Category Archives: Deep Thoughts

Deep thoughts, omphaloskepsis, and other random musings.

Rule Five Barn Burner Friday

And now, the barn-burning, rabble-rouser I promised you.  So without further ado – here it is.  Enjoy.

Take a look at the signs waved by some of the protestors, rioters and arsonists plaguing our major cities today.  Take a look at some of their positions – anti-capitalist, anti-business, anti-freedom.

Now take a look at the protestors themselves.  Ask yourself how many of them actually do any productive work.

These people toil not, neither do they spin.  They are, by and large, parasites on the productive members of society that they demonize at every turn.  But there’s something they are missing, a key point that we, the productive, understand, that they do not.  And I say this to those parasites:

You need us.  We don’t need you.

We – you and I – not they, are the people who make this economy run.  We grow the food these parasites eat.  We make the clothing they wear.  We make the cell phones and tablets they use to plan their riots.  We write the code for the social networking sites on which they plan their riots.  And I say this to those parasites:

You need us.  We don’t need you.

You look down your noses at the people who feed you. 

People like my father, who raised Black Angus cattle, corn, and soybeans for much of his life.  The people who sell the seed and take the steers off to the packing plant.  The people who make fertilizer, who build the farm machinery in factories like the huge John Deere plant in Waterloo, Iowa.  You look down on the truckers who haul supplies to the farms and ranches and food to the distributors and stores.

And to that I say to you:  You need us.  We don’t need you.

You look down your noses at the people who transport you.

People like the thousands who work in the plants of Ford, GM, Chrysler, and the other various manufacturers all around the country.  The people who refine the gasoline and Diesel fuel that move the vehicles, the people who fix your car when it breaks down, the driver of the wrecker who comes out to help you because you lack the skills to do something as elementary as changing a tire – a skill I learned at about ten years of age.

And to that I say to you:  You need us.  We don’t need you.

You look down your noses at the people who clothe you.

Thousands more grow cotton, raise sheep, to make the cloth.  Workers all over the world make your “stylish” tattered blue jeans, maybe even some of those really expensive ones with fake ground-in dirt on them to make it look as though you’ve actually done a day’s work at some point in your lives.  Thousands more package the clothing, deliver it to stores, where retail clerks deal endlessly with difficult customers at little pay to provide you with the clothes you wear while lecturing the rest of us.

And to that I say to you:  You need us.  We don’t need you.

You look down your noses at the people who keep you warm.

I’m talking about the thousands that work on the Alaskan oil fields, in the shale formations in the Dakotas, and on drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.  The people who build the pipelines, who move heavy equipment from site to site, who work in the refineries and who move heating oil and natural gas from those refineries to its final point of use – not to mention the scientists and engineers who design and build the equipment and discover new sources of valuable fuels.  You not only look down on these people but demonize them for their contributions to some nebulously defined ‘climate change,’ even as the United States is leading the world in reducing carbon emissions not because of climate worries but because of cleaner fuels and vastly increased efficiencies, brought to you by those workers, scientists and engineers.

And to that I say to you:  You need us.  We don’t need you.

You look down your noses at the people who make it possible for you to communicate.

From Silicon Valley to your local cell phone store, an entire industry is devoted to our modern, highly connected lifestyle.  People all around the world build the cellular phones you use and write the software that runs them.  Thousands more maintain the phone towers, the internet hubs, the connections, the wires, fiberoptic cables and wireless networks that transmit the data.  Their efforts make it possible to make your plans to riot and loot, to attack the very businesses, stores, and restaurants these productive people count on in their own productive lives. 

And the irony of you decrying capitalism while using this technology, unprecedented in human history, that could only be the product of a free market, capitalist system, is beyond description.

And to that I say to you:  You need us.  We don’t need you.

Worst of all, you look down at the people who keep you safe; the people you decry as racists, as bullies, as fascists; the police officers and other first responders, who you deride at every turn but are quick to call when an emergency affects you yourselves.

And to that I say to you:  You need us.  We don’t need you.

I’m going to presume for a moment that you of the parasite-protestor class, those with the Gender Studies degrees and trust funds, are actually capable of active thought.  To you, I say this:  I want all of you parasites to think, long and hard, about the implications of that statement:

You need us.

We don’t need you.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

In two weeks, we might know who will be President for the next four years.  Then again, we might not.

At this point I’m not sure what to think.  I see the polls, sure, but then, I saw them in 2016 too.  We were out elk hunting on Election Day 2016, having filed ballots in advance, and I went to bed that night pretty depressed at the idea of Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I, Dowager Empress of Chappaqua, actually sitting in the Imperial Mansion.  Next morning, I went out and started up Rojito, flipped on the satellite radio, and was flabbergasted; when loyal sidekick Rat opened the other door to climb in, I looked at him and said, “Holy shit, he actually pulled it off!”

I also see a huge enthusiasm gap.  President Trump is speaking to thunderous crowds of tens of thousands, while Groper Joe is speaking to tepid crowds of tens.  And, in a stunning admission of his campaign’s low energy levels, he has again called a “lid” – this time from Monday morning until after tomorrow’s debate.  Four whole days!

I hope the President can pull it off again.  If the Democrats once more gain control of the Congress and the Imperial Mansion, they clearly intend to rig it so they never have to give it up again.  They’ve said as much.

Go vote!

Now that I’m done venting about that…

On To the Links!

Don’t let the screen door hit your ass on the way out, “Boss.”

OMG OMG OMG

Axios demonstrates some rare self-awareness.

I found this interesting, partly because my father-in-law (as fine a man as ever lived) is an albino.  He makes the best Santa Claus.

Maybe don’t leave your guns in your car?  Just saying.

Adam Schiff once more proves he’s full of more shit than a Christmas goose.

The DNI on Hunter Biden’s laptop:  Whatever it is, it isn’t Russians.

War in space would be… complicated.

This is a surprising supporter for President Trump.

Another reason we’re leaving Colorado.

This Week’s Idiots:

Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick is an idiot.

The Guardian’s Arwa Mahdawi is an idiot.

Our blogger pals over at The Daley Gator point out some University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse idiots.  I grew up about forty miles from LaCrosse; in my day it wasn’t totally inhabited by pussies.

The NY Times’ Charles Blow is an idiot.

Lindsey Graham was recently accosted by idiots.

And So:

This week’s song comes from one of the best (and completely self-taught) female vocalists alive today, Mary Fahl. Mrs. Animal and I have seen Mary perform live twice, and she’s amazing; both times we had the opportunity to chat with her after the show, and she’s as warm, friendly and charming as she is talented.

This audio-only cut  comes to you from a live performance at the Mauch Chunk Opera House in New York; this is Be My Hero.  Enjoy.

Rule Five Campaign Speech Friday

As we draw closer to this increasingly-loony election, I’ve decided once again to present my own campaign speech, were some party to be reckless enough to nominate me to run for President.  Not that the nation is quite ready for an atheist, minarchist, libertarian President – but wouldn’t the campaign be fun?  Enjoy!

Ladies and Gentlemen – friends – Americans – citizens.

I stand before you on this two hundred and thirty-second year of our Republic. I stand before you to announce my intention to seek the Presidency of our Republic. Most important of all, I stand before you to tell you why I intend to seek this thankless, stressful job, and what I intend to do with it.

I’d like to take this time to tell you the undying principles upon which I will base my policies, and upon which I will base legislation that I will propose to Congress:

First: Liberty.

Liberty means you are free to do as you please, so long as you cause no harm, physical or financial, to anyone else. As Thomas Jefferson said, “If it neither picks my pocket nor break my arm, it’s not my concern.” This is a coin with two sides: Nobody gets to tell you what to do, but neither do you get to tell anyone else what to do. Marry who you like. Work where and how you like. Start businesses and create new products and services as you like. It’s nobody else’s business – and it sure as hell isn’t the government’s business – until you hurt someone else. We currently live in a nation where you are required to obtain permission from a government bureaucrat to cut hair, to paint fingernails, to sell lemonade. I call bullshit. This must stop.

Second: Property.

That means the following: The fruits of your labors are yours. They do not belong to some government bureaucrat, nor to some shouting agitator, nor to some ivory tower academic. They are yours. Government, to be effective at the few things they are required – absolutely required – to do, must tax you for some small amount of the fruits of your labors, but that taxation must be strictly limited, strictly fair, simply defined, and some must be collected from every single citizen. Everybody contributes. Nobody skates. There are too many in the nation who have no skin in the game, and our elections have become auctions, with candidates falling over each other promising voters more of other peoples’ property. I call bullshit. This must stop.

Third: Accountability.

Government, at all levels, serves you. You do not serve the government. I stand here today not as someone seeking to be your master, but as someone applying for a job – and you will be my employers. I am applying for the job of CEO of the world’s largest Republic, and you, the citizens of the Republic, are the world’s largest Board of Directors. I answer to you, not the other way around. Every single government employee, from the President to the third assistant dogcatcher in Leaf Springs, Arkansas, answers to you. And so as one of my first acts in office I will personally visit every office, every facility, and every installation that falls under the control of the Executive Branch. I will personally speak with the Federal employees at those offices, facilities and installations. Any employee that cannot satisfactorily answer two questions: “What is your purpose? What are you doing right now?” will be fired on the spot. Any Executive Branch employee at any level who breaks the law, any law, will be fired and prosecuted. Government employees have, for too long, been held to different standards than the electorate. I call bullshit. This must stop.

Fourth: Efficiency.

The Federal government has become a bloated Colossus. Washington is littered with extra-constitutional agencies, the purpose of which is to regulate, to dictate, to interfere with the free citizenry. There is no constitutional justification for many of them, and many of them actually work at cross purposes. The result is that every single business enterprise in the nation has to have an army of accountants and attorneys to help them navigate the twisted pathways of regulation and taxation; that every citizen has to puzzle through pages upon pages of Federal guidance in so prosaic an action as filing their annual tax return. The Federal government has only a few, a very few, legitimate roles: To protect private property, to ensure liberty, to protect the citizens from foreign interference. That’s all. But not today; no, not today. The Federal government has indeed become a bloated Colossus, but I intend to cut it down to size. As one of my first acts in office I will call upon Congress to eliminate the Federal Departments of Commerce, of Energy, of Education, and any others that I deem to be extra-constitutional and that add no value to the proper roles of government. And believe you me, this is only the beginning. Our government is too big. I call bullshit. This must stop.

Let me be very clear on my intent. I intend to reduce the Federal government to a minimum. I’m not talking about trimming around the edges. I’m sure as hell not talking about “reductions in the rate of increase.” I’m talking about swinging a meat axe, and I am serious as hell about it. All the extra-constitutional agencies set up by previous administrations will be gone. Not reduced, not repurposed – gone. Education? Gone. Energy? Gone. Commerce? Gone. Health and Human Services? Gone. Labor? Gone. Housing and Urban Development? Gone. Environmental Protection? Gone. Homeland Security? Gone.

There are three cabinet-level agencies that the Federal government is justified in retaining: Defense, Treasury, and State. The rest can go. Veteran’s Affairs can be rolled into Defense. As for Federal law enforcement, we already have an agency for that: The U.S. Marshals. The borders? Roll the Border Patrol into the Marshals. One headquarters, several missions, but that’s doable.

I intend to take the Federal government back to the level it was in 1850. In that year, the Federal government’s expenditures were about 3% of GDP. Now we are 23 trillion in debt, and Federal spending is 20% of GDP. I call bullshit. This must stop.

That will be the genesis of my campaign slogan: THREE PERCENT!

So, if you value liberty and property, and want accountability and efficiency in your public servants, vote for me. If you want Free Shit, vote for someone else. That’s all.

Not that I’m anxious for public office; I’d sooner shovel shit.  The smell is better and besides, at least shoveling shit is honest work.

This is a pretty good speech, I think, for laying out policy; I’ve begun to call it “The Bullshit Speech.”  But wait!  There’s more!  I’m working on a second one, this one a real rabble-rousing barn-burner.  Tune in next week.

Animal’s Daily Debate Recap News

Welcome to October!

Some thoughts on the Tuesday night Presidential debate, now that I’ve gone through the transcripts, some notes, and organized my thoughts:

First:  What a train wreck.  Both candidates insisted on talking over each other.  Chris Wallace didn’t do a good job of keeping control, but one wonders if anyone could have done that.  He did, on several occasions, put his thumb on the scale for Biden.  He shouldn’t have done that, but he did, and the President called him out on it more than once, including saying “I’m supposed to be debating him, instead I’m debating you, but that’s OK.”  President Trump seemed to be trying to deliberately provoke Biden at several points, to see if he would lose his temper.  And he came very close to doing so on a number of occasions.

I pity whoever had to put together the transcripts.

A couple of key issues:

On climate change:  President Trump noted he had withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris climate accords, rightly pointing out that it was a terrible deal as the major offenders in carbon production were not required to meet standards while the U.S. was expected to foot much of the bill.  However, the President failed to note that the U.S. has in fact met those standards regardless of leaving the accords.  Leaving that on the table was an oversight.

On unrest:  Biden repeatedly refused to utter the words “law and order” and implied that “right-wing” and “white supremacist” agitators are responsible for much of the ongoing unrest in places like Portland.  Utter horseshit.

Groper Joe refused, repeatedly, to answer questions about the Supreme Court; he wouldn’t say whether he would favor ending the filibuster, he wouldn’t name any judges he might appoint, and refused to answer whether he would seek to pack the Court.  When the President pressed him on that point, Biden snapped “…would you shut up, man?”

Also:  “Spooting?”  I’m sure I heard Joe say “spooting.”

The President did hammer Groper Joe on his son’s Burisma and China shenanigans.  Biden’s response?  “None of that’s true.  It’s not true.”  Uh, I think it’s been established without question that Hunter Biden was cashing some big damn checks from some very questionable people, and the only reason he was in the position to do so is because his father was Vice President.  That’s important, and the President was right to hammer him on it.

But Trump’s big advantage, especially with his supporters, was on the number of judges he’s appointed.  He hammered Biden on how the Obama Administration left 128 Federal judge seats open.  “You never leave judge seats open,” he said.  He’s right.  And the Obama Administration handed him that.

So who won?  I think they both lost, to a certain degree, by turning in undisciplined performances, but Trump stayed on message and spent more time hammering home his big advantage:  He actually has four years of things he’s done to talk about.  The military, the VA, and the courts – those are big deals, and he knows it.

On the other hand, Groper Joe Biden exceeded expectations by not actually falling asleep, sniffing Chris Wallace’s hair or peeing on the stage, so that may have helped him some on the margins.

Still, I doubt this debate changed many minds.  Both candidates were combative, both were rude, both constantly interrupted each other.  I’m going to call this one more or less a draw, with a slight advantage to the President.  Why?  Because Joe Biden showed up to play a game whose rules have changed; he faced the man who has changed those rules, and old Groper Joe didn’t know how to react.  He’s campaigning in the 2020 election cycle and playing with 1988 tactics.

Next week we have the second bananas, and I expect the tone will be much different.

Rule Five Bullshitting Friday

Law & Liberty recently printed a review of Harry Frankfurt’s book On Bullshit. I can see now that I’m going to have to read this book, but following are some excerpts of the review, with my comments:

One of the most unlikely philosophical bestsellers in recent decades was retired Princeton University professor Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullshit. Published in 2005, it remained on the New York Times best seller list for 27 weeks. It opens:

One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern, or attracted much sustained inquiry. In consequence, we have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves.

What is bullshit? Frankfurt distinguishes between lying and bullshitting. A liar knows that there is a difference between getting things wrong and getting them right—and opts for falsehood. A bullshitter, by contrast, believes that it is not possible to distinguish the false from the true. Yet this realization does not prevent him from making assertions about the way things are.

To be fair, President Trump is something of a bullshitter himself, but a fair amount of his bullshitting is perhaps better described as bloviating.   The President, his accomplishments in life aside, is prolix and bombastic; I know more than a few people (myself included) who vote for him despite that, not because of it.  I will indeed vote to re-elect the President,  but because of what he’s done, not because of what he says.  Talk is cheap, but results are golden.

On that note:

In my view, the ascendancy of bullshit can be explained in part by the changing media through which we have become accustomed to communicate. The 1858 U.S. Senatorial debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas famously lasted three hours and were reproduced in their entirety in the newspapers of the day. Today, by contrast, political discourse often takes the form of soundbites, and the most salient political medium seems to be Twitter. Where there were once melodies, now there are tweets.

This, perhaps, is the key point.

I don’t use Twitter and rarely even look at it.  While there is occasionally a gem, it’s unusual; my estimate is that Twitter has the worst signal-to-noise ratio of any internet platform save perhaps Facebook and YouTube video comments.  One simply cannot say anything of substance in this format, and if you engage the regular Twitter mobs who generally post what is little better than autistic screeching, you give credence to the maxim that ‘if you argue with idiots, they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.’

And speaking of bullshit; one of the most egregious pieces of bullshit ever spoken by any pol, agitator or “activist” is the line “we need to have a national dialogue.”  That can only be accurately translated as “you should shut the hell up and do what we tell you.”

I’m not sure what the answer to all this is.  The review linked here offers no methods of coping with bullshit.

We have a failing, government-run education system that emphasizes indoctrination rather than education, and a media that continually spouts, well, bullshit.  It’s going to take a major cultural shift to fix it.

Rule Five Communism in America Friday

Here is a series of articles I found interesting, in The American Mind‘s Communism in America archive.  Excerpts and analysis follow.  The excerpts and my comments will only scratch the surface, by necessity; by all means, go read the whole thing.

From The Plot to Change America, by Mike Gonzales:

Where had Marx and Engels gone wrong? (Italian Com­munist leader Antonio) Gramsci came up with a meta-explanation. The bourgeoisie had acculturated the working­ man to do its bidding, giving him “false consciousness.” In this manner, the bourgeois did not even have to coerce the worker into submission.

The cure, Gramsci thought, was to carry out a “con­sciousness raising” indoctrination campaign that would convince the average proletarian he had been duped by tradition, religion, the family, the educational system, and all the cultural trappings of society. Consciousness raising would let the worker understand his true interest and induce him to renounce any idea of succeeding individually; he would thus join with those in his class in a collec­tive effort to transform the system.

Sound familiar?  Sound like the indoctrination going on in our university system today?  Sound like the elitist pricks in academia and government assuring us that they know more about what’s good for us than we do?

Here’s my favorite; from The Communist Roots of “White Privilege” by Kyle Shideler:

The modern American Left—which has entirely adopted the assumptions of the New Left—genuinely believes that through the elimination of “white privilege” the last stumbling block between it and its long-promised revolutionary utopia will be removed. But of course, this is not so, because their fundamental assumptions about Americans and American society are wrong.

Everyday Americans must realize that even while the radical Left demands they kneel and renounce their privilege, the reality is that they can never be appeased. And so the riots and violence will continue, along with the academic, corporate and bureaucratic struggle sessions, until we unambiguously repudiate them.

Much of the American political left and their useful idiots who are lighting fires and smashing windows this summer are, of course, continuing to feed the crocodile, hoping it will eat them last.  And it may – but it will most assuredly eat them.  As evidence, I offer a statement from Groper Joe’s campaign, threatening that riots and unrest will get worse if President Trump is re-elected.

Did you get the implications of that?  “Nice country you have here,” the Democrats are saying, “…it would be a shame if anything… happened to it.”  These are Mafia protection-racket tactics, in a Presidential election.

Last but not least – and by all means, go read them all – is Listen When They Tell You Who They Are, by Murray Bessette:

And yet, one need not rest content with deduction from principles and policies. You can take their word for it.

M4BL (Movement for Black Lives) explicitly says: “We are anti-capitalist.” As do the three co-founders of BLM—Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi. As reported by the New York Post, Cullors explicitly asserted in an interview with Jared Ball of the Real News Network that both she and Garza “are trained Marxists. We are super-versed on, sort of, ideological theories.”

Opal Tometi, the third comrade in the founding trio, was not only photographed with socialist Venezuelan dictator Nicholas Maduro, but penned a lengthy letter of support for him and the socialist revolution he leads, praising the work of Cuban doctors (who are trafficked by the Cuban regime) and condemning the “defamation of late President Hugo Chavez [by] labeling him a dictator.”

The observation that BLM and M4BL are Marxist political organizations ought not to be controversial. It is simply a fact.

The best way to defeat these people is simply to quote them.  Broadcast, loud and clear, exactly what they say among themselves.  Broadcast their support for collectivism, their hatred of individual rights, of liberty, of equal treatment under the law, of everything that makes a free society, well, free.  We, as a nation, have already gone way too far down the road towards totalitarianism, but maybe – just maybe – an informed electorate can hold the fall off another generation or two.

Rule Five You Say You Want A Revolution Friday

This just in from the September edition of Commentary:  Yes, This Is a Revolution.  Excerpt:

The battle for the survival of the United States of America is upon us. It has not come in the form of traditional civil war. There are no uniformed armies, competing flags, or alternate constitutions. The great showdown is not being fought within the physical limits of a battlefield. It is instead happening all around us and directly to us. It defines our culture, sustains our media, and gives new shape to our public and private institutions. In this fight, there is no distinction between what was once known as the culture war and politics rightly understood. The confrontation stretches through time and space, reframing our distant past even as it transforms the horizon, erupting from coast to coast, and constraining our lives in subtle and obvious ways. And it’s happening too fast for us to take its full measure.

For partisans, it often feels as if everything stands or falls on the ideological battles of the day. But this is different. This is objectively real, and it’s remaking the nation before our eyes.

We know it’s different this time because the stakes are continually articulated by the enemies of the current order. They are demanding, and in some cases getting, a new and exotic country. The police are indeed being defunded. The statues are coming down. The heretics are being outed. The dissenters are being silenced. The buildings are burning, and the demands are ever growing.

And it’s important to note that in places like Portland and Seattle, the municipal governments are doing everything but providing actual covering fire for these assholes.  The main result of that is the mass defection by retirement or outright resignation, of many of those cities’ police officers.

But it doesn’t stop there.  Last week, Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I, Dowager Empress of Chappaqua, has advised Groper Joe to refuse to accept the results of an election he’s bound to lose.  Ari Fleischer has some thoughts on why that’s a really bad idea.   Excerpt:

“Did you make a mistake conceding the 2016 race, or do you still think you won it?” Fleischer wondered on Fox News Wednesday morning. “Or if the race for Biden goes the same way it did for you, are you recommending to Joe Biden that he do the opposite of you?”

He asks because back in 2016 Clinton insisted that Trump accept the election results.

This is “dangerous,” Fleischer said.

No shit.

So on the one hand, you have gangs of no-account, Marxist looters and arsonists rampaging unchecked through several major cities while the city (and in some cases state) governments do nothing to stop them.

On other other hand, you have the Democrat candidate from the last election cycle advising the Democrat candidate from the current election cycle to deny the results of an election unless he wins – which, candidly, unless something major changes between now and November, he won’t.

Readers of these virtual pages for any length of time know that I’m not a wild-eyed sort who goes around predicting “boogaloos,” second civil wars, or other major upsets.

But I’m beginning to change my mind on that front.  Last week, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a small city that was previously best-known as the former home of the American Motors Company, rioters actually exchanged fire with at least one citizen who was there, apparently, to protect local businesses.  And last weekend, a member of Patriot Prayer was executed on the street by a rioter (see last Tuesday’s post for more on that.)  As of this morning, at least, the attacker, one Michael Reinoehl, is dead in a shootout with police, and it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving asshole.

That’s right.  There was an exchange of gunfire.  Between opposing factions, over political issues, in an American town.  Followed by a political execution, also on the street, in an American town.

That’s how civil wars start.

This isn’t looking good.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday (Seventies Edition)

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove, The Other McCain, Whores and Ale and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!  If these folks aren’t on your daily read list, they should be.

A conversation I engaged in a while ago while researching some info for work I’m doing in another quarter got me to thinking.  (I know, I know, that’s a dangerous habit.)  There has been a lot of talk among science-ey types about the extension of human lifespans, which is something I’ve written about in these virtual pages.  It’s something I find interesting and would cheerfully agree to – I could easily live a thousand years and never run out of bucket-list items.

But then you have the folks who like to gas about the Singularity.  That is, in its more optimistic form, a merging of human and artificial intelligence.  In its less optimistic form, it is the destruction of human individuality by humanity’s incorporation into some all-encompassing AI.

The ultimate expression of that latter path, of course, would mean the possibility of “uploading” your brain into a virtual world space.  That, unlikely as I think the prospect is, would rate a big fat “hell no.”

See, I could live a thousand years in my physical body.  And I suppose I could learn to see the appeal of some kind of virtual reality, on the condition that I could unplug whenever I wanted.

But two problems, as I see it, with the “brain upload” scenario:

  1. It wouldn’t be me.  What that set of data on some file server somewhere would be, is a computer simulation of me.  It might be a good one, but it wouldn’t be me.  I’d be dead.  Gone.  And as I don’t ascribe to Descartes’ concept of duality, I don’t see how any metaphysical “me” could somehow be uploaded.  And let’s be honest, this wouldn’t be an “upload” at all.  It would just be a file copy, a backup, so to speak.  Not a person.  Not a human, with continuity.  No self.  Not me.
  2. There’s so much about the physical world that just can’t be replicated.  I could live a thousand years easily if circumstances were right, but if it meant not being able to hold Mrs. Animal’s hand or see her smile, it wouldn’t be worth it.  There are physical aspects of the world, of our lives, our experiences, that I don’t believe can be duplicated.  If, somehow, that metaphysical “me” made the jump to a virtual space, I’d know it was fake.

While I can imagine living a thousand years and would love to have to chance to do it, I’m accepting the fact that it almost certainly won’t be possible in my lifetime.  And that’s OK.  My life to date has been great, with a great family and a happy marriage to a woman I love, and you can’t really ask for much more.  I’ve already been lots of places and done lots of things – for one, I spent a good portion of my youth running around with a pack and a rifle doing all kinds of screwy things, and for another, I spent most of my middle age globe-hopping as a consultant.  All in all, I’ve had a hell of a good time.  If I’m only to be allotted the traditional three-score and ten, well, then that’s likewise OK.

After all, going to the showers is part of the game, too.  One should accept that with a certain grace.

Rule Five The More Things Change Friday

In accordance with my odd habit of reading classical and sometimes rather arcane stuff, I’ve recently been reading Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations.  It’s a fascinating read, and for having written this around 1800 years ago, this Roman Emperor had some insights that still apply today – some almost uncannily.  A few of these are here, followed with my thoughts.

Moreover I learned of him to write letters without any affectation, or curiosity; such as that was, which by him was written to my mother from Sinuessa: and to be easy and ready to be reconciled, and well pleased again with them that had offended me, as soon as any of them would be content to seek unto me again. To read with diligence; not to rest satisfied with a light and superficial knowledge, nor quickly to assent to things commonly spoken of…

“To read with diligence.”  How many people do that any more?  It took me years to learn to seek out differing viewpoints; the Old Man used to exhort me to vigorously challenge my own opinions, but I was probably in my forties before I really took that advice to heart, and it did result in my changing my mind on a few issues.  My current worldview, that of a somewhat prickly minarchist libertarian, arose from my following of that advice.  And “…nor quickly to assent to things commonly spoken of” applies as well.  In simple, modern English:  The “common wisdom” usually isn’t.

And these your professed politicians, the only true practical philosophers of the world, (as they think of themselves) so full of affected gravity, or such professed lovers of virtue and honesty, what wretches be they in very deed; how vile and contemptible in themselves?

Boy howdy!  Does this ever apply to most modern pols.  “…what wretches they be in very deed,” as in profiting hugely from their service, even if it’s indirectly; say, by laundering bribe money from a Ukrainian oil company by placing your useless, coke-head, prostitute-impregnating son in a plush “position” on their Board of Directors.

What is that that is slow, and yet quick? merry, and yet grave? He that in all things doth follow reason for his guide.

This kind of fits in with the first item, doesn’t it?  When used as a verb, ‘reason’ may be defined as to “think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic.”  Now read Twitter, or FaceDerpbook, or any of the other various and sundry social media outlets, and see how many people you think are thinking, understanding and forming opinions by a process of logic.  I can answer that in advance:  Almost none.

He that runs away from his master is a fugitive. But the law is every man’s master. He therefore that forsakes the law, is a fugitive. So is he, whosoever he be, that is either sorry, angry, or afraid, or for anything that either hath been, is, or shall be by his appointment, who is the Lord and Governor of the universe.

The key takeaway from this?  “…the law is every man’s master.”  But today, the law is not every man’s master; too many people (like, say, Bill Clinton) get away with too much, with too many things, that common people never would.  “…the law is every man’s master” is another way of saying “equal treatment under the law,” which is, as we have documented many times in these virtual pages, effectively dead in this country today.

Marcus Aurelius was in many ways no prize by today’s standards.  He was an Emperor, by definition an autocrat.  But he was the last of what Machiavelli more-or-less accurately described as the “Five Good Emperors,” and the Roman historian wrote of him “…alone of the emperors, he gave proof of his learning not by mere words or knowledge of philosophical doctrines but by his blameless character and temperate way of life.”  His Meditations, these eighteen centuries later, are still worth reading – and reflecting upon.  Some of our political employees would do well to mark his words.

Animal’s Daily Personal Heroes News

Dr. Sowell.

Here’s a great piece on one of my personal heroes, Dr. Thomas Sowell.  What a remarkable man, and what an inspiring life!  Excerpt:

Measured by his contributions to economics, political theory, and intellectual history, Thomas Sowell ranks among the towering intellects of our time. Yet, rare among such thinkers, Sowell manages never to provoke, in the reader, the feeling of being towered over. As Kevin Williamson observed, Sowell is “that rarest of things among serious academics: plainspoken.” From 1991 until 2016, his nationally syndicated column set the bar for clear writing, though the topics he covered were often complex. “Too many academics write as if plain English is beneath their dignity,” Sowell once said, “and some seem to regard logic as an unconstitutional infringement of their freedom of speech.” If academics birth needlessly complex prose, editors too often midwife it. An editor, Sowell once quipped, would probably have changed Shakespeare’s “To be or not to be, that is the question” to something awful, like “The issue is one of existence versus non-existence.”

Consider Sowell’s clear, brief explanation of the economic idea of “scarcity.” “What does ‘scarce’ mean?” he asks in his layman’s textbook, Basic Economics. “It means that what everybody wants adds up to more than there is.” Not only is pointless complexity absent from Sowell’s prose; so is the first-person perspective. The words “I” or “me” scarcely show up in his 30-odd books, but for his memoir, A Personal Odyssey.

To his critics, Sowell’s writing style is severe. But to his fan base—which includes figures as different as Steven Pinker and Kanye West—it’s a refreshing break from the self-absorbed drivel that frequently passes for cultural commentary nowadays. Pinker, a Harvard psychologist and leading public intellectual, named Sowell the most underrated writer in history. West, for his part, tweeted out a handful of Sowell quotes to millions of followers in 2018.

I’ve been an admirer of Dr. Sowell for years.  While I was studying economics as part of my MBA work, at my instructor’s recommendation I read Dr. Sowell’s Basic Economics, and then began seeking out more of his work.  Since then I have read millions of words from the mind of this great man, and have been more and more impressed by his history, his intellect, his grasp of good and bad policy, and his uncanny ability to clearly and simply explain complicated subjects – like economics.

One of the things I admire the most about Thomas Sowell is his personal story; the son of sharecroppers, growing up in the Jim Crow South, he rose and educated himself driven by the power of his personal will.  And his own statement on those achievements is simple; if he can do it, others can as well.

Dr. Sowell once famously said:

Imagine a political system so radical as to promise to move more of the poorest 20% of the population into the richest 20% than remain in the poorest bracket within the decade? You don’t need to imagine it. It’s called the United States of America.

Bravo, sir.

Go, then, and read the whole thing.  Read Basic Economics. Read anything you can find my Dr. Sowell.  You’ll be richer for it.