Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Latest Fashions from Scientism & Co.

The London Fog's Mapmaster puts the Climate Change hysteria rather succinctly thus:
It would seem that even memory has become an engineering project these days. To those whose memories do extend ten, twenty, forty or sixty years in the past and not in the immediate domain of the media's suggestion, weather is no more remarkable now than it has ever been. The difference is that a context has been supplied within which every storm, every front, every high or low, every occurrence can be remarked… and it is. So the media giveth, and so the media taketh away the statistic that is critical both to their stories and to guaranteeing their position to suggest the answers to the questions they generously put in our mouths: "But what action? And which sacrifices?"
... And to bait his frustrations the more I should like to add the evidence of these infallible findings.

I expect that you too will be surprised to discover that, not only was climatology an established and thriving science in the 8th century (its observations dutifully recorded and preserved by various of the Meteorologine order of monks), but the carbon emissions produced by the industry of that early medieval period were at least as considerable as ours.

Live and learn.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

O circumspect new world, that has so many armoured cherubs in't!

Chris Selley observes:
On the subject of a law mandating helmets for tobogganers, I've been asked "why not?" a few times since last week. "Why?" is the far more pertinent question — for any legislation, really ...
Well put. Problem is: it takes a grown-up to recognize this.

The breeders of the last generation then--to the extent that they allowed Chris (and, indeed, me) to go tobogganing, not only without a helmet, but almost invariably without supervision too--must have been grown-ups ... Of course the fact that their progeny (excepting the particular persons just mentioned) seem willing to go to almost any lengths to avoid making that transition themselves works against this conclusion ... But we'll leave that for now, lest it go the inevitable road of reductio ad absurdum.

I should just like to note that helmet laws--and seatbelt laws, and smoking laws, and all their nanny-state-imposed brethren--do not find their motivation in an enlightened--sorry--progressive altruism. As though they were building upon the achievements of our forebears. We bundle our children into full body casts, to as close as we can manage to the age of majority, for the simple reason that we are bottom-to-top terrified of lawsuits; what I like to call therapeutic litigation. Made, I hasten to add, so popular (in its "civil" form anyway) by those same forebears.

But I think Selley has touched on something rather crucial in his distinction between the questions "why" and "why not"--and which of the two the adults of this generation are more likely to ask.

For, you see, it is in the nature of the question "why not" that it follow only an inductive course. That is, it asks only if the law does any harm in and of itself. Does the wearing of helmets pose any sort of threat to the wearer? No? Then why not?

It is, to the contrary, in the nature of the question "why" that it proceed deductively: that the specific law's merit be determined as it proves itself through a broad application. The person who asks "why" in the case of this helmet business will, then, not only discover that such a law might eventually require that pedestrians where helmets every time they negotiate a set of icy steps or cross a road but, likely, they will also realize that by making the necessarily spontaneous activity of children a matter of formal (and formally enforced) process, that the children just won't bother in the first place. (Lawsuits pitting child against parent for criminal neglect of their health to follow some few years later.)*

Treating symptoms is great fun and everything, but hardly the provenance of grown-ups. I don't want to be one of those slippery slope guys or anything, but if we're not careful we'll have schools making it a punishable offense for kids to talk at lunchtime for fear that one of them should choke without a supervising adult overhearing it.

*Has it occurred, I wonder, to Councillors Mario Ferri, Sandra Racco, etc. that their proposed legislation will also make it illegal for children who can't afford a Jofa to take part in the one winter pastime that, until now, knew no boundaries of class?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Didn't you know? Tyranny is the NEW Liberty!

There is much that is disturbing about this piece of reporting.

... As a piece of reporting, I mean--not for what it reports.

For while it is, no doubt, a wonderful and brave thing that journalists like Joseph Brean* do by exposing "racists" like Jared Taylor, it is, I don't think, expecting too much of them that their discourse should respect the rules of reasonable argument. This, I hasten to add, not just out of respect for fairness, but because that's how free societies work and, more importantly (though perhaps more abstractly), because that's how free societies are sustained.

Brean takes some extremely dubious stuff as rote in his analysis of Jared Taylor's recent Halifax debacle, and while I am forced to let most of it go without comment (due to the piece's being so ambiguous and even contradictory in fairly crucial spots), let me just draw your attention to this ripe little plum here (my emphasis):
Canadians have a "lewd curiosity" about racism, says Karen Mock [too fitting --ed.], former executive director of the CCRF [sic! Canadian Race Relations Foundation]. They also have the naive confidence that good argument will refute lies. Together, she says, curiosity and confidence make for a broad vulnerability to the propaganda strategies of modern "race realism."
These, it is important to recognize, are pivotal statements in Brean's piece, as what follows from them is a lengthy ( ... extremely lengthy) lament over the apparent inability of average citizens to recognize a racist if he (the racist) assumes an appearance of gentility and cultivation (Brean's words, not mine).

And it is for this reason, Brean contends, that Jared Taylor should not be allowed to voice his goofy little opinions in public.

Now ... Never mind the hysterically stupid suggestion that Canadians have a '"lewd curiosity" about racism'--as though Canadians were a short step from shaving all their heads and putting white laces in their Docs, rather than, as they do, vociferously and self-consciously condemning racism even as they happen to skim past the word in a dictionary. Just leave that. Let us focus instead on the more obvious problem here: that Brean (via Karen Mock) takes as his starting point, for a defense of the right of all Canadians to the liberty Canada promises, a declaration of the inability of Canadians to defend liberty!-- Sorry, no! A declaration of the apparently fundamental opposition of Canadians to liberty, and the need for them then to ban apparently "bad" arguments in order that they shouldn't betray their right to liberty by exercising their liberty!

I mean?!

I will freely admit that I have a very cynical view of the bulk of the citizens of this country (i.e. that they don't have the intelligence, or the education anyway, to be able to differentiate between good and bad arguments; that they couldn't recognize a bad argument if it set their dog on fire), but I certainly would never dream of suggesting to the few Canadians who do understand what Canada is (in concept anyway) that they are naive for thinking that good arguments refute lies.


Because that's all a country that boasts the right to life, liberty and security has got!

So to that--I would have thought patently obvious--end, let me just say ... How dare the National Post waste my time (and money) with this sophomoric, pig-ignorant gunk! How dare it assume that I have so little intelligence or imagination that I am supposed to accept that the best Canada can offer is, as Brean and his politburo mentor Ms. Mock suggests, a tenuous middle-ground between Nazism and Stalinism, as if these absurd extremes of right and left need bear even the vaguest resemblance to a true liberal democracy! How dare they print something so stupid and credulous as this:
They are the undecideds, the swing voters of racial harmony, and because of their disinterest, they are the most vulnerable to propaganda about the evils of different races. Should they ever go to the bigots, Dr. Mock says, together they would make up roughly the portion of Germans who elected Hitler.
I mean, are we really meant to believe from this that Canada is at some risk of becoming a fascist state?! Because it believes that even idiots have a right to free speech? Is education in this country so barren that Canadians have been brought up to believe that Hitler's rise to power was as a consequence of the strength of his ideas? And not, that is, as a consequence of the total absence of even semi-substantial opposition to them? 'Cause, you know, it's that kind of systemic vapidity that got Germany into all its troubles in the first place ...

But I'm complicating things by humouring these, ahem, fine points. As basic and necessary as that alphabet of thinking (
that I was on about last Wednesday) is to the inhabitants of a country that fancies itself, and its people, free, there also needs to be an understanding that, concurrent to the expectation that people behave according to their country's (and, therefore, their own) best interests, there simply has to be a systemic trust that they will do so. Otherwise, it's just not a free country anymore.

Give me liberty, after all, or give me liberty!

*There's an uncanny stink of my old friend Bradley Miller about this guy. And they're both based out of Halifax it looks like too. Friends? ... Brean seems to have taken over where Brad left off ... Nom de plume, peut-être? Je ne sais pas.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Empowered Woman Swears by Nonsense; Masses Expected to Nod Uncomprehendingly, Vehemently

Robert Fulford argued in last weekend's Post that the most recent provincially sponsored idiot project, the scrotum-twistingly lame website, is not only, well, idiotic, it verges on the sinister. "Officious, intrusive and presumptuous," he says, "the campaign carries more than a whiff of totalitarianism."

Indeed it does ... Though--if I might be permitted to digress for a second--I can't help thinking that 1) Fulford understimates terribly the power of noddingly complacent Canadians (or Ontarians anyway) who are only too willing to go on allowing the government to treat them "as clay to be moulded" ( ... we are, after all, talking about the tenacious sausage fingers of liberal ideology (as distinct from mere Liberal government) squelching our collective brain-sludge; which (ideology) is not partisan in this country, nor has it faltered significantly even once since it first took its seat at the potter's wheel circa 1967), 2) to the extent that he does not bother to make the point himself, I think he overestimates the power of the provincial government's attempt to "improve the private conversation of children and adolescents." Suffice it to say that it couldn't be any more obvious to anyone that's given the site a quick once over that kids between the ages of 8 and 11 simply won't get it, and that those between 12 and 14 will (quite understandably) just laugh at it; use it as yet another little stick with which to beat moron adults who are endlessly, and hopelessly, trying to "identify" with them.

But Fulford is right. He is, after all, talking about the whiff of totalitarianism (rather than the thing itself), by which he means to underscore the fact that however blundering and ineffectual the campaign might be, there is a very real, if only fledgling, threat to liberty posed here. The fact that will be of no constructive use to its apparent target audience doesn't, it needs to be emphasized, really matter. This, for the simple reason that isn't really meant for the 8 to 14 year old set. Rather, it is meant to be a tentative but clear signal to citizens that someone (and you're supposed to be under the impression that that someone is you) has decided that formal education, in addition to its other demands, must now consist of state-mandated (and, presumably then, state-enforced? Like this, you mean?) prescriptions for behaviour modification, wherein young people can fit into one of only two categories: compliant or deviant.

Children who follow the rules are healthy. Children who don't follow the rules aren't just misbehaving, aren't in need of a quick word and a menacing glance or two; they are, instead, ill. They require treatment.

You think that is to put it too strongly? That I am being a trifle reactionary? Peruse then, if you will, the letter-to-the-editor appearing in today's Post, re. the aforementioned piece ... It is, as you'll notice, the handiwork of a Ms. Sandra Pupatello--one of the overseers, the main one apparently, of the project, and whom Mr. Fulford mentioned specifically in his article--the Minister Responsible for Women's Issues for the Government of Ontario. Notice too, how her letter begins:
Mr. Fulford's column regarding the Ontario government's Equality campaign was inflammatory, offensive and completely inaccurate.
And ends:
Though Mr. Fulford seems to think otherwise, violence is not a private matter. It is everyone's business, and our government has been taking concrete steps to help children develop positive attitudes towards relationships early, so that we have a society that is free from violence. Now, how could Mr. Fulford have a problem with this?
Suggestions both that, worse than simply having taken issue with the enterprise, Fulford has committed something rather like a crime by writing his column, and should, moreover, apparently be held under suspicion that he is a violent man himself.

And there's that whiff again. Eau de Thought Gendarmerie.

I mean, inaccurate?! Can you be serious, Comrade Pupatello? This was an opinion piece, for the love of God! ... And, to be sure, the Minister does not even try to correct Fulford's facts! The inaccuracy--what makes the piece inflammatory, offensive (terms usually reserved to describe ad hominem, or more broadly discriminatory (say, racial) attacks ... so-called hate speech)--lies apparently in the simple fact that the man has dared to supply a reasonable doubt of Ms. Pupatello's ambition to ... free society of violence!

Now I don't want to go overboard with this. I have no doubt that the Minister actually and genuinely believes in the righteousness of her cause--despite the bullying techniques she uses to insure them--but there is, I'm afraid, something too obviously and fundamentally backward about initiatives like, and the (consequently) flawed reasoning that she uses to defend it ...

Consider this, from a certain sage:
What modern people want to be made to understand is simply that all argument begins with an assumption; that is, with something that you do not doubt ... Every argument begins with an infallible dogma, and that infallible dogma can only be disputed by falling back on some other infallible dogma; you can never prove your first statement or it would not be your first. All this is the alphabet of thinking.
Which is to say: it seems to me to be that what Ms. Pupatello doesn't have any sort of a grasp of is precisely this alphabet of thinking. She is, as are so many of her kind (i.e. the liberal ideologues mentioned), under the impression that because she rejects the idea of "dogma"--in that very narrow, sophomoric sense (that is almost invariably couched in terms of Galileo, or the Spanish Inquisition)--that she is then absolved of the possibility of being dogmatic herself. A rational impossibility, as Chesterton points out: ultimately, the motivation of any one side of an argument has its origin in a belief that is (in the mind of its adherent) infallible.

Thus, if she knew her alphabet, Ms. Pupatello would be able to recognize that, among other things perhaps, her argument hinges on an absolute faith in the absolute truth of the following:
1. That violence is something that can be done away with altogether.

2. That we have nothing whatsoever to learn from history on that score. (That is: we have nothing to learn from history about insanely lofty ambitions that ignore the reality, and the inevitability, of human nature.)
That, of themselves, these propositions are completely absurd, is beside the point. They are an essential part of her dogma, and her reasoning follows from them and is completely dependent on them.

However, that the Minister is incapable of recognizing that her reasoning depends on these, as it were, (quintessential) indefensibles--indeed, that she is under the impression that her reasoning is, quite contrarily, based in prime moving and absolute defensibles--does create a bit of a problem. In the first place, it renders any debate between her and her critics futile. For, as you've seen, her argument against Fulford's reasonable doubt is almost completely self-contained and circular. She says, in effect, you're wrong because I'm right.

To wit: the second, third and fourth paragraphs of her five paragraph response simply reiterate--without qualification--the received wisdom that inspired the creation of the website. She does not say how or why Fulford is wrong to (a) suggest that the idea of formally mandating a highly specific prescription of informal behaviour for children is, in itself, fundamentally flawed, or (b) that such an action can only lead to abuse. No. She just repeats what is already known, and what Fulford himself has already acknowledged as beside the point. I'm right times a thousand, says she, no touchbacks!

In her fifth paragraph she veers towards a rebuttal but pulls away before she's even managed a proper opening remark, i.e. "...violence is not a private matter. It is everyone's business ..." ... Ooookaaayyyy, Sandra. But why?

I mean, Fulford's point is clear enough: nobody's suggesting we turn a blind eye to violence. But ... dealing with it in the pork-fisted manner exemplified by something like can only lead to more, and more convoluted, problems than it ever manages to solve. He then gives the example of Soviet Russian attempts to refashion man in its image. We all know how that turned out, right? etc.

And, no, for the purposes of Fulford's argument, it doesn't have to follow that he is comparing the provincial Liberals to the Soviets (though the similarities really are becoming uncanny). The comparison, rather, is between two ideologies that seek to ignore the facts of human nature (like, say, that children, not knowing any better have a tendency to tease, bully, brawl) in order to remedy the ills of human existence. Which is, of course, ridiculous. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Minister Pupatello can go on and on all she wants thumping her chest to the effect that, apparently, domestic violence finds its root cause in boys teasing girls about their freckles or their knee socks (though, I guess these days it's more likely to be about their baby T's and their patent, black leather bitch boots). Indeed, that may even be the case. But it does nothing to address the fact that the consequence to those children, and to society, of enforcing tolerance via goopy pieces of social engineering--rather than by the tried and true and, yes, flawed means given us by centuries, nay, millennia of experience--can have, and has had, dire consequences.

... Here's an idea: why not give teachers back a little of the authority they once had in the classroom. Or allow parents to give their brats the odd judicious spank now and again? That'll learn 'em!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Jordan Swift: A Modest Appraisal

Wow! This is just agonizingly awful to read!

Ottawa Sun columnist Jordan Michael Smith undertakes to describe "The Meaning of Canada," and gets unbelievably confused about the correct use of a certain literary device. I can't help but reproduce the thing in its near-entirety (wackiest bits emphasized):

Canada is the “No Running” sign at the swimming pool. It’s the speed bump on the road beside the elementary school. It’s the immigrant who arrives on Monday and says “Canada” on Tuesday when he’s asked where he’s from.

Canada is the handicapped parking spot, the ramp for wheelchairs leading up to the movie theatre. It’s the car pulling over to the side of the road so the fire engine can pass it. It’s the igloo in the backyard of the house, the complaints about the snow on the second day of winter.

Canada is the pair of indoor shoes that is left at school. It’s the Ringo Starr of the international arena. It’s the feeling one gets upon seeing a Maple Leaf flag floating in the wind.

Canada is the remembering of John A. Macdonald. It’s the forgetting of our other Founding Fathers. It’s the street in my hometown shared by a mosque, a church, and a synagogue.

Canada is the marshmallow in the hot chocolate, the sprinkles on the ice cream. It’s the little brother in the family, the youngster nobody takes seriously. It’s the pencil sharpener on exam day, the eraser you can’t find.

Canada is the policeman riding a horse in the age of the automobile. It’s the awkward teenage years when you’re not quite sure where you belong. It’s the cottage weekend, it’s the Christmas Eve day.

Canada is the mixture of America and Europe, it’s the establishment of our Constitution in 1981. It’s the crowds for the Queen’s visit. It’s the fortune of the North, it’s the blessing of a boring history. It’s toques in April, it’s the snow being wiped off the skate blade.

It’s the tortoise beating the hare, it’s the mittens attached to the child’s jacket. Canada is the state staying out of the bedrooms of the nation, it’s the vote of non-confidence.

(The whole thing needs emphasis, I know. A sliding scale was used.)

As a piece of irony, though, dingbat's column works to staggering effect, illustrating in its very form the extent of Canadian confusion and inanity; our grand sentimental ambition lost from the outset in a bunch of godawful slogans that are, apparently, supposed to be deep and profound metaphors but, simply, aren't. (Either deep or profound, or even metaphors.) I mean: it's the pencil sharpener on exam day, the eraser you can't find. What on earth could this ever possibly mean?! ... But if that were the point, then ... Touché, Monsieur Smith!

Or It's the Ringo Starr of the international arena? So Canada is an ugly, untalented, drug-addicted old letch who claims to be English, but has spent the last 30 years of his life as an American? ... Withering stuff.

Or It's the forgetting of our Founding Fathers AND the blessing of a boring history. Indeed, only in Canada can a judgment follow from an admission of a fairly sweeping ignorance. (This is a brilliant use of Founding Fathers too--which, of course, is the more likely term to describe these guys--rather than the Fathers of Confederation. It could only have been made more poignant by a line proclaiming the stupidity of Americans, and how they think that Canada is basically just another star on Old Glory.)

The business about the immigrant needed a bit more, though. Something like: It’s the immigrant who arrives on Monday and says “Canada” on Tuesday when he’s asked where he’s from ... But then says "I don't really know anymore" on Wednesday, and "that white lady said I was 'facilitating cultural genocide' when I answered 'Canada' " to the same question.

Actually, this could become a pretty fun game. Coming up with outrageously stupid "Canada is ..." statements to while away the long January nights. Here's my first attempt:

Dude! Canada is the noble Beaver, who's got the razor sharp wit of Canadians like Norm MacDonald, and who lets everybody eat his tail for nourishment during the cold and unforgiving winter.

To be sure, though, Canada is summed up most perfectly in the compound absurdity of items like this.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

From: Snook (The Elder) at Home

On the Intransigence of One's Situation.

Lenore and I were at that Habsburgian place last night, and I had the rather awkward experience of running into our waitress when I was downstairs of the dining room. (Where the washrooms are, in case you hadn't guessed.)

Awkward because I felt uncannily as though I were backstage at a theatrical performance, and that I was under some obligation to take the girl by her elbows, look her squarely in the eye, and say something along the lines of: Sterling performance, sweet. We're all drooling all over ourselves up there. I resisted the urge, of course, but I know that she was similarly discombobulated by the meeting, and it took some doing on both our parts to manage eye contact once we had resumed our respective places upon the boards.

... Whatever idiots might say of the so-called egalitarian society, it seems incontrovertible to me that Upstairs and Downstairs will always keep their places; that the twain might (only) sometimes meet in a thin bit of burlesque.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Amniocentesis: Towards a Compassionate Cull

Because it would be fascist to stand in the way of science's continuing mission to rid the world of retards: amnios for all!
"Yes, it's going to lead to more termination, but it's going to be fair to these women who are 24 who say, 'How come I have to raise an infant with Down's syndrome, whereas my cousin who was 35 didn't have to?' " Dr. Lalonde said. "We have to be fair to give women a choice."
Sniff. 'Sreally beautiful, Doc. (And, of course, I have absolute faith that the technology is beyond all reasonable reproach.)

And when we have discovered the Homosexuality Gene, and the appropriate method for detecting it? What shall we say to the mothers who ask How come I have to raise an infant who is gay, whereas my cousin doesn't have to? ... Well, I think we all know the answer to that. (Given that we can't euthanize the mother for being so emotionally retarded herself.) I mean, surely you've noticed that we've already taken care of Phase 1 of the process, i.e. give the living remainder an Olympics. Then it'll just be a matter of letting nature, and Mister Thirsty, take their course.

Ours not to make reply,
Ours not to reason why,
Ours but to do and the celebrated undesirables to ...
To conveniently vanish, anyway.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Davies On Socialist Monarchy (or: Senility Dreams of a Frozen Inferno)

It was, indeed, one of those Canadian occasions where the vestiges of a monarchical system of government vie with the determination to prove that everybody is, when all is said, exactly like everybody else. These disquiets are inseparable from a country which is, in effect, a socialist monarchy, and is resolved to make it work -- and, to an astonishing degree, achieves its aim; for though an egalitarian system appeals to the head, monarchy is enthroned in the heart.

Robertson Davies Murther and Walking Spirits

What sentimental and ahistorical shit, Davies! What could you have been thinking?