Monday, July 06, 2020

The Modern Cultural Revolution

Written by the child of a man who suffered during Mao's Cultural Revolution:

As they say, history rhymes but does not repeat itself. There are a few notable differences between the Cultural Revolution and today’s protest movement. For one thing, the levers of political power in the US and the UK are still in the hands of conservatives, and President Trump hasn’t been shy in using the might of the American state against the protestors.

But no historical analogy is ever perfect, and to seek exactitude over verisimilitude is to miss the point. There are differences, yes, but when it comes to fundamentals, the two moments have much in common.

For instance, the Red Guards of 1968 often came from privileged backgrounds. The first groups emerged from the elite high schools and universities in Beijing and belonged to the generation that had been born immediately after the Communist takeover in 1949. Raised on stories of revolutionary heroism and bitterly disappointed at the fact they had missed their chance to display their Red credentials.

Hence, when Mao Zedong, for reasons of internecine party warfare, decided to claim — absurdly — that the Communist Party was filled with bourgeois counter-revolutionaries, the young students saw their chance to achieve revolutionary greatness. The Red Guards thus went out, seeking to root out imaginary class enemies from within.

Similarly, today’s revolutionary vanguard is also made up of young, well-educated people, a disproportionate number hailing from elite educational institutions and working within elite professions. They grew up at a time of unprecedented progress in race relations, but it meant the main action was already over when they were coming of age.

Thus, the idea that elite Anglo-American institutions are filled with closeted racists, absurd though it is to anyone who has worked in them, became an article of faith overnight. Whether it is in newsrooms, universities or progressive advocacy groups, the hunt for secret racists gives these would-be Selma marchers a sense of purpose.

Then as now, the initial response from the establishment was largely positive. After all, the cause they were asked to endorse was a worthy one, and any excesses could be dismissed as unrepresentative youthful zeal. Were they not simply seeking a better country, a better world? But the initial indulgence would soon backfire, as the movement spiralled outside of their control. Mobs have a logic of their own, and soon the legacy elites found they could no longer exert any control over the crowds they had cheered on.

Eventually, the movement’s slogans make their way downstream to non-elite institutions and popular discourse. In due course, no entity, however remote from the issue at hand, could refuse to make public statements in support of the movement. In China, no book, be it about astronomy or sewing patterns, could fail to contain an introduction with fulsome praise for Chairman Mao, complete with quotations from his collected works. Similarly, today businesses selling anything from teabags to maths degrees feel the need to bend the metaphorical knee to the protesters.

The destruction of the old elite naturally creates opportunities for new ones. Indeed sometimes, the young would-be elites don’t even bother to hide their aims in ousting the old guard. At the Poetry Foundation, which sits on a pot of $250 million, the leadership was overthrown by a group of poets and assorted hangers-on who, in an open letter, called for the redistribution of the endowment to “those whose labor amassed those funds”, namely themselves. In China, meanwhile, Red Guards eventually took over the whole government, kicked out officials from their offices and put themselves in charge.

And there is of course the blatant denial of reality, the constant gaslighting which almost seems designed to ferret out people with any sanity left. In the midst of a global pandemic, thousands of epidemiologists and health scientists signed an open letter claiming that protesting took precedence over disease control. Even there lies a parallel: during the Cultural Revolution, marauding Red Guards created a cerebrospinal meningitis pandemic which killed 160,000 people. Then as now, making revolution trumped public health...

In America, students aren’t beating their teachers to death yet, as they did in 1960s China. But university students have for some time been cancelling professors who refuse to toe the line on BLM. In high schools, students have set up social media accounts dedicated to exposing classmates guilty of wrong-think. In the casual words of Mx Anamika Arya, a 16-year old leading one such effort, “I don’t want people like that to keep getting jobs”.

History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

Mathematical Models

It's important to remember that mathematical models do not exist to explain why reality works the way it does.  They exist to estimate and predict what will happen under a given set of conditions.  If the model does not estimate and predict accurately, it's a bad model--it's not a good model of the process being studied.  Reality doesn't care that your model should be right, reality doesn't have to alter itself to fit your model; it's up to the mathematician/scientist to create a theory, or formula, or model that reflects reality:

Dr. John Ioannidis became a world-leading scientist by exposing bad science. But the COVID-19 pandemic could prove to be his biggest challenge yet.

Ioannidis, the C.F. Rehnborg Chair in Disease Prevention at Stanford University, has come under fire in recent months for his opposition to state-ordered lockdowns, which he says could cause social harms well beyond their presumed benefits. But he doesn’t appear to be backing down.

In a wide-ranging interview with Greek Reporter published over the weekend, Ioannidis said emerging data support his prediction that lockdowns would have wide-ranging social consequences and that the mathematical models on which the lockdowns were based were horribly flawed.

As I wrote in a previous post, there's a lot of crap out there that's been "gussied up with a veneer of math".  Many tremendously bad decisions have been made in recent months based on bad data and bad models.

Though not yet certain, the COVID-19 pandemic may well turn out to be another example of central planning gone wrong.

As I previously noted, it’s a sad irony that many of the greatest disasters in modern history—from Stalin’s "kolkhoz" collective farming system to Mao’s Great Leap Forward and beyond—are the result of central planners trying to improve the lot of humanity through coercive action.

During the coronavirus pandemic, experts may have unintentionally brought about one of the most serious human disasters in modern history by removing choice from individuals with superior local knowledge.

And some decry the president for not mandating shutdowns nationwide.

But back to Dr. Ioannidis.  I've heard that name before, but where?  Oh, that's right, here.



A Candle in the Darkness

If I were an employer I'd hire this man--not to check off some diversity box, but because I like the way he thinks:

I recently graduated with my bachelor’s degree, and I look forward to all the opportunities that await me in America, the single greatest country on Earth.

I proudly look at myself as an American and nothing more, no hyphen, no preceding identity. However, I was told during college that as a so-called student of color I had to think a certain way, vote a certain way and believe certain things about my country and its duly elected officials.

My professors fervently insisted that the United States of America is an inherently racist country and that I am one of its oppressed victims.

I, wholeheartedly, reject that fallacy.

America is predicated on the notion that all men are equally created and possess the same inalienable rights. Here, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you came from, what you believe in (or don’t believe in), or what you look like—anyone can succeed.

America is a nation in which everyone is afforded both equal opportunity and equal protection under the law.

We're not perfect, but we're getting closer.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Topics

At the left you can see the labels I use to categorize topics on this blog.  If I can't pidgeonhole a post into a specific topic I'll assign it to "miscellaneous".  And of course, posts may have more than one label assigned.

As of the time I write this I have 12, 510 published posts dating back to January 2005.  Here are the top 10 categories of blog posts and how many posts I currently have in those categories:

K-12 issues, 2762
Higher education, 1862
liberals/lefties, 1818
Trivia, 934
Discrimination/race, 885
Math/science, 833
Teachers, 824
Economy/economics/budget, 785
Teachers unions, 706
Miscellaneous, 711

Not bad for a blog devoted to "education, politics, and anything else that catches my attention."

The Way To Stop Discrimination On The Basis Of Race Is To Stop Discriminating On The Basis Of Race

Thank you, Walter Williams:


Saturday, July 04, 2020

On This Date In 1802

From Wikipedia, the source of all knowledge:
In 1801, shortly after his inauguration as president, Thomas Jefferson directed that plans be set in motion to establish at West Point the United States Military Academy.  He selected Jonathan Williams to serve as its first superintendent.  Congress formally authorized the establishment and funding of the school with the Military Peace Establishment Act of 1802, which Jefferson signed on 16 March.  The academy officially commenced operations on 4 July 1802.
Have a great Independence Day and West Point Commencing Operations Day :-)

Friday, July 03, 2020

I Never Would Have Dreamed In A Million Years That This Would Happen In America

Californians are still free to attend their house of worship. But they’re forbidden from singing or chanting.

Updated COVID-19 guidelines issued Wednesday by the state Department of Public Health require churches and other houses of worship to “discontinue singing and chanting activities"...

It remains to be seen if, or how, the state or counties are expected to enforce the ban on singing in houses of worship. Churches were among the most aggressive institutions in pushing back on Newsom’s original stay-at-home order in mid-March. Several sued the governor to overturn the order, saying it violated their First Amendment rights, although none were successful in court.
Lord, have mercy.

Update, 7/6/20:  And right on cue:
In China, the government allowed some churches to reopen last month after coronavirus lockdowns, but only if church leaders raised the Chinese flag, declared stories of government success fighting the pandemic, and sang the national anthem, reports news outlet Bitter Winter.

Open The Schools

He's a pediatric infectious disease specialist, a father, and a survivor of the 'rona, and he says to reopen schools:

As pediatricians, many of us have recognized already the impact that having schools closed even for a couple months had on children. At the same time, a lot of us are parents. We experienced our own kids doing online learning. There really wasn’t a lot of learning happening. Now we’re seeing studies documenting this. Kids being home led to increases in behavioral health problems. There were reports of increased rates of abuse.

Of course, the reason they were at home was to help control the pandemic. But we know a lot more now than we did then, when schools first closed. We’re still learning more every day...

From our perspective as pediatricians, the downsides of having kids at home versus in school are outweighed by the small incremental gain you would get from having kids six feet apart as opposed to five, four or three. When you add into that other mitigation measures like mask wearing, particularly for older kids, and frequent hand washing, you can bring the risk down.

I do think it’s a balance. I’m not going to come out here and say on June 30 that everything is going to be perfect in the coming school year. There will be cases of Covid-19 in schools even where they make their best efforts. But we have to balance that with the overall health of children...

Reopening schools is so important for the kids, but really for the entire community. So much of our world relies on kids being in school and parents being able to work. Trying to work from home with the kids home is disproportionately impacting women. So it goes beyond just the health of the child, which is, of course, very important. As a country, we should be doing everything we can right now, for lots of reasons, to make sure we can safely reopen schools in the fall.

He thinks wearing masks is important and effective.  Clearly other doctors have a difference of opinion with him.  Still, what I quoted above makes sense to me.

Wishful Thinking

How much of "soft science" is really just crap that's been gussied up with a veneer of math?

It was autumn of 2011. Sitting in a dimly lit London classroom, taking notes from a teacher’s slides, Nick Brown could not believe his eyes.

By training a computers man, the then-fifty-year-old Brit was looking to beef up his people skills, and had enrolled in a part-time course in applied positive psychology at the University of East London. “Evidence-based stuff” is how the field of “positive human functioning” had been explained to him—scientific and rigorous.

So then what was this? A butterfly graph, the calling card of chaos theory mathematics, purporting to show the tipping point upon which individuals and groups “flourish” or “languish.” Not a metaphor, no poetic allusion, but an exact ratio: 2.9013 positive to 1 negative emotions. Cultivate a “positivity ratio” of greater than 2.9-to-1 and sail smoothly through life; fall below it, and sink like a stone.

The theory was well credentialed. Now cited in academic journals over 350 times, it was first put forth in a 2005 paper by Barbara Fredrickson, a luminary of the positive psychology movement, and Marcial Losada, a Chilean management consultant, and published in the American Psychologist, the flagship peer-reviewed journal of the largest organization of psychologists in the U.S.

But Brown smelled bullshit. A universal constant predicting success and fulfillment, failure and discontent? “In what world could this be true?” he wondered.

When class was over, he tapped the shoulder of a schoolmate he knew had a background in natural sciences, but the man only shrugged.

“I just got a bee in my bonnet,” Brown says.

It's long but entertaining.

A Virologist Said It, Not Me

I've written about the virtue-signalling of wearing masks before and I'll do it again, quoting someone else who knows more about the topic than either you or I do:
Yet the evidence is hardly strong enough to elevate mask-wearing into the epitome of moral behavior. Doing so reflects a greater preoccupation with the psychological effect of masks—perhaps as a restoration of control in the face of an unseen and often perplexing enemy with no cure and no prophylaxis—than with their scientific reality. Americans should demand evidence-based decision-making and policies driven by soundly attested facts, not assumptions or psychological palliatives.
Oh, and there's this:
Chris von Csefalvay is an epidemiologist specializing in bat-borne viruses. He is currently VP of Special Projects at Starschema.

Living in the Dorms

This is so transparent and foul that it almost defies belief:

At one California college, classes have moved online, but students are expected to stick with their housing leases.

Along with the California State University system, California’s Coast Community colleges (Coastline, Golden West, and Orange Coast) have already announced their plans to conduct the fall semester online.  Despite not offering in-person classes, Orange Coast College will charge students for on-campus housing, regardless of whether or not students would choose not to attend based on this announcement. 

Due to financial concerns caused by the coronavirus, many students can no longer afford the expense of on-campus housing. Now, their only hope is to find someone to replace their spot; otherwise, they will have to pay for the full term.

I want to point out that Orange Coast College is a public college.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

When Life Gives You Lemons...

I like this idea, it's creative:
Two of the most classic pieces of Americana are coming together this summer: drive-in theaters and Walmart.

Beginning in August, the retailer is converting 160 of its US store parking lots into drive-in movie theaters. As the pandemic continues, drive-in theaters have been making a comeback as a safe alternative to the traditional movie theaters that remain closed in much of the country.

Walmart (WMT) is partnering with Tribeca Enterprises, the Robert De Niro-backed media company, to program the films. Locations and movie titles haven't yet been announced, but they will be revealed later on a special website. The event will run through October and encompass more than 300 showings.
Perhaps they could show the anti-racist Blazing Saddles, or perhaps the first movie in which a black American won an Academy Award, Gone With The Wind.  After all, both films were chosen by the Library of Congress and were selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

But I doubt they will.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Should John Wayne Airport in Orange County, CA, Be Renamed?


This cancel culture business has to end.

Only The Racist Police Should Have Firearms, So Says The Kooky Left

Absolute truth:

Flashback: “It is impossible to understand the politics of the Left without grasping that it is all about deniable intimidation.”

That’s why they don’t want you to own guns. And that’s why the Ken-and-Karen case has the left and its media enablers so upset. They want you cowering in your home, calling for police protection that their political action has made sure won’t come. Or worrying that that might happen so that you yield to their demands. If you’re out on the steps with guns in your hands, suddenly the script has flipped. Either they’re intimidated, which is bad for morale when you’re running a mob, or they escalate and become so violent that the “deniable” part of the intimidation is gone, because they can’t pretend even to themselves that this was a “parade” of “peaceful protesters,” and a more violent response to the mob becomes certain in the future. And while mobs can dish out violence, they usually don’t take it very well, lacking discipline and cohesion. That’s why the goal is to keep the violence ongoing, but at a low enough level that it seems easier to go along than fight. Open resistance interferes with that, and sets an example for others.

Why is that a big deal?  Because of the couple that defended their house (in a gated community) last week from a mob--with a pistol and a rifle.

Are Blaine Amendments A Thing of the Past?

You'd think I'd be happy at the result of Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, but something about it seems odd.

Here are some details:

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Tuesday that a Montana scholarship program that indirectly provided state funds to religious schools is protected by the Constitution, weighing in on a high-profile dispute over the separation of church and state. 

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court. He was joined by fellow conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. The court’s four Democratic appointees dissented.

So far, so good.  To argue, as the Montana Supreme Court did, that the state couldn't fund scholarships to private religious schools because of religion strikes me as akin to saying the fire department couldn't put out a fire at a church--because of religion.

But the Montana Supreme Court went further:

Roberts wrote that no state is required to subsidize private education, but if it does, ” it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious"...
The case concerned a scholarship program enacted in Montana in 2015, which provided individuals and businesses with up to $150 in tax credits to match donations to private, nonprofit scholarship organizations...

A trial court in Montana sided with the mothers, but the Montana Supreme Court reversed the decision, reasoning that the tax-credit program was in effect indirectly paying for tuition at religious schools, in violation of the state constitution. 

The Montana court struck down the tax-credit program in its entirety.

As I read it, the Montana supremes got rid of the tax credit in its entirety so as not to have entanglements with religion, and the US supremes said they had to reinstate it.  That just sounds odd to me.

If I have any legal beagles among my readers, please clarify my understanding if I'm mistaken.

The Institute for Justice was involved:

The case began in 2015 when the Montana Legislature passed a tax-credit scholarship program that enabled taxpayers to receive a $150 tax credit in exchange for donating to nonprofit scholarship organizations. These scholarship organizations provide scholarships to low-income students and students with disabilities whose parents believe that an alternative to their public school will best serve their children’s interests. The Montana Supreme Court struck down the program in its entirety because it permitted families to choose religious options in violation of the state’s Blaine Amendment—a provision initially enacted in the late 1800s to discriminate against Catholic schooling. IJ appealed the case to the Supreme Court on behalf of its three clients, including lead plaintiff Kendra Espinoza, a single mother and one of the beneficiaries of the tax-credit program...

In a decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court held that Montana engaged in religious discrimination when it applied the state’s Blaine Amendment to bar religious options in educational choice programs. It also held that Montana did not cure this discrimination when it struck down the entire scholarship program, including for children attending nonreligious schools, to prevent children attending religious schools from receiving scholarships.

Blaine Amendments were clearly anti-Catholic and hence probably unconstitutional, and if this case is the death knell for them, great.  Still, I would disagree with Chief Justice Roberts that ending the scholarship wasn't a good enough solution in this particular case.  Why should the state be required to fund a scholarship?  What am I missing here?

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The So-called Newspaper of Record

It took a very long time to earn credibility and the moniker "the newspaper of record", but a very short time to flush it down the drain.  Just a few recent examples:
Beginning their 2017 pieces praising the glories of capital-C Communism on the anniversary of the founding of the Soviet Union, the “1619 Project” last year, and more recently, meltdowns over Tom Cotton and Bari Weiss, endorsement of statue toppling, attempted doxxing of the Slate Star Codex blogger and now the glorification of Andy Warhol’s would-be assassin, the New York Times has descended into something resembling the student newspaper at Oberlin. (Or as one wag quipped on Facebook at the start of the month, “We are coming ever closer to the singularity where the New York Times and Teen Vogue are indistinguishable.”)  I’m worried that their young staffers are reading Rob Long’s “New York Times Autonomous Zone” article as a how-to guide, rather than satire.

It's Worse Than I Expected

I've mentioned before that I'll be taking a medicine/bio-focused Calc 1 class at a nearby community college.  I'm now completely registered and enrolled and my tuition is paid.  All I'm waiting for now is for the instructor to post information on what book we'll be using so I can go pick that up.

I had some difficulty applying to the college--I didn't fit any of the 3 categories of student I had to pick from (not too many people with master's degrees go to community college, I guess).  I called the admissions office and an extremely helpful lady walked me through the process over the phone.  No way would I have figured this out by myself.

At one point we needed my "student number", and to make things go more quickly she just looked it up.  "Wow," she said, "you must have gone here a long time ago."  I replied that I took a calculus course there when I was in high school, in the Fall of 1982.  When I asked how she could tell she said something like, "Your student number begins with 4.  The ones I see all the time begin with 152."

So anyway, I got registered and all and got access to the college's "eServices".  That sounded interesting, so I logged into that.  That's where I was eventually able to enroll in my class, pay my tuition, look up the textbook, check my student email, etc. 

It's also where I got to look up my transcript.

Let's back up a bit and I'll give you some background.  I graduated high school with a 4.00 GPA (we didn't have weighted courses of any kind) and was my class valedictorian.  After graduation I went to West Point and, in part because of my good academic standing, was able to spend the fall semester of my junior year as one of 6 exchange cadets to the Air Force Academy.  I graduated from West Point with a 3.76 GPA, was the highest-ranked math major in my graduating class, and I graduated 28th out of just over 1000 in my class.

My intent there wasn't to break my arm patting myself on the back, but to point out how much of my identity was and is tied up in being a good student.

As I said, I took calculus at this same community college 38 years ago, when I was a senior in high school.  At that time my school didn't offer calculus and it was considered an impressive achievement for my class that 6 (yes, 6!!!) of us were ready to take calculus as seniors.  I think all 6 of us did, but a friend and I registered for the same course both semesters.  Come spring, though, I just stopped going.  Senioritis, track, I just stopped going.  I don't remember doing any paperwork at all, I just stopped going.  All these years I've believed that if I were ever to look at my transcript, it would have an F on it.  A big, fat F.

So I looked up my transcript.  I was prepared to see that F.

There was no F there.  It was a W!  I don't have any memory at all of filling out any withdrawal paperwork for that class, but there it is on the transcript, a W!  No F!  Did the school do me a solid since I was a high school student, and just withdraw me from the course?  Did I actually go through the process and fill out the paperwork in the necessary time window?  I don't know, but there's no F!  Happy dance celebration time!

Until I saw my grade for the first semester, Calc 1.  It was a B!  I got a B!  In a math class!  What the heck?!  How could I not remember that?!  My expectation for that transcript was that I'd have an A and an F.  Instead it shows a B and a W.

That's worse than I expected.

While typing this post I got a call from a friend of mine from high school.  I told him about the B a couple days ago when I discovered it, and told him that I was in the middle of writing a blog post about it.  "Dude, that was 38 years ago.  You've gotta let that go."  Yes, it happened almost 38 years ago, but I just learned about it.  It's just a shock, that's all.  I don't recall ever getting a B in math, but I guess I did.  And I obviously came back from it, having earned a bachelor's and a master's degree in math, but still.

I'll admit, it's kind of a blow to my ego.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Unfortunate

I've seen O (my favorite), Mystere, Ka, Love, Dralion, and Allegria.  Now Cirque du Soleil is filing for bankruptcy:
In a move that would have been unheard of even a year ago, Cirque du Soleil, the Las Vegas Strip’s preeminent production company for more than two decades, has filed for bankruptcy protection.
This is a big deal, especially in Las Vegas:
Alas, so far there has been no specified strategy from the company for when, how or even if all of its shows will reopen on the Strip. Prior to its bankruptcy, Cirque's multiple permanent Las Vegas shows alone played to more than 9,000 people a night, 5% of the city's visitors, adding to the over 100 million people who have seen Cirque du Soleil productions worldwide.
They shut down because of the 'rona.

Lockdowns, Then Masks. What's Next?

I supported the concept of lockdowns back in March, when we thought we were facing a new bubonic plague.  As more information rolled in, though, I saw they were useless except perhaps as a way to "flatten the curve" and buy time for hospitals to ramp up. 

But somewhere along the way, for reasons I've explained in other posts, the goal went from "flattening the curve" to "ending the virus".  Yearlong lockdowns, really? 

So many people have been locked up for so long that lockdowns became unenforceable, so the new attempt is masks.  This is laughable.  Some people wear masks with filters, which protect them but not anyone around them.  Some wear surgical or cloth masks, which do nothing to protect them but offer some slight protection to those around them.  Doesn't that sound insane?  Wear your cloth mask while standing next to someone with an N95 mask--and you have no protection at all.  But it's completely ok, and pushed by politicians who are seen to be doing something!

If I'm compelled to wear a mask when I go back to work in August, I'll wear one make of lace or some similar material.  It will do no one any good at all but it will completely comply with instructions to wear a mask.  Again, insane.

Here's my biggest concern.  For the first 55 years of my life, no one in government ever thought to make wearing a mask (aka a submission muzzle) mandatory.  I guarantee you that now that we've crossed the mask-wearing Rubicon, this will not be the last time politicians will tell us we are required to wear masks in public. 

When the mask novelty has worn off, what will be the next action they will force on us?

I'm reminded of the wise words of Daniel Webster:
Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.
Update, 6/30/20:  Gruesome Newsom closes down bars in several counties in California.  Have there been any confirmed cases at all of 'rona transmission in bars?  Any?  If not, or even if the number is small, then this action is not based on science.  It's entirely political.  Especially when Dems were cheering on non-socially-distanced rioters just a couple weeks ago.

Who Does This Guy Think He Is, Bjorn Lomborg?

This apostate will be silenced/canceled, no doubt:

On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologize for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem. 

I may seem like a strange person to be saying all of this. I have been a climate activist for 20 years and an environmentalist for 30. 

But as an energy expert asked by Congress to provide objective expert testimony, and invited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to serve as Expert Reviewer of its next Assessment Report, I feel an obligation to apologize for how badly we environmentalists have misled the public.

Here are some facts few people know:

  • Humans are not causing a “sixth mass extinction” 

  • The Amazon is not “the lungs of the world”

  • Climate change is not making natural disasters worse

  • Fires have declined 25% around the world since 2003

  • The amount of land we use for meat — humankind’s biggest use of land — has declined by an area nearly as large as Alaska

  • The build-up of wood fuel and more houses near forests, not climate change, explain why there are more, and more dangerous, fires in Australia and California

  • Carbon emissions are declining in most rich nations and have been declining in Britain, Germany, and France since the mid-1970s 

  • Adapting to life below sea level made the Netherlands rich not poor

  • We produce 25% more food than we need and food surpluses will continue to rise as the world gets hotter

  • Habitat loss and the direct killing of wild animals are bigger threats to species than climate change

  • Wood fuel is far worse for people and wildlife than fossil fuels

  • Preventing future pandemics requires more not less “industrial” agriculture

I know that the above facts will sound like “climate denialism” to many people. But that just shows the power of climate alarmism...

I thus decided I had to speak out. I knew that writing a few articles wouldn’t be enough. I needed a book to properly lay out all of the evidence. 

 And so my formal apology for our fear-mongering comes in the form of my new book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All. 

It is based on two decades of research and three decades of environmental activism. At 400 pages, with 100 of them endnotes, Apocalypse Never covers climate change, deforestation, plastic waste, species extinction, industrialization, meat, nuclear energy, and renewables.

Some highlights from the book:

  • Factories and modern farming are the keys to human liberation and environmental progress 

  • The most important thing for saving the environment is producing more food, particularly meat, on less land 

  • The most important thing for reducing air pollution and carbon emissions is moving from wood to coal to petroleum to natural gas to uranium 

  • 100% renewables would require increasing the land used for energy from today’s 0.5% to 50% 

  • We should want cities, farms, and power plants to have higher, not lower, power densities

  • Vegetarianism reduces one’s emissions by less than 4%

  • Greenpeace didn’t save the whales, switching from whale oil to petroleum and palm oil did

  • “Free-range” beef would require 20 times more land and produce 300% more emissions

  • Greenpeace dogmatism worsened forest fragmentation of the Amazon

  • The colonialist approach to gorilla conservation in the Congo produced a backlash that may have resulted in the killing of 250 elephants

 

There's obviously much more at the link.

Modern Abuses of Christianity

"Because Critical Theory gets the problem wrong, it also gets the solution wrong."  No, so-called Critical Theory does not have a basis in Christianity:

And what kind of so-called Christian church would try to inflame racial animosities rather than soothe them?

Clackamas United Church of Christ, a very progressive church in Milwaukie, Oregon, posted this sign on their marquee: “Jesus was a person of color murdered by state sanctioned violence.” A fellow Facebook group member asked what we thought of it. My answer: It’s a sobering illustration of how little progressive “Christianity” knows of Jesus Christ. It’s spiritually dangerous and politically alarming.

It could have been so good. It’s so close to it, I could weep. There’s some real truth in it; a great message they could have sent, if only they’d tried. I know, because I’ve been in a place to learn it...

First, Jesus was not a “person of color” in any relevant sense; that is, he wasn’t a minority race member. He was a member of the local dominant race and religion, whose leaders had him executed. His killing had nothing to do with race, everything to do with authority conflicts (from an earthly perspective) and God’s purposes (from the wider point of view).

Second, police shootings are not “state-sanctioned violence.” Many are justified actions, the police defending themselves or innocent civilians from imminent danger of being killed. In the small number of exceptional cases the state sanctions nothing; the officers are charged and tried for murder.

So it’s a lie. It’s a pompous one; a lie delivered almost with a smirk of condescending superiority. It’s politicizing lie, too. They’re patently out to grab Jesus and make him their movement’s mascot. Jesus doesn’t go for that. He never let anyone set his agenda, never let anyone claim him for their own. In Luke 4 he refused to let Nazareth own him as their hometown boy. Elsewhere some of the Jews tried to make him their king, and he resisted, saying in effect, “Not that way, not at this time. I will be king, yes, but King over all, in due time.”

Jesus refused to let anyone call him their own. It’s dangerous to try. He’s on his mission for his purposes, never for ours.

And by the way — if you really want to follow Jesus as your forerunner in being an unjust victim, you need to consider just how he acted in his trial and execution. Not much like what we’re seeing in the protests, is it?

...We should never let our politics control or even influence our view of Jesus. But we can certainly let our view of Jesus influence our politics. We cannot try to get him on our side, for our purposes; but we can certainly try to set ourselves on his side, for his purposes, as long as we remember he’s completely in charge.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

My Four Faves From Today's Powerline Week In Pictures









If your browser is like mine and won't display the pictures above, here are the screenshots:





Happy Mark Janus Day!

Today is the anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in the Janus case.  I got word of the ruling while visiting the Mayan ruins in Tulum, Mexico.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Blogging Break!

I'm taking off--Pismo Beach is calling my name!  I should be back to blogging this weekend.