18 February 2015

Clinging to a False Ideal

Therefore, we demand enactment of the following Amendment to the Constitution:Section A: 
Notwithstanding the provisions of the Constitution or Section 4 of the 14th Amendment, no entity, organ, authority or sub-unit of government in the United States or its possessions may issue or maintain debt except; 
1. In anticipation of tax revenue to be collected within a 12 month period via tax anticipation notes, with each such issue binding the specific sequester of tax revenues so-anticipated; 
2. During a time of declared war, the declaration of which contains a specific statement declaring and defining an existential threat to the continued existence of or liberty in the United States, and only to fund the specific and identifiable costs of said conflict with a maturity of no more than 10 (ten) years beyond the termination of hostilities;
So, per Denninger’s proposed amendment, the government would be able to issue debt as long as there is a declaration of war and the bonds mature within ten years of the termination of hostilities, provided the funds were used to pay for the conflict.  So, it could hypothetically be the case the government could engage in an expensive war that has no apparent end in sight, which it then funds with debt.  Further, the government could perpetuate the war by funneling arms to resistance groups which in turn rebel against the government that gave them the weapons, and incite the public to fear by arguing loudly for the need to stand up to, say, terrorists.  Additionally, the government could a) redefine budget items as pertaining to war and b) simply shuffle money from the armed forces to other branches.  Honestly, it doesn’t look like Denninger’s proposed amendment would really change that much given its loopholes.

The reason for this is pretty simple:  good government is a function of good men, not good laws.  The only thing Denninger’s amendment could do is change the government paperwork that makes its current behavior kosher.  The bigger issue is not that the law isn’t sufficiently thorough, it’s that politicians and bureaucrats are almost morally bankrupt and the average voter completely so.  If the American people were sufficiently outraged, no change in law would be necessary for the people would vote the current bums out of office.  That the American people have yet to do so indicates that they are indeed well-represented by their elected officials.

Sadly, Denninger is stuck on the modernist myth of America, a nation of laws.  Unfortunately, laws without morality are merely hoops to jump through, and no number of codified regulations can save a nation that is morally corrupt for, fundamentally, laws must interpreted and enforced by men.  Thus, Denninger is clinging to the false god of rule of law.  The truth is that we have always been ruled by men all along.  Now that men are thoroughly corrupt, we see what a charade rule of law really is.

Is Euthanasia Really So Necessary?

Speaking of end-of-life, assume doctor-assisted-suicide is legal by the time this city is built. I plan to make sure that happens in California on the next vote. Other states will follow. In this imagined future you can remove much of the unnecessary costs of the cruel final days of life that are the bulk of medical expenses.
The nominal defense of euthanasia is to reduce pain and suffering as life draws to its close.  While this can be a somewhat noble motivation (after all, who really wants to defend pain and suffering on their intrinsic merits?), it is a rather shallow way of solving the problem of end-of-life pain and suffering.*

To wit, a large chunk of age-related pain is self-inflicted.  For example, beingoverweight is generally linked to a plethora of health risks which require panoply of medication to “treat.”  While it is obviously better to not be overweight in the first place, many people choose instead to be overweight and thus bring upon themselves a wide variety of health complications that make their lives miserable, particularly as they get older. This thus makes dying more painful than it needs to be because it first made living more painful than it needs to be.

Furthermore, a lot of end-of-life suffering is brought on by the attempt to extend life artificially instead of letting nature run its course.  Euthanizing someone on life support, or extensive system support is that radical a solution, especially since the alternative is not intervening in the first place.  While letting nature take its course may be painful, it is arguably less painful than trying to intervene with machines and medicine.

Ultimately, the biggest issue with euthanasia is that its proponents and probable practitioners don’t really value life properly while alive.  If they did, they would be more inclined to take care of themselves while alive and not cling so tenaciously, yet futilely to life support as the end nears.  They are a soft people who see pain as an indignity yet lack the spine to triumph over indignity with stoicism.

Arguably, the ultimate failure of the euthanasia crowd is moral:  they are too weak-willed to take care of their bodies properly and too cowardly to face the consequences of their choices.  They wish to abuse their bodies and then escape the pain when it arrives.  No wonder life is cheap to them; they are not willing to make the sacrifices a good life—and death—require.

* Also, isn’t it curious to find people who support euthanasia but oppose the death penalty on the grounds that the drugs administered cause suffering?

Is Eric Posner Sexist?

So Eric Posner has an op-ed explaining why universities and colleges should ignore students' rights (hat tip).  The tag/thesis/subtitle/whatever of his article is, “Students today are more like children than adults and need protection.”  However, roughly 56% of college students are female, which means that Posner is acting like just another privileged white male in asserting that a female-dominated institution is in need of patronizing male guidance and protection.  Someone should tell the feminists about this.

12 February 2015

Fixing Science

With Vox Day and Karl Denninger weighing in on yet another global warming scandal, and Scott Adams arguing that science has completely failed in the realm of health and fitness, it seems appropriate to offer a tentative solution to the problems currently facing the practice of science.  The biggest problem, it appears to me, is that an unfortunate number of the practitioners of science are morally bankrupt, and thus can (and are) bought and sold by vested interests, usually big business, big government, or big business and big government working in tandem.

That an appallingly large number of scientists are corrupt enough to fudge data and publicize almost meaningless “studies” and “surveys” shouldn’t be all that surprising given how secularized the practice and dissemination of science is.  If one thing is true, it’s that secular philosophy does a downright terrible job of maintaining a moral order.  Furthermore, science offers no intrinsic moral guidance whatsoever, and so its practitioners must rely on some outside source.  Since many practitioners reject supernatural sources of moral order, it should come as no surprise that said practitioners are thus morally bankrupt and can easily be persuaded of the value of representing certain, well-funded ideas.

Given that the corruption of rich businessmen and power-seeking politicians and bureaucrats is so common as to be mundane, it should also come as no surprise that those who have a vested interest in the scientific validation of their marketing plans and/or policy prescriptions are both willing and able to buy morally suspect scientists’ opinions.  This, of course, is called research funding.

Ultimately, the biggest issue with science is that is practiced and funded by morally suspect people.  Therefore, the solution to this problem is the remove the morally bankrupt from the process altogether and let the whole of scientific practice by carried out by those who are both and intelligent and honest.  To this end, I propose that scientific research be church-funded and conducted in theological seminaries (preferably Roman Catholic seminaries) instead of being funded by big business and conducted in state universities.

The obvious objections are that a) the church is anti-science and b) the church is more dishonest than secular authorities.  Both of the objections are patently wrong.

In the first place, the modern conception of the scientific method was originated by a Catholic theologian in the 13th century.  Furthermore, the Catholic Church hardly limited the exploration of scientific concepts, and in fact generally encouraged scientific research.*  The church was also quite tolerant of controversial research, perhaps to an even greater degree than modern secularists are.**

In the second place, the church is more forthcoming about its failures than the state.  All human institutions are imperfect, but the church doesn’t engage in near the coverups that the state does, nor does it make near as many attempts to alter its history and protect its herd.  Of course, the main reason for this is that the church is composed primarily of Christians who aspire to Godliness while the state is generally composed of assholes who aspire to power.  Christians fear God, while those of the state fear and envy their superiors.  Unsurprisingly, those with a fear of the Lord tend to do a better job of behaving themselves, even if they are not sinlessly flawless.

While no human endeavor will be free from failure, especially of the moral kind, I think that a strong case can be made for putting science back under the purview of the church.  While it may not eliminate the dishonesty and shoddy practices that currently dominate the realm of science, it should reduce them considerably.

** For example, the Catholic Church was more tolerant of the theory of evolution way back in the 13th century than modern secularists are of the study of human biodiversity today.  So tell me, just what are the dark ages when scientific truth was suppressed?

09 February 2015

Growing Up

As I grew frustrated with Gottlieb’s bullheadedness, I started thinking that modern Christian women have been taught to think like Gottlieb – to be what she calls “maximizers”:  people who will only accept the absolute best.  The fear of settling for a less-than-totally on fire for God man is implanted in Christian girls from at least junior high on, both in church and in Christian media.  How many times have Christian girls been warned not to marry a man who doesn’t TOTALLY LOVE JESUS WITH ALL HIS HEART, with dark implications or outright warnings that life will be TERRIBLE otherwise?  How many times have Christian girls been told that the man must be the Spiritual Leader, with the implication that if he’s not leading the charge to go to Sunday School and lead devotions and pray all the time, that he must be disqualified as a potential husband?  Conversely, how often have Christian girls been told to give Christian men encouragement to grow in their faith and to have patience with them if they weren’t as “strong” in the faith as the women?  The bar has been raised so high that hardly any Christian man can be marriage-worthy.
The problem that Haley strikes at is that there is no room for growth in a relationship.  This is mostly a cultural problem, and one that is not going to disappear soon.  America is a democracy, operates on an assumption of equality, is rather youth-oriented and anti-tradition.  Unfortunately, the common man is an idiot, equality doesn’t exist, youth is fleeting, and tradition is useful in helping people avoid the mistake of their ancestors.

Consequently, there is a strong bias in modern America for having a perfect life in place by your mid-twenties (basically after you get out of college).  Practically speaking, this idea is completely nuts but it never ceases to amaze me how many white middle class Americans spend their twenties trying to acquire a perfect life.  Thanks to clever marketing and absolutely no perspective, a lot of people appear to have convinced themselves that need everything to be just perfect right off the bat.

The wisdom of tradition is that there is nothing new under the sun when it comes to human nature and as such young people are often immature and need some to grow up and mature into the role of, say father or husband.  As such, it was important to note not only what someone was, but what someone could become in, say, forty years.

The truth is, few men under the age of thirty are natural leaders, and even among those who have the personality for leadership, almost none have the wisdom or life experience for it because of their age.  The American fascination with youth is rather a pity since young people are generally inexperienced in life, and impatient to boot. As such, there is rarely any value in their words, and little to respect in their behavior.

Fortunately, this is not a permanent state.  As people age and experience life, they change.  The loss of parents and the birth of children change a man (or a woman).  Adjusting to reality and letting go of unrealistic dreams bring a newfound depth and maturity to a person.  Feeling the pain of injury or the humiliation of failure can bring about self-reflection.  However, this process takes time and cannot be forced or rushed.  It has its own schedule.

As such, it is truly lamentable that many women, particularly single young white modern evangelical American women, are unable to think in terms of long-term potential and instead insist on focusing on the here and now.  They are fools, lacking wisdom, and it is a pity that their elders have not either the balls or the brains to impart unto them the wisdom that they lack.

Form Without Substance

Here’s an old Return of Kings post that I’ve been mulling over for far too long.  Entitled “Why I Quit Going To Your Church,” here are some excerpts:
1. Your music is saccharine 
Christians assume that a distorted guitar is the definition of rock music. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Rock music is as much a philosophy as it is a sound. I heard time again growing up, “The only problem with secular music is the lyrics.” This is nonsense because in every genre, music and lyrics are innately connected. Imagine “Something in the way” by Nirvana with Jesus lyrics. It just doesn’t work. 
But of course churches soften the “guitar and drums” element, and you’ll never hear a guitar solo that has any integrity. Perhaps there was some merit to early Christian rock (perhaps), but songwriters now simplify the chords so that churches can play it. So you’ll never find an A7 #9 in a church with “contemporary rock”. Because, you know, those extra two notes in the chord are just too hard to pull off. You might even have to have an extra volunteer guitar player, and the mild dissonance could make people uncomfortable with their edgy new form of worship. 
“But worship is about lyrics, not music!” cries the Christian who glossed over everything I just said. Your lyrics are also sacharine. If you look at Bob Dylan’s “Slow Train Coming” (1979), you’ll find that at least there were a variety of topics on display. Not every song was a praise song. Some were simply doctrinal teaching songs, like the old hymns. Today, your lyrics are so hollow that many musicians are rewriting (and ruining) old hymns on their Christian rock praise albums. 
2. Your sermons sound like a high school assembly 
It seemed like every sermon was either about getting through hard times or being obedient to God. Most pastors I ran into knew fuck-all about the Bible and basic doctrine, which I guess is a product of giving a seminary degree to anyone with “a call from God.” 
3. Your buildings are ugly 
I was in Charlotte, North Carolina. There is this massive evangelical church called Calvary. I mean, this is the kind of thing you see on TV, and not at 3am either. I went in one day to look around. They had this beautiful old organ several stories high, and they tacked two ugly screens on it so the people could read the lyrics. It completely upset the whole aesthetic of the room, but it was necessary since Jesus condemns the use of hymnals. After all, you wouldn’t want to miss out on the latest, most innovative praise chorus, would you? 
The Catholic Church is actually having a substantial number of converts from protestantism. The Eastern Orthodox are being jump-started back to life with converts, and the break-off Anglo-protestant groups are finding evangelical converts demanding Anglo-Catholic worship. Why is this? There are a variety of reasons, but part of it is because people enjoy looking at pretty things and listening to pretty music. Even the Catholic Church is finding its own people are tired of bluegrass masses and dadaist architecture. For all its lies and manipulation, consumerism is right that what you are surrounded by affects the way you feel about that place and about yourself.
While the whole thing is worth reading, the general complaint, whether the author realizes it or not, is that protestant/evangelical sects are just terrible because they fundamentally must rebel against tradition.  There are two major orthodox churches:  The Greek catholic church and the Roman catholic church.  Most protestant and evangelical sects trace their roots to rebellion against the Roman catholic church (the Mormons and JWs being the most obvious exceptions).  As such, this generates an unresolvable tension within most of these denominations because they have the impossible task of getting their believers to reject some traditions but not all of them.

Fundamentally, it is impossible maintain a democratized religion, for it becomes necessary to pick and choose which traditions to keep, which traditions to discard, and which traditions to modify and in what ways to modify them.  Once tradition becomes a buffet table, so to speak, it is simply a matter of time until virtually all traditions are discarded or corrupted.

As such, it should make sense that protestant and evangelical denominations generally suffer from the problems listed above because these denominations have no basis of tradition (other than a hatred of tradition), and cannot therefore reasonably object to alterations to traditional practices.  If you reject, say, papal authority, then on what grounds could you not reject a council of churches?  If you reject the doctrine of transubstantiation, then on what grounds could you criticize those who would do away with observing The Memorial altogether?  Or altering its observed frequency?  If you are willing to toss away one tradition, or one aspect of a tradition simply because you don’t understand it or it doesn’t jive with your personal understanding of God’s word, then how can you criticize those who would do likewise for similar reasons?

Unfortunately, discarding tradition usually to cultural depravity, which should help to explain why protestant/evangelical music, liturgy, and aesthetics are generally devoid of beauty and craftsmanship.  There is no solid foundation to build upon, which is why so many denominations end up chasing trends instead of adding to a tradition that is built to withstand the tests of time.  Worse still, given that the trends are set by “the world,” the aesthetics that come to play are both shallow and complex.  Since the rebellious denominations are often populated by simpletons and clever sillies, the result of chasing trends is often works that are shallow but lacking complexity.

Deep down, evangelicals and protestants yearn for the depth, which is why they try so hard to make their services meaningful.  They dress their liturgies in bright colors and ridiculous props because they want there to be a depth of meaning to their teaching.  Depth, though, is a function of maturity and time, and there is no substitute for either.  The clown show that is evangelical preaching is a mask to hide the immaturity and emptiness of their theology.

The rock show that is passed off for evangelical worship is simply a stimulant, meant to help listeners simulate the emotion of feeling depth where none actually exists.  It is akin to a toddler watching Sesame Street.  The bright colors and loud noises are meant to draw attention to the most rudimentary of lessons while distracting one from noticing that very little is actually happening.  Praise can certainly help one see the mystery of God, but it takes a lot of time and tradition to build an edifice that enables just that.  It should be telling that the longest-standing traditions do not need smoke and mirrors to open the minds of men.

Sadly, most evangelicals and a healthy number of low-church protestants* seem completely unaware that they are striving to solve a problem that the catholic churches solved many centuries ago.  They denigrate the orthodoxy for its reliance on the traditions of man but fail to realize that they are trying to instill their own traditions and thus maintain their own faith for posterity.  Because their primary tradition is denigrating tradition, they will always be doomed to failure and depravity.

* High church protestants, like Lutherans, Anglicans, and Presbyterians, are more generally aware that they are essentially Roman Catholic knockoffs.  In spite of this, their rebellion against the orthodoxy of the church has led them, for the most part, to embrace ungodly traditions, such as the ordination of female clerics.

08 February 2015

Eh, Not So Much

So Yahoo! news describes Robyn Lawley as a, “model with normal body,” and then goes on to describe said body:
The thing is, when you look at Robyn Lawley, who is 6’2” and wears a size 12, you hardly see a plus sized woman. Lawley has a banging body. Not “a great plus size body” or “a great skinny body,” she just has a great body! And while plus size should not be taken as an insult, it’s just ridiculous to call this woman “plus size.” Even though Lawley has built a career as a plus size model, she has expressed that she dislikes the term, “In the beginning, I didn’t mind getting called (plus size), but I am not a plus-size person,” she said in a press release earlier this year, “I don’t think anyone should be called plus size.”
The only problem with this line of reasoning is that while the average American might be a size 12 (actually 14), the average American woman is 5’4”, not 6’2”.  Plus, given the sheer variety of women’s sizing options (see this for considerably more info), the whole notion of size 12 being average is simply useless.  The truth that everyone can see is that Robyn Lawley is not some fatass size 12 with “real curves,” but rather a relatively slender girl with pretty much ideal proportions.  She is larger, to be sure, but this is mostly a function of height and having a skeletal frame solid enough to support it.

Using a model like Robyn Hawley to make fat women feel good about themselves is nothing but disingenuous mythologizing. Most size 12 women look nothing like Ms. Hawley, and certainly need no further encouragement to maintain their probably corpulent size. If anything, Ms. Hawley’s looks should serve as an inspiration to women everywhere to lose weight and make the most of what they’ve got.  And, frankly, it’s utterly ridiculous to even suggest that just because a tall woman looks good as a size 12 means that all women will look good as size 12s.