Lost souls

The reason I have been up in Sydney was to go to a Wiggles concert along with my granddaughter. The place was packed to the rafters and for the under-sevens it was a sensation. But for me, it was how they ended the afternoon that truly astonished me. First they brought on Santa Claus which I thought was amazing enough. And then, wildly beyond any expectation I might have had, notwithstanding this being December, they then sang Silent Night, but in German. Still I thought, that was amazing since they could not have been more Christian in their presentation. And then they continued in English, and there is no more Christian Christmas carol than Silent Night. It was a perfect way to end for me, although I doubt there were many there who noticed or thought this was particularly remarkable, but it was.

Now tonight, more than a day later, I was reading this typical piece of dreck, title: America’s New Religions, in which the point being made by Andrew Sullivan was that one cannot live without some kind of faith in the transcendent, which I did agree with, but there towards the end was this:

Now look at our politics. We have the cult of Trump on the right, a demigod who, among his worshippers, can do no wrong. And we have the cult of social justice on the left, a religion whose followers show the same zeal as any born-again Evangelical. They are filling the void that Christianity once owned, without any of the wisdom and culture and restraint that Christianity once provided.

This equivalence was obviously false. Only on the left is politics a religion substitute. These are lost souls. I will say no more than the obvious, that atheism is not a feature of the right and whatever may be the reason for our support for PDT, we do not think of him as a “demigod” who can do no wrong. But what is revealed is the tragic spiritual loss in the empty lives of so many on the left. There is much more that could be said, but will only add this from another website:

Liberty wasn’t born out of the United States Congress but from the heart of God. It is an inalienable right – a God-given right – a right which belongs to all men everywhere and in every age. The government doesn’t grant inalienable rights. Its task is to protect them. No person, no group, no government, is authorized by our Creator God to infringe upon what is the absolute inherent privileges of being made in the image of God or might interfere with one’s duty to God. When we try to separate liberty from the spiritual, when we base it in human definitions and objectives alone, freedom is corrupted, counterfeited, and dies.

I cannot link to these posts because of the primitive machinery I am on, but finding both online today does give me some hope for the future, not to mention the Wiggles who did the same.

The single most terrifying story you will ever see

If you think my title is over the top, watch the video. From the ABC of all things! The portrayal here is truly terrifying and should be circulated as widely as possible.

Last night, in a cab home from a late night venue, our driver was Chinese so I asked him about his background and how he was able to migrate to Australia. Turns out he is unemployable inside his own profession but with a degree in science. So I asked him about “social credit” and he went on about Mao and communism to the point where he reached my own levels of antipathy and disgust. All of which he had learned from his parents who, he said, he trusted since they were the ones who brought him his food, while he completely distrusted the lies he was fed in School and by the government of China. We sat in front of the house for ten minutes talking after we got home, and with the meter off. Actually tipped him and from my own money as well. Really, if this doesn’t scare people into some kind of sober reality, I don’t know what would.

China is marrying Big Brother to Big Data. Every citizen will be watched and their behaviour scored in the most ambitious and sophisticated system of social control in history. Matthew Carney reports.

And if you are not terrified by this you have no idea when to be frightened. Orwell was fiction. What they are doing in China is an actual present-day reality that any country can adopt since the technology and the methodology both already exist and will only keep getting better as time goes by.

And there’s more here: China has started ranking citizens with a creepy ‘social credit’ system — here’s what you can do wrong, and the embarrassing, demeaning ways they can punish you.

Not to mention this:

USA’s ‘first biometric terminal’ ready to go…

Aren’t owls wise even night owls? Seems so

MAYBE YOUR SLEEP PROBLEM ISN’T A PROBLEM:

I have heard this all my life: Society likes morning people. Loves them, actually. Early risers tend to be more punctual, get better grades in school and climb up the corporate ladder. These so-called larks are celebrated as the high achievers, the apple polishers, the C.E.O.s.

It’s basically the idea that Ben Franklin touted more than 250 years ago — “early to bed, early to rise” — with everyone else cast as lazy or self-indulgent.

But what if they are wrong? What if night owls are actually the unsung geniuses? What if we are the ultimate disrupters and rule changers, the ones who are better suited to a modern, postindustrial society ruled by late-night coders, digital nomads, freelance moguls and co-working entrepreneurs?

Regardless of that, it’s not a question of character:

According to Dr. Walker, about 40 percent of the population are morning people, 30 percent are evening people, and the remainder land somewhere in between. “Night owls are not owls by choice,” he writes. “They are bound to a delayed schedule by unavoidable DNA hard wiring. It is not their conscious fault, but rather their genetic fate.” . . .

When night owls are forced to rise early, their prefrontal cortex, which controls sophisticated thought processes and logical reasoning, “remains in a disabled, or ‘offline,’ state,” Dr. Walker writes. “Like a cold engine in an early-morning start, it takes a long time before it warms up to operating temperature.”

That might even serve an evolutionary purpose. When early humans lived in small tribes, as in the early scenes of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” staggered sleep schedules bestowed a survival advantage: Someone was always awake to watch for prowling leopards and club-wielding rivals, according to the book.

But it has been downhill for us night owls ever since. The rise of agriculture brought fields to till at daybreak. The industrial revolution brought factories with 8 a.m. time clocks. Night owls were forced to adapt, and that appears to have taken a toll.

Indeed.

Mr Dee

Mr Dee was the most eccentric teacher I ever had, in high school or out, but as I have always suspected after reading through the bio in his death notice, for the best teachers it was always a pose to get through the day without falling into deep depression and insanity. He had a kind of madcap approach to teaching, starting the lesson the moment the first student entered the class as we were rotating between periods, which naturally had a series of studenten rushing off from the previous class not to miss a moment – not me I might mention. And he had these monstrous blackboards full of lists of obscure German words we would have to copy down of which the only one I remember to this day is damenhelden which he translated as “lady killer” which had a different connotation back in our more backward times (better translation might be a male hero to women which is a term that has no modern usage so far as I can tell). I have always used his term for a kind of idiotic mistake which I pronounce as “Flutekeitzfehler” which I loved the sound of which I made many.

But reading through the obit, what strikes me is that he was a classical man of deep wisdom and grace, which were aspects of his character we would never have noticed or appreciated. It is also a reminder of how expensive it once was to go off to Europe which only a handful could do at the time. I am probably today more like him than probably any of the other teachers we had, but what would I know? They may all have been like him with a love of classical music and the arts, but whose wonderful attributes were wasted on us back then when we were just fifteen years old.

There is no basis for morality in a Godless universe

This is Peter Hitchens discussing John Gray’s Seven Types of Atheism. Lots of points being made. This is one of the many that reading the entire review will bring to your attention:

Perhaps most definitive of all is his observation that godless searches for a universal law are futile. “Without a law giver, what can a universal moral law mean?” he asks. “If you think of morality as part of the natural behaviour of the human animal, you find that humans do not live according to a single moral code. Unless you think one of them has been mandated by God, you must accept the variety of moralities as part of what it means to be human.” Well, exactly. No God: no law. No law: no morals, just situational, alterable ethics. I am amazed that so few seem to realize the implications of atheism for the rule of law over power, the one thing that really sustains human civilization.

Hitchens also provides an insightful quote from Albert Einstein, which he says is not well known which is why he quoted it. It is why I quote it as well.

I am not an Atheist. I do not know if I can define myself as a Pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. May I not reply with a parable? The human mind, no matter how highly trained, cannot grasp the universe. We are in the position of a little child, entering a huge library whose walls are covered to the ceiling with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written those books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books, a mysterious order, which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of the human mind, even the greatest and most cultured, toward God. We see a universe marvellously arranged, obeying certain laws, but we understand the laws only dimly. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that sways the constellations. I am fascinated by Spinoza’s Pantheism. I admire even more his contributions to modern thought. Spinoza is the greatest of modern philosophers, because he is the first philosopher who deals with the soul and the body as one, not as two separate things.

A wonderful article.

PDT condemning anti-semitism

Condemning anti-semitism should be bi-partisan and non-political. Yet this. From Instapundit

A VERY STRONG STATEMENT ON ANTISEMITISM: Donald Trump on Sunday: “This evil, anti-Semitic attack is an assault on all of us. It is an assault on humanity. It must be confronted and condemned everywhere it rears its ugly head. We must stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters to defeat anti-Semitism and vanquish the forces of hate. Those seeking their destruction, we will seek their destruction.”

This has to be among the strongest statements any president has made on behalf of Jewish Americans. Yet I could find no mention of it in the New York Times, Washington Post, and so on.

Compare and contrast Obama’s reference to Jewish victims of anti-Semitic terrorism in Paris as victims of zealots who “randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris,” with the White House afterwards defending the proposition that the Jews shopping in a kosher market, somewhere that only Jews go, were not targeted because they were Jews, which was obviously untrue from the getgo.

UPDATE: A Facebook friend points out that you can find bits and pieces of the quotation, but not the full quotation, in the Times. But the way the Times isolates and portrays the final sentence, which I see as the strongest and most dramatic part of the statement, is bizarre and dishonest.

At his rally, the president ended comments about the synagogue shooting by reiterating his belief that shooting suspects who target Jewish people should be put to death.

“Those seeking their destruction,” Mr. Trump said, “we will seek their destruction.”

No, Trump didn’t say that “shooting suspects” who target Jews should “be put to death,” he said that he will seek the destruction of those seeking destruction of our “Jewish brothers and sisters.” That’s not at all the same thing.

AND PICKED UP FROM THE COMMENTS:

Presidents and Parliaments

I don’t wish to dwell on this in particular, but let me start here:

Trump slammed outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., tweeting that Ryan “should be focusing on holding the Majority” instead of weighing in on the president’s push to end the Constitution’s guarantee of birthright citizenship.

Trump tweeted that Ryan shouldn’t offer “his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about!”

Trump has said he can end the right to citizenship for babies born to non-U.S. citizens on American soil with an executive order. And he has argued that the right isn’t covered by the 14th Amendment, even though the text of the constitutional amendment says that “all persons born or naturalized” in the U.S. are citizens.

Ryan, who is retiring, said Tuesday that Trump couldn’t “end birthright citizenship with an executive order.”

As a matter of fact, Trump can probably do exactly that (see here and here).

My real point though is to focus on the difference between the American presidential system and our Parliamentary system. In a presidential system, presidents are elected in their own right and once elected become an independent locus of power, with the constitutional authority to make decisions and enforce the law. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is the leader of the majority party in the House of Representatives (or the House of Commons in the UK and Canada) and is hemmed in by the necessity for cabinet solidarity.

Therefore, if the US had a parliamentary system, Paul Ryan, as the “Speaker of the House” would have been Prime Minister (and Nancy Pelosi before that). A Donald Trump would have had zero chance to have had any influence whatsoever on American policy – unless he owned Facebook, Google or Twitter.

The differences are immense when it comes to understanding just how much of a free hand a Prime Minister in Australia has. Neither Tony nor Malcolm had a free hand in making policy decisions stick. Nor can Scott Morrison. It is the party room that matters with some PMs achieving a freer hand than others. So when I say that Tony Abbott was our Donald Trump, I only mean that both were trying to achieve the same kinds of ends, all the while recognising there are different sets of constraints imposed by the institutional structures of our two very different political systems.

The plain reality is that there are massive constraints in every system that make it difficult to achieve particular ends. Global warming hysteria, to take one example, is mainstream and we might consider ourselves lucky that we are only going to blow another $15 billion on climate change. Of course, had Hillary been elected President instead of PDT, even that would have been small change. There is a deep state everywhere.