Now Big Brother Is Coming After Our Language

I’ve been chipping away on about the fifth or sixth revision—and much the most thorough one I’ve ever done—of a textbook I wrote years ago for a unique class. The intent is to teach Latin and Ancient Greek concurrently, emphasizing their many points of overlap, while at the same time drawing parallels with several modern romance languages. I guess you could say it’s a crash course in several mutually supportive languages for a generation that doesn’t have time to waste. I was hoping that a publisher somewhere might help me market the book to home-schoolers… but the publishing industry has degenerated to the point that you, as an author, are expected to have an audience and/or marketing strategy in you hip pocket, and not just a manuscript. Your publisher’s job is confined to pushing a few buttons and raking in the money. And since home-schoolers are a rather scattered group, by definition—and since my name isn’t Kim Kardashian or James Comey—no publisher will touch my unique little volume. Well, I’ll sell it myself through my website someday soon.

But anyway… the thought has occurred to me several times that I’m probably risking a lawsuit now when I teach this kind of subject matter. You see, the ancient languages in question have three genders; and gender must frequently be expressed in such parts of speech as adjectives—we’re not just talking about the “he/she” pronoun pair. (Some languages, like Russian and Arabic, even indicate gender in certain tenses of their verbs.) On the basis of what I hear to be happening in Canada, the teaching profession could become very dangerous very quickly. That’s one reason that I’m about to walk away from it. I only hope I haven’t waited too long.

What do you do on the day when some frosted nut-bar protests, “I’m uncomfortable with the word for ‘anger’ being feminine,” or, “It’s really sexist to make the word for ‘sun’ masculine but the word for ‘moon’ feminine.” Do you tell the whine-bag to use any gender he/she/it/they wants for any word, and abrogate your duty to correct improper usage? In Canada, O Canada, apparently, you can be fined for using gender-specific pronouns that offend a “trans” person (whatever the hell that means), and you can also have your child taken away if you refuse to support the public education system’s push to mainstream transgenderism (whatever the hell that means).

This sort of thing is no longer harmless idiocy. In fact, it’s time for young people to see it in its true colors. The edu-political complex has been working for decades now to dismantle all social structures that bind us together without the help of a centralized bureaucracy. It has denigrated mainstream religious faith while laboring hard and long to wedge in faiths with implicit or potential points of cultural clash; it has prosecuted the same kind of subversion in terms of the broader cultural usage, as when it undermines the lingua franca and promotes a sense of ethnic division; and it has waged war upon the nuclear family from every possible direction, but especially through the ongoing sexual revolution. Many younger people now perceive no stability or security in anything around them—not their religion, not the language they intend to use at the grocery store, not the ground rules of a simple dinner-and-a-movie date. Only the new, nannified Uncle Sam seems as solid as a marble edifice. It is that impersonal god of the state who truly loves them and will look out for them, and certainly not their family or their neighbors. Normal human ties are only treacherous snares: that faceless, aloof, omnipotent System promising lifelong fairness to and concern for all is the one god worth praying to and the one shoulder worth crying on.

Now, our gender-touchy whiner who insists on saying buenas dias and buenos noches has no idea that he/she/it/they is a pawn in a power play; but when we become too paralyzed even to address to each other without first consulting Big Brother’s manual of Correct Speak, then the forces of evil will have won the game for our future simply by moving pawns around—lots and lots of pawns.


The Most Dangerous Nation on Earth

I’m sorry that I use this space for so much griping, but… maybe that’s how I retain what little sanity I have.

Throughout my life, I have been what you might call a Sinophobe. Communist China scares me stiff. Even in early adolescence, I knew that the PRC was feeding arms to the Vietcong, and I had a feeling that I would end up face down in a rice paddy like so many of those just a little older than I… all because Red China couldn’t desist from fomenting unrest and bloodshed all around the world. The Chinese had ginned up the Korean conflict just a bit before my time; and the Korean War, as you all know, has never officially ended, and indeed could go nuclear almost any day now. No one can convince me that the PRC’s ruling elite couldn’t pull the rug out from under that sadistic, megalomaniac butterball, Kim Jong Un, any time they wanted to. Instead, they have actually decided to increase trade and aid to this lunatic as the rest of the world tries to isolate him—this while, at the same time, they assure our diplomats that they’ve played every card in their hand.

Meanwhile, China continues to bully Taiwan. (My own guess is that the PRC oligarchs are stoking Kim’s dreams of nuclear holocaust in hopes of backing us away from our support of the Taiwanese, at which point they will simply invade and take over. It’s how they think.) Japan, Vietnam, and even India are also being menaced by Chinese saber-rattling. The PRC has grossly mismanaged its vast economy, through a combination of state-mandated projects that create temporary jobs but appeal to no market and rampant corruption in top-heavy local bureaucracies. The response of the oligarchs—again fully typical—is not to learn from mistakes and clean up their act, but to execute a few of the more public grafters, brush other errors under the rug, and seek to prop up the economic numbers by raping vulnerable spots around the globe of their very limited resources.

Africa has been especially hard-hit, because her own struggling economies cannot resist the kind of short-term wealth that China dangles before them. A Chinese conglomerate will move in and construct a soccer stadium or lavish government buildings (using only Chinese workmen) in return for local mineral rights, then leave the country with rare rainforests razed from the face of the earth and none of the locals knowing how to operate or maintain all the great new “free” stuff… which falls apart within ten years.

People who speak out… vanish. Editors and publishers take mysterious, unannounced “vacations” from Hong Kong and may or may not be heard from again. Internationally visible advocates of freedom are invited for a “cup of tea” at the local police station… and may return a week or a month later, with guards thenceforward posted around their home to watch their every move. Others simply rot away in prison. Liu Xiao Bo, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is going to die unnecessarily of cancer because his captors won’t allow him to have treatment in the West; and though one would suppose that Liu would have global visibility, the rest of the world is beginning to prefer blindness. Maybe we’re supposed to reason that everyone dies of cancer in China, anyway, free or jailed. The air, water, and food are so polluted that sometimes even the oligarchs can’t be assured of a non-toxic environment.

Yes, China’s government scares the crap out of me. It always has. Churchill and FDR winked at Stalin’s massacres in their zeal to depose Hitler and armed China’s communist resistance to the Japanese as if, war ended, we would have sweetness and light in perpetuity. We have lived since under the shadow of a mushroom cloud; and I’ll even say—take a deep breadth—that dropping the bombs and demanding Japan’s unconditional surrender was a big, big blunder, insofar as it left the door wide open for Mao. Look at the numbers. Mao murdered, directly and indirectly, more innocent human beings than Hitler and Stalin combined.

So why is it—remind me again, please—that Russia is our “primary geopolitical enemy,” as I just heard one National Review editor opine? Shouldn’t we, rather, be luring Russia to our side as China lengthens Kim’s leash and sends her cruisers arrogantly through neutral waters throughout Southeast Asia? Shouldn’t we even be pondering how to make Iran more of a thorn in the PRC’s side?

But no, I have a better idea: let’s defeat some of China’s enemies for her, emasculate others, and turn still others into her allies! Because we just can’t have those stinking Ruskies giving presidential candidates confidential dirt about each other. That red line… you gotta draw it somewhere, you know.

Real Faith and Fake Faith

I lately ran across an Arthur C. Clarke short story titled “The Star”. I suppose if you can accept space travel to the far reaches of the universe as plausible, you can also accept that a Jesuit priest would participate in the mission—though the latter seems the more challenging proposition. Clarke had to put the narration in the priest’s mouth, no doubt, in order to make his indictment of religion flow from someone who once numbered among the most faithful. Our narrator has just discovered the pitiful remnants of a once thriving culture, parallel to Earth’s highest human civilizations in its art, social order, and sophistication. Its leaders had apparently deposited the essential works and creations of a long history—or some commemorative record of them—on a Pluto-like planet shortly before their solar system’s central star vaporized all traces of life. Now the Jesuit, no longer a believer, cannot imagine how any god worthy of the name would allow an entire higher life form to vanish into nothingness, and to no end whatever.

I’ve heard objections to faith like this all my life. What disturbs me most is that a person might harbor them who really is a priest or minister—for I can’t in good conscience accuse Clarke of manufacturing this character just to deliver his atheistic message more powerfully. There are truly “believers” of this caliber who refuse to accept that God would ever allow the U.S. to be irradiated by a hail of nuclear missiles—or even (let’s keep it all natural) that God would ever allow the Yellowstone caldera to revive and become a super-volcano, its next eruption exterminating much of central North America’s population. The same people are deeply challenged when someone they love happens to die of natural causes, leaving them no one to blame but God himself… whom, in “punishment”, they may declare not to exist.

We might as well have no faith at all if we believe that having it is somehow an assurance against material tragedy or disaster. An entire planet’s being wiped out in a supernova is really no different from an individual’s being suddenly snuffed out in his sleep by a stroke. Even though his life’s “great work”—a novel written, a bridge built, a new water-filtration system invented—is not wiped out along with him in the latter case, everything we do will eventually vanish from these present dimensions. The purpose is all in the trying: somehow or other, in my opinion, that’s the measure of our souls. We’re all on a desert island, if you will, where we will never be found. We can turn wild and rape and kill… or we can build houses and carve instruments and domesticate birds, though no trace of our activity will remain within a century.

Not on the island, at any rate: but if you have faith, then you view the island merely as a small portal to an infinitely vaster reality. It is through that entry, and not on this side of it, that things will make ultimate sense. And if you do not have faith… then see if you can swing the heaviest club and get everyone to kneel to you. Your bones will be bleached just as white as theirs in a few short years.

The really pitiful ones, I repeat, are those who think they have faith, yet make it completely dependent upon a ship’s arriving at the island tomorrow… or the next day.

Why Does Language Only Degenerate?

Among other things I’m doing to wear myself out and drive myself crazy during summer “vacation” is the complete overhaul of an introductory textbook that presents Latin and classical Greek together. Every time I muck about in an ancient language, I’m struck by how much of the system has already been lost when things start being recorded. It’s very odd. We all picture to ourselves, in our arrogantly progressive mindset, a bunch of cavemen slowly stringing words together and discovering the fine points of grammar. “Me see mammoth,” works its way at a glacial pace to, “I see mammoth”… and then to, “I saw a mammoth,” and so on.

But that’s not what the written record shows. Rather, by the time things are committed to stone or clay or parchment, case endings are already in full collapse. Latin must have had a distinct vocative (for calling out a person’s name) and a distinct locative (for identifying where something happens) among its other noun endings; for we see relics of both cases, and Sanskrit has in fact preserved both in much better repair. A lot of other endings, however, probably disappeared entirely. Accompaniment and manner are both expressed in the ablative (“with great praise” and “with a friend”), though they likely had separate spellings at some point in the distant past. Prepositions were born, in fact, as case endings were misremembered to the point that many started to sound alike. Most Latin endings, indeed, are almost identical with dative endings, and in Greek the ablative and dative had fused seamlessly. These languages were in full meltdown already as the first millennium before Christ began.

I’m just throwing this out there: something was going on about four or five thousand years ago whose magnitude we haven’t begun to suspect–something on the order of a cultural awakening, a global burst of inspiration and genius. The wild-eyed types who chatter away on Ancient Aliens will point to the Pyramids, Stonehenge, complex structures newly unearthed in southeastern Turkey, Mayan and Incan construction… and the question is always, “Could this intricate creation be the work of extraterrestrial visitors? Ancient alien theorists say ‘yes’!”

Well, in a way, that’s just playing the same progressive game: i.e., primitive humans were so stupid that they couldn’t have devised such wonders on their own. I’m not dismissing the ET explanation out of hand, because these matters are so mysterious that any sufficient answer has to be mind-blowing. But did a benign ET also give us the elaborate linguistic structures which proceeded to decay in our inept and lazy custody over the next few millennia? Or were we ourselves brilliant at one time, perhaps when we lived for the better part of two centuries like biblical patriarchs… and then we began to fall apart?

At the very least, there’s plenty enough mystery in human history to teach us more respect for pre-history than we commonly display–and to alert us, as well, that we’re very capable of great leaps backward as well as forward.

Who Built the Moon?

Who Built the Moon, by Christopher Knight and Alan Butler, is one of the most “disturbingly true” little books that one could possibly read. I’m not going to go swat up on the details, which in any case are often far above my head; but the gist of the argument is that the Earth, her moon, and the Sun stand in several proportional relationships–any one of which is so improbable as to be a statistical impossibility. How is it, for instance, that the Moon, at 1/400 the diameter of the Sun, just happens to be 400 times closer to the Earth, so that the apparent width of the two from our surface is identical? As I say, the authors describe perhaps a dozen such “accidental” correspondences.

Then there’s the uniqueness of the Moon when compared to other planetary satellites in our solar system. No other moon is remotely so big in relation to its mother-planet. Likewise, no other planet has but a single moon. If it has any at all, it has several.

The Moon’s distance is just right to stir our oceans with her gravity in a way that would have favored the emergence rather than the destruction of life. So for the speed of her revolutions around the Earth; and while these two measurements are fluid and have changed (increasing and decreasing, respectively) throughout terrestrial history, their rates again seem suspiciously benign–and the deceleration of the Moon, indeed, has inexplicably leveled off and stabilized!

I will risk misstating some of the evidence if I keep on; but the authors also detail why no theory of the Moon’s formation yet proposed is scientifically compelling. They quote one academic wag’s remark, “The best explanation of the Moon is observational error. It isn’t really there.”

What they do not mention at all is the stunning test data of NASA indicating that the Moon is hollow and rings like a great bell in response to heavy impacts!

The intersection of so many “Goldilocks” readings (where values are “just right” for life) can lead to no sensible conclusion other than that our solar system, at least in part, was purposively engineered… but, of course, that doesn’t seem a very sensible conclusion at all to a scientist. The authors politely doff their caps to certain fundamentalist religious explanations without, however, expressing much enthusiasm for them–for the rigid Biblicist account of Creation is, after all, so hostile to science that it hardly has the right to adduce any scientific evidence to its claims. On the other hand, the scientific community has so arrogantly insisted upon its ability to explain everything (in effect making a god of its own method) that the presence of design on this superhuman scale has left it baffled. Pretending that the inconvenient truths about the Moon cited above do not exist, it has largely cold-shouldered Knight and Butler out of any sort of professional exchange.

My own understanding of religious faith tells me, “Do right. Live for higher purposes rather than for lower, and let explanations of the material world fall where they may.” For that reason, this book doesn’t disturb me as I suspect it would disturb many others. What I most prize in it is its further proof that we, as an intellectual community, don’t know nearly as much as we suppose. There are certain facts which our leading academics dare not even admit to themselves. One is reminded of Galileo’s inquisitors….

The Lessons of Working Up an Honest Sweat

Lately, I have been struggling to put up any new posts or to spend much time polishing what does get up. The reason is that the revision of a book I finished a year ago has sucked me in. Once I begin a project like this one, I can’t juggle very much else at the same time. I acquire a kind of vision of where the work should be going, and I need for my mind to cling closely to that vision as I wade through all the chapters that stray hither and yon from it. I can’t simply give the thing an hour’s attention one day and half an hour’s two days later: I have to maintain focus.

Before I start making myself sound like Michel de Montaigne, I should confess that the work in question is about baseball swings as taken a century ago with very different bats. Most people would find that admission a big let-down… “Oh! I thought maybe you were writing about the possibility of preserving our humanity as Artificial Intelligence absorbs more and more of our mental function.” I would scarcely redeem myself before such a commentator if I added that no book whatever exists on the subject, that casual references to yesteryear’s hitting techniques are ludicrously imprecise and inept, and that my crazy dream is eventually to teach some of what I’ve learned through research and experimentation to young people who’ve been told that they’re too small to play the game.

For, yes, there’s a kind of mission involved in this project. I watched my son get nudged aside and passed over for the better part of two decades as he tried to advance and improve in the game he so loved, all because of his size. It ticked me off. It still does, in retrospect. And so I started learning about hitting, and learning more… all of it too late to do him any good, of course; but one of the morals of my study is indeed that much of this sport depends on technique rather than size, and that it seems otherwise only because the professional gurus no longer know the old techniques.

I will add in this forum, though, that yet further and broader lessons might be gleaned from my work. One is that life generally is a terrain occupied by mutually supporting groups of “specialists” who understand nothing beyond their microscopic sphere of expertise—and who often don’t understand that, either, but unite to conceal their ignorance before a dazed public of “uninitiated outsiders”. I can say this confidently, because I have made myself an expert on the subject of yesteryear’s hitting in the game of baseball—and yet much of what I wrote about year ago in the book’s first version is utter crap. My satisfaction in how much I’ve learned lately is more or less neutralized by my chagrin at how wrong I got it all just a few months ago. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, we should always remember that we don’t know what we don’t know.

Another lesson is that we forget our culture’s past at our own considerable risk. The assumption has been made in hitting instruction that the oldtimers were comical amateurs who practiced their art about the same way that the Wright brothers practiced flying. You don’t really think that Wilbur and Orville could teach you anything about your Cessna, do you? Probably not, in terms of handling the controls… but maybe they could tell you something about the fear of the unknown or about how to keep a cool head in a crisis.

Finally (just because I need to get on with it today), I have learned that a boy needs to try his hand at something physical, and that a man needs to retain that interest in the active. As politically incorrect as it is to say, boys are in more trouble than girls today because the insulated, safety-net society is more damaging to them. They need to undertake, to initiate… and that means that they must come to know failure well and learn to attack a resistant problem from a different angle. Baseball offers all sorts of opportunity to earn an advanced degree in failure: it breaks you heart. But it can also, for that very reason, teach you how to put a heart back together again.

As for grown men, they—we—need to get out from behind our keyboards once in a while and swing a bat, throw a ball, bail some hay, drive some nails (not with a pneumatic nail-gun, please)… they need to do something other than vegetate with their “ideas”. I’m convinced that quality of thought actually deteriorates as physical contact with the world of hard labor is lost. Indeed, almost all of our political and existential dilemmas in the West are owed somewhat to our losing touch with basic reality. When I was still trying to be a “scholar”, many moons ago, I wrote a little piece about a 2,500-year-old fragment of Sappho’s where she compares a woman getting married rather late in life to an apple that has grown high on the tree, out of reach of the pickers. I pointed out that these are the best fruit because they get so much sun: they grow the largest and taste the sweetest. Any ancient Greek hearing Sappho’s poem would have known that… but the great “scholar” who reviewed my piece could only sniff and turn up his nose because I hadn’t indicated another poet from whom Sappho might have borrowed the image. She borrowed it from life, stupid!

Thank God—and baseball—that my son hasn’t grown up to be a “scholar”!

Concerning Nixon…

Since mentioning Richard Nixon last time (in whose administration Pat Buchanan worked), I’ve been wanting to get a few things off my chest. I came of age during the Watergate years, and I think the picture that young people are painted of that most unfortunate time—by their teachers, their textbooks, and popular culture—is an utter travesty.

I distinctly recall reading (though I read it only once or twice; the media feeding frenzy quickly obscured such fine details in froth and body parts) that Nixon suspected McGovern of communicating with Fidel Castro. This may seem of no account to most of you now; but if you retained anything from your history books about the early Sixties, you remember that the Cuban Missile Crisis is rated as having had the potential to begin of World War III.   Now, I put it to you: if Castro was such a desperate character that Kennedy’s facing him and Khrushchev down saved the human race from extermination, as is popularly let out, then why should he have been considered a pussy cat a mere decade later?

Or if Trump’s colluding with Putin to steal our last election is a scenario whose mere specter should put all other business on indefinite hold, then why would credible intelligence that a presidential candidate had covertly communicated with a despot eager to nuke our shores not warrant looking into?

Nixon, of course, was loathed by the Left since the days when he successfully prosecuted Alger Hiss, a Soviet spy deeply secreted in D.C.’s corridors of power. Younger Americans will have been told that no threat from the Soviets (except the Cuban Missile Crisis) ever existed, and that the hunt for spies on our shores and within our government, especially, was an indefensible witch hunt. The idiotic word “McCarthyism” has now entered the parlance of both sides of the aisle—as if poor Joe McCarthy, a war hero and a simple man of the people, had any “-ism” behind his clumsy attempt to weed out traitors from his nation’s most sensitive sources of power and influence. Nixon’s star rose as McCarthy’s plunged into flaming descent.

McCarthy, to be sure, stirred up a deal of hysteria. Why wouldn’t he have? The nation’s children were being drilled in their schools for an all-out nuclear attack during these years. Nixon, likewise, was no black belt in public relations. His homely mug, his sanctimonious style, his irrepressible persecution complex, his self-consciousness about his humble origins… a walking target, he was, for all the bullies on the playground. And then there was his vanity. If only he had burned all the damn tapes, as William F. Buckley urged him to do in print, the nation would have been spared a lot of misery. They were his private property—he could legally have done whatever he wanted to with them. As his “legacy”, however, they were sacrosanct… and he dragged himself and the country through disgrace that the record of his years in office might be preserved.

Sad. But not deserving of the caricature which has been visited upon the man. Meanwhile, Lyndon Johnson, having left a couple of bodies in his wake (I do not speak figuratively) during his climb to power in South Texas, is remembered as the compassionate architect of the Great Society.

Try, just try, to remember that you know less than nothing about the historical personages presented to you by textbooks and movies; for the lies with which we have been programmed are worse than utter, abject ignorance.