Another Consideration Of The Culture War

Putting the struggle into perspective is the first step toward understanding it. Here is a quote from commentary that deserves your perusal:

The middle class is the great enemy of collectivist politics, under any of its names: progressivism, communism, fascism, or “liberalism.” As far back as Karl Marx, the apostles of collectivism have understood that they must subjugate the middle class before they can claim total victory.

The collectivist only needs to conceal any hope of finding prosperity beyond the generosity of the State, and keep the lower class convinced that government is the only moral actor in the economy. Review the speeches of Barack Obama, and search for anything that suggests the poor should look anywhere beyond the government and its social programs for salvation.

The middle class is a vast group in a capitalist society, which is one of the things collectivists really hate about capitalism.

Now for some details: the rejection of the bicoastal elite, as described by an observer who does not use that term, is noted in this useful piece. Highly recommended, for reasons that should be obvious in this excerpt:

In a race where the Republican promised to be the decisive vote to kill the Democrats’ health care bills, working class and minority voters did not rally to save them.

At the same time voters farther up the income scale surged to the polls in larger than usual numbers to defeat Obamacare. Members of “the educated class” may trust government bureaucrats to allocate health care resources — that’s the way they talk — and to use comparative effectiveness research to control physicians’ decisions. Many of them are employed by governments or nonprofits and are used to navigating bureaucratic waters. After all, their prime asset in life is their ability to manipulate words.

But voters in middle-income suburbs — some with many college graduates, some with only a few — who mostly work in the private sector took a different view. They surged to the polls in far larger numbers than in off-year elections and cast most of their votes, often more than two-thirds, for Brown.

And the upshot? Pretty much this sort of thing:

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) on Wednesday said the Massachusetts election was a “wake up call” for Democrats and that his party had better change course or it could suffer devastating losses come November.

You really should read all of these posts, you know….

Notes — Flat, Sharp, And On Key — On Religion

A trenchant quote:

If you cannot say that Islam is a backward religion and that Mohammed is a criminal, then you are living in an Islamic country, my friend, because there also you cannot say such things. Here I’m free to say that Christ was a faggot and Mary was a whore, but apparently I should stay off of Mohammed.

That’s an Iranian talking, quoted by Mark Steyn, at this spot on the internet. The point being, that Holland will soon be an Islamic country. Steyn: “We are making Islam the de facto established church of the western world.” He’s right.

Meanwhile…the Vatican watches as Muslims put pressure on Christians, and then blithely announces that Jews caused the trouble. Wasn’t there a papal declaration at some point in history that Jews and their property were “just prize”? So what’s next, Benny?

Risks

Not heard from lately, and one might well wonder why: the Iranian revolution, swine flu, bird flu. There is no reliable flow of information from Iran, but the viruses are another matter; the public should expect cooperation and assistance from its tax-supported bureaus. Quote from this source:

According to a WHO tally dated Jan. 17, more than 209 countries and territories have reported laboratory confirmed cases of swine flu, including at least 14,142 deaths. This is far fewer than would be expected to die each year from seasonal flu, but the figure is likely to exclude many unreported cases, according to WHO.

Given those facts, one should ask how well the public health establishment, both national and international, evaluates the importance of all diseases. Some would note the tendency to alarmism, as well. That does not imply there was a conspiracy to fake a crisis that would enrich Big Pharma; it means that we should pause and consider how we both create and respond to news.

Recall predictions of worldwide famine (Ehrlich), the die-off of sea plankton, a coming ice age, the catastrophe that AGW will cause, and the fear that millions would die from various viruses. It seems that the experts are unrealistic and excitable, and that we creatures of faith enjoy hearing dire prophecies. Nostradamus exploited a human weakness, as have and still do many charlatans in the religions of the world. So which came first, our childish delight in tales of terror, or the exploitive willingness to exaggerate, lie, and predict doom?

Well, there are things to be afraid of. It’s just that the most dangerous things, such as automobile accidents and honeybees, are not recognized as the threats they are. In the USA alone, approximately forty thousand people are killed each year, and to no good whatsoever; they were simply going from one place to another by car. If one-fourth of that figure were to be killed each year in military attempts to protect the nation from jihadis, Islam would almost certainly triumph (because we would eventually consider the cost too high, and stop resisting). Our perceptions of the world and the threats it contains are skewed.

Yes, the problem does have a large psychological aspect that should not be overlooked. The world out there is not what people think it is, and that indicates a systematic pattern of error in the human mind. Let that go for the moment and realize that whatever the reason, human perception of risk is not accurate.

First, therefore, the public and its servants should consider the ground rules for evaluating risk. Almost no one gives that serious thought. Second, the level of risk must be estimated in terms of how serious each given event could be: while honeybees kill a lot of people — more than any other animal in the USA — the prospects of an apian takeover of the government or the decimation of the population by bees armed with nuclear weapons are zero. So at its worst, the menace of the honeybee can be considered predictable and stable at its current level. Note as well that the threat is constant: each year, people will die from being stung. In no years will no one die. The honeybee is a part of the background noise of human culture.

Earthquakes are another type of threat. They kill, but not every day or even every month. In some areas such as southern California, they are just infrequent enough that almost no one takes them seriously. “Oh, no, not common at all. Why I can’t recall when we had the last one, but I think it did kill a few people. Not sure.” People generally take an optimistic view, and point to a lack of recent earthquakes as somehow comforting. It’s stupid, but that’s the way people are.

There are, however, much greater threats to humanity that have never killed anyone. In spite of the fact that they exist as definite threats, and in spite of the fact that they are inevitable, we ignore them. At the top of this list of genuine global catastrophes are the effects of supernovae, asteroid impact, and a Carrington event. Any one could extinguish humanity.

Accordingly, some in government would like to improve man’s ability to detect and deflect asteroids. Good idea; get busy, everybody.

But there’s a stellar phenomenon a bit over three thousand light years away that may have gone supernova and emitted a burst of energy the earth’s atmosphere cannot survive. If that has happened, it will wipe humanity out. End of report.

And a Carrington event, a precedented and utterly unpredictable solar eruption, would destroy all our technology that is based on electricity. All of it. While mankind would probably survive, its status would be essentially neolithic. It would take centuries for the bands of hunter-gatherers and small farmers to climb to pre-industrial levels. Whether the species would survive the attempt is a question for fortune-tellers, not scholars. A Carrington event can be prepared for and guarded against, but no one is even thinking about doing anything in that direction. Big mistake.

If this general topic interests you, do read The Black Swan, ISBN 978-0-1410-3459-1. It’s a good starting point for serious thinking about where people, especially experts, go wrong when they try to anticipate danger by estimating risk.

You Have Seen A Lot Here, But It’s Just A Sample Of The Evidence

No, this newsletter has not deluged you with information on the hoax/scam/fraud/cult that is AGW. If you think that claim is wrong, compare what you have seen in TLB with this.

Of course the cult members will flatly refuse to read any of the revelatory material that is available to them. That’s the nature of faith: it cannot be refuted. Rational people can only insist, however ineffectually, that those who still believe in the hoax deal with the science of the matter. The AGW faithful do not begin with a holy book, so they cannot fall back to divine inspiration for their beliefs; they, too, say science is on their side. That opens up the possibility that they can be convinced by facts. Here’s a partial list of questions that “warmers” cannot deal with, except by resort to unsane arguments:

What are the physical properties of carbon dioxide, and what records exist to prove its role in climate change? How reliable are the temperature data that have been recently collected? What is known about the temperatures of the oceans in recent years? What, exactly, is the status of the world’s glaciers and ice floes? How much warming has taken place in the last fourteen years? How much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere comes from all human activity, and how does that relate to temperatures? What were The Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warming Period, and why are indications of temperatures during those times not present in the “hockey stick” graphs that show recent temperature increases? How were those “hockey sticks” constructed, and how accurate are the figures for recent temperatures shown in the graphs? How candid and veridical is Al Gore’s award-winning film, An Inconvenient Truth?

The truthful answers to all these questions destroy the myth of anthropogenic global warming.

As this newsletter has said many times, there is no debate between scientists and skeptics; there is a confrontation with and refutation of junk science.

Links

The Chinese government continues its hostile activities on the internet. Please, Uncle Sam — don’t look to the DHS and Janet “The System Worked” Napolitano to protect the nation; hire somebody competent.

If this pans out, it could help a lot of people who are overweight and have diabetes. It is reported here because it seems to be close to public availability.

A path to political correctness is described and its destination identified. Proceed carefully, Pilgrims, for the reasoning is subtle and requires careful attention to detail. The subversion of the individual, and his subordination to an authoritarian, ideological commons, is a process of dehumanization that begins with self-alienation. Have a look, and ponder the implications of a toxic hypothesis that tastes very sweet at first. Highly recommended.

Once again, TLB sees this sort of argumentation as superficially political and fundamentally cultural. Give it some thought.

All right: a few nutcase academics at some university nobody ever heard of (where is this “East Anglia,” anyway — just down the road from Hobbiton?) messed with the data and had no idea of how to write computer code. So as a consequence of their tomfoolery, we have to scrap the only plan that can save the world from catastrophe? Well, no. The deceit and rot were far more widespread, with fake data being produced in the USA, too. TLB has reported multiple sources of AGW lunacy; it is a global madness, as the linked article shows. When a powerful ideological article of faith is generated, the cascade is anything but local.

There is no nut nuttier than a Marxist nut.

An effort to defend Tony Blair against trumped-up charges is also an effort to prevent the loons from dictating how the history books will be written. In years to come, the full impact of the imposition of regime change in Iraq will be understood. Until then, listening to the media braying is as charming as being locked in a cell with a caffeine-intoxicated Jane Fonda.

At the home of TLB, TV is in short supply. A lot of good documentaries are, therefore, missed, so the discovery of this website was welcomed. You too might find it of value.

The zinger of the month: referring to Gwyneth Paltrow, an actress who has adopted a certain uncharacteristic demeanor, a wag recalls Oscar Levant’s mention of Doris Day — “I knew her before she was a virgin.”

Business and politics, Chicago style… naughty, naughty! But don’t fret, O, the lap dog media won’t do much with this, if anything at all.

Really? From juggernaut to train wreck, all because of one guy? Well, if the NYT says it (“…the health care effort had been derailed….”), it must be so.

Two items today from TLB’s If you don’t get your way, rig the system so next time you will file: first, this whine from a Congressman, who wants to change the rules to prevent careful consideration of proposed legislation. The Framers did a bad job, in other words. Second, the folks at Duke shot themselves in the foot the first time around when they went after those Lacrosse players who did not rape anybody (what a nerve those white, over-privileged jocks had!). That was bad news for the politically correct crowd, you bet. So the entire legal process at Duke has been changed to favor the accuser and tie the hands of the accused. That’s better. Next time, gotcha! No more wiggling out of a bad rap, Suckers!

Is feminism a trap that has degraded women and rotted the ethics of the nation? Not in TLB’s view, but here’s a female who says it is and has. In so far as feminism is humanistic and addresses the Liberty of the individual, it looks good to this newsletter. That does not mean all feminists are rational or ethical, of course — like would-be artists, some are downright crazy, and some are evil. You decide whether the author of this screed is just an authoritarian prude or a crusading angel. Oh, speaking of sex (which is always fun), have a look at this article that purports to tell you “five shocking facts about men.” Hmmm. Pop-psych is to real science as cartoons are to honest video documentaries. As long as you are clear about what you are seeing, there’s no harm in entertaining your “inner child” now and then. Just don’t forget that Arthur Conan Doyle was fooled by some crudely faked photos, and proclaimed that the existence of fairies had been proved. Also remember Arthur Koestler’s cautionary remarks about cruelty to dead horses.