Archive for August 14th, 2005

When Your Resident Genius Debated a Spam Machine

I have just been laughing my keester off at me.

Some time back I was actually arguing with texas holdem. I had no idea that texas holdem was a computer that ran off random Wise Sayings to send off as spam to blogs like Whitaker Online.

They struck me as a cut above the usual regurgitations that liberals and respectable conservatives hit me with.

But it put my fans in a really embarrassing situation:

How do you explain, with all respect, that your Great Genius is arguing with a computer?

I am sitting here helpless with laughter.

Laughing at me and feeling sorry for my readers.

It must have been AWFUL for you!

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Sigh! Yes, The Lord of the Rings is a Repeat

Yes, the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) is a repeat of the Niebelungenlied.

Tolkien was a scholar of Indoeuropean beliefs, and much of what he says in LOTR is a repeat of what Wagner describes in his opera.

What a surprise! One student of Indoeuropean history says what another student of Indoeuropan beliefs said.

Gosh! Wow!

Wagner, bless his soul, was a dedicated devotee of Indoeuropean ideas. But when it came to those ideas he was a romantic idiot.

Wagner said Odin gave an eye for love of Freya.

Odin gave his eye to have more KNOWLEDGE. That makes Odin unique among all the gods of every other relgiion. All the other gods already knew everything already or they were after Wisdom.

They considred mere knowledge, merely knowing more factual information, to be the kind of thing a peasant would worry about.

Nobody notices this but me.

What impresses most people is a premise of the Nieberlungen and of LOTR that is totally astonishing to those of us who were raised in the Old Testament tradition.

We have been taught that if anybody has absolute power it means they are absolutely right. Jehovah has absolute power and if you don’t like what he says he will show he is right by damning you forever into eternal despair and agony.

You can’t get righter than that.

Decades ago when I first read LOTR I kept waiting for some hero to take the All Powerful Ring and turn it to Goodness. I was astonished when the final triumph was the destruction of this Ultimate Power.

When I first read LOTR I kept waiting for the Humble Frodo and the Humble Sam to somehow turn the Ultimate Power to good, the good that it had always been at heart.

After all, I had always been taught that Total Power was the same thing as Total Good.

But Tolkien got the Indoeuropean mentality exactly right. To our ancestors, total power meant total evil.

Our ancestors were burned alive for believing that. Nobody worries about them. The only persecution anybody is concerned about is discrimination against the Jews, who were allowed to practice their religion.

Our ancestors are a bunch of ashes. Who worries about ashes?

Tolkien did.

Tolkien spent his whole life trying to perfect the Silmarillion and to get it exactly right. He was a good Catholic, but he never believed the Old Testament premise that the bully is always right, the idea that if Jehovah is all powerful he must be all good.

Lord Acton, another traditional Catholic, coined the phrase, “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

LOTR and the Niebelungenlied are total contradictions of Judeo-Christianity. But I believe they are reaffirmations of the teaching of Christ.

If they aren’t, then I’ll go with the Odinists.

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Whitaker’s First Law on Being Right

Diamondlike said that what I say boils down to the fact that everybody is right and everybody is wrong. It is a matter of perceptions.

What bothers me about this is that Diamondlike comes so close to an important truth that his failing to get the whole point is dangerous.

If the history of Christianity teaches us anything, it is that those who come very close to the whole truth are far more destructive than those who are simply and obviously wrong.

It is true that we are all human and honest people can be wrong. But if this just boils down to everybody is right and everybody is wrong, we are worse off than we started. This logic leads us to the conclusion that no one is completely wrong. It leads to the conclusion that no one is completely evil.

Wrong.

A person can be purely evil.

Whitaker’s First Law relating to truth (Truth with a capital is ALWAYS the enemy of truth) says that a human being can be altogether evil. It says that a human being can be altogether wrong.

Whitaker’s First Law relating to the truth says that someone who genuinely believes he is perfectly good is sure to be perfectly evil. Such a person is incapable of reason. Such a person is incapable of simple mercy.

The person who has no doubt that he is absolutely right is convinced that he is the only arbiter of what is right, the embodiment of Truth and of Mercy. In the name of his conviction that he is Truth and Mercy Incarnate he becomes the ultimate enemy of simple truth and simple mercy.

Every priest of the Inquisition believed that. Every member of Stalin’s Secret Police believed that.

The person who is convinced that he is the True Intellectual, the Only True Prophet of Truth, becomes the Priest of the Temple.

He is the absolutely, altogether evil.

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Gluttony and Sexual Obsession

Not a day goes by when I don’t think about C.S. Lewis’ little book, “The Screwtape Letters.”

That little book is a collection of letters from the Senior Demon Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood. The letters are advice on how to tempt humans into Hell.

Why do I like it so much? If you spend your life in politics, any good, thoughtful advice on wrestling with the Devil is welcome.

I mentioned below one of the great insights Screwtape had. It was about the sin of gluttony. Screwtape says Wormwood should keep people believing that gluttony is just eating too much. Screwtape points out that gluttony has nothing to do with how MUCH you eat.

The sin of gluttony, the one that gets people into Hell, is ANY obsession with food. The little old lady who sends an overworked waitress back to the kitchen to get her “Just a LITTLE bit of food” is practicing the kind of gluttony Screwtape wants.

Thinking about that, it occurred to me that you don’t have to have sex all the time to be sinful. If you are obsessed with NOT having sex, that is just as good as being a sex addict.

Screwtape points out the person who thinks he is not being a glutton by eating too much will realize why he is faced with the Pit of Hell. But the person who spends his life making life hard on other people because he is obsessed with just the right amount of food thinks he is being an angel. He will be astonished, too late, when he finds out the truth.

Not only do they come to Hell, says Screwtape, but they are more amusing when they get there.

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A Cautionary Tale

I don’t suppose I have to tell you that if you don’t choose your roommate carefully, you’ll pay for it big time.

The guy I stay with is not judgmental about other people, but he won’t give me a break. Everybody but me has a reason for what they do, but not me. You know the old Army motto, “Be all you can be?”

This guy expects me to be more than I can possibly be.

If I give what he would consider a “reason” from somebody else, he calls it an “excuse” when I say it.

The man calls me names he would never call anybody else. He never completely forgives me when I make a bad mistake.

Many times I would like to kick him out of here, but I can’t.

I live alone.

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America’s Two Southern Borders

The Rio Grande is the only place on earth where the first world borders directly on the third world. But our other southern border is interesting too.

Our other southern border is the only place on earth where you go directly from America into Europe.

No, I did make a typo there. When you cross our NORTHERN border into Canada, the states you leave behind, New England and the Northwest, are totally European. There is absolutely nothing American about Canadian attitudes. When you go into Canada going north you are going from one part of Europe into another.

But exactly the same thing is true of the Northwest and New England. Accepted attitudes in Canada are exactly the same as accepted attitudes in Britain and France. But the same thing is true of New England and the Northwest. A New Englander, a Canadian and a Frenchman could sit down and talk and, from what they say, you couldn’t tell who was from where.

Alaska votes conservative Republican. You would play hell finding any other state on the Canadian border which is conservative Republican. As I said below in “One America, Two Europes” there is absolutely no difference in accepted opinion in our “red states” and accepted opinion in Europe, including Canada.

Alaska is American in the extreme. It repudiates the environmentalism which has replaced socialism as the accepted attitudes of Canadians and Frenchmen. Alaska has the highest percentage of members of the National Rifle Association of any state in the Union.

I have no more personal identification with Washington State or New England than I do with Paris, France. And they have less personal identification with me than they do with any non-American anywhere. To them I have nothing to do with “America.” They say loyalty to America has nothing to do with loyalty to Southerners or other Americans.

They say they are loyal not to a particular people but the PRINCIPLES of America. And every principle they are talking about is the total European loyalty to Political Correctness.

No, I said that America’s SOUTHERN border is the only place where America is side by side with Europe. In order to drive to the “lower forty-eight” an Alaskan must cross his SOUTHERN border into Canada.

At that southern border, many Alaskans have been detained because they have Hate Literature in their cars. In Canada as in the rest of Europe, you can be jailed for having Politically Incorrect literature in your car.

As in Europe, you can be jailed for not telling the Thought Police at the border that you have illegal literature in your car. As in Europe, the banned literature is burned and you are billed for the cost of destroying it.

As in the rest of Europe, any weapon you have in your car will be immediately confiscated without compensation. Once again, if you do not tell the Thought Police about the weapon in your car, you are headed straight for prison.

As in the rest of Europe, they have every right to search your vehicle without the slightest authorization from anybody.

So America has two southern borders, both unique in the world. The Rio Grande is the only place on earth where the third world lies directly beside the first world. America’s other southern border is the only place on earth where Europe lies directly beside America.

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