William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Category: Culture (page 1 of 168)

The best that has been thought and written and why these ideals are difficult to meet.

Pascal’s Pensées, A Tour: IV

PascalSince our walk through Summa Contra Gentiles is going so well, why not let’s do the same with Pascal’s sketchbook on what we can now call Thinking Thursdays. We’ll use the Dutton Edition, freely available at Project Gutenberg. (I’m removing that edition’s footnotes.)

Previous post.

9 When we wish to correct with advantage, and to show another that he errs, we must notice from what side he views the matter, for on that side it is usually true, and admit that truth to him, but reveal to him the side on which it is false. He is satisfied with that, for he sees that he was not mistaken, and that he only failed to see all sides. Now, no one is offended at not seeing everything; but one does not like to be mistaken, and that perhaps arises from the fact that man naturally cannot see everything, and that naturally he cannot err in the side he looks at, since the perceptions of our senses are always true.1

1Good advice for perpetual arguers like yours truly, who sometimes forgot it in the joy of battle, because what’s wrong with most everyday arguments are false or incomplete premises. Pascal’s dictum doesn’t work for every argument, of course. Some are so wrong, or the desire to believe a false conclusion so strong, that nothing short of divine grace will free a person from error. Do you really think that, unaided, you’ll bring a chiropractor or, say, an academic feminist to see what’s wrong with her stance? These folks are so far from the promised land that it isn’t even on their maps. This doesn’t make Pascal wrong, but winning people to the Truth is hard, brutal labor.


10 People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.2

2This is why we have some sympathy whenever an educator rediscovers the truism that kids better grasp ideas they work out for themselves. Yet any kindly disposition we have is blown away the second the educator insists that all learning follow this regimen. If the child (or adult) isn’t provided with a solid foundation (a memorized one), almost no learning can follow. The student won’t have the tools to work things out and he won’t know when something is right and when it is wrong. And we are back to the first point.


11 All great amusements are dangerous to the Christian life; but among all those which the world has invented there is none more to be feared than the theatre. It is a representation of the passions so natural and so delicate that it excites them and gives birth to them in our hearts, and, above all, to that of love, principally when it is represented as very chaste and virtuous. For the more innocent it appears to innocent souls, the more they are likely to be touched by it. Its violence pleases our self-love, which immediately forms a desire to produce the same effects which are seen so well represented; and, at the same time, we make ourselves a conscience founded on the propriety of the feelings which we see there, by which the fear of pure souls is removed, since they imagine that it cannot hurt their purity to love with a love which seems to them so reasonable.

So we depart from the theatre with our heart so filled with all the beauty and tenderness of love, the soul and the mind so persuaded of its innocence, that we are quite ready to receive its first impressions, or rather to seek an opportunity of awakening them in the heart of another, in order that we may receive the same pleasures and the same sacrifices which we have seen so well represented in the theatre.3

3Initially, Pascal’s complaint reads like those of the nuns who schooled my father and who said the worst things kids did was to chew gum or get out of line in the halls. We are at the point where we long for the good old days where love was “represented as very chaste and virtuous.” So far into the wilderness are we that not one in five hundred could today share his fear of theater. It passes all imagination to see oneself marching down Broadway with a “Down with Tartuffe!” sign.

On the other hand, swap in television and movies for theatre and we see Pascal nails it. Particularly those whose of certain sexual natures who choose to violate natural law are portrayed as extraordinary loving wholly sympathetic creatures, superior to the rest of us (don’t think so? Read this). The situations into which these protagonists are thrust are so ludicrous that it would take an audience with a heart of stone not to root for them. No consequences are ever seen and anything that smacks of reality is expunged. Viewers are discouraged from thinking and tricked, manipulated into feeling, only feeling.

Art has always been recognized as dangerous.


NYC Protesters: ‘What Do We Want? Dead Cops!’ What They’ll Get Is Something Else

“Comedy” (or perhaps “farce”) is a good word to describe the human predicament given events like Sony (the hacked company which revealed emails with lame jokes) studio head and noted progressive Amy Pascal having to “run to Al Sharpton next week to beg for forgiveness“.

Run to Al Sharpton next week to beg for forgiveness! AL SHARPTON!

Now if you don’t find that hilarious, then your imagination is stunted, your sense of history and proportion is sadly narrow, and your educational upbringing largely constituted of propaganda. You’re probably also a danger to yourself; at the least your mental well being is suspect, and you might, if you are exceptionally far gone, even be a danger to society.

Incidentally, it’s one thing to pretend to be “shocked”, “sickened”, “horrified”, suicidal or worse by these emails. So much is expected because of the certifiably insane, really quite lunatic, way race relations are in this country. But if you really are “shocked” etc., then baby, you are a — — — — —. I can’t say the word in an open forum. But you know damn well what it is. We’re raising a nation of mollycoddled half-witted hyper-sensitive snivelling weepy perpetual children. Sticks and stones may break their bones, but microaggressive names will plunge them into sickening (to witnesses) despair. Idiots.

Remember when we discussed herd immunity and the waning of Christianity? How plenty of folks, particularly young ones, safely ensconced in the remnants of Christian structures but ignorant of that fact, think everything will be fine, nay superior, once we throw off the final “religious shackles” and judge morality based on enlightened voting? And how, because few have any memory what Western civilization was like without the civilizing influence of Christianity (never being taught any history that wasn’t ideological), everybody is in for a rude surprise in, say, thirty to fifty years?

Same sort of thing applies to the idiot children (some of them fully grown) who marched through my backyard Saturday night chanting, “What do we want? Dead cops?” Dead cops, mark you. They also, further cementing the poop-filled diaper metaphor (or should I say reality?), chanted that they wanted it “now”. (Another contingent of mentally challenged did similar things in Berkeley. It’s unclear whether they received class credit for it.)

Some of them meant that “now.” Some officers were assaulted. The tweet above (linked here if you can’t see it) shows one bag of confiscated hammers, which some homicidal maniac (I speak literally) brought to use on the skulls of police (see this).

See if you can put yourself in the shoes of the cop who has just fingered the collar of the bloodlusting fool with the deadly weapons. The miscreant is probably foaming at the mouth and resisting arrest, probably shouting some standard activist slogan like “Kill! Kill! Kill!”. You get the idea.

If I were that cop and I thought nobody was looking, I’d be severely tempted to show that young man the kind of damage hammers can inflict. I’d call it a science demonstration. Tempted. I don’t think I’d do it unless the contemptible halfwit actually struck me and I felt I was defending myself.

Multiply this temptation across the hundreds to thousands of cops at these many “demonstrations” (demonstrating what? sublime unteachable ignorance?). Are you not as surprised as I that nobody has yet received what was coming to him? If the demonstrations continue, it’s bound to happen, and when it does the media will trumpet it as “brutality.” This will prove beyond any doubt any civilized person might yet cherish that journalists are among the least of us. But skip that.

Suppose these mental mole hills are granted their wish and we have a few dead cops and nobody does anything about it (like our self-styled communist mayor). Further suppose that cops, having had “sensitivity” grilled into them, pull back from black neighborhoods and stop the arrests. What will happen?

For whatever reasons, blacks commit far more crime than any other group (see the FBI stats here and here). This is just the raw statistics talking—and they’re talking an order of magnitude for violent crime, more for lesser crimes. Stop arresting criminals and the crime rate climbs. Where it peaks nobody knows.

The “demonstrators” don’t know now how good they have it. Herd immunity. The police have done these past few decades a marvelous albeit imperfect job (name one profession which is perfect). Remove police, lower their moral, let crime increase, and what happens? Nothing good.

One day these silly children are going to go too far and some authority is going to, as C Northcote Parkinson colorfully put it, “have the moral courage” to fire into the crowd. It’s at that point the “demonstrators” will get the exact opposite of their “demands.”

Update The fellow behind the hammers is—are you ready?—a CUNY professor and “poet”. What rhymes with (his words) “F*** the police”?

Update Although the points made here have nothing to do with it, let’s acknowledge racism does exist in America, and it sure is ugly. For instance this and this from a NYC official who said “Racist NYPD *******”.

The Reimaginings Of Exodus And Noah Inspires Moviemakers—And You!

John Nolte doesn’t like Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings.

…Scott makes a fool of himself. DeMille used the ancient biblical tale to tell a universal story about human liberty. Where Charlton Heston’s Moses demanded that Ramses “Let my people go!”, Bale’s Moses — and this is no joke — demands that Ramses pay his slaves a living wage and make them — again, no joke — citizens. DeMille’s Moses was a liberator. Scott’s Moses is a community organizer agitating for executive action on the minimum wage and amnesty.

Now Darren Aronofsky’s Noah was just as tuned to our post-Christian ever-so-delicate sensibilities. In his review of that movie, Nolte writes:

The sins of idolatry, blasphemy, dishonesty, adultery, and treating your parents with disrespect have absolutely nothing to do with why God wants to flood the earth and start over. “Noah” isn’t even interested in Jesus’ commandment to love one another as you love yourself.

Aronofsky’s “God” is only disappointed, disgusted and ready to be rid of man for the single sin of hurting the environment. And hurting the environment is defined in the film as strip-mining, eating animal flesh, hunting, and even plucking a flower no bigger than a dime because “it’s pretty.”

…Every glimpse of those God will wipe out shows these “sinners” exploiting Mother Nature. They butcher meat, tear live animals to pieces, hunt, mine, and cut trees. According to Aronofsky, that is all these people are guilty of and that is enough to justify the coming biblical genocide.

If “God” can destroy the world for the mortal sin of pressing pretty flowers, what sort of hell, with your enormous carbon “footprint”, do you think awaits you, you climate denier, you?

But Noah made money, and early forecasts are that Exodus will do at least okay. The Bible is in and profitable. It is a rich source of moral stories that has barely begun to be mined for movie material. So, our job today is to help filmmakers with suggestions of which tales we’d like to see.

Sanitized tales, of course. We don’t want to offend anybody. Feelings must not be hurt. We—us blessed folks living on the right side of history—know more than our unenlightened ancestors. Obviously, we cannot present the Bible as it is written and must tweak it a bit. Here are some of my ideas (in which I exercise artistic license). What are yours?

Sodom and Gomorrah: The Pride And The Glory

Two mysterious strangers approach the desert twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. A festival—a parade, wine, food, circus acts—is in progress. The innkeeper Lot sees them approach. He curses under his breath, “This is all I need.” Flashback: Lot kicking out tenants who could not pay, kicking in the teeth of a man who will later be seen in the festival parade, and kicking around cats and small children.

The strangers ask for a room. Lot, seeing they are rich, boots other guests to make space. He offers his daughter and wife to the aggrieved as recompense, throwing all into the street. Seeing this, the incensed crowd reacts and tries to bring Lot to justice. The man with the kicked teeth shouts, “You inhospitable brute!”

Lot escapes into the night through a hidden back door. Meanwhile, the strangers, who have been at the wine, realize what has happened. Turns out they are members of the Yogic Guardians, mythic creatures from the planet Cron charged with meting out punishment throughout the seven hundred worlds! The strangers go into Down Dog Supreme in order to blast Lot to smithereens. But as they are inebriated, their aim is off and the towns are destroyed instead.

Lot sees this and his heart softens. He weeps and vows to mend his ways. We end with an elderly Lot (who now runs a bathhouse in Nineveh) sharing a lovely sunset on his porch with his beloved goat Franklin.

The Sharing (A Lifetime movie)

After a long day community organizing, a weary Jesus wants nothing but to rest and eat. But his followers bring a women to him saying, “This woman has said, ‘All lives matter‘.” Jesus knew they were testing him and said, “That’s racist.” He directed that the woman be re-educated by trained experts.

His followers were many and Jesus was worried there would not be enough food. But an apostle reminded that good man that all his followers were members of the Green Organic Cooperative and that they had plenty and were willing to share. “That’s a miracle,” said Jesus.

Later, all sit around a single organic candle and sing songs celebrating how nice it was to be nice to one another.

Confession: I claim no originality. Minus the cinematic details, these plots are directly from modern theologians.

Podcast: Peer Review, Bob & Ray Do Statistics, Academic Calls For Killing Of (Post-Birth) Babies

 


Show Notes

Wired’s PubPeer article. PubPeer.com itself. PubPeer’s discussion of “Macroscopic Observability of Spinorial Sign Changes under 2π Rotations“.

Bob and Ray can be found at, inter alia, the Internet Archive, which is also where you can find today’s snippet.

Getting to be the worst person you can see if you’re worried about your health is a “doctor.” These fellows are now and increasingly killing people who come to them—especially in post-Christian Europe, in places like The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. But here, too, in Oregon, Washington, and Vermont.

And if people like Udo Schuklenk have his way, it’s going to get worse.

The abstract of Schuklenk’s Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery article.

You can read about Heterotaxy Syndrome here.

The lecture from which Schuklenk’s clips were gathered.

Happy Birthday Frank Sinatra, and Merry Christmas.

Bonus! The podcast is also at YouTube (YouTube also says the video is blocked in Germany because of the 30 second Sinatra clip). I’ll work on restoring my iTunes feed. Maybe. Download the MP3.

Update It is to this level of podcasting perfection to which your host aspires.

Older posts

© 2014 William M. Briggs

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑