The Fanatical Cultists Among Us

There’s a good chance that people aspiring to murder those who disagree with them about politics are, among other things, fanatical cultists. We tend not to view them as such because they espouse no traditional religion, and indeed often profess atheism; but an immovable conviction in the existence of a universe that bears no resemblance to the realities before us isn’t just metaphysical in nature, but fanatically so.

If you believe that everyone deserves state-of-the-art health care and that politicians who stand in that initiative’s way should be executed as murderers, then you’re a fanatical cultist. What you desire is a real-world impossibility. We must all die in the flesh of something someday, and most of us—alas—will be ill on many days along the way to our last one. It’s the human condition. Miracle drugs may come along occasionally, but they are so expensive to concoct in their early stages that not everyone can afford them. A triage of some sort is inevitable. Maybe it shouldn’t be based on degree of wealth… but should it be based on degree of poverty? Maybe the young should go first—but is it not more sane to appeal to the community for charitable donations that a child might be saved than to legislate that the older guy has to get the ticket to the next world?

You’re not living in any world possible within our given dimensions if you refuse to weigh any of these questions, plug your ears, and keep droning, “All for everyone! All for everyone!”

If you believe that anyone who opposes the complete disarming of society is an accomplice to every murder that occurs and hence deserves execution himself, then you are a fanatical cultist. If only cops have guns, then Black Bart can drop a brick on a bypassing cop, steal his revolver, and inaugurate an irresistible crime wave. If you disarm even the cops, then the brick itself becomes a highly effective assault weapon… or a pitchfork or baseball bat or steak knife. A 98-pound female can currently chase off a 250-pound male just by waving her Smith and Wesson. Once we return to the Stone Age, her assailant will not need any weapon at all to do with her as he pleases. Your insistence that things would not degenerate to this point is childish and, beyond a certain point, lunatic. A responsible adult has no right to walk around with a kindergartener’s estimate of human nature. Your lunacy is probably attributable to a cultic belief system… which makes you yourself a potentially dangerous quantity in any society that allows you to vote.

If you say that anyone who obstructs the complete dissolution of national borders is impeding beleaguered people from finding food, shelter, and freedom and hence deserves to be executed as a passive mass-murderer, then consider yourself a fanatical cultist. Among other things, we must consider what diseases an alien population might introduce among us if not screened. Particularly in societies that offer an extensive net of social services, we must realize that thousands will rush our cities to gain access to free food, free police protection, free education, free medical attention, and so forth. Such resources are not inexhaustible; on the contrary, they must be doled out very carefully to those most in need and in a manner that encourages eventual self-sufficiency. Along with the poor and oppressed, as well, a criminal element will be sure to cross any unenforced border to a wealthier community. The situation is a goldmine for evil-doers: gather loot where it proliferates, then skip back across to another territory that will not pursue criminal acts committed “over there”.

If, in spite of all these liabilities, you really believe that we can and must exist as one big happy family in one great house—and that naysayers should be shot like mad dogs because of the obstacle they pose to “real progress”—then you are seriously delusional and a menace to yourself and others. You are a fanatical cultist who has no use for the world as it was made and must ever be.

How many of these are out there, I wonder? And why are we preoccupied with ISIS when our own society is nourishing a variety of fanaticism at least as dangerous and—now, it seems—homicidal?

 

As the Titanic Sinks, the Captain Worries About Flu Season

Since the subject of climate change arose the last time I wrote… why, may I ask, does the scientific community not apply its collective genius to solving crises that will certainly occur, quite possibly before the twenty-second century, and that may very probably become extinction events? As the ship sinks beneath us, why are we logging onto the Medicare site rather than looking for life vests?

We know that Yellowstone National Park sits atop the huge caldera of a smoking super-volcano. The giant has already exploded once in recent geological history: that’s why we have Yellowstone, with its vast mountain basin and restless geysers. The thing remains a ticking timebomb. Its next eruption will most certainly decimate life in neighboring regions almost instantly, its spreading umbrella of ash will plunge North America into nuclear winter within days, and its long-term effects over the ensuing decade might well wipe out most terrestrial life on the planet.

This eruption will happen, sooner or later. Do we have a plan on the drawing board for diffusing the pressure when magma starts to swell the chimney of a super-volcano (for there are several of these monsters around the globe)? Nope. Nada. So let’s just continue expending our time and resources on talking about how to keep Manhattan’s streets above water if the polar icecaps shrink.

Also a lead-pipe cinch to occur is a major asteroidal collision with Planet Earth. We don’t know “when”… but we do know that our Moby Dick is already silently cruising out there in the Asteroid Belt. Again, as with a super-volcanic eruption, the plume of ash following upon such a strike would envelope the world in a thick cloud within months, and virtually no eatable crops would grow anywhere for years. Most life would be exterminated. And the plan for averting the collision is… well, not even on any official drawing board at the moment.

But we’ll think of something when Moby Dick surfaces and we have about six months to Contact. The scientists will think of something. Let’s not pull them off the important work of trying to re-draw Florida’s coastline on the basis of certain computer simulations fed certain assumptions about climate change.

Query: why are extinction-risk events whose eventual likelihood sits at one hundred percent less important to the government-funded scientific establishment than the possibility of manmade climate change and its conjectured inconveniences? Could it be because designing a system to de-pressurize super-volcanoes or re-direct a looming mega-asteroid would not require intrusion into the life of every citizen, whereas the answer to climate change always seems to involve new government agencies and regulations that minutely monitor our individual activities?

The good news, I guess, is that if Big Brother’s encroachments worry you, his gluttony spells its own demise. All you have to do is dig a deep bunker and stock it with enough canned and freeze-dried food for ten years. Then, after the deluge, you’ll emerge upon a wasted, windswept landscape that will offer more freedom than you ever dreamed of… and far more than you could ever want.

The Ruling Elite Take Another Tiny Step into the Sporting World

The trend is so new that I consumed fifteen minutes in finding a single photo to illustrate it. Just this spring, Major League Baseball has decided to start throwing accents liberally over Spanish names, both on the backs of uniforms and on televised graphics.

At first I thought that the move was “hypertrophic”–that MLB’s politically correct elite wanted so much to show sensitivity to diverse cultures that accents were ordered to appear where they had no grammatical business. Then I discovered that my Spanish isn’t quite as reliable on this score as I’d thought. The general rule is that the penultimate syllable of a word tends to be stressed, and that an accent appears whenever that tendency is violated. Beltrán goes against the tendency: Vargas does not. Ramos and Navarro are good to go as they stand: Céspedes and Rincón require an accentual alert. Yet a little research informed me that proper names seem to involve an unusual number of anomalous cases. Why does Márquez have an accent–or González, or Martínez? I don’t know… but, okay, I guess the MLB did its homework for a change.

Then again, upon still further thought, my old misgivings returned to me. Yeah, so all of those names ought to have accents in their original tongue… but who is going to maul the handle of someone named Gonzalez or Martinez? Where do we see a similar concern over the butchery of Italian names with the -ng or -gl consonantal clusters? The pronunciation is “Tony Co-nil-YER-o”, you dopes, not “Co-nig-lee-ER-o”! (And when the lovely Jen Carfagno of the Weather Channel pronounces her surname “Car-FAG-no”, I want to hide in a hole and cover my ears. So, Jen… do you order la-SAG-na at a restaurant?)

What about Gaelic names? Shouldn’t a guy named Toole demand Tuathal on the back of his jersey? Can a guy named Rowe insist upon Ruadh? There’s a lot more than a mere accent missing from these!

“Accent-mania” reveals the political elite (and, believe me, that elite is very much ensconced at ESPN and among owners of professional sports teams) wanting to put its support of cultural diversity on display for all the world to see; and, as usual–as always–that support reeks of condescension. Only select minorities are eligible for the big-brotherly arm around the shoulder, as if the Enlightened Ones were saying, “There, there, now, you lovable but ignorant Latinos. We know that you’re having a lot of trouble with English, and we don’t think you should even have to learn it. See? We’re going to require that the accents be kept over your names–your nombres. Or, wait… is that the word for ‘number’? Whatever. We just want you to know that we have your back. Ha-ha-ha! Your back–get it? Un hoko bueno, no? Musgrave, go look up the word for ‘joke’.”

The children of Hispanic immigrants that appear in my classes have often been given Christian names like “Ashley” and “Melanie”, even though there are a million really beautiful Spanish names. Their parents want them to assimilate. Our political-economic elite don’t care if the masses they invite to the U.S. ever assimilate or not; in fact, they would prefer the negative, since disoriented and needy masses always opt for a greater presence of Big Brother in their lives. Now, patrón is a good example of a word whose final syllable is stressed. You should get to know that one. It names a kind of person who’s starting to play a really prominent role in all our lives.

More on Freedom of Speech

Continuing my last remarks about free speech… say that you write the very worst kind of blog post. Say that you ask your readers, “Where are the twenty-first century Harmodius and Aristogeiton who will assassinate Obama… or Trump… or Smith… or Jones?” My God, you’re encouraging the assassination of a U.S. president! You must be apprehended immediately and locked away until your teeth fall out!

Why? Is the assumption that someone will undertake an assassination through reading your words who would otherwise never have thought of it? What kind of condescending, intrusive, prurient, censorious, holier-than-thou Gestapo tyro believes that we average Joes function that way? “Me read stuff say to go shoot Trump. Unh. Where me go get gun? Unh.” If the only thing standing between any public figure and a bullet is the censor’s power to excise the word “bullet” from public discourse, then the public figure had better never remove his bullet-proof vest—because the word isn’t really needed to stir the thought.

What makes people go violent isn’t the suggestion that they do so. In fact, suggesting an extreme act to people who are already riled up may very well be a good way to make them cool down. “I said that I wanted to punch him in the face… not behead him in front of his children.” Forcing speakers and writers to shut up about certain ideas can confer martyr status upon them and mystique upon their idiot notions. It also makes the extreme seem like a distinct possibility. If you say before an audience, “Aliens landed in my back yard last night and told me that you are in their pay to betray the human race,” everyone around you would start laughing… unless, that is, I jumped up and roared, “Shut up! How dare you! You don’t know what you’re talking about!” Once I take an insane notion seriously, it no longer seems so insane to others.

Besides, if I were in law enforcement, I would want the wacko to keep writing so that I could see what bottom-feeders rose to the surface to make comments on his posts. I might even employ an agent to pose as the wacko. Once people start volunteering themselves to be assassins, my job of surveillance becomes much easier, and the world turns into a rather less dangerous place.

I’m far more worried, frankly, about the types who think that we consume and act upon suggestions the way a cow consumes grass and turns it to patties. They have a profound contempt for us as fellow citizens and as human beings, those speech-police. What would they not do to us in order to “protect” us?

Enemies of Free Speech Must NOT Be Silenced: Let Everyone Hear Their Gibberish

Yesterday I read about an editorial pronouncement published in the Wellesley College student newspaper that tried to enunciate an official policy of suppressing free speech. The document came out incoherent at several points, not surprisingly (though the reasons for its incoherence were sometimes surprising: the editors literally wrote the opposite of what they had intended in a couple of crucial places). The case, as presented by these Keystone Cops of monitored speech and others of their brigade, amounts to the following.

Some expressions move people to anger, hatred, and hence—potentially—to violence. Violence hurts people. Therefore, any speech that stirs the audience up is subject to instant suppression (depending on whether the arbiters deem that the audience is right or wrong to get stirred up about a given issue).

This argument is self-annihilating. I think any adolescent of average intelligence would quickly ask, “So who judges the judges? How can we know that their right and wrong isn’t just the way they happen to feel that day?”

Yes, exactly. But beyond that, think about what the argument implies with regard to people generally. They can’t think for themselves. They have no natural power of reason—no inborn ability to join claims logically nor any common humanity that alerts them to unfairness or outrage. All such faculties are myths, according to today’s academy. Logic is simply programming pounded into the masses by a patriarchal establishment. “Decency” is the same thing. Both are given highfalutin names to cloak them in respectability… but they’re mere brainwash. If some firebrand orator pushes your buttons and you are a member of the great unwashed, you will fall prey to his manipulation. You can’t do otherwise: you’re defenseless.

Well, not quite. Your defense is that the forward-thinking opponents of the establishment will shut down the firebrand before he assembles a crowd (which manifestation of power, of course, requires that they themselves be the de facto establishment, if I may be forgiven a lapse into logic). And since reason of both the logical sort (inner consistency) and the intuitive sort (moral imperatives) is all illusion, those who stage the protective intervention and bundle the would-be speaker off to Siberia don’t have to justify themselves in any sane manner. All they have to say, by their account, is that they’re shielding our ears from hateful speech and our eyes from hateful publications. This overweening nannyism-gone-berserk could cover up tracks of the most horrendous kind, naturally. The self-elected components of “society’s conscience” could be euthanizing their critics left and right, and the masses could be persuaded to go back to their video games and smartphones as long as whistle-blowers didn’t stir up “hatred”. No whistle, no foul.

I suppose that my last two paragraphs amount to the same thing as, “Who will judge the judges?” But I wanted to emphasize that advocates of selective suppression are, in fact, advocates of arbitrary suppression, and hence of suppression without practical limit—categorical suppression. You either have the freedom to speak your mind… or you don’t. If a redneck anti-intellectual Hotspur were to exhort his hearers to round up all academics in Humanities programs and put them in a concentration camp, I would want him to speak his fill. Then I, in my turn, could point out to him that he’s doing the very thing for which he so detests academics in Humanities programs. If our hearers are too dense to understand my point… well, then, we’re all dead, anyway. But I’m fully convinced that if they hear my side and my opponent’s, they will recognize themselves and the children they hope to rear in my world that allows discussion of ideas, compromise, recognition of errors, insight, and—in a word—growth. The permanent infantilism of those wretches who live under Him Who Would Be God is not what any “decent” person hopes for his or her babies.

The protophobe (“First-Amendment Fearing”) Left of our more insane campuses is nothing less than the new KKK. I don’t like lynching, no matter who does it. I’ll bet you don’t, either.

Statistical Obtundity: How Sharp People Reach Dull Conclusions

I heard a certain amiable media commentator make a point a couple of weeks ago that he has often made before (and which, frankly, is becoming a little tiresome and cliché in him and in others). He remarked that people entertain an irrational fear of new technologies, especially those in transportation. Statistically, you’re much more likely to die while traveling from Dallas to Atlanta in a car than on a plane. Furthermore, now that self-driving cars are looming (which was the specific topic under discussion), people are shrinking back in fear and again failing to register that they’re much more likely to die when others like themselves are behind every wheel at rush hour.

I call this phenomenon “statistical obtundity”: i.e., the tendency of bright people to convince themselves that they’re even brighter than they are by juggling undigested stats. Raw numbers can make us obtuse if we’re not careful. The chances seem to rest almost at statistical certainty that a burst of solar flares will not take out our power grid today, or tomorrow… yet the chances are 100% that such a burst will one day occur, and that we’ll lose all electrical power if we don’t secure it in ways so far ignored by policy-makers. The chances are 100% that a super-volcano will one day erupt in Yellowstone Park (which sits atop the caldera of one)… but today is a great day to go see Old Faithful!

Likewise, if a terrorist’s bomb or surface-to-air missile explodes your plane in mid-flight, the chances are pretty much 100% that you’ll die. There is no equivalent situation that arises in driving a car. Because the vehicles are widely spread out and no more than one or two people, usually, sit within each one, no “target” is presented. If a high, long bridge or an undersea tunnel were to be taken out as peak traffic filled it, the situation would become comparable to the exploded aircraft’s—but such precarious choke-points can either be avoided are negotiated at a less popular time by the “paranoid” driver.

You see, the correct comparison is not between airplanes and automobiles: it’s between Heathrow Airport and the Channel Tunnel, or perhaps between a passenger jetliner and a Japanese bullet-train. To put it another way, the plane and the car pose a contrast. One is a sure-fire death-trap IF certain defenses can be penetrated by evil agencies: as a passenger, you’re powerless to control your fate once security has been breached. The other option is perfectly insulated from the machinations of wicked schemers. Even if a tractor-trailer jackknives in front of you or a drunk driver strays toward you across the median, you still have the wheel in your hands and may come out in one piece with quick, cool reactions.

Now that the self-driving car looms in our future as something like a lead-pipe cinch (whatever that means—lead pipes are pretty deadly, too, you know), all bets are off for the car. It will become like the jetliner. A hacker who gains access to whatever GPS is controlling your vehicle’s navigation can sweep everyone into the sea at rush hour. You’ll just be along for the ride and won’t be able to do a thing about it. Apparently, we haven’t yet learned the lesson that trending new technology all appears to be dangerously centripetal: it’s carrying us toward greater centralization—in the name of “efficiency”—where one miscue, glitch, or brilliant feat of sabotage may kill thousands. A flu vaccine is advertised by Big Brother as the means to save dozens or hundreds of lives annually… and only one or two here and there will die because of a peculiar reaction to it. Simply choosing a lifestyle where one’s exposure to masses of people is limited doesn’t win consideration as a serious alternative. Yet there’s always the chance that, by fair means or foul, some toxin will find its way into the vaccine…

I like keeping as much control over my life as I can get. I leave the self-satisfied techno-geeks and faux conservatives to curl up in their blanket of warming stats.

A Chronic Loser’s Investment Advice

I started socking away money in an IRA a long time ago, when I was still single and had little need of cash. These accounts grew steadily—for I soon had more than one. About ten years ago, I began to be concerned over our out-of-control debt. (Little did I know that Obama’s administration would make Bush’s look like the Ebenezer Scrooge School of Economics.) I shifted one retirement account to gold. The organization that I patronized was Lear Capital. Still later, a Lear representative—some aging California supermodel type with accounting skills, a keen interest in meditation, and the silkiest voice you ever heard—convinced me to shift again, this time from gold to silver. Probably not a bad move in itself. The problems started to come when Lear sold or transferred or otherwise handed off my account to some banking operation called Equity Trust. This outfit began to ring me up for whopping yearly maintenance fees. I also, by this time (just a couple of years ago), began to fret deeply about the physical presence of my metal in other hands. If things got really bad, as per a half a dozen scenarios (Cyprus-style haircut, an EMP, etc.), I might end up with absolutely nothing. I had already been stupid enough to allow the maintenance fees to be assessed from my account assets—meaning that Equity was able to pocket some of my silver, purchased by me precisely because it was currently very undervalued, and leave my hoard a little leaner. Stupid, yes… but I was preoccupied with a million other things, like most ordinary people.

Having reached an age that allowed me to cash in my chips with impunity, I demanded that my silver be sent to me. Done. No problem. I was delighted with myself… until I received a tax document the other day informing me that the account’s closing value was being added on to my 2016 taxable income. No one had alerted me that this would happen. Again, as a naïve Ordinary Joe, I had supposed that the “age without penalty” allowed me access to my holdings free and clear. I’m happy to have my silver, for nothing short of an IRS SWAT team invoking Civil Assets Forfeiture is going to rip it off now (hmm… something else to keep me awake at nights); but I find that I understand the “charity” of the Investment Retirement Account less than ever. So I avoided paying tax on the money several decades ago, when I could best have afforded to… and now that I’m on the verge of retirement, I have to pay as if I’d been given a handsome commission just last year to film a Geico commercial. Or I could have simply kept the account where it was and drawn a few monthly pennies from it, leaving my money in constant jeopardy of the banking industry’s mysterious whimsy and the political system’s machinations.

I’m still exploring a couple of cards in my hand. However this all turns out, I stand more convinced than ever that we can trust no one in public life—and by that I mean the private sector as well as the government. We’re supposed to tear up at the raising of the Flag… but I no longer know what it represents. I can’t think of a single thing that any level of government does for me. Our garbage pick-up is irregular, our mail arrives in peculiar weekly spates rather than at daily intervals, our power grid sits almost entirely unsecured (unlike China’s and Russia’s), an officer might reach my house in about an hour if I dial 911 (I’ve had that experience), and a pandillero who has strayed into our country won’t even be sent home if he blows my head off. (I won’t mention the IRS’s SWAT team again.) It’s all pretty medieval. You try to raise a few potatoes and turnips, you cough up some chickens and a hog when the overload demands rent, and you march on the front line with your pitchfork when “recruited” to defend the realm.

Screw that. I’m glad I have my silver, though not much of it is left and I’m having to pay again to keep it in a safe place. It wouldn’t buy a new car… maybe a really nice TV. It probably wouldn’t cover my funeral, as the law requires funerals to be arranged (thanks to generous campaign contributions from the Undertaking Industry). Stumbling onto such realizations as you grow old is such a Big Empty… a whole life passed in being a pawn, a chump, a mark. That’s how I feel.

Except that I also believe in a higher justice. That’s why I wouldn’t trade places with Lear’s or Goldline’s operatives, or with our elected scammers, or with the IRS’s goons. One day all of us will have to answer for everything we ever did, and they who showed no mercy will receive none.