Archive for the 'Religion' Category

Force, object, and you know the rest

Sunday, May 10th, 2015

An author in Le Figaro:

Le supranationalisme est le résultat d’un dépassement de la pensée des Lumières dans le sens où il manifeste concrètement la croyance que des principes universels régissent la vie de l’homme. Le multiculturalisme, de son côté, vient de la perception romantique de l’Autre, envisagé comme fondamentalement bon et doté d’une identité immuable. Malgré leurs origines philosophiquement divergentes, ils ont le même effet: le démantèlement de l’État-nation. Et de façon étrange, ils semblent avoir fusionné pour s’arrêter sur la même vision de l’avenir: un monde sans frontières, sans distinction entre «nous» et «eux», sans nations, un monde pour l’Humanité…

le problème le plus profond avec l’islam, c’est la charia, une loi de compétence universelle et non-territoriale qui affronte donc frontalement la philosophie universaliste de l’UE et de la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme. Il est absolument urgent de réaffirmer devant les communautés islamiques l’importance de la loi territoriale séculaire. Et la seule façon de le faire est d’être d’une fermeté absolue en matière de loyauté nationale. Autant de choses qu’une administration bureaucratique et universelle comme l’UE ne pourra, par définition, jamais mettre en oeuvre. Les musulmans doivent faire passer la loi nationale avant les règles du Coran (un récent sondage en Hollande montre que 70% d’entre eux s’y refusent).

70% is a pretty big number. Tick tick tick, as we’ve often said. More better, more worse. Stay quiet and you’ll be okay. (BTW, the piece also uses a variant of oikophobia.)

Double down or change

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

They were utopians in 1623 until they could have starved to death:

The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s and other ancients applauded by some of later times; that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.

For the young men, that were most able and fit for labour and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could…

no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some family.

This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability

Double down or change. Starve or change course, that’s what it takes sometimes. As Thomas Kuhn said, about scientists no less, “the proponents of competing paradigms practice their trades in different worlds. The transfer of allegiance from paradigm to paradigm is a conversion experience.” Precisely. (We’ve noted that one of the strangest experiences we ever had was stepping into a voting booth on the West Side in 1980, and finding, against our will, that we were suddenly physically unable to pull the lever for JEC, even though that was our explicit intention until then.) For the moment, as Wretchard notes, change is still difficult for our misguided confrères, because there’s always “someone” to fall back on who will take care of things. We believe that time is coming to an end in each of the three areas we touched on in the Kuhn piece. How unpleasant or catastrophic this becomes remains to be seen.

Paradigm shifts coming?

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

From Thomas Kuhn:

In a sense I am unable to explicate further, the proponents of competing paradigms practice their trades in different worlds…

The transfer of allegiance from paradigm to paradigm is a conversion experience that cannot be forced…

Darwin, in a particularly perceptive passage at the end of his Origin of Species, wrote: “Although I am fully convinced of the truth of the views given in this volume…I by no means expect to convince experienced naturalists whose minds are shocked with a multitude of facts all viewed, during a long course of years, from a point of view directly opposite to mine…but I look with confidence to the future, — to young and rising naturalists, who will be able to look at both sides of the question with impartiality.”

And Max Planck, surveying his own career in his Scientific Autobiography, sadly remarked that “a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

(1) There’s the expensive silliness of CAGW, which China, India and much of the rest of the world won’t buy into, and the West can destroy itself if it wants. Will the young continue to go along with the foolish oldsters or will they eventually rebel? (2) How will the crisis of victocracy be settled? As an attitude, you’re either on the Mosby side or you’re not. There’s no middle ground, only doubling down. (Clarice notes an amusing tweet from Joan Walsh in that regard.) Make no mistake, this has to get settled, because we’re nearing the end of doubling down, as this sad piece illustrates. (3) And then there’s the longest war in history, dating back to a few years after 632. Things seem to be coming to a head there as well. Note in all cases which side our self-styled elites are on.

Fantasy Islands

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

A piece from the Pope’s science academy (gotta love the reference to Galileo, who was condemned 13 years after joining the group):

Human culture as we know it emerged through two great transformations, namely the Neolithic and the Industrial Revolution. The former was decisively favored by the exceptionally stable climatic conditions in the Holocene after the end of the last glacial period some 11,000 years ago. The development of agriculture, in turn, laid the foundation for rapid mechanization after 1750 that would not have happened, however, without the fortunate accessibility of fossil resources of exquisite energy density – mined in England first and on all continents later on. The overwhelming historic process of world-wide carbonization, which may be documented as the “c-story of humankind”, resulted not only in large-scale industrialization, but also helped to tap the immense human potential for creativity, discovery and progress for a better living.

It appears like a sheer success story at a first glance, and yet it is not an untroubled narrative. For this carbonization of the world led to a multitude of negative externalities (as the economists would call them), not least the potential destabilization of the benign Holocene climate through the significant alteration of atmospheric greenhouse gas levels. As the latest IPCC Assessment Report demonstrates, the global mean surface temperature could rise above pre-industrial values by more than 4°C by 2100 under a business-as-usual scenario (RCP 8.5, Meinshausen et al., 2011). As a consequence, our planet could be pushed into an uncomfortable realm, where many natural and cultural systems would be at risk of heavy stress, if not collapse.

Human culture? Ha Ha. And as someone who learned Latin at age 7, only to see them throw the baby out and keep that bathwater in 1965, we also recommend this book to everyone concerned. Also, and somewhat related, from Stratfor:

the Venezuelan government is planning a takeover of distribution networks belonging to Empresas Polar, the country’s largest private food production and distribution firm. Polar CEO Lorenzo Mendoza sent an open letter to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on April 30 saying the company was open to discussing Venezuela’s food supply problems as well as possible solutions. According to one report, the Venezuelan Food Ministry may be planning to seize Polar’s distribution networks, intending to redirect flows of food products to state-owned supermarkets, where such products are becoming increasingly scarce…

The scarcity of food and other products seriously affects the poorest segments of Venezuelan society, which have historically voted for the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela. The current food shortages have lasted several years, persisting in part because of price controls in the thriving black market and impacted by smuggling operations to Colombia. Public stores selling food at heavily discounted prices have experienced major shortages, and many Venezuelans have turned to the black market to buy provisions…

A month’s worth of food bought on the black market can be several times more expensive than supplies bought at a state-owned store. Rampant inflation continues to drive that differential up, which strains the ability of poor Venezuelans to purchase certain food items. This could hurt Maduro’s already low approval rating, which hovers between approximately 20 and 25 percent

Confused? Wretchard explained recently.

Once upon a time, there was a correlation

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

The early days of CAGW must have seemed magical. After all, there really was a correlation of CO2 increases on the one hand, and some modest temperature increases on the other. It’s not surprising that some would see correlation as causation, and it certainly didn’t hurt that there was a pot of gold at the end of that road. Moreover, causation fits in nicely with the West’s current need for self-flagellation as payment for the sin of prosperity. All well and good.

So it must have been panic and madness inducing when some of the data stopped fitting that which had been ordained from on high. Our favorite episode of the madness is when the Medieval Warm Period suddenly vanished, in order to make current results all the more dramatic. Freud had a nice phrase for it. Anyway, we’re on our way to Asia today, where India and China may say a little political blah-blah, but don’t participate in the West’s idiotic madness. We’ll take a look at Steyn’s new book on the flight and report back.

Contrasting views of the value of life

Saturday, April 18th, 2015

A:

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
creeps in this petty pace from day to day
to the last syllable of recorded time.
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
the way to dusty death.
Out, out brief candle.
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
that struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
and then is heard no more.
It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
signifying nothing.

B:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us: that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Two amazing writers, yes? BTW, where did we last see signifying nothing? Oh yeah.

Good morning people, it’s a new dawn

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

Kissinger, Shultz:

For 20 years, three presidents of both major parties proclaimed that an Iranian nuclear weapon was contrary to American and global interests—and that they were prepared to use force to prevent it. Yet negotiations that began 12 years ago as an international effort to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability…Iran has gradually turned the negotiation on its head. Iran’s centrifuges have multiplied from about 100 at the beginning of the negotiation to almost 20,000 today…the Iranian program has reached a point officially described as being within two to three months of building a nuclear weapon

Georgetown professor Kroenig:

From the beginning of the atomic era, American scientists understood that these sensitive nuclear technologies could be used to make fuel for nuclear energy or for nuclear weapons, and the United States immediately began working to close off this pathway to the bomb. The McMahon Act of 1946 made it illegal for the United States to share nuclear technologies with any country. Even countries like Britain and Canada that had helped America invent the bomb during the Manhattan Project were cut off. Later, under President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program, the United States loosened restrictions on nuclear cooperation somewhat, but it always drew a bright line at uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing because the risk of proliferation was simply too great…we gave up the game. Iran out-negotiated us. We abandoned a clear international standard we had established in order to meet Iran halfway in its unreasonable demands. What we have to show for it is not a historic deal, but the death of a 70-year-old bipartisan pillar of American foreign policy.

The title is from Woodstock.

There will be growth in the spring

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

NYT:

I think that it’s important to recognize that Iran is a complicated country — just like we’re a complicated country

More wisdom here. Help!

The shocking power of the narrative

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

We confess to being blindsided by the raw power of MSM narratives, despite having observed them rather closely for years. We expected their power to diminish, and instead the opposite has happened. The young don’t know anything, and between the media and the academy, they believe everything from the silly (CAGW) to the deeply pernicious. This Iran farce is something else again: it is at least 3 standard deviations from reality and yet the true believers still believe. We’ve never seen anything like it in our lives. (Sometimes the deviations from reality are funny, but not with Iran.) Still, there are cracks in the façade — witness Chuck Schumer coming over to the Dark Side. Strange world indeed.

2 Voices

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Thomas Sowell, who was born in 1930, and hence knows some things:

Clearing the way for Iran to get nuclear bombs may — probably will — be the most catastrophic decision in human history.

So there’s The Voice of Doom, and then again there’s The Voice. It’s a heckuva voice, and it’s almost like that well-rehearsed speech was sincere and everything. (How long ago was it written?)

Bonus unfun: just how bad a deal? This bad.

Les hommes sérieux

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Foreign Policy:

A central concern is “breakout time” (the minimum time needed to make weapons-grade uranium). According to current reports, a deal would ensure Iranian breakout time would be moved back to one year. French negotiators want to ensure that Iran’s agreed upon breakout time will last the entire duration of the deal — and after. They also want a deal that lasts as long as possible. “Ten years is short when you talk about nuclear issues,” one diplomat said.“Ten years is short when you talk about nuclear issues,” one diplomat said.

Another diplomat summed it up: “We spent more than 10 years talking, slowly setting an architecture of sanctions, of pressure, defining principles of negotiations. Once we dismantle this, it won’t come back up. So we better get the best possible deal.”

French diplomats insist a political agreement, if reached by March 31, will only be a first step. Tough negotiations will continue. Bruno Tertrais, an expert in nuclear issues who is influential in the French diplomatic community, even suggested recently a series of temporary deals could be a better alternative to a bad definitive deal.

None of this goes against longstanding French policy, though. France has consistently been the toughest member of the European Union when it comes to Iran, going back to the administration of President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007. Paris has consistently advocated for firmer sanctions and E.U. sanctions, beyond the scope of United Nations resolutions. In 2012, France was notably responsible for convincing Europeans to ban the import on oil products, despite the objections of many countries.

Nuclear deterrence has been central to France’s foreign policy ever since Charles de Gaulle’s presidency, a pillar that has been largely bipartisan. And just as nuclear doctrine has stayed remarkably stable through the years, so have the officials in charge of conducting French nuclear strategy and proliferation policy, regardless of who is in the Élysée.

In fact, some of the most preeminent positions in the French diplomatic and defense establishments are occupied by career civil servants trained as nuclear strategists who have worked on Iran for over a decade. This close-knit group of diplomats includes, among others, Araud, as well as Jacques Audibert, Hollande’s diplomatic advisor, who both previously served as France’s chief nuclear negotiator with Iran.

These diplomats generally share the conviction Tehran’s enrichment program is aimed at obtaining a nuclear weapon and that a bad deal that allows the Iranians to keep enriching uranium at dangerous levels will lead to a disastrous game of regional proliferation. Araud, Audibert, and their colleagues know the situation well: They have been engaged in 12 years of talks on these issues and at this point they feel they have little reason to trust the Iranians, or believe regional arrangements with Iran would decrease its desire to acquire nuclear capabilities. But policymakers in Paris might not trust the Americans much, either — and not just when it comes to the nuclear negotiations. French officials no longer hide their dismay at many of Washington’s policies in the Middle East.

Good piece, but they forgot the Chirac Doctrine.

Microaggressions in a macro world

Friday, March 27th, 2015

To the pathetic millennials and those who cheer them on, if you ever think about microaggressions, you’re the problem. You have no sense of humor. You might qualify as a future college professor, however, which shows how low we’ve fallen.

All this while WWIII is beginning.

IAEA report

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Excepted from a WaPo story:

Iran isn’t providing needed access or information, nuclear watchdog says…Yukiya Amano, director general of the IAEA, said in an interview that Iran has replied to just one of a dozen queries about “possible military dimensions” of past nuclear activities. Amano said that Iran has provided only “very limited” information about two other issues, while the rest have not been addressed at all.

Amano said that the six global powers negotiating with Iran should insist that the country implement the additional protocol that would allow IAEA inspectors to go anywhere at any time to examine sites suspected of harboring secret nuclear weapons development. That additional protocol, Amano said, will be “very much needed. It will give us more powerful tools to look at activities not declared to us.” Iran signed the protocol in December 2003 and initially implemented it, Amano said, but the country ended its compliance in 2006.

Amano said that near the top of his list of unanswered questions about possible military dimensions of Iranian nuclear activities was the Parchin military complex. He said that the IAEA has information that Iran conducted experiments in a high-explosive chamber there…the agency said in its report that it “is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

Even the UN is tougher than the US. What times we live in! Eli Lake has an interesting report too.

Everything new is old again

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Totten:

the Houthis have virtually no chance of ruling the entire country. Their “territory,” so to speak, is restricted to the northwestern region surrounding the capital. Previous governments had a rough go of it too. South Yemen was a communist state—the so-called People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen—until the Soviet Union finally ruptured, and four years after unification with North Yemen, the armed forces of each former half declared war on each other.

Far more likely than a comprehensive Houthi takeover is a new and more dangerous phase of Yemen’s endless self-cannibalization—more dangerous because this otherwise parochial and irrelevant conflict has been internationalized, with ISIS, the Saudis, and Iran squaring off against each other in yet another regional proxy war.

The Houthi movement is named after Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, an insurrection leader killed by the former government in 2004. They are Shias, but unlike the “Twelver” Shia Muslims of Iran—who revere eleven imams and await the birth of the occluded twelfth—most of Yemen’s Shias are “Fivers.” Iran doesn’t mind. From its point of view, better the odd “Fiver” Shias than Sunnis, but all that really matters is that the Houthis are willing to say yes to Tehran, its weapon shipments, and its top-notch military advisors and trainers.

The next-door Saudis, of course, are backing what’s left of Hadi’s former government down in Aden. They’ve been Yemen’s primary patron since the 1930s and won’t sit back and idly watch as Iran’s Islamic Revolution is exported to their back yard any more than the United States would have allowed the Moscow to conquer Canada during the Cold War.

Yemen’s conflict is tribal, sectarian, and political at the same time, and it’s becoming increasingly internationalized even as the US is leaving. It’s also a little bizarre. Last month, President Hadi declared Aden the new capital, though no one in the world, not even his allies, recognize it as such. A few days ago a Houthi-commanded military jet flew over the city from Sanaa and fired missiles at his residence…

Osama bin Laden’s family is of Yemeni origin, as was Anwar Al-Awlaki, one of Al Qaeda’s chief propagandists before the Pentagon vaporized him with a Hellfire missile in 2011. The deadliest bomb-maker in the world plies his trade with Yemen’s branch of Al Qaeda and has planned at least three attacks against commercial airliners. And now that Iran is involved in the Saudi family’s sphere of influence and the Sunni majority is backsliding, ISIS and Al Qaeda are gaining even more traction.

Talk about the need for a two state solution. The factions above have been going at it since a little after 632. No end in sight however.

Some French policies, now and then

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

Now, via WSJ:

“Making the end of March an absolute deadline is counterproductive and dangerous,” France’s ambassador to the U.S., Gérard Araud, said via Twitter after the latest round of negotiations in Switzerland concluded Friday. “No agreement without concrete decisions on issues beyond the enrichment capability question,” he said a day earlier, specifically mentioning the need for extensive monitoring and clarity on Iran’s past research work. Western officials believe they included the pursuit of nuclear-weapon capabilities. In a sign of France’s determination, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called his negotiating team in Lausanne on Thursday to insist no deal could be forged that allowed for the rapid easing of U.N. Security Council measures, according to European officials. France worries the quick repeal of the U.N. penalties could lead to a broader collapse of the West’s financial leverage over Tehran

Sounds like they’re hanging tough, but that’s nothing compared to their policy a decade ago.

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin…

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

But not necessarily of little minds. A dangerous consistency is perhaps the hobgoblin of certain ideologues. Cases in point: (a) Paul Mirengoff discusses this fellow Malley; and (b) what’s going on in Egypt. Never in recent memory has the world been so inverted, when common sense is denounced as extremism, and a certain kind of extremism has become conventional wisdom among the chattering classes. Help!

Bonus fun if you can find it: Tim Blair goes all un-PC.

15 years that went by pretty fast

Saturday, March 7th, 2015

NYT:

entire industries have emerged and seized the dominant positions in the Nasdaq index even as their predecessors faltered. Apple, now the world’s largest company by market capitalization, barely registered in 2000, and the first iPhone was not announced until 2007. Over a billion smartphones were shipped in 2014.

Google, which now ranks third and dominates the market for Internet search advertising, went public in 2004 at $85 a share, giving the company a market value then of $23 billion. Today, its market capitalization is over $360 billion, and its shares were trading this week above $570.

Facebook, now No. 5 in Nasdaq’s ranking, dominates social networking, another industry that did not exist in 2000. It went public less than three years ago, and is already valued at over $180 billion.

Had the Nasdaq index itself not been transformed by innovation and competition, it would be nowhere near its previous peak. The stocks of many of the surviving companies, like Microsoft and Intel, have not come close to the levels they reached before 2000. That means investors who bought and held the stocks of individual companies in 2000, as opposed to broad mutual funds tied to the Nasdaq or index funds like the QQQs, are still underwater

Some things are going really well and some are going really badly. Hard to know where we’ll be in another 15 years.

They sow not, neither do they reap

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Wretchard: “It’s almost as if there were two parallel universes. The real one in which the rest of the world lives and the fantasy land bounded by the Beltway and the media capitals.” Don’t forget the universities too. The closer you get to these tenured or semi-tenured worlds the further from reality you get. After all, you’re living off the productivity of others, in a world where income and performance often bear no relation to each other. WRM: the government needs “to make foreign policy for the country they’ve got, rather than making foreign policy for a hypothetical country that exists only in their hopes.” They sow not, neither do they reap; but ah, how they dream.

Quote of the day

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

A smart fellow who knows a little history: “the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.” Gosh, that fellow is so smart we were shocked to learn that he hadn’t published his first autobiography by the age of 35.

Sigh

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

RIP, again and again and again and all the same story.