Please to commence to spiral

It was interesting to observe the reactions by many commenters yesterday to information that happened to challeng some of their assumptions about the world. Now, rather than resorting to simple Boomer “how dare you” rhetoric, let’s simply look at this pair of photographs logically. I don’t know about you, but I can think of at least seven obvious possible explanations for this apparent anomaly:

  1. There were other boots used by the Apollo astronauts with different treads.
  2. There were other humans on the Moon who were not Apollo astronauts.
  3. There were aliens on the Moon! Aliens that wear boots and have feet roughly the size of a man’s foot.
  4. Photoshop!
  5. The second photograph was not taken on the Moon and the bootprint was left by a studio technician wearing boots with different treads than those worn by the fake astronauts.
  6. One of the astronauts drew the alternate bootprint with his finger.
  7. A studio technician drew the alternate bootprint with his finger.
Now, how do you rank the probabilities of these seven alternative scenarios? And what do you think this pair of photos proves?

UPDATE: I think it looks a bit like someone with a moon boot stepped on top of a track left by the herringbone-tread wheel of the lunar rover, except the track ends and, at least in this photo, only half of the track appears to be present.

Aquinas on nation vs state

Yet another proof, if another one was required, to prove that the nation is not and can never be the state. Contemplate Summa Theologica Question 95. Human Law Article 4.

Article 4. Whether Isidore’s division of human laws is appropriate?

Objection 1. It would seem that Isidore wrongly divided human statutes or human law (Etym. v, 4, seqq.). For under this law he includes the “law of nations,” so called, because, as he says, “nearly all nations use it.” But as he says, “natural law is that which is common to all nations.” Therefore the law of nations is not contained under positive human law, but rather under natural law.
Objection 2. Further, those laws which have the same force, seem to differ not formally but only materially. But “statutes, decrees of the commonalty, senatorial decrees,” and the like which he mentions (Etym. v, 9), all have the same force. Therefore they do not differ, except materially. But art takes no notice of such a distinction: since it may go on to infinity. Therefore this division of human laws is not appropriate.
Objection 3. Further, just as, in the state, there are princes, priests and soldiers, so are there other human offices. Therefore it seems that, as this division includes “military law,” and “public law,” referring to priests and magistrates; so also it should include other laws pertaining to other offices of the state.
Objection 4. Further, those things that are accidental should be passed over. But it is accidental to law that it be framed by this or that man. Therefore it is unreasonable to divide laws according to the names of lawgivers, so that one be called the “Cornelian” law, another the “Falcidian” law, etc.
On the contrary, The authority of Isidore (Objection 1) suffices.
I answer that, A thing can of itself be divided in respect of something contained in the notion of that thing. Thus a soul either rational or irrational is contained in the notion of animal: and therefore animal is divided properly and of itself in respect of its being rational or irrational; but not in the point of its being white or black, which are entirely beside the notion of animal. Now, in the notion of human law, many things are contained, in respect of any of which human law can be divided properly and of itself. For in the first place it belongs to the notion of human law, to be derived from the law of nature, as explained above (Article 2). In this respect positive law is divided into the “law of nations” and “civil law”, according to the two ways in which something may be derived from the law of nature, as stated above (Article 2). Because, to the law of nations belong those things which are derived from the law of nature, as conclusions from premises, e.g. just buyings and sellings, and the like, without which men cannot live together, which is a point of the law of nature, since man is by nature a social animal, as is proved in Polit. i, 2. But those things which are derived from the law of nature by way of particular determination, belong to the civil law, according as each state decides on what is best for itself.
Secondly, it belongs to the notion of human law, to be ordained to the common good of the state. In this respect human law may be divided according to the different kinds of men who work in a special way for the common good: e.g. priests, by praying to God for the people; princes, by governing the people; soldiers, by fighting for the safety of the people. Wherefore certain special kinds of law are adapted to these men.
Thirdly, it belongs to the notion of human law, to be framed by that one who governs the community of the state, as shown above (I-II:90:3). In this respect, there are various humanlaws according to the various forms of government. Of these, according to the Philosopher (Polit. iii, 10) one is “monarchy,” i.e. when the state is governed by one; and then we have “Royal Ordinances.” Another form is “aristocracy,” i.e. government by the best men or men of highest rank; and then we have the “Authoritative legal opinions” [Responsa Prudentum] and “Decrees of the Senate” [Senatus consulta]. Another form is “oligarchy,” i.e. government by a few rich and powerful men; and then we have “Praetorian,” also called “Honorary,” law. Another form of government is that of the people, which is called “democracy,” and there we have “Decrees of the commonalty” [Plebiscita]. There is also tyrannical government, which is altogether corrupt, which, therefore, has no corresponding law. Finally, there is a form of government made up of all these, and which is the best: and in this respect we have lawsanctioned by the “Lords and Commons,” as stated by Isidore (Etym. v, 4, seqq.).
Fourthly, it belongs to the notion of human law to direct human actions. In this respect, according to the various matters of which the law treats, there are various kinds of laws, which are sometimes named after their authors: thus we have the “Lex Julia” about adultery, the “Lex Cornelia” concerning assassins, and so on, differentiated in this way, not on account of the authors, but on account of the matters to which they refer.
Reply to Objection 1. The law of nations is indeed, in some way, natural to man, in so far as he is a reasonable being, because it is derived from the natural law by way of a conclusion that is not very remote from its premises. Wherefore men easily agreed thereto. Nevertheless it is distinct from the natural law, especially it is distinct from the natural law which is common to all animals.
The Replies to the other Objections are evident from what has been said.

Since the law of nations cannot be contained under human civil law, the national should never be confused with the citizen. There can be overlap, but the two identities are clearly distinct. The false conflation of national with citizen is profoundly dishonest and philosophically false, indeed, it is a prime example of the sophistic technique that Aristotle calls “amphiboly”, which is “a fallacy of relevance that relies on an ambiguous word or grammatical structure to confuse or mislead an audience.”

Consider this: if the nation was the state, there would be no need for the construction “nation-state” to ever have been created. Furthermore, there would have been no need for economists to make the change from “Gross National Product”, which sums the economic activity of an entire nation regardless of the geographic location of the nationals, to “Gross Domestic Product”, which sums the economic activity of all the people within a specified geographic location.

The illogic of atheism

Miles Mathis explains why he finds atheism to be illogical:

A modern skeptic is like an agnostic, and he or she is likely to lean to a “no” answer every time. Are there gods? Probably not. Are there unicorns? Probably not. Is there a Bigfoot? Probably not. And so on. I resist this “skeptic” tag because leaning toward a “no” answer is a prejudice itself. It is unscientific. Beyond that, the so-called skeptic societies are stiff with atheists and agnostics and cynics and other faux-scientists, and I prefer to remain as far away from all that as possible.

Of course, with the existence of Bigfoot and unicorns and so on we do have a great deal of information. We have made searches. The Earth is a limited environment and we have populated it widely and heavily and long. Even so, the mountain gorilla was not discovered until 1902, and huge populations of lowland gorillas were only recently discovered in the Congo (this very decade). Which is to say that we may lean a bit to a “no” answer for existence of larger beings in smaller areas we have scoured quite thoroughly, but even then we may be wrong.

But in looking for proof of gods, our search is pathetically limited. By definition, a god is a being whose powers are far greater than ours, who we cannot comprehend, and whose form we cannot predict. This would make our failure to locate a god quite understandable. A very large or small god would be above or below our notice, and a distant god would also evade our sensors. Not to mention we only have five senses. If we are manipulated by gods, as the hypothesis goes, then it would be quite easy for them to deny us the eyes to see them. Only a god of near-human size in the near environs would be possible to detect.

Again, this does not mean I believe in gods, any more than I believe in aliens or unicorns. I only point out that, as a matter of logic and science, a hypothesis that has not been proved is not the same as a hypothesis that has been disproved. I agree with the atheists and agnostics that the existence of gods has not been proved, but I do not agree that the existence of gods has been disproved. It would require a much more thorough search of the universe than has so far been completed to even begin to lean. As it is, our data is near-zero.

For this reason, I find atheists to be just as sanctimonious, illogical, and tiresome as the deists and theists, if not moreso. Because the atheists are often more highly educated and often better able to argue (in limited ways), they use this education and argument to prop themselves up in the ugliest ways. They blow apart the beliefs of religious people and imagine this solidifies their own beliefs in some way. But it never does. People of faith are actually more consistent in their views, since they never claim to believe in science anyway. They are not immediately hypocritical, at least, since it is possible for them create a closed system of illogic that circles back in a self-affirming way. The search for truth is no part of their system, so it is no failure when they find none. But atheists cannot say the same. They base their system on science, so that the very first instant they fail to act scientifically, they are back to zero. Yes, it is the same zero as the theists’ zero, but the theists aren’t measuring and the atheists are. A theist at zero is just a theist, and no harm done. But an atheist at zero has had a fall, and must be damaged.

I would go farther, of course, as I observe most atheists to be not only illogical, but irrational. And thank God for that! It’s the rational atheists who are by far the most problematic.

AG Barr will watch the watchers

We finally have an answer to that age-old philosophical question: William Barr.

President Donald Trump on Thursday granted Attorney General William Barr new powers to review and potentially release classified information related to the origins of the Russia investigation, a move aimed at accelerating Barr’s inquiry into whether U.S. officials improperly surveilled Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Trump directed the intelligence community to “quickly and fully cooperate” with Barr’s probe. The directive marked an escalation in Trump’s efforts to “investigate the investigators,” as he continues to try to undermine the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe amid mounting Democratic calls for impeachment proceedings.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that Trump is delegating to Barr the “full and complete authority” to declassify documents relating to the probe, which would ease his efforts to review the sensitive intelligence underpinnings of the investigation. Such an action could create fresh tensions within the FBI and other intelligence agencies, which have historically resisted such demands.

To watch the watchers and investigate the investigators. Next, launch The Storm.

To be happy, get a dog

There really isn’t any question. Dogs make life better:

In 2018, the General Social Survey for the first time included a battery of questions on pet ownership. The findings not only quantified the nation’s pet population – nearly 6 in 10 households have at least one -they made it possible to see how pet ownership overlaps with all sorts of factors of interest to social scientists.

Like happiness.

For starters, there is little difference between pet owners and non-owners when it comes to happiness, the survey shows. The two groups are statistically indistinguishable on the likelihood of identifying as “very happy” (a little over 30 percent) or “not too happy” (in the mid-teens).

But when you break the data down by pet type – cats, dogs or both – a stunning divide emerges: Dog owners are about twice as likely as cat owners to say they’re very happy, with people owning both falling somewhere in between.

We have four in the house now, although one is a friend’s dog who is staying here while she’s travelling. It can get a little chaotic at times, especially when the someone comes to the door, but if there is one thing you can do to instantly improve your quality of life, getting a dog is it.

On a dog-related note, it was amusing last night. My friend’s Ridgeback suddenly started crying and whining for what he thought was no reason while we were talking on the phone. It turned out that his wife had managed to lock herself outside without her keys, and the dog realized she was out there and something was wrong before she could even manage to dig her phone out of her purse and call my friend.

Two arguments for free speech

A few notes concerning the recent pair of Darkstreams on free speech:

A man can never be hindered from thinking whatever he chooses so long as he conceals what he thinks. The working of his mind is limited only by the bounds of his experience and the power of his imagination. But this natural liberty of private thinking is of little value. It is unsatisfactory and even painful to the thinker himself, if he is not permitted to communicate his thoughts to others, and it is obviously of no value to his neighbours. Moreover it is extremely difficult to hide thoughts that have any power over the mind. If a man’s thinking leads him to call in question ideas and customs which regulate the behaviour of those about him, to reject beliefs which they hold, to see better ways of life than those they follow, it is almost impossible for him, if he is convinced of the truth of his own reasoning, not to betray by silence, chance words, or general attitude that he is different from them and does not share their opinions. Some have preferred, like Socrates, some would prefer to-day, to face death rather than conceal their thoughts. Thus freedom of thought, in any valuable sense, includes freedom of speech.

– JB Bury, A History of the Freedom of Thought

In the case of Bury, his core argument in defense of freedom of speech is constructed as follows:

  1. Man’s thoughts are free because they cannot be known or hindered by other parties.
  2. Man cannot refrain from speaking his thoughts.
  3. Therefore, freedom of speech is an intrinsic right of Man.

I trust the two major flaws in this syllogism are obvious to the reader. First, if Man’s thoughts are free because they cannot be known or hindered, then Man’s speech cannot be for that same reason. Second, we have evidence every single day that Man is capable of concealing his thoughts, or at the very least, not converting them to speech. The conclusion simply does not follow logically from the premises.

The ineptitude of the Erasmusian case for the freedom of speech is even worse. His 1516 The Education of a Christian Prince is often cited by free speech advocates because it contains the phrase, “In a free state, tongues too should be free.”

But what did Erasmus actually write?

Even the emperor Hadrian, a pagan and not to be classed among the good princes, would never listen to a charge of lese-majeste; and not even that cruel monster Nero gave much heed to secret accusation on that charge. There was another one who paid no attention at all to charges of this sort and said, “In a free country, tongues likewise should be free.” Therefore, there are no crimes which a good prince will pardon more readily or more gladly than those which affect him alone.
– Erasmus, The Education of a Christian Prince

Now the punchline. Erasmus not defending free speech, he is encouraging the prince, like King Lune of Archenland, to be the most magnanimous man in the kingdom. And the phrase in question is not his own, as he is quoting “another one”. Who is this “another one” of whom Erasmus writes?

Why, it is none other than the Emperor Tiberius, as quoted by Suetonius, the Roman Emperor infamous for the Senatorial purges and treason trials conducted in his name by his chosen right-hand man, Sejanus. A less-convincing historical champion of free speech would be difficult to conjure!

Freedom of speech is manifestly not a right, and the observably inept attempts of its advocates to establish it as one should be more than sufficient to convince every rational observer of the inherently nonsensical nature of the claim.

A legend has left us

I used to wear Karl Lagerfeld’s signature cologne back in the day and it is still one of my favorites. The late fashion legend was also ruthlessly hysterical. Some of his classic quotes:

  • Kate Middleton has a nice silhouette and she is the right girl for that boy. I like that kind of woman, I like romantic beauties. On the other hand, her sister struggles. I don’t like the sister’s face. She should only show her back.
  • I hate ugly people. They are very depressing.
  • Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.
  • We cannot talk about suffering. People buy dresses to be happy, not to hear about somebody who suffered over a piece of taffeta.
  • I have a sort of Alzheimer’s for my own work, which I think is a very good thing. Today too many people remember what they did — just forget it all and start again.
  • I am very much down to earth. Just not this earth.
  • Women can be short, but for men it is impossible. It is something that they will not forgive in life… they are mean and they want to kill you.
Owen Benjamin would approve.

Evil hates good

The failures hate the successful. And the gammas always, always, always hate the alphas.

If you ever wonder why I am so “harsh” and “judgmental”, why I don’t hesitate to eject people from this blog, and why I am very fast to reject potential fans and followers, watch this video. Owen is a genuinely sweet man. He’s a fundamentally good person. He is a bright light who instinctively stands up for what he believes to be true. And that is why he trusts people, why he gets bitten by the broken people he tries to help, and why it genuinely hurts him when people return evil for good.

I am not as good, or as innocent, or as merciful, as Owen. To the contrary, I will literally hunt a cripple down in his grandmother’s home and have the police drag him down to the police station, then expose his activities to his entire real-life social circle. And that’s when I’m playing nice.

So, I’m not disturbed or unsettled by evil. Its existence neither surprises nor demoralizes me. To the contrary, I am galvanized by the opportunity to exert myself against it from time to time. God gives us all different gifts, and one of mine happens to be the love of the fray and the joy of seizing up the enemy and searching for a way to defeat him.

Never forget that God hates the wicked and he loves his warriors. God punished David and refused to let him build the temple, but He never rejected him. Jesus rebuked Peter, but he also called him his rock.

Send Owen a note to encourage him, whether you believe Man walked on the Moon or not. And be of good cheer. This is the season when we celebrate the beginning of the victory, after all. Deus vult.

12 REAL Rules for Life

From Appendix C of Jordanetics.

All is vanity. What is it that we must bestow our care and diligence upon? Even upon this only: that our minds and wills be just; that our actions be charitable; that our speech be never deceitful, and that our understanding be not subject to error; that our inclination be always set to embrace whatsoever shall happen unto us.
—Marcus Aurelius

 After a modicum of reflection, these are my suggestions drawn from 50 years of various successes and failures.

  1. Embrace the iron. Lifting weights will not only help you stand up straight, it will make you stronger, healthier, and more confident. The iron teaches the weak to be strong and it teaches the strong to be humble.
  2. Take the wheel. You are the ultimate architect of your own decisions and actions. Even if you were dealt a bad card by life, even if your genetics are inferior, your upbringing was terrible, and your instincts are suboptimal, you are the only one who can improve yourself. You are driving and only you can determine the destination.
  3. Be the friend that you want to have. Smiles are contagious. Loyalty inspires loyalty. Stand by those who stand by you. Give every friend who fails you a second chance. Only abandon those who have repeatedly proven they cannot be trusted and do not wish you well.
  4. Envision perfection and pursue excellence. You will never achieve perfection. But if you envision it and you strive for it, you may well achieve success, and perhaps even excellence.
  5. Put a ring on it. Marriage is the manifestation of love. Children are the manifestation of hope. Raising a family to serve as the foundation of future generations is how Man rebels against an uncaring universe, a fallen world, and the spirits of despair and destruction. Yes, there are real risks, especially in the current social and legal environment. But they are well worth taking nevertheless.
  6. Set your face against evil. You will encounter evil within and evil without on a daily basis. Stand against all of it, without fear, without hesitation, and without remorse. And when you fail, when you give into temptation, when you are defeated, regroup, repent, and rise again.
  7. Do what is right. Learn to listen to the still, small voice of conscience. Do what you know to be right, not what you can rationalize, justify, or excuse. If you have to talk yourself into something, then you probably already know in your heart of hearts that you are doing the wrong thing.
  8. Tell the truth in kindness. It is too hard and too exhausting to spend all your mental energies trying to keep track of an ever-growing multitude of exaggerations, false narratives, self-serving spins, and outright lies. Just tell the truth, as you best understand it, without taking pride in it or using it to hurt others.
  9. Learn the easy way. You will always encounter those who are stronger, smarter, and more successful than you are. Rather than envying them or attempting to tear them down to make yourself feel better, do your best to learn from them and apply those lessons to your own life. It is considerably easier and more efficient to learn from the mistakes of others than it is to make all of those same mistakes yourself.
  10. Believe the mirror. The most reliably self-destructive mistake you can make is to lie to yourself about who, what, and where you are, because doing so precludes any real self-improvement. Be ruthless with your self-assessments, without wallowing in self-pity or despair.
  11. Get back on the horse. Perseverance is one of the most important skills a man can develop. There is absolutely no substitute for the confidence and the courage that comes from the certain knowledge that you will get up again after an opponent, or life, knocks you down.
  12. Find a best friend. Dogs teach us many things, perhaps the most important of which is what unconditional love is. No matter how rich and successful a man may be, there is no life that the addition of a dog would not considerably improve. And yes, all dogs go to Heaven, obviously, because Heaven would not be paradise without them.