Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
June 16, 2008 - June 9, 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008

Grave Questions:

Does Tiger have a playoff color?

It's the only question left about the greatest athlete of our age.

THE TIGER GALLERY. As a resident of the Philadelphia area, I'm pretty much stuck with the lame-brain sports analysis of Howard Eskin and SportsTalk Radio at WIP. I can't tell you how many times I've been masochistic enough to listen to dumb-jock deejays opining about how race car drivers and golfers aren't really athletes. They devote hours and hours of their call-in shows to it, and their experts are usually ex-NFL players who are certain that bloated offensive linemen are athletes while wiry Grand Prix drivers aren't.

I'm pretty much sick of it. I won't name names. Uh, come to think of it, I will. Ex-Eagle Hugh Douglas is willing to stipulate that Tiger Woods is an an athlete, but no other professional golfer is, unless Hugh knows for a fact that he works out. You see, what they do is not athletic. They're not in shape the way the NFL and NBA define it. According to Hugh and the other armchair jocks of WIP radio, golfers are merely privileged gameplayers. Hugh's sidekicks are eager to chime in with the opinion that race car drivers may have a certain knack but aren't athletes, either.

Which beerbellied oaf is tougher? Butkus or Foyt?

Nicklaus had a gut. But so did Munson.

So did a 100 mph flamethrower named Goose Gossage.

I'm calling foul on all of them. Athletes are people who make a living with their bodies, what their bodies can do, and what their bodies can withstand. Their 'shape' is what it has to be for them to excel at what they do. It may not conform to standard ideals of beauty or athleticism. Sumo wrestlers don't look like male models. Neither do most shot-putters, marksmen, or dressage champions. Race-car drivers and golfers are athletes. Perhaps the best of them all. Because they can only win by using their minds as well as they use their bodies.

Race car drivers bet that their reflexes and physical endurance are sufficient to keep them alive and competitive in situations where you or I or talk radio hosts would fail from fatigue or loss of focus or lack of skill. The penalty for failure is death, much more so than in any other sport. No 'athletic' sport has a list of players "killed in action" with talents of the caliber of Wolfgang von Trips, Graham Hill, Mark Donohue, or Dale Earnhardt.

Golfers play the greatest and oldest sport of all -- its players are always alone, challenged to keep striking the smallest target in any sport the longest distance with the greatest accuracy over the longest period of time -- one against hundreds for days rather than hours.

Occasionally we get a glimpse of the fact that it is an athletic event, in the starkest terms. Like today, with Tiger Woods. Golf is a game? Nothing more? Chess players don't wince or double-up when they make a move on the board. They don't have to fight to the finish against fifty opponents and a wall of pain.

Tiger Woods proved the idiots of SportsTalk wrong this week. Playing golf and winning at it does does involve physical commitment and all kinds of suffering. Knees, shoulders, backs, necks, hands -- the same list you'll find in every other sport.

And, Hugh, Tiger wasn't the first to battle agony for a victory in golf. Before him were other greats. Ken Venturi. Ben Hogan. Bobby Jones. Look them up. They were the most poignant of many.

I'm tired of your whole prejudiced act.

Go, Tiger. Win or lose, we're with you.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Global Warming is a scam.
Pass it on. To Everybody.

PSAYINGS.5Q.46. The founder of The Weather Channel has delivered the most stinging condemnation of the Global Warming frenzy ever reported in the media. Here is a link to the text of a speech by John Coleman to the San Diego Chamber of Commerce. I'm providing a few teaser excerpts below, but that's no substitute for reading the whole thing. I urge every reader of this site to email the link to 10 other people and urge them to do the same thing. Because the impossible has happened. Our present economy and our future as a civilization are being seriously sabotaged by a con job. This state of affairs can't be permitted to stand.

You may want to give credit where credit is due to Al Gore and his global warming campaign the next time you fill your car with gasoline, because there is a direct connection between Global Warming and four dollar a gallon gas. It is shocking, but true, to learn that the entire Global Warming frenzy is based on the environmentalists' attack on fossil fuels, particularly gasoline. All this big time science, international meetings, thick research papers, dire threats for the future; all of it, comes down to their claim that the carbon dioxide in the exhaust from your car and in the smoke stacks from our power plants is destroying the climate of planet Earth. What an amazing fraud; what a scam....

Now allow me to talk a little about the science behind the global warming frenzy. I have dug through thousands of pages of research papers, including the voluminous documents published by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I have worked my way through complicated math and complex theories. Here’s the bottom line: the entire global warming scientific case is based on the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from the use of fossil fuels. They don’t have any other issue. Carbon Dioxide, that’s it.

Hello Al Gore; Hello UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Your science is flawed; your hypothesis is wrong; your data is manipulated. And, may I add, your scare tactics are deplorable. The Earth does not have a fever. Carbon dioxide does not cause significant global warming....

All the computer models, all of the other findings, all of the other angles of study, all come back to and are based on CO2 as a significant greenhouse gas. It is not.

Here is the deal about CO2, carbon dioxide. It is a natural component of our atmosphere. It has been there since time began. It is absorbed and emitted by the oceans. It is used by every living plant to trigger photosynthesis. Nothing would be green without it. And we humans; we create it. Every time we breathe out, we emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It is not a pollutant. It is not smog. It is a naturally occurring invisible gas.

Let me illustrate. I estimate that this square in front of my face contains 100,000 molecules of atmosphere. Of those 100,000 only 38 are CO2; 38 out of a hundred thousand. That makes it a trace component. Let me ask a key question: how can this tiny trace upset the entire balance of the climate of Earth? It can’t. That’s all there is to it; it can’t....

I suspect you haven’t heard it because the mass media did not report it, but I am not alone on the no man-made warming side of this issue. On May 20th, a list of the names of over thirty-one thousand scientists who refute global warming was released. Thirty-one thousand of which 9,000 are Ph.ds. Think about that. Thirty-one thousand. That dwarfs the supposed 2,500 scientists on the UN panel. In the past year, five hundred scientists have issued public statements challenging global warming. A few more join the chorus every week.... No I am not alone and the debate is not over...

The battle against fossil fuels has controlled policy in this country for decades. It was the environmentalists' prime force in blocking any drilling for oil in this country and blocking the building of any new refineries, as well. So now the shortage they created has sent gasoline prices soaring. And, it has led to the folly of ethanol, which is also partly behind the fuel price increases; that and our restricted oil policy. The ethanol folly is also creating a food crisis throughout the world – it is behind the food price rises for all the grains, for cereals, bread, everything that relies on corn or soy or wheat, including animals that are fed corn, most processed foods that use corn oil or soybean oil or corn syrup. Food shortages or high costs have led to food riots in some third world countries and made the cost of eating out or at home budget busting for many.

So now the global warming myth actually has led to the chaos we are now enduring with energy and food prices. We pay for it every time we fill our gas tanks. Not only is it running up gasoline prices, it has changed government policy impacting our taxes, our utility bills and the entire focus of government funding. And, now the Congress is considering a cap and trade carbon credits policy. We the citizens will pay for that, too. It all ends up in our taxes and the price of goods and services.

So the Global warming frenzy is, indeed, threatening our civilization. Not because global warming is real; it is not. But because of the all the horrible side effects of the global warming scam...

Now get busy with those emails.

Friday, June 13, 2008

More on Atheism

You sci-tech-atheist nerds really think you're smarter than William Blake?

THERE IS NO GOD. The argument for why atheism is an absurd philosophical position is simple in its basics. Most of the complications that arise in the debates between atheists and non-atheists are due to assumptions made by atheists. How many of them begin making their case, for example, by attacking the Bible and the supernatural beliefs of Christianity? The decisions people make to accept individual religions are, indeed, matters of faith and largely irrelevant to the principal question. But religious faith is not the sole alternative to atheism. There are at least two more alternatives that allow the subject to be framed more precisely.

The agnostic position is an acknowledgment of not knowing. There might be a supreme power of some kind, and there might not be. The agnostic accepts that he doesn't have enough evidence to be certain one way or the other.

The second alternative is what I will call the deist position, which I know has various connotations of its own, so I will define my use of it as precisely as I can: The deist is one who subscribes to no particular religion or specific incarnation of divinity, but he rejects the premise that something can come from nothing and that a universe governed by myriad natural laws could exist at all without some precipitating higher intelligence, even if that intelligence is intrinsic to every particle (or string) of the universe.

And to restate the obvious: The true atheist is certain that there is no supreme intelligence present in or behind the creation of the universe. All that is simply is.

To be fair, there are also what I call pragmatic atheists. Their position is more lawyerly than philosophical (and there are more of them than admit to it). They believe that even entertaining the question philosophically is an irrelevant distraction, because the answer can't possibly matter in the here and now. Therefore, atheism is for them simply a working assumption that enables them, they think, to keep a clearer, more objective mind in matters of real life than those afflicted with speculative fancies about life, the universe, and everything. Importantly, these are not true atheists. They are merely the incurably incurious left-brained know-it-alls who have always been impatient with matters of deep philosophy. It's conceivable that their approach is an efficient one, but it is entirely disconnected from the subject of truth and meaning, about which they are obsessively scornful and dismissive without ever being responsive. Interestingly, they also tend to be the population of self-styled atheists who are the quickest to attack when atheism is questioned as a position. Because they don't ever ponder the underlying philosophical issues, they are the most outraged when someone points out just how thoughtless and mundane their mental processes are.

Doesn't this simplify the legitimate scope of disagreement? Now, the atheists love to take the position that any perspective but their own is the one that bears the burden of proof. Prove to me that there is a God. If you can't, I win.

What should be obvious to fair-minded rationalists is that the most defensible, if least risky, position is that of the agnostics. I don't know. The question is a lot bigger than I am. This is the only person in the debate who has a right to demand proof without accepting a reciprocal demand for same. When an atheist demands proof that there is a God, he does so secure in the knowledge that the agnostics are right about the difficulty of doing so. But he almost universally rejects the notion that he has an equal obligation to prove there is no god. Because contrary to popular belief, it is possible, under certain conditions, to prove a negative. The problem is that atheists are not operating under those conditions. The field of potential sources of refutation is not the finite box of intellectual experiments; it comprises everthing that ever was, is, and will be. So when they attempt the feat of proving their position, they almost invariably engage in the same kind of argument by anecdote they decry in the foolish sectarian religionists who sally out to do battle with them. Their arguments are generally preoccupied with a false premise -- that to prove individual instances of so-called miracles natural instead of supernatural, they have stripped the universe of divinity. What they disregard is that the natural universe and its workings are, ipso facto, the best possible rebuttal of their position, not an endorsement.

Even if one could prove to a certainty that there is not, and has never been, an interventionist divinity at work in human affairs, it would not prove the absence of divinity from the workings of any part of the universe, including human affairs. Scientific deists may take comfort in positing a supreme intelligence capable of devising laws of physics and a field of mathematics that set the universe in motion like some clinical experiment never to be interfered with until it winds down of its own accord, but they have no solid philosophical basis for doing so. They have simply chosen, like the ancient Israelites, to cast god in their own image, as a remote and superior observer behind the screen. There is nothing -- no principle of science whatever -- to rule out the possibility that an intelligence capable of generating the universe, from string or quark to multi-galactic infinity, would not also be capable of observing or participating in everything, in perpetuity, without ever violating the laws of his own creation and yet accomplishing his will in everything. It's not that the scientific archetype of divinity is impossible; it's just that it's typically anthropomorphic and lacking in any kind of evidence.

Now if we posit the agnostic sitting on the judicial bench between the two sides who might reasonably be asked to produce proof of their positions, we can begin to assess the scale and quality of the arguments that might be made on each side. It is here that the relative frailty of the atheist position versus the deist position begins to be obvious.

1. First Causes. The atheist is constantly bedeviled by the question of "before"? If he subscribes to the Big Bang Theory, that the universe begins with a tiny speck and explodes into the reality which has obtained ever since and whose laws and effects we study, he has not answered the question of the beginning. What put the speck there? A black hole from yet another universe? Perhaps. But that only puts the question of origins at one more remove. It does not resolve it. If he accepts the laws of physics he uses to understand the function of the universe, he is also accepting that energy is neither created nor destroyed but merely changes form. Here's the ugly paradox. The atheist has a greater responsibility to account for the origin of the energy that makes and drives the universe than the deists do. The deists accept at some level that the energy which has continually changed form since the beginning of our universe arose, much like the probabilistic multi-states quantum mechanics describes for electrons, from a kind of unreal potentiality we might describe as the energy of intention. The history of quantum mechanics is rife with the unsolved ramifications of the apparent role of consciousness in the behavior of electrons. It is the atheists who have to explain all this away in other terms. They have to accept a universe that has no beginning -- an eternal law-driven universe with no originating or architectural intelligence of any kind (uh, a philosophical paradox), or they have to posit a universe which violates a fundamental law of physics, i.e., that a universe-sized field of energy can spontaneously arise from nothing at all (an, uh, scientific paradox). In comparison, the deist position is common-sensical, even a demonstration of Occam's Razor. Before there was matter, there was an intelligence which imagined matter and the laws governing it; then there was intention; and then there was a manifestation in reality. Which is not a paradox. It's a process seen many many times in our own experience. Ontogeny recapitulates philogeny. Except that the atheists have to reject that easily verifiable truism as well.

2. Mathematics. This is its own universe. It overlaps our physical universe very substantially but is not identical with it. One could, I suppose, belittle the aspects that don't overlap (i.e., unreal numbers, which have no counterpart in the reality we can apprehend through the senses), but since they have proven vital to innumerable technological breakthroughs which demonstrate their utility and consistency with the rest of the universe of mathematics, Occam's Razor would again suggest that mathematics is its own universe, a conceptual one that straddles the worlds of physicality and intellect, suggesting that the universe itself is at least part intellect. For the atheists this is another fatal paradox. They must postulate the existence of algorithm and principle without originating intelligence. When I see a house, I am also seeing evidence of an architect. And here, the existence of math prodigies is also valid evidence. Pascal's tutor gave his young student the first postulate of Euclid. That same day, Pascal recreated the rest of Euclidian geometry. There is an order and consistency in math which betrays the deep order of the universe, and because it is not purely physical, it entirely refutes the phantasm of a brain-dead, designerless universe.

3. Human Intelligence. We are all stuff of the universe, created from the same particles and atoms and laws as every other part of the universe, and thus we are part of an entity which is capable of asking questions about itself. What are we? Where did we come from? Where are we going? What does it all mean? The atheist position -- that we are a pointless emergent property of a soulless, mechanical universe -- is still another hopeless paradox that defies the observations of science and even the theory of evolution upon which so many atheists depend for their foundation, like Atlas standing on the free-floating tortoise of Greek mythology. How much of their scientific certainty rests on their belief in the prescriptive power of DNA, that what we are is what the process has made us? How diligently have they sought to demonstrate that what we are is an adaptation of what we have been before, that hands come from fins and abstract thinking from synergies of reptilian, avian, and mammalian brains? But where lies the precedent for any of this in the geology of stars and planets? The brute fact is that higher intelligence, as we conceive of it in ourselves, does exist. On what basis do we rule it out as one of the principal properties of the universe in which we live? Whence the observed phenomenon that matter inevitably complicates and complexifies itself until it is capable of asking philosophical questions? So that a handful of arrogant Philistines can declare themselves superior to the universe itself, which as we must remember in the atheist model, is undesigned, unintelligent, directionless, purposeless, and amoral.

Here's what the true atheist is declaring to the rest of us. He is superior to the entire universe, explored and unexplored. Because there is no intelligence involved in its cause, design, development, and current incarnation. Which makes him, who has not yet penetrated that universe's most arcane secrets of physics and biology, capable of declaring that universe a meaningless but wholly unexplained accident of an existence he does not yet possess the vocabulary to define in terms of a beginning, an end, a scale, or an outcome.

QED. Atheism as a philosophical position is a rank absurdity. An act of extraordinarily conceited and conveniently narcissistic faith. Agnostics are philosophical cowards who probably haven't looked at the facts much more than "pragmatic atheists." Deists are like non-practicing Vegas card-counters; they know the math but don't have the guts to take a risk. And the faithful are the army of gamblers at every game in the casino. They know the odds are hopelessly against them, but they have learned that the reward is in the playing, not in the cold-blooded automatons who deal the cards and handle security.

I haven't looked at comments from the last post since the first one or two. I don't think I will (although I might). Fact is, I'm still laughing at atheists assaulting Rachel and then taking my bait. You're all tools.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Old News You Might Not Know

Today's top stories are tomorrow's trash.

N IS FOR NOW. The MSM isn't much for remembering its own recent past, but here and there one can find contrarians who look backward at times for a better view of today. Here are some examples of relevant journalistic archeology, all of them worth reading in full despite their length. I'm giving you teasers only. What you do with them would be up to you.

Neal Boortz occasionally turns up a nugget of gold among the dross. This 1993 article from the New York Times is one of those. But those of us who continue to maintain that climate is more complex than computer models indicate are the ones supposed to be in denial.

To the astonishment of climate specialists, an analysis of ice extracted from the full depth of the Greenland ice sheet has shown that except for the 8,000 to 10,000 years since the last glacial epoch, the climate over the past 250,000 years has changed frequently and abruptly.

The findings suggest that the period of stable climate in which human civilization has flourished might be unusual, and that the current climate may get either warmer or colder much more quickly than had been believed -- in spans of decades or even less...

The scientists said their data showed that significantly warmer periods and significantly colder periods had occurred during the last interval between glacial epochs, about 115,000 to 135,000 years ago. They said they could not tell whether that meant similar changes were in store. Their findings were reported today in two papers in the journal Nature.

Previous studies had shown that there were abrupt changes in climate during glacial epochs, but the new results show that the same was true in the periods when glaciers had retreated. In one "catastrophic event" during the last interglacial period, the average temperature plunged 25 degrees Fahrenheit to ice-age levels for about 70 years, the scientists reported.

The Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge is back in the news, with John McCain reiterating his absurd comparison of that off-the-edge-of-the-world locale with the Grand Canyon. Helpfully, one of the editors at the National Review decided to dig up Jonah Goldberg's account of his visit there in 2001. The whole piece is long but engagingly written and chock full of details about all the key variables, from the oil fields and their crews to the lives of the caribou herds the armchair environmentalists think they are saving with their oil-drilling ban.

During my tour, the "company man" — that's really what they call them — walks us around the well and through the huge machinery that processes the oil and washes the gravel thrown off by the drilling. I expected the oil workers to feel more than a little put out by all of the environmental hoops they are forced to jump through. But I can't find anyone to say so. In fact, everyone brags about how they run a "zero discharge" facility. "What comes on the slope, comes off the slope," is a mantra. Alongside the runway are huge piles of garbage slated to be flown back to civilization.

Regardless, the media coverage of North Slope oil extraction is a constant source of exasperation to the engineers and roughnecks. For example, the biggest topic of conversation during my stay here is a recent issue of Field & Stream that asserted that bored Prudhoe workers were shooting endangered animals for fun in their off hours. It is the source of constant eye-rolling, jokes, and sighs among the allegedly bored and dangerous workers.

"I knew a guy who got fired for throwing a rock at a fox," the former ranger tells me, with great exasperation. He wasn't throwing rocks for sport, mind you; apparently almost all of the Arctic foxes are rabid. If you get bitten by a rabid fox with inactive rabies, you get those infamous shots. If you get bitten by a fox with active rabies, the company pays for your funeral. "Every single fox head I've sent to Anchorage for testing has come up positive," he explains.

Has the riddle of Barack Obama's 20 year association with Reverend Wright and the Trinity United Church been resolved to everybody's satisfaction? Well, maybe you missed this essay by the National Review's Stanley Kurtz, which dared to dig through the archives of Chicago journalism for a profile of Obama written in 1995. There's more evidence of what's going on in Obama's mind here than in the sum total of the reportage you've received from the MSM during the campaign.

Although it’s been discussed before (because it confirms that Obama attended Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March), a 1995 background piece on Obama from the Chicago Reader has received far too little attention. Careful consideration of this important profile makes it clear that Obama’s long-standing ties to Chicago’s most rabidly radical preachers call into question far more than Obama’s judgment and character (although they certainly do that, as well). Obama’s two-decades at Trinity open a critically important window onto his radical-left political leanings. No mere change of church membership can erase that truth.

By providing us with an in-depth picture of Obama’s political worldview on the eve of his elective career, Hank De Zutter’s, “What Makes Obama Run?” lives up to its title. The first thing to note here is that Obama presents his political hopes for the black community as a third way between two inadequate alternatives. First, Obama rejects, “the unrealistic politics of integrationist assimilation — which helps a few upwardly mobile blacks to ‘move up, get rich, and move out. . . . ’ ” This statement might surprise many Obama supporters, who seem to think of him as the epitome of integrationism. Yet Obama’s repudiation of integrationist upward mobility is fully consistent with his career as a community organizer, his general sympathy for leftist critics of the American “system,” and of course his membership at Trinity. Obama, we are told, “quickly learned that integration was a one-way street, with blacks expected to assimilate into a white world that never gave ground.” Compare these statements by Obama with some of the remarks in Jeremiah Wright’s Trumpet, and the resemblance is clear.

Having disposed of assimilation, Obama goes on to criticize “the politics of black rage and black nationalism” — although less on substance than on tactics. Obama upbraids the politics of black power for lacking a practical strategy. Instead of diffusing black rage by diverting it to the traditional American path of assimilation and middle-class achievement, Obama wants to capture the intensity of black anger and use it to power an effective political organization. Obama says, “he’s tired of seeing the moral fervor of black folks whipped up — at the speaker’s rostrum and from the pulpit — and then allowed to dissipate because there’s no agenda, no concrete program for change.” The problem is not fiery rhetoric from the pulpit, but merely the wasted anger it so usefully stirs.

Finally, and just for fun, Mark Steyn is so good at what he does that he regularly reposts old op-ed pieces of his, as requested by readers of his blog. This one dates from the end of the Clinton Administration, when he summarized that epoch for us in a useful A to Z format.

When Kathleen Willey accused the President of assault, Monica was indignant: how could the President be unfaithful to her? Fortunately, Mr Clinton was able to reassure her that Mrs Willey’s story was completely unbelievable because he’d never grope a woman with such small breasts. If you study the women who disrobed for Playboy and Penthouse, this appears to be one of the less risible Clinton defense arguments...

He was the first President with tax-deductible underwear. Throughout the 1980s, he gave away his old underpants and claimed the gift as a deductible item on his tax return: in 1986, he claimed $2 per pair for three pairs of used briefs; in 1988, $15 for a pair of long johns.

Okay. That's a lot of reading I've given you. But I guarantee you it will be more illuminating than anything you find today at the Drudge Report or RealClearPolitics. Because sometimes old news is, if not good news, at least more informative than sensational.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The great thing about atheists is....

I'll explain later, I promise...

THERE IS NO GOD? I normally use Rachel Lucas's site to cheer myself up when I'm having a bad day. She seems immune from most of the downers that afflict us ordinary folks, and she makes it possible to believe that a defiant quip really does suffice to banish the blues. So imagine my surprise upon discovering that she had made herself a target for abuse in a moment of personal vulnerability, when she was soliciting good wishes for an ailing loved one. (I know that a lot of you will immediately go to her site to tender best wishes for her boyfriend's father, so there's no need to suggest it....) But what really knocked me for a loop was the news that the abuse was coming from atheists. Because she quoted, in the course of discussing the medical crisis, the old chestnut that "there are no atheists in foxholes."

Never mind the fact that Rachel is herself an atheist, or at least an agnostic, despite her fascinating response to the Pieta. Who would have suspected that the "foxhole hypothesis" could have inspired such fury and irrational hostility?

Isn't the whole point of being an atheist to be free of imprisonment by mere myths and fairy tales? To move through life unaffected by the emotional maelstroms that so complicate life for believers in various spiritual orthodoxies? I mean, shouldn't the prospect of the death of someone's loved one inspire only sympathy, the pure condolence of those who know that life ends when the last breath leaves the exhausted body?

But no. Atheism has apparently become its own religion. Atheist websites are irate. Atheists who have been in foxholes -- or claim to have been -- found it necessary to register their outrage about her cavalier generalization, as if she had thought it up herself. This is a sacrilege that cannot be brooked. And when Rachel, in her natural wisdom, deleted such comments, she exacerbated their ire. Now she's become a symbol of the bigoted anti-atheist, which singles her out for even more abuse.

I don't know whether to describe the Articles of (non)Faith of the Atheist Church or to mock them in simpler terms. Well, that's not true. I do know. Atheists need to be mocked from here to the next blue moon. It hardly matters whether their Pope wears a mitre or a baseball cap, and whether their Sunday services involve masturbation or mirrors. It's their belief system which is nonsensical and eminently worthy of ridicule.

The agnostic is worthy of respect. He doesn't claim to know. He just doesn't believe that there's any story of divinity that accords with the facts. The atheist, on the other hand, is a narcissistic popinjay. He stands at the end point of a creation no one can claim to understand fully, and he declares that there is no higher intelligence than his own in the fabric of a universe many hundreds of trillions of times larger than himself. But he knows there is no meaning in any of it. What an ass.

Show me a true atheist and I'll show you an idiot, a poseur, a vain seeker of attention. Which is why I really wasn't surprised that Rachel's offhand comment provoked an assault. What's important about being an atheist in not the attainment of an enlightened objective philosophy free of the savage prejudices associated with organized religion. It's about being recognized as a superior intellect.

Imagine being disappointed and humiliated by the post-death discovery of an afterlife. That would have to be the biggest "Oh shit" moment anyone could conceive of. It would instantaneously reduce your surviving soul to the size of a peanut.

Unless that's the size it was already.

P.S. Uh, the Cheetos? Well, I -- unlike all of you, I'm sure -- have these streaks I get on. A couple months ago, it was Cheetos. Right now, it seems to be Rachel's website. But don't worry that there's anything sinister about it. I'm easily old enough to be her father. I think that's part of the fascination. If my daughter were just a bit older and had a blog, I think it would be a lot like Rachel's. Fun, smarter than it looks on first blush, and charming. So if there are any atheists out there who want to give her a hard time, come here instead. I'll give you all you can handle. (Before you join battle, you might want to take a look at this.)

UPDATE. Rachel has this to say: "So. In all seriousness, it’s been an interesting discussion and more than a little illuminating. Nicki and Instapunk have joined in, and the angry atheists are already on Nicki’s site, comparing me to a racist for using the foxhole quote." Same old, same old. C'mon. COME ON. But they don't. Atheists and lefties are cowards to the core. The last thing they'll ever do is enter the InstaPunk brush-chipper, where our comment policy is never to kill the comment, only the commenter.

Atheists! Come! Fight! We can't wait to kill you.

Yeah, I know. You're just a bunch of fucking retards. I'Il let Rachel know. And her friend Nicki.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The New Age

Get ready, kids. The New Age is upon us. Just substitute "Earth" for "God" in
this song, and you'll know what you have to look forward to in the Obama years.

TRIAL. I'm going to suggest a different kind of chronology by which we can understand the times we live in. It's one that should make more sense to young people than to traditionally educated historians. It also monkeys with the concept of distinct generations, which has been overused by those who presume to interpret cultural and societal trends for us. Baby Boomers know, for example, that their break with their parents was much more extreme than the rifts they've experienced between themselves and their own kids. When we speak of the Victorian Age, we are talking about a 60-year period, from 1840 to 1900, three full generations unified by a more or less common set of values and customs. That age might have been followed by what is now known as the Edwardian era, a slightly more relaxed and rococo phase of imperial Brit decadence -- except for the violently traumatic intervention of World War I, which reset the clock.

That's why the next milestone is the Jazz Age, whose official start date is the publication of Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise, the first work of real literature which documented the power of music and social rebellion to drive a sea change in cultural mores. Note that it's common to represent this phenomenon in technological terms -- as the ascendancy of popular music made possible by the emerging availability of records, radio broadcasts, and moving pictures. But this is the story as it is rendered by secularists. One can as easily make the case that it was jazz music which fueled the rapid advance of technologies capable of disseminating it to a generation starved for an avalanche of change. Because jazz was a revolt against formality, family tradition, and programmatic lives. It represented a reassertion of individual choice and spontaneous creativity at a time when traditional obligations had resulted in the worst carnage ever recorded in human history. Monarchies, aristocracies, elite credentials of family and class, immersion in the beliefs of the past were all suspect. The Jazz Age, for example, was the real beginning of the civil rights movement in America, as privileged white people discovered that wholly uneducated (in their terms) black people were capable of generating a brand new fom of music that was as intellectual as it was passionate.

The Jazz Age lasted for 40-plus years. All the way though the Great Depression, World War II, and the burst of prosperity in America that led to the election and presidency of John F. Kennedy. Long before the Rosa Parks moment and the first marches in the south, jazz music was a driving force of integration. It had served as an elemental diversion from the privations of the Great Depression, the insouciant soundtrack of the Second World War, the effervescent accompaniment of fifties confidence, and the clarion affirmation of all things American in the early sixties. It accorded entirely with who we were -- individual, adaptive, indefatigable, and in tune with the deep rhythms of personal freedom and expression. It was also -- in its respect for the individual voice of a saxophone, trumpet, xylophone, drum set, or human being (Sinatra, Nat Cole) -- a paradoxical demonstration of the American melting pot: individual spirits of widely divergent backgrounds could somehow bridge all the differences between origins, traditions, and times to produce a kickass togetherness of product.

The Jazz Age died with JFK and Vietnam. It had already accomplished a miracle -- delaying the nihilism implicit in the total savagery of World War I for 40 years. But it had subsisted on a false belief, that there was some kind of intellectualized theory of art that could legitimize the cost of so much human failure. Jazz had been a new incarnation of faith, a faith in the rhythms of life and the productivity of pushing essentially intellectually ideas of variation and expression into a creative realm that would offer a new kind of salvation for people who had grown weary of fairy tales.

If you're starting to get the idea that black people have been a kind of emotional barometer of the health of our culture, you are correct. The Victorian Age represented the compleat amputation of emotion from intellect. The Jazz Age was the first attempt to bridge the rift. It failed finally in the crashing careers of Coltrane, Davis, and Byrd. The Rock and Roll Age was a high stakes gamble to substitute emotion for intellect. Emotion and carnal instincts.

The Rock and Roll Age lasted from the mid-sixties to a few years ago. It provided the soundtrack to assassinations, the doomed war in Vietnam, and most of the lifetimes of the most spoiled, self-absorbed generation in several hundred years of history, the Baby Boom generation. But the Rock and Roll Age was even more flawed in its bases than the Jazz Age. Its prime assertion was that we were not questing intellectual creatures, but animals. Universal peace and contentment were to be had if we could at last recognize that our natures were governed by the need for sex, endorphins, and an absence of rules.

Both jazz and rock and roll arose from the same sources. Jazz was an intellectual thrust, very close to Bach and Mozart in its aspiration to make of music a sound-based expression of the universe. The music of the spheres, if you will. Rock and roll was the opposite. It was the music of the evolutionary biologists. We are animals. We can't help what we do. We feel, we lust, we seek sensation, and we're not at all concerned with the meaning of a Miles Davis solo or a Nietzchean rant.

And, sure, there are still jazz musicians. And rock bands. But their age has passed. Now we have returned, in the manner of threes, to a new version of the Victorian Age. Now we have given up real hope for a breakthrough and have decided to believe again in Old Testament sin. We have decided to believe that we must be manacled in laws, and repressions, and denials of our humanity that are more consistent with Yahweh's judgments on us than Christ's exhortations to freedom. After all, Christ was the ultimate rebel. He dared to suggest that we could live with only two commandments because we all have a spark of the divine in our makeup. But if there is no divine, then we are deserving of annihilation.

When you meet the true-blue Green, the worshipper of Gaia, the ones who want to punish mankind for environmental sins and so push him back to the fantasy harmony with nature they see in Native Americans who died at 28 from scurvy and hunger, you are seeing the price of disbelief in a higher power. You are seeing the final impact of the Law of Threes. It takes three times three generations of human beings to feel the full impact of a mistake. Three Ages.

It's all rather predictable, isn't it? But the question you have to ask yourselves is this: if science has liberated us from the need to believe in judgment, condemnation, doom, and hell, why are we so anxious as a secular people to embrace the concept that an insignificant by-product of random evolution should somehow subscribe to a death wish that values a few thousand tigers or polar bears over the species that produced the Sistine Chapel, the pyramids, and the works of Shakespeare, Newton, Einstein, and Jesus Christ?

Three Ages. Are you prepared for the next one? Now for my final idea of Ages. They also come in threes. Here are two YouTube videos, both focused on the subject of "The Trial." The first is based on a book written in 1925, about five years after the beginning of the Jazz Age.

It's actually a pattern. We put ourselves on trial again a few years into the Rock and Roll Age. (It takes longer when you're not thinking.)

But the idea of coming up short against a brick wall is the same. The first inquiry is a philosophical and theological drama. The second is a lugubrious exercise in self pity about the human plight of being sexual, psychological, emotional, powerless, and animal.

Next comes the reversion to paganism inside a veneer of science AND superstition. Try this unofficial poll. How many believers in Global Warming and Saving the Planet from Mankind would deny that this little display of pop culture was a significant breakthrough in human understanding?

Uh, yeah, stupid. But ask them. How many doubt that Obama is the "dawning of the Age of Aquarius"? Perhaps that's why their children and grandchildren are intent on sending us headlong back into the era of hippies and Weathermen.

The old'uns may think they're turning the clock back. But that's not how it works. The New Age will be the precursor to a wholly different age, in which the need to believe in a higher power will manifest itself in slaveries unthought of during the twentieth century. That's how strong the need to believe in a higher power is. Even if it's one invented out of whole cloth by objective science.

That's why Nietzche was smarter than the Nazis and all who sought to belittle him after the fact. He knew what people would do. That's why he collapsed in a heap at the abuse of a horse. Long ago.

The green folk are pretty sure by now that Nietztche was a fascist. They can't possibly imagine that they were his worst nightmare, brilliantly and presciently conceived as the end of all things human.

And Dostoevsky before him knew exactly what would happen when the "smart people" took control of the rest of us.

You see, only suppose that there was one such man among all those who desire nothing but filthy material gain-if there's only one like my old Inquisitor, who had himself eaten roots in the desert and made frenzied efforts to subdue his flesh to make himself free and perfect. But yet all his life he loved humanity, and suddenly his eyes were opened, and he saw that it is no great moral blessedness to attain perfection and freedom, if at the same time one gains the conviction that millions of God's creatures have been created as a mockery, that they will never be capable of using their freedom, that these poor rebels can never turn into giants to complete the tower, that it was not for such geese that the great idealist dreamt his dream of harmony. Seeing all that he turned back and joined -- the clever people. Surely that could have happened?"

"Joined whom, what clever people?" cried Alyosha, completely carried away. "They have no such great cleverness and no mysteries and secrets.... Perhaps nothing but Atheism, that's all their secret. Your Inquisitor does not believe in God, that's his secret!"

"What if it is so! At last you have guessed it. It's perfectly true, it's true that that's the whole secret, but isn't that suffering, at least for a man like that, who has wasted his whole life in the desert and yet could not shake off his incurable love of humanity? In his old age he reached the clear conviction that nothing but the advice of the great dread spirit could build up any tolerable sort of life for the feeble, unruly, 'incomplete, empirical creatures created in jest.' And so, convinced of this, he sees that he must follow the counsel of the wise spirit, the dread spirit of death and destruction, and therefore accept lying and deception, and lead men consciously to death and destruction, and yet deceive them all the way so that they may not notice where they are being led, that the poor blind creatures may at least on the way think themselves happy.

So what's the next age? Victorian without the prosperity or the belief in progress. Politically correct, totalitarian, suicidal, and filled with the spiritual anguish of those who must have a God but can't believe. Luddite with a desire to punish and reduce. There can be no more youthful rebellion. Rap is the last pyrotechnic explosion of that, as outrageous as it will be short-lived. What's left is collectivist, Stalinist chorales celebrating the life of Earth purchased by the death of Man.

You're gonna love it.

Back to Archive Index

Amazon Honor System Contribute to Learn More