Saturday, December 31, 2011

Obama - Three Years of Pathos

There is no doubt whatsoever that Barack Hussein Obama has been a D-Level president. In fact in almost all categories he falls short of the litmus test for marginal competency.

On the economic front, the Obama stimulus packages have failed miserably to ignite the economy (as any monetarist could have told him) and instead has entangled the US with the greatest debt in the history of the republic. This ‘legacy’ that future generations will have to account for is a noxious burden made worse by the fact that so much of it is held by China – a country destined to overthrow the US as the leading superpower both economically and strategically. Furthermore Obama and his intellectual posse have advocated a cultural of financial dependency by ensuring that 47% of Americans will be benefiting but not contributing to the nation’s tax base. Confidence in the economy is low and as manufacturing potential deteriorates the spiral of American decline is further exemplified by a shrinking private sector and the growth of the big government monolith. Critics will argue that Obama inherited many of these problems from the previous administration, a charge that carries a semblance of truth (although the Democrat controlled Congress shoulders much blame as well), but the fact that he has made a bad situation exponentially worse and now owns much of the current problem is a more potent truism.

However if the lights are all but out on Obama’s economic policy, his Foreign Policy initiatives deserve equal ridicule. Particularly galling is his failure to apply common sense to the ever present cauldron of middle east politics. Starting with appeasement and self flagellation at his infamous Cairo Speech, Obama has carried on the disastrous Carter initiatives of undermining American allies (in this case Israel and Mubarak’s Egypt) and empowering Islamic Fundamentalism in some misguided attempt to appear even handed. Just as Carter helped bring into power the Mullahs in Iran, Obama - through his free pass to the Islamists and rejection of Mubarak - must take credit for the pending and very likely takeover of Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood- a fate that seems ever likely as the Arab Spring turns ever more sour (as if there was an alternative for a region that has still not moved into the enlightenment era). Couple that with his ill-fated Libyan venture, the growth of religious fundamentalism in Tunisia and Turkey, instability in Bahrain, Yemen and the growing nuclear menace of Iran and one would be hard pressed to find a life jacket in this sea of insanity.

But wait wasn’t Obama supposed to be the ethics president who was ushered in as a voice of change. True but who said change had to positive? Especially when it comes from a man who lacked the moral fortitude to back the people protests in Iran over the rigged election in his early tenure, and who constantly calls on Israel two making dangerous one sided compromises for the sake of an imaginary peace with a vengeful genocide driven enemy. Compare this to Ronald Reagan’s voice in calling out the Soviet Union's Evil Empire in the 1980s for what it really was (a human rights violator and tyranny) and the contrast in leadership is striking.

However Obama will persist, bolstered by his own sense of grandeur. He will take solace in the implementation of Obamacare, for which liberal historians will lionize him (as they did for Lyndon Johnson’s over hyped Great Society or Roosevelt’s New deal which in reality prolonged the Depression of the 1930s), even if the economics of paying for such a medical system will further increase the role of intrusive government, weaken the economy by augmenting debt accumulation, and in all probability downgrade the quality of health care available in the US, as is evident with the tortured history of socialized medicine in Western Europe and elsewhere.

What astounds me though is with all these shortcomings he still maintains a messiah-was at the forefront of great technology charge during the Cold War into an adjunct arm that seems almost wholly focussed in drumming up data to appease the mania associated with the global warming cult. Even a post modernist couldn’t have predicted such obvious deterioration in an organization synonymous with the American triumph. American Science will be rescued by private initiatives as it always has but this will of no thanks to the Obamabots.

Which brings me to the root of the Obama menace. Yes he is a third rate leader, but more to the point he is dangerous. The West needs strength especially in the light of the Islamist barbarism, cultural degradation, economic disaster and the entropy of decay that challenges any civilization. The US, following the abdication of Europe, is the natural leader in such regards but in order to lead it must believe with a full-heart in itself and have at its head a President who is comfortable with its exceptionalism. The fact that Obama is apparently devoid of this outlook is frightening and of comfort only to those who rejoice in the American decline. I pity the US should he be re-elected in 2012.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Documenting attitude toward Israel

Here is a scale from -10 to +7 that I have developed to categorize opinion toward Israel. I am a +2.

-10: Anti-Semitic, Anti-Zionist Primary: Hate the Jews and everything to do with the Jews. Would be extremely satisfied to see the Jews disappear off the face of the Earth.
Examples: Nazis, Hamas, Iranian Mullahs, KKK, Neo-Nazis, Stormfront, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad..

-9: Anti-Semitic, Anti-Zionist Secondary: While not as extreme as the Primary in Action – are certainly equivalent in feeling.
Examples: David Duke, Ernst Zundel, Author of Jew Watch (although he may have to close down his site), Keegstra, Wendy Campbell, Louis Farrakhan, DFLP, PFLP.

-8: Anti-Semitic, Anti-Zionist Tertiary: While not necessarily supporting the extinction of Jews a such, certainly advocate the extinction of Jewish Nationalism. Tend to despise much of Jewish culture. Territory of Self Hating Jews.
Examples: Gilad Atzmon, Israel Shahak, Norman Finkelstein, Justin Raimondo, Trotskyites, Hardline Marxists, Israel Shamir, Lyndon La Rouche.

-7: Marginally Anti-Semitic, Anti-Zionist: However they don’t support the extinction of Judaism. Nevertheless the rhetoric borders on Anti-Semitism.
Examples: Many Paleo-Conservatives (Pat Buchanan etc), Fatah (reality), More main stream Communists, ISM, Neturei Karta.

-6: One-Staters in heart and head: Will not be satisfied until there is one-State (or no state) that exists in Israel/Palestine with full Palestinian right of Return. Do not recognize Israel’s right to exist. Anti-Zionist.
Examples: The Nation, Counterpunch, ZMag, Edward Said, Ilan Pappe, Noam Chomsky, Michael Neumann, Bishop Tutu, Nelson Mandela, George Galloway, Tony Greenstein, Samtar Hassids,

-5: One State in heart. Two State in head. Ideally would like to see a One-State but as of now are content on giving support to the Two State solution.
Examples: Fatah (in the Western Media), Hadash, George Soros, The Roses, Sid Ryan, UN faithful, The Guardian, Jesse Jackson.

-4: Support Two State: Limited Palestinian Right of Return. Jerusalem – two state capital
Examples: Meretz Left, Woody Allen, Canadian NDP, Michael Moore, EU position, BBC.

-3: 1967 with security. Two state solution back to pre-67 boundaries + Shared Jerusalem.
eg. Meretz Right, Labour Left, Canadian Liberal- Left, Yossi Beillin, CBC.

-2: Labour Mainstream: Two station solution + pre-67 boundaries + few necessary settlements. No Palestinian Right of Return.
Eg. Ehud Barak, Shimon Peres, Bill Clinton, Democratic Party Mainstream, Canadian Liberals Mainstream, George Bush, Amos Oz.,CNN faithful, Most of ABC, CBS, NBC.

-1: Two State Unilateral – Velvet Glove. Settler withdrawal from West Bank to follow. Security Focused.
Eg. Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, Alan Dershowitz, New Republic Magazine.

0: Two State Unilateral – Scaling down on Settler growth in West Bank. Possible closeres. Security Focused.
Eg. Kadima Central, Olmert, Livni

+1 Two State Unilateral – Differ from 1 in being less supportive of West Bank Settlement closing. Security Focused.
Eg. Kadima Right, Sharon, Moderate Likud, National Review.

+2 Two State Truncated Very strong security focus.
Likud Core, Commentary, Front Page Magazine.
Eg. Netanyahu.

+3. Likud Right. Strong security focus. No further hand backs, still support aggressive settlement growth in West Bank.
Eg. Yitzhak Shamir

+4-6: Settler Blocks.
Eg. The Block of the Faithful, Israel National Radio.

+ 7: Kach Party. JDL.
Eg. Followers of Rabbi Kahana. Masada 2000.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Philosophical Meanderings Part II

21. Education schools are for the most part nesting grounds for second grade intellectuals.

22. Capitalism and Free Enterprise systems are not synonymous. The former rejoices in oligarchy. The latter detests it.

23. It is important to be a skeptic but at the same time never intolerant toward contradictory evidence.

24. I don’t pay much attention to political opinions originating from Hollywood. Anyone who does is engaging in mindless time wasting.

25. What the world needs is more intelligent generalists. What it has in abundance is a cacophony of half-witted specialists.

26. Canada for the most part is a nation of marginal significance its luxury though is that it can afford to be so.

27. String Theory is the fly in the ointment of modern physics…..Cleaning up its overriding presence will be the great task of 21st century thinkers in the Queen of All Sciences.

28. I endeavour to constantly challenge my beliefs…Not a day goes by when I don’t drag my assumptions through the ringer. This is both a curse and a blessing.

29. I am a complex person. Sometimes this complexity paralyzes me.

30. It is not my intention to sound arrogant in my writing but it definitely ill affords me to be insincere and to censor myself as well.

31. Classical and Romantic poetry tantalizes me. I have written some poetry myself but looking back at it now these are most streams of consciousness than anything else. A lack of cadence negates the poetic volume. The ideas and richness of thought are however very much present.

32. Humanity is not a great species. Our folly as thinkers is that too often we choose to ignore this truism.

33. Ten Individuals from history that I most admire (not in order are): Winston Churchill, Maimonides, Blaise Pascal, Albert Einstein, Michael Faraday, saac Newton (despite the fact that he was not a likeable person), Marie Curie, Joseph Lister, Abraham Lincoln and Menachem Begin.

34. I was born and spent all of my childhood in South Africa (I immigrated to Canada in 1987 at age 18). Africa as a continent has a special place in my heart and I have a strong inclination towards understanding its politics, people, successes and failures. Sub-Sahara’s five most successful countries are:
South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique (in the last fifteen years) and Kenya. Its ten most dismal failures are: Sierre Leone, Liberia, Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe (under Mugabe), Sudan, Congo (formerly Zaire), Angola (under orthodox Marxist Rule) and Uganda (under Obote and Amin).

35. Asia’s (not including the Middle East) nine greatest success stories are: Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, India (in the last ten to fifteen years), Thailand, Malaysia and China (economically but definitely not politically). Asia’s list of failed states include: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iran, Cambodia, Myanmar, Phillippines (for much of its history), Sri Lanka, Laos and North Korea.

36. I am an intellectual snob…I will not deny it. I prefer the company of the more swift to their less proficient counterparts. I also enjoy teaching more cognitively proficient students. This is not to say that I don’t give of my best when my student body is significantly weaker in such a capacity.

37. Above anything else I value my role as a father.

38. Modern Leftism and the anti-intellectualism that suffuses its being nauseates me. Unfortunately all too many in Canada and Western Europe have bought into the false dreams that Leftism alludes to. In doing so they often tend to short circuit reasoning at the expense of ill-thought out idealism.

39. If I was an American I would have voted for: Truman (48), Eisenhower (52), Stevenson (56), Kennedy (60), Johnson (64), Nixon (68 and 72), Ford (76), Reagan (80 and 84), Bush Snr (88), Clinton (92 and 96), Gore (00) and Dubya (04). Having said that of all the candidates listed the only three that I truly admire are: Truman, Kennedy (even if he is a bit overrated) and Reagan.

40. In Canadian politics I have voted once for the Liberals (Jean Chretien in 93 – my first election vote in Canada). All other times I have backed either the Progressive Conservatives or their later incarnation the Conservative Party of Canada. I regret voting for Chretien and consider him to be one of the worst Prime Ministers in Canadian history. Despite my opinion on this issue I am no fan of Brian Mulroney either but would have voted for him as the ‘greater’ of a bunch of lessers in 84 and 88.

41. I have diverse movie tastes that span the continuum from foreign films to black comedy to political intrigue to biography. I have even been known to enjoy the occasional ‘chick flick’ or two. A trip to the video store often results in an unpredictable array of movies. On average 30% are gems, 40% mediocrities and the remainder duds. My wife seems this as being part of the crapshoot of marriage with me.

42. Britain’s three best prime ministers of the 20th century were Churchill, Lloyd George and Thatcher in that very order. Atlee, Baldwin, Blair, MacDonald, Macmillan, Campbell-Bannerman, Asquith and Wilson were average while Chamberlain, Callaghan, Major, Heath, Eden were sub-par. The rest – Hume, Balfour, and Bonar Law (who was Canadian-born) weren’t in power long enough to register an impact on the political Richter Scale.

43. I can think of only two French politicians in the 20th century whom I believe to be admirable. These were Georges Clemenceau and Leon Blum. De Gaulle was malicious and arrogant, Mitterand and D’Estaing inconsistent, Daladier ineffectual and Chirac both useless and dangerous. Pompidou was a competent president but nothing special. I will not waste my time analyzing the leaders of the Failed Fourth Republic. I am hoping that Sarkozy brings a fresh outlook to French Policy (a movement away from short-sighted Anti-Americanism would be a start) but the jury is very much out on this one.

44. I am a very spiritual person who continuously thrives for a stronger relationship with G-d. I do not believe that this is at all inconsistent with my devotion to reason and logic. The dichotomy actually strengthens me.

45. I live in Toronto and see myself as Canadian but my Jewish identity is probably what defines me the most from a cultural perspective. My childhood was spent living in South Africa so that my influences are varied in source.

46. My favorite political columnists are: Dennis Prager, Charles Krauthammer, Victor Davis Hanson, Theodore Dalrymple, Alan Dershowitz, Oliver Kamm, Nick Cohen, David Horowitz, Peter Hitchens, Melanie Philips, Mark Steyn, David Frum, Steven Plaut, Daniel Pipes and Bill Buckley. Yes I am a political neo-conservative/Classic Liberal/Truman Democrat….and proud of it.

47. Canadian Political writers that I enjoy reading are: Marcus Gee, Robert Fulford, Michael Coren, Claire Hoy, Alan Fotheringham, Margaret Wente, Conrad Black, Salim Mansur, Ezra Levant and George Jonas.

Philosophical Meanderings Part I

Meanderings of the Mind

There is no order to these realizations…which is exactly how I want it for now….. if one must call it a stream of consciousness

1. I am a compassionate person but not a bleeding heart. Bleeding hearts sicken me.

2. I become bored very easily. Challenge me or else I drift off.

3. The five areas of science that interest me the most are: Modern Physics, Psychometrics, Mechanics, Evolutionary Theory and Kinesiology.

4. Arrogant and close-minded people annoy me… and I mean really annoy me.

5. I have a very strong general knowledge of Science, History, Geography, Philosophy and World Sports. I am significantly less proficient in Entertainment, Pop Culture, Business, North American Sports and the Domestic Sciences.

6. I enjoy following politics – especially analyzing election results and proposed policy.

7. I am a strong opponent of Islamo-Fascism, Communism, Marxism, Fascism, Leftism and the various incarnations of radicalism. I champion the conservation of the Western Tradition of excellent and believe that the gains of the enlightenment must be guarded at all costs.

8. I support a women’s right to choose. However I am opposed to late term Partial Birth Abortions. I believe that after three month the fetus is a defined life.

9. I take much pride in the Jewish gifts to humanity. These include the vast and disproportionate (with respect to population size) contributions to:
Physics, Chemistry, Music, Art, Medicine, Mathematics, Philosophy, Theology, Economics, Social Sciences etc.

10. I have written Two Books: The History of the Future and Take the History Challenge. The former is a brainstorming exercise that examines the next five hundred years of human history examining some of the multidisciplinary topics mentioned in 12 above. The later contains 4500 Questions on the History of Everything. Both are published through Print on Demand Outlets in the States.

11. I believe in G-d but I also believe that G-d is not definable and is essentially unknowable (the Kabbalistic concept of Ein Sof makes much sense). I do see G-d as omnipotent. I reject deism as I believe that it is more logical to believe that G-d continues to influence the universe. In short I am a scientific theist.

12. I reject intelligent design and see it as an instrument of selective scientific cherry picking.

13. Global warming appears to be a real phenomenon however I am skeptical with respect to the notion that humanity is the chief driver of the trend. Nevertheless I still believe that it is imperative that humanity reduce its Carbon footprint. I am opposed to Kyoto as I see it as an economic sell out to China and India that will make environmental conditions worse. I consider myself a realistic environmentalism and I am not at all supportive of the Green Movement hysteria that has engulfed so many in the West.

14. I am a strong supporter of the State of Israel but have accepted the fact that it is only a matter of time before a Palestinian State will exist in the West Bank. Only time will tell if the West Bank State will be viable. I am moderately pessimistic as I have little faith in the Arab political mindset.

15. I support the death penalty for special cases – serial killers for example. The execution should be carried out by firing squad as I believe it to be the most humane alternative.

16. I would classify myself economically as a Classic Liberal/Conservative – I support Free Enterprise, private ownership of property and low taxes. I do however see the ever important need for government regulation of some industries especially health, utilities, mass transportation etc. I therefore am not a libertarian although I can relate with earnest to what they have to say. As a conservative though I oppose deficit spending and tax cuts (as well as spending increases) that are fiscally irresponsible and add to ongoing debt.

17. I am an opponent of dogma although I am fully aware of the danger of my own views becoming a personal dogma.

18. Mathematics is a useful tool in understanding the universe (or modeling it rather). It is ultimately limited in that it is not verifiable in and of itself. All practioners of mathematics including physicists, economists, engineers, ecologists and chemist must constantly remind themselves of this inherent bias. Having said this, I do not believe that any other tool other than rigorous empiricism is more suited to advancing human knowledge.

19. I am extremely passionate about teaching but realistic nevertheless. I have very little patience for students who do not wish to learn, are loathe to think and consistently choose the path of least resistance in their studies.

20. The Cult of Self-Esteem and its twin sister ‘the-blame-others’ mentality has probably done more harm for education than any other movement in the history of pedagogy.

The Henry Jackson Society

The values and aspirations of the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) are the closest to my own within a foreign policy context although I tend to be more cautious on the interventionist than they are.

The following are the HJS principles as articulated at their website

1. Believes that modern liberal democracies set an example to which the rest of the world should aspire.

2. Supports a ‘forward strategy’ – involving diplomatic, economic, cultural, and/or political means -- to assist those countries that are not yet liberal and democratic to become so.

3. Supports the maintenance of a strong military, by the United States, the countries of the European Union and other democratic powers, armed with expeditionary capabilities with a global reach, that can protect our homelands from strategic threats, forestall terrorist attacks, and prevent genocide or massive ethnic cleansing.

4. Supports the necessary furtherance of European military modernisation and integration under British leadership, preferably within NATO.

5. Stresses the importance of unity between the world’s great democracies, represented by institutions such as NATO, the European Union and the OECD, amongst many others.

6. Believes that only modern liberal democratic states are truly legitimate, and that the political or human rights pronouncements of any international or regional organisation which admits undemocratic states lack the legitimacy to which they would be entitled if all their members were democracies.

7. Gives two cheers for capitalism. There are limits to the market, which needs to serve the Democratic Community and should be reconciled to the environment.

8. Accepts that we have to set priorities and that sometimes we have to compromise, but insists that we should never lose sight of our fundamental values. This means that alliances with repressive regimes can only be temporary. It also means a strong commitment to individual and civil liberties in democratic states, even and especially when we are under attack.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


The struggle against the ideology of Islamism is one of the biggest challenges facing Western Civilization in the post Cold War Era. It was Islamism that was behind the 9/11 and 7/7 attacks and it is Islamism, driven by its violent actions and by the fellow travellers that define the stealth Jihad that has wreaked havoc in the Philipines, Somalia, Spain, France, Algeria, Iran, Gaza, Lebanon, Egypt, Argentina, the Netherlands. India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Thailand, China, Russia, Israel, Yemen, Kenya, Tanzania, to name just a ‘few.

However the Islamists have been assisted consciously in their struggle to spread their barbarism by the action of several water carrier groups in the West. The following is a list of several of these groups/individuals (in no particular order).

3. International ANSWER
4. Code Pink
6. ISM
7. The Soros Foundation
8. Grover Norquist and co.
9. Free Gaza Campaign
10. International Socialists
11. Think Progress
12. Southern Poverty League
13. Counterpunch Magazine
14. Mother Jones
15. The Nation
16. New York Times Editorial Board
17. Wikileaks
18. The American Conservative Magazine
19. Michael Moore
20. Naomi Klein
21. Richard Falk
22. Noam Chomsky
23. Robert Fisk
24. Glenn Greenwald
25. The Truther Movement
26. Ron Paul
27. Dennis Kucinich
28. Stormfront
29. Arabists in the State Department
30. The Inept CIA
31. A host of so-called American Pseudo-Academics that include Norman Finkelstein, Nicholas de Genova, Ward Churchill, Juan Cole etc.
32. Silly Hollywood celebs like Sean Penn, Viggo Mortensen, Danny Glover, Rosie O'Donnell
33. The Daily Kos
34. The Guardian Editorial Board
35. ACLU
36. Tariq Ali
37. The Politically Correct Homeland Security Department
38. Jimmy Carter
39. Samantha Power
40. The corrupt and failed UNO.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

On the Intellect.........

12 Topics of Personal Intellectual Fascination

1. Underastanding G-d
2. Modern Physics
3. Classical Mechanics
4. The Middle East Conflict
5. The Future: Both Near and Far
6. French Revolution/Napoleon
7. Political Philosophy: Conservatism and Leftism dichotomy
8. World War II and its origins
9. Jewish History
10. The Beautiful Game
11. The Cultural Wars
12. Philosophy of Science

What if the South won the Civil War?

Its all speculation...

Confederacy forms alliance with the United Kingdom

Mexico attacks the Confederacy in an attempt to win back territory in the South Western United states.

Mexicans are driven backward and defeated.

US and Confederacy clash in the 1880's in a Second War. Conflict ends in stalemate. The War is fought over Expansion rights in the Western Half of North America.

Politics in the Confederacy is dominated by two groups: The Industrialists, who feel that the Confederates should focus on growing an industrial base to rival the North and the agriculturists, who still view the South as an agrarian society. The Industrialists will eventually succeed and as a result of necessity the Confederacy will become more industrialized than it did in Plane-zero USA.

The North (or the US) will continue to grow industrially fueled of course by the influx of European immigrants in the 19th century.

US and Confederacy agree to divide the Western states amongst each other. The Northwestern States and California will fall under US Domination. The southwestern and several mid-western states will join the Confederacy.

Slavery will eventually be abolished in the Confederacy but only in the 1920s after several devastating slave rebellions bring chaos to the Southern States. International pressure and a changing political scene will force the Confederacy to drop its pro-slavery stance.

Texas will break away from the Confederacy in the 1910s and form a new nation the Republic of Texas.

Without a dominant power in North America, the European countries will become more involved in South America. Major players will include Britain, France and Germany.

The Confederacy will enter the First World War at an earlier stage than the US did in reality.

The reason for this early entry by the Confederacy is motivated by a need to assist the British Empire, the South's most significant trading partner.

Every Dog has its day

Some Football teams (Soccer to you Yanks) have been prominent on an International level for brief periods of time (the Golden Age), only to disappear into the aether soon afterwards. Here are a few nations and the period in which they elevated themselves above the usual norm.

1. Hungary (1950s and 1960s)
2. Belgium (1980s)
3. Scotland (late 60’s early 70’s)
4. Ireland (late 80’s early 90’s)
5. Poland (early 70’s to mid 80’s)
6. Turkey (early 2000’s)
7. Greece (mid 2000’s)
8. Soviet Union (60’s)
9. Czech Republic (mid 2000’s)
10. Norway (90’s)
11. Denmark (late 80’s early 90’s)
12. Bulgaria (mid 90s)
13. Romania (90s)
14. Morocco (late 80s and early 90s)
15. Croatia (late 90s)
16. Northern Ireland (early 80s)
17. Austria (Mid 70’s to Early 80’s)
18. Columbia (mid 90s)
19. Chile (early 60s)
20. Nigeria (90s)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My latest thoughts on faith

V: Do you believe in G-d?

G: Yes I do but it is a belief that I have had to work on for most of my life. It’s a struggle. A frustrating one at times but certainly a necessary initiative.

V: In what way?

G: I am by nature a scientific rationalist and consequently seek proof for my beliefs and avoid as much as possible any leaps of faith. However I am also aware that science is bound to the material world and consequently has a limited realm through which it can access knowledge. I have dedicated much of my life to science but I am consciously aware of its constraints. Having said this though, I will exhaust all scientific explanations before deferring to an extra-material analysis in grasping the phenomenology of events. I owe this to myself. In a sense I am a skeptic, not a logical positivist, but a realist armed with Occam’s Razor but cognizant at the same time of the extra-material universe. My belief is similar to that of the scholar Martin Gardiner. I could be described as a soft theist but even this label falls short of what I believe I am. In short I ‘feel’ G-d’s presence – as a magnificent spark - but I am loathe to let it override my rationalism unless I have an excellent reason to do so.

V: What is your opinion on Judaism?

G: I consider myself Jewish in the cultural and historical sense and celebrate many of its traditions. I see Judaism, as Mordechai Kaplan did, in being indicative of a civilization. Religion is one facet of the civilization, but does not comprise its entirety.
I cannot take seriously the revealed nature argument for the religion (including of course the revelation at Sinai) as it does not stand up to rational scrutiny. However the richness of the biblical tradition, the emphasis on ethics and justice, as epitomized in the Tanakh and the Talmud, provide valuable insight into the human condition.

V: Have you always held this position?

G: No. I haven’t. Indeed I have fluctuated at times from strong theism to agnostic theism/deism. I have rejected non-interventionist deism as it does not seem rational that a creator would completely divorce himself from its creation. I am not an atheist as I have yet to see a convincing argument as to why something exists as opposed to nothing (despite the trials and tribulations of Victor Stenger). This something-nothing standoff is the kink in natural philosophy which of course underpins the argument of rational atheism.

V: What do you think G-d is?

G: This is a tough one which no human is truly qualified to answer. However we are all able to speculate. The definition of G-d that makes sense to me is that of the Kabbalistic Ein Sof which I have written at length on this board. In a way it is similar to the Uppanishad definition of the Infinite Soul - Brahman. I am actually very much taken by the Hindu understanding of our individual soul, - the Athman - being in its essence a derivative of the Brahman. I believe we can approach the Ein Sof/Brahman by performing meaningful acts of goodness which I take as the Spark of G-d referred to earlier.

V: You are critical of organized religion. Why is this?

G: Organized religion is generally driven by supernatural revelation which by its very nature counteracts science in emphasizing the concept of ‘miracles’. I don’t believe G-d acts this way. I believe that we all have within ourselves an ability to understand G-d and nobody is privileged in this regard. Strict revelation argues for the privileged position. Furthermore I believe that belief in G-d is a private initiative and should not be dominated by ritual which is very much a feature of organized religion.

V: Yet you still believe G-d can if he wants to perform miracles.

G: Yes I do but he doesn’t have to. There is enough reason to believe in G-d without him having to resort to this device. Also its very clear that he has structured the physicality to make miracles unnecessary.

V: How does one leverage the spark?

G: Meaningful acts are tantamount to acts of kindness – an extension of one’s sense of self to include the other. Marin Buber wrote about this in the I and Thou. These bring one closer to G-d and allow us to appreciate his magnificence. Life also has to be lived with purpose. In doing so we discover the G-d Spark.

V: Is prayer important?

G: Yes it is. However it must come from the heart. I prefer to produce my own prayer words that are of a personal nature. I realize others prefer pre-written templates or established prayer. It is their choice as long as the lines of communication are maintained with G-d.

V: Do you believe in Angels?

G: No I don’t these are manifestations of the ancient mythology (largely Babylonian).
G-d is all powerful and does not need a messenger system.

V: What other aspects are important with your belief?

G: Questioning G-d. Reflecting on the G-d presence and always using critical thought and reason where possible to evaluate a situation.

V: But is not Belief or Faith inconsistent with reason?

G: All systems of reason and logic are built on the a priori. Everyone takes a leap of faith at some point otherwise logic systems would not get off the ground. Godel showed this with his incompleteness theorem in Mathematics for example. I have yet to see a convincing proof that shows how our logical framework breaks down as a result of the G-d assumption that I have outlined.

V: But if it did break down. Would you be forced to reconsider the G-d assumption?

G: Definitely. It would be intellectually dishonest not to. However I very much doubt that it would.

The One Hundred Greatest Sportsmen of All-Time

Here is my latest attempt at this list:

1. Jim Thorpe
2. Pele
3. Michael Jordan
4. Muhammad Ali
5. Michael Phelps
6. Lance Armstrong
7. Jack Nicklaus
8. Paarvo Nurmi
9. Joe Louis
10. Jesse Owens
11. Roger Federer
12. Donald Bradman
13. Babe Ruth
14. Michael Schumacher
15. Tiger Woods
16. Jim Brown
17. Diego Maradonna
18. Mark Spitz
19. Usain Bolt
20. Magic Johnson
21. Sachin Tendulker
22. Carl Lewis
23. Sugar Ray Leonard
24. Wilt Chaimberlain
25. Lionel Messi
26. Rocky Marciano
27. Pete Sampras
28. Hank Aaron
29. Johan Cruyff
30. Jahangir Khan
31. Jean Claude Killy
32. Bjorn Borg
33. Alfredo di Stefano
34. Joe Montana
35. Steve Redgrave
36. Rafael Nadal
37. Tom Watson
38. Matt Biondi
39. Ronaldo
40. Garfield Sobers
41. Gary Player
42. Kobie Bryant
43. Jerry Rice
44. Ferenc Puskas
45. Jimmy Connors
46. Julio Cesar Chavez
47. Miguel Indurain
48. Walter Johnson
49. Willie Mays
50. Barry Sanders
51. Bobby Jones
52. Franz Beckenbauer
53. Warren Spahn
54. Eddy Choong
55. Lester Piggott
56. Muttiah Muralitharan
57. Aryton Senna
58. Eddie Merckx
59. Bill Shoemaker
60. Ed Moses
61. Jansher Khan
62. Alain Prost
63. Ferenc Puskas
64. Viv Richards
65. Bill Tilden
66. Arnold Palmer
67. Eusebio
68. Emil Zatopek
69. Johnny Weismuller
70. Al Oerter
71. Bernard Hinault
72. Shane Warne
73. Nikki Lauda
74. Jackie Robinson
75. Said Aouita
76. Joe DiMaggio
77. Ivan Lendl
78. Geoff Hunt
79. Hicham El Guerrouj
80. George Best
81. Ted Williams
82. Henry Rono
83. Nolan Ryan
84. Nick Faldo
85. Henry Armstrong
86. Pete Rose
87. Haile Gebrselaissie
88. Jan Zelezny
89. Ian Thorpe
90. Viktor Barna
91. Satchel Paige
92. Gerd Muller
93. Jacques Anquetil
94. Sandy Koufax
95. Michael Johnson
96. Eddie Arcaro
97. Sebastian Coe
98. Larry Bird
99. Lasse Viren
100. Sergei Bubka

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Some Important Hindu Wisdom

I am not Hindu but I find much of their philosophy to be incredibly fascinating. The following is such an example:

That supreme Brahman is infinite, and this conditioned Brahman is infinite. The infinite proceeds from infinite. If you subtract the infinite from the infinite, the infinite remains alone.

Taken from the Uppanishad.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Canadian Election 2011

Like many observers of the Canadian Federal election I am still not sure what to make about the surge of the NDP in the polls. While its true that most of the orange swell appears to be disaffected Liberal and Bloc Quebecois voters there is still an argument to be made that these numbers may not show up at the booth where the real decision is made. Third Parties often hit above their true strength in polls (look at the Liberal-Democrats in last year’s British elections) only to come crashing to earth on the day of reckoning. I believe that this will be the case with the NDP although I am still willing to argue that they will put together their best showing yet and pip the Grits for the Status of Official Opposition.

What is of greater importance is whether the Conservatives can profit from this fracture in the left-of-center vote (normally 55-60% of the total electorate at the best of times). I would like to believe that this can happen but still cannot see the Conservatives reaching the critical number levels to make a majority government possible. Not as long as their vote percentage in the People's Republic of Quebec remains in a mediocre third – the Mendoza line of political polling.

Is this a good thing? Apparently so according to many of my colleagues who have been saturated by CBC-Toronto Star bias to believe that a Harper majority is equivalent to coming of the anti-Christ. I of course beg to differ.

So in short it will be - 'as you were' (well almost) - with the Conservatives winning the most seats but not a majority and the Liberals switching second spots with their social democrat adversaries. The real fun and games will occur later on in the week with Ignatieff (assuming he survives politically - which he really ought not to) playing the unusual role of kingmaker as both Harper and Layton scramble to form a government. If Harper comes out on top (the likely outcome) one can expect political stability (with no flash...admittedly) for at least three years. A red-orange coalition will be lucky to survive a year but thats more than enough time to derail the economy with tax-and-spend dogma.

Monday, April 25, 2011

World News

The Republicans backed a toothless budget that failed to cut funding to the uber-leftist NPR and makes only a minor dent in deficit reduction. I have always believed that John Boehner was the wrong man for the job and this budget provides further evidence. Although the Republicans control the House they are still a party in disarray who lack the where-with-all to make a challenge in 2012. I am hoping that someone of the like of Chris Christie will come to the forefront but at the moment Obama and co. are in a strong position to retain the White House.Unfortunately.

Arch relativist - Jimmy Carter - is in North Korea sucking lip with yet another dictator. This time its Kim il-Jung, the meglomaniac, mid-life crisis, one man wrecking operation who has succesfully impoverished his nation of less than twenty million people. Carter is joined in his mission by fellow appeasers Gro Harlem Brundtland, Mary Robinson and Nelson Mandela.

There is an upsurge in NDP support in Quebec which has the do-nothing 'Lie'brals quaking in their boots before the May 2011 Canadian federal election. If polls are to be believed the 70's style high tax socialists may emerge as official opposition replacing the 90's defined middle-of-the road fence sitters in the commons. Still looking to come with a campaign platform that will take them from inept to insipid this may be the worst elections that the Grits are facing since their thumping by pseudo-conservative Brian Mulroney in the 80s.

Footer Update

Liverpool's season has been on the up and up since I last wrote with victories against Manchester City (3-0) and Birmingham (5-0) as well as a gritty draw (1-1) with Arsenal at the Emirates. I stand by my earlier suggestion that the season is a stinker but if the stars align it may be possible for the Reds to pip Spurs for fifth and earn a place in the Europa Cup.

The real excitement is in Spain. I am hoping that Barca will win the Spanish League (which they should) but they may come up short against Mourinho's squad in the Champion's League who seem to have found their stride. In the other clash Manchester United should come through against Schalke but I doubt that the Devils have enough in the tank to take care of either of the Spanish giants.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

What a stinker of a season

The English football season has been disappointing and I never thought that I would say this but a part of me wishes that it were over. Yes over......Man U,the kings of the comeback (but really the force of three seasons ago), are winning the title by default as both Chelsea and Arsenal spiral into mediocrity. Man City are doing enough to stay in the top four but are hardly setting the world on fire (as their expense book would indicate) while Spurs have clearly set their sights on taking the Champions League at Wembley and seem content with a Europa League place next year.

However the performance of all of the above dwarfs my team, Liverpool, who except for the handful of performances (against Chelsea and Man U at Anfield), have been downright awful. Pathetic is a better word perhaps.

The Reds are in six spot courtesy of the insipidness of the rest of the league rather than their own stealth. The loss count has ballooned to 12 games (the same as bottom placed Wigan) and the likes of West Ham, West Brom, Blackpool (twice), Blackburn and Wolves can all gloat, having at one time or another, taken the three points from Liverpool.

If this were not bad enough Liverpool can add to their failures an inglorious exit from the Europa League at the hands of minnows Sporting Braga, whose 'world class defense' (once guilty of being at the receiving end of a 6-0 Arsenal thrashing) completely shut out the not-so-big red machine 'attack' over two legs. Couple this with first effort losses against Northampton and Man U in the Cups and the case for shutting the door on this season is made ever more clearer.

Fortunately there is always next year (the beauty of sports) but until then I will bury my head, watch reruns of the glory years and hope against all evidence that the Reds can recover from the malaise that has been the story of 2010-2011. Good luck guys.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Ein Sof

The Ein Sof is a kabbalistic term that attempts to clarify (as much as possible)the elusive nature of G-d. It literally means 'there is no end'.
Here are my thoughts on the Ein Sof and how it fits into my worldview.

1. All power ultimately resides with the Ein Sof. The Ein Sof cannot be defined, reduced or even truly conceptualized however its presence is ubiquitous.
2. We are individual souls derived from the Ein Sof. Our abstraction from the Ein Sof does not in anyway reduce the Ein Sof.
3. The Ein Sof transcends all matter and energy and is synonymous with all that there really is.
4. The Ein Sof interacts with our defined universe via the matter world of the physicality.
5. The laws of physics do not limit the Ein Sof as all its constraints and realities are a product of the Ein Sof.
6. The Ein Sof is consequently the cause of why something as opposed to nothing exists.
7. As Ein Sof Derived Souls (known hence forth as ESDS) we can interact with the Ein Sof by following the path of goodness.
8. This involves the extension of our sense of self and a concerted focus on the positive growth of our being.
9. Several world religions have addressed this dynamic but have unfortunately allowed themselves to lose focus in the vortex of cultural noise.
10. Meaningful belief has to extend beyond this ‘noise’ to reclaim the connection with the Ein Sof
11. This brings us the greatest joy.
12. The most direct approach toward the goodness involves the elucidation of perspective. This substantiates itself in a prioritization of goals, daily events and thoughts. Perspective is a triage for the mind, it places our challenges in context so that we never lose sight of the goodness of the Ein Sof.
13. We must be thankful for what we have. I call this a consolidation of reality.
14. Once such a step has been undertaken the mind framework towards the goodness is rooted. This catalyzes the drive.

On Libya

I am still lukewarm about outside involvement in the Libyan civil war. While I have no sympathy for the detestable Gaddafi I am not sure whether the rebel forces that are fighting to seize power will be that much better if they should seize power. Its difficult to pin down their makeup but there is no doubt that fundamentalist elements exist within its ranks (possibly with ties to al-Qaeda or Iran) and by shifting our hand toward the rebels we may be galvanizing Islamism further. Still by remaining on the sidelines we run the risk of ignoring the flagrant human rights abuses that have characterized Gaddafi’s counterinsurgency so there is truism in the argument that we have a moral obligation to act. The decision by the UN to champion a no-fly zone policy seems a reasonable compromise (and will certainly even the odds that are currently stacked against the rebels) but I would be loathe, like the US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, to see Western ground troop involvement in this arena. We will have to wait and see.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Five Areas I regularly study

1. Astronomy/Cosmology – The universe fascinates me. It is large beyond all perspective but is governed by the same laws of physics that influence us in our seemingly localized milieu.

2. Modern World History (1789- present) – I started reading history books as a kid (thanks to my father and grandfather) and have been hooked ever since. In fact I wrote a history quiz book that one can find and buy on:

History was my first passion and we have been locked in an embrace ever since. I particular enjoy the modern period as it provides the immediate framework from which today’s world has evolved.

3. Political Philosophy – I enjoy struggling with ideas and relish dissecting the arguments from all sides that define the political spectrum. Part of this is a consequence of a personal investigation into World History but I prefer to see it as a richer to understand the human spirit.

4. Geography – My fascination with the world has bought me a greater understanding of geography. My mind loves organizing facts and stats into useful patterns and geography provides an excellent vehicle for such a recourse.

5. International Sports – What can I say I am a bit of a junky. Football (soccer) Tennis, Boxing, Cricket, Track and Field and rugby all appeal to me. I don’t watch as much as I used to (the responsibility of parenthood) but I have an encyclopaedic knowledge of past winners and key events.

Methods I have used to acquire knowledge

1. Listening to others. As a teacher I have found that I have learnt a lot from my students and the questions that they ask. Such questions force me to dig deeper and in doing so I have acquired a more thorough understanding of the subject
2. I was sick a lot as a child and therefore spent much time by myself…reading and learning. Having supportive parents helped as well.
3. Rising to the challenge – I love teaching new courses which force me to broaden my horizons and increase my knowledge base.
4. Magazines…… New Scientist, The Economist, BBC History Magazine, National Geographic, Time, World Football, Military History, Scientific American, Omni plus as a child Look and Learn and World of Knowledge
5. Watching Documentaries – You Tube is a great source for this.
6. Reading Reference Books – Guinness Book of Records, World Almanac, Pears Encyclopedia, Chronicle Series, World Book as a kid.
7. Reading Books in general – I normally have on the go 3-4 books that I read at a time.
8. The Internet …Its amazing how much knowledge is at your finger tips if you know where to find it.
9. Completing Quiz Books - The Isaac Asimov Super Quiz Series was great as was the British series Mastermind.
10. Schooling – Completing two science degrees plus an education degree has helped but it has not served to provide me with the bulk of my knowledge.
11. Experience…The Greatest teacher… this has no doubt served me well in both my engineering and teaching capacity. The key though is to reflect meaningfully on the experience.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Itamar Massacre

The Japanese Earthquake and the Itamar massacres have greatly disturbed me. I can understand the former (gut wrenching as it is ) as an act of nature but the latter sickens me in that it was perpetrated by human killers who thought nothing about decapitating the head of an infant slitting her throat, while murdering both her parents and two of her siblings in cold blood. There is absolutely no excuse for such barbarism other than the understanding of its manifestation as an obvious outcome from a collective psyche schooled in the art of blood lust, hate and violence.

The victimizers have their champions, candy was handed out to passing drivers in Gaza by the terror proponents of Hamas, to commemorate such an 'achievement' and its only a matter of time before the killers have schools named after. Meanwhile western leftists carry out spin control to minimize the evil, with the typical litany of rationalizations that they would never accept if the situation were reversed. Has the world gone insane? I believe it did some time ago and as a Jew who sees how cheaply Jewish life has again become the pain is lingering. Once again the Jews are alone in their struggle against base evil. However base evil in a modern framework knows no limit, and if good is not free to counter it then the slippery slope to universal barbarism lies not to far from the horizon.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

This Blog is still alive

I have resurrected Worldoreason. Be on the lookout for some more entries.