Photo: Ralf, Flickr, some rights reserved

Of the Pantheon & Pedantry

Note: the most memorable figures in history, according to Pantheon.world, from Muhammad at #1 to Karl Marx at #37, are all of the male “gender” (read: sex), after which we get Mary, mother of Jesus (#38), Queen Elizabeth II (#40), and Joan of Arc (#49).

The order of famed composers descends from Beethoven (#5), to Mozart (#10), to Bach (#18). I would have thought that Bach was a bigger deal, even in the popular mind, than Mozart. But I guess I would have been wrong.

Of famed philosophers, Pantheon’s list runs as follows: Aristotle (#7), Plato (#11), Socrates (#16), Confucius (#28), Gautama (#32), Kant (#39), Descartes (#43), and — the only real surprise here — Avicenna (#48).

I repeat, for the inattentive — and apropos of my first paragraph — “male” and “female” pertain to sex, not “gender theory.” Which is a recent invention. This seemingly pedantic point is known and acknowledged by gender theorists, when they are being rational. That nearly everyone gets this wrong says something first about gender theory and quite a bit more about nearly everybody.

twv

Paul Jacob’s weekend podcast was especially good this current episode; check it out:

This Week in Common Sense, January 15, 2022: audio hosted on SoundCloud.

I help Paul make these podcasts, and mine’s the first face you see this episode. To avoid my face, or Paul’s, listen to the audio version.

What wars can America’s real, permanent government win?

Political ones.

It’s been a year since the Capitol Hill brouhaha on January 6, 2021, became a super-brouhaha for the Democrats, who immediately claimed that the “storming of the Capitol” part of the event constituted an “insurrection.”

That was always a stretch. No attempt was made to overthrow the government, but the “peaceful transfer of power” from Donald Trump to Joe Biden was . . . almost . . . kinda . . . compromised.

The rioters, for their part, thought that the Democrats had stolen the election and, having been urged by Trump to pressure the Senate to not certify all the Electoral College slates — with the aim of getting accurate, non-fraudulent votes from a few key states — they thought theirs was a righteous protest. The Democrats, on the other hand, demanded that everyone pretend that everything about Death Race 2020 was on the up-and-up and that Biden be placed into office without a whiff of scandal.

The charge of vote fraud and election tampering made by the Trump forces had always been a difficult one to push, since our system doesn’t really offer a coherent way to handle such charges. Legal maneuvers made by Donald Trump’s team had failed, over and over, from Election Day to the Sixth. Though fraud charges lingered, the biggest problems with the election — the unconstitutional changes in voting in several states — never really got addressed. Trump’s January Sixth speech instigating a march on Capitol Hill to protest the “stolen election” and get the Senate to throw a monkey wrench into Biden’s accession to power was not even over when the “insurrection” began.

Then things got weird.

The behavior of the police was strange. The trespassers — not all of whom knew they were trespassing, apparently (though those who broke windows and doors surely knew) — were indeed “mostly peaceful.” No fires. No murders. Only one death, and that was by the police not of the police. After the event, Democrats made much of the “five” or more “deaths caused by Trump,” but that all turned out to be propagandistic prevarication.

Donald Trump went down in history because of this, the Democratic House impeaching him a record second time. That seemed ultra-odd — Trump was out of office before the Senate voted — not to mention petty and vindictive and . . . what was really going on here?

Glenn Greenwald gave us a clue, yesterday, on Rumble. Trump had been seriously considering pardoning Edward Snowden, maybe even Julian Assange. The Deep State’s dearest senators, like Lindsay Graham, threatened Trump with voting against him in the post-Biden accession Senate trial if he did so.

The upshot? Trump was completely outplayed by the Deep State. To avoid the sting of the Democrats’ impeachment ploy, he caved to the military industrial complex and the Wars Forever faction, leaving both Assange and Snowden in jeopardy, enemies of the Deep State.

Meanwhile, the Democrats still sling loose talk of “insurrection.” Funny, though, that in their prosecutions against the “insurrectionists” (whom they treated very badly in prison) that they haven’t lifted a finger against the one January Sixth conspirator caught with video actually promoting the capitol incursion. Democrats won’t even whisper his name: Ray Epps.

The Deep State may have won this battle, but when all the truth comes out, my guess is that it will become quite clear that the “insurrection” element of the January Sixth events was a Deep State false flag app. Not unlike the FBI’s botched Whitmer kidnapping plot.

As always, Americans let partisan allegiances prevent them from identifying their true enemy: their own government.

twv

. . . republished from March 23, 2010. . . .

The passing of the Democrats’ medical institution reform package, by clever and opaque political maneuvering, has angered many people. Though all ancient sages unite to advise us not to lose composure about things we cannot change, I, too, have been a bit angry about the recent events regarding what is popularly (and nauseatingly) called “health care reform.”

But what interests me at the moment is how risky the Democrats’ maneuvers are. We often say that politicians can’t accomplish much. Washington is riddled with gridlock; its prime movers are not merely dishonest and petty, but unable to take stands.

Here, however, regarding the nationalization of medicine in the United States of America, the Democrats have taken a daring stand. They are bucking the growing incredulity amongst Americans that government can solve our problems by taking control. For the past few decades, the long-term trend has been towards skepticism about large-scale government efficacy.

But this long-term trend has had its set-backs. The three biggest counter-trends to growing anti-statist opinion have pertained to

  1. War — There was a lot of support, early on, for the conquest of Iraq;
  2. Anthropogenic Global Warming Catastrophe — There was a huge surge, in recent years, in the belief that there had been recent global warming, that this was in some sense unique, that human civilization had caused it, that this would only grow more dangerous, and that government could (and mustsolve it; and
  3. “Health Care” — A rising number of people had begun to see rising costs and spotty insurance for medical care as a problem requiring a national solution.

In each of these three counter-trends to the rising general incredulity over government efficacy, the wave of pro-government sentiment has recently waned. Spectacularly.

Regarding the advisability of conquering Iraq, the widespread support for this had ended before the end of George W. Bush’s final term in office. Even Republican legislators, today, are almost unanimous in realizing that the war was a mistake. The general consensus, now? War and conquest and remaking other polities is tough work, and we should always be super-cautious about engaging in such action.

AGW catastrophism hit its peak popularity in 2008, and is now in steep decline. The leaked emails from Britain were in no small part responsible for this. Careful criticism also had an influence. And, finally, the silly folk sayings confirming global warming itself probably did the most to undermine the position. People can only speak risible nonsense so long before laughing. (Al Gore and media folk were largely responsible for encouraging the idea that every storm, every heat wave, and every exceptional weather event provided “more evidence” that global warming was happening. Record-breaking cold spells and blizzards heralded as signs of “global warming” became a popular folk joke in 2009 and 2010.) The hard rhetorical barrage Americans had been hit with for years — from scientist-advocates, media folk, popular entertainers trying to look serious, and Al Gore — appeared to toughen them up, not convince them.

Finally, support for new national programs for medical insurance peaked last year. By the beginning of this year, popular support had dropped to below 40 percent.

And here’s where courage comes in. It is now risky for Democrats to unite around an unpopular issue.

What could they be thinking? I mean, we expect politicians to rally around popular causes, not unpopular ones. Politicians have demonstrated a rather consistent desire to get re-elected. So what gives? What do they hope for?

I can think of a few possibilities:

  1. Democrats hope that, like Social Security, the new program package will grow in popularity over its first 20 years after implementation. Social Security became the infamous “third rail” of politics, which one dare not be seen to criticize, from the ’60s though the ’80s and beyond. They hope for a similar effect with health care regulation and nationalization.
  2. Democrats know that they have only a limited time in majority, in united government, and feel they have to do what their core constituency really wants, before they lose control. They are hoping that it will be harder to repeal the medical reform package than it was to pass. (It is harder, in America, to repeal programs than it is to create them. This is fairly well established.) Think of it as their “Final Solution.”
  3. They know that it will likely be struck down in courts, and that this will rally their supporters to take on a new, bigger fight, which they can make hay over for years.
  4. They really are (or, perhaps more likely, want to be seen as) ideologues, to appeal to their core supporters in the government unions, people who by their nature think that government is the key to all progress (the sole sense in which they can be called “progressives” . . . that is, they believe only in the eternal progress of increasing size, scope, and efficacy of political and bureaucratic governance).

In these four scenarios, they come out as risk-takers. People of courage.

But, when you look at the hodge-podge of proposals that make up the reform package, they come off as something else again. I’ll let the reader name that “something else.”

Republicans have a huge opportunity for a comeback, here, but only if they stick to the theme that nurtures Americans’ justified incredulity. And the only way to make this stick is to attack the package not for such things as Death Panels and Abortion support — proof positive that Republicans tend to be a rather brain-dead group, so off-point are most of these issues — but for its long-term and wide-spread negative consequences.

This is hard work. I have not done it here. We have only just begun. Thinking “beyond Stage One” (as Thomas Sowell puts its), identifying the “unseen” as well as “the seen” (as Frédéric Bastiat put it), striving to discover the long-term effects as well as the near-term effects (as Henry Hazlitt put it) — these critical modes of thought aren’t easy. They require effort. They rub against the grain of enthusiasm. They seem treasonous to people who demand symbolic action, and identify themselves chiefly by the “good deeds” they do by merely supporting a political party.

Ah, and there’s why we don’t see Republicans normally taking to this agenda. The technique of honest and thorough social thought cuts both ways. It cuts against the right as against the left. It makes hash of simplistic arguments for war as it does against simplistic arguments for government handouts and regulations.

But there is one thing we, who try to practice economic criticism, can take solace in: Our agenda may not be the mainstream political agenda, but it does fit in, very nicely, with the common sense of the American people. Americans’ native skepticism over government may be superficial, but it is strong, and it is growing.

By applying economic thinking, and publicizing this thought, we strengthen the growing incredulity to statism in American culture, and prepare the way, perhaps, even for an eventual political success.

twv, The Lesson Applied

From the beginning of the pandemic, I heard one simple idea every now and then, and it seems to express the assumption upon which a lot of policies came to be demanded:

I have a right not to be infected.

That is of course a falsity. There is not and can be no such right, as such. You have a right, at most, to negotiate the terms of your avoidance of infection.

The phrase: “I have a right not to be infected” shows an expectation of a miraculous nature imputed to rights as such, or to government in general.

How rights work in the real world are not so magical. A right is a specific kind of human instrument that only works when specifically limited to performable operations.

After all, every right articulates an obligation. In law, the obligations (and therefore rights) we worry about are those that may be compelled by law, or by those operating under its umbrella. We cannot compel people not to infect each other. We cannot effectuate such an outcome. Viruses are slippery critters. We can only compel people to do this and that. And most of those thises and thats must be negotiated for, traded for, accommodated by manners or by convenience. The error here — this assumption of having a right that is beyond our means to perform — has been made all across the political spectrum. I’ve heard it, or words to that effect, from progressives, conservatives, libertarians. All are wrong. Very wrong.

I suppose at some point I’ll have to write about why this is so. It seems obvious to me, but what’s obvious to me isn’t widely observed. Think of it like a similar notion, which I often hear amongst my compeers: “no one has a right to pollute.” Well, estoppel principles apply, and finders-keepers/first-poopers rights apply, too.

One should not try to make ”rights” do too much work. That is the way to break the tool itself — and rights are a very useful tool. It would be a pity were it broken because its users abused it.

twv

According to current lore, there are “right-wing facts” and “left-wing facts.” Common sense would immediately tell you that there are “right-wing fantasies” and “left-wing fantasies” and also the same binary split on lies, evasions, suspicions, errors, misinformation, disinformation, bigotry, and all the rest.

Left-wingers often mention that great formulation, “alternative facts.” The usual harrumph and chortle is that “there are no ’alternative facts,’” just lies and error, etc. But in the current context, “alternative fact” is spot on: an alternative fact is a fact that fits the “other side’s” ideology, not yours.

It is not as if facts only line up on one side.

That being said, much of what we are all really arguing about is myth, theory, and values. We do have different values. And with those values come different visions of a better world. At first blush, right-wingers hate basic left-wing values, and vice versa, but many others just think that the values and visions of their opponents yield consequences — because of the nature of reality — at variance with the ideologues’ expectations.

The biggest values/visions differences regard sex and the family. Yesterday’s sexual conservatism mirrors — reflects in reverse — on the values level, with today’s “genderism” (for want of a better word). But despite one’s initial or acculturated preferences and tolerances, one can still take a step back and say that one sort of domestic institution is generally superior to another in terms of, say, producing happy children who go on to be independent, sociable beings and a general boon to society (noting that criminals are a huge drain, and that criminality is a good thing to suppress). But a knee-jerk sexual conservative is no more interested in seeing the social benefits of un-persecuted homosexuals than a knee-jerk sexual “gender progressive” is of heteronormativity.

Thankfully, most of us need not fall into the knee-jerk values/visions camps. We should be able to argue.

But right now our culture incapacitates us for this. And we are left with people arguing over “alternative facts.”

For my part, I’ve used the word “anomalous” more often, and try to find data that might change minds. All it takes is one datum to disprove a theory. Well, if it is a significant enough datum.

And I note that almost no one uses that word today, datum.

This actually seems significant. People cannot conceive of a datum that would change their minds.

In my general defense, in the last five years I’ve found single bits of information here and there that very much have changed my mind. But I have also incorporated much, much data that has solidified other beliefs.

twv

…a note from Facebook….

There is an element of fairness embedded in the idea of justice. The vice of the left is to think that fairness can be imposed upon society by correcting for nature and chance, which operate heedless of human preferences. This is such an awesome task — impossible, really — that the motto of the left could be “everything is political.”

The left’s characteristic form of righteous indignation is envy. And there is no intellectual humility in sight.

There is an element of vengeance to the idea of justice. The vice of the right is to think that this is the whole matter, and that extremity of retaliation for a wrong is usually better than moderation. The motto of the right could be “there is no kill like overkill.”

The right’s form of righteous indignation is wrath.

And intellectual rigor is rarely welcome.

Of course, the terms left and right, relating to politics, are also outmoded and flimsy, and your mileage may differ, simply because of the inherent relativity of “left and right.” It all depends upon which direction you are looking.

But it is astounding how unidirectional most folk are, hence the ability to plot politics, if clumsily, in bi-directional terms. And name the vices.

twv, November 24, 2015

A lot of people have constructed propagandistic memes to the effect that ”things would be different” had Kyle been black. Every one of these memes have failed because the memetic engineer could not engineer the precisely opposite situation to Kyle Rittenhouse’s. So let me try. I mean, it’s a worthy counterfactual, right?

What if Kyle were black?

What if the 17-year-old African-American male traveled across a state line to his father’s community after a White Lives Matter protest turned violent and burned down a huge hunk of his father’s town. The protest was over the police shooting a white guy during a domestic squabble.

Now, the trick in this example is not to make everything opposite — this white man would have to become a white woman, right, to be “completely” opposite? If “make everything opposite” were the rule in constructing such examples, we would merely engage in Bizarro World japery. (So this haploid is carrying a ray gun…) So, let’s keep it close. And let’s make initial spark for the ”protests” this: a white criminal man got shot by police while reaching for his knife after walking away from the police who had told him to stand down. Same as the Kenosha criminal. And this man survives, though most protesters think he’s dead. It’s only the races we need to flip.

So a White Live Matter group protested the shooting, and the protest turns quickly to riot, which spreads. And the cops stand down, letting it all burn: the cops are on the side of the whites, this time, after all!

Amidst this, a number of heroic black people take to the streets to help victims, put out fires, and wash away graffiti. Our black Kyle is carrying a scary-to-liberals rifle and as the evening wears on gets chased by other black people who beat him with a skate board and try to take away his weapon. Some shots are fired, and our black Kyle kills two men, black, and wounds another, also black.

For his trouble, the Republican presidential candidate calls this Kyle a black supremacist and the major media constantly calls Kyle a murderer, moments after, and all the way into his trial.

What are the most unbelievable things about this scenario, as written? To make it the most apt opposite-race example, what should I change?

twv

I am not particularly against racism. Or greed.
I am also not much exercised to fight envy. Or spite. Or rage.
I am mainly for virtue, and for the many specific virtues. And, thereby, against the many vices. But no one vice strikes me as inarguably “worst” — or one virtue as overwhelmingly “best.”
I suspect that those who fixate against one specific vice are almost certainly riddled with vice — often the very vice they most often excoriate. It is understandable. And it is a tell. But it is not a certainty, either. There are folks who target the one vice that they do not find tempting, in order to avoid the difficult task of restraining the vices that serve as their besetting sins.

There has been no pandemic in Canada: no excess deaths. So what to make of the much-ballyhooed mortality stats in the U.S. and elsewhere?

Well, we’ve got to accept the regionality and seasonality of the data patterns — and who (that is, what demographic groups) show the biggest jumps in deaths. 
And we must explain why an alleged respiratory virus demonstrated summer contagion surges. Also: why it has been so regional, and (to repeat) flipped seasonal — why the summer surges. A lot of this appears to be new. And anomalous. Very odd, and the oddity is not being addressed (or even acknowledged) by our cognitive elites.

But a few daring scientists are indeed looking at the data. First consider this from a few months ago:

We analyzed all-cause mortality by week (ACM/w) for Canada, and for the Canadian provinces, and by age group and sex, from January 2010 through March 2021; in comparison with data for other countries and their regions or counties.  

We find that there is no extraordinary surge in yearly or seasonal mortality in Canada, which can be ascribed to a COVID-19 pandemic; and that several prominent features in the ACM/w in the COVID-19 period exhibit anomalous province-to-province heterogeneity that is irreconcilable with the known behaviour of epidemics of viral respiratory diseases (VRDs). We conclude that a pandemic did not occur.

But something has happened. What? If no pandemic in Canada, something horrible happened elsewhere — and the political pandemic panic in Canada has been more extreme than in most states to the south of the provinces.

And we must consider: to what extent has the excess deaths we have seen been iatrogenic? Mask mandates and lockdowns, sure, but also bad prescription and treatment protocols, suppression of normal medical practice in favor of centralized medical control and official programs, not excluding promotion of novel leaky vaccines.

I’ll  try  to  read  a more recent  paper,  discussed on The Last Vagabond program on Rokfin,  tomorrow, which aims to answer some of my questions — and a few I hadn’t thought of before. For now, I’ve just listened to the article’s main author, and skimmed this newer article.

Could stress be the biggest factor in the current pandemic panic, and have caused most deaths?Lots of great stuff here.

twv