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

Andrew Sullivan tweets:

2016 election. Rittenhouse. Covington. Russian collusion. Vaccines. Bounties on US soldiers. Lab-leak theory. Jussie Smollett. The Pulse shooting. The Atlanta shootings. Hunter Biden laptop. Inflation. Steele Dossier.
The MSM got every single one wrong.

The major (Mockingbird) media didn’t merely get these stories wrong, they told untruths: they lied and spun and propagandized for the maximum state, for their beloved Woke Leviathan.

I confess to having thought that we had reached Peak Progressivism with the mass excoriation of the Covington kids, but O, how much lower journos could go!

In Sullivan’s think piece he links to, he writes that

when the sources of news keep getting things wrong, and all the errors lie in the exact same direction, and they are reluctant to acknowledge error, we have a problem. If you look back at the last few years, the record of errors, small and large, about major stories, is hard to deny. It’s as if the more Donald Trump accused the MSM of being “fake news” the more assiduously they tried to prove him right.

Regarding the Rittenhouse case, Mr. Sullivan tries to sound level-headed: “Almost immediately, the complicated facts became unimportant. The far right viewed Rittenhouse as a hero — which he surely wasn’t. He had no business being there with an AR-15.” This is very similar to Paul Jacob’s opinion, actually, who makes similar points in his most recent podcast:

But as I mentioned to Paul in this episode (I interview him for this project of his, every weekend), my position is far less centrist.

Now, when the Kenosha, Wisconsin, riots and Rittenhouse shootings occurred, I decided to wait until more information came in. I did not make a big deal of his innocence or guilt. I was willing — nay, eager — to let a jury decide. In that I was being as normal and centrist-civilized as one could hope for. But as evidence mounted, young Mr. Rittenhouse’s innocence looked quite likely. Then, after the prosecution has made its opening “case,” an acquittal seemed to me as obviously the only just result.

All those media mavens, Democrats and beltway libertarians who jumped on the bandwagon against Rittenhouse have lots of egg on face.

Rittenhouse acted in self-defense. The men he shot were trying to kill him. They were criminals and were very much acting in the wrong. Paul Jacob, being a nice person, states that it no one wants to see them killed, but — after the fact — I see no reason to shed the tiniest tear for these miscreants.

And while I am unclear as to the legality of Rittenhouse’s open carry, I admit: I do not much care. He was just to carry his weapons, and the rioters were in the wrong, generally, and politicians and cops who let it all happen were cowards at best.

Another major defeat for “woke,” riot-loving leftists. Good. They deserve nothing better than our spittle.

And as for Rittenhouse being imprudent for carrying an AR-15 — really? He had “no business” carrying it into a riot zone?

Everybody has by now seen the judge’s remonstrance of the prosecutor for a line of interrogation that is germane to the issue. The prosecutor was trying to show that Rittenhouse came to the event wanting to kill. The prosecutor was aiming to take a weeks’-old statement by KR about wishing he’d had his rifle with him to shoot some looters as evidence. The judge had declared that line of inquiry off limits earlier on, and, after removing the jury from the room, “yelled at” the prosecutor.

The principle the prosecutor relied upon (and got Rittenhouse to admit on stand) was that we do not have a right to defend property with deadly force. Democrats hold this as a bedrock principle. Perhaps that is why they let rioters riot. After all, a mob won’t stop mayhem upon mere instruction. Deadly force is required. So Democrats have convinced me that the use of deadly force to protect property must be at least sometimes OK.

Thanks, Democrats. You’ve changed my mind.

So I disagree with both Paul Jacob and Andrew Sullivan: when cops and politicians don’t do their jobs, it is up to citizens to take up arms and defend life and property. It is obvious that, contrary to the prosecutors, Rittenhouse did not go out hoping to shoot anyone. But taking a weapon did lead the crazies to attack him. And since Rittenhouse had been doing nothing wrong, their attacking him was a gross violation of his rights. His shooting of them was just. But I also go further: his arming himself in the melee was just, and more citizens should have done it.

Sure, it seems wrong for a 17-year-old to do this job. But that is not his fault. The adult officials who shirked their duty are to blame. And so are the fully adult citizens who should have taken up arms. And, if necessary, did what the prosecutor wanted to convince the jury that Rittenhouse himself itched to do: shoot at rioters.

Mobs are evil. That is, rioting mobs are evil.

At some point, they must be opposed just like we oppose marauding bands.

But Democrats are incapable of admitting that this is what a civilization must do. Democrats are so into “inclusion” that they look at all outsiders as “oppressed” and not, as rioters and illegal immigrant invaders are, themselves the actual oppressors.

Because Democrats no longer believe that the State is justified by the civilizational need to destroy those who would destroy us — hordes and mobs and criminals and even armies — they corrupt the institutions of police and courts and border guards and military so to disenable them from protecting us. I simply submit that when governments give up their prime task, citizens must take the necessary work.

Don’t want to see “vigilantism”? Then make sure the state does its Job One. When the State won’t do this job, it not only de-legitimizes itself, it legitimizes vigilantism.

Don’t want vigilantes? Then make sure the State (including local governments) does Its Job (their jobs) — or else consider institutional alternatives to the State. There are such alternatives, and maybe now is the time to talk about them.

Until then, young Mr. Rittenhouse may not be the hero we wanted, but he appears to have been the only hero on the streets in Kenosha that fateful day.

We just cannot expect the major media to even understand this. They have been trained to serve as (and are paid to be) the lickspittle of the Leviathan State.

twv

The recent ITV reënactment (adaptation) of William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair looks really good, but it seems unfortunate that the character Sambo — described as badly legged and black on the first page of the novel — is here a well-shaped, stately black African (played by a British actor), not an Indian, and is called “Sam.”

Racial, racism, stereotypes, blah blah blah. What would Thackeray make of P.C.?

The show is on Amazon Prime, but the book is everywhere. I have in my hand a very nice Könemann two-volume, boxed edition.

twv

The Sambo I knew as a kid.

Is it possible to get more pathetic than this?

The “Racism is small-dick energy” sign is hilariously racist. I mean, it’s funny. Especially in a crowd dominated by white-chick/pink-clit progressives.

Trying to understand the moralistic cultism of the left is an ongoing project, but until this sign I had not thought of applying an old-fashioned Freudianism to the endeavor. But what if leftist mob behavior were driven by “penis envy”?

Or maybe this is simply white women lusting after black dick.

Maybe these woke white women of the west really do think “white men” (the worst people in the world!) are envious of bigger black cocks, and that is why white men keep the bigger men down!

At this point, I wouldn’t discount any of these theories.

In any case, a bunch of white women in masks kneeling (not standing) in solidarity with a Marxist-led anti-white racist group like Black Lives Matter is so silly that maybe we should just chuckle.

But if you are looking for a theory behind the put-down, “racism is small dick energy,” you might have to supply it yourself. What I’ve read is small-brained.

twv

Hey, you can buy this goofy slogan on Amazon!

What is meant by the phrase “there is no god but the unknowable, and Herbert Spencer is its prophet”?

. . . as answered on Quora. . . .

This is a taunt from the pages of Jack London’s great novel Martin Eden, 13th chapter:

Martin had heard Herbert Spencer quoted several times in the park, but one afternoon a disciple of Spencer’s appeared, a seedy tramp with a dirty coat buttoned tightly at the throat to conceal the absence of a shirt. Battle royal was waged, amid the smoking of many cigarettes and the expectoration of much tobacco-juice, wherein the tramp successfully held his own, even when a socialist workman sneered, “There is no god but the Unknowable, and Herbert Spencer is his prophet.” Martin was puzzled as to what the discussion was about, but when he rode on to the library he carried with him a new-born interest in Herbert Spencer, and because of the frequency with which the tramp had mentioned “First Principles,” Martin drew out that volume.

So the great discovery began. Once before he had tried Spencer, and choosing the “Principles of Psychology” to begin with, he had failed as abjectly as he had failed with Madam Blavatsky. There had been no understanding the book, and he had returned it unread. But this night, after algebra and physics, and an attempt at a sonnet, he got into bed and opened “First Principles.” Morning found him still reading. It was impossible for him to sleep. Nor did he write that day. He lay on the bed till his body grew tired, when he tried the hard floor, reading on his back, the book held in the air above him, or changing from side to side. He slept that night, and did his writing next morning, and then the book tempted him and he fell, reading all afternoon, oblivious to everything and oblivious to the fact that that was the afternoon Ruth gave to him. His first consciousness of the immediate world about him was when Bernard Higginbotham jerked open the door and demanded to know if he thought they were running a restaurant.

Martin Eden had been mastered by curiosity all his days. He wanted to know, and it was this desire that had sent him adventuring over the world. But he was now learning from Spencer that he never had known, and that he never could have known had he continued his sailing and wandering forever. He had merely skimmed over the surface of things, observing detached phenomena, accumulating fragments of facts, making superficial little generalizations—and all and everything quite unrelated in a capricious and disorderly world of whim and chance. The mechanism of the flight of birds he had watched and reasoned about with understanding; but it had never entered his head to try to explain the process whereby birds, as organic flying mechanisms, had been developed. He had never dreamed there was such a process. That birds should have come to be, was unguessed. They always had been. They just happened.

Herbert Spencer (1820–1903) was a Victorian Era polymath, remembered for

  • his early development of evolutionary theory — “The Development Hypothesis” (1852), “A Theory of Population, deduced from the General Law of Animal Fertility” (1852), Principles of Psychology (first edition, 1855) and “Progress: Its Law and Cause” (1857);
  • his political liberalism — in Social Statics (1851), Justice (1891, Part IV of Principles of Ethics) and The Man versus the State (1884), all celebrated only by libertarians, today;
  • his pioneering of sociology — Study of Sociology (1878), Descriptive Sociology(19 vols., 1873–1934), and Principles of Sociology (1876–1896 );
  • coining the term “survival of the fittest” after hearing Charles Darwin’s initial presentation of “natural selection,” and as introduced formally in Principles of Biology (1864).

But Spencer first made his name as a metaphysician and religious philosopher. His main concept was “the Unknowable,” as indicated in the quip in above. It received its main exposition in the first half of First Principles (1860). Spencer was trying to show the limits of human knowledge, but also address an understanding of what he regarded as the underlying foundation to all existence, which, he argued, we know of but cannot actually know. Spencer believed that awe and reverence for this “Unknowable” is the remaining — “ultimate” — religious idea, after science had done its work.

The best treatment of this peculiar element to his philosophy is by George Santayana, in his Herbert Spencer Lecture at Oxford in 1923, “The Unknowable.” I highly recommend this beautiful and profound essay, to every thinking person — see Obiter Scripta (1936), but I first came across it in Clifton Fadiman’s Reading I’ve Liked (1945).

Spencer’s agnostic concept of “The Unknowable” was once all the rage. Victorian scientists such as John Tyndall, rapidly losing their faith, grabbed at it as if a lifeline in deep ocean. Since then, however, it has dropped out of circulation. I did once hear it discussed in the 1990s’ TV dramedy Northern Exposure, though.

So why the sneering remark? It apes the famous Islamic credo, sure. But it was from a socialist character. Herbert Spencer was deeply anti-socialist. No more need be said.

twv

Herbert Spencer

Is libertarianism an outdated ideology?

…as answered on Quora….

Funny you should ask.

For the first time I heard the word “libertarian” I was informed in no uncertain terms that it was hopelessly old-fashioned, backward, and inapplicable to modern society.

The sages who told me this were the news anchors of KOIN Channel 6 in Portland, Oregon. The occasion was the night of the 1976 Democratic National Convention. After the festivities ended, the Libertarian Party candidate for the presidency, Roger MacBride, ran a television spot making his pitch for “A New Dawn for America” (his horrible slogan and the title of his campaign book) with liberty as the centerpiece. I was a teenager, and was intrigued by MacBride’s presentation. After it ended, the CBS affiliate’s local news show came on, and they immediately commented on the Libertarian candidate’s ad. It has been over four decades since then, so my memory’s a bit fuzzy, but the gist was simple: “Those kinds of ideas may have worked in the 19th century, but not today, in our complex society.”

Now, that was an interesting contention, but they gave no evidence for it. As I thought about it for the next year, I put it in the iffy category of ideological statements.

What was clear was that, after freeing the slaves, Americans swiftly became more nationalistic, imperialistic, interventionist, and government-happy. So, with each ratcheting up of the new Leviathan State, libertarian ideas had become further alienated from the general tenor of American political thought. I had read some Jefferson at that age, and dipped into Locke; I knew Thoreau and the abolitionists; I had an inkling of the kinds arguments used to fend off — unsuccessfully — the growth of government in the late 19th and 20th centuries. It was obvious to me that libertarian ideas were linked to the Declaration of Independence and the fight against slavery. I thought it weird that a people that prided itself on ending slavery, in spite of or because of all the bloodshed it cost, would now be so blasé about scoffing at universal freedom, the libertarian idea. The idea decreasingly struck me as time-bound. Universal freedom and individual responsibility were, if anything, a future ideal set, not a past one, for it was obvious that Americans had been tempted by power from the outset, and gave in to the temptation at the cost of liberty. Repeatedly.

A year or so after hearing that political advertisement I read Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State and Utopia. The radicalism of the idea was pretty clear. But it was not an alien radicalism, like socialism struck me. This was familiar. Homely. And decent.

But accepting it as an ideal principle of political life required settling some factual and philosophical problems. I slowly worked those over.

Our culture did not follow my path. The enticements of power always tempt us in modern, partisan politics — including especially that mad drive to live at the grudging expense of others — and Americans seem hell-bent on succumbing.

Every year a little more.

Our culture has settled into its rut of statism, and it would be hard to jump out of the groove and take a new tack or track. We are “path dependent,” as social scientists like to say. There are costs associated with changing course.

But the course is not set to a lodestar, or to a clock. A moral ideal and a matter of general advantage does not change no matter how many wrong turns you take.

“No matter how far you have gone on the wrong road, turn back.”

—Turkish proverb