Tuesday, December 27, 2016

No Free Lunch for Putin

Posted to Quora and a few other sites
The problem with partisan politics – and we have seen on more than our fair share of it in this particular election cycle – is that we often herald the virtues of our supporters and downplay the concerns of our opponents.
Vladimir Putin has made no secret of his support for Donald Trump. He detested the Clinton-Obama Axis and openly championed the Trump campaign. Whether he went so far as to order an e-mail hack remains very much in doubt. Official evidence is lacking and ratcheting up the rhetoric on a bunch of hearsays and supposed ‘secret’ investigations by the CIA, as have the Washington Post, is irresponsible at best.
However our alarm bells should be ringing. Putin is no friend of the West and with the Trump victory two big questions emerge – What does he stand to gain? and How will this impact the US/Western World in the long term?
The first question is the easier of the two to answer. Putin needs the US to sit back while he continues spreading his footprint in the Ukraine and other parts of Eastern Europe (from all accounts the Baltics). As the latest in a line of Russian strongmen he understands the importance of power through territory but can’t afford the resistance that will likely occur in the face of such an approach. NATO has to be weakened and he is hoping that Trump’s appeal to this once buried isolationist tradition in American foreign politics will resurrect itself.
However as we have seen in Aleppo and elsewhere it is not just Eastern Europe that Putin sees as falling under his sphere of influence. Indeed he has offered feelers to the current Libyan hierarchy and is certainly giving the Iranian mullahs - in what can only be described as a deal with the devil - the muscle to make their presence felt in the face of the Sunni/Shi’ite pan-regional conflict.
While I would not rush ahead to see Putin as a modern day political Svengali. I wouldn’t for one moment underestimate his shrewdness. He is extremely calculating and although he appears to transcend ideological conformity he does see himself as the embodiment of a Russian nationalism. We should all be concerned.
It remains to be seen how the Trump administration will respond. Mike Pence appears to be a product of the Cold War Reaganite school and has on more than one occasion expressed his displeasure with the Russians.
James Mattis has made no secret that he favours a more forceful approach when dealing with the Iranians which could extend to their Russian backers. Rex Tillerson looks, at least from his oil industry pedigree as a player not eager to jeopardize the US-Saudi relationship. The three look set to dominate foreign affairs in the Trump White House.
If Trump’s election rhetoric is to believed then it appears that he wishes to distance himself from the neo-conservative nation building of George W. Bush and its variant under Barack Obama. He is correct on this issue. The US cannot afford more ill—conceived ground troop interventionism in regions of the world based on the export of some nebulous transfer of Wilsonian democracy. Pragmatism has to rule. However on the other hand it should not be subjected to the spirit of a nativist isolationism. The global economy of 2017 is a far cry from what it was in 1927.
The free world cannot afford to see the US sit back while Russia and indeed China, not to mention unsavouries in Iran and the various Jihadist alliances run amuck. This can only lead to more bloodshed, an exporting of anti-Enlightenment tropes and the likely jeopardizing of valuable resource flow lines. The world will worsen under strict isolationism and it will undoubtedly come back to haunt the US.
What is necessary then is a process of involvement through informed backing – a checking of oppositional ambitions by a support of local regional elements that stand in the face of this greater belligerency. The US ought to re-evaluate its NATO commitments, but to drop the Alliance at this point would be a catastrophe.
This should be Trump’s message and if it conflicts with the ambitions of Russia, Tehran, the Saudis or any other party so be it. The US is still the principal superpower. Putin may have cheered for Trump but this does not give him a free hand in anything. Its critical that the White House make this clear from the get go. Failure to do so will not only embolden Putin but other opportunists as well.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

More Tales from Teaching Physics

As a Physics teacher I never feel truly comfortable that I have figured it all out and that (for want of better words) is a good thing. If I did I would be tempted to sit back and relax which may have its benefits in the short run but from a growth perspective offers dubious value in the long term.
Over the course of the last week I have been working with my Grade Twelves on Special Relativity - a notorious pitfall for conceptual errors. I have taught (not to mention learned and re-learned) the sub-unit over twenty times in my career and I still find oddities that compel me to rethink my understanding of what is arguably one of the most counter-intuitive areas in all of Physics (notwithstanding Quantum Mechanics of course).
You see Special Relativity takes so much of what we formalize in classical physics and turns it on its head. Absolute space - gone, Absolute time - dead, Absolute momentum - see you later, KInetic Energy - we need a rethink. To top this off we teach the topic in a week (due to time constraints - I will avoid the pun) and tantalize the students with such notions as the Twin Paradox and the notion that events that are simultaneous in one frame of reference need not be in another.
Serious stuff - but the kids love it and boy do they challenge me with a series of 'What happens ifs..?' .This in turn makes me hit the books/internet for solutions which in turn improves my own understanding. A wonderful positive feedback loop if ever there was one and for this I am thankful

Liberal Privilege

Definition time
Liberal Privilege - The gift of being able to fully express your liberal viewpoint in virtually any urban bubble city setting in the Western World knowing full well that:
a) everyone agrees with you because you are 'correct' and 
b) if they don't they can be easily dismissed with the appropriate
-ism that need not carry any intellectual water.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Quora Questions #2

Can Democrats overcome Electoral College outcomes by a policy of relocating liberals to non-liberal states?

I think Sarah Silverman tried to do this with a tongue-in-cheek invitation to Jewish grandparents to head to Florida. Could it work on as broader level? Unlikely. The amount of organization needed would be daunting and Republicans could counter with a population transfer move of their own. However what concerns me is that you appear to be looking at human beings as cattle - various dictators have tried such approaches - but would you really want to live in a country governed by a Party who sees such a hideous approach as a way of maintaining and winning power?

Changing positions

I often wonder about people who hold the identical political beliefs at fifty as they did at seventeen.Did they figure it all out at the young age or are they simply immune from self-reflection? There are other explanations but it seems as though the flow of history would necessitate shifts from certain positions (even if they are somewhat ossified). The shifts need not be major. Then again I may be underestimating the strength of inertia

Religion v Cults

Its still not easy to draw the fine line between some religious denominations and cults other than numbers, historical acceptance and longevity. However there seems as though there should be more than this - How about an obsession with converts, the intimidation of those who have left the cult/religion and the irrationality of the worldview? While all three adjuncts need not be met it does appear that if all the boxes are easily ticked off one ought to be concerned.

Chomsky...vote for Hillary...Whatever dude?

Chomsky is a serial liar so I wouldn't take what he says with much credence. However for a man who has made a career of knocking US interventionism you would think that he would least admit that on this key issue that the more isolationist Trump is closer to his worldview than the globalist philosophy of Clinton. I have heard Chomsky speak favorably about both Messrs. Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders for their less interventionist policies as well. Show a bit of consistency...not everyone is part of the groupie audience.

Trump Nazi Comparisons...More Nonsense

There are many reasons to attack Trump politically (as the case of any politician) but calling him a Nazi/Neo-Nazi or a future Adolf Hitler is ridiculous....No better then the Obama is a secret Muslim nonsense that we heard in 2008. If you don't know what a Nazi is then read a history book. Not only is such rhetoric beyond stupidity but it does nothing to advance our understanding of the real forces in action. Also enough with the screams of racism at every turn...all it shows is that you have run out of rational criticism and have completely defaulted to emotion.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Quora Questions #1

Is it possible that there are physics that we will never discover because our limited biological senses?

Answer - Not so much biological senses as we can build better equipment to increase the range but there are likely order of magnitude restrictions as we approach the extremes of the micro and macro world - Planck Time and Planck Length for example. We are already aware of the various innate limitations associated with Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.

Why did earlier scientists not guess about the gravitational force?

Many of them knew about it they just talked about it in different terms - such as a natural attractor. Newton’s greatest breakthrough in this area was not so much gravity itself but the universal notion of gravity, or his realization that the same force responsible for the terrestrial phenomena acts as well in the celestial sphere and is key to our understanding of planetary/lunar motion.

If the Philosophers' Football Match from Monty Python actually took place, would the Greeks beat the Germans?

No because the Germans cheated and included Beckenbauer in their line up.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Alt Right

The banter around the political grouping Alt-Right seems to be trending lately largely as a result of its association with Trumpism and more recently Hillary Clinton’s reference to this linkage. But what exactly is the Alt-Right?
I first became aware of the phrase Alt-Right about a year and a half ago and have since learnt much about the streams of ideas that surface in the political sphere that it dominates. What follows is a combination of my observations, realizations and opinions regarding this movement.

  1. The Term ‘Alternative Right’ was first coined by the Paleo-Conservative thinker Paul Gottfried about a decade ago. However the derivative Alt-Right is more commonly used on the net. The term Dark Enlightenment is often employed synonymously with the Alt Right (read the work of Nick Land) but many Alt-Righters are not fond of the sinister implications of this designation.
  2. Alt-Righters tend to be unified in their opposition to both illegal and in many cases legal immigration (which sets them apart from most conservatives). Many are hostile to liberal democracy in its current form, champion isolationism, oppose free trade and as a whole are guided by a philosophy of a rigidly defined Race Realism that is opposed to miscegenation.
  3. Many Alt-Righters are White Nationalists and believe in a shared European identity that needs to be cultivated through education, political activism and ultimately the physical separation of race groups. Ingroup preference, it is argued, is followed by all ‘races’ therefore it should not be wrong if whites act accordingly.
  4. The movement is very much driven by the philosophy of decline (as are some Conservatives) but their race based ‘solution’ to this realization sets them apart from mainstream conservative support. For Alt-Righters the rot has set in and Western Civilization as it stands is heading toward an abyss driven by incompetent politicians, feminist shrills (SJWs), political correctness and toxic liberalism.
  5. Alt-Righters largely detest mainstream conservatives who they see as sell outs to a liberal establishment and thereby worthy of the crude epitaph cuckservative (a derivative of cuckold and conservative).
  6. Leading voices in the Alt-Right include Jared Taylor (of American Renaissance and Richard Spencer (a promoter of the Identitarian Movement) however Alt-Righters are largely decentralized and exert most of their footprint through the internet which has proved to be fertile ground for many of its ‘techsavy’ ground troops.
  7. It is incorrect to label Alt-Righters as Neo-Nazis, while some certainly align with this mindset the framework is broad enough that it includes Libertarians, traditionalists, paleo-conservatives and a host of other peripheral positions. It is not a Christian specific grouping and seems from what I have observed to contain many atheists, agnostic theists and European pagans. The commonality being an affection for European Civilization rather than a metaphysical belief system. Oddly enough many Alt-Righters are fairly liberal on social issues such as gay rights and abortion.
  8. Alt Righters are very much opposed to Islam however many are not fans of Judaism and in particular the Jewish impact on Western Civilization either. In the mind of many Alt Righters the Jewish elites have supported a policy of liberalism in order to water down establishment based anti-Semitism (a thesis advanced by the controversial academic Kevin MacDonald). The Jew is seen as the internationalist whose ultimate impact on European Civilization is negative (borrowing from Henry Ford). This opinion however is not shared by all Alt-Righters.
  9. Since it exists on the periphery the Alt-Right (just like the leftist radicalisms) has attracted more than its fair share of wackos, conspiracy nuts, hatemongers and marginal voices however it has several reflective thinkers who are well versed in philosophy, critical thinking and reasoned argument. Taylor comes across as such an individual as does the rising blogger star Millennial Woes.
  10. Alt-Righters tend to support Trump although some have probably come to their positions from various source backgrounds (not necessarily Republican). Most are Millennials or Gen Xers but don’t necessarily hold to the same positions of nostalgia that defines Paleo-Conservatives such as Pat Buchanan.
  11. While News Outlet Breitbart does at times articulate the Alt-Right position on some issues - particularly illegal immigration and Islamism - it is not seen as an Alt-Right publication by adherents to the movement.
  12. Genetics plays a key role in Alt Right philosophy which views almost all issues through the prism of race as a hereditary construct.
  13. While some Alt-Righters are white supremacists many are not preferring to couch their white Nationalism in the same veneer as any other type of nationalism viz. Asian, Black, Italian, Thai etc - That is the focus should be more about the in-group than the other.
  14. Many Alt-Righters are anti-capitalist and most are opposed to free trade. In this respect they again differ from Conservatives. In fact on economic issues some of the anti-capitalism drivers are not too distinct from that of the Radical Left.
  15. The Alt-Right is not (yet) a significant force in and of itself and would probably vanish into the political ether if it were not for the pro-Dem media and indeed the Clinton’s campaign to exaggerate their association with Trump.

As a Classic Liberal (Modern Day Conservative) I myself take issue with the Alt Right. Their fascination with race is wrong-headed, destructive and ultimately corrosive to Western Civilization. In a sense they are advocating a modern version of Fascism that is utopic in structure and at odds with the fundamental tenets of Burkean Conservatism. I am not convinced that the Alt-Right is even a philosophy of the right but more a mutation of identity politics, pseudo-science and a national socialism. However they do raise some valid points about the collapse of traditional structure within the nation state, top down social engineering and the challenges to our value system brought about by ill-conceived government policy. While I wouldn’t give the movement more credit than they deserve a free and open discussion of some of these ideas (however harsh they are) should be part of our own self-reflection, not necessarily for acceptance but to increase our propensity for informed decision.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Quick Note

I am working on a website that should be up and running by month's end. It will include a substantial amount of my writings on History, Philosophy and Science.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Brexit III

The EU in itself is not an economic success at all and the fact that certain areas have been successful (parts of England) and the turn-of-the millennium Irish Celtic Tiger (in the past not as much at present) are a consequence of much needed free market reforms (Thatcherite revolution in the 80s and competitive opening up of the Irish economy) that occurred despite, rather than as a result of, the EU influence. In fact the Left largely rejected both of these drives when they were proposed.

Defenders of the EU often point to historical German (or West German) success however the economic groundwork for this country can largely be attributed to the pro-free market (less regulation intense) policies that came to define the Wirtschaftswunder (Economic Miracle) after WWII. These were engineered by Konrad Adenauer and his economic minister Ludwig Erhard and preceded the formation of the Common Market in 1957.

The claim that that the EU is in a better economic state than the US also lacks foundation. The numbers don’t bare this out both at present and in the past. Unemployment (U3 numbers) in the US is less than the EU average and regularly sits at a lower level than its Euro rivals (only 4 out of the 28 European countries currently have a lower unemployment rate than the US).  Spain for one has an unemployment rate that sits at a horrific 21.4% with youth unemployment residing in the stratosphere at the unbelievable number of 51%.

As for Scotland and Ireland both their respective unemployment rates are above the UK average. In fact at present Ireland sits at 9.6% well over double the German average.
Norway and Switzerland, both non-EU members, boast unemployment rates of 4.6 % and 3.4% each of which is ahead of the US.

In addition GDP per capita is 1.4 times higher in the US than it is in EU with only the Banker’s Republic of Luxembourg (hardly representative of the Bloc) exceeding the US. In fact 49 out of 50 US states have a higher GDP per capita than the EU Average. If the UK were an American state it would rank about somewhere around the 40 – 45 mark in state GDPs per capita. Forbes takes an even grimmer view.

Economic issues aside. The key driver for the population’s rejection of the EU mandate ie. The loss of local autonomy. For me this was the greatest concern (followed closely of course by the over regulation hysteria of the EU). I am surprised that a proud Celtic nationalist would not be more concerned? What’s the point of winning independence from the UK only to hand it over to faceless bureaucrats in Brussels? The Scots especially will be deeply impacted especially with regards to their North Sea Oil. This is one of the big reasons that Norway stayed out of the Union to begin with.

For more reading outside the echo chamber check out


Friday, July 01, 2016

Brexit II

This is my reply to an Irish Nationalist who pretty much damned the English to hell over the Brexit result and then called for union of the various Celtic Nations....

The EU is far from the success that you make it out to be. It has failed to stall the drop in European clout that has seen a drop in the region's Global GDP footprint from 25 to 15 % over the last thirty years or so. Many of the countries in the EU consistently demonstrate high levels of unemployment and wealth disparity in England in particular has actually widened (compare London to the rest of the country). 

My biggest problem with the EU and is that it has added a layer of government that is overwhelmingly bureaucratic. This has decreased the efficacy of grassroots activism and fostered a new elite focused on entitlement. Key autonomy has been lost and this is anti-democratic.It also has created unnecessary barriers to potential imports from outside the Bloc which have been particular tough on African and Asian producers (Is this fortress Europe concept not racist in itself?) while ensuring that prices in Europe remain high (fine for the elite but not everyone else). 

I am not convinced that Scotland will leave the UK (despite your wishes). I think that you are overselling the numbers. If they do so the Scots would likely have to forgo their investment in the British State mechanism (pensions and all) and drop the Pound (which is still a solid option as a currency for Third world investors particularly the Middle East). The Euro is highly volatile and has already been rocketed by several crises in Greece, Italy and Portugal to name a few. Others are likely to follow. It seems to me that your position is more motivated by an anti-English Irish jingoism than anything else although I could be wrong. Damning the English to history considering the brave stance of this people in facing Fascism in WWII is particularly galling (where were the Irish nationalists then?) . 

As for your take on Northern Ireland a closer breakdown on results from the referendum indicates that the vote was split along sectarian lines with many Protestants (who regard any union with Ireland to be toxic) voting to leave. I doubt as well whether the large Scottish protestant core would also back such an alliance with Ireland in a Greater Celtic Band.

Life thought

I think that one of the most important realizations one has to make as a parent is that your kids are not, nor ought they to be, a replica of yourself.

Brexit I

I think its too early to judge what the long term ramifications of the exit will be. Economists have a poor track record in long term forecasting and markets have a tendency to readjust rapidly (look at the Dow). One cannot judge any decision in purely economic terms as there are other numerous factors involved but I think that the Brexit vote is a welcome win for grassroots democracy.


Point to consider.....At a dermatology conference focusing on Acne do they have breakout sessions?.

On Diversity

Why is it when so many people talk about diversity its almost always diversity of skin colour or sexual preference? More important than that in my opinion is diversity of class or socioeconomic status. However what supersedes them all, and what is very rarely mentioned, is diversity of thought.

Soccer Upsets....love them or hate them...here are a few

15 Greatest Cinderella feats at the World Cup or European Championship

  1. Denmark obtaining a late invite into the 1992 European Championship (Yugoslavia was banned from playing) and then going on to win the competition.
  2. Greece fighting their way to the final and then defeating hosts Portugal in the 2004 European Championship.
  3. Czechoslovakia defeating World Cup Winners and defending champion West Germany to win the 1976 European Championship.
  4.  North Korea defeating Italy 1-0 in the World Cup group stage in 1966
  5. The US defeating England 1-0 in the World Cup Group stage in 1950
  6. Uruguay defeating hosts Brazil in front of a crowd of almost 200,000 to win the 1950 World Cup
  7. Northern Ireland defeating hosts Spain in the 1982 World Cup Group stage
  8. Algeria defeating West Germany in the 1982 World Cup Group Stage
  9. Cameroon defeating defending World Cup Champions Argentina in the Group stages in 1990 and then going on to reach the quarterfinal
  10. Senegal defeating defending World Cup Champions France in the Group stages in 2002 and then going on to reach the quarterfinal
  11. South Korea defeating Portugal, Italy and Spain on route to reaching the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup
  12. Costa Rica defeating Uruguay and Italy to reach the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup
  13. Bulgaria beating Argentina and Germany to reach the semi-finals of the 1994 World Cup
  14. Iceland 2 England 1 European Championship 2016
  15. Wales 3 Most expensive team in existence Belgium 1

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Free Trade Liberals

Its time for free trade liberals to be honest with themselves and admit that at the most fundamental level they abhor the nation state, which is ultimately why so many are enthusiastic about such trans national behemoths as the EU. For you see Nation States are impediments to the single market. They create barriers to prevent the free flow of goods and labour (the cheap kind especially) thereby producing complexities that stifle the uniformity that the ease of production ideal craves. In short, the nation state in the liberal view is an anachronistic nuisance that has survived from an earlier era but in the world of bloc trade ought to be relegated to the dust heap of history. Once it disappears then the market can truly dominate. The market of course being the very essence of liberalism.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Some more cool moments in Physics

James Clerk Maxwell unifies the world of the electricity and magnetism on a theoretical level and shows how the speed of light in a vacuum is a function of two key constants that govern each of the electric and magnetic fields. Maxwell’s work gives rise to the notion of electromagnetic waves two types of which will be identified by Heinrich Hertz (Radio Waves) and Wilhelm Roentgen (X Rays)

Max Planck solves the Blackbody Radiation Problem by arguing that energy is produced in discrete packets called quanta and that the Energy of each quanta is directly proportional to the frequency of oscillation of the quanta. Planck’s model answers the challenge of the UV catastrophe which classical physics had failed to adequately address. I developing his concept of the quanta Planck borrows heavily from the work of Ludwig Boltzmann, the father of statistical mechanics.Planck, himself is regarded as the Father of Quantum Mechanics (and indeed Modern Physics)

JJ Thompson determines the ratio of the mass of the electron to its charge. Robert Millikan will follow on later with a determination of the charge of the electron (through his oil droplet experiment) allowing for the eventual determination of the mass of the electron. Quantum nature of charge will play an important role in future developments in Modern Physics.

Henri Becquerel documents the realities of radioactive decay. Work will continue thanks to the research by Pierre and Marie Curie

Michelson and Morley Experiment shows that the Aether wind (thought to be the background of space) does not exist.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Muhammad Ali

News outlets are falling over each other in praise of Muhammad Ali. While there is no doubt that he was a tremendous athlete and iconic figure whose story translates itself well into the 60's narrative I have always found the superlative Great as used with the man to be somewhat misapplied.

For one he was not a great human being. Look no further to his treatment of arch-rival Joe Frazier before their third fight in Manila (the notorious thriller). His use of the ‘gorilla’ term to taunt his opponent on looks alone was classless at best as was his use of racist language to imply that Frazier (who was Black) was the White Man’s Champion but was essentially an Uncle Tom when juxtaposed against Ali himself.

Not only were these slurs cruel and unnecessary (and bothered Frazier for the rest of his life) they were especially vile as it was Frazier who gave Ali financial support during his ban from boxing and it was Frazier himself who lobbied hard to have Ali reinstated as a fighter.

Ali was arrogant, continually mocked ‘whitey’ but was never to high above the moral quandary to reject the money that came his way from a largely Caucasian audience. In fact it was white journalist such as Howard Cosell who played a huge role in creating the legend that was Ali as was his legendary trainer Angelo Dundee.

That he was a skilled fighter is a given but his record doesn’t standard head or shoulders above some of the other heavyweights of renowned fame. In fact one could argue that it was less impressive than some of the sport’s leading lights. He did not retire undefeated like Rocky Marciano (39-0) or have the knockout record of Foreman (76 wins 68 by knockout compared to Ali’s 56 wins 37 by knockout), nor did he come close to holding on to the title as long as Joe Louis who carried the belt for 12 years (that included 25 an unbelievable defenses).

He did win the Heavyweight title three times but that was largely a consequence of circumstance (the Don King Rumble Initiative and Leon Spink's suspect decision to avoid Ken Norton the #1 contender at the time and defend against Ali instead).

In fact a breakdown of Ali’s key fights shows a spurious win against Sonny Liston (Phantom Punch…likely a fix), controversial use of the rope-a-dope tactic (arguably illegal) in the Rumble, a wrong victory decision against Ken Norton in the Third Fight and a over hyped win over Frazier in Manila (when Ali’s corner were seconds away from throwing in the towel themselves).

While he was quick to talk the talk when it suited him Ali was too often caught up by his own hubris. He refused to retire with grace and was taken to task for his efforts by both Larry Holmes and the less than stellar Trevor Berbick.

Ali defined an era but had feats mired in hyperbole and for this he will be remembered. Boxing will forever be indebted to him but to call him the Great (or any fighter for that matter) simply overlooks the bigger picture that necessitates such a call to glory.

Friday, March 25, 2016

JFK on Economics

JFK's greatest success economically was championing a policy of lowering tax rates on average earners. This unfortunately was only realized after his death with the passing of the bipartisan Revenue Act of 1964. His approach was neither that of a strict Keynesian nor that of a supply-sider but hogged the midpoint with the intent of increasing demand via disposable income. It worked. The mid 60's was a Golden Era in US Economic history. Unemployment sat at a low of 3.8 % in 1966. GDP growth was in the 5% range. You are correct Nixon's record is poor but it wasn't all of his doing. The ongoing Vietnam War impacted the Federal budget. It also didn't help that he introduced wage and price controls to curb the inflation that resulted from Johnson's Great Society spending Initiatives.

Logic and Sense Knowledge

I think that logic can be viewed as a type of gradualism that is water tight and invaluable in moving us toward a genuine source of knowledge or truth. However it does appear that there are other mechanisms which use a more punctuated approach, that while not as stringent in its application, and indeed not as gradual, use value judgement acting on sensory information to reach a similar conclusion. Is the latter a type of reason? I too would argue yes. Can it be reduced? Possibly. But perhaps something is lost in doing so. Maybe it functions on a level that bypasses the need for mini-steps, chunking information in bigger bytes to reach its endpoint with a greater efficiency.

On Philosophy

I started my own personal study of philosophy by making sure that I had a strong general overview of the key thinkers before going into any great detail about any one individual specifically. Philosophy is best understood by acquainting oneself with the history of the discipline as many ideas put forward essentially arise out of a critique of an earlier philosophy and build on each other. Hegel's March to Reasons sums up this idea but is not the overriding factor. Avenues of thought can splinter in many directions and these can be difficult to predict. I think that the key point in philosophy is to work with, and in a way, celebrate the idea. Examine thoughts from different angles and avoid the temptation to expect eureka moments at every turn.

The West - A Wake up Call

The West in its present state is weak. Leadership is poor, priorities are wrong and more than anything else most Westerners can't even articulate what our civilization stands for. Jihadism will not bring down the West but the inability to champion our exceptionality and defend the essence of what we have on all fronts will most certainly do. We no longer believe in ourselves and this is tragic.

The Post-Modernist leaderships that dominate most Western Government are partly to blame for fostering such a malaise but so has the culture of guilt and self-flagellation that has worked its way from academia into mainstream society.

While the US –the epicenter of the West - is still ten or fifteen years behind a moribund Europe in this regard but its path has been accelerated by an abysmal Presidency that has to be routinely prodded to recognize evil for what it is and continues advocating for an appeasement of such malignancies. However the opposition has not been much better. While it talks with an air of authority from the other side of the aisle, when in office, it too often succumbs to the lure of a ‘Realpolitik’ that short-changes our values for the sake of political expediency.

It is most obvious that the West is in a demographic death spiral (certainly with respect to birth rates). Entitlement is rampant, education standards are falling, illegal immigration is out of control, and our manufacturing sectors have been gutted by a free trade mania and crony capitalism has shifted power away from the vital middle class to a worthless financial elite that has no loyalty to anyone other than themselves. A fixation with identity politics – both race and gender – has further poisoned the water and encouraged an odious narrative that has proved to be extremely divisive.

Add to this a growing national debt load (19.1 trillion dollars in the US for example and increasing) and the future does not bode well for the next generations. Partisan Hacks will point to declining unemployment numbers when convenient, but these rarely tell the full story and conveniently leave out the growing number of people who have dropped out of the labour market altogether and no longer factor in such statistics. With a weak manufacturing sector and the hypnotic appeal of open border economics this troublesome pattern seems likely to continue.

While we still have the luxury of the circus shows that engulf the lives of so many of us we need to move against apathy and indifference. What is needed is a broad movement centered on the engine of the middle class that cuts across ossified party lines and places at its core the Western values of free speech, rule of law, rationalism, an emphasis on necessary tradition, earned respect, and ultimately self-sufficiency built on a strong work ethic. The People can still take back the nations of the West. In fact not only can they, it is becoming increasingly important that they must.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Obama Doctrine - My take.

There is considerable buzz on the air waves and data world about Jeffrey Goldberg's overview article in The Atlantic concerning the Obama Doctrine (whose exact nature is proving as elusive as the Higgs-Boson particle once was to determine). Goldberg looks at the history of Obama's actions in office and outlines some key points that shed light on the POTUS' way of thinking. Here are a few:

1. Obama has a great affection for Brent Scowcroft - National Security Adviser under George HW Bush - he likes the concept of limit engagement ;

2.He has clashed with Hillary Clinton, Chuck Hagel and John Kerry repeatedly on the use of force in Syria - Kerry prefers a tougher approach;

3. Does not view the Middle East as a significant region in general;

4. Is obsessed with avoiding the same pitfalls that impacted the Presidency of George W. Bush;

5. Believes that any extended involvement in the Middle East by the US is likely to be problematic and cost lives with limited likelihood of success;

6.Sees the US as an internationalist force that should be more concerned with existentialist threats such as Climate Change;

7. Although he chose Samantha Power to be the American Ambassador to the UN he is not sold entirely on the 'Doctrine of Responsibility to Protect' that is the mainstay of her political ethos;

8. The pullback from the Red Line decision in Syria (2013) was largely motivated by a fear of pushing the US into a protracted war that would cost more lives.

9. He champions the idea of Drone Strikes (as do Republicans such as John Bolton) which in a way reflect the limited engagement philosophy;

Missing from the whole Goldberg analysis (perhaps conveniently) was the Libyan invasion affair that may have bearing on several of these points.

As someone who takes issue with Obama's position on Iran, his handling of Arab-Israeli issues and his relativistic posturing regarding the identification of the Islamist threat domestically, I find myself in unusual agreement with the President on Syria. I think he is correct to avoid a deeper involvement in this troubled country especially in a Civil War that has the potential to cost so many American lives. There is no positive force here and the optimum approach would be for the US to keep funding the Free Syrian Army as the lesser of the evils.On one level this seems harsh but in the context of the greater good of the US makes much complete sense.

However, what Obama needed to do (and may still have time) was communicate this resolve more efficiently. The populace need to be allayed of the fear that the US is in decline. The Pentagon has the ability to act with great efficacy and can as the Drone Strikes have shown eliminate its enemies with a fair degree of success. The electorate must be reminded of this.

The US must act with strategic intent that places the Nation's interest first, The Doctrine of the "Responsibility to Protect' makes sense in a Rwanda-like situation but cannot be applied universally. Neo-Conservative forays are fraught with a deadly blow back and although America has the military might to potentially serve as a Global Police Force it should avoid this responsibility unless driven to do so by calculated reason. This could be the legacy of the Obama Doctrine although I suspect that it may be lost to the great deal of jitter that has come along for the turbulent ride.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Multiverses....A quick summary

On the Multiverse. There are a variety of multiverse models but the most common one is that developed by Hugh Everett III to explain the phenomenon of Wave-Particle Duality. It is also known as the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI). According to Everett all possible alternate histories and futures are real so that the various outcomes are realized over the sum of the many worlds. We live in a world which displays one of those outcomes. Like the other three explanations for Wave-Particle Duality (Collapse, Pilot and Copenhagen) the mathematics checks out.
Multiverse modelling occurs in other areas of Physics. Max Tegmark, arguably one of the most brilliant physicists alive today, posits a classification system that consists of four levels that can be used to describe Multiverses.

Level One – Multiverses produced by cosmic inflation that have same physical constants and laws as does our universe;
Level Two – Multiverses produced by Chaotic inflation that have different constants and laws and are produced by a bubble effect (Andre Linde calculated that there are 10^10^10,000,000 of these);
Level Three – MWI Interpretation described above
Level Four – Constructs within Tegmark’s own mathematical universe hypothesis (a Theory of Everything that sees physical reality as a mathematical structure).

Brian Greene has a different classification system that has nine types and looks at simulations, holographs, cyclic phenomena, Branes etc.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Twenty five things that I have learnt from facebook

1. People are more limited in their sense of humor than they let on.
2. Half the people love Donald Trump the other half absolutely loathe him.
3. You can say anything ridiculous if you prefix it with a quote from a famous person
4. Conspiracy theories are alive and well.,,,unfortunately
5. Those in disagreement with said person on any post, are either ignorant or evil.
6. Most Americans (but not all) cannot talk politics without slipping into the partisan two party dichotomy.
7. Mark Zuckerberg has his head up his ass half the time but its okay as he is a billionaire and we use his product (oops I may get banned over that one).
8. Nothing gets more likes than a dog licking his balls. Yes I know I am jealous.
9. With enough assumptions you can make anything sound feasible
10. The biggest threat to humanity is Gluten.
11. Stupidity spreads faster than the Rage Virus.
12. Feminists are just not funny (although I didn't need fb for that one).
13. Very few people understand how science works including Bill Nye on occasion.
14. I am always open to seeing more pictures of Melania Trump.
15. Egoism is alive and well.
16. Once in a while you need to purge your friends list. I expect that I may be at the brunt of this for some who read my post.
17. There is no bias like a Confirmation bias.
18. For many, a Rant counts as a logical argument.
19. Never argue (as a friend of mine put it) with a skunk.
20. Everyone has their sacred cows that too often defended by generous use of the ad hominem.
21. SJWs are idiots.
22. There are still very intelligent people out there, who should know better, but who still can't see the problem with Islamism
23. I am sick of seeing posts with French Flags. You would think that only one country has experienced terrorism.
24. Star Wars is a movie it shouldn't be a life philosophy.
25. Never grant friendship status to your mother. Sorry mom I couldn't resist

Sunday, January 31, 2016


I am a huge proponent of SETI and a great fan of Science Fiction. About ten years ago I wrote a book the HISTORY OF THE FUTURE detailing a world where contact with alien species is made and our species is forced by necessity to enter into a new geopolitical reality. Odds are that if we are to be immersed in a world where we are less sophisticated than the extra terrestrials than it will not work out well for us. However there is an unpredictability with all encounters that may prove refreshing. Lately though I have become somewhat disillusioned, not so much in the way contact will play out, but whether contact will occur at all. Based on scientific assessment the odds of another humanoid type species evolving ( or even some type of facsimile) to make contact with us appear to be close to zero. A subtle interventionist deity could rig the odds but that seems to be wishful thinking. One can take solace in the Drake Equation but there are so many unknown variables in that equation that it seems to be practically meaningless. My heart wishes that this weren't so but looking just at the probability game and the levels of fine tuning that are necessary it may just be the case that we are simply alone.

Thoughts on Deism IV - Some Quick Ones.

Einstein himself was not a fan of cultural relativism and I believe detested the way his theory was applied to other areas outside physics. Much the same way that Darwin was not in favour of the way his ideas of selection were used by those advocating Eugenics.

On Absolute Truth....The Laws of Thermodynamics viz. Conservation of Energy, Increasing Entropy of the Universe plus Absolute Zero are probably as absolute as one can get. Gravity has been reworked with General Relativity to better understand Newton's Inverse Square Law however it has some problems at the quantum level. The jury is still out with respect to the fundamental Graviton particle (although odds are that we will likely find it).  Chemical Reactions are largely manifestations of the electromagnetic force so I agree that the theory here is very solid. Absorption and Emission of Light can be described by Quantum Mechanics which at present seems to be well supported empirically. I would add to this list laws regarding both linear and angular momentum as well as certain symmetries that are consistent with conservation laws.

Special Relativity....Einstein's special theory broke the notion of absolute space and time. It also showed the energy and momentum require relativistic analysis. However in many ways its most perplexing outcome was the death blow for Simultaneity. Events that are simultaneous in one frame of reference need not be simultaneous in another. What does this mean? Observer 1 concludes that event A happened before event B. Observer 2 in another frame of reference concludes that the events were simultaneous (happened at the same time). Which one is correct? The answer - Both of them. This can influence, although I would urge much caution, our perception of events at least on a theoretical level for now.

US Election Race Debates

I can barely sit through the agony of Republican debates not to mention the Hillary-Bernie roadshow. Now they want four more. Why not save your time and work on some self induced waterboarding technique?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Thoughts on Deism III

Deism should theoretically emerge as a viable middle ground between atheism and theism but it still seems as though it is lagging behind the other two systems in terms of absolute numbers. It may be that many of those who would normally fall under either of the two categories are in all actuality Deists however I am not convinced that this explains the full picture. Classical deism lost its appeal some time ago (possibly due to the imprisonment of the creator) but why have the more 'warmer' types of deism not taken hold? Intellectually it stands on no less a solid ground than any counter ideology yet in terms of clout it is analogous to the Libertarian party in a battle between the Dems and the GOP. What is it missing? Could it be a lack of adequate spokespeople?

Deistic thoughts I am working on.

1. A belief that there is a God who transcends space and time. (I call it God for want of a name although I personally prefer the Kabbalistic term Ein Sof).
2. That it is impossible to know the nature of God. It cannot be truly defined.
3. That the universe operates according to the Laws of Physics. Life evolved through a combination of natural selection, genetic drift and other selection pressures acting on a genome whose variation arose as a consequence of mutation.
4. That God can intervene but such intervention is undetectable and does not contravene the laws of physics. God is a subtle actor who presents no evidence of understandable design.
5. That there is no personal God.
6. That revealed religion are merely man made attempts at trying to understand God and although some carry the wisdom of earlier thought they are all inherently flawed.
7. That humans need to develop their own moral code based on reason, logic and the collective thinking of what has worked in the past.
8. That some religious customs may serve a purpose with respect to group cohesion but they need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
9. That God is a minimalist in action but not necessarily a disinterested party.
10. That the afterlife is unknowable.
11. That skepticism and the scientific method are the best tools we have in understanding the world.

Thoughts on Deism II

I don't believe that these differences (gender diversity with respect to God) are a function of intelligence. Nor do I see it as a consequence of education (although this probably can cause a slight shift towards one direction or another). I think that it is more a reflection of the way that the two sexes see the world in general.It may be a consequence of hunter-gatherer past. I don't know. However the difference on the broader level seems apparent. On a deeper level it's a positive development as it allows for alternative approaches to problems that impact all of us. I am a bit skeptical of the Myers-Briggs testing (which has its foundation in the work of Carl Jung) but it has some relevance along the extrovert/introvert corridor and the thinking/feeling paradigm. It is in the latter that this difference expresses itself.

Thoughts on Deism I

I am very interested in the obvious gender differences that personify the way that men and women perceive, experience and appreciate God. While these are obviously group differences and cannot be reduced to the specific individual it does seem (at least on what I have read and personally experienced) that women seem inherently more spiritual as a whole and that their spiritual belief is rooted in a stronger sense of feeling and emotion. This seems to translate into a richer connection with God (although I am sure others would beg to differ). Deism seems more of a male orientated philosophy as it places at its center reason and cold logic which many men seem to gravitate towards. I realize that this is somewhat of a generalization but I do believe that it has merit for discussion.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Welcome 2016

Its difficult to believe that I have been blogging so long but I still, despite the drop off in frequency of posts, continue to enjoy making the submissions. I figure that when I don't I will close up shop.
So why not start the year with some great questions? Here are 12 worth thinking about.

1. Why is there something as opposed to nothing?
2. What are the limits of science? Has Cartesian Reductionism neared its level of usefulness? How do we incorporate the whole into our thinking?
3. How does complexity arise? Why is the sum of the parts so often less than the whole?
4. Is Randomness an illusion?
5. How are the Laws of Physics carried?
6. What is the relationship between consciousness, free will and the Anthropic Principle?
7. To what extent are we boxed in by our definitions of scientific terms? Discrete versus Continuous understanding of nature.
8. Why and how are we bound by perceived linearity?
9. The Subjective versus the Objective….Will Objectivism disappear altogether?
10. Why do systems become stable? How is this stability rocked? Is there an overall march toward a new zone? Is stability real or imaginary?
11. Why is our Mathematics limited?
12. What is an event? What comes together to make an event?