One of the ubiquitous and relentless features of life under “Big Brother” in George Orwell’s novel 1984 was the Two Minutes Hate. Within the book, the purpose of the Two Minutes Hate was to re-direct the citizens’ subdued feelings of angst and hatred from leading their wretched, controlled existence away from their own government and toward external enemies (which may not even exist). By such a device, the ruling Party hoped to minimize subversive thought and behaviour. Orwell’s protagonist says, “The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.”

Orwell did not invent the idea behind the term “two minutes hate“; it was already in use in the First World War. At that time, British writers satirized the German campaign of hatred against the English, and imagined a Prussian family sitting around the kitchen table having its “morning hate”. The word itself provokes all kinds of negative associations, from both “hate-ers” and “hate-ees.” But is hate, per se, always a bad thing? I hate cockroaches, stop-and-go-bumper-to-bumper traffic, both hard and soft-boiled eggs, the taste of vodka, among other things. While hatred of anything is not universal, I can say with confidence that two things out of my list of four come darn close to being universally hated. Oh yeah, I also hate “hate-crime” legislation!

Wikipedia definition: “Hate crime laws in the United States are state and federal laws intended to protect against hate crimes motivated by enmity or animus against a protected class of persons. Although state laws vary, current statutes permit federal prosecution of hate crimes committed on the basis of a person’s protected characteristics of race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability. The U.S. Department of Justice/FBI, as well as campus security authorities, are required to collect and publish hate crime statistics.” I simply don’t understand this whole concept. From the victim’s standpoint, how is being stabbed, shot or robbed made worse by supposing the emotional state of the perp? “Uh, gee, it wouldn’t have been so bad if the shooter had liked me.” Is that what the victim is thinking? What about the victim’s family? “We miss dad more because the killer hated him” or “we would feel so much better if the killer had liked him.” Is that what his children are saying? What a stupid idea!

It seems to me that the most vocal promoters of hate crimes laws are often the same  activists who champion so-called “non-discrimination” laws that include their favorite  words: “sexual orientation, gender identity, Islamophobia.” Once codified, do those laws do anything to prevent discrimination? No they don’t, but they do provide a legal method through which those same “hate-crime” law enthusiasts can harass, bully, financially intimidate, and exact debilitating punitive fines and punishments on people whose conscience offends their agenda.

Should you ever be robbed, beaten or wounded by someone, and they haven’t explained to you why, with your remaining gasping breaths, ask “do you hate me”? If he says no, at least you’ll feel better. Or not.

“Honor-Shame” Paradigm and the “carbecues” of Gothenburg Sweden.

13 August, 2018, Gothenburg, Falkenburg, Trollhattan, Malmo: Up to 100 cars were torched or vandalized by masked youths in the migrant “no-go” areas of those Swedish cities, in what has been referred to as “carbecues”. 

Who do we turn to for guidance in these absurd times? Clearly not our mainstream political leaders. The same goes for mainstream journalists, academics and ultra ecumenical religious leaders. But amongst all the froth they produce, assuring us that we are all the same and we can all get along if we just make a bit of effort, one dissenting message from a religious man to the inhabitants of Europe stands out as starkly realistic. That man is Amel Shimoun Nona, exiled Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul:

“Please, try to understand us. Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here. You must consider again our reality in the Middle East, because you are welcoming in your countries an ever growing number of Muslims. Also you are in danger. You must take strong and courageous decisions, even at the cost of contradicting your principles. You think all men are equal, but that is not true: Islam does not say that all men are equal. Your values are not their values. If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home”. 

Two competing paradigms attempt to explain cultures that appear to Americans to act irrationally, namely most of those in the Middle East. The one I favor is called the “honor-shame” (HS) paradigm, the other is, for want of a better description, the politically correct/post colonial (PC) paradigm. I am borrowing these explanations from Augeanstables.com. because they make more sense than anything I have read.

The HS identifies Arab political culture as an example of “traditional” or “pre-civil society” culture. In what are known as “prime-divider societies”, the elite monopolize power, wealth, education, and the public sphere, while the masses live in poverty. In these societies the prevailing political axiom runs: “rule or be ruled.” The dominant alpha males (warriors, big men) set the rules of honor-shame and determine when and how often a man can legitimately shed the blood of another for his own honor. The zero-sum logic that dominated Arab political culture towards Israel from the start, developed into a negative-sum approach after the Israelis defeated the Arabs in their “wars of honor.” The resulting attitude became ‘if we lose, then they must lose as well, even if it worsens our own conditions’. From its first century (7th-8th century CE), political Islam divided the world into two categories: Dar al Islam (the abode of peace where Islam rules) and Dar al Harb (the abode of war, “the sword”). Islam believes that the entire world will eventually convert and Dar al Islam will reign supreme. Additionally, once Islam conquers a territory, that land cannot revert to Dar al Harb. Over the last twenty years this apocalyptic Jihad has spread in Muslim communities around the world. With the help of the internet, “local” jihad has merged with anti-Western sentiment, spread through both Shi-ite Islam (Khoumeini’s Iran, Hizbollah) and Sunni Islam (Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Taliban, al-Qaeda). Movements depicting Israel and the West as the deadly enemy of Islam have arisen even in the West. 

If in the 18th century, progressive thought emphasized equality before the law (democracy), and in the 19th, it emphasized equality of goods and services (socialism, communism), in the 20th century it emphasized equality of cultures. This development, the PC paradigm, came on the wings of a wave of exceptional self-criticism in which avant-garde thinkers questioned some of the most basic and often unconscious elements of their own culture and sought to renounce patterns, values, and deeds that they felt were immoral. Respect for other cultures, especially ones that earlier Westerners had found “primitive” and “superstitious” became a major engine of cultural thought. Based on the principle that we cannot understand “others” without empathy, and cannot empathize without restraining our tendency to impose our own mentality on others, especially in making value judgments. The Sixties and the New Left shifted attention from classic radical concerns about domestic equality towards the international arena, arguing that the prosperity of the West came from plundering the Third World, and capitalism just represented a more sophisticated cultural version of imperialism that did not need to use brute force most of the time.

So when gangs of “refugees” (or at least those from neighborhoods identified as
“migrant no-go areas”) who were given a safe home in countries like Sweden start rampaging and destroying property in their new homes, it seems to qualify as “irrational behavior”, or does it? Considering the cultures that they come from, both the HS and PC paradigms try to bring a perspective to the irrationality. As I said, I subscribe to the HS paradigm. Regardless of what you believe, the question still remains: If your country is going to offer a home to refugees, what behaviors will you expect?



Zero Sum

1 – 1 = 0, 2 – 2 = 0, 3 – 3 = 0 and so on. That’s exactly what 0 sum is. In poker and some other forms of gambling, there is a “pot” of money, and the more I win, the less there is for the other players, but outside of gambling, “zero-sum” has little utility. “Zero-sum” thinking is a perversion of the “golden rule”, turning “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” into “do unto others BEFORE they do unto you.” Unfortunately, “zero-sum” thinking still permeates and drives the mindset of the envious. While various labels are applied to the envious–liberal, leftist, progressive, radical–at their core, envy is both the limitation and the source of passion of their philosophies. Envy is zero sum thinking! Why? Because envy is both additive–I want what they have–and subtractive–I hate that they have it. Envy isn’t happy until it takes away what others have. The envious believe that life is “zero-sum”. More for you means less for me, there is only so much that can be shared. Is that true, or is the REAL SCARCITY good ideas? Why do some people cling to zero-sum thinking? There are emotional payoffs for a certain kind of person. Emotions which birth Zero-sum thinking include:

  • total scarcity — if you gain (wealth, status), I lose
  • Schadenfreude — your misfortune brings me gladness;
  • envy — your success diminishes me;
  • triumphalism — I’m bigger because you are smaller; and
  • resentment — as long as you have more success than me, I despise you, if necessary in secret.

Why do I say emotions are the cause and the thinking or paradigm the effect? Because emotion tends to spring up spontaneously, triggered by who knows what, THEN human beings create the rationalizations to justify or explain the emotions and feelings. Emotion preceeds thinking!

Wanting more than you have is not necessarily evil. In fact, it may be a source of creative striving, and the midwife of world-changing ideas. In 1958, Jack St. Claire Kilby, from Great Bend Kansas, started work at Texas Instruments (T.I.) as an electrical engineer. Most everyone had left on a mandated summer break, but Mr Kilby stayed in the lab and worked on combining a transistor, a capacitor and three resistors on a single piece of germanium, and on September 12th, 1958, the integrated circuit was born. Despite the ugly wires hanging off of it, it was a start.

In January of 1959, Bob Noyce was keeping busy at Fairchild semiconductor in Palo Alto, California. He deployed a photographic printing technique–the planar process–which uses glass as insulation, to deposit aluminum wires above silicon transistors. Without the messy wires hanging off, this new version of the integrated circuit, the chip, became manufacturable. In March of 1960, T.I. introduced the “Type 502 Flip Flop”–one bit of memory for $450. Fast forward to 2018. Your iPhone probably has a trillion bits of memory. Cost per bit? Too small to mention. Think about zero sum in this context. From a couple of wires and a few cheap components came an invention which changed the world, because someone had an idea and decided to play with it.

Do we live in a world of scarcity? What REALLY limits how human beings live is their own ideas, and the political and economic systems that grow out of those ideas.


Borders, Fences and Neighbors.

I live in eastern Washington State just 30 miles from the border of Idaho and about 160 miles from the Oregon border. When I cross the border from Washington to Idaho, if there weren’t a sign telling me I was doing that, I wouldn’t even know it. At least when I cross from Washington to Oregon I have to pass over a substantial barrier, the Columbia River. Every time I cross any border from state to state in the United States, I give thanks that there are no checkpoints or passports to deal with. As I look out my kitchen window I also see the fences between my yard each neighbor’s yard, and in every direction I look there are fences separating the backyards of every home, but practically none in the front. We’ve all heard the phrase, “good fences make good neighbors” and psychologically, it’s really true. Because none of these fences is much of a physical barrier, so why are they even there? You can answer this question for yourself in a simple thought experiment: Imagine your home property without a fence between it and neighbors on each side. Don’t you feel a little bit proprietary about yours?

Our fences are generally not walls, and our homes are not literally castles, yet a very common cliche is “a man’s home is his castle.” Where did that come from? There are no actual castles in the US, only ostentatious homes that are “castle-light”, more like palaces for non-royalty. Castles are large residences or a group of large buildings that have been constructed with strong walls to protect against attacks. In other words, castles are fortified residences. A palace, in contrast, serves primarily as a residential place, occupied by royalty, heads of state, or heads of a church (such as bishops and archbishops). Unlike castles, palaces are not fortified against attacks, but rather designed for comfort and elegance. A fort is different from both castles and palaces in that it is not a residence, but rather a military fortification. These structures have been built specifically with war in mind and are used to defend specific territories.

In modern Europe, castles, palaces, forts and walled towns are mainly tourist attractions. But in the days before Europe had national borders, castles and walled towns were necessary defend the very lives of those who lived in the nearby territory. Medieval Europe knew nothing of borders in the modern sense of the term, every ruler added to his dominions to the extent he was able. The ruinous efforts to conquer France by five generations of English kings during the Hundred Years War (1337 to 1453) offer a good example of what a world without strong national borders looks like. Borders between nation-states are NOT equal by any means.

Let us consider the concepts of cohesion versus coercion. The United States are is a great example of national cohesion. The Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Syria and Iraq are or were examples national coercion. The problem with states held together by coercion is that once the oppression of the state is lifted the result is not freedom, but dissolution and war. What is actually the difference between countries based on cohesion and those based on coercion? It isn’t diversity of ethnicity, religion, native language, national origin or any other manifestation of the variety of the human experience. The United States probably contains every possible variation of those characteristics. In fact, Washington and Idaho themselves probably contain just about every variation. Yet I can drive from Washington to Idaho and not even know I’m in a different state. We take that for granted. It is a huge blessing and a historical anomaly. This reality hasn’t always been smooth. Our great civil war–the issue of slavery aside–was really a war to determine whether this would be one nation or a bunch of separately governed nations. The aftermath showed the cost of getting your own way despite the advantages of union. What ultimately makes a cohesive union rather than a coercive corral is a unifying idea.

The idea that civil government exists for the benefit of the governed never existed before our nation. The phrase “consent of the governed”, the idea that a government’s legitimacy and moral right to use state power is only justified and legal when consented to by the people or society over which that political power is exercised, was radical at the time, and now is not only accepted in Western nations (and taken for granted as the “way things should be”) but copied by non western nations as Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, India and Israel. So when we read and hear about “borders are wrong”, “abolish I.C.E.” and other such smug and ignorant rants, let’s renew our appreciation for our ability to drive across borders within this great cohesive nation by driving across the nearest state border (my apologies to those living in Hawaii. Alaska and the middle of Montana–just make a vacation out of it.)

The sword of life?

The sword is a killing instrument, especially the Japanese katana. It was designed primarily for effectiveness of killing. And in the hands of a master, there was probably no more effective sword ever made. But then again beyond the physical sword there was a spirit of the sword. The katsujinken was called the “sword that gives life”, or the weapon of justice. The setsuninto was the “sword that takes life”, or weapon of oppression. They might even be identical swords, but the spirit depends upon who is wielding it.

How children are raised can be katsujinken or setsuninto also, a legacy of life and health, or a legacy of destruction. A book published in 1900 by A. E. Winship (Jukes-Edwards: A Study in Education and Heredity) demonstrates the principle, here. legacy I recommend reading a synopsis of that study at the link. But it illustrates a contrast between a godly home and an ungodly home over many generations, and the consequences for society.

One of the worst implementations of a noble idea in the United States was called “Aid to Families With Dependent Children”, or AFDC, but better known as welfare. The program was created under the name Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) by the Social Security Act of 1935 as part of the New Deal. It was created as a means-tested entitlement which subsidized the income of families where fathers were “deceased, absent, or unable to work.” The AFDC program tended to treat households with a cohabiting male who was not the natural father of the children much more leniently (less means testing, more money) than those with a resident spouse or father of the children. This feature created a clear disincentive for marriage and also a clear incentive for divorce, because women who married face the reduction or loss of their AFDC benefits. Had we been Japanese, the program could have been called setsuninto.

Parents, you are the katsujinken or setsuninto in your child’s life, and therefore the future of your society.

In the beginning…..

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:1-5.

Matthew Henry’s commentary: The plainest reason why the Son of God is called the Word, seems to be, that as our words explain our minds to others, so was the Son of God sent in order to reveal his Father’s mind to the world. What the evangelist says of Christ proves that he is God. He asserts, His existence in the beginning; His coexistence with the Father. The Word was with God. All things were made by him, and not as an instrument. Without him was not any thing made that was made, from the highest angel to the meanest worm. This shows how well qualified he was for the work of our redemption and salvation. The light of reason, as well as the life of sense, is derived from him, and depends upon him. This eternal Word, this true Light shines, but the darkness comprehends it not. Let us pray without ceasing, that our eyes may be opened to behold this Light, that we may walk in it; and thus be made wise unto salvation, by faith in Jesus Christ.

Charles Spurgeon’s commentary: The divine Logos, whom we know as the Christ of God. “In the beginning was the Word.” The first words of this gospel remind us of the first words of the Old Testament: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Even then “the Word” was; he existed before all time, even from everlasting. I know not how the Deity of Christ can be more plainly declared than in his eternal duration. He is from the beginning. In his glory he was “with God.” In his nature he “was God.” He that hung upon the cross was the Maker of all worlds. He that came as an infant, for our sake, was the Infinite. How low he stooped! How high he must have been that he could stoop so low! It never has done so; it never will. You may sometimes call the darkness, the ignorance of men, or the sin of men. If you like, you may call it the wisdom of men, and the righteousness of men, for that is only another form of the same darkness. “The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”

My earliest lesson in going the extra mile…. or miles.

I read recently that the Boy Scouts of America will no longer be just boys per se. Whatever the reasons for this inclusive mix of boys, girls and those who are confused about their gender, I will always be grateful for a lesson I learned at age 12. One of the final tasks set before me in my boy scout training was a hike that paralleled the Erie Canal in Pennsylvania. I don’t remember how long the hike was supposed to be. We had a map, we each had a canteen of water, we had hats, boots, and a little bit of food. And that was it. Then we got lost. There was definitely something to be desired in our map reading skills. The 4 of us argued about directions constantly, and while we were supposed to stick together, we finally separated into two pairs, going This way and That way (kind of like the “Boy” Scouts themselves).

I remember it was a hot and very dusty hike, and along the way, things just kept going wrong. We ran out of water and food too soon, and the soles of my boots detached, flapping with every step. Even more embarrassing, though not nearly as uncomfortable, the brim of my garrison cap suddenly just separated and fell off. I wanted to quit, I wanted to call for mommy, I wanted to just stop and sit and lament my lost brim.

Taking stock of my situation –flapping soles, no water or food, lost with a low probability of being found if we just sat there, not knowing how far we had to go or even that we were going the right way, we learned the virtue of the principle “keep putting one foot in front of the other.” By doing that we made it back to camp, flapping soles and missing brims and all. It helped that we could exhort one another. Without being conscious of it, the “one foot at a time” principle became a building block of my life, and in fact saved my life on more than one occasion.

One of those life saving occasions was in Florida, 1973, when I found myself swimming in Ichetucknee springs, unable to get out because of rafts of floating vegetation blocking the shore. You could only get out at one point, where the vegetation was sparse, and I had to swim for hours past the point of exhaustion. But it was either keep putting one arm in front of the other, or drown. Another time was 1979 in Yellowstone Park, during the coldest winter on record. It was 35F below zero and we had to ski 22 miles to find a backcountry cabin. Maybe 22 miles doesn’t sound like a lot, but we had 50 lb packs, had to break trail through deep new snow, had to climb down and then back up the banks of the trail where it was melted by hot springs runoff – – only in Yellowstone – – and finally reaching the cabin, had to dig through 5 feet of snow to find the door. For 8 or so hours, the mantra was “one foot in front of the other.”

Through all of these hard life lessons, I continued to remember how comical it looked when the brim of my hat fell off. Some things just stay with you. Too bad that doesn’t include the Boy Scouts of America continuing to be boys.