Category Archives: Society

Pushback, by James Howard Kunstler

A University of Pennsylvania law professor publishes an article calling on people to act civilized, and of course gets crucified for it. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

A very brave law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, named Amy Wax has published the astounding argument that human beings in America would benefit from adopting “bourgeois values” and behaving accordingly. Bourgeois (Boozh-wah, for the underspeeched) may be an unfortunate term-of-art, since it came to be used as a pejorative back in the old hippie days — something that Ms. Wax might remember, since she is a Baby Boomer — but what else might you call this bundle of traditional values: honesty, fidelity, thrift, temperance, punctuality, fortitude, gratitude, dedication, kindness, loyalty, et cetera?

A glance at Amy Wax’s credentials might induce a head-snap.

Amy Laura Wax received a B.S. summa cum laude in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale in 1975. She was then a Marshall Scholar in Philosophy, Physiology, and Psychology at Somerville College at Oxford University. She earned an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1981, training as a neurologist, and received a J.D. from Columbia in 1987, where she was an editor of the Law Review. She was a Law Clerk to the Honorable Abner J. Mikva, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1987-88. From 1988-94, she served as Assistant to the Office of the Solicitor General in the U.S. Department of Justice, where she argued 15 cases before the United States Supreme Court. Wax was a member of the Legal Affairs Committee, American Academy of Neurology from 1986-1992. In 1994, she joined the faculty of UVA [U. of Virginia]. She taught courses in civil procedure, labor law, and poverty law and welfare policy. She became Class of 1948 Professor of Scholarly Research in Law from 2000-01. After becoming a visiting professor to Penn Law School in 2000, she joined its faculty in 2001.

By some miracle, she didn’t end up a professor of Intersectional Gender Justice. Of course, the Social Justice commissars around the country regard her as just another neo-Nazi punk committing violence-through-speech against the ethno-sexual minorities who seek to throw off the shackles of Cis-White Privilege oppression. In an op-ed essay in the Philadelphia Inquirer (co-authored with Larry Alexander of the University of San Diego School of Law) titled Paying the Price for Breakdown of the Country’s Bourgeois Culture, Wax argued that “the single-parent, anti-social habits, prevalent among some working-class whites, the anti ‘acting white’ rap culture of inner-city blacks” and the “anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants” are not suited to a First-World 21st Century Environment.

To continue reading: Pushback

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The Sandcastle, by Jeff Thomas

Democracies deteriorate to repression, tyranny, and dictatorship. From Jeff Thomas at internationalman.com:

The decline from democracy to tyranny is both a natural and inevitable one.

That’s not a pleasant thought to have to consider, but it’s a fact, nonetheless. In every case, a democracy will deteriorate as the result of the electorate accepting the loss of freedom in trade for largesse from their government. This process may be fascism, socialism, communism, or a basket of “isms,” but tyranny is the inevitable endgame of democracy. Like the destruction of a sandcastle by the incoming tide, it requires time to transpire, but in time, the democracy, like the sandcastle, will be washed away in its entirety.

Why should this be so? Well, as I commented some years ago,

The concept of government is that the people grant to a small group of individuals the ability to establish and maintain controls over them. The inherent flaw in such a concept is that any government will invariably and continually expand upon its controls, resulting in the ever-diminishing freedom of those who granted them the power.

Unfortunately, there will always be those who wish to rule, and there will always be a majority of voters who are complacent enough and naïve enough to allow their freedoms to be slowly removed. This adverb “slowly” is the key by which the removal of freedoms is achieved.

The old adage of “boiling a frog” is that the frog will jump out of the pot if it’s filled with hot water, but if the water is lukewarm and the temperature is slowly raised, he’ll grow accustomed to the temperature change and will inadvertently allow himself to be boiled.

Let’s have a look at Thomas Jefferson’s assessment of this technique:

Even under the best forms of Government, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.

Mister Jefferson was a true visionary. He knew, even as he was penning the Declaration of Independence and portions of the Constitution, that his proclamations, even if they were accepted by his fellow founding fathers, would not last. He recommended repeated revolutions to counter the inevitable tendency by political leaders to continually vie for the removal of the freedoms from their constituents.

To continue reading: The Sandcastle

Babies On Drugs In America? 1984 Predicted It! by Chris Campbell

This is pharmocological barbarism. From Chris Campbell at lfb.org:

Why “two steps back, one step forward” can be a recipe for success…

Over a million kids in America six years old and under are on psychiatric drugs — mostly to treat anxiety.

Let that sink in.

I have to ask. Is the U.S. really becoming this out of touch? And I mean that literally.

Author Ray Williams, a contributor to Psychology Today, offered an important question back in 2010: “In our desire to have a politically correct and safe social environment, or an environment of instant communication, have we lost sight of the most important aspect of human development and culture  — physical touch?”

The science is in: After food, water and shelter, there’s little more important to kids, especially babies, than human contact. Without simple human contact, in fact, babies can die.

This is the case, actually, to varying degrees, for all mammals.

In many litters of puppies and kittens, for example, there are sometimes one or two animals that come out enfeebled — as the “runts.”

The weakness of the runts, felt by the mother during nursing, is a sign to the mother it likely won’t survive. To make sure her genes have the best chance for survival, she must use her limited resources wisely.

As a result, the mother doesn’t lick or nurture the runt. The mother still allows the runt to feed (other species don’t even go that far), but it refuses to show the runt affection.

It’s hard to understate how catastrophic this is for the runt. A certain amount of maternal licking and nuzzling is necessary. The affection, we now know, turns on the production of a certain growth hormone in the brain. Without it, food cannot be metabolized properly and healthy growth and development is impossible. If the runt continues to be ignored, even if it still gets plenty to eat, it will eventually shrivel up and die.

It’s the same for humans. Without human contact at the earliest of age, the immune system is essentially shot. The affected becomes vulnerable to all sorts of ailments and diseases.

To continue reading: Babies On Drugs In America?

2001: A Space Odyssey of Transcendent, or Transcendental, Evolution? by Doug “Uncola” Lynn

Here’s another intriguing think piece, combining cinema, science, art, philosophy, and a wildly creative imagination, from Doug “Uncola” Lynn at theburningplatform.com:

By Doug “Uncola” Lynn via TheBurningPlatform.com

The screen is dark.  Eerie and oddly dissonant music begins to play. The screen remains black.  At two-minutes and fifty seconds the music stops, followed by six seconds of silence over the blank nothingness before the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer MGM logo fills the screen as the symphonically ascending chords and drumbeats of Richard Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra increase in volume.  In a view from the moon, the sun rises behind and then above the blue sphere of the earth.

The Dawn of Man

A series of colorful still-shots reveal a primordial sunrise then transition to daylight shots of desert scenes, against the isolated sound of the wind howling.  White bones are shown on the dry, rocky ground under mammals resembling pigs that are rooting in near proximity to prehistoric monkey-men. Two separate tribes of the ape-like creatures scream and wildly gesticulate on each side of a watering hole before one side cautiously retreats.  An ancient ancestor of the leopard lies prone over the neck of its dead zebra prey; the leopard’s eyes reflective, like mini-suns embedded in the shadow of its skull, ever watching.

The viewer feels a part of the experience, eons ago, sensing the danger and harsh living conditions of multitudinous mammals teeming on the austere earth beneath the strangely serene, ancient sky. The nights appear cold in blue moonlight as the tribe of monkey-men huddle in a cave, listening to the guttural growls of predators nearby.  Primeval primates, male and female alike; waiting anxiously, their bloodshot eyes shifting in apprehension.

To continue reading: 2001: A Space Odyssey of Transcendent, or Transcendental, Evolution?

The Ultimate Weapon, by Robert Gore

The Korean Peninsula at night

Don’t underestimate the light.

Reductio ad absurdum is the argumentative technique, beloved by law school professors, of stretching a premise to its breaking point. North Korea has been much in the news. Nighttime satellite photos of the Korean peninsula show well-lit South Korea and North Korea in darkness. That darkness is the reductio ad absurdum of the premise of modern governance: that those who govern must employ force, fraud, and censorship against those they govern. Articles bemoan our lack of knowledge of North Korea’s closed society, but literally and metaphorically, the darkness tells you all you need to know.

Exhume the graveyard of governments and you’ll find that for most of the unlamented departed, censorship had taken hold. Censorship goes hand in hand with failure; indeed, it’s one of failure’s chief causes. Truth, information, and communication are as essential for human survival as food, shelter, and water. That they illegitimately rule by force and fraud is a truth that governments try to stop from achieving general circulation. Propaganda and patriotism will only take a government so far, though, especially among its more honest and intelligent constituents. There will always be those who recognize the truth.

Information is the blood flow of the body politic. For argument’s sake there is probably some information in the hands of governments that is better left secret. Let’s put the number at .0001, or one ten-thousandth, of 1 percent of what governments actually keep secret. North Korea is the reductio, having drawn tourniquets tightly around its neck and limbs. From the few accounts we have of life there the physical poverty of its citizens is surpassed only by the intellectual poverty of official state mythology, ideology, history, and indoctrination—quintessential absurdum.

A nation that says in unison, “Bless you, Dear Leader!” every time Dear Bloodthirsty, Tyrannical Dictator sneezes has come the closest to the supposed Holy Grail of rulers and would-be rulers everywhere: mind control. We’re not sure how the burble of information, dissemination, communication, truth, lies, experimentation, false starts, creativity, enterprise, failure, and innovation actually leads to progress. The Internet adds another layer of mystery. However, it can be asserted confidently that the heat map of a “controlled” mind looks just like a map of North Korea at night. Progress becomes regress, as it has in the Hermit Kingdom. A controlled mind is a dying mind.

The growth in nation-state governance and power has been so consistent and long-running—since the end of the Middle Ages—that most people assume it will continue forever. It’s the bull market in which everybody is fully invested at the top, confident it will never end. Stock market tops have their telltale signs—market divergences, weakening breadth, an increasingly narrowing list of winners—generally acknowledged only after the top.

The coming top in government has its telltale signs as well. Is there a government on the planet that wants the truth of what it does disclosed to its populace? The US government continues to press its battles against Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. It’s allies in Silicon Valley, the mainstream media, and academia have been enlisted in its fight against disfavored facts and opinions. Europe’s and Australia’s potentates are fighting the same fight. These are the world’s “liberal” states, with varying traditions of protecting civil liberties. In the rest of the world, for the most part, truth is the enemy governments openly oppose. It will only be recognized after the top, but the mounting effort to repress information flows and the truth marks the apex in governments’ long bull market.

Here is perhaps an open-field run in the one yard and a cloud of dust game the Korean stand-off has become. Offer Kim Jong-un what he has long sought: cessation of the annual joint South Korean-US military exercises. In return, Kim must allow 25,000 of North Korea’s best and brightest young people to visit the US, South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia for at least a year, without minders or surveillance, all expenses paid by the hosts. (For anyone worried about the cost: how much would a war cost?) Kim would most likely refuse, demonstrating for all the world that truth, not hostile foreign powers, is his regime’s ultimate enemy. On the oft chance he accepted (he’s supposedly crazy, after all), the contrasts the hosts—which admittedly have their problems—offer to North Korea would induce acute cognitive dissonance.

A mind on fire is worth at least ten thousand that are not. Send the guests back to North Korea and see what happens. No matter how dutiful their ostensible obsequience, those 25,000 minds would be a fifth column. How do you go back to a rice bowl and sliver of pork after dining at Tokyo’s noodle shops or Los Angeles’s taco stands? Barren, state-run commissaries after shopping at grocery store and shopping mall cornucopias? Urban deserts with a few antiquated autos versus cities where taxis or Ubers whisk you along crowded and exciting avenues? Repeat the guest program until the returnees’ minds on fire reach the critical mass necessary to ignite internal combustion and change.

Truth—it’s power to inspire the imagination or fan the flames of righteous indignation as the case may be—is the ultimate weapon. Recognized or not, stated or not, it always wins. Survey the current scene and there are ample reasons for pessimism. SLL has pointed out its share of clouds. That the truth always wins is a reason for ultimate optimism, and even the current scene has its silver linings.

The Internet—trashy, polluted, and corrupted by governments and the technology giants as some parts of it may be—still yields troves of instantly accessible information, analysis, and subversive entertainment and commentary that were unimaginable a few decades ago. Revolution has not yet come, but to the extent the old order is being undermined, the Internet is leading the way. Neither Brexit nor Trump would have happened without it. Yes, there are still plenty of mainstream blue pill junkies, but the Internet has created a significant and growing red pill subculture that agrees on at least one thing: they’re not getting the truth from the mainstream. Governments can to some extent control it or shut it down, but only at great cost to the information economies on which they depend.

When the Supervolcano arrives, it will be, as much as anything, an eruption of long suppressed truth and logic. Whoever is left will embrace them not out of philosophical insight, but as a matter of survival. In a chaotic world in which mere subsistence becomes problematic, delusion will be unaffordable mental frippery. Believe all you want that governments or gods will drop manna in your lap, but don’t starve yourself waiting for them. You’ll grow too weak to plant, tend, and harvest the crops.

TRUTH IS GREAT, AND EVEN BETTER WHEN IT’S GREAT READING!


AMAZON

KINDLE

NOOK

Swamp Fever, by James Howard Kunstler

The second big natural disaster in three weeks threatens America’s financial system and what remains of its social cohesion. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

Further proof, as if more were needed, that God is rather cross with the world’s number one exceptional nation: Hurricane Irma is tracking for a direct hit on Disney World. In the immortal words of the Talking Heads: This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around.

Houston is still soggy and punch-drunk, with a fantastic explosion of breeding mosquitoes, and otherwise it’s not even in the news anymore. This week, the cable networks had their scant crews of reporters scuttling around Florida, asking the people here and there about their feelings. “What’s gonna happen is gonna happen….” I think I heard that one about sixty times, and there’s actually no disputing the truth of it.

For the moment, though (Friday morning), it’s a little hard to calculate the effect of a complete scrape-off, wash, and rinse of the state of Florida vis-à-vis the ongoing viability of the US economy. There’s going to be a big hole with dollars rushing into it and that will likely prompt the combined powers of the US Treasury, congress, and the Federal Reserve to materialize tens of billions of new dollars. Overnight the DXY plunged to a new low for the year.

Am I the only observer wondering if Irma may be a fatal blow to the banking system? The mind reels at the insurance implications of what’s about to happen. Urgent obligations triggered by an event of this scale can’t possibly be serviced. Look for it to snap the chain of counterparty leverage that has been propping up the banks, insurers, and pension funds on mere promises for years on end. Finance, both private and public, has been feeding off unreality since well before the tremor of 2008. The destruction of Florida (and whatever else stands in the way up the line) will be as real as it gets.

To continue reading: Swamp Fever

 

Markets, Not Government, Improve Race Relations, by Richard Ebeling

How about that! Voluntary exchange in markets, not government coercion, improves race relations. Aside from war, SLL cannot name anything the systematic coercion known as government does better than free individuals acting voluntarily in their own perceived best interests. From Richard Ebeling at mises.org:

Politically we seem to be living in some trying times. The political polarization, as captured in the mainstream news media, appears to be intensifying with even acts of destructive violence on the streets and campuses of American cities. At the same time, pictures out of Houston during and following Hurricane Harvey show empathetic assistance and cooperation between people and groups that supposedly are in heated contention with each other. How do we reconcile this?

To begin with, I am persuaded that the supposedly racial and social “class” tensions that some assert is on the rise in America is not true. In fact, I would argue that in everyday interaction and association race relations are far, far better than they were, say, twenty-five years ago, and most certainly compared to fifty or seventy-five years ago.

Race Prejudices of a Few Decades Ago

When I was a young boy the evening news carried the imagery of violence on the streets of some Southern cities as people marched against segregation laws and faced sometimes brutal force by law enforcement agencies directed to put down the “uppitiness” of blacks and white civil rights workers insisting upon equal rights and equal treatment for all before the law.

Some white people, back then, had little reluctance or embarrassment in publicly and rudely using a variety of pejorative words and phrases when referring to Americans of African ancestry.  And what people did not say in public, they certainly freely said in their home to family members and friends.

I had a classmate in high school whose parents had persuaded him that blacks were inferior to whites. He was really uncomfortable when I made him go with me to see the movies, In the Heat of the Night and Guess Whose Coming to Dinner?, both released in the theaters in 1967, and both staring Sidney Poitier.  Here was a black detective, in the first movie, who solves a murder in a small Southern town that the white chief of police (Rod Steiger) can’t solve on his own; and in the second movie here is a successful black medical doctor planning to marry a white upper class young woman, while her “enlightened” liberal parents (Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn) have a hard time coming to terms with it all, in spite of their “progressive” views.

To continue reading: Markets, Not Government, Improve Race Relations