Fighting Against the Age of Stupid

David Hopkins figures that what happened to the character or Ross in the Friends sitcom pretty much signaled the end of civilization. He has a strong point. Hopkins dwells upon the anti-intellectualism of Friends but while the show was on, I was horrified by it for other reasons. It was, to me, a show about horrible people doing really horrible things to each other, and then having a cup of coffee about it. I’ve got friends whom I’m pretty sure will always be there for me…but if I had friends like Friends, I’d become a hermit. There’s a reason I don’t watch much TV – and that reason is because TV sucks. I mean, it is really, really lousy. The actors can’t act, the writers can’t write. Everything is done paint-by-numbers, as it were, and there is no depth of thought or feeling. The last good TV series was Cheers, and even that was a pretty large step down from Taxi. But TV going from Taxi to Friends and, now, to twaddle like Dancing With the Stars does, in my view, show the intellectual collapse of our civilization.

Aside from being delighted to find another person who despised Friends, I’m also happy that I’ve got fellow people who understand we live in the Age of Stupid. Some years back – in the Blogs for Bush version of this blog – I wrote an article about the death of science. Naturally, our Progressive readers entirely missed the point; probably because they didn’t read past the title and figured I was arguing that science is wrong. What I was actually arguing is that we’re entering a new Dark Age. We’re giving up logic; we’re giving up reason – we no longer hold to the belief that this is a rational world, capable of being understood by observation and experiment. And, in fact, we are not only becoming incapable of the scientific method, we’re getting downright hostile to facts. Any fact which disputes our pre-conceived notions is rejected out of hand. When we see our SJW’s out there demanding that reality be made to fit their desires, this is what I mean – you can present them with fact after fact to demonstrate that what they want is impossible, and they will stoutly reject the facts. And they stoutly reject the facts because they reject reason – they reject, that is, the concrete, inescapable fact that there are truths to be learned. All they have is desires to be fulfilled…and they demand that they get them fulfilled, usually by incantation (all those slogans they shout, you see?). And woe to anyone who denies them!

Hopkins offers some suggestions on how to battle against the Age of Stupid, and they are good suggestions in the abstract. Reading a book and listening to a free podcast of a college lecture are both worthy things to do – unless, of course, the book you’re reading or the lecture you’re hearing is garbage. If your head is stuffed with nonsense, it won’t be improved by additional nonsense. Now, I can suggest some books for people to read – for instance, if you want to start developing an understanding on how the world works as far as war and politics go, you can’t beat The Fall of the House of Hapsburg and The World Crisis as resources. They are not, together or separately, a complete education in the matter, but if you read them you’ll have a far greater understanding of how things work in the world than if you read anything by a full-blown, modern Progressive.

Just as for viewing pleasure I would advise people to stick to movies made prior to 1990, so I suggest for intellectual pleasure books written before 1980. Nonsense has always been with us, and just because a book is 100 years old doesn’t mean it isn’t worthless…but even for Progressives, in the past there was at least an attempt at intellectual rigor. As in all things, there are exceptions – A People’s Tragedy: the Russian Revolution 1891-1924 came out in 1996 and it is excellent, even though the author does sometimes drift in to some irritatingly Progressive opinions about the why of it all. But, for the most part, delve a bit deep into the past for your intellectual sustenance. It’s not that people were smarter then, it is just that they for the most part felt they had to stick to evidence. Also, in my view, their writing quality was often higher – being products of a much more rigorous educational system, they simply knew how to use words better than writers these days.

Battling stupidity is never fun – mostly because those who believe stupid things are unaware that what they believe is stupid. That is why when I get into arguments, I usually suggest, gently, this or that book…all with a smile and a “you have an interesting point of view; hey, have you ever read this?”. It tends to work – I’ve moved people away from Socialism just by suggesting a book by Thomas Sowell. At any rate, just get used to this battle against Stupid – Stupid has a long head start and it will take a lot of effort to counter it.

The Worst President in History: Three Months Later

3dbookIt has now been three months since Mark and I first made our book, The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama, available for pre-order. Since then, it has sold well. Really well, actually. Better than we expected. Almost immediately it was featured as a “Hot New Release” in the ‘Biographies of U.S. Presidents’ category… the category, in which, it would eventually become a #1 Best Seller. As of this post, the book is still in the top five of the category. Not too shabby!

Every day I wonder, “is this going to be the day it all ends?” And yet, three months later, it continues to sell. This won’t last forever, of course.  But it’s a great feeling while it lasts.

Thanks to all our readers who have bought the book! And to those who haven’t yet, thanks in advance for when you do!

Crazy is as Crazy Does

If you ever read the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, you might recall a character names Wonko the Sane – a man who had built himself an inside-out house in order that when he was “outside” his house, he’d be “outside the asylum” – Earth, that is. He determined that the Earth was a dumping ground for lunatics when he noticed that there were instructions for use on a box of toothpicks. After all, no sane people would need such a thing. I’ve been feeling a bit like that – or, perhaps, like the scene in the original Planet of the Apes where Taylor, confronting Dr. Zaius, says, “I know who I am, but who are you? And how did this crazy, upside down world get started?”

I got going on this line of thought yesterday when I came across the 10,000th example of someone saying we have to stop Trump because Trump is insane – just this crazy lunatic who was going to destroy everything…or, at a minimum, start a war over some foreign leader’s disrespectful Tweet. Perhaps that is all true. Maybe Trump is completely ’round the bend. But it suddenly came to me in a flash that if he’s certifiable, then he’s no more crazy than everyone else out there. It came to my mind that I had read plenty of stories over the years of kids graduating high school while being unable to read. I looked it up – one source I found, which seemed a responsible source, claimed the number of illiterates getting diplomas each year is about 19%. That’s just on one in five – one in five people who can’t read are getting high school diplomas. But that isn’t the most insane aspect of it – in order for that to happen, at some point some reasonable, responsible people in positions of great authority had to decree that the logical, sane thing to do with someone who can’t read is to give him a diploma!

I know as well as anyone that there are all sorts of reasons why this happens but regardless of all the reasons – no matter what excuses you try to make for why it even must be that 1 in 5 can’t read – there is no way a sane, rational person allows an illiterate to get a high school diploma. Know what else a sane, rational person doesn’t do? He or she doesn’t allow an illiterate to move on from the 11th grade to the 12th grade. Nor from the 10th to the 11th – you don’t allow someone who can’t read to move on from the 1st to the 2nd grade for crying out loud. If you’ve got the kid through the first school year and the kid is incapable of reading, then you do that year over again…and you keep doing it over again until the kid can read or it is proven conclusively that the kid lacks the wit to ever learn how. You don’t move such a kid on to the next grade – there’s no point! It is a useless exercise. It doesn’t help the kid – it doesn’t help anyone. It is monumentally stupid. It is actually harmful to the kid being advanced without learning to read. IT IS INSANE.

But such stuff just slides easily right over us – the School Board members aren’t ejected from the jobs. Teachers and Administrators happily go about their business on their path to collecting their pensions. Parents just roll with it. But that is also a relatively small thing in the panorama of insanity which is our modern world. Remember, we’ve got legal abortion – on the theory that a woman in a bad way will best be helped if we kill her unborn child. Following on with this great and oh, so sane idea we’re now working up plans for infanticide and euthanasia…because death is definitely the answer to all of life’s little problems…except, of course, in the case of people who ruthlessly murder other people; same people saying we must have abortion, infanticide and euthanasia are largely the same people saying we must not kill even the most horrendous criminal…and, heck, not only not kill them, but make their prison experience air conditioned because it would be insane to have criminals being punished suffer a bit.

Sane, rational, responsible leaders – people purportedly unlike that foaming at the mouth lunatic, Trump – gave us such gems as the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Got to love that – nothing like sending young Americans to die in war, tying their hands a bit so they can’t hurt the enemy too badly, and then losing the wars after massive amounts of blood are spilled. The same sense of responsible rationality has now got about 4,500 US troops in the Iraq/Syria theater of operations even though we have no declaration of war, no authorization to use force…and the Democratic candidate for President swearing up and down that she won’t deploy US troops to fight the enemy in a war we aren’t fighting (except we are, and people are dying – but no sane, responsible leader would bring that up to the American people because it would be insane to disturb their viewing of the latest Dancing with the Nitwits on TV…).

It was, of course, just the most rational thing in the world for us to stand by while China moved military forces into the South China Sea; while Russia invaded the Crimea; while Iran deployed forces to Syria; while Saudi Arabia fights a bloody war in Yemen; while Libya disintegrated…thank goodness we didn’t have an insane person running the United States! Who knows what would have happened? We might have got…what? A zillion people forced to be refugees, tens of thousands dead and Jihadists roaming around murdering and enslaving people.

Also in the Sane People’s favor is that $19 trillion in US debt. Only an insane person wouldn’t pile up that much debt. Nor would an insane person ever have thought up the clever idea of having the US Federal Reserve print up money so it could buy US bonds…I mean, my goodness, you’d have to be some sort of drooling, straight-jacketed moron to refuse to see the wisdom in that!

Tickets for not wearing seatbelts. Fines for collecting rainwater. Licenses for nail salons. Pushing for birth control when our fertility rate is below replacement level. Sending billions of dollars to our enemies. Building windmills in the 21st century instead of nuclear power plants. Allowing 18 year olds to vote and serve in the military, but not have a drink or a smoke. Demanding people bake a cake. Student loans so that colleges can charge ever higher tuition. Health insurance to cover you when you’ve got a cold, but will put you on a waiting list if you need heart surgery. Requiring people to have auto insurance so trial lawyer’s always got someone to sue. $250,000.00 for a 20 minute speech. You can go to jail even if you didn’t intend to commit a crime, unless you’re the Democrat nominee for President. Police with armored personnel carriers. Refusing to offend Jihadis. Going out of your way to offend Christians. Libertarians who love ObamaCare.

I assert without fear that no matter what Trump does in office, it won’t increase the level of insanity. It might keep the insanity going. It might drop some bits of insanity and pick up others, but Trump cannot increase the lunacy because we’re collectively so far ’round the bend we can’t see it from here. This is all nuts.

Get back to me in 2017 – if Hillary wins, then I assure one and all that the insanity will just keep on going. If Trump wins, it might keep on going, as well. But I’d like it much better if we started to insist upon some sanity. Something small – just to let us know we can be sane. Perhaps we can pass a law banning the government from fining us for collecting rain water. It won’t come up as an issue too often, but it would be a start…it would be something we could point to and say, with pride, “see, we’re not complete nutters”.

Curb Your Bias

Last night on Twitter I posted the comment, “Once you realize the astonishing amount of bull**** which is believed by massive majorities, Clinton vs Trump makes sense” (though on Twitter, as it is a crude place, I didn’t use “****”) and it got a fairly high response for a Tweet by a guy with around 500 followers – 13 likes and 5 retweets. My follow-up Tweet, however, didn’t get any response, at all: “A lot of ‘likes’ for my Tweet about the amount of BS believed. Now, ask me what is BS so I can piss all you off, one by one”.

I can only assume I had no takers because people were a little wary of responding – which leads me to believe that what is BS is, for a lot of people, entirely subjective. People liked having it generally confirmed that everything is messed up because a lot of BS is believed, but weren’t quite ready to have their own beliefs examined under the BS-Detector.

Just how much of a BS detector I want to put out here is based upon just how mad I want to get every last person who reads this; because if I were to list all the BS, then it is bound to offend everyone at some point (and that is leaving aside The Issue Which Shall Not Be Named). But, for now, I immediately call to mind a time when I was effectively banned (actually, put on “audit” where my comments would be reviewed before being published) at a Catholic, Conservative website. Yep, Catholic, Conservative me so angered fellow Catholic Conservatives that I was banned. How? Well, in an historical discussion, I brought up the point that the French Revolution, at bottom, was set in motion because a collection of Bankers figured the only way they could collect on their government bonds (the royal government being de-facto bankrupt) was if the government would confiscate the wealth of the Church…which event would not happen as long as deeply Catholic Louis XVI was in charge.

This assertion just infuriated the guy running the blog – and I can only imagine it did so because he had a conviction that the fundamental reason for the French Revolution was a genuine aspiration on the part of the overwhelming mass of the French people for a Republic. I think the revolt in the Vendee kind of indicated otherwise – even without (I think it was Robespierre who said it) the understanding of the Revolutionary government that a free and fair vote of the people would amount to a recall of the Monarchy. At the end of the day, the Monarchy fell not because of a desire for a Republic, but because the Monarch ordered his troops to stand down when a howling mob of thugs assaulted his palace. A “whiff of the grape” at that time would have worked just as effectively as it did when Napoleon, commanded by the Revolutionary leaders allegedly in favor of liberty, equality and fraternity, blasted heck out a similar mob a few years later.

To me, it illustrated the habit people have of simply confirming their own biases. If there’s something a person disagrees with, they’ll look for reasons to support their disagreement even if it means ignoring evidence that it isn’t, perhaps, disagreeable. So, too, will people find reasons to support what they like, even if evidence exists that perhaps it isn’t so good. As for me, I can only figure that I’ve been lucky – over the past 10 to 15 years, I have come to appreciate that as everything is run by human beings who are Fallen from grace, even the best has some bad in it and even the worst can be explained. I’ve also come to understand that no person – or group of persons – is irredeemable. The worst rat you can think of can still be saved – but, also, the most angelic person can still err.

As it relates to right now, I think this is why I am just not all that upset about Trump – nor about the likely result of a Hillary Presidency that Trump represents. Not for me getting out there and being all fanatic #NeverTrump all day long. What is the point? Trump is a man who is doing things – as such, of course he’s doing some things wrong. It can’t be otherwise. Voting for Trump doesn’t make you either wicked or a fool, nor does voting against Trump garner you any virtue (and ditto with Hillary). Even if we had got our dream candidate, we’d still all be voting for a flawed human being who would make all sorts of mistakes. Naturally, I’d prefer if my choices in November were different from what they’re going to be, but these are the choices I’ll have and I’ll just have to make the best of it and pray that things come out as well as possible.

It is always good to keep in mind our own inability – no matter how smart or knowledgeable any of us are, there is still a vast amount we don’t know, and we’re not nearly as smart as we think we are. Herman Khan was a certified genius – yet the man routinely got lost going between his house and his office. The best course of action I can suggest is that when either pleased or angered by something, think it over a bit before you react. You’re first reaction is probably wrong – or, if not flat wrong, didn’t take into consideration all (or even most) of the factors involved. Curb your bias! Think a bit. Keep silent for a long while, if possible – the words you never write or say are words you never have to take back! Also, of course, if you write or say something you’re very likely to dig in and keep defending yourself, even when you’ve been proven a fool…better to not have to defend folly, you know?

Happy Easter!

On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead. – John 20:1-9