Ardnassac

This is a book recommendation. Sadly, it’s out of print, and I can find none in any of the used book sites I have used. The good news is it’s cheap on Kindle.

I found out about it here if you want a short opinion second to the one that follows.

I can’t believe I’d never heard of the book, either.

The flying car topic of the title is used to weave a sort of ‘back to the future’ look at at technology, American ingenuity/entrepreneurialism, and government regulation. There is a strong science fiction presence used to ask “Why did, or did not, the predictions of 1930-1960 SF come to pass?” It’s a good summary of my contention that much of that literature should have been required reading.

Appearances, among many others, by H. G. Wells, Issac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke.

The brilliant Dr. Richard Feynman also takes a bow in a discussion of Heinlein’s novellas Waldo and Magic Inc..

I cut my teeth on SF with Tom Swift, and my strong technological optimism arguably started with that series. (I wonder if there is anything comparable now for 10 year olds?)

The author, J Storrs Hall, is a techno-optimist, too, and he suggests that after the 1960’s America became a much less “can do” polity than we had any reason to expect. We went from the Wright brothers to 747s in 50 years, from Goddard (1926) to the moon in 43. Now we’re mired in CAFE standards and cronyism.

Hall does spend a fair bit of time discussing the history of ‘flying cars’ and that alone is fascinating. There’s much more. He also makes very intriguing points about nanotech, nuclear power, AI, cybernetics, economics, city planning, and other topics.

One major consideration is envirostatism (my term), where he contends that the GREEN point isn’t CO2, pollution, or any of the other excuses offered. It is essentially anti-human nihilism.

For example,

“Green ideas have become inextricably intertwined with a perfectly reasonable desire to live in a clean, healthy environment and enjoy the natural world. The difference is of course that in the latter case, the human enjoying the natural world is a good thing, but to the fundamentalist Green he and all his works are a bad thing.”

Lest you think this is hyperbole, he supplies some words from the mouths of the horses-asses:

The prospect of cheap fusion energy is the worst thing that could happen to the planet.
-Jeremy Rifkin

Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.
-Paul Ehrlich

It would be little short of disastrous for us for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy because of what we would do with it.
-Amory Lovins

The title of this piece is Cassandra backwards. I closely paraphrase J Storrs Hall,

“There seems to be a bizarre reverse-Cassandra effect operating in the universe: whereas the mythical Cassandra spoke the awful truth and was not believed, these days “experts” speak awful falsehoods, and they are believed. Repeatedly being wrong actually seems to be an advantage, conferring some sort of puzzling magic glow upon the speaker.”

We hear California wildfires are caused by global warming climate change, when it’s actually envirostatist mismanagement, and the conscious intent to build windmills rather than maintain power lines. The California satraps agree with Rifkin, Ehrlich, and Lovins. In order to cripple the supply of energy, what have their like told us that wasn’t true?

California wildfires are caused by climate change. Gavin Newsom – yesterday
Four billion people will die between 1980 and 1989 from climate change. Paul Ehrlich – 1970
The polar ice cap will disappear by 2014. Al Gore – 2007
The planet will warm by 3 full degrees (0.1, actually). James Hansen – 1988
We will see the ‘end of snow.’ Untrue, no matter how many times it’s been predicted. various – 2000, 2015, 2017, 2020
Air pollution will reduce the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half. – Various – 1970

Amusingly, we also didn’t see an ice age by the year 2000. Kenneth Watt – 1970

Meanwhile, we see the very people who want zero CO2 emissions steadfastly oppose nuclear energy. Which is zero emission, safe, and causes immensely less environmental damage than windmills or solar panels. They are not protecting the environment, they are attacking the very idea of human well-being. This antipathy is in the spirit of Rifkin, Ehrlich, and Lovins. It is about authoritarian power in the way Critical Theorists describe it: There are no objective truths. Human history and culture are merely examples of a struggle in relative political power dynamics.

They don’t mean power as in horsepower, they mean justifying the political power of Antifa and BLM riots.

And don’t get me started on Critical Theorists’ “science” on “individuals with a cervix,” or what 2+2 equals.

Anyway. I recommend the book.

Grammatically incorrect

Propagandists in the classroom are a luxury that the poor can afford least of all. While a mastery of mathematics and English can be a ticket out of poverty, a highly cultivated sense of grievance and resentment is not.

-Thomas Sowell

Jeff Jacoby has a piece worth reading at Jewish World Review on the Rutgers English department debacle.
Is English grammar racist?

A slice (but RTWT):

Today, of course, Rutgers and its champions of “critical grammar” would regard Churchill’s emphasis on acquiring “the essential structure of the ordinary British sentence” as a primitive abomination. John F. Kennedy said of Churchill that he “mobilized the English language and sent it into battle”; there is little question that the power of Churchill’s well-wrought English rhetoric helped save Western civilization in one of its darkest hours. (The power of that prose also earned Churchill the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953.)…

“In short,” observes David Bernstein, a university professor and head of the Liberty & Law Center at George Mason University,

the Rutgers English Department wants to make sure that students who come to Rutgers with a poor grasp of standard written English not only remain in that state, but come to believe that learning standard English is a concession to racism. I remember when keeping “people of color” ignorant was considered part of white supremacy.

Churchill’s majestic command of English was due, in part, to rigorous training. Training of the sort that instills discipline, perseverance and clear thinking; whatever the subject. Rutgers charges over $900 per credit hour to willfully deny this opportunity to its students. Because those virtues have been racialized.

Churchill’s profound grasp of rhetoric didn’t merely serve him well during Question Period, it played a critical role in keeping all of us – including Black, Indigenous, People of Color – from slavery under a global racist tyranny. Countless LBGTQ people live today because a virulently anti­gay totalitarian was defeated.

At Rutgers, though, it is no longer enough to vilify Churchill with slipshod fantasies of racism, sexism, and colonialism: Now add to his sins an exemplary command of language.

It might be useful to bring the news to Rutgers that among those who shared that facility are Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, and Martin Luther King.

Hillsdale College – Resolute

Since 1844, Hillsdale College has provided classical liberal higher education regardless of students’ race, religion, or sex, and was the second college in the United States to grant 4 year degrees to women.

Hillsdale’s opposition to slavery was one of its founding principles. Frederick Douglass was twice a speaker at the college.

The tradition of top quality speakers has continued. You may wish to check out Imprimis, a free monthly digest of Hillsdale College speakers. Scroll through the Contributors selection box and you will see, for example, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Margaret Thatcher, Edward Teller, F. A. Hayek, Victor Davis Hanson, and many, many other great thinkers.

Hillsdale withdrew from all federal assistance in 1984 to avoid the burgeoning interference of Washington bureaucrats which threatened to destroy its mission, and has so severely damaged other institutions and their students.

Hillsdale offers 26 free online courses in topics including Literature, Philosophy, History, Economics, and Politics – including several on our Constitution. One example:
The Great American Story: A Land of Hope

This course explores the history of America as a land of hope founded on high principles. In presenting the great triumphs and achievements of our nation’s past, as well as the shortcomings and failures, it offers a broad and unbiased study of the kind essential to the cultivation of intelligent patriotism.

This preamble cannot convey the value of Hillsdale to our state and our country, but I hope it will encourage you to read this letter published in The Hillsdale Collegian:

On the College and Silence: A letter from Hillsdale College

This letter is highly, highly recommended. It is inspiring and principled. It begins:

Amidst the events of recent weeks, a number of alumni and others have taken up formal and public means to insist that Hillsdale College issue statements concerning these events. The College is charged with negligence — or worse.

RTWT

This is one of the very few times I have used my ‘academia’ category on a positive post.

Victor Davis Hanson

Brilliant. A must watch.

Victor Davis Hanson: COVID-19 and the Lessons of History | Hoover Virtual Policy Briefing

50 minutes. I watched at 1.5x. Speech is understandable, but is out of sync with video.

Hanson’s recounting of his family experience, through many deadly diseases, in a house they’ve owned for 145 years, is awesome.

His forbears had no expectations that government could solve every problem. When that changed, we started loosing America.

“[T]hey [Government during the Spanish flu, for example] didn’t have confidence that they were all knowing… they were much more humble about their own data and the ramifications.”

Compare and contrast with Gretchen Esther Whitmer.

Then read the quotes from Alexis de Tocqueville and Ayn Rand at the end of this post.

Nancy and the Chamber of Deplorers

This – Gertrude Himmelfarb & the Enlightenment – is a recommended read. I was vaguely aware of Himmelfarb, but have never read her. Based on this article, I will be correcting that.

A slice:

Some historians have been led … to claim that at different stages of his life there were two different Edmund Burkes, one liberal and the other conservative. Himmelfarb disagreed. She argued that his views were always consistent with the ideas about moral virtue that permeated the whole of the British Enlightenment. Indeed, Burke took this philosophy a step further by making the “sentiments, manners, and moral opinion” of the people the basis not only of social relations but also of politics.

I think this relates to the difficulty some people have in admitting that Donald Trump has been, so far, a successful President: He started, or at least accelerated, an erosion of “sentiments, manners, and moral opinion.”

This is a defensible proposition. I’ve written extensively on my discomfort with Trump’s bombast and crudity. I’ve come to see it as essential to his success, especially given the antics of his opposition. I’ve also learned to appreciate that many of the off-key things he says are jokes. Like any joke, they’re funny because they typically afflict the elite, and the punch line is unexpected. Especially from POTUS.

In that regard, he’s done us the favor of reducing reverence for the person of the President. The President should not be regarded with the awe the media was wont to promote for Obama. We hire the President, something Presidents often forget. Trump is narcissistic, but no more so than Obama. And probably less so: Trump can be self-deprecating. Something imaginable from Obama only as a humble brag.

Anyway, two things about “He started it!”

One, don’t be so sure. The post-modernists, neo-Marxists, race-baiters, grievance mongers, climate hysterics, agenda feminists, science denying transgenderists, et. al. – ideologues of a feather – were forthrightly blabbering their disdain for ‘deviates’ from their authoritarian agenda for decades before Trump was born.

Trump, with provocations mild in comparison (Who has he called Hitler?), has done us the favor of causing them to reveal the monumental level of disgust they harbor for Enlightenment values. The mask of compassion has slipped.

Two, “He started it,” isn’t an excuse you accept from your children; and no more extenuates Nancy Pelosi’s stationery abuse last night than it does Hillary’s “deplorables” gaffe, nor Maxine Water’s lifetime-achievement-award-worthy contributions to coarsening our quality of discourse while lowering our collective IQ. We need not belabor Adam Schiff’s perfidy.

Hillary directly helped enable Rashida Tlaib, AOC, and Ilhan Omar; and Pelosi is now taking her cues from that mess of pottage.

This officious disregard is nothing new…

Apart from the different philosophical status they assigned to reason and virtue, the one issue where the contrast between the British and French Enlightenments was sharpest was in their attitudes to the lower orders. This is a distinction that has reverberated through politics ever since. The radical heirs of the Jacobin tradition have always insisted that it is they who speak for the wretched of the earth. In eighteenth-century France, they claimed to speak for the people and the general will. In the nineteenth century, they said they represented the working classes against their capitalist exploiters. In our own time, they have claimed to be on the side of blacks, women, gays, indigenes, refugees, and anyone else they define as the victims of discrimination and oppression. Himmelfarb’s study demonstrates what a façade these claims actually are.

The French philosophes thought the social classes were divided by the chasm not only of poverty but, more crucially, of superstition and ignorance. They despised the lower orders because they were in thrall to Christianity. The editor of the Encyclopédie, Denis Diderot, declared that the common people had no role in the Age of Reason: “The general mass of men are not so made that they can either promote or understand this forward march of the human spirit.” Indeed, “the common people are incredibly stupid,” he said, and were little more than animals: “too idiotic—bestial—too miserable, and too busy” to enlighten themselves. Voltaire agreed. The lower orders lacked the intellect required to reason and so must be left to wallow in superstition. They could be controlled and pacified only by the sanctions and strictures of religion which, Voltaire proclaimed, “must be destroyed among respectable people and left to the canaille large and small, for whom it was made.”

See anything you recognize?