Showing posts from 2021

The biology of your eyes

I saw some contact lenses advertised that boasted that they were designed with that in mind. An example of sciences trying to take credit for the things they study: our eyes have a nature, not a “biology.” Biology studies that nature.

More Adams-esque Nonsense

This was in the Dirk Gently TV show, so I don't know if Douglas Adams wrote it himself or it was inserted by the TV writers, but it is fully in line with Douglas Adams BS: Dirk at some point "realizes" that a woman he has met is actually his former professor's brain-dead daughter's body operating via a "downloaded" AI. For the people who like this kind of nonsense, this is an acceptable story line, because it is "scientific." Ok, let us suppose that "AI" is a real concept, and let us further suppose that human brains are a sort of computer. Well, then, the original AI would have been a program running on some computer architecture... say, Intel x86... and then program was then "downloaded" onto the professor's daughter... so, wait: Her brain implemented the x86 instruction set? Intel created human brains? And although it was severely damaged, it was fine again once it downloaded some new program? The people who love this

Douglas Adams

He had a decent sense of humor. But his great appeal to intellectual midwits comes mostly through having his characters babble inanities like “Consciousness is just a stream of binary code.”

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice

When Martin Luther King said this, apparently quoting Theodore Parker, it demonstrated how thoroughly his Christianity had already been infected by progressivism. From a Christian perspective, there is simply no reason to suspect that the world will become more and more just in secular time. The sheep and goats will be with us right until the final judgment. Parker first coined this phrase over 160 years ago. The time since his death has seen the race for Africa, which included the huge slave work camp called the Belgian Congo, World War I, the Soviet Gulag, the Chinese cultural revolution, the Holocaust, the Killing Fields, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the fire bombing of Dresden… By any objective reading of history, Parker‘s conviction has been shown as idiotically wrong.

Do you have any sticky buns?

And by “sticky buns” I mean steel wool And by “steel wool” I mean aspirin No? Well, forget I asked! What are my needs to you? Me, a mere scullery maid… And by “scullery maid” I mean sticky buns…

But isn’t it improving?

When I was mentioning how buggy Apple’s voice recognition software was, in about 2017, one of my audience asked “But it’s getting better and better, isn’t it?“ I thought about this for about a second, and answered “No, I’ve seen no improvement since I started using it seven or eight years ago.” I must report that my evaluation is exactly the same today. And I find this really remarkable: how could this software be out and in use for so long, yet show no signs of improvement whatsoever?

The stupidest convention in detective fiction

Is the one where, at the end, the detective assembles everyone who the reader or viewer ever suspected, accuses them one after another of the crime, and finally reveals the true culprit. Whatever would be the point of such an activity, in solving any real world crime? None.

One Day, I'm Going to Vanish Out of the Historical Record

I just heard: "After this defeat, the NeoAssyrian empire vanished from the historical record." What this nitwit meant was that the empire ceased to exist. It's not like he thinks there is still a secret "NeoAssyrian empire" that just happens to be missing from the "historical record." No, the empire ended, but he can't bring himself to speak simply, and has to say the nonsense I quote above.

Pulling a special science out of a rabbit hole

You’ve heard this before: the practitioner of some special science tells you “The world you see with your senses is not real. It is an illusion generated in your brain. The real world is the one exhibited by [FILL IN SPECIAL SCIENCE HERE].” So, a physicist may tell you that the real world is what physics shows us. But how do we know what the laws and entities of physics are? Well, we know them by looking at a read out on a scale, or watching a dial, or peering through a telescope or electron microscope. In other words, this supposedly reliable world of physics is completely built upon the supposedly illusory world of our senses! If we can’t trust our senses when we look at a tree or another person, why can we suddenly trust them when we look at a meter or a scale? It is obvious nonsense. At the very best, if the world of our senses is actually an illusion, then the laws of physics are the laws of how this illusion behaves.

The inconsistency of liberal neutrality

It is often been pointed out that “liberal neutrality“ is a myth, that all laws embody concepts of right and wrong, and liberalism certainly is not neutral between liberal and non-liberal viewpoints. But even on its own terms, its claims are unjustified: if there is no way that we can publicly assert what's right and what’s wrong, if there’s no objective way to justify these judgments, then there is no way to justify the liberal claim that the government should be neutral between different moral stances. That itself is a moral claim, and by the tenets of liberalism, can’t be granted any priority over competing moral claims, such as “In the face of competing moral stances, the best thing to do is Win! so that your own stance carries the day.”


I had a chance to rewatch the Dustin Hoffman film Tootsie not too long ago. Theoretically, it is a message about equality, and how men don’t treat women well. But if you actually consider the plot carefully, it seems the main message is “Men are even better at being a woman than women are.”

Does it really help the deaf?

I see closed captioning put up text like “somber piano music.” In the program, the somber piano music is setting a mood. But seeing the words “somber piano music“ hardly does the same work, does it? Is there really any point to verbal descriptions of the background music?

OK, this is weird, even for New York

Leaving the 99 Cents store, I just saw the guy leaving in front of me “go to third base” with a manikin. As though it were a live woman, and he were trying to get it turned on!

Yo tengo que ganar…

Yo tengo que ganar un elefante Tengo que ganar una cerveza Tengo que ganar tu dulce amor Pero solo estoy un chico De las montañas de escribir Y entonces yo no sé nada Del amor como cumplir 

Of course censorship is sometimes appropriate

‘[Hooker’s] Puritan opponents were not partners in a theoretical debate; they were Gnostic revolutionaries, engaged in a struggle for existential representation that would have resulted in the overthrow of the English social order, the control of the universities by Puritans, and the replacement of common law by scriptural law… Hooker perfectly understood, what today is so little understood, that Gnostic propaganda is political action and not perhaps a search of truth in the theoretical sense…’ This “debate” ‘would have to be closed by governmental authority.’ (Voegelin, The New Science of Politics )

I punch you, you punch me

Progressive nitwits often complain about some comedian that “he is punching down instead of punching up.” Good comedy is about puncturing pretensions, whether those pretensions exist upwind or downwind of the comedian in his social hierarchy. It takes a progressive nitwit to understand puncturing pretensions as a violent act of punching someone, when actually, if the comedian is good, the puncturing not only gets a laugh, but also helps the target, as getting rid of our pretensions is good for us!

I’m going to hit it big with this

They’ve done it with cough medicine, decongestants, allergy medicine, and more. But they have missed a whole category, And I know I can hit it big with this one: Non-drowsy sleep aids ! I think I am going to call it Awake ! TM . 

“Having only one pollinator…

“May actually help the turtlehead ensure that it’s pollen reaches another turtlehead.” This sort of evolutionarily “explanation“ doesn’t really explain much, does it? Because what happens when the explainer comes across a flower with many pollinators? Well, he’ll explain that “Having many pollinators helps ensure that the plant gets pollinated.”

What the heck was Locke thinking?

“The agricultural laborer, according to Locke’s example, is better off than an Indian king in America” — Pierre Manent, An intellectual history of liberalism Rulers of the great American empires would have been fabulously wealthy, wealthier than a thousand European agricultural laborers of the 17th century. But even the chief of a small tribe would have had a lifestyle that an agricultural laborer would have envied. In fact, there are many recorded instances of Europeans in North America “going native,“ due to the attractiveness of the Indian way of life.

Good ole Enlightenment Anti-Semitism

“In following the historical fate of the petty Jewish nation, it is seen that no other end was possible for it… It dared to manifest an irreconcilable hatred for all other nations; always superstitious, always barbarous, abject in misfortune, and insolent in prosperity…” — Voltaire, Essai sur les mœurs et l’esprit des nations

OK, that’s fine, JGA…

But when are you going to take up the big topics?

I'll Never Grow Up!

Progressive Insurance is running a series of ads capitalizing on people's fear of "becoming their parents." We have a nation full of people terrified of growing up.

Ideologues are immune to evidence

ESPN quotes Milwaukee Bucks player Khris Middleton: ‘ "We talked about [the verdict] a little bit as a team," Middleton said after Friday's game. "Speaking for myself, it was definitely disappointing, but at the same time, it really wasn't surprising about the verdict. I watched [the trial] a little bit and was able to keep up with it, but it's something that I think we've all seen over and over again."’ Middleton only watched the trial “a little bit,” but nevertheless knows that it’s something “we’ve all seen over and over again.” In other words, if the verdict came in “not guilty“ Middleton already knew what he would say about such a verdict, without even paying any real attention to the trial. This is why ideologies are immune to rational refutation based on evidence. Whatever happens, the ideologue will fit it into his worldview by categorizing it as “something we’ve seen over and over again.” And listen, you libertarians upset by woke ideology,

But how could Hobbes solve the problem of civil theology?

Faced with competing Protestant sects, a remnant of Catholics, some Jews, and aware of the existence of Islam… what could Hobbes do about his correct perception that a single civil theology is needed to create a stable political order? He could solve this problem by “freezing history into an everlasting final realm on this earth.” “The idea of solving the troubles of history through the invention of the everlasting constitution made sense only under the conditions that the source of these troubles, that is, the truth of the soul, would cease to agitate man. Hobbes, indeed, simplify the structure of politics by throwing out anthropological and soteriological truth. That is an understandable desire in a man who wants his peace; things, to be sure, would be so much simpler without philosophy and Christianity. But how can one dispose of them without abolishing the experiences of transcendence which belong to the nature of man? Hobbes was quite able to solve this problem, too; he improved o

All stable political orders are integralist

“Hobbes saw the public order was impossible without a civil theology beyond debate; it is the great and permanent achievement of the Leviathan to have clarified this point.” — Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics , p. 159

The contradiction that destroyed classical liberalism

“Classical liberalism” was an organization of society that would have better been called “broad Protestant integralism”: it was a form of social organization structured by the values and interests of white, Protestant, property owners. But given that the people formulating its ethos were bewitched by enlightenment ideas of universal reason, they found themselves generally unable to state this fact. (Locke recognizes it somewhat when he refuses to extend religious toleration to Catholics: and right he was! Catholicism is incompatible with classical liberalism.) Because they had adopted this pretense of universality, the guardians of the classical liberal order found themselves severely hampered, almost unarmed, when challenges to the order arose from those not sharing its worldview. If they had been honest, they could have said “Of course public schools will display the 10 Commandments, and teach that the pope is the whore of Babylon: our society is built on these beliefs.” But that wo

The Judicious Hooker

I have mentioned this before, but it is extremely important:  Richard Hooker , writing in the 1500s, already had an essentially full understanding of ideologies as epistemic closures. My copy of Ecclesiastical Polity is boxed at the moment, so I will quote Eric Voegelin quoting Hooker. What is  fascinating here is to note how completely Hooker’s description of the Puritan ideologues of the 1500s apply to our current versions. I will fill in just one parallel for you, but you can easily fill in more on your own. So: “In order to advance his ‘cause,’ the man who has it will, ‘in the hearing of the multitude,’ indulge in severe criticisms of social evils… Frequent repetition of the performance will induce the opinion among the hearers that the speakers must be men of singular integrity, zeal, and holiness, for only men who are singularly good can be so deeply offended by evil.  [Murray Rothbard again and again indulges in severe criticisms of “the State”!] “The next step will be… attribu

I’m going to grow spaghetti!

A narrator talking about the Niger river said the lands around it are so fertile that the people can grow “rice, millet, and couscous.” Ok, couscous is a kind of pasta. This is like saying the people grew french fries, or cheese puffs. 

Shared culture

On our trip to Martinique, we took a taxi from the airport out to the small town where we would stay for a week. The driver did not speak English, so when I saw an animal killed along the roadside, I asked him « C'est quel animal? » He answered « Le raton laveur » A washing rat? What the heck is a washing rat? I could see him searching for a way to tell me what he meant, and then after a moment, a smile came across his face, and he said “Davy Crockett!” “Ah, a raccoon!”

Rich in… what?!

What is documentary just said that Costa Rica is “rich in active volcanoes.” OK, I’m sorry, but that sounds like claiming that “Fredonia is rich in depraved serial killers.”

Your ethical obligation to make shit up

Here’s a lovely story  out of Yale Law School, describing how administrators at the school told two students they had a “moral obligation” to lie about their professor, as they owed it to “future generations“ of students. This is a sign of minds fully captured by an ideology: all of the ordinary rules of morality, like “don’t lie,“ are tossed out, and what is moral becomes whatever is judged to help “the movement.”

ESPN Headline

“ George Mason shocks No. 20 Maryland with 71=66 upset on road” I can imagine that Maryland was shocked to discover that 71 equals 66. It must’ve thrown the entirety of their beliefs about mathematics into turmoil.

Warring claims

Those objecting to “patriarchy“ often make claims like: In the past, women were unfairly denied the opportunity to become artists, writers, scientists, etc. It is a clear sign of discrimination that at present, women make up a small number of the scientists mentioned in history books, the writers in the canon, the artists in museums, etc. Of course, if point one is true, then the facts cited in point two would be the logical result of that past discrimination, and not really offer any evidence for present discrimination. After all, if women were denied the opportunity to pursue painting, then necessarily we would find very few great female painters. To demand that museums equally showcase male and female painters would be as silly as demanding that symphony orchestras equally feature compositions by European and Native American composers. But logical consistency is not high on the list of desired features for ideologues’ complaints.

Breakfast in bed

This is easily the least comprehensible “luxurious“ custom I can think of: why the F would I want to eat a meal in my bed? It sounds to me like having sex on the toilet, or sleeping on the kitchen counter. 

The consumption of large amounts of alcoholic beverages

The pompous narrator in the documentary I’m watching just spoke the above phrase. Since at the time of which he was speaking, the only alcoholic beverages in existence were fermented, he could have just said “They drank a lot of wine and beer.”

Posting and responding to comments

OK, I finally decided the right medium for me to post my thoughts is blogger, not Twitter. On Twitter, I simply get too distracted into arguing with people who are not worth arguing with. However, I am mostly posting from my phone, and I’m still trying to figure out how the comment feature of my blogger phone app works. So don’t feel bad if your comment does not get posted right away, or if I do not respond right away.

Slaves to our devices

I have a television set where the picture won’t come on unless some component is sufficiently warm. (I know about this kind of problem from having watched  Lee Felsentein  debug hardware.) As a result, I periodically find myself hitting the power button on the TV remote, not because I want to watch TV, but simply because if, later in the evening, I want to watch TV, the TV will come on faster if it has been on more recently.

Hey you engineers out there

What everyday device exists in order to calculate and display the first derivative of a process?

Ideologies as epistemic closures, II

I was in a conversation with a mathematician and an engineer. The engineer, while a nice fellow, is a hard-core materialist, and he said “I don’t think that numbers that can’t be computed even exist.” The mathematician asked him, “So you think that π doesn’t exist?” The engineer responded, “If you want to convince me that non-computable numbers exist, what you should do is…” We waited… “Compute one of them for me.” And no, he was not joking. This is like demanding that one prove massless particles exist by weighing them. Clearly, such a position is completely closed to counter-evidence and counter-arguments. A large part of the ideology is, in fact, schemes designed to block critique.

Don’t try to write “fancy”

My father was a DA, so he knew a lot of cops, and read their reports. He would remark to me how cops who could speak perfectly sensible, comprehensible English would suddenly lose that ability when asked to write a report. If you asked them what happened, they would say “When we walked into the house, the guy ran out the back.” But their report would read “Subsequent to our perambulating onto the premises, the potential perpetrator absconded from the domicile in a rearward direction.” This was inspired by listening to a fancy pants documentary narrator, who just said, about some part of Turkey, “The region has a high rate of annual rainfall.” What he wants to say is “It rains a lot over there.” But that doesn’t sound sufficiently fancy for his pompous self, so he gussied it up, and in doing so, screwed up. Because “annual rainfall” is already a rate. So if you start talking about “the rate of annual rainfall,” you’re talking about the rate of a rate. Essentially, because he wanted to t

I have a sense of foreboding

I’m watching a documentary on Napoleon. He has been losing battle after battle, and his armies have been pushed back into France. I just can’t help suspecting that this guy is going to meet his Waterloo soon. I’m not sure where it will happen, but I feel it coming…

Progressive Civilization

“Totalitarianism… is the end form of progressive civilization.” — Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics , p. 132

White supremacy

No ideology can get anywhere unless it presents itself as a solution to some genuine problems. Marxism only gets off the ground because there usually are a lot of injustices in a capitalist society. Rothbardianism only gets off the ground because governments usually do become self-serving. And so on.  And so it is with the current ideology focused on the problem of “white supremacy.” The two main defects in this ideological movement are: It treats white supremacy as though it were almost the only social problem. (Yes, despite the talk of “intersectionality.”) Its recommended solutions are both pathetically  inadequate to address the actual problems it highlights and unjust in new ways. Like other ideological movements, it is really an attempt to seize power, not to eliminate it. (For, of course, power cannot be eliminated. Becoming a “grown-up“ politically speaking involves recognizing that someone or other will always have power, and that the best we can hope for is that they will be

Ideologies as epistemic closures

“expansion and political success will be seriously hampered, if the truth of the Gnostic movement  is permanently exposed to effective criticism from various quarters. This handicap can be reduced, and practically eliminated, by putting a taboo on the instruments of critique; a person who uses the tabooed instruments will be socially boycotted and, if possible, exposed to political defamation.” — Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics, p. 140 If you understand this point, you can understand cancel culture, and much more concerning ideological movements. Why are the “woke” pointing to the use of logical arguments as “white supremacy“? Because an ideology relies on epistemic closure, and needs blocking tactics to keep out ideas that might open it to reality. This also fully explain something like Maury Rothbard’s “review” of Karl Polanyi’s book The Great Transformation : for anyone who has given Polanyi’s book a serious reading, Rothbard’s “review“ appears as an absurd mischaracteriz

The “reliability“ of historical documents

Has no real bearing on how useful they are to historians. Imagine you went on a trip, and left behind a note about your trip that was entirely filled with lies. If I am trying to write an historical account of your trip, this document would be extremely valuable to me: out of all possible lies you might have told, you left a document telling these particular lies. Why these lies, and not other lies?

You want to gain lasting fame as an historian?

Decipher  Quipu !

Traditional wisdom and modern stupidity

The people of the Andes cultivated over 1000 varieties of potatoes, often planting up to 200 varieties at a single site, and over 150 varieties of maize. The Irish potato famine could not possibly have occurred in the Andes. Modern idiots plant a single variety of corn engineered by Monsanto over thousands of acres.

One of my favorite facts offering some historical perspective

Voegelin notes that Joachim of Flora broke with the Augustinian philosophy of history and divided history into three periods: the period of the Father, the period of the Son, and the period of the Holy Spirit. This tripartite division is all over the modern philosophy of history: Comte turns it into the age of religion, the age of metaphysics, and the age of science. For Marx it becomes primitive communism, class-based society, and final communism. And in our history textbooks, we find ancient history, medieval history, and modern history. This division tends to give us a false sense of the time periods involved, so that for many people, there is this period called “ancient” during which bopped about Egyptians and Sumerians and Persians and Babylonians and Chinese and Greeks and Romans and so on, all mingling together in “ancient times.” But consider this: when Herodotus visited the pyramids, their construction was as far back in his past as he is in ours. Furthermore, the Greeks knew


“The Augustinian conception of the church… remained historically affective up to the end of the Middle Ages. The revolutionary expectation of a Second Coming that would transfigure the structure of history on earth was ruled out as ‘ridiculous.’ The Logos had become flesh in Christ; the grace of redemption had been bestowed on man; there would be no divinization of society beyond the pneumatic presence of Christ in his church.” — Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics, p. 109

Home for the holidays!

I just saw a Verizon commercial where a mom was saying how happy she was to have her whole family at home for the holidays. And she noted how, with their great Wi-Fi, they could each go into their own space and go online. Nice to have them all home so they can continue being isolated in their online bubble inside the same house.

Another example

We find Rod Dreher praising  this piece  of theoretical rubbish.  The authors of the essay Dreher praises show no awareness of the fact that all ideologies are “political religions.” They w ill only condemn as “religious” those ideologies that “ reveal a whole series of mythological and supernatural beliefs”: in other words, these clowns do not realize that what characterizes an ideology is precisely a closure to the supernatural and mythological, in other words, to divine reality. Dreher is an Orthodox Christian, but is apparently so theoretically ignorant that he cannot even recognize people who would condemn his beliefs as irrational. And should Dreher ever read this post, I hope he can accept it as a piece of advice against embracing false friends.

Since Dan McCarthy left…

Things have been going downhill at <i>The American Conservative</i>. Today, I found someone  vomiting out this  on their website: “ Which is to say that replacing quantitative test data with teacher recommendations, grade point averages, and personal narratives is opting for an approach that is necessarily  less scientific , as the information involved is not referenced against a uniform (i.e. standard) set of metrics.” I don’t know anything about this author, but, he assumes that: College admissions should be “scientific.” Absolutely any “uniform metric” is preferable to any alternative. So I guess this clown would be happy if students were admitted to universities based on weight, since that would be a “uniform metric.”

The mysteries of existence

One day, someone decided that Kate McKinnon was funny!

How NOT to Erase Someone

There is a YouTube video out called “Why did the gospels try to erase Mary Magdalene?” Um… “ She is mentioned by name twelve times in the canonical gospels, more than most of the apostles and more than any other woman in the gospels, other than Jesus's family.” Mentioning someone a lot is a funny way to try to “erase“ them.

NYC Life

While on a Zoom call today, I heard screams coming from the street behind me. “Wait a second,” I said, “I’d better check this out.” I walked out onto the street. Halfway down the block was a man walking away from my apartment, his hands held vertically over his head, screaming every five seconds.