Grandad, what did you do in the Culture War?

I took the battle back to them, laddie. They don’t like it up ’em.

What follows is meant as “open source” for people to tweak as they see fit. Find out what works for you and let people know the versions that are successful.

Also, it’s not a completely original thought; it was inspired by a line in a TV show I watched recently (Bodyguard on Netflix).

Part of my current working week involves a status discussion with a representative from an adjacent department. The particular representative is a young (just turned 30) female.

Some background colour I’ve learned about this individual; she’s a divorced single mother of two children, she’s vehemently anti-Trump (but, when asked which of his policies were offensive, struggled to name one), and she’s morbidly obese.

During our previous 2 meetings she has offered the opinion that I am a privileged, old, white, heterosexual, male. For reasons of courtesy, I’ve ignored these statements as they were irrelevant to the facts and purpose of our meeting.

It’s tempting to drop down a rabbit hole and try to become amateur psychologists based on those sparse facts, but we won’t.

Instead, here’s a summary of how I shut this annoyance down during our third meeting;

Angry Overweight Single Woman: “Blah blah blah, financial reporting, blah blah blah, programme governance, blah blah blah, you’re a privileged, old, white, heterosexual, man“.

William of Ockham: “Excuse me, but did you just assume my ethnicity and gender? Do you not realise I am mixed race and identify as non-binary?”.

Angry Overweight Single Woman: (silence for a full minute while she stared at me, blinking frequently, then changed the subject and never mentioned it since).

Throughout this interaction I maintained an impassive poker face, giving as few visual clues as possible to indicate what I was saying might not be completely grounded in fact.

I have not subsequently told her it was a joke, untrue, or a social experiment, etc. I have no plans to do so either; my statement will not be reversed.

Amusingly, if I get a call from the HR Director, I could bring my ancestry.com DNA result that shows I’m only 27% ethnically British. The question they would then need to grapple with is, how do you define race? Good luck with that one.

It would also be interesting to learn how they would prove or disprove my claim of identifying as gender non-binary. Is there an objective test we can apply?

Bill’s Opinion

If the cultural Marxism disease has overtaken your employer, this passive aggressive approach, or a variation of it, might be a useful strategy to begin the process of remediation. It’s turning their own weapons of sentimentality for diversity back on them to demonstrate that the opposite outcome is being achieved; you can’t be truly inclusive if you are prepared to exclude and demonise an entire group of individuals based on immutable characteristics such as age, genital configuration, melanin levels and sexual orientation.

If you are prepared to take this step with me, there are several important points that you will need to commit to and practice;

– Poker face. This is a potentially serious step you are about to take with career-damaging implications if you get it wrong. Do not smirk or offer any visual or verbal clues that you are being in anyway insincere.

– Don’t back down. Saying, “Sorry, it was just a joke” is not going to end well for you. I repeat, saying sorry is going to result in very negative outcomes for you. There are enough examples of apologies only serving to embolden the cultural Marxists.

– Believe what you are saying. Everybody on planet Earth is mixed race, especially given there is no scientific definition of race, only generalisations based on bell curves of statistical distribution. As for the gender claim; remember that they believe there are far more than two genders, so you will need to see their definitions of each before you can, in good faith, confirm which one most closely matches the version you identify with this week.

Hopefully this helps you on your journey through the institutional insanity that is modern corporate life. Please do share this advice and report back in the comments how it went for you and any lessons from which we can all learn.

Prices are set at the margins – part 2

A 69 year old man wants to change his age to 49 to be able to trick younger women into dating him.

No, really.

Just when you thought an Irish bogtrotter with no known African relatives receiving a grant for “identifying as black” was insane, here comes the next marginal price-setting for the cultural Marxists;

A bunch of lawyers and at least one judge, presumably all funded by the generous Dutch taxpayers, are going to have to discuss this in a court of law. Intelligent, highly-qualified sane adult humans are going to stand up in court and argue for and against age being a social construct.

Stop laughing at the back, this is important stuff.

Bill’s Opinion

If gender and race are social constructs, why not age?

Indeed, why not species?

In fact, why not gravity? If we agree that gravity is a social construct and its oppressive requirement for us to stay permanently attached to the earth’s surface is a result of institutional patriarchal hierarchy, why can’t we sue the government for preventing us from swooping like the birds?

Alternatively, the future version of Edward Gibbon, when documenting the decline and fall of western civilisation, might point to moments such as these as being pivotal in the process of opening the gates to let the barbarians in and run amok.

What does “sorry” even mean

Another day, another national apology on behalf of someone else;

This month’s Prime Minister of Australia (c) apologised to victims of institutional sexual abuse.

As we’ve seen previously, Sorry is a very easy word to say when there are only positive consequences for the speaker.

These national vicarious apologies on behalf of perpetrators who are long dead or languishing in jail would be amusing if it weren’t for the seriousness of the situations they are describing.

Politicians who make these public statements seem to have missed the fact that “sorry” has two meanings;

The first is an expression of contrition and regret for an action you personally were responsible for undertaking. “I’m so sorry I ran over your cat on my driveway“.

The second is an expression of sympathy. “I’m so sorry you have been diagnosed with cancer, that must be devastating for you“.

These national apologies seem to fall into the second category whilst pretending to be the first.

Where might this all lead, do we think?

If we have a duty to apologise for historical crimes for which we have no responsibility but just have some vague connection to the criminal such as nationality, ethnicity or ancestry, what other crimes should we ask the jury to take into consideration?

Bill’s Opinion

Some time ago, I submitted my DNA to Ancestry.com to understand my ancestral heritage.

The summarised results are shown below;

it’s fairly clear to even the casual observer that, at a minimum, I should apologise for the following historic crimes;

– The Jallianwala Bagh massacre

– The Battle of Stamford Bridge

– The tyranny of the Danelaw

– The Reconquista

– The First World War

– The Second World War

– Child labour in the factories during the Industrial Revolution

– The reign of King John and the subsequent War of Independence

– Brexit

– James Corden

I’m so, so sorry*.

*not sorry

Describing the ends but not the means

The sheltered workshop and tax dodging former newspaper, The Guardian, ran an opinion piece about science by a writer whose entire qualification seems to be that he writes a genre of fiction with the word “science” in the category description.

Science fiction writer Kim Stanley-Robinson wants to save the planet.

Of course, the usual Malthusian Fallacy is the main theme of the opinion piece. No surprises there and the consistent formula is employed;

1. Define an unverifiable looming catastrophe,

2. Define an untestable solution,

3. As a consequence, demand resources and behavioural changes from the population.

What’s quite interesting in this article is the use of gentle language to describe what would require severely authoritarian measures to implement.

Some examples follow;

The tendency of people to move to cities, either out of desire or perceived necessity, creates a great opportunity. If we managed urbanisation properly, we could nearly remove ourselves from a considerable percentage of the the planet’s surface.

Just a mild “if we managed urbanisation” there, you might say. Of course, everything hinges on one’s definition of “managed“.

It could be said that Hugo Chavez managed the distribution of food in Venezuela, for example…..

Many villages now have populations of under a thousand, and continue to shrink as most of the young people leave. If these places were redefined (and repriced) as becoming usefully empty, there would be caretaker work for some, gamekeeper work for others, and the rest could go to the cities and get into the main swing of things.

Redefined and repriced? Sure, by whom, when, to what price and how?

If we recall, Robert Mugabe redefined and repriced the fertile farmland of Zimbabwe….

So emptying half the Earth of its humans wouldn’t have to be imposed: it’s happening anyway. It would be more a matter of managing how we made the move, and what kind of arrangement we left behind. One important factor here would be to avoid extremes and absolutes of definition and practice, and any sense of idealistic purity. We are mongrel creatures on a mongrel planet, and we have to be flexible to survive.

Quite right; people have been self-selecting and moving to urban centres since the Industrial Revolution. Urban living overtook rural living over a decade ago.

So what’s Kim’s call to action here, if we’re doing this by free will already?

Ah, he wants to lock the gate once we’ve left so it’s harder to return.

We will have to have decarbonised transport and energy production, white roofs, gardens in every empty lot, full-capture recycling, and all the rest of the technologies of sustainability we are already developing. That includes technologies we call law and justice – the system software, so to speak. Yes, justice: robust women’s rights stabilise families and population. Income adequacy and progressive taxation keep the poorest and richest from damaging the biosphere in the ways that extreme poverty or wealth do. Peace, justice, equality and the rule of law are all necessary survival strategies.

That’s quite a word salad which can perhaps be summarised as “people like me need to rewrite the law“, such as;

….because we will be safest if we can get the CO2 level in the atmosphere back down to 350 parts per million.

Says who? If I’m living in a violent urban neighbourhood in Lagos, Nigeria, I might question Kim’s assertion about precisely what actions might keep me safest.

All these working landscapes should exist alongside that so-called empty land (though really it’s only almost empty – empty of people – most of the time). Those areas will be working for us in their own way, as part of the health-giving context of any sustainable civilisation. And all the land has to be surrounded by oceans that, similarly, are left partly unfished.

Which is fine until we get around to talking about how we are planning to keep the people off the land and stop them dropping a net in the water.

All this can be done. All this needs to be done if we are to make it through the emergency centuries we face and create a civilised permaculture, something we can pass along to the future generations as a good home. There is no alternative way; there is no planet B. We have only this planet, and have to fit our species into the energy flows of its biosphere. That’s our project now. That’s the meaning of life, in case you were looking for a meaning.

There is no alternative way? Is that like, “the science is settled“?

Bill’s Opinion

Comparing expressed preferences with revealed preferences is always an interesting exercise.

Kim Stanley-Robinson is urging us to move to large conurbations and then for armed police (no really, how else is he proposing we enforce it?) to close the gates to the newly-vacant countryside.

Out of curiosity, Kimbo, where’s your primary residence? Where exactly is Chez Stanley-Robinson?

The high-density sprawling metropolis of Davis California (pop. 65,622).

Just to illustrate the hypocrisy, this is the satellite view of Davis;

With a strong right arm, one could probably throw a frisbee the entire length of the town in one shot. Although, it sounds like the sort of place where Ultimate Frisbee has no social shame so there’s a good chance it might be intercepted.

In Kim’s own words, from his wiki page (emphasis mine);

Politically, Robinson describes himself as a democratic socialist, going on to say that libertarianism has never “[made] any sense to me, nor sounds attractive as a principle.”

No shit, Sherlock.

Nihilists gonna nihilist

We’ve all heard that lemmings jump into the sea every year, drowning themselves because they are just following the herd. Except they don’t. That’s actually a myth invented for a Disney wildlife documentary, and it has blinded us to the truth about the weird lives of lemmings for decades.

That’s ok though, we’ve filled the vacuum ourselves;

We’re the only species evolved enough to consciously go extinct for the good of all life, or which needs to.

The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement would very much prefer it if you could refrain from reproducing and persuade everyone you know to follow suit.

Why?

Well for the same reason The Club of Rome would like you to stop breathing;

The Earth has cancer and the cancer is Man.

They’ve taken the Buddhist (and several other religions, to be fair) belief that life is mainly suffering, extrapolated it and come to the conclusion that the most appropriate response is that we put a stop to the whole cycle.

Is this a reasonable conclusion supported by the weight of evidence, do we think?

First, let’s look at the reasons put forward by this group, why do we need to take such a radical step? Is it to reduce human suffering?

No, the explanations given on their website are all to the benefit of the surviving species and, in fact, are quite disparaging and unsympathetic about human suffering, as this example illustrates;

Naturally, it’s not that simple, but just for fun, let’s envision an impossible dream: all human sperm suddenly and permanently loses viability—no impregnated human egg begins meiosis to form a zygote—none transforms from embryo into the sacred fetus, is carried to term and sentenced to life. Zero conceptions, wanted nor un.

A wonderful fantasy. Phones in crisis pregnancy centers would fall mysteriously silent. Sperm banks would go bankrupt after fraudulently milking the infertile. Adoption agencies would fruitlessly increase baby bounties, and charge an arm and a leg for whoever’s in stock, damaged or not. Needless panic would be hilarious. Like people frantically searching for their oars after the boat has beached.

Or, to paraphrase, “Yes, you pathetic people who feel the need to altruistically raise someone else’s orphaned child just because you are infertile, how pathetic of you compared to us, the people with the monopoly of righteousness.”.

So, it’s all about the surviving species.

Ok, let’s ponder that concept for a moment. Will a lack of humans cause flora and fauna to have an increased level of happiness? Well, we could have a lengthy debate about the nature of happiness and even consciousness, but one suspects we’ll not reach much of a consensus before anyone reading this becomes personally extinct.

Flip it around the other way perhaps; will a lack of humans result in a net reduction in pain and suffering of plants and animals?

Sure, factory-farmed animals will not experience the short and poor quality lives they currently have, mainly because they won’t be born. What about those animals that will be born in the wild after we’ve shuffled off this mortal coil? Do we think they will organise themselves in to peaceful communes or will they just fall prey to the next apex predator down the food chain?

We might even ponder a future earth without humans where another species evolves to fill the vacuum. Do we think the new intelligent species will pick up our musty old literature, read what we did to ourselves, be inspired for the love of Gaia and hold a vote to do the same?

Bill’s Opinion

If you’re reading this looking for the answer to the ultimate question of why we are here and what our purpose is on the planet, I’m afraid you’ll have to leave feeling slightly short-changed.

However, we can have a good punt at what the meaning of life isn’t.

We are not born to capitulate, roll over and die. There is nothing unique or beautiful about giving up, it’s been the easiest and most likely thing to happen throughout the history of the planet.

The philosophy behind VHEM has a fundamental flaw; they’ve confused the statement, “life is mainly suffering” with the statement “life is always suffering”. The gap between the two statements is filled with beauty, kindness and joy, albeit brief.

No, if you think humans are a cancer that needs to be surgically removed…. you go first.

Better still, let us know how you get on once you’ve reached TELAH.

“Could” is doing a lot of heavy lifting these days

Another day, another taxpayer-funded study predicting the dire future consequences of climate change.

This one suggests rising sea levels will succeed where Kim Kardashian failed, and break the internet.

No, really; if the climate is changing as rapidly as they claim, and if this change will result in the polar ice caps melting, then rising sea levels will flood lots of the telecoms and data centre infrastructure of the internet.

Regular readers will realise there’s good deal of scepticism in this organ when reading claims such as these.

Two data sources are responsible for this cynicism towards claims the world is about to look like the set of a rubbish Kevin Costner movie;

1. The accuracy of their previous predictions, and

2. The historic data and trend line of sea levels.

Choose your own source to confirm what we were told/sold in the past about how quickly we would need to learn to swim but a quick search on the internet will produce quite a large range of predicted sea level rises and due by dates.

The one connecting factor all of these predictions will have is that they didn’t come true. The bad outcomes were never anywhere near as bad as predicted.

So what? People have been making wrong predictions about stuff forever. What does the actual observed data tell us?

So, rather than seeing those predicted metres of increased sea levels, we’ve seen about 20cm per century and the rate of the rise hasn’t accelerated either.

The original article links to this in support of its claim that sea levels are rising. Note that the linked article doesn’t present any observed data as evidence but yet more predictions without reference to observed data.

Now that we’ve spotted the use of “could” in the first article, have a look at the second one and see where the “could” pops up.

If the acceleration of ice melt were to continue, it could potentially cascade, leading to runaway ice melt and rapid sea level rise.

And if my mother had wheels instead of legs she’d be a trolley.

Bill’s Opinion

The Climate Change “military industrial complex” is a layer cake of beliefs which are increasingly more difficult to prove using the scientific method, which has helped us find the truth so well in recent centuries;

Layer 1. It’s possible that the climate is changing. In fact, given what we know from geological records, it’s almost impossible that the climate isn’t changing.

Layer 2. It’s possible that human activity has started to influence the change.

Layer 3. It’s also possible that human activity has influenced the changes in the climate at a rate that is worse than humans can cope with and poses an existential threat.

Layer 4. It might be possible that humans can find technological solutions to halt or even reverse the change (which also infers we can agree on what the “optimal” climate should be) without sentencing billions of the least wealthy to remain in poverty and suffer early deaths.

Layer 5. It may even be possible that, once these technological solutions are found and proven to be effective without disastrous side effects, the major economies of the world can agree to organise themselves in a way never previously witnessed in human history to implement the solution.

Layer 6. Or we could just move the fucking data centres up a hill and lay some new telecommunications cables.

Prince William takes on the Malthusian baton for another generation

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; Prince William Is Worried There Are Just Too Many People in the World

This has been the Prince’s father’s schtick for years so we shouldn’t be surprised that the same views are held by Windsor Jr.

The headline speaks to a common underlying view held by many people living in rich western countries, that there are limiting factors to the size of the human population and catastrophe awaits us when we trend closer to that finite number.

The development of this idea can be traced back to Reverend Malthus’ 1798 work, An Essay on the Principle of Population. In it, he offers the hypothesis that populations grow into the space they inhabit until they reach a natural limit based on the resources they consume.

It’s an intellectually-attractive theory and one supported by countless observable flora and fauna examples. With regards to human populations, however, the theory doesn’t seem to be correct, or it hasn’t been for over 200 years.

Perhaps Malthus is correct but we just need to wait a little longer?

Well, perhaps but how can we explain the glorious and happy fact that the numbers of people in absolute poverty has fallen consistently over the period since his publication? Better still, that number fell off a cliff from the 1970s and continues to fall.

This makes Mathusian predictions seem somewhat unrealistically pessimistic. We are feeding and keeping people alive longer and in far greater numbers than ever before with no obvious reason to assume that this trend will end soon.

Why then, does Malthus’theory stand true for animals but not the shaved ape we call homo sapiens? Human ingenuity, would be my guess; we’re the only species producing efficient farming techniques, improving crop yields and robustness, creating effective pharmaceutical products, building dwellings in locations where extremes of temperatures would usually kill us, etc.

That’s not to say Malthus will be wrong forever about human populations but, if we were to place a bet, the clever money would be on us innovating our way out of trouble long before the catastrophe occurred. If the catastrophe occurs 200 years hence, we’re likely to be capable of colonising other planets, for example. Who knows? Certainly not Malthus, he’s a long time dead, and it’s highly unlikely that a couple of members of the Sax-Coburg-Gotha British Royal Family  have any real insights to offer either.

Of course, if one truly believes that there are too many people in the world, it seems reasonable to ask what might be the possible solutions?

Well, there’s really only two levers we can pull here; lower the birth rate and/or kill a bunch of people.

Examining the delta between people’s expressed and revealed preferences is always a useful test; Prince William and his wife are currently expecting their third child.

So, let us be charitable and assume the Prince doesn’t secretly harbour desires for genocide, we can only conclude that he wants other people to have fewer babies to make more room for his. Which people? Poor people, presumably, people not of his group.

I’m not an evolutionary biologist but I’d suggest that there’s a deep evolutionary instinct at play there.

Bill’s Opinion

Malthus is wrong with regards to humans and has been since 1798. He might be correct one day but the data trends suggests otherwise.

When someone expresses a Malthusian sentiment, it is a great indicator that you are speaking with someone with subconscious authoritarian tendencies.

In his speech, the Prince goes on to bemoan the extinction of species due to human activity. It’s a shame this point was rather lost in the Malthusian guff as we probably all can agree completely that this is a bad thing. Killing millions or asking poor people to do what you aren’t prepared to do yourself isn’t the solution though.

Whither Korea?

With all the posturing and hype assaulting our news cycle, one wonders whether Occam’s Razor might help us predict the most likely short and medium term outcomes. We won’t bother with trying to predict the long term as, in the words of a famous pederast, “in the long term, we’re all dead”.

The Main Actors

Kim Jong Un – North Korea’s current iteration of the dynastic dictatorship

Donald Trump and the USA administration and military

The South Korean leadership

The Japanese leadership

The Chinese leadership

For the purposes of keeping this exercise to a manageable level of complexity, we’ll ignore our previous advice and view those last three governments as individuals. Given that they are all led by an individual who will have the ultimate decision-making responsibility, perhaps this is an acceptable delusion.

What is Kim Jong Un’s motivation?

Firstly, let’s assume he’s a rational actor. It’s too lazy to write him off as insane and, anyway, if that were to be the conclusion of the other actors, their only rational course of action would have to be his immediate destruction as a self-defence strategy. As this has not happened, we must assume the other actors have assessed him to be rational.

Due to the isolation of North Korea, Jong Un has really only one main stakeholder, the North Korean population. True, China is supporting the regime but this is not out of fraternity but geographic necessity; there are no natural borders between South Korea (a NATO country) and China. Even a basket-case buffer state is therefore more acceptable than having the Americans parked next door.

Kim can care less about anyone else’s opinion other than the population he tyrannises. If they were to lose fear/faith in his rule, he would be dead. As Machiavelli said, “if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved”.

What is Trump’s and the USA administration and military’s motivation?

At its simplest level – regional stability and no further escalation of the threat of nuclear or conventional weapon use against the USA or allies.

In the case of Trump, there is also a domestic credibility concern. He was elected with an image of strength and was quick to flex military muscle in Syria despite previously stating a less-interventionist policy. North Korea is stepping over lines drawn in the sand and, with each step, he will be feeling the need of all politicians; to be seen to be doing something (regardless of effectiveness).

What is South Korea’s motivation?

Not to get nuked or be invaded.

A long way down the list of priorities after that would be re-unification, although, the longer the North Koreans are kept in solitary confinement on starvation rations, the higher the cost to be paid by the Southerners if that were to ever happen. There’s a well-documented height difference (3 to 8cm) between the two sides of the same genetic pool, for example. It might also follow that a divergence in IQ may also have occurred.

What is Japan’s motivation?

Not to get nuked or have a unarmed rocket fail on the way over a city.

There might be some elements within Japan who perhaps see a credible threat from North Korea as a good excuse to increase the Japanese military budget and take a more active role in the world. We’re a long way from Japan showing any signs of expansionism, apart from some nearby desolate rocks with oil underneath.

What might happen next?

1.   North Korea might attack South Korea, Japan, Guam or maybe even have a brain snap and attack China.

2.   North Korea might keep testing rockets and nuclear weapons as good internal PR.

3.   North Korea might stop rattling sabres and come out of the cold like a good world neighbour.

Bill’s Opinion

Short Fat Elvis with a silly haircut isn’t insane and he’s not stupid. He’s not going to launch a unprovoked attack on anyone if there’s a credible risk of a military response.

Similarly, he’s not going to risk presenting himself as weak to a population tightly-controlled by violence and starvation; opening up communications with the outside world would immediately show how dire their conditions are relative to everyone else.

Perhaps the simplest and therefore most likely solution is more of the same, a continuous cycle of rockets and nuclear tests but staying just the right side of international law or precedent.

If this is correct, then the real question is how great is the pressure “to be seen to be doing something” for the Americans? And that’s another question altogether……