Archive for the ‘culture’ Tag

Genesis of Violence   Leave a comment

Let’s say a man kicks down the door of his ex-girlfriend’s house and she shoots him dead in her foyer.

Who is responsible for his death?

Yes, she shot him, but don’t you suppose she was terrified that he was going to kill her and that’s why she pulled the trigger?

What if she had a restraining order against him because he’d been threatening her for months? Do you think maybe she was justified in shooting him then?

What if she called the cops and they refused to come because he was friends with some of the officers and they felt he was just blowing smoke?

What if his best friends had said she was just being hysterical? He was just trying to correct her negative behaviors. If she’d only just allowed him to beat her that night, all would have been well.

Would you find her guilty of murder if you were sitting on that jury?

Or would you acquit her because he was responsible for the violence and she had no other choice than to defend her life?

And, yes, I am discussing something larger than just a dysfunctional relationship.

Posted October 30, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Common sense, Uncategorized

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Why Does Anyone Need A Gun?   Leave a comment

Pierre Lemieux

Found on FEE

Concealed CarryThe shooting that took place in Toronto (Canada) on Sunday was, in one way, similar to the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Paris on January 7, 2015. In the latter case, people took smartphone videos of fleeing terrorists shooting at policemen and killing an unarmed one. In Toronto, there were several powerless witnesses, and at least one person, apparently from an apartment overlooking the scene, videoed the killer as he was firing from the sidewalk below. In both cases, if a video taker had had a pistol instead of a smartphone, he could have engaged the killer, at least slowing him down, and saved lives or prevented serious bodily injuries.

The fact that the Toronto killer was apparently just a madman and a loser, as I called his kind in a previous post (“Mass Killings and the Economic Approach to Human Behavior”), is tragic but does not change the situation as far as saving lives is concerned.

An Armed Citizenry Can Stop Crime

In places like Toronto or Paris, carrying guns is a crime for ordinary citizens.

Many people believe it is impossible that armed citizens could end or mitigate a mass shooting. In places like Toronto or Paris, they are right in the sense that carrying guns is a crime for ordinary citizens, so it is unlikely that one could legally and seriously challenge a killer in action. In Canada, if you have been permitted to own a handgun, it can only be carried in a locked case to an approved shooting club; it must otherwise be kept in your home, where it must be locked separate from ammunition, to make sure you don’t use it in self-defense—which would be a crime anyway. It’s even worse in the United Kingdom.

Some states in America are the only places in the civilized world where ordinary individuals are allowed to own convenient handguns, carry them, and use them in self-defense. But here is the question: Does it ever happen that they use them to stop mass killings?

The answer is yes, and is documented in an FBI report, Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2016 and 2017 (April 2018). The report documents 50 active shooter incidents over these two years. Shooter incidents are defined as “one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.” The FBI concludes its analysis by noting:

Armed and unarmed citizens engaged the shooter in 10 incidents. They safely and successfully ended the shootings in eight of those incidents. Their selfless actions likely saved many lives.

Not surprisingly, in 6 of these 10 cases, the intervening citizen was legally armed. Only exceptional circumstances or exceptional courage lead an unarmed individual to successfully confront an armed killer in action. Perhaps one has to be familiar with guns to attempt this. The FBI writes:

In four incidents, citizens possessing valid firearms permits successfully stopped the shooter. In two [of those] incidents, citizens exchanged fire with the shooter. In two incidents, the citizens held the shooter at gunpoint until law enforcement arrived.

In another incident, “a citizen possessing a valid firearms permit was wounded before he could fire at the shooter.” In the last of the six incidents, the shooter was met with gunfire but fled to continue his rampage at another location.

Thus, an armed citizen put an end to a mass shooting in four cases or 8 percent of the shootings. Economist John Lott argues that the FBI missed some of the shootings and that the real percentage over the past few years is around 15 percent. In any event, a significant percentage of mass shootings were stopped by armed citizens and many lives were presumably saved.

Toronto Already Has Very Tough Gun Laws. They Didn’t Work.

In many states, individuals without a felony record can now lawfully carry concealed pistols without a license—so-called “constitutional carry.” This certainly adds to the disincentive effect that concealed carry has on mass murders.

The Sunday shooting and the other recent ones in Toronto occurred after three decades of increasingly severe gun controls in Canada, as you can check in my article “Disarming Canadians,” a review of a recent book by Canadian historian R. Blake Brown. It is farcical to hear Toronto’s mayor John Tory, a conservative politician, suggesting “tougher gun laws” in the wake of the tragic Sunday events, and pontificating:

There are far too many people carrying around guns in our city and our region who should not have them.

He asked:

Why does anyone in this city need to have a gun at all?

He did not mean that cops should not be armed. They have been more and more heavily armed as ordinary citizens were gradually disarmed. He did not mean that the cops who protect him do not need guns. He meant that ordinary citizens should be totally disarmed, hoping that thugs will also disarm, which would (inexplicably?) leave only the cops armed.

It is true that the freedom to have guns means that more guns will be available, including for criminals, if only because of lower black market prices. Even if one assumes that the result will be a higher net murder count (which does not appear to be true), it is a strange ethics that forbids to individuals the means to defend themselves in order to wishfully prevent criminals from harming them.

In the 20th and 21st century, the right of ordinary individuals to own efficient guns is very much part of American exceptionalism. When you think about it, it is as banal as it is incomprehensible to the rest of the world that ordinary individuals have the right to own, and in most states to carry, guns nearly as efficient as those carried by their public servants.

Party is a Sub-Herd   Leave a comment

From “The Law” by Randolph Bourne

 

Randolph  BourneThe members of the working-classes, that portion at least which does not identify itself with the significant classes and seek to imitate it and rise to it, are notoriously less affected by the symbolism of the State, or, in other words, are less patriotic than the significant classes. For theirs is neither the power nor the glory. The State in wartime does not offer them the opportunity to regress, for, never having acquired social adulthood, they cannot lose it. If they have been drilled and regimented, as by the industrial regime of the last century, they go out docilely enough to do battle for their State, but they are almost entirely without that filial sense and even without that herd-intellect sense which operates so powerfully among their betters. They live habitually in an industrial serfdom, by which though nominally free, they are in practice as a class bound to a system of a machine-production, the implements of which they do not own, and in the distribution of whose product they have not the slightest voice, except what they can occasionally exert by a veiled intimidation which draws slightly more of the product in their direction. From such serfdom, military conscription is not so great a change. But into the military enterprise they go, not with those hurrahs of the significant classes whose instincts war so powerfully feeds, but with the same apathy with which they enter and continue in the industrial enterprise.

From this point of view, war can be called almost an upper-class sport. the novel interests and excitements it provides, the inflations of power, the satisfaction it gives to those very tenacious human impulses—gregariousness and parent-regression—endow it with all the qualities of a luxurious collective game which is felt intensely just in proportion to the sense of significant rule the person has in the class-division of society. A country at war—particularly our own country at war—does not act as a purely homogenous herd. The significant classes have all the herd-feeling in all its primitive intensity, so that this feeling does not flow freely without impediment throughout the entire nation. A modern country represents a long historical and social process of disaggregation of the herd. The nation at peace is not a group, it is a network of myriads of groups representing the cooperation and similar feeling of men on all sorts of planes and in all sorts of human interests and enterprises. In every modern industrial country, there are parallel planes of economic classes with divergent attitudes and institutions and interests—bourgeois and proletariat—with their many subdivisions according to power and function, and even their interweaving, such as those more highly skilled workers who habitually identify themselves with the owning and significant classes and strive to raise themselves to the bourgeois level, imitating their cultural standards and manners. Then there are religious groups with a certain definite, though weakening sense of kinship, and there are the powerful ethnic groups which behave almost as cultural colonies in the New World, clinging tenaciously to language and historical tradition, though their herdishness is usually founded on cultural rather than State symbols. There are certain vague sectional groups. All these small sects, political parties, classes, levels, interests, may act as foci for herd-feelings. They intersect and interweave, and the same person may be a member of several different groups lying at different planes. Different occasions will set off his herd-feeling in one direction or another. In a religious crisis he will be intensely conscious of the necessity that his sect—or sub-herd—may prevail; in a political campaign, that his party shall triumph.

Role-Models for Real Life   5 comments

March 12, 2018 – In years gone by, clothing stores, makeup manufacturers and the like have only used models with those perfect bodies and skin to show us their products.  How do you feel about this?  Would you like to see “real” people in ads?

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Model 1I find myself in a unique position on this topic. My mother was a petites model for a Seattle department store off and on through her late-teens and 20s, even after she gave birth to my brother. She was 5’2″ and naturally maintained a weight in the 90s simply by smoking cigarettes (which everyone did back then) and not having a sweet tooth. The most she ever weighed was 102 pounds — she was pregnant with my brother at the time.

My daughter is 5’8″ and struggles to maintain a weight of 125 pounds – the low-end for her height. She’s got my mother’s metabolism without smoking and her paternal grandmother’s height. She has had unsolicited offers to model, but has things to say about the objectifying of women.

I don’t fit either ideal. I’m 5’1″ and I am athletic, which means I have muscles. Therefore, petite clothing lines often do not fit my thighs and biceps, even if they fit my height and waist. I buy my clothes in the “normal” lines and then modify them. It works out to costing just about the same as petite clothing costs. I also accidentally discovered that men’s jeans are 30% less expensive and you can match the waist (hips for women) and inseam to your personal needs. (So the zipper is reversed — blah-blah).

I have curly hair. Curly hair doesn’t match some sort of ideal in the advertising world. Those models in the “curly” ads didn’t have curly hair when they walked into the studio. How do I know? Because their hair is so shiny and that’s not what curly hair does without a lot of very expensive product, which is what they’re trying to sell, but having tried their very expensive product — it rarely works. (Just saying)

Of course, models have perfect everything. If you are making your living having photos snapped of you, then that’s one of your job requirements – look perfect. Occasionally you see a plus-sized model who looks fantastic, but of course, she’s really toned and she’s got great hair and perfect makeup. So we “normals” should just get over the idea that models will ever look like us. They have teams of people to make them look gorgeous while some of us are still sharing a bathroom with a guy who likes to shower in the morning.

Model 2If you didn’t get that joke,  you don’t have curly hair, which reacts to humidity, which is what is produced by a shower.

Yeah, there’s a tiny part of me that would love to see a “real” person modeling those clothes, that makeup, that hair product, but I recognize that reality doesn’t sell. Everybody wants to be able to imagine that if they buy that dress, they’ll look like the willowy 5’8″ model who eats one meal a day. It’s why we try the dress on … and why we stand in the fitting room imagining what it would look like if we lost five pounds or wore a girdle or donned 4″ heels. But the reality is I’m 5’1″, I’ve had two babies, and I eat a healthy diet rather than starving myself, so I’m not ever going to look like the model and, personally, I’m okay with that.

I sooth my annoyance at her perfection with the knowledge that she couldn’t keep up with me on the hiking trail, where it doesn’t matter if your clothes don’t flow just right or your hair is reacting to the humidity. My life has different requirements from that model’s life and, mostly, I’m okay with that.

Model 3One of my best friends used to be one of those models. She made a great living while it lasted, and that paid for a social work degree and now she runs a charter boat in the Florida Keys with her husband. She points out that models aren’t a whole lot different from professional athletes. They make a lot of sacrifices for the job. Most aren’t Rhodes scholars. They’re only qualifications for a job are looking pretty and being skinny. “What would they become if modeling wasn’t available?” Joi asked. “A couple of years starving and having my breasts duct-taped down paid for college and the career that followed. And, I used those photographers as references for my social work jobs because they could say I was a professional who showed up for work and put in a full measure. That seems a lot more dignified than the alternative – a lifetime of asking ‘Do you want fries with that?'”

Joi’s take on it colors my view as does my mother’s. If all the models looked like me, my daughter would want to see models who wore horizontal stripes and bold florals because those look fantastic on her and should be avoided strenuously by anyone my height — including petite models. And if there was a more reality-based mix of models … would that make us more comfortable with ourselves or would we still look at those taller and skinnier and less curly-headed than ourselves and want to be them?

I think this may be my individualist streak rearing its counter-cultural head, but I am not all that comfortable with trying to change other people, especially a whole industry of other people.

lelamarkhamprofilepicMaybe, what’s really needed is mothers having conversations with their daughters about how life is not an advertisement. We can admire the tall skinny people with the perfect hair and makeup … or the short athletic people with the perfect hair and makeup … or, the frankly-chubby people with the perfect hair and makeup, but real life will never be like that and it’s okay because that advertisement is a moment in time captured after a whole lot of work to create a fantasy that is nothing like real life with the aim to sell us clothes, hair and skin products or something else. We might accomplish a great deal more having that conversation about accepting our bodies as they are and about the lure of consumerism with our daughters (and sons) instead of trying to change the fashion industry.

Posted March 12, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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Victims Everywhere   Leave a comment

Image result for image of victimologyOne thing that really struck me this week in the aftermath of the Florida school shooting is how much victimhood has permeated this country. Yes, several people were shot and/or killed in that shooting and, yes, they are victims of a horrible tragedy. But to hear the media and the people they chose to interview talk, it would seem that half the nation’s population are victims of this incident that happened in one location. One woman on PBS talked about how her teenager, who attends a school in another state, was very concerned about how someone with a gun could come into her school and the mother wept that her child was being “victimized” like this. A man on another program said all parents with children in public school and their children have PTSD over this incident. Then there was someone else talking about how the shooter was a victim of bullying, almost as if that excuses shooting a bunch of people.

Wow! Is the embrasure of victimhood just an American phenomenon? It seems as if this country is the only place where people get so excited about the idea of being a victim that they will even fake hate crimes against themselves to get that status.

We’ve got women publicly crying that they were sexually assaulted and traumatized because a 93-year-old, wheelchair-bound President groped them. Maybe he was just trying to keep his arm around her for the photo op. He does have Parkinson’s Disease, you know?

Feminism (as in women having the same rights as men) has been so widely accepted in society that it made feminism irrelevant, so liberal feminists reinvented feminism as a combination of man-hating and victimization … a reason to keep bringing up patriarchy and rape culture and complain how men hold doors open for them and compliment their appearance. Disgusting!

Liberal feminism falsely makes women think they could have it all if those awful men weren’t getting in their way. It makes many guys unsure of what reaction they’ll get from women when they behave like men. Forget about the old “Women should be women and men should be men” philosophy; liberal feminism is about women being men and men being shamed for existing at all.

Progressive liberals (as opposed to classical liberals) work incessantly to split Americans into ever smaller groups that are at each other’s throats. If you want to get a sense of how bad it has gotten, we’re having ferocious public debates about transsexuals who, depending on how you define it, make up less than 0.25% to 0.75% of the population. Increasingly, the attitude is moving from the annoying, “You just can’t understand because of your race/color/gender” to “You HATE ME and that justifies ME HATING YOU” because of differences that are often unchangeable. This is incredibly dangerous to our future as a country because you can’t hold any group of people including a nation together long-term when people no longer believe they share the same goals and values as their neighbors.   Our nation’s motto is E pluribus unum (Out of many, one), but what happens when liberals insist that the many never become one?

Image result for image of victimologyThere was a time in America when people wanted to feel strong, capable and able to handle their own problems instead of being victims. There was a time in this country when the goals of oppressed minorities were to compete with white males on an even footing. Today, we’re told that, because of something intrinsic in our biology, we can never compete on even footing with white males who have received their position because of something intrinsic in their biology. They have white privilege, so unless we kill them all off (or at least take away their means of competing with us) we’ll always be victims. That sure sounds an awful lot like the old racism that said something intrinsic in our biology made one race superior to all others.

So what happens if we achieve this utopia? Do we honestly believe that a generation raised to be victims will be able to make use of power that sets aside their victimhood? Because once you’re in the cat-bird’s seat, you’re no longer a victim … right?

Happy Valentine’s Day   3 comments

On Monday, I made it pretty clear that I think Valentine’s Day is a farce designed by Hallmark and the department stores to get American consumers to consume more, preferably on credit because VISA and its ilk need our money too.

Brad gave me a Valentine’s Day gift last night.

Image result for image of red ford taurus covered in snowMy car has been down during the most recent cold snap, but on Monday, it started warming up and yesterday it made it into the 20s. Brad got my car running. No big deal, he said. It started up pretty well, what with it being warm and all. But why did it stop working during the cold snap?

He got down on his knees and figured it out. Apparently, the electric cord that attaches to the car had come loose so that the engine warming devices were not able to function. It’s subtle. You can’t see it unless you kneel in the snow, which he did. He then fixed it so that it wouldn’t happen again.

Image result for image of valentines dayThat’s my Valentine’s present. Cost – about $1 in parts that were kicking around our garage and about 45 minutes of his time. Value – well, I like my independence, made possible by my car and Brad doesn’t have to get up earlier than he would prefer to take me to work and then quit work earlier than he would prefer to come drive me home.  So there’s the whole marital peace angle. That’s love rather than consumerism. He gave me something I needed rather than something I might not even want.

The flowers will be dried up and thrown away in a week. A working car can be around for a good long while.

Posted February 14, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in culture, Uncategorized

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Rise of the Phoenix   1 comment

By Bionic Mosquito

The Great Heresies, by Hilaire Belloc

It has always seemed to me possible, and even probable, that there would be a resurrection of Islam and that our sons or our grandsons would see the renewal of that tremendous struggle between the Christian culture and what has been for more than a thousand years its greatest opponent.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2018/01/bionic-mosquito/rise-of-the-phoenix/

So writes Belloc, as published in 1938.  Before considering the heresy and the history both before and since he wrote these words, perhaps it is worth considering the situation in Muslim lands at the time he was writing.

1938

After the Great War, what was left of Mohammedan power even in hither Asia, let alone Constantinople, was only saved by the violent quarrels between the Allies.

https://socialescepcor.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/height_of_omayyad_caliphate_cropped.png

In 1938, almost all Muslims lived in lands controlled and occupied by a European power: virtually all of North Africa; all of the Middle East except Turkey (you might also except Saudi Arabia, but must recognize the British position in their oil); much of Central Asia; finally, the Asian sub-continent.

It was in this environment of the Muslim’s weakest point since its founding that Belloc foresaw the rise once again of a Muslim threat to Europe.

Time to buy old US gold coins

The History

Belloc offers a brief history of the rise and fall of Islam as a political power and empire:

Islam – the teaching of Mohammed – conquered immediately in arms. Mohammed’s Arabian converts charged into Syria and won two great battles…

They quickly overran Egypt and Northern Africa, Asia Minor, finally crossing the Straits of Gibraltar into Spain.  By 732 – less than 100 years after their first victories – Muslim armies reached as far as Northern France.  They were thrown back to the Pyrenees, but continued to hold most of Spain.The Great HeresiesHilaire BellocBest Price: $6.50Buy New $6.45(as of 07:20 EST – Details)

We know of the Crusades called by the Pope.  These were not called in a vacuum; they were called in reaction to the violent conquest of Christian lands in the Middle East.  Brief successes followed by ultimate failure.

If the first Crusaders had had enough men to take Damascus their effort would have been permanently successful.

But they had only enough men to hold the seacoast of Palestine (I expand on this history here and here, also thanks to Belloc).  Perhaps a similar reason as to why Syria is so important today.

Europe finally beat back Muslim advances into Europe on September 11, 1683:

The battle was fought by the Habsburg Monarchy, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Holy Roman Empire, under the command of King John III Sobieski against the Ottomans and their vassal and tributary states. The battle marked the first time the Commonwealth and the Holy Roman Empire had cooperated militarily against the Ottomans, and it is often seen as a turning point in history, after which “the Ottoman Turks ceased to be a menace to the Christian world”.

The exclamation point was placed on September 11, 1697:

The Battle of Zenta…on the east side of the Tisa river, was a major engagement in the Great Turkish War (1683–1699) and one of the most decisive defeats in Ottoman history.

This battle ended Ottoman control over large parts of Central Europe.  And from this point, we come to 1938 and the aforementioned European control over the vast majority of lands populated by Muslims, as Muslims gradually lost the race to Europeans in the material things necessary to wage war.

Interesting how September 11 keeps coming up in this relationship.

Islam as Heresy

Belloc offers that Islam is a heresy and not a wholly new religion:

It was not a pagan contrast with the Church; it was not an alien enemy.  It was a perversion of Christian doctrine.

If anyone sets down those points that orthodox Catholicism has in common with Mohammedism, and those points only, one might imagine if one went no further that there should have been no cause of quarrel.

Mohammed taught basically the Catholic doctrine, with a very important exception:

But the central point where this new heresy struck home with a mortal blow against the Catholic tradition was a full denial of the Incarnation.

Jesus was a prophet – the greatest of all prophets – but he was only a man, not God and not the Son of God.  About the most important point, I would say.

The Future (as Belloc saw it)

Belloc saw no reason that would prevent Islam from rising again as a power – a power that would threaten, once again, the Christian west.  He offered: talk to any Egyptian or Syrian student, and you will find him the equal of any European student on the subjects of his study.

Belloc offers the weakness of Europe: Europe replaced Christendom as its binding force:

In the place of the old Christian enthusiasm of Europe there came, for a time, the enthusiasm for nationality, the religion of patriotism.  But self-worship is not enough, and the forces which are making for the destruction of our culture, notably the Jewish Communist propaganda from Moscow, have a likelier future before them than our old-fashioned patriotism.

The Muslim world was under no such delusions of “self-worship” as more important than culture and tradition – in fact, the Muslim world fights actively against this.

Some Unpacking

This last cite from Belloc will take a bit of unpacking.  What have we seen since the time Belloc penned these words?  Moscow has disappeared as the purveyor of communist propaganda; it is no longer the source of destruction.  Yet, the war against the west (and there certainly is a war) is also not being led by Islam.  I return to Belloc’s words with which I began this essay:

It has always seemed to me possible, and even probable, that there would be a resurrection of Islam and that our sons or our grandsons would see the renewal of that tremendous struggle between the Christian culture and what has been for more than a thousand years its greatest opponent.

It seems it is even worse than Belloc imagined.  The sons and grandsons are not fighting for their Christian culture – the sons and grandsons are doing what they can, to include creating Muslim enemies, to destroy the last remnants of the Christian culture.  No invasion is necessary; they are welcomed and subsidized as guests.  King John III Sobieski could not be spinning faster in his grave, I believe.

Attribute it to Antonio Gramsci, Cultural Marxists and the Frankfurt School, or postmodernists – whichever you choose – the philosophy of destruction of western Christian culture is being driven by western leaders of western institutions: political, educational, social.

People in the west have allowed themselves to become impotent in this fight: beginning with the Renaissance and Reformation, continuing through the Enlightenment, the philosophy of the west has created the atomized individual.  Yet, as Belloc notes, “self-worship is not enough.”

Conclusion

I grow more and more struck by something my father said many years ago, when I made a stumbling effort to describe libertarianism to him.  He replied, “what, are you a communist?”  As has been true in dozens of examples before and since, his replies were much more profound than was my ability to understand.

“There goes bionic, throwing liberalism and libertarianism under the bus again.”

It seems to me that the west – and those persuaded by the non-aggression principle or something approaching it – has allowed a simple political idea of individual liberty to define all of man’s relationships and the whole of man’s relationship to his fellow man.  Yet this makes man impotent against those who would exploit the weakness in this philosophy.

I don’t mean impotent as in guns and defense (although it is quite true here); I mean impotent as in ideas, as in how to intellectually fight back.  Something more than a negative liberty must bind a community if that community is to remain in reasonable peace.  While “anything peaceful” is allowable under the non-aggression principle, it does not follow that “anything peaceful” is conducive to community – in the most freedom-supporting sense of the term.

Something or someone will organize society if it is to be a functional and thriving society. By creating and defending the atomized individual and ignoring culture and tradition (the “something”), with what intellectual weapon does the defender of individual liberty fight back against the strongman (the “someone”)?

He has none; he stands naked and alone (atomized) in front of his intellectual enemies, thus clearing the path for his mortal enemies.  Unobstructed and unopposed, they need no military to win this battle.

Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.

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