Sunday, March 30, 2008

Continued Idiocy of Cultural Suicide

The idiocy of cultural suicide continues unabated in the West. There are little surrenders, like the Bishop of Oxford supporting efforts by a mosque to broadcast the call for Muslim prayers via loudspeakers throughout the town five times a day, forcing non-believers to be tacit supporters of Islam. Or the applicant to the Greater Manchester Police who was rejected because he had the word “England” tattooed on his arm. According to Tony Blankley, “He was formally informed that `Home Office policy precludes applications with tattoos ... which may cause offence and/or invite provocation from the public or colleagues.’ Informally he was told, `Unfortunately, some people feel intimidated by the word England.’ And I thought only Nazi swine (and in olden days, the French) were intimidated by the thought of England.” http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/03/more_than_bluebirds_in_the_sky.html (hat tip to www.politicalman.blog-city.com for sending me this article)

A more serious (and more grotesque) cultural surrender is the tacit acceptance of the practice of female genital mutilation on cultural or religious grounds. According to a report in the Daily Mail (3 January 2008), “The Unspeakable Practice of Female Circumcision That's Destroying Young Women's Lives in Britain,” by Jo-Ann Goodwin and David Jones, an estimated 66,000 young women in Britain have been brutalized in this manner. This doesn’t count all the women in the rest of Europe tortured by butchers called “tribal elders.” Some Muslims from Africa and the Middle East “maintain that it is their inalienable right to live according to their traditional beliefs and customs, rather than conform to British values. Indeed, some argue that the freedom to carry out FGM is a fundamental principle of our multi-cultural society.” This is such a problem in Britain that they have had to pass two laws against FGM, the last one being the 2003 Female Genital Mutilation Act – they actually had to pass two laws against this. I’m sorry, but WTF! To add rage to the absurdity, nobody has ever been prosecuted under the 2003 law. The biggest reason for lack of enforcement is that the victims are terrorized into keeping silent – “honor killings” are also part of the multiculturalist and cultural relativistic miasma. Despite the obvious barbarism of this practice, “at least one London council declined to publish material highlighting the suffering and danger the practice causes - for fear of offending ethnic African residents.” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/femail/article.html?in_article_id=505796&in_page_id=1879

The latest lunacy revolves around Geert Wilders’ film “Fitna” which is critical of radical Islam. The Dutch authorities prepared for violence before the film was even shown (on the submission of the Dutch to Islamofascists, I highly recommend Bruce Bawer’s book, While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within; also see what he has to say about Wilders’ film on his blog, http://memo.brucebawer.com). They realized that radical Muslims, Islamofascists, would riot over what might be in the film. As Peter Hoekstra pointed out in the Wall Street Journal (26 March 2008) in “Islam and Free Speech,” other religious groups in the West, when faced with images or words disrespectful of their religion (like Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ”) resolve the issue peacefully (I would argue that in most cases, anybody who protests against such images is usually dismissed by the mainstream media as a religious nut, but that’s another issue). “Radical jihadists,” as Hoekstra calls them, are granted the right by the political and cultural elites of Europe to riot, burn, and pillage. http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB120649269618764219-lMyQjAxMDI4MDI2NjQyOTYyWj.html (hat tip to www.politicalman.blog-city.com for sending me this article)

Hoekstra opined that Wilders’ film, “Fitna” would not be shown in the West. He was nearly correct. LiveLeak.com, a British video sharing site like Youtube, had “Fitna” on its site for less than a day. It took it down citing death threats to workers at LiveLeak and insinuating that they were pressured by the British government. (http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=334_1206780640 – this is not the original link on LiveLink. After looking for over 30 minutes, I could not find it again). The video, however, is available on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCrCsTMokTU) but it’s “Mature,” so you’ll have to sign in to view it. Of course, Wilders was roundly criticized by the usual suspects, the EU and the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, among others. The Secretary-General officially declared, “I condemn, in the strongest terms, the airing of Geert Wilders’ offensively anti-Islamic film. There is no justification for hate speech or incitement to violence. The right of free expression is not at stake here.” (http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2008/sgsm11483.doc.htm) If the right of free speech is not at stake here, what is? The logic of his statement is that any radical group can censor by violence or threat of violence.

One of the more disastrous results of the Western political and cultural elites’ desire to appease radical Muslims is the damage they do to other nations, particularly to Israel. As Mortimer B. Zuckerman, Editor-in-Chief of US News & World Report pointed out in “A Moral Outrage” in the 24-31 March issue, “Hamas kills indiscriminately, making no distinction between civilians and combatants. But it is Israel that earns the world’s opprobrium.” He concludes, “The entire Arab world watches to see if Israel can find a way to deter Hamas – or if terrorism, with the acquisition of the hand-wringers, can win.” The first victim of Western multiculturalism and cultural relativism might very well be somebody else.

It’s time that the West starts defending its values instead of meekly succumbing to barbarism. I don’t want my daughters growing up in a culture that favors beatings, rapings, and honor killings as a way of dealing with women. I don’t want to live in a culture where practicing my religion carries a death sentence. Ah, but we can delude ourselves into believing it can’t happen here. If you really believe that, then you need to read “An American-Muslim State of Mind. The Honor Murderer in Texas Did not Pull the Trigger,” by Phyllis Chesler http://pajamasmedia.com/xpress/phyllischesler/2008/03/12/an_americanmuslim_state_of_min.php There is already a sub-culture in this country which believes the same lunacy as those who practice FGM in Britain.

There are a few lonely, often marginalized individuals calling for the defense of Western Civilization. For example, Janet Albrechtsen in “West Awakes From Suicidal Slumber” in the 26 March 2008 edition of the Australian, rightly saluted the British government for sponsoring meaningful reforms to their immigration policies (based on the Australian model) stressing responsible citizenship. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23431666-7583,00.html (hat tip to www.politicalman.blog-city.com for sending me this article)

Another individual is Pat Condell, an atheist video blogger from England. While I don’t always agree with him (like a reasonable person, I either say something like, “I disagree with you,” or I even turn him off; it never crosses my mind to use violence against his right of free expression), he sometimes makes a great deal of sense. His latest entry, “Appeasing Islam” is particularly good, and I highly recommend it: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=30a_1204991129

Many people want to simply cave to the demands of radical Muslims out of what they see as respect for the Islamic faith and out of self-loathing for Western culture. If I’m offended by something, I simply don’t watch/listen to it in the first place or turn it off. Muslims riot when they think there is something being said or written that they might possibly not like. Many Europeans argue that freedom of speech should be limited to those things that don’t cause a disturbance. This was a proviso of the Meiji Constitution and was used by the militarists in the 1930s to gain control and initiate a fascist regime that took Japan into the war with China and, eventually, the Western Powers. Indeed, both Hitler and Mussolini used similar tactics of deliberately causing violence and chaos in the streets and then selling themselves as the only solution to the chaos. Islamofascists today are employing exactly the same techniques (and why not since many of them are openly fans of Hitler and the Nazis for what they did to the Jews http://www.iranholocaustdenial.com). “Peace at any cost” is not peace – it’s craven cowardice and slavery.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Existence Denotes Purpose

Perhaps it’s the end of the Lenten Season that has caused me to reflect back on an idea that I originally developed when I was an undergraduate. The idea that “existence denotes purpose,” now seems so self-evident to me, that it’s hard to trace the logic of the argument and why I believe this is an important, fundamental idea. I realize this is a self-indulgent post with little interest to most people, but, nevertheless, I think I will indulge myself.

To understand my argument, one must accept two premises. The first premise is sometimes called the "butterfly effect." The butterfly effect is an effort to put chaos theory into a narrative rather than a mathematical framework. Essentially, the idea is that every phenomenon (in a physical sense), no matter how small, causes another phenomenon, and that causes another, and so on and so forth. http://www.cmp.caltech.edu/~mcc/chaos_new/Lorenz.html http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-butterfly-effect.htm
This is important because, if we apply this idea (first applied to weather predictions) to human interactions, then every one of our actions influences others, which then causes them to act in ways that affect others, and so forth.

The second premise is that humans are bombarded with a near infinite number of stimuli every day. As infants, we have to learn to ignore most of these stimuli. Those children who fail to develop the ability to deal with the near infinite amount of impulses experienced by humans every day develop serious problems like ADHD, obsessive compulsive disorder, tourettes, as well as other problems. http://www.minddisorders.com/Del-Fi/Executive-function.html http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=76838288

Putting these two ideas together, any stimulus changes us, even if infinitesimally. These changes are cumulative. Since we've trained ourselves to ignore most stimuli, these impulses go largely ignored by us. This doesn't mean that they are insignificant. For a very simple example: a king is walking in his garden when a rather annoying fly starts buzzing around his head. He can choose to ignore it, or he can choose to swat at it. If he chooses to smack at it, his peripheral vision is blocked, so he doesn't see the assassin. Two elements in this story are important. First, small stimuli may have significant consequences. Secondly, the actors in the story have free will to act or not to act.

Everyday, we are influenced by countless individuals. Even if we pass somebody on the interstate at a relative speed of 140 mph, if we sense that individual, they have, according to the butterfly effect, influenced us. Likewise, we influence countless individuals every day.

Therefore, to understand our lives, envision a long tunnel. Starting at the mouth of the tunnel is a straw. The straw is your life. As the straw, your life, moves down the center of the tunnel, a near infinite number of straws (other people's lives) and threads (stimuli) intersect your straw. From a different perspective, your straw, your life, intersects and influences countless other people's lives.

I must now introduce a third premise. One of the hallmarks of western civilization was the belief that humans were progressing inevitably towards perfection. Christians reflected this notion in religious terms. The idea was that our souls were progressing towards the infinite good found in God. The philosophes of the Enlightenment expressed the same idea in philosophical terms; seeking Natural Laws to ensure this progress. Even the Social Darwinists believed (in their own twisted way) that humans (at least those who were fit to survive) would progress, inevitably, toward perfection. Catastrophically, this core idea of western civilization was annihilated by the horrors of the trenches of the First World War and the unimaginable nightmare of the Holocaust or the Shoah of the Second World War.

I believe we need to regain this lost notion of perfectibility. As I mentioned in a previous post, “`Europe’ is Dead,” http://aspatula.blogspot.com/2008/02/europe-is-dead.html) the West has lost faith in all absolute ideas whether religious, philosophical, or political. As I’ve demonstrated here, the belief in progress towards perfection in the past was expressed in religious, philosophical, and, even, if rather dubiously, scientific terms. Therefore, an idea like progress toward perfection could be acceptable to a host of individuals, even if for different reasons. Further, this idea, in no small matter, would be a hopeful and inclusive one.

If we are progressing inevitably towards perfection, then it would seem that our lives are governed by fate. However, free will exists in this system. First, because we have to choose which stimuli to ignore and which to pay attention to, this choice is a first element of free will. Secondly, as we move down the tunnel, we have to have some way to make a decision among so many choices from the competing stimuli. There has to be some outside source of information to provide guidance. We feel this guidance when we feel "comfortable" about our choices. As long as we maintain a comfort level, we travel through the center of the tunnel, avoiding countless paths that keep us from the goal. But, ultimately, we can choose to feel comfortable or not, and we see people every day freely choosing to be uncomfortable. Thus, we have free will to choose to progress towards perfection or not.

If we accept a premise that was at the center of Western thought for centuries, the tunnel analogy becomes more clearly a journey towards perfection. While we can never achieve perfection, we can make progress. Our purpose in life becomes clear -- we exist to help others on the journey. All the lives we influence ultimately become part of the quest of the entire community to achieve our unrealizable goal. Thus, existence denotes purpose.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Environmental Idiocy

I know I'm an idiot because I think that historical evidence indicates that global warming has more to do with recurring fluctuations in the Earth's climate than does human production of "green house gasses" (primarily carbon dioxide) (http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/ice_ages.html). I know that Niger Calder, "former editor of New Science" is an idiot for writing in "An Experiment That Hints We Are Wrong on Climate Change" in the Times Online that solar energy striking the atmosphere has more to do with global warming than green house gasses (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1363818.ece). And I know that John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel is an idiot for pointing out the truth about Al Gore's global warming fraud (http://www.businessandmedia.org/printer/2008/20080303175301.aspx).

What really worries me, however, is how all of us can be such idiots as to ignore the very real damage we are doing to our environment. The continual dumping of pesticides, artificial fertilizers, and hormones into the water supply is a far more real and imminent danger to human life than any future global warming. Unfortunately, deformed frogs and transgendered fish don't get the hype that the eventual end of the world in flames seems to get with our media and our elected leaders.

The story began in 1995 when some school children in Minnesota discovered an abnormally high number of deformed frogs. Most had more than the required four limbs, while others were paraplegics. An underfunded research began into the cause of the mutated frogs (in fact, because of budget cuts, the Minnesota research was suspended for several years).

On 9 July 2002, Stentor Danielson reported in the National Geographic News in "Pesticides, Parasite May Cause Frog Deformities" that recent studies indicated that certain pesticides, including Esfenvalerate and Atrazine made frogs susceptible to a parasite called cercariae. These two pesticides are among the most common ones used in North America. According to Danielson's article, "`Atrazine-exposed frogs don't have normal reproductive systems,' said Tyrone Hayes, the leader of a team from the University of California at Berkeley. `The males have ovaries in their testes and much smaller vocal organs.'" We should care about these frogs because, according to Danielson, "Joseph Kiesecker who published a study on frog deformities in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences notes: "`amphibians are particularly sensitive to environmental changes that appear to be associated with the recent emergence of new diseases and resurgence of old diseases that infect humans.' Especially disturbing, he added, is that the concentrations of two of the pesticides that caused the deformities in frogs, Esfenvalerate and Atrazine, were low enough for the water to be considered safe for human consumption under Environmental Protection Agency standards. `Frogs may be a sentinel species that is warning us about the interplay between human-caused environmental change and disease susceptibility,' he said, adding: "`Hopefully, people will listen.'" (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/07/0709_020709_deformedfrogs.html)


In addition to Danielson's report, an article in the 25 September 2007 issue of Science Daily indicated that runoff from fertilized fields increased the number of snails infected with trematodes leading to deformities in the frogs (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070925130649.htm). See also, (http://environment.newscientist.com/article/dn12687-frog-deformities-linked-to-farm-pollution.html). As artificial fertilizers are used increasingly in the Third World, the spread of deformities among amphibians (“a sentinel species”) demonstrates the growing hazard to humans. Pesticides and their by-products also create hormone mimickers leading to a host of problems.

According to a story on Minnesota Public Radio from 1998, "Disappearing Amphibians: Frog Deformities May Warn of Human Risk," by Mary Losure, another distinct possibility for the frog deformities is the ability of some pesticides, especially retinoic, and some chemicals (like PCBs and Dioxin) to mimic hormones, not only creating deformities, but also decreasing fertility rates. Similar declines in fertility rates have been observed in other amphibians, birds, and reptiles. These are worrisome because as "developmental biologist David Gardiner of the University of California at Irvine says, `These hormone-signaling pathways have only evolved once, so we all share common signaling pathways, and certainly, when you look at the kind of hormones we have that control development in our bodies, are indistinguishable from the equivalent hormone in something like a frog.'" (http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/199806/04_losurem_frogs03/ )


Another disturbing trend is the increasing problem with interrupting fish reproductive cycles as well as a growing number of male fish becoming "feminized" (that is, either lacking or having poorly developed male sex organs). According to "Collapse of a Fish Population after Exposure to a Synthetic Estrogen," in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (21 May 2007), abnormally high levels of estrogen and estrogen mimics (mostly from the decomposition of certain pesticides) in a number of Canadian lakes led to the virtual extinction of one breed of fish within seven years (http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/104/21/8897?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=%28Collapse+AND+of+AND+a+AND+fish+AND+population+AND+after+AND+exposure+AND+to+AND+synthetic+AND+oestrogen%29&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT). Natural hormones, in particular estrogen, and hormonal mimics, particularly from pesticides, are the sources of much of reproductive maladies in a number of animal species.

The two major sources of estrogen in our water supply is the urine of cows treated with estrogen (http://thegreenguide.com/reports/product.mhtml?id=39) and in the urine of women taking birth control pills (http://www.insiderreports.com/storypage.asp?StoryID=20009617).

The ability of pesticides to mimic hormones, including estrogen, is behind male Florida alligators experiencing various sexual abnormalities (http://www.rgp.ufl.edu/publications/explore/v11n3/story1.html ).

We should care about the sex problems of amphibians, fish, and reptiles because there are disturbing links between the maladies experienced by aquatic animals and worldwide problems including testicular cancer and low sperm quality in human males (http://www.rachel.org/bulletin/bulletin.cfm?Issue_ID=609 ).

For an excellent overview of the problems caused by the various pollutants on the endocrine and reproductive hormones, see, "Our Stolen Future" (http://www.ourstolenfuture.com/index.htm). In addition, see the article by Ian R. Falconer, “Are Endocrine Disrupting Compounds a Health Risk in Drinking Water?" in The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (June 2006) which argues for the negative influence of estrogen mimickers (and, to a lesser extent, estrogen itself) in municipal water supplies (http://www.mdpi.org/ijerph/papers/ijerph2006030020.pdf).
If we put all these observations together, we must realize that pesticides, chemical pollutants, and hormones in the water supply are killing us far more quickly than moderately warmer summers. We might want to point this out to the government. In the meantime, you might want to adjust your own choices by eating more organic foods trying to eliminate pesticides and hormones from your diet. With three daughters, my wife and I have made the switch. In particular, we have switched to organic dairy products in an effort to avoid increased estrogen from the cows' milk. This is something we can control, or at least influence -- think about it.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Random Bits of Idiocy

We're constantly told that we all need to learn Spanish because so many people in this country speak that language and we have no choice but learn it. Let's look at this proposition rationally. To become an American citizen, a person must learn English. So, logically, the only individuals not learning to speak English, the ones with whom we must communicate in Spanish, are illegal immigrants. Most studies indicate that there are approximately 5 million illegal immigrants in the US. However, a report from the Pew Hispanic Center in 2006 (http://pewhispanic.org/reports/report.php?ReportID=61) asserted that there were 12 million illegal immigrants in the US. There are approximately 300 million people in the US. Thus, we must all learn Spanish because 2-4 percent of the population does -- and they're technically criminals. This is idiotic. I chose to learn German and a bit of French and Spanish because I wanted to, not because I had to for no rational reason.

Next time you're at a mall or where there are a number of pre-teens and teen-age girls, notice how many are wearing shorts or sweats with something written across their ... well, their bums. Again, let's look at this practice logically and rationally. What is the point of wearing this clothing? The only reason to wear something like this is to get people to look at their behinds. Again, why? The only logical reason, as disturbing as it may sound, is for erotic or sexual titillation. If wearing these clothes is simply for flirtation, then can there be an "unwanted" sexual advance? Don't get me wrong; as the father of three daughters, I'm not condoning rape or any violent action under any circumstances whatsoever, nor am I saying that these girls deserve this unwanted attention. Rather, I'm asking what kinds of idiots buy these clothes for their girls?

Advertisers obviously don't listen to the songs they use in their campaigns. There was a commercial for Dr. Pepper during the football season where a lineman did a celebratory dance after scoring a touchdown to the tune of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer's "Karn Evil 9" (most people call this song "Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends"). This is one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite groups. The song's theme is a criticism of the commodification of life and religion. That is, the advertisement is the antithesis of the song. For another example, Gatorade has a commercial with an African-American basketball player walking down the street to the tune of "Walk on the Wild Side," by Lou Reed. This is another great song. However, it does include the lyrics, "and the coloured girls go doo, doo, doo, etc." Maybe not the best juxtaposition of words and images. And, of course, there is the memorable verse in the song about the transvestite performing oral sex. What idiot picked this song as an advertising tag line?

I saw George Carlin last night on HBO. George has become simply a pathetic, rambling, old coot. Sad, really.

Everything causes Global Warming. Well, everything except the natural fluctuation of the Earth's climate. If you want to get funding for some half-baked program, just claim that something that humans are doing causes global warming. On the 31 August 2007 episode of "Real Time with Bill Maher" (the ├╝beridiot), PETA representative, Ingrid Newkirk asserted that cow farts are a major cause of global warming (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1092228/). I guess we need to stop breeding cows. The ones we have now should be allowed to live out their lives in peaceful retirement in Boca. Idiots.

Of course, the answer to our energy problem is ethanol or the far cooler name, "biofuel." Unfortunately, reason and logic provide inconvenient truths. There are three logical problems with using ethanol as an energy source. First, ethanol is only cheaper than gasoline if you live in some place that grows a great deal of corn, like the Midwest. In addition, E85 fuel doesn't contain as much energy as gasoline, so a car running on E85 gets worse gas mileage, thus, it costs more to run (http://www.hybridcars.com/ethanol/benefits-drawbacks.html). Secondly, according to a study at Stanford University, E85 may pollute more than gasoline (http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2007/april18/ethanol-041807.html). Thirdly, biofuel production is "a total disaster" for third world countries who deforest their nation for dubious results, according to leading members of the United Nations and the European Union (http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,530550,00.html). See a number of problems with biofuels at http://www.amlibpub.com/liberty_blog/2007/04/new-study-ethanol-bad-for-health-and.html. If we really want to go a long way to solving our automobile fuel problems, we should hire this guy: http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/120/motorhead-messiah.html.

The writers' strike is finally over. I fully support the writers’ stance in the strike. They definitely deserve their fair share of the residuals from new broadcast abilities like podcasts and online replays. However, did anybody really miss the crap shows they put out? I watch one or two shows on NBC, CBS, and FOX. Does ABC still exist? I realize that nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American consumer, and "reality TV" like "American Idol" and "Survivor" admirably proves this. But, until the networks decide to start programming a few intelligent shows, they can expect to continue to loose market share to cable channels, video games, and movie rentals. (http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/tv_and_radio/article3279454.ece).