lot of noise about the large sums of money swindled away from the victims of Trump University. The program, which promised to educate it’s students on the business of real estate, charged tens of thousands of dollars in some instances. Students of the program have complained that they weren’t given any special skills or knowledge that justify the investment. Some have said plainly that Trump’s school is a “scam” and a “fraud”.

I find it a little ironic that many who are eager to point a finger at Trump and call foul have no problem with a similar, much larger, ‘education’ scam. The University system has been at this much longer than Trump. To date, millions of young people (and often their parents) have been fooled into devoting enormous energy and resources into attaining so-called Mickey Mouse degrees. This includes college majors such as Media Studies, Art History, and Women’s Studies. Victims of these scams are left with empty pockets and no real marketable skills. It’s all the more tragic that the government endorses it. So where is the outrage? Why pick on Trump? At least he doesn’t get revenue through taxation.

A Collection of Comments

This article will be updated regularly with new comments.

#1 (Responding in a forum)

The idea the reported 5% unemployment says anything about the state of our economy is a fantasy cooked up by government econometricians. Yes, many of them have been to college and hold fancy degrees but that doesn’t mean you should take them at their word. In reality, there are plenty of well informed folks with fancy degrees of their own that can explain why the country is, in fact, in decline. I won’t ask you to take their word for it either but consider this; unemployment is only valuable as a metric when it tells us what portion of the population is providing the goods and services we need and what portion only consumes and therefore burdens society. When you consider that many who have been excused from inclusion in the ‘un-employment’ group actually contribute nothing in terms of capital and have been left out because their excuses are deemed valid, the metric loses meaning. I don’t mind that hardly anyone in this country below 18 does anything but consume. They are meant to be getting an education. However, that does not change the reality that they represent a burden. The same goes for the elderly, tens of millions of people employed by government, college students, and the disabled. Our actual unemployment rate is MUCH higher than 5%.

#2 (In response to this blog.)

You say that Trump is not qualified, but what do you mean by that? Do you suspect he has lied about his age and is younger than the 35 year minimum? Are you proposing that Trump is not a citizen? Maybe we should take a closer look at his birth certificate. I suspect that you are suggesting neither of these things. Although you say he is not qualified, what you mean is that he does not live up to your own personal standards for a president. Since you are referring to your own standards and not a universal standards, the idea that it can be known by everyone that these standards are not met is absurd. Clearly, millions of people feel that he either meets their own standards or that he comes closer than any other candidate. Not only is your article absurd, your attempts to dress it up as an exercise in logic are comical.

#3 (In response to this blog)

The death penalty should not be used to punish Dylann Roof, it should be used to prevent further harm to society. Yea, we could keep him locked up for the next sixty or seventy years. He would remain a burden on the families of his victims and everyone else in society. Why should resources be diverted away from the needs of decent citizens to maintain a pulse in this person you yourself identify as monstrous? I agree with you that revenge is no justification for killing him. How about justifying it as a means of eliminating a problem?

#4 (In response to this blog)

MQTA:

You say that “Whiteness is first and foremost a strategy of elites.” I understand that to mean that it is a construct that is given significance for the benefit of elite whites. If that’s what you mean, I think you should consider that inclusion in the dominant segment of society is less important for the rich and talented and more so for the poor and disenfranchised. During reconstruction, blacks were often preferred as employees because they would accept lower wages. For the elite, this meant cheaper labor. For white laborers, this meant competition. They sought to preserve their relative advantage over whites through violent means including lynching and Jim Crow laws. Things haven’t changed much since then. If you go to a white pride event you will find a bunch of folks who have nothing else to be proud of. They cling to prestige by association. On the other hand, you would be hard pressed to find many whites in the elite who feel threatened by blacks.

TNS:

For elites, a group which in America has always been disproportionately White, their power is underwritten by numerous structures, economic, educational, cultural etc. including race. In a White supremacist society, Whiteness is a benefit. True, this is also a capitalist, patriarchal, abelist, heteronormative and credentialist society, and so, the more of these boxes one can tick off, the better, that doesn’t mean that Whiteness doesn’t matter to White elites and that making sure that Whiteness continues to matter isn’t beneficial to them. Chris Hughes one of Facebook’s founders and the owner of The New Republic demonstrates this very well. He’s a White male from North Carolina from a modest family. He’s also gay. (I know all this because someone profiled him when he bought The New Republic, back when I was a subscriber.) He wrote a letter to a prep school in the north and was admitted on a scholarship. Starting out with the benefit of being White and male in a White supremacist and patriarchal society, he then added to that by boosting his credentials and personal cultural capital by going to an elite prep school. Does that mean being White and male ceased to benefit him? No. I’m a straight Black male from South Carolina, from modest means. Had I done the same thing, I would have stuck out like a sore thumb as a Black man in an overwhelmingly White milieu, which would have given me an additional factor to overcome which he didn’t have. Granted, I would have benefited from heteronormativity, though homosexuals have the benefit of not having their minority status be immediately apparent. He then went to Harvard where he added to his elite status and had the good fortune of rooming with a young man who would soon be a billionaire. So, obviously the benefits of Whiteness are more salient for those who have nothing, that doesn’t mean there aren’t definite benefits to checking that box no matter what level you’re at. As for race and labor, Blacks were “willing” to work for less because they were seen as less desirable than White laborers. Because White laborers agreed that they were better than Blacks, they chose to persecute Black laborers rather than organizing and demanding equal pay for all laborers. And no, someone from the elite may not approach you wearing a Confederate flag and shouting racial slurs, because, the people they are competing with directly in day to day life aren’t Black for the most part and the White lower classes tend to do most of the dirtiest dirty work for them. What the elite will do is propagate the myth that America is a true meritocracy and produce culture which reinforces racist ideas both among those that express them explicitly and those who don’t. They’ll also lobby for and pass bills creating things like mass incarceration and redlining. The mere numerical fact that the elite is disproportionately White means they benefit directly from White Supremacy, because, if we had racial equality, we’d either have to have a larger elite sharing the same resources or some Whites would have to be displaced in favor of Blacks. Social structures are far deeper than superficial culture and who most vociferously seems to be competing with whom.

MQTA

You say that the disproportionate number of whites in the elite is evidence that certain members of the elite have benefitted from white supremacy. In other words, inequality of outcome can only mean an inequality in opportunity. What would you say then to the fact that Asians in the United States are disproportionately wealthy, even more so than whites? I think the reality is far more nuanced than your description appreciates. If you’re interested, I recommend a book called “Wealth, Poverty and Politics” by Thomas Sowell.

TNS:

For one thing, there’s more to elite status than personal wealth, Asians are still underrepresented in political and business leadership. And at the moment, the elite which controls the country is still overwhelmingly White. I may check out the book, until then, feel free to make your arguments here.

MQTA:

I meant to argue that inequality of outcome is no evidence for inequality of opportunity. There may be a knitting circle in my neighborhood that is all female. I can’t conclude, based on that evidence alone, that husbands weren’t invited. Instances where people are granted opportunities based on membership to an identity group do not necessarily contribute to representative disparity either. In fact, many advocate gender and pigment based discrimination as a means of ‘correcting’ representative disparity. In my line of work, people are actually given preference based on diversity quotas.

I did not mean for you to accept my view just because it has been expressed in a book. You are right to ask for arguments instead of citations but I don’t think I can improve on what Sowell has said so I will provide two excerpts instead;

“The grand social dogma of our time, that statistical disparities in outcomes between groups are presumptive evidence of differential treatment by others- a presumption that employers, lenders, and other accused of discriminatory must rebut to the satisfaction of commissions or courts, or else face penalties that can amount to millions of dollars- is sheer presumption. No evidence whatsoever is required to be presented to commissions or courts to substantiate that presumption.” – Intellectuals and Society

“The current widespread use of an even, proportional or statistically random distribution of groups in particular fields of endeavor, or at particular income levels, as a benchmark from which to measure maltreatment by others, is taken as axiomatic, not because of empirical support for this conclusion but because that benchmark is a foundation for other social beliefs and political agendas.” – Intellectuals and Society

In summary, I have seen your description of a system that favors various social groups (particularly whites) over others but I do not know what evidence you have for the existence of such a system. If you rely entirely on inequality of outcome, I think you should re-consider. If there is something else, please share it with me.

[Conversation continues past this point. Visit TNS‘ blog for the remainder]

#5 (In response to this video)

MQTA:

My problem with this analogy [Plato’s Cave] is that is assumes that the world perceived by the prisoner who was freed is somehow more true than the world perceived by the other prisoners. It reflects the vanity of Plato and of intellectuals throughout time. They assign a greater significance to their conceptions and label alternative views as delusional. This tendency is demonstrated in Thomas Sowell’s “Intellectuals and Society”. Great read.
Haugen:
 

Well, one reply is, “Of course there is a presumption. It is an analogy. Analogies really don’t prove anything—they only illustrate.” This is Plato’s purpose behind the Allegory of the Cave: to illustrate the difference between the person who recognizes the forms and the person who does not. His proof—although, to be honest, is not a proof—of the Forms is given in several different places throughout the dialogues. The main crux of his argument is that there is a difference between appearance and reality. Most, if not all, people, have noticed this difference. Plato is merely one attempt at delineating the difference.

Now, I am not trying to be rude here, but one wonders what your criticism is. Here is what you have written:

“[Plato and intellectuals through time] assign a greater significance to their conceptions and label alternative views as delusional.”

Okay. I am pretty familiar with Plato’s works and there are times when he ridicules others, e.g., Glaucon. However, that is not his only reasoning. In short, he ridicules his opponents since he has reason for his conclusion which is contrary to their conclusions [1] that his opponent could not refute. This is, by no means, a polite way to treat someone. However, his arguments are not merely “You stupid! Me smart!” (although he certainly wanted to communicate this). So, one reply to your criticism is that you have not yet addressed his reasons. You have merely cited a—perhaps accurate—character flaw.

Another reply is this: your criticism may be leveled at yourself. I took a brief look at your blog. I did not make a close read, but you appear to be arguing for a sort of pragmatism. Pragmatism is a theory proposed by several figures in the intellectual history. If you are not endorsing pragmatism, mea culpa. However, even if you are not endorsing pragmatism, you are endorsing one competing theory amongst many (even if it does not have a name yet). It is “competing” in the sense that it is contrary to the other theories—including Plato’s. You think your theory is true; hence, since it is contrary to the others, you think it is “more true” than others. Okay, welcome to the club! However, if your issue with Plato and other intellectuals is that they believe their theories are more true than others, that criticism applies to you as well.

I encourage you to keep thinking about this. Plato’s arrogance is well noted by many in the field—some, unfortunately, even celebrate it. However, not everyone is a Platonist—most notably, perhaps, is his student Aristotle. I have not read Sowell’s work and, to be honest, I may never get to it. If Sowell’s conclusion is that intellectuals can be, and even usually are, arrogant, then I agree. However, while arrogance is a character flaw, it does not show that any particular piece of evidence is false, or that any particular argument is incoherent. In short, if you think either that there is no difference between appearance and reality (which is Plato’s point with the Allegory), or that his theory of the Forms is flawed, then I say you have given yourself the challenge to do better. Arrogance is a flaw, to be sure. It is the height of arrogance to claim that someone else is mistaken and either not provide a flaw in that other person’s reasoning, or better reason for a contrary conclusion.

[1] By the way, ridiculing the other was a rhetorical practice among the Greeks—probably us too. Plato and Socrates got as good as they gave.

MQTA:

Thanks for the thoughtful response and taking the time to look at my writing.

I would first like to clear up a misconception. You say ” You think your theory is true” but I have not claimed that my ideas are true. You might think it is reasonable to assume that each person believes in the truth of his own conception, but I do not. I attempt to collect ideas that have utility in the context of my life, but I recognize that the same ideas in another context may be misguided, and that the idea I utilize can be improved to better achieve the ends I desire.

I think your criticism that I have simplified Plato’s work is fair. I did not mean to suggest that Plato, or other thinkers with whom I am at odds, have no arguments. I just think it is worth recognizing that arguments are not proof.

An example; Plenty of evidence and reasoning was presented to support the conclusion that stress caused people to develop ulcers. In the 1980’s, new medical research convinced many people that this had been a mistake, and that bacteria was actually responsible.

Now that there is a new consensus (at least as I understand, not being a doctor) in the medical community, should we be confident that we now have the “truth”?

I would not suggest that their new consensus is arrogant and therefore incorrect, I only challenge the level of confidence I hear among so many. It is that confidence that drives people to feel justified in forcing their judgment on other people. I believe in the freedom of conscience in personal matters.

I do not mean to suggest that you are against freedom of conscience, but I share this to let you in on why I regard the distinction between reason and knowledge as so significant.

Haugen:
 

If you are not claiming your ideas are true, then you are going to have to stop using declarative sentences. Declaratives are sentences with (at least) a subject and a predicate. The only use for those sentences is to state a truth claim. Hence, even the sentence, “I have not claimed my ideas are true” is a truth claim. This is a declarative just as “I attempt to collect ideas that have utility in the context of my life, but I recognize that the same ideas in another context may be misguided, and that the idea I utilize can be improved to better achieve the ends I desire.” are also declaratives. You state, “I believe in the freedom of conscience in personal matters.” This is a truth claim. In other words, you cannot escape the reality that you are involved with truth. Even the claim that ideas have utility, and that you are more interested in utility rather than truth, is a purported truth.

You have provided instances where purported knowledge claims have either been revised or abandoned. The history of science is full of these examples. Yeah, well, welcome to humanity. Examples can abound in areas other than math; history, art, and especially philosophy are all full of examples of revisions and disagreement. These are really excellent examples of why we should be careful. The irony of the human intellectual tradition is that it provides really great reason for humility and compassion. As noted, we tend to go in that exact opposite direction.

I suggest this: do not give up on truth, reason, or argument. Do not give up on humility, compassion, pragmatism, or even doubt. For, none of these are incompatible. In fact, I imagine you will even find that excellence in one helps with excellence in the others.

MQTA:
I appreciate the suggestion, but I would feel obnoxious if I was constantly prefacing every statement with “I’m not sure, but it seems to me…”  Instead, it will just have to be understood that my opinions are opinions. When I said that I believe in freedom of conscience, I did not mean to say that I know that there is some thing, in “reality”, that is called the freedom of conscience. I meant that I am currently convinced in the utility of accepting freedom of conscience as a social norm.

Adventures in the State-Church: Part 2

Last year, I took an obligatory intro-level biology course at my state-church. The instructor was a batty old woman who’s unchanging facial expression gives the impression she once took a loooong trip. She was very unpleasant to listen to and hostile towards questions…but that’s beside my point.

This instructor felt the need to use her position to instill some virtue in her audience. On one occasion, she  gave us a sales pitch for her favorite brand of condom. She also liked to lecture us about how our lifestyles were unfair to the planet. Maybe the most absurd anecdote I can remember was a time when she took a few minutes out of her lecture on evolution to explain why a graphic used in the textbook was racist. It was one of those ‘evolution of man’ diagrams. Sort of like this one…

evolution

She reasoned that because the ape on the left is black and the human on the right is a Caucasian, it is implied that light skin is more evolutionarily advanced.

This same teacher liked to assert that all humans belong to a single species. “Its a scientific fact!” she would shriek. That’s what the state-clergy like to call their opinions.

Never mind that distinction between species due to reproductive isolation is commonplace. Just ask the Meadowlark or the Fruit Fly. Why then, can’t we acknowledge that different types of humans exits? I guess it just doesn’t fit their narrative.

 

Can You Believe This Shit?

I was overwhelmed yesterday by heaps of bullshit. The propagandists were out in force. From the news stand, to my web feed and the radio…even the president got in on the action. I decided to vent my frustration about a couple stories.

Matt O’brien (Washington Post “Reporter” and first class wanker) recently wrote an article in which he talks about the roughly half of Britain in favor of Brexit as if they were a bad rash. The cure, he suggests, is economic growth. Brilliant! Apparently, what appears to be a movement to preserve the integrity of a great nation is  really just an unfortunate symptom of 3% annual growth. Somebody should get the treasury on the phone and tell them to dial that up a notch or two. The frustration felt by Brits, he would allow you to believe, is primarily due to the unjust regulation of vacuum cleaners. If only a person thinks, says O’brien, its clear that the whole thing is completely unreasonable. Never mind that many British CEOs expect their businesses to do better if they leave the UE. Never mind that at least one IMF economist has attributed various dire predictions to hype. Never mind that what is really at stake is the very sovereignty of the country. This wanker O’brien only feels the need to cite one opinion before shitting on the millions of people who are stupid enough to hold an alternative view point. That’s the name of the game; stats and snarkiness.

On my side of the pond, the president  got on TV  to assure us that everything was in order. Unemployment is down, he says. People are paying mortgages, he says. “The notion that somehow America is in decline” Obama explains condescendingly “is simply not borne out by the facts.” It seems that the viewer is meant to believe that naysayers simply haven’t taken the time to check the figures. It all very simple and so are the folks who disagree. Never mind that Obama cherry picks economic indicators and methods for defining those indicators. Never mind that by other metrics, including median wage and child poverty levels, the US really is declining. Never mind that the real decline is the undermining of the values our country bas built on. Obama’s message is designed to reassure the self-righteous fuckwits who are ruining America that they’re right and anyone who says otherwise is simply ignorant. Stats and Snarkiness, that’s their go to play.

Adventures in the State-Church : Part 1

I’m not a big fan of the guy who lectures in one of my current classes. I asked him recently to consider the unacceptably low mark I received recently on a test over material which is fairly basic. I pointed out that his questions have been worded in a way that prompts a normative response. If his normative position differs from mine (it does), he can simply deduct points for that reason. In other words, I am meant to give the answer which he would give.

In one instance, when I explained how the word I used was accurate to summarize Eco-centrism, he replied that the world “spiritual” might have been acceptable but the word I chose, “religious”, was too loaded. By that, I imagine he means that he would rather not be associated with people for whom he has so little regard. On the left, he imagines, they don’t have dumb ‘ole Christian faith. They belong to the one true faith.

During the subsequent lecture, he shared with us his response to a professor from the philosophy department (the one that deals with logic) who had pointed out his complete lack of argument to support the idea that nature has intrinsic value, or that there could be such a thing as intrinsic value. “I told her; I don’t need proof. I just… know.” He was proudly grinning ear to ear as he said this.

After that, he showed a film which focused largely on the eco-centric founder of Sierra Club, John Muir. The film stated that, in opposition to the damning of Hetch-Hetchy in southern Yosemite valley, John Muir had declared it a temple as worthy of protection as the great Christian cathedrals.

For those of you who haven’t been subjected to the silly vocabulary thrown around at liberal arts schools, here is a telling excerpt from a description of Eco-centrism written by Dr. Kauffman from the University of San Diego;

“The classic conception of ecocentrism is found within the philosophical field of environmental ethics. Environmental ethicists articulate moral norms to govern our actions with nature.”

Now, compare that with some of the definitions for “Religion”

Dictionary.com – A specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects

Oxford English Dictionary – A particular system of faith and worship OR A pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance

When I made my case for the accuracy of my chosen adjective, this professor seemed to think it was beside the point. “No scientist of environmental studies would use that word to describe himself”, he replied. I expect he is mistaken and there are at least a few who would concede that their position is a religious one. Either way, I don’t see how it is relevant.