Category Archives: Deep Thoughts

Deep thoughts, omphaloskepsis, and other random musings.

Animal’s Daily Charlottesville News

Thanks as always to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

The fuss in Charlottesville, VA is still cooling down – sort of.  The media everywhere is still picking over this incident, trying to make some sense of the whole thing; of course, there isn’t too much to pick over.  This was two groups of assholes, being assholes.

But while the legacy media wrings their hands, here is a pretty level-headed pieced of commentary.  Excerpt:

After months of work and hype on social media, Unite the Right managed to get 200 marchers to show up in Charlottesville Friday. On Friday night they marched around with tiki torches and waved flags without incident. On Saturday a group of Antifa counter protesters showed up. The counter protesters proceeded to attack the Unite the Right Marchers and a riot broke out.

According the the Virginia ACLU, the Charlottesville police stood down and did nothing to control the situation. During this riot a supporter of the march, it is unclear if he is a member of any of the organizations there, slammed his car into a crowd of counter protesters killing one person and injuring 19 others. It is unclear if the driver had planned to do this to any counter protesters before the march or if he just took the riot as an excuse to do it.

Those are the facts as we know them currently. What they mean can be debated. Any debate about this subject should be based upon facts, not assumptions or hasty generalizations. What can we reasonably conclude from the known facts? Three things I think.

First, the white nationalist movement is still the same small, insignificant movement it always has been. Despite months of hype and work, the Unite the Right rally drew 200 people. The white nationalist KKK movement has been able to draw a couple hundred people at a national rally for my entire lifetime. So let’s stop with the nonsense about this being some significant rally or that the white nationalists are any more popular or emboldened today than they ever have been. They are not. It’s the same small group of morons that have always been there. The proof of that is in the numbers. If there had been 10,000 people at that rally, I might reconsider that. But there wasn’t.

Second, what played out yesterday in Charlottesville is just a repeat of what happened in Berkeley, Middleburg, NYU, and other places over the last year and a half. Some group Antifa finds objectionable has a speech or a rally. Then Antifa shows up and starts assaulting people and the police stand down, let them do it, and let the riot happen. That is exactly what happened yesterday. It should surprise no one that one of these riots has now resulted in someone’s death. The fact that the death was the result of the actions of the enemies of Antifa rather than Antifa itself, changes nothing. This was going to happen eventually.

Third, this is exactly what Antifa wanted. Their plan is always to attack their enemies hoping they fight back and then get blamed for the resulting violence. And time and again the police let them do it. Every time some self-righteous writer like David French gets up and talks about this being the result of the “alt right,” whatever that is, they are doing nothing but emboldening Antifa and encouraging this to happen more in the future.

Now, take a look at the bolded portions above – emphasis added by me.  That seems to be the common thread of the various protests-turned-riots over the last year or so:  The polices stand down and let the rioters riot.  Charlottesville, Berkeley, Baltimore, Ferguson – it’s always that common thread, police giving the rioters “room to destroy.”

Out on a limb.

Let’s make no mistake about it – in Charlottesville, both sides of this conflict are beneath contempt.  And at least at this point, it’s difficult to tell who cast the first stone, although we may well harbor suspicions – suspicions based on the experience of, say, Berkeley, where the fascists of the ironically-named “antifa” movements began the riots.

How long will it be before some ballsy Mayor revives the old tradition of a public reading of the riot act, followed by “now disperse, or you will be dispersed by force”?

I suspect it may be closer than we think.

Animal’s Daily Overthrow News

There has been plenty of hyperventilating about some kind of coup ever since Donald Trump was elected President.  None of it will amount to anything, which makes this two-part scenario a tad silly.  Excerpt:

But how would one pull off a coup d’etat in the United States? Most of the political hacks had no idea, while the military experts understood the massive challenge. Some answers were obvious – in the Third World, the first thing the plotters take control of are the radio and TV stations and the newspapers. In America, the media was already in the bag. Hell, they would cheerlead a coup. But the actual seizure of power? That was more complicated.

“You just send in some soldiers and take over everything,” said the younger and, astonishingly, stupider California senator. “You know, with guns. How hard can this Army stuff be?”

Retired – actually, fired by Trump – General Leonard Smith, who had been promoted by Obama after failing to win in Iraq and Afghanistan, but who successfully spearheaded the transsexuals in foxholes initiative, tried to explain.

“Look, it’s a matter of numbers. We take all our land forces in CONUS…”

“What’s CONUS?” asked a former Clinton Deputy Assistant Undersecretary of Defense.

“The continental United States,” the general replied, annoyed. “We have maybe 45 brigade combat teams total available, counting everything active and reserve, Marine and Army. Less than one per state. And a city takes a brigade to control – at least. New York would take ten. And that’s assuming they were all loyal to us. There’s police and federal law enforcement too, but we also have 100 million armed Americans who might object.”

“Ridiculous,” sniffed the senator. “How can a bunch of citizens armed with their deer rifles stop a modern army?”

 “Oh, I don’t know, Senator. Ask the Vietnamese. Or the Afghans. Look, we need speed and focus. Step one is to decapitate the government by eliminating the current leadership, via capture or … otherwise. Step two, take the the key control nodes before the administration can react. Step three, use the inertia of the military and law enforcement. We get them on our side – whether they know it or not – and keep them moving and following orders so they do not have time to reflect and react against us. But you need to understand and to go into this with your eyes open. If we do this, people will die. Are you ready for that?”

OK, here’s where this scenario falls apart:  Our military and hell, much of our civil law enforcement, would never involve themselves in a violent overthrow of the United States government.   For one thing, the oath our military members take is to the Constitution, not to any specific leader (not that this seems to have much effect on elected pols who take a similar oath).  I’m damned certain the vast majority of the armed forces would repel, not aid, any such armed insurrection.

Here’s the second reason the scenario falls apart:  The insurrection is formulated and executed by the political Left.  You know – the people who don’t have all the guns.  The author nods at that fact with the line quoted above about Vietnam and Afghanistan, but America’s legal gun-owning community is far better armed and better practiced than the denizens of either of those places.

Any such attempt at a coup would be brutal, short, and not to the benefit of the would-be rebels.

Rule Five I, Claudius Friday

National treasure Dr. Victor Davis Hanson presents an interesting historical comparison to President Trump.  Excerpt:

Claudius was an unusual emperor, the first to be born outside Italy, in Roman Gaul. Under the Augustan Principate, new Caesars—who claimed direct lineage from the “divine” Augustus—were usually rubber-stamped by the toadyish Senate. However, the outsider Claudius (who had no political training and was prevented by his uncle Tiberius from entering the cursus honorum), was brought into power by the Roman Praetorian Guard, who wanted a change from the status quo apparat of the Augustan dynasty.

The Roman aristocracy—most claiming some sort of descent from Julius Caesar and his grandnephew Octavian (Caesar Augustus)—had long written Claudius off as a hopeless dolt. Claudius limped, the result of a childhood disease or genetic impairment. His mother Antonia, ashamed of his habits and appearance, called the youthful Claudius “a monster of man.” He was likely almost deaf and purportedly stuttered.

That lifelong disparagement of his appearance and mannerisms probably saved Claudius’s life in the dynastic struggles during the last years of the Emperor Augustus and the subsequent reigns of the emperors Tiberius and Caligula.

The stereotyped impression of Claudius was that of a simpleton not to be taken seriously—and so no one did. Claudius himself claimed that he feigned acting differently in part so that he would not be targeted by enemies before he assumed power, and to unnerve them afterwards.

Contemporary critics laughed at his apparent lack of eloquence and rhetorical mastery, leading some scholars to conjecture that he may have suffered from Tourette syndrome or a form of autism. The court biographer Suetonius wrote that Claudius “was now careful and shrewd, sometimes hasty and inconsiderate, occasionally silly and like a crazy man.”

Sound familiar?

It is an interesting comparison.  I’ve read a fair amount of Roman history myself, although most of my reading has to do with the Republic, not the Empire, as in prior to the second Roman Civil War.  But I agree that there are parallels between President Trump and Claudius.

Both were/are political outsiders.

Both were/are considered rude and uncouth by the political elites of their times.

Both were/are the subject of relentless attacks by those same political elites.

Of course, there is one major difference; President Trump was elected to office by the citizens according to a republican Constitution in place for nearly two hundred and fifty years.  Claudius was installed in office by the Praetorian Guard, over the objections of the Roman Senate, who were the last badly weakened vestige of the old Republic.

No comparison is perfect.  But this is an interesting one, and it’s important to note the road the Romans went down – and it’s not dissimilar (especially in fiscal matters) than the road the United States is on now.

Animal’s Daily Nork Nutbar News

A few days back, I wondered (and still do) what possesses people like Otto Warnbier to travel to dangerous third world shitholes like North Korea.  Now young Mr. Warnbier has died of whatever the hell the bat-guano crazy Norks did to him.  And now American nutbars on the left are claiming that he died because the Norks denied him his “white privilege.”  What a bag of crap.  Excerpt:

Ebony magazine took things farther, insisting that the takeaway was not about frat-bro privilege but “white privilege.” In a story reprinted from the site Kinfolk Kollective, the author LaSha argued:

I’m willing to bet my last dollar that he was aware of the political climate in that country, but privilege is a hell of a drug. The high of privilege told him that North Korea’s history of making examples out of American citizens who dare challenge their rigid legal system in any way was no match for his alabaster American privilege. When you can watch a white man who entered a theatre and killed a dozen people come out unscathed, you start to believe you’re invincible. When you see a white man taken to Burger King in a bulletproof vest after he killed nine people in a church, you learn that the world will always protect you….

What a mind-blowing moment it must be to realize after 21 years of being pedestaled by the world simply because your DNA coding produced the favorable phenotype that such favor is not absolute. What a bummer to realize that even the State Department with all its influence and power cannot assure your pardon. What a wake-up call it is to realize that your tears are met with indifference.

What a steaming pile Ebony published.

But that’s not really what I wanted to say, not on this occasion of the death of an American at the hands of a ruthless Stalinist regime.  Idiocy of this kind is all too common.  But if I had the chance for a face-to-face with the stunted little gargoyle with bad hair leading North Korea today, here’s what I would love to say to him:

“Fuck you, Kim Jong Dogshit.  Fuck you, your stunted insane father and your stunted insane grandfather.  Fuck all the twisted assholes that keep your fat, bloated, insane ass in power.  The death of one American cannot be repaid by the entire wealth of your whole damned, country, and that’s your fault, yours and your family’s – your fault that your people are eating grass, that your people would risk their lives to flee to China, to Russia, anywhere.”

And then I’d like to kick his teeth in.

I still wonder what possesses someone to go, voluntarily, to a place like North Korea.  But Mr. Warnbier’s death at the hands of these people is an outrage, even if he was ill-advised to go there.  To hell with the Nork regime; to hell with them all.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Thanks again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Moving along:  some folks aren’t interested, but I find this fascinating; the latest Kepler survey has revealed thousands of possible new exoplanets.  Ten of those may be earth-like.  Excerpt:

This is the most comprehensive and detailed catalog release of candidate exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system, from Kepler’s first four years of data. It’s also the final catalog from the spacecraft’s view of the patch of sky in the Cygnus constellation.

With the release of this catalog, derived from data publicly available on the NASA Exoplanet Archive, there are now 4,034 planet candidates identified by Kepler. Of which, 2,335 have been verified as exoplanets. Of roughly 50 near-Earth size habitable zone candidates detected by Kepler, more than 30 have been verified.

Additionally, results using Kepler data suggest two distinct size groupings of small planets. Both results have significant implications for the search for life. The final Kepler catalog will serve as the foundation for more study to determine the prevalence and demographics of planets in the galaxy, while the discovery of the two distinct planetary populations shows that about half the planets we know of in the galaxy either have no surface, or lie beneath a deep, crushing atmosphere – an environment unlikely to host life.

I’d have to add “life as we know it” to that last sentence.  But it’s still amazing.

When astronomers first started looking for exoplanets (planets outside or solar system) nobody knew what to expect.  Nobody knew if planets were common or rare; nobody knew if our life-friendly little solar system was typical or rare.

Now we know that many, many stars have planets.  I suspect it’s only a matter of time before we find a small rocky planet with the spectral lines for oxygen and water coming to us from its atmosphere.  That’s not a sure sign of life, but it’s a pretty decent one.

I hope I’m around when that happens.

Rule Five MYOB Friday

Robert Heinlein once noted that “ninety percent of all human wisdom is the ability to mind your own business.”  As usual, Heinlein was right.

So why don’t more folks take that to heart?

I’ve said this before in these virtual pages, many times, usually when discussing social issues:  I really don’t give a good goddamn what people do, as long as they leave me alone.  That applies to all sorts of things, from marriage to marijuana.  The problem with holding such a philosophy is the fact that too many folks don’t extend the same courtesy in return.

That’s the problem with espousing libertarian values.  Everybody seems to like the “nobody gets to tell you what to do” side of it, but few are willing to accept the “you don’t get to tell anyone else what to do, either.”

Examples on both sides of the political spectrum abound, but the most egregious examples these days come from the left:

  • On college campuses across the nation, conservative speakers are threatened and shouted down.
  • Pols on the left are making noises that “hate speech” isn’t protected by the First Amendment.
  • Intrusive and unconstitutional gun control is a plank in the Democratic Party platform.
  • Proposed restrictions on everything from SUVs to housing come from the left.

To be fair, AG Sessions is making noises about using Imperial power to crack down on those states that have legalized marijuana.  And GOP pols are consistently against legalizing sex workers.

And both sides still favor using the tax code to force you to submit your personal financial business to the Imperial government every year, in detail, in the laughable guise of a “voluntary” self-assessment.

Here’s my take on most issues:  If what you’re doing doesn’t infringe on anyone else, it’s not their business.  If you don’t like what someone is saying, don’t listen.  If you don’t like SUVs, don’t buy one.  If you think tobacco, or marijuana, or alcohol is harmful, don’t partake.  If you disapprove of gay marriage, don’t marry a person of the same sex.  And if you think prostitution is immoral, don’t visit a prostitute.

It’s really very simple.

But somebody else does those things, it doesn’t affect you.  You may not approve of other people doing those things.  But…  mind your own damn business.

Government seems to be filled with busybodies of every stripe.  I suppose that’s to be expected; one wouldn’t become a pol if one didn’t have an irresistible urge to stick one’s nose into other folks’ business.  Now, if your neighbor doesn’t mind his own business, it’s annoying.  When politicians propose using men with guns to force themselves into your business, that’s frightening.  Your neighbor can be an unwelcome intrusion, but government can send men with guns out to compel your compliance.

It’s increasingly a tough world for those of us who just want to be left alone.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Moving on, here’s a shocker:  Chimps are not people.  Excerpt:

Chimpanzees do not deserve the same rights as people, a New York state appeals court unanimously concluded on Thursday, as it refused to order the release of two of the animals to a primate sanctuary.

The 5-0 decision by the Appellate Division in Manhattan is the latest defeat for the Nonhuman Rights Project and its lawyer Steven Wise in a long debate over whether caged chimpanzees are actually legal “persons” entitled like humans to bodily liberty.

Citing experts like British primatologist Jane Goodall, the Nonhuman Rights Project said chimpanzees and humans share many behavioral, cognitive and social capabilities.

It said this entitled chimpanzees to many of the same rights, and sought “habeas corpus” relief to win freedom for Tommy and Kiko, each held by a private owner in upstate New York.

But the shared capabilities “do not translate to a chimpanzee’s capacity or ability, like humans, to bear legal duties, or to be held legally accountable for their actions,” Justice Troy Webber wrote for the appeals court.

“While petitioner’s avowed mission is certainly laudable, the according of any fundamental legal rights to animals, including entitlement to habeas relief, is an issue better suited to the legislative process,” Webber wrote.

Speaking as the guy who wrote a book on the topic (cast your eyes to the right) animal’s do not and can not have rights.  We should and do accord legal protection to animals; animal cruelty statutes have a long history in Western law.  But that’s not the same thing as acknowledging rights.  Key difference; animal cruelty statutes apply only to the actions of humans.

Rights are essentially negative in nature; they define actions governments and our fellow citizens may not take.  Government and our fellow citizens may not restrict our rights to self-expression, or to peaceably assemble, to bear arms or to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.  But no animal has the necessary moral agency to understand this; a human can be held accountable for violating another’s rights, but an animal may not.  It may be controlled or destroyed, but not put on trial.  It cannot confront its accuser; it cannot appeal to a jury of its peers.

Now, I’ve had occasion to interact with great apes; specifically, chimps and an orangutan.  It’s interesting, because when you look into the eyes of one of these close cousins you get an odd feeling; it’s not like looking at a cat or a dog.  There’s something more there.  But what there isn’t is human intelligence; what there isn’t is moral agency.

The Appellate Division in Manhattan got this one right.

 

 

Animal’s Daily Quadranscentennial News

In early 1991, I was sent (along with a whole bunch of other people) to the Middle East, where we helped General Schwarzkopf send the Iraqi Army squealing and screaming out of Kuwait with their tails between their legs.  It was an interesting time, a pretty intense time for about 100 hours, then pretty dull for the rest of the deployment.

While I was over there, I was a headquarters platoon leader for an Army Medical company.  One of the treatment platoon leaders was a little spitfire of a lieutenant, with a personality far larger than her 4’11” frame.

As I got to know 1LT Travers, I learned several things about her.  I learned she liked to hunt and fish; I learned she liked cold beer, straight whiskey and big-bore handguns.

I also learned that she had more physical and emotional courage than anyone I had ever met, and that she had more balls than most men I knew.  And, as the time went on, I realized she was probably the sweetest gal I was ever going to run across.

So when the deployment ended, I asked her to move from where she was living in Kansas up to Colorado with me.  The year after that we got married.

That was twenty-five years ago today.  She hasn’t changed a bit, other than a few (very few) gray hairs.  She’s still a little spitfire.  She still has a huge personality, enormous physical and emotional courage, and she still is the sweetest gal I’ve ever run across.  And I still love her more than life itself.

January 1991

Happy silver anniversary, hon.  Let’s shoot for another twenty-five!

Rule Five 3rd Annual Commencement Speech Friday

It’s that time of year again, when high school and college graduates all over the country are trying on caps and gowns and making post-graduation plans.  Today, for the third year, I will present here my own carefully prepared commencement speech to those grads – presented here because there’s damn little chance of my being asked to deliver it in person to a group of impressionable yutes.

So, here it is.  Enjoy.

“Graduates of the Class of 2017, let me be the first to extend to you my congratulations on this, your day of entry into reality.

For the last four years you have been working towards this goal, towards this day. That’s a good thing. One of the most important skills you will ever need, one of the most important ways to achieve success in the world into which you are about to enter, is the ability to formulate goals, to plan how to achieve those goals, and to see things through until you reach those goals. Today you’ve shown you can do that. Congratulations and good job.

Now, before you go out to enjoy the rest of this day, before you go out to celebrate this goal you have achieved, let me tell you a few harsh truths about the world you’re entering. I’m not going to give you any trigger warnings; if you can’t handle what I’m about to say, there’s damn little future for you out there in the real world, so cowboy up.  Moments ago I congratulated you on your day of entry into reality, so to get you started off right, here is a hefty dose of reality for you.

In spite of what you may have been told during all your years of education, nobody owes you anything, and you aren’t special. Any perceived ‘need’ you may have does not entitle you to anything – most especially, not to one red cent of the product of anyone else’s effort. If any of your professors have told you that, then they are economic illiterates, moral frauds or outright charlatans.

Our wonderful Constitution, which has stood for well over two hundred years as the founding document of our Republic, guarantees you the opportunity to your pursuit of happiness. It does not require anyone to provide you the means to your happiness at their expense. You and you alone are responsible for your own life. You have no moral claim on anyone else’s productivity. Accept that fact and you are already one step ahead of most of your peers.

You are entitled to what you have earned through your own efforts, and not:

One.

Damn.

Thing.

More.

If you are accepting a degree today in LGBT Studies, or Women’s Studies, or any of the other assorted bullshit Underwater Dog Polishing degrees our universities crank out today, then you have my sympathies. You are the victim of a fraud perpetrated by our university system, a vicious and cynical fraud that has resulted in you spending a lot of money for no gain. But more importantly, you are the victim of your own poor judgement. You decided to pursue a useless degree, and now you’re stuck. Here is another harsh reality: You are responsible for your own situation.  It’s not anybody else’s fault.  Nobody else is responsible.  You are.

Your university experience had one goal – producing a young adult with marketable skills, someone who can provide value to an employer and to the economy. In this your university has failed, and in choosing this degree, so did you. You have relegated yourself to uselessness in the workplace, and when a few years from now you are working as a barista or checkout clerk and crying over your six figures of student debt, remember what I said a few moments ago: You and you alone are responsible for your own life. You made a decision; now you get to deal with the consequences of that decision. Pull yourself up, look around at the other opportunities around you, and figure a way out of this mess your youthful indiscretion has landed you in.

But you still have one thing going for you. You have shown that you can set yourself a goal and achieve it. Do so now.

So, where do you go from here?

Because nobody owes you anything, including a living, one of the tasks ahead of you now is finding gainful employment. If you’re going to find employment, it will only be because you can demonstrate to the employer that you can provide value to him or her in excess of your costs of employment. Employment is an economic transaction.  In any free market transaction, both parties have to realize a perceived gain in value or the transaction won’t happen. If a prospective employer doesn’t think you’re able to provide value to his/her business in excess of your cost of employment, which includes not only your salary but all the extra taxes, fees and other various government extortion that you never see in your pay stub – then they won’t hire you. So be able to present yourself as someone who can provide value, in whatever field you have been studying these last few years.

Once you have gained that employment, once you are in the workplace, remember these three rules for success:

Show up a little earlier than the other guy,
Work a little harder than the other guy,
Never pass up a chance to learn something new.

Words that should never pass your lips include such things as “that’s not my job,” and “I don’t have time for that.” Your reputation in the workplace should be, to put it bluntly, the one who can get shit done. Results matter. Be the one that the boss can count on. Be the one who brings things in on time. Be the one who finishes the job. Be the one that produces value and you will never have to worry about where your next meal is coming from.

Bear in mind also that you are entering the workforce as a tablua rasa as far as potential employers are concerned.  You’re not going to leave these halls and be CEO of General Motors.  You will be working in an entry level job, probably not making a lot of money, probably doing work your longer-term co-workers don’t want to do.  Suck it up.  There are no lousy jobs, only lousy people.  Any work that produces value is worth doing.  How do you know if your work is producing value?  The answer to that is trivially easy:  If someone is willing to pay you to do the work, then you are producing value.  Bear in mind also that the job belongs to the employer, not to you, and if you don’t meet the employer’s expectations, someone else will.

How do you meet those expectations?  Better yet, how do  you exceed them?  When you are doing that job, keep these things in mind:

Be known for your integrity. Don’t say anything you don’t believe and don’t make promises you can’t deliver on. Your employers and co-workers must know you as the person who means what you say and who delivers on your promises.

Be known for your reliability. Show up on time, every day, for every event. Show up on time for meetings. Your employers and co-workers must know you as the person who will always be there when you’re needed.

Be known for your responsibility.  If you take on a task, finish it.  If you commit to a timeline, meet it.  If you accept responsibility for something, own it.  It’s yours.  Don’t expect anyone else to take care of it for you.  Your employers and co-workers must know you as the person who, when put in charge, takes charge.

Be known for your dependability. Plan your tasks to bring them in on schedule. If that means long hours, work them. If that means working a Saturday, work it. Your employers and co-workers must know you as the person who can get the job done.

Success isn’t a mysterious thing. It’s not that elusive and it’s not even all that hard. I did it, and you can too, but it does involve one four-letter word:

Work.

Thomas Edison once said “people often fail to recognize opportunity when it knocks, because it usually shows up in overalls and looks like work.” At these commencement events it’s common to be told to follow your dreams, and that’s nice, flowery stuff, but in most cases nobody is going to pay you to follow your dreams. They will pay you to produce value, and that means work.  Follow your dreams on your own time.

Finally, I will leave you all with some unsolicited advice:

All through your life, people will promise you things. Most of them won’t deliver. Many of those people will be people seeking political office, and many more of them will be people pushing some sort of supposed business opportunity. Some years ago the science fiction writer Robert Heinlein observed a fundamental law of the universe, which law is represented by the acronym TANSTAAFL: There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Remember that; if someone offers you something for nothing, they are lying. If someone is offering you something at someone else’s expense, they are offering to commit theft on your behalf. The only moral answer to such offers is outright refusal.

There are only three types of economic transactions and only one of those – a free, unfettered, voluntary exchange of value – is morally acceptable. If a transaction is done by force, that is theft. If a transaction is done by deceit, that is fraud. Have no interaction with anyone who advocates either.

Accept responsibility for your own successes. Accept responsibility for your own failures. Learn from both. Rely on yourself. Rely on your own skills, your own abilities. Many other people will let you down, but you can always rely on yourself.

In her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged, author Ayn Rand presents the protagonist, John Galt, describing his decision to solve society’s troubles by an epic act of creative destruction. He describes the ultimate moment of his decision process with two sentences, two sentences which I have found more inspiring than any long-winded ethical or political monologue ever delivered since the times of Plato and Aristotle.  These words are the very essence of the self-directed man of achievement:

‘I saw what had to be done. I went out to do it.’

Those are good words to live by. Now, today, you graduates see what has to be done.

Go out and do it.

Thank you and good luck.”

If anyone was offended by anything contained in this hypothetical speech, too damn bad.

Rule Five Civilization Collapse Friday

Could Western civilization be on the verge of collapse?  It’s probably not imminent – but it could happen.  Excerpt:

The political economist Benjamin Friedman once compared modern Western society to a stable bicycle whose wheels are kept spinning by economic growth. Should that forward-propelling motion slow or cease, the pillars that define our society – democracy, individual liberties, social tolerance and more – would begin to teeter. Our world would become an increasingly ugly place, one defined by a scramble over limited resources and a rejection of anyone outside of our immediate group. Should we find no way to get the wheels back in motion, we’d eventually face total societal collapse.

Such collapses have occurred many times in human history, and no civilisation, no matter how seemingly great, is immune to the vulnerabilities that may lead a society to its end. Regardless of how well things are going in the present moment, the situation can always change. Putting aside species-ending events like an asteroid strike, nuclear winter or deadly pandemic, history tells us that it’s usually a plethora of factors that contribute to collapse. What are they, and which, if any, have already begun to surface? It should come as no surprise that humanity is currently on an unsustainable and uncertain path – but just how close are we to reaching the point of no return?

While it’s impossible to predict the future with certainty, mathematics, science and history can provide hints about the prospects of Western societies for long-term continuation.

The BBC article here points out the similarity of events today with the times of the fall of the Roman Republic, and that’s a fair comparison; but they (not surprisingly) get a few things wrong.  For example:

Meanwhile, a widening gap between rich and poor within those already vulnerable Western nations will push society toward further instability from the inside. “By 2050, the US and UK will have evolved into two-class societies where a small elite lives a good life and there is declining well-being for the majority,” Randers says. “What will collapse is equity.”

This widening gap in and of itself means little or nothing, except that it provides fat paydays for those in the business of promoting the politics of envy.  What matters is how that lower portion is living.  One of the things unique to Western civilization, at least the portion that still has more or less free markets, is that the it has produced the richest poor people in world history.  In the United States, for example, there is little or no abject poverty, only relative poverty.  “Poor” people in the U.S. have air conditioning, microwave ovens, cellular phones, automobiles and cable or satellite television – luxuries unheard of among the well-to-do only a generation ago.  And while this is the case, the gap between rich and poor really doesn’t matter a damn.

One more thing the BBC misses, and it’s a doozie; the BBC doesn’t mention the most virulently anti-freedom, anti-prosperity, anti-Western force afoot in the world today, that being fundamentalist Islam.

It’s amazing that the Beeb overlooks this – or maybe not, given their European location and the fact that Europe is well on its way to being assimilated into the Islamic world.   Maybe there is some self-preservation in play, although it’s more likely that it’s just run-of-the-mill political correctness.  But fundamentalist Muslims are the greatest existential threat the West faces today, especially for the slow-breeding Europeans.  Demographics, as they say, is destiny, and the destiny of ethnic Europeans appears to be to fail through apathy.

The article concludes:

“The question is, how can we manage to preserve some kind of humane world as we make our way through these changes?” Homer-Dixon says.

The biggest challenge will be dealing with the one thing – the one deadly, dangerous, civilization-destroying thing – that the BBC fails to even mention.

Absent that, Western civilization will go the way of the dodo.