Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sue and be damned

The latest bulletin in the war of Washington against the United States:
Officials in the Obama administration are urging the extraordinary step of suing Arizona over its new immigration law, and the Justice Department is considering such an action to block the legislation from taking effect, government officials said Wednesday.
Go ahead. Make my day.

I hope the tinhorn Emperor and his warlords file the suit. Not, of course, for their reasons, but because the blowback on them will be spectacular.

If this were about some obscure law only political junkies were interested in, the federales might get away with it. Not so in this case. Arizona's stand against the Mexican Invasion, which several presidential administrations have winked at, will carry on being big news. And a politicized Justice Department suing the state will be a blockbuster.

Naturally the mainstream media will relate the story with their usual evasions, selective reporting, stories about poor Josefina and her 19 anchor babies having to move to another state to get their welfare benefits, and cheerleading for Washington showing who's boss. But relate it the media will, no more able to ignore it than a drunk can ignore a bottle of whiskey. You'll hear about it, see it, and read about it till your head can hold no more. This isn't a sneaky bit of manipulation the Emperor can pull off in the dead of night. It will be as prominent as a strip-tease in a church.

Americans don't like bullies. And even if they liked bullies, they wouldn't like big government bullies. And even if they liked big government bullies, they wouldn't like big government bullies who beat up their own citizens. And even if they liked big government bullies who beat up their own citizens, they wouldn't like big government bullies who beat up their own citizens and who follow orders from a president who hates his adopted country.

This could be another turning point in the struggle of individuals, localities, and states for self-determination against the Washington commissariat.


Monday, April 26, 2010

The Brahms Fourth


Johannes Brahms's Symphony no. 4 was the last he was to write, although he may not have known that; he was a little over 50 at the time -- an age older in his day than it seems now -- and he would live another dozen years. But his Fourth seems to me different in spirit, not only than any of his earlier orchestral compositions, but nearly unique even in the whole late-Romantic era. He perceived, and shaped in music, light from a distant star as yet undiscovered, possibly not even by himself.

Success had come relatively early to Brahms, deservedly so, but it was a mixed blessing. The public could not help designating him Beethoven's heir, and neither could he avoid feeling the responsibility. He long delayed writing a symphony after he had mastered other genres. When his First was eventually birthed, it was worthy of the preceding master. But while it's a great piece, the Brahms First often seems to be channeling Beethoven, and the big theme in the final movement openly mimics that of the Beethoven Ninth.


I haven't listened to no. 2 in a while; my recollection, always subject to revision, is that it embodies Brahms's melodic gift but is rather unwieldy (his longest symphony by a stretch). No. 3 has never really caught on and is infrequently programmed in concerts, but I like it.

Doing a little research, I was surprised to learn that scarcely two years had elapsed between Three and Four, the latter premiered in 1885. His soul seems to have shifted in between them. No doubt he still honored Beethoven, but Brahms was now his own man.


I am not a musician and can give you no musicological explanation of the Brahms Fourth, only an impressionistic glimpse.

Something about the Fourth is outside its own time. Much of it seems to recollect a mystical, imaginary Teutonic past, haunting, a little disturbing. It carries a tinge of Wordsworth's lass described in "The Solitary Reaper," singing to herself -- perhaps -- of "old unhappy far-off things, / And battles long ago."

The first movement begins with a gently rocking, wistful string melody. Later a counter-idea is introduced, a fanfare first heard in the brass, handed off to the strings and vice-versa. The original melody reappears in various liveries, though the second subject eventually dominates but never quite triumphs, hinting a secret sadness.

This seems to me the most "Slavic" orchestral music Brahms ever wrote, resembling Dvořák more than a little.


The second movement, marked andante moderato -- which I interpret as meaning slow enough to contrast with the opener, but not draggy -- is where the time-slip into a mythical world is most suggested. A conductor who miscalculates the tempo here blows the whole symphony.

A futile horn call, failing to wake the dead, leads off. It is answered by what sounds like clarinet and bassoon (sounds like -- I could be mistaken), and low strings take up a deliberate gait. An instrumental dialogue follows, mysterious and sensuous, not unlike the mood of the Allegretto of Beethoven's Seventh. The original theme takes on an air of classic Viennese charm, but just as you are getting comfortable with that, a shadow falls, the tone turns urgent. The score works up to moments of stirring passion, subsides in a soft melancholy.

Brahms undoubtedly felt that listeners needed a change-up afterward. The third movement is lively, the only part of the symphony that I hear as what we in our post-Jungian age would call extroverted. It's exciting, lovingly sculpted, a little conventional (for Brahms), but with a surprising punctuation: rhythmic points accentuated by a triangle. I could be ignorant, but I can't think offhand of any other Brahms symphony where that unusual percussion instrument comes into play.


The notes of the finale seem to be scattered by the winds. Brahms's music is often described as "autumnal," but here we seem to be post-autumn, winter's chill starting to register in the bones. The calm of a half-forgotten summer descends, but is superseded by an Aeolian rush. The symphony ends, to my reckoning, in a frenzy of emotional ambiguity.

The program notes for one recording tell me that the Fourth was the last of his own compositions that Brahms heard performed in concert, in Vienna on March 7, 1897. He passed out of this life three weeks later, perhaps to
better understand the mystery that he had set in sound.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Arizona's shot heard round the world

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood;
And fired the shot heard round the world.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Concord Hymn"

As the Washington buffoons cry about the need for immigration reform, Arizona has passed the kind of immigration reform we need. It's a radical step only in the minds of the Leftist Establishment. All it does, really, is treat criminals as criminals exactly the way the federal government is supposed to do, but doesn't. Not out of some twisted version of benign neglect, but a very malign neglect. The power structure in this country wants population replacement. Its purposes can best be realized by importing a majority of Third World peasants who are easily manipulated via their dependence on the government.

The reactions from the political/alleged victim group/mainstream media axis could have been scripted in advance.

Emperor Obama denounced the law, calling it “misguided’’ and said it threatens to “undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.’’ He probably had to bite his tongue to refrain from saying Arizona "acted stupidly." Instead, he declared his view that we Americans, with our cherished notions of fairness, want a level playing field for police and criminals.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer: "We do need comprehensive immigration law in this country but not like this. This law is mean-spirited and I'm opposed to it." Comprehensive immigration law: politicobabble for open borders and amnesty.

New York Mayor Bloomberg: The Arizona law "sends exactly the wrong message." Exactly the message he and his fellow immigration pimps don't want to hear.

Rev. Jim Wallis:
The law signed today by Arizona Gov. Brewer is a social and racial sin, and should be denounced as such by people of faith and conscience across the nation. ... Enforcement without compassion is immoral. Enforcement that breaks up families is unacceptable. This law will make it illegal to love your neighbor in Arizona, and will force us to disobey Jesus and his gospel. We will not comply.
Reverend Wallis, you are a fool and a pompous asshole. Preventing a large-scale invasion is neither a social nor a racial sin; it is a legitimate function of government. We are not breaking up anyone's family: illegals who knowingly chose to sneak into the United States in violation of our laws are responsible for any resulting family break-ups.

You, with your political leftism cloaked in religious platitudes, are displaying your own moral ignorance and selective compassion. You have no compassion for the citizens of Arizona who are tired of the trespassing, violence, environmental destruction, drug dealing, gang warfare, and welfare dependency of your precious illegals.

"This law will make it illegal to love your neighbor in Arizona"? That has to be the most laughable statement anyone will ever make on this subject. Don't try to top it for sanctimonious absurdity, Rev. You won't be able to do better.

Despite the howls of outrage from political bosses, the compliant Stalinist media (which invariably have written their "news" stories not about the law and the reasons for it, but about protests against it), and Left-wing Fundamentalist preachers, Arizona may have turned a page in American history. A state has openly, legally thumbed its nose at Washington's claim to rule everyone and everything.

Arizona is leading the way, but others are taking up the flag. Florida (and other states) have voted to prevent enforcement of the Bad Medicine Act.

Naturally, the federal commissariat will turn its guns (figuratively, one hopes, not literally) on resisters. Health News Florida reports:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Arizona puts the "illegal" back in "illegal immigration"

Arizona: The path to citizenship for border jumpers.

My previous home state has suffered more than any other except California from its proximity to the border and the population replacement encouraged the emperors of the federal government and enabled by the little corporals on the public payroll. Washington has failed, year after year, in protecting the United States against enemies while extending its military presence to 63 foreign countries. Illegal colonists are enemies. If I were Mark Levin, that would be followed by, "Yes! I said it!"

Well, guess what. The massive contempt of the Washington Establishment for the American people has met open rebellion in ... Arizona.

CNN reports:
It’s being called the toughest crackdown on illegal immigration in the country. A bill requiring police to determine if a person is in the U.S. legally is expected to be signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. ... Under the bill, police would be required to question anyone they suspect of being undocumented. The bill also targets those who hire illegal immigrant day laborers or knowingly transport them.
Naturally, CNN being CNN, it adds its own slant, before even describing the contents of the bill: "Immigration advocate Isabel Garcia says the bill 'legalizes racial profiling.' "

Stuff white progressives like.

Arizonans, on the sharp end of the Mexican Invasion, have had enough and are making it illegal to be an illegal Mexican colonist. The original American federalist system, in which states are a check on the inevitable tendency for a central government to annex as much power to itself as possible, isn't dead yet. It is coming back to life and just might bring liberty back to life.

Well, guess what. No, you don't need to guess. The Failed Messiah, worried that his plan for putting 30 million illegals in his pocket for the next election faces resistance, calls the Arizona bill "misguided." Can't have American citizens protecting their lives and property. If that sounds exaggerated, consider the case of rancher Robert Krentz, murdered on his ranch near Douglas, Arizona.

(A younger, more innocent me stayed overnight in Douglas and walked across the border to Agua Prieta, Mexico. Agua Prieta was a sad little town and not overtly sinister; I bought a pair of miniature concha straps to adorn my western boots, and still have them. What I remember most was the strange vibes on the Douglas side. The woman desk clerk at the motel, a few hundred feet from the border crossing, stiffened a little when I mentioned my plans to look around Agua Prieta. "If you cross in the daytime, they'll probably leave you alone," she said. Who would "probably" leave me alone? She would not be drawn further into the discussion. In retrospect, I am pretty sure the motel I stayed at was a clearinghouse for dope deals. Who knows, maybe I occupied a room where an argument had been settled with a knife or pistol. I had such creepy feelings it was hard to sleep that night.)


Anyway, back to the leader of the Mexican world. Said Obama:

"Our failure to act responsible at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others. That includes, for example, the recent efforts in Arizona which threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe," the president said at a naturalization ceremony for members of the military.

"In fact, I've instructed members of my administration to closely monitor the situation and examine the civil rights and other implications of this legislation. But if we continue to fail to act at the federal level, we will continue to see misguided efforts opening up around the country."

He added, "As a nation, as a people, we can choose a different future - a future that keeps faith with our history, with our heritage, and with the hope that America has always inspired in the hearts of people all over the world."

He really loves that Caesarian swagger, doesn't he? "I've instructed members of my administration ... ."

But he's right about one thing. As a nation, as a people, we can choose a different future than the population replacement he would enforce, or "instruct members" of "his" country to submit to.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Detroit Resurrection, New Republic style


Several decades ago, Detroit's city fathers fathered a development called the Renaissance Center. Today, Detroit's urban core looks like a renaissance, all right -- of Berlin in 1945. It is the very symbol of a failed city. I don't know what, if anything, can be done to revive it. But Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley, writing in The New Republic, think they do.

Before getting into their prescription, let me acknowledge that as leftist periodicals go, The New Republic is sane, even when it's wrong. It generally steers wide of the kind of hysteria and fanaticism so often found in "progressive" publications and blog sites. If the writing tends to the academic, it at least shows evidence of thought.

The Katz and Bradley piece, while reasonably argued within its own premises, shows how entrenched in the liberal mind are certain notions that seem never to change. Here are some quoted excerpts to show you what I mean. The boldface emphasis is mine.
This year alone, at least 48 Detroit public-school employees have been investigated for fraud--which might help explain why only one in four high school freshmen ever receives a diploma.
It might, or it might not. Presumably those fraudsters were guilty of embezzlement or something on that order. I suspect few if any stole the students' schoolbooks or their teachers' chalk. Perhaps the result has more to do with the students themselves, their lack of future-time orientation, and their subculture with its contempt for learning. But Katz and Bradley would probably say that's "blaming the victim."
Institutions developed at the height of Detroit’s postwar prosperity remain--and provide the city with advantages that similarly depressed industrial cities cannot claim. It has educational institutions in or near the city (the University of Michigan, Wayne State) and medical institutions (in part, a legacy of all those union health care plans) that are innovative powerhouses and that currently generate private-sector activity in biomedicine, information technology, and health care management.
Institutions. Always institutions. Leftists have faith in groups, official bodies, organizations. They may well be an asset, but since they have been operating all along, they don't seem to have done much to stop Detroit's slide into destitution.

And there is already a smattering of examples of old industrial outposts that have reacquired relevance. An old GM plant in Wixom has been retrofitted to produce advanced batteries. There’s a new automotive-design lab based in Ann Arbor. And Ford, the most promising of the Big Three, has made a decisive shift toward smaller, cleaner cars.
That, too, is fine. But it hasn't helped so far. How many people from the central city will a few auto design labs employ? Can battery makers replace car makers as a driver of prosperity? Smaller, cleaner cars may be good for the country, but what's good for the country isn't necessarily good for Detroit.
Retooling Detroit’s old industries and advancing its new ones will take public money, and the feds are the only ones with money to give these days. But Washington already spends heavily on Detroit--$18.4 billion went to the city and the surrounding county in 2008.
Wrong. "The feds" have no money to give these days. First, the feds cannot give money of their own, only money they have extracted through taxes -- including taxes on companies. Second, even the cutpurse government is broke, bankrupt, in debt to the tune of $13 trillion and counting (not including the cost of future entitlement programs).
A better return on federal investments will take a functioning local government as well as leadership in suburban counties that is willing to collaborate closely with the city. And, with so much sclerosis, change will only emerge with a strong hand from above.
A strong hand from above. A mighty fortress is our God, the government.

Leadership in suburban counties that is willing to collaborate closely with the city.
Get real. Those suburban counties are populated largely by people who move there to escape the tar pit that is the central city. Here's a cell phone -- call someone who cares. Of course, to our authors, those suburbanites, many of whom are struggling like the rest of the country in the Great Recession, are "the rich." They should give till it hurts.
State and federal governments should place the city’s most dysfunctional agencies in receivership ... These higher-level governments should also insist that the city and its suburbs end their wasteful bickering and act as one on issues that naturally cross borders, like transportation and the environment.
If you can't work it out, Motown and 'burbs, the higher-level government's gonna insist. History has many examples of what happens when higher-level governments insist.

Because of the current credit desert, these companies should receive low-interest loans that allow them to reconfigure their plants to produce parts that can be sold to the international auto market--or for other types of machinery. And local government (or NGOs, even) can play the role of industrial planner. That is, they can look across the map and find instances where research institutions and manufacturers should collaborate on new ventures.
Industrial planning. We've read about that, although maybe schools don't teach it these days. A certain regime was keen on five-year plans. Leftists believe only chaos can result if individuals, or groups of individuals, find their own solutions. The answers, to be valid for them, must come from politicians, bureaucrats, committees, think tanks -- anyone but the people being planned for.
European cities faced a similar challenge. After decades of population and job loss, they were saddled with an excess of housing and too much unproductive, polluted, or vacant land. This derelict land was as much an economic problem as a physical one, depressing property values and repelling new investments. So these cities reconfigured themselves into denser communities ...
Leftists hate "wasted" space around people's homes. The residents are anti-social, anti-community for wanting some land of their own. They must be re-educated, gathered into "efficient" high-rises.
This physical regeneration, much more than economic reorientation, is where governments have a major role.
Where don't they, in the new republic?
The great object lesson is Bilbao, Spain. As in Turin, leaders--in this case, the Basque regional government, worried about the condition of its largest city--created a master plan and two public-private agencies to support it, one of which, Bilbao Ria, focused specifically on managing large-scale land-cleanup-and-revitalization projects.
Government again. Master plan.

The new Detroit might be a patchwork of newly dense neighborhoods, large and small urban gardens, art installations, and old factories transformed into adventure parks.
Bring the kids to Blightland! Have fun wrench tightening at the Assembly Line Castle! Ride to the top of the smokestack! It's a pall world after all.
... The Obama administration is weighing a high-speed-rail plan that would link Detroit to Chicago and other Midwestern cities.
What will it do for passengers after the one-way traffic ends?
The federal government could support the physical regeneration of Detroit by footing the bill for the development of a new city plan focused on reconfiguring land uses and economic activity around the reality of population loss. More radically, the feds could overhaul that tired cliché of urban policy: the community-development block grant. They should require Detroit and other cities to use these grants (and other federal, state, and local resources) for reclaiming, reconfiguring, and reusing vacant and abandoned land and housing.
This whole article is a tired cliché of urban policy. Big Daddy government; tax money given to Detroiters with certain, er, requirements. Katz and Bradley's vision isn't just straight from the ivory tower. It's immoral. It's an imposed design using other people's money, funneled through institutions, destined to further central government control. Nobody had to dump grants and funding into the city to make it once the Mecca of American industry. If Detroit can't fix itself, it doesn't deserve fixing. Cities, like people, sometimes need tough love.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tea parties: good news, but ...

Yesterday's "Tax Day" tea parties weren't about numbers, although the mainstream media will play their usual counting games (a few hundred, perhaps a thousand, several thousand, fewer than last year, &c.). They were about diversity -- wait, wait, put that thing down; geographical diversity. A nationwide movement, one even the left-controlled media couldn't pretend was skewed to "red" states.

Location, location, location

And they were about open defiance of out-of-control left radicalism. The conflict has moved beyond tame venues like magazine articles and Fox News. The counter-revolution has taken to the streets, and not before time.

For those of us who have blogged (and those who have written magazine articles, and talked on Fox News), it was exhilarating stuff. A weight has been lifted. Millions of Americans are saying publicly what a hermetic few argued only a handful of years ago. The cork has popped.


If there's anything to worry about, it's probably not co-option by the Republican Establishment. Many tea partyers have made it clear that they see the drawbacks of Pubby collaboration, except in hand-picked cases. This fight isn't taking place on the standard political chessboard.

Making allowances for the obvious connection with tax deadline day, it was still a little disturbing to see such obsession with taxes. Since ancient Rome, people have hated taxes. Politicians understand that, and have ways to anesthetize the pain -- "We need to raise taxes to reduce the deficit," "Soak the rich," and so on. Making the tea party protests essentially an anti-tax movement is playing a mug's game.

Taxes are a symptom, not the problem.


Raising cain about taxes will, at best, hold down increases while the political class takes the soft option, trying to postpone the reckoning.

Politicians act like they have lost any comprehension of how an economy should work. They operate on the Marxist belief system that every problem can be solved by voting government (i.e., taxpayer) money for it; that wealth can be redistributed while kneecapping the enterprise that creates the wealth they want to distribute.

Or maybe our rulers understand the damage they are doing. They just won't look at it. "I've got mine, Jack."


For a quick tour of our looming financial blow-up, I turn you over to tour guide Karl Denninger. If you don't like numbers, you don't need to focus on them so much as follow the argument.

" ... You can't fix debt intoxication with another bottle of whiskey," he says.
We added more Federal debt than had been accumulated in 217 years in just a little over THREE years - from 2007 to the third month 2010.

The ugly is that this debt load (currently $12.8 trillion, more or less) presents interest expense. If the Fed Funds Target was to reach just five percent, and every bit of the Treasury debt was to be refinanced into overnight obligations at that same 5%, the interest expense alone of the current debt would be $640 billion a year.

If the Treasury was to have to pay a roughly 6% average coupon (reasonably aggressive with a 5% Fed Funds Target) the interest expense would be $768 billion annually.

To put this in perspective that is an amount roughly equivalent to that spent on defense, and is higher than Social Security, Medicare, or all other "mandatory" program spending combined.

It would consume nearly all of Social Security and Medicare tax receipts ($891 billion) or the personal income tax ($915 billion) (ed. All 2009 federal budget numbers)

Denninger may be an alarmist, but only false alarms are bad.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Twin Thing: A guest posting by Guy Lyon Playfair


Guy Lyon Playfair is one of today's most distinguished psychical researchers. He is the author of 12 books, including the recently published revised and enlarged edition of Twin Telepathy. He spent more than a year as the co-investigator and witness of the most startling poltergeist case in modern times, at Enfield, north London, which he described in This House Is Haunted.

An acquaintance of mine for some years, Guy has kindly allowed me to publish this article.

The Twin Thing
By Guy Lyon Playfair

Twins made the headlines, as they so often do, when British teenager Gemma Houghton reportedly saved her sister’s life by what sounded suspiciously like telepathy. She had been listening to music while her twin Leanne was upstairs having a bath when ‘I got this sudden feeling to check on her. It was like a voice telling me “your sister needs you”. It was clearly telling me I needed to go upstairs.’ This she did, finding Leanne in the process of drowning after suffering an epileptic seizure. According to the paramedic who arrived at the scene just in time: ‘If Gemma hadn’t been there, Leanne would have died.’

‘It’s not the first time stuff like this has happened,’ Leanne said, recalling how Gemma had once phoned to warn her of an impending attack, which indeed occurred later the same day. ‘She’s my early warning system’, she added. (
The Sun, 24 March 2009).

She’s not alone. An American mother of twins I know has told me how one of her girls regularly tells her that her sister is going to have an epileptic episode, and is right 80 percent of the time. Asked, at my request, how she knows, she replies simply ‘It’s no big deal. I just know’.


Nor is Gemma the first twin who may have saved a life. I know of at least three other examples, one of which I investigated at first-hand. This would suggest that if telepathy can save lives, the scientific community should take rather more interest in it than it yet has. As The Times (25 March) put it: ‘Something about the “telepathic” bond between twins seems to transcend even scientific reason’ (note the inverted commas guarding the taboo T word). Yet the usual reaction of scientists to reports of incidents such as the one mentioned above is to mutter about ‘thought concordance’, ‘genetic underpinning’ or that old favourite, ‘coincidence’ and change the subject as soon as possible.

The twin bond also seems to transcend scientific curiosity. It must be one of the most under-researched areas in all of science. Even parapsychologists have a dismal record – it doesn’t take long to read everything they have written about it in the specialist journals. They have generally preferred tedious laboratory card-guessing experiments, at which twins tend to be no better than anybody else, to venturing into the field and identifying the conditions under which telepathy occurs spontaneously.

What they would find there is that telepathy tends to work best when it is needed, and when sender and receiver are strongly bonded, as with mothers and babies, dogs and their owners, and those with the strongest bond of all – twins. Twin telepathy is an example of what Margaret Mead called a ‘recurrent irregularity’, and if the same irregularity recurs often enough it becomes increasingly probable that it is a genuine phenomenon, as many twins already ‘just know’.


Twin telepathy has been recurring regularly at least since 1844, when Alexandre Dumas made it a prominent feature of his novel The Corsican Brothers. This is generally thought to have been based on a real-life pair since he describes so accurately the kinds of experience that twins pick up from each other – almost invariably some kind of bad news such as pain, sickness, or death as in the case of his two heroes, one of whom falls off his horse, under the impression that he has been shot, at the moment his brother is shot dead in a duel hundreds of miles away. I have been given an eye-witness account of the equally dramatic reaction of a twin whose brother was murdered. He too ‘just knew’.

Yet for all its recurrence, the inexplicability of telepathy has led science to avoid it like some mediaeval plague or even to pontificate that it doesn’t exist because it can’t. Dr Nancy Segal, a former co-director of the massive twin research programme at the University of Minnesota has decreed that ‘the bottom line is that I feel there’s no evidence for ESP in twins’. She devotes just ten lines of her 432-page book Entwined Lives to the subject of extrasensory perception (a term no longer used by most psi researchers), stating that ‘I do not question the occurrence of twins’ “ESP-like” behaviour. I do wonder why some people endorse ESP in the face of more compelling data from twin studies.’ (Such as?). Could it not be that an experience that is ‘ESP-like’ might actually be what it looks like?


When confronted with some very compelling data recorded on a polygraph in the 2004 Discovery channel programme Miracle Hunters, Dr Segal commented, looking rather uncomfortable, ‘Well, I think there’s something there. I just don’t think it’s telepathy.’ Another clip of polygrapher Jeremy Barrett’s chart pen jumping all over the place while the twin in another room was given mild shocks made her look even more uneasy, as if ominous cracks were appearing in the walls of her belief system. ‘I think it’s a kind of intriguing finding’, she admitted. ‘Am I going to call it telepathy? I think at this point I’m not.’

Jeremy Barrett who unlike Dr Segal can base his opinion on research rather than prejudice is going to call it just that. After doing tests with nine sets of twins (four of them shown on television) he told Fortean Times (June 2003): ‘What we have done with the polygraph instrument is measure things happening which should not be happening. There is absolutely no doubt at all in my mind that there is a communication taking place between these pairs of people which is beyond any explanation other than telepathy.’ These were not scientifically controlled experiments, I should add, but should be seen as informal pilot tests that gave highly suggestive results that call for replication under tighter conditions.


Scientists who find something intriguing should examine it further, although in this case they generally haven’t. So it is good to be able to report at long last something of a potential breakthrough in twin telepathy research. In 2004 the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London sent a questionnaire to the 10,000 twins on its books that included a question never asked before, to my knowledge, by a scientific body: ‘Do you have the ability to know what is happening to your co-twin when you are not there?’ More than half (54%) said yes or maybe, only 46% said no. What was particularly intriguing about these results, apart from the fact that there are some 5,000 twins out there who think they have or might have experienced telepathy, was the fact that nearly twice as many identical as fraternal (non-identical) ones said yes.

This only became widely known when it was mentioned in the Times article cited above, and I am glad to be able to report that the King’s group is considering a proposal for a telepathy research programme headed by a professor of psychology and one of our leading psi researchers.

Let us hope that science will one day get around at last to confirming what many twins already ‘just know’, as concisely summed up by Californian supermodel Barbi sisters (Sunday Telegraph Magazine, 9 June, 2002):

Sia Barbi: ‘We have that twin thing going on. Wherever we are in the world, we kind of know what the other one’s doing.’

Shane Barbi: ‘That’s right. It’s instinctive. It’s a twin thing.’

Friday, April 09, 2010

Death comes for the invisible


Assuming you or a relative don't work in a mine … how often do you think about those who do?

Not often, probably. Not until a fair number of them are killed at the same time and the same place, or rescue workers are racing the clock.

Coal miners, who to this day are largely of old-American, Scottish-Irish ancestry, do a job most Americans won't do, or even notice.


In his book Class, Paul Fussell wrote that one simple way of determining what social class people belong to is to ask whether they run a serious risk of being injured or killed while they are at work.

If bankers, lawyers, or Senators had the same statistical odds of meeting their maker while on the job, they would see to it that several billion dollars a year were spent to make their quarters safe from collapsing floors or ceilings, from computers that could chop off their hands, or from air that would leave sludge on their lungs. Health and safety inspectors would visit their premises every week. Any employer ignoring safety violations — like Massey Energy Company — would be in the gunsights of heavy-duty tort bomber lawyers, especially if the employer could pass the settlement cost on to the taxpayers.

Despite the efforts of OSHA — one federal agency that on balance has done a lot of good, despite its excesses — industrial workers continue to risk life and limb in numbers that are shocking, but only if you think about it.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5,071 fatal work-related injuries in 2008. It can safely be assumed that not many of those 5,071 were wearing power suits or occupied private offices.

"Slightly more than one-half of the 3.7 million private industry injury and illnesses cases reported nationally in 2008 were of a more serious nature that involved days away from work, job transfer, or restriction — commonly referred to as DART cases," the BLS says. "These occurred at a rate of 2.0 cases per 100 workers … ."

Categories of fatal occupational injuries included "transportation incidents" (crashes, probably mostly of trucks); "assaults and violent acts"; "contact with objects and equipment" (subcategories included "caught in or compressed by equipment or objects" — 299 deaths in 2008; "caught in or crushed by collapsing materials" — 101 in 2008); "falls"; "exposure to harmful substances or environments," including 192 deaths from "contact with electrical current" and 102 from "contact with electrical power lines"; and "fires and explosions."


No one wants these events to happen, of course. It's just that they're so removed from the world of the cognitive elite that as far as they're concerned, they don't happen. The media make a huge meal out of any finding that an airline has failed to meet the letter of FAA-required aircraft maintenance — after all, people jetting from conference to lecture to business meeting are perceived as being at risk.

Meanwhile, the people who build, construct, repair, mine, chop down, etc. are invisible to their social betters, who think of them — when they do — as bitter-enders, clinging to their guns and religion; rednecks; Joe Six-packs; red staters; flyover country losers. Only in dying are they granted respect outside their own circles. The media tears flow, at most, until someone or some corporation can be found to blame.


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Alfred E. Neumann Award for Stupidest "Conservative" Columnist

What, he worry?

If this life is driving you to drink
You sit around and wondering

Just what to think

Well I got some consolation

I'll give it to you if I might

Well I don't worry 'bout a thing

'Cause I know nothing's gonna be all right.

Mose Allison
"I Don't Worry About a Thing"

And the winner is … David Brooks!
Brooks is the New York Times's neutered token "conservative."

Do not include his column when you sort your garbage for recycling. Brooks's economy of mind cannot be processed into anything useful.

Today he's assuring us: "Relax, We'll Be Fine."
This column is a great luscious orgy of optimism. Because the fact is, despite all the problems, America’s future is exceedingly bright.
And what balm does Brooks offer our worried heads?
Over the next 40 years, demographers estimate that the U.S. population will surge by an additional 100 million people, to 400 million over all. The population will be enterprising and relatively young.
Gee whiz, am I ever looking forward to another 100 million people to share the country with, in case I have another 40 years on my odometer. Especially as most of them will be Third World colonists and their spawn. The population may well be relatively young — why not, since our New New Left masters will encourage overbreeding among the colonists so that they can replace the indigenes, ensuring a permanent servile class for our corporate and political overlords.

Enterprising? Yes, invest in taco futures now.
In his book, “The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050,” über-geographer Joel Kotkin sketches out how this growth will change the national landscape. Extrapolating from current trends, he describes an archipelago of vibrant suburban town centers, villages and urban cores.
Translated from Times-speak: There will be no place to escape to if you're not keen on living in an über-vibrant environment.
Over the next 40 years, Kotkin argues, urban downtowns will continue their modest (and perpetually overhyped) revival, but the real action will be out in the compact, self-sufficient suburban villages. Many of these places will be in the sunbelt — the drive to move there remains strong — but Kotkin also points to surging low-cost hubs on the Plains, like Fargo, Dubuque, Iowa City, Sioux Falls, and Boise.
Right. Somehow I don't believe Brooks is planning to shift house to Sioux Falls. But Sioux Falls et al. are ripe for vibrancy conversion. Because, after all — you knew this was coming:
… the U.S. remains a magnet for immigrants. Global attitudes about immigration are diverging, and the U.S. is among the best at assimilating them (while China is exceptionally poor). As a result, half the world’s skilled immigrants come to the U.S. As Kotkin notes, between 1990 and 2005, immigrants started a quarter of the new venture-backed public companies.
To Brooks and people like him, the country's indigenous population is incapable of inventing or managing anything on their own; only by magnetizing itself to attract immigrants will America thrive. Funny, though: we have quite a few, some might say a surplus, of immigrants now, and it doesn't seem to have helped our 17 percent real-world unemployment rate. Possibly a fair portion of that consists of the vibrantly unemployed.

It's true that we could limit immigrants to those with money, skills, and high IQ. If Brooks suggested that, his keepers at the Times would boot him off the page starting last week.

Our Man in the Moon believes he has solid grounds for confidence.
As the world gets richer, demand will rise for the sorts of products Americans are great at providing — emotional experiences. Educated Americans grow up in a culture of moral materialism; they have their sensibilities honed by complicated shows like “The Sopranos,” “The Wire” and “Mad Men,” and they go on to create companies like Apple, with identities coated in moral and psychological meaning, which affluent consumers crave.
There are dedicated psychiatrists who analyze the statements of the mad to try to understand their patients better. Without benefit of specialized training, let us see what we can make of the paragraph above.

"As the world gets richer … ." The world Brooks inhabits, of third-rate public intellectuals, may be getting richer. Not the world as in, uh, world. Some specific countries with natural resources, or their ruling classes, are cashing in. Meanwhile the number of failed states, including proto–failed states in Europe, expands.

But our creative factories are working day and night forging "emotional experiences." Like, you know, The Sopranos, which I gather (I've never watched it) portrays a gang-infested New Jersey, and The Wire, which portrays a gang-infested Baltimore. A light unto the nations, an inspiration to all. Hone your sensibilities, and go on to start the next Apple …
… with identities coated in moral and psychological meaning
Coated identities? Coated in meaning (moral and psychological)? Does anyone who reads the New York Times ask what he means, morally and psychologically or not? Unlikely. It sounds good, what else do you want? That's enough to get you elected president.

As long as David Brooks is performing his trained "conservative" act, I won't worry about a thing.


Monday, April 05, 2010

Christian, Jewish, Muslim yoga


The Los Angeles Times has a story about a new trend in ever-trendy southern California: "Bending yoga" to fit into Christian and Jewish traditions.

"Many Christian and Jewish yogis are incorporating prayer and religious teachings into the practice," says the subhead. But prayer and religious teachings have always been part of yoga in India at least since the introduction of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, as long as two millennia ago. Until lately, the various forms of yoga have been associated with Hindu and Vedanta spirituality.
Christian pop music played quietly in the background as instructor Bryan Brock led a recent yoga class at the nondenominational Church at Rocky Peak in Chatsworth.

Incorporating prayer and readings from the Bible, Brock urged his class of about 20 students to find strength in their connection to their creator through yoga's deep, controlled breathing. "The goal of Christian yoga is to open ourselves up to God," he said. "It allows us to blur the line between the physical and the spiritual."
I'm sure I would find "Christian pop music" to be a turn-off — musical quality aside, can it really be an aid to contemplation of God in connection with yoga asanas (postures)? — but on the whole, bringing the benefits of hatha yoga to Christians and Jews is a welcome development.
Some Christians call their versions of the discipline holy yoga or Yahweh yoga and some teachers urge participants to "breathe down Jesus." Jewish yogis, in turn, have developed -- and in some cases, even trademarked -- Torah yoga, Kabbalah yoga and aleph bet yoga, applying Eastern meditative movements to Jewish prayer and study.
My impression is that as yoga has become as Westernized as pizza in the past 20 or 30 years, many yoga studios have drifted away from the discipline's traditional core: a method of refining the body and mind to increase receptivity to spiritual insight. Some cool-school varieties of modern yoga are, I gather, no more than gym workouts with a sprinkling of exoticism. So it's good to learn that a reaction to secular yoga is happening, however strange terms like "Torah yoga" sound.
Some fundamentalist Christians distance themselves from yoga, saying it is inseparable from Hinduism or Buddhism and therefore dangerous, even blasphemous. Some Orthodox Jewish authorities warn that if practiced with all its Eastern components, including Sanskrit chanting and small statues of deities, it amounts to avodah zarah, or the worship of false gods.
But neither Hindus nor Buddhists worship "gods" as that is understood in the West. The Hindu gods are, except among the most uneducated and superstitious Hindus, considered to be manifestations of the one supreme spiritual source, Brahman. Buddhists don't talk about God (which doesn't make them atheists or materialists; they meditate). Instead Buddhists concern themselves with understanding how the mind and emotions condition the causes of suffering, and the ways that people can overcome suffering by learning to dis-attach themselves from the causes. It is a beautiful, humane religion, although its followers can fall short of its high moral values — a failing that can be found in any religion.
For local Muslims, the debate is just beginning.

Although Islam's mystical strain of Sufism was influenced by Indian yogic practices, some strict Muslims view it as out of bounds. In 2008, Malaysia's top Islamic authority issued a fatwa, a nonbinding prohibition, against yoga. That angered Muslim yoga teachers across Asia, and many continue their yoga practice.
I knew about Sufism, but didn't know there are Muslim yogis.
Muslim daily prayers already offer a "personal and direct connection with the creator," says Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California. He also believes that as long as there is no Hindu or Buddhist religious content, yoga is "no different than jogging around the track."
He is right: if it includes no spiritual content, yoga is like running.
Syed fully expects that some Muslims in California will eventually develop a hybrid spiritual practice. "I'm sure one day somebody will try to combine yoga with Islam and they will get a following," Sayed said.
Even if ostensibly strictly Muslim, hatha yoga might well lead some Muslim practitioners to open their minds to other spiritual systems.
… Rabbi Avivah Winocur Erlick, a chaplain at Providence Tarzana Medical Center, says it is impossible to separate yoga from her Jewish spiritualism [the writer means "spirituality"]. About six years ago, Erlick began having intense spiritual experiences while doing yoga. She sought advice from a rabbi.

"He said, 'God has been trying to reach you all these years and he is reaching you through yoga," Erlick recalled. The rabbi challenged her to reconcile yoga with Judaism, which led to five years of study to become a rabbi. "For me, yoga is prayer," Erlick said.
She, too, is right: yoga can be a form of prayer for people of many faiths.


Saturday, April 03, 2010

The third day

It was the end of a very great thing called human history; the history that was merely human. The mythologies and the philosophies were buried there, the gods and the heroes and the sages. In the great Roman phrase, they had lived. But as they could only live, so they could only die; and they were dead.


On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realised the new wonder; but even they hardly realised that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but of the dawn.

G.K. Chesterton
The Everlasting Man

Friday, April 02, 2010

Future shocked

Man arrested at Large Hadron Collider
Claims He's From the Future

A would-be saboteur arrested today at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland made the bizarre claim that he was from the future. Eloi Cole, a strangely dressed young man, said that he had travelled back in time to prevent the LHC from destroying the world.
CNET UK, April 1

I guess I should finally cop to it. Like Mr. Cole, I am from the future. Although I have not traveled as far back in time as he has, I can claim that I arrived decades before he did. And I have taken care to dress in period clothing (this period's, that is). My mission is to escape the Dystopia that lies only a few years in the future — your future.


What do you mean, you want to know the details of the Dystopia? You have the clues all around you. You are creating the future through your own actions, or lack of them.

All right, I'll give you a couple of examples.

How was it possible — excuse me, I'm living in 2010 now, I think — how is it possible that a national government, with the country verging on a Greater Depression, can see no way out except to try to re-create the very bubble that caused the debacle? That is once again doing everything but stand on its head to get people to go into debt to consume more instead of encouraging factors that help create worthwhile jobs?

That instead of offering incentives to small and medium-sized businesses, which generate most of the private sector jobs, it is burdening them with more regulations and taxes? That is padding the federal government payroll with a new bumper crop of bureaucratic positions? That believes in so-called bailouts?


You can't say nobody warned you. All kinds of "alternative" economic commentators — alternative, that is, to the Sorcerer's apprentices of the banking industry who set official policy — have called them on the madness. For example, here's Edward Harrison on bailouts:
Essentially bankrupt institutions are being been propped up and the toxic assets remain. The Administration does not want house prices to decline to a sustainable level, but to prop them up. The language "goal of stabilizing housing markets" tells you that.

So, the aims of the Geithner proposal are to perpetuate the status quo ante via renewed house price appreciation and foreclosure prevention. Moreover, it is clear that the principal reduction is more about the banks than the homeowners. In reality this is a another backdoor bailout for the banks camouflaged as support for homeowners. It is a way of recapitalizing banks by having the government pony up for the dodgy assets still on their balance sheets which they have not yet written down.

This principal reduction plan is a very direct transfer of income from you the taxpayer to the bank. After twiddling our thumbs for so long while the banks were outfitted with bailout after bailout of taxpayer money, while they were allowed to repay the TARP money, and while they were allowed to pay huge bonuses, it is unconscionable that we are shovelling more money into these companies.
So much for the economic side. But you are also committing cultural suicide.


Your governments insist on pursuing the fantasy that virtually unlimited and indiscriminate immigration of Third World and Muslim populations creates a "vibrant" diversity. This is based on the egalitarian notion that cultural differences are only superficial, that you can mix-'n'-match tribes to your heart's content. In reality, you are sending out an urgent request for trouble. Consider this absurdity, as reported by the Beeb:

An Islamic state school in Britain has been told it is breaking the law by favouring Sunni pupils over Shia ones in giving out places.

England's schools adjudicator says the Madani High School in Leicester was set up in the state sector as a school for all Muslims. But she says the school's admissions system favours four schools of Islamic law which belong to the Sunni sect.

The school transferred to the state system in 2007.

Got that? England has set up a state school to teach Islam. And of course — what did they expect? — not only is it turning out classes of children with heads full of a total-immersion politico-religious system, but they have imported a millennium-old tradition of sectarian feuding.

It's poetic justice, really. Race replacement justified by the U.K.'s Marxist government on the grounds of all cultures being equal now runs aground because two branches of Islam want priority.

The school was also found to have failed to honour its stated intention of making 10% of places available to non-Muslim pupils.
Who'd have imagined that?

The school's mission statement says that it wants to help "learners to become confident in their identity as British Muslims".

When a state-sponsored school — I presume that means paid for out of taxes on non-Muslims as well as Muslims — can't be bothered to enrich its diversity with a token 10 percent non-Muslims, I'd say the "learners" are quite confident enough in their identity.

Well, I hope you dig the Dystopia I've managed to escape by the grace of the Large Hadron Collider. But you won't. Ask anyone who's been there.