An Obsolescent Military: Bombing Everything, Gaining Nothing

What, precisely, is the US military for, and what, precisely, can it do? In practical terms, how powerful is it? On paper, it is formidable, huge, with carrier battle groups, advanced technology, remarkable submarines, satellites, and so on. What does this translate to?

Military power does not exist independently, but only in relation to specific circumstances. Comparing technical specifications of the T-14 to those of the M1A2, or Su-34 to F-15, or numbers of this to numbers of that, is an interesting intellectual exercise. It means little without reference to specific circumstances.

For example, America is vastly superior militarily to North Korea in every category of arms–but the North has nuclear bombs. It can’t deliver them to the US, but probably can to Seoul. Even without nuclear weapons, it has a large army and large numbers of artillery tubes within range of Seoul. It has an unpredictable government. As Gordon Liddy said, if your responses to provocation are wildly out of proportion to those  provocations, and unpredictable, nobody will provoke  you.

An American attack by air on the North, the only attack possible short of a preemptive nuclear strike, would offer a high probability of a peninsular war, devastation of Seoul, paralysis of an important trading partner–think Samsung–and an uncertain final outcome.  The United States hasn’t the means of getting troops to Korea rapidly in any numbers, and the domestic political results of  lots of GIs killed by a serious enemy would be politically grave. The probable cost far exceeds any possible benefit. In practical terms, Washington’s military superiority means nothing with regard to North Korea. Pyongyang knows it.

Or consider the Ukraine. On paper, US forces overall are superior to Russian. Locally, they are not. Russia borders on  the Ukraine and could overrun it quickly. The US cannot rapidly bring force to bear except a degree of air power. Air power hasn’t worked against defenseless peasants in many countries. Russia is not a defenseless peasant. Europe, usually docile and obedient to America, is unlikely to engage in a shooting war with Moscow for the benefit of Washington. Europeans are aware that Russia borders  on Eastern Europe, which borders on Western Europe. For Washington, fighting Russia in the Ukraine would require a huge effort with seaborne logistics and a national mobilization. Serious wars with nuclear powers do not represent the height of judgement.

Again, Washington’s military superiority means nothing.

Or consider Washington’s dispute with China in the Pacific. China cannot begin to match American naval power. It doesn’t have to. Beijing has focused on anti-ship missiles–read “carrier-killer”–such as the JD21 ballistic missile. How well it works I do not know, but the Chinese are not stupid. Is the risk of finding out worth it? Fast, stealthed, sea-skimming cruise missiles are very cheap compared to carriers, and America’s admirals know that lots of them arriving simultaneously would not have a happy ending.

Having a fleet disabled by China would be intolerable to Washington, but its possible responses would be unappealing. Would it tart a conventional war with China with the ghastly global economic consequences?  This would not generate allies. Cut China’s oil lanes to the Mid-East and push Beijing toward nuclear war? Destroy the Three Gorges Dam and drown god knows how many people? If China used the war as a pretext for annexing bordering counties? What would Russia do?

The consequences both probable and assured make the adventure unattractive, especially since likely pretexts for a war with China–a few rocks in the Pacific, for example–are too trivial to be worth the certain costs and uncertain outcome.  Again, military superiority doesn’t mean much.

We live  in a  military world fundamentally different from that of the last century. All-out wars between major powers, which is to say nuclear powers, are unlikely since they would last about an hour after they became all-out, and everyone knows it. In WWII Germany could convince itself, reasonably and almost correctly, that Russia would fall in a summer, or the Japanese that a Depression-ridden, unarmed America might decide not to fight. Now, no. Threaten something that a nuclear power regards as vital and you risk frying. So nobody does.

At any rate, nobody has. Fools abound in DC and New York.

What then, in today’s world, is the point of huge conventional forces?

The American military is an upgraded World War II military, designed to fight other militarizes like itself in a world like that which existed during World War II. The Soviet Union was that kind of military. Today there are no such militaries for America to fight. We are not in the same world. Washington seems not to have noticed.

A World War II military is intended to destroy point targets of high value—aircraft, ships, factories, tanks—and to capture crucial territory, such as the enemy’s country. When you have destroyed the Wehrmacht’s heavy weaponry and occupied Germany, you have won. This is the sort of war that militaries have always relished, having much sound and fury and clear goals.

It doesn’t work that way today. Since Korea, half-organized peasant militias have baffled the Pentagon by not having targets of high value or crucial territory. In Afghanistan for example goatherds with rifles could simply disperse, providing no point targets at all, and certainly not of high value. No territory was crucial to them. If the US mounted a huge operation to take Province A, the resistance could just fade into the population or move to Province B. The US would always be victorious but never win anything. Sooner or later America would go away. The world understands this.

Further, the underlying nature of conflict has changed. For most of history until the Soviet Union evaporated, empires expanded by military conquest. In today’s world, countries have not lost their imperial ambitions, but the approach is no longer military. China seems intent on bringing Eurasia under its hegemony, and advances toward doing it, but its approach is economic, not martial. The Chinese are not warm and fuzzy. They are, however, smart.  It is much cheaper and safer to expand commercially than militarily, and wiser to sidestep martial confrontation—in a word, to ignore America. More correctly it is sidestepping the Pentagon.

Military and diplomatic power spring from economic power, and China is proving successful economically. Using commercial clout, she is expanding her influence, but in ways not easily bombed. She is pushing the BRICS alliance, from which the US is excluded. She is enlarging the SCO, from which America is excluded. Perhaps most importantly, she has set up the AIIB, the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, which does not include the US but includes Washington’s European allies. These organizations will probably trade mostly not in dollars, a serious threat to Washington’s economic hegemony.

What is the relevance of the Pentagon? How do you bomb a trade agreement?

China enjoys solvency, and hegemonizes enthusiastically with it. Thus in Pakistan it has built the Karakoram Highway from Xian Jiang to Karachi, which will increase trade between the two. It is putting in the two power reactors near Karachi. It is investing in Afghan resources, increasing trade with Iran. . When the US finally leaves, China, without firing a shot, will be predominant in the region.

What is the relevance of aircraft carriers?

Beijing is talking seriously about building more rail lines, including high-speed rail, from itself to Europe, accompanied by fiber-optic lines and so on. This is not just talk. China has the money and a very large network of high-speed rail domestically. (The US has not a single mile.) Google “China-Europe Rail lines.”

What is the Pentagon going to do? Bomb the tracks?

As trade and ease of travel from Berlin to Beijing increase, and as China prospers and wants more European goods, European businessmen will want to cuddle up to that fabulously large market—which will loosen Washington’s grip on the throat of Europe. Say it three times slowly: Eur-asia. Eur-asia. Eur-asia. I promise it is what the Chinese are saying.

What is the Pentagon’s trillion-dollar military going to bomb? Europe? Railways across Kazakhstan? BMW plants?

All of which is to say that while the US military looks formidable, it isn’t particularly useful, and aids China by bankrupting the US. Repeatedly it has demonstrated that it cannot defeat campesinos armed with those most formidable weapons, the AK, the RPG, and the IED. The US does not have the land forces to fight a major or semi-major enemy. It could bomb Iran, with unpredictable consequences, but couldn’t possibly conquer it.

The wars in the Mid-East illustrate the principle nicely. Iraq didn’t work. Libya didn’t work. Iran didn’t back down. ISIS and related curiosities? The Pentagon is again bombing an enemy that can’t fight back—its specialty—but that it seems unable defeat.

Wrong military, wrong enemy, wrong war, wrong world.

Legion of the Tinfoil Hat: Fred Reveals His Martian Loyalties

Conspiracy theories hold charm for such as I, who regard them as we might a species of rare insectivorous marsupials who glow in the dark, and for the conspiracy theorists themselves, who seem to derive from their conditions a satisfying sense of esoteric penetration. Yet they become wearisome by constant repetition. Some have. In particular, Nine/Eleven. In the following wew will ignore the more abundantly silly theories, such as that there were no Jews in the Towers on the day of the attacks. Some thoughts::

The Pentagon

At the time of Nine/Eleven, I was living in Colonial Village in Virginia, a few hundred yards from the Virginia terminus of Key Bridge. The bike path ran from there parallel to the Potomac past the Pentagon and National Airport to the Washington Sailing Marina. On the wooden deck overlooking the water a concession sold snacks and Budweiser. A mixed group of oddballs foregathered daily to socialize.

One was Dave Winslow, whom we called Broadcast Dave to distinguish him from a couple of other Daves, Winslow having been involved in radio broadcasting in an earlier life. We often swapped journalism stories. His apartment was nearby. The day after the Pentagon blew up, he recounted being at home, hearing a plane coming in unusually low, looking out the window, and seeing the tail flash by, boom.

So much for conspiracy theories about the Air Force attacking the Pentagon with a missile. 

But Fred, this guy was part of the conspiracy. Don’t you see?… Or oh my God, I see it now. Fred, YOU are part….

tinfoilhatsdave

Dave Winslow, actually a robot sent by the Trilateral Commission, and planted at the Washington Sailing Marina years earlier to deceive me about seeing the airplane. It was really a missile. My photo.

Here missiles are tricky to discuss because of the lack  of specificity. What missile, fired from what? Most of the theorists  couldn’t tell a TLAM from a back hoe. Reflect that firing an air-to-ground missile, probably a Hellfire and launched perhaps from an F16, would  involve a lot of people: pilot, ground crew, weapons-storage bureaucracy, base commander, and so on. Those in on it would talk to others, even if ordered not to. A loadout of live munitions inside the US is very odd except for carefully scripted training missions. Those involved would talk to others.  They might think, “Hmmm, F16 take off with Hellfire, come back no Hellfire. Where go Hellfire? Pentagon blow up. Heap strange.”

But Fred, it was a super-secret outfit especially trained to attack the United States. Nobody has ever heard of them which proves they are  supersecret….

If the missile was a Tomahawk launched from a ship the whole crew would know of the launch. Many mouths, much talk. It would take a very odd captain to fire a cruise missile at the Pentagon. 

But Fred, the crew and the officers and men are in on  the conspiracy.
A Tomahawk Land-Attack Missile, presumably what the  conspiracy people mean, if they have any idea what they mean, when they say “cruise missile.”Now, Flight AA77, which didn’t fly into the Pentagon. There are three possibilities:

First, the fight never existed. The entire travel industry would know this, along with everyone else having access to Sabre, the ticketing system. American Airlines would scream like  a scalded dog at this total fabrication, There would be no insurance claim on record for loss of the plane, and so on.

But Fred, the entire travel industry, along with everyone else having access to Sabre, and  American Airlines, are part of the conspiracy.

Second, Flight AA77 existed, and landed wherever it was supposed to. In this case the entire travel industry, American Airlines, the undead passengers, and so on, would have pointed this out. The press would have jumped on it.

But Fred, the entire press corps and the passengers were part of the conspiracy. Everyone knows this….

Actually, they have a point. The entire press corps must be complicit, since five phone calls would have sufficed whether the flight had existed or disappeared.

Third: AA77 ran into the Pentagon.

New York

The Twin Towers were brought down not by airplanes, but by a controlled demolition.

Possibility one: There were no airplanes. The airplanes we saw on television were done in Final Cut or other software. I  have seen videos claiming this. Let’s think about it.

Shortly after the nonexistent planes did not ram the Towers, every television screen in Manhattan showed smoking impacts. Now, what were the most visible objects in the city? Probably the Twin Towers. What would be the reaction of everyone in New York watching the screen? Answer: Run out to look for themselves. All millions of them would notice that the screens didn’t match the buildings. They didn’t point this out, which can only mean that….

Fred, you fool, don’t you see that the entire population of Manhattan is part of the conspiracy?

Possibility two: There were airplanes and a controlled detonation. Why  the redundancy is not clear. The explosives were secretly placed, meaning that the entire security and maintenance staff were complicit, until some airplanes could be found to run into the buildings. Ockham, call your office….

Since we have already established that the military blew up the Pentagon, it being characteristic of militaries to blow themselves up, we must assume that the military also was part of the conspiracy of the Twin Towers. That is, it seems unlikely that purely by chance the Pentagon decided to blow itself up and somebody else did the Towers the same day.

Possibility three: The buildings were brought down by airplanes.

Now, let us consider the controlled demolition itself. What is involved in a real demolition?

From Controlled Demolition Inc. a firm that does such demolition:

“On March 26, 2000, the firm used 4,450 pounds of dynamite placed in 5,905 carefully sited holes and 21.6 miles (34.8 km) of detonation cord inserted over a period of four months to take down the 25,000-ton concrete roof of the Kingdome in Seattle, Washington in 16.8 seconds….”

The Trade Centers singly or in combination, plus Building Seven,  represented a far larger project. A pawn of the government like myself might wonder how tons and tons of explosives could be placed in a fully occupied building without anyone’s noticing. Those doing the placing would have to have been fully qualified and highly experienced in controlled demolition. (How many of these are there, and how hard to find?)

Maybe, though, the occupants of the Towers just weren’t paying attention. New Yorkers are famous for a tight focus on business. A businessman thinking about an international contract might easily not notice piles of rubble in the corridors, walls torn out, countless men attaching bundles of girders, the screech of saws cutting partway through steel to weaken it, and endless elevator loads of explosives in packages labeled “Sex books” to prevent suspicion.

I imagine Marylou Nicodemi, a legal secretary, asking a man tearing down the wall of her office: “What are you guys doing?”

“We’re the exterminators, ma’am. We’ve had complaints of rats.”

”Oh. Are you going to do this to the entire building?”

“Yes ma’am. Rats re devious creatures. If you don’t fight them on the lower floors, you have to fighter them on the upper floors. We have no choice.”

Realistically, the occupants of the towers would have to have noticed–from which we must conclude that….

Fred, they were part of the conspiracy.

To kill themselves?

Fred, you don’t understand the lengths ….

On some of the conspiracy sites I have read that actually the security guards planted the explosives in a manner requiring little or no wiring, no damage to the building, and few explosives. Not only were they expert at demolitions, admittedly the norm among janitors, but much better at it than Controlled Demolition Inc.

Fred, they are Illuminati, Residual Cathars, Thirty-Fifth Degree Masons, and they train in a secret base in Atlantis, with Lex Luther…

Running through all of this is that lots of people would be involved, yet none have come forward and blown the scam. You don’t obtain many tons of explosives without leaving a paper trail. The multitudinous security people in the Towers would all have to have been carefully placed there in advance, as even one informant would have blown the whole thing. The government would  have to be complicit, given that the FBI could easily have tracked down the security people.

But Fred, they are all….

Here is the First Law of conspiracy theories, that to protect the theory you have to expand it. The press is a good example. Any reporter would slit the throats of his entire newsroom to break that story. Instant Pulitzer, national fame, huge book contracts, a movie, choice of jobs anywhere. The paper that did it would have the story of the century. It would have been easy. Think Seymour Hersh.

Yet nobody did it. The only explanation is, again, that the entire press corps….

Expand the conspiracy.

Note: I have  just discovered that the photo of a Tomahawk in the original posting of this column was in fact a Harpoon  missile. I want to assure the reader that this error was due to incompetent cooperation between me, with poor vision, and my  wife in posting pictures, and not due to my desire as part of the conspiracy to hide the true missile.

Darwin Unhinged: The Bugs in Evolution

This is atrociously long, criminally even, by internet standards but I post it anyway because I get occasional requests.  Few will read it, which is understandable.  Apologies. The Devil made me do it. Regular readers, if there is one, will have seen most of it before since in large part it is a gluing together of several columns.

 

Archaeopteryx

“A scientist is part of what the Polish philosopher of science Ludwik Fleck called a “thought collective”: a group of people exchanging ideas in a mutually comprehensible idiom. The group, suggested Fleck, inevitably develops a mind of its own, as the individuals in it converge on a way of communicating, thinking and feeling.

This makes scientific inquiry prone to the eternal rules of human social life: deference to the charismatic, herding towards majority opinion, punishment for deviance, and intense discomfort with admitting to error. Of course, such tendencies are precisely what the scientific method was invented to correct for, and over the long run, it does a good job of it. In the long run, however, we’re all dead, quite possibly sooner than we would be if we hadn’t been following a diet based on poor advice.”

How the following Came About

I was in high school when I began to think about evolution. I was then just discovering the sciences systematically, and took them as what they offered themselves to be, a realm of reason and dispassionate regard for truth. There was a hard-edged clarity to them that I liked. You got real answers. Since evolution depended on such sciences as chemistry, I regarded it as also being a science.

The question of the origin of life interested me. The evolutionary explanations that I encountered in textbooks of biology seemed weak, however. They ran to, “In primeval seas, evaporation concentrated dissolved compounds in a pore in a rock,  a membrane formed, and life began its immense journey.” Still, I saw no reason to doubt this. If it hadn’t been true, scientists would not have said that it was.

Remember, I was fifteen.

In those days I read Scientific American and New Scientist, the latter then still being thoughtfully written in good English. I noticed that not infrequently they offered differing speculations as to the origin of life. The belief in the instrumentality of chemical accident was constant, but the nature of the primeval soup changed to fit varying attempts at explanation.

For a while, life was thought to have come about on clay in shallow water in seas of a particular composition, later in tidal pools with another chemical solution, then in the open ocean in another solution. This continues. Recently, geothermal vents have been offered as the home of the first life. Today (Feb 24, 2005) on the BBC website, I learn that life evolved below the oceanic floor. (“There is evidence that life evolved in the deep sediments,” co-author John Parkes, of Cardiff University, UK, told the BBC News website.”)

The frequent shifting of ground bothered me. If we knew how life began, why did we have so many prospective mechanisms, none of which worked? Evolution began to look like a theory in search of a soup. Fifty-five years later in 2015, it still does.

What Distinguishes Evolution from Other Sciences

Early on, I noticed three things about evolution that differentiated it from other sciences (or, I could almost say, from science). First, plausibility was accepted as being equivalent to evidence. And of course the less you know, the greater the number of things that are plausible, because there are fewer facts to get in the way. Again and again evolutionists assumed that suggesting how something might have happened was equivalent to establishing how it had happened. Asking them for evidence usually aroused annoyance and sometimes, if persisted in, hostility.

As an example, consider the view that life arose by chemical misadventure. By this they mean, I think, that they cannot imagine how else it might have come about. (Neither can I. Does one accept a poor explanation because unable to think of a good one?) This accidental-life theory, being somewhat plausible, is therefore accepted without the usual standards of science, such as reproducibility or rigorous demonstration of mathematical feasibility. Putting it otherwise, evolutionists are too attached to their ideas to be able to question them.

Or to notice that others do question, and with reason. They defend furiously the evolution of life in earth’s seas as the most certain of certainties. Yet in the November, 2005 Scientific American, an article argues that life may have begun elsewhere, perhaps on Mars, and arrived here on meteorites. May have, perhaps, might. Somewhere, somewhere else, anywhere. Onward into the fog.

Consequently, discussion often relies on vague and murky assertion, or ignores obvious questions. Starlings are said to have evolved to be the color of dirt so that hawks can’t see them to eat them. This is plausible and, I suspect, true. But guacamayos and cockatoos are gaudy enough to be seen from low-earth orbit. Is there a contradiction here? No, say evolutionists. Guacamayos are gaudy so they can find each other to mate. Always there is the pat explanation. But starlings seem to mate with great success, though invisible. If you have heard a guacamayo shriek, you can hardly doubt that another one could easily find it. Enthusiasts of evolution then told me that guacamayos were at the top of their food chain, and didn’t have predators. Or else that the predators were colorblind.

On and on it goes. On any coral reef, a scuba diver can see, or rather not see, phenomenally good camouflage in creatures such as octopuses, said to prevent their being eaten. It does. But many fish are garishly colored. What is the advantage?

Second, evolution seemed more a metaphysics or ideology than a science. The sciences, as I knew them, gave clear answers. Evolution involved intense faith in fuzzy principles. You demonstrated chemistry, but believed evolution. If you have ever debated a Marxist, or a serious liberal or conservative, or a feminist or Christian, you will have noticed that, although they can be exceedingly bright and well informed, they display a maddening evasiveness. You never get a straight answer if it is one they do not want to give. Crucial premises are not firmly established. Fundamental assertions do not tie to observable reality. Invariably the Marxist (or evolutionist) assumes that a detailed knowledge of economic conditions in the reign of Nicholas II substitutes for being able to answer simple questions, such as why Marxism has never worked. This is the Fallacy of Irrelevant Knowledge. And of course almost anything can be made believable by considering only favorable evidence and interpreting hard.

Third, evolutionists are obsessed by Christianity and Creationism, with which they imagine themselves to be in mortal combat. This is peculiar to them. Note that other sciences, such as astronomy and geology, even archaeology, are equally threatened by the notion that the world was created in 4004 BC. Astronomers pay not the slightest attention to Creationist ideas. Nobody does—except evolutionists. We are dealing with competing religions—overarching explanations of origin and destiny. Thus the fury of their response to skepticism.

I found it pointless to tell them that I wasn’t a Creationist. They refused to believe it. If they had, they would have had to answer questions that they would rather avoid. Like any zealots, they cannot recognize their own zealotry. Thus their constant classification of skeptics as enemies (a word they often use)—of truth, of science, of Darwin, of progress.

This tactical demonization is not unique to evolution. “Creationist” is to evolution what “racist” is to politics: A way of preventing discussion of what you do not want to discuss. Evolution is the political correctness of science.

The Lair of the Beast

I have been on several lists on the internet that deal with matters such as evolution, have written on the subject, and have discussed evolution with various of its adherents. These men (almost all of them are) have frequently been very bright indeed, often Ivy League professors, some of them with names you would recognize. They are not amateurs of evolution, or high-school principals in Kansas eager to prove their modernity. I asked them  questions, such as whether we really know what the primeval seas consisted of, etc. I knew the answers; I wanted to see how serious proponents of evolutionary biology would respond to awkward questions.

It was like giving a bobcat a prostate exam. I got everything but answers. They told me I was a crank, implied over and over (again) that I was a Creationist, said that I was an enemy of science (someone who asks for evidence is an enemy of science). They said that I was trying to pull down modern biology (if you ask questions about an aspect of biology, you want to pull down biology). They told me I didn’t know anything (that’s why I was asking questions), and that I was a mere journalist (the validity of a question depends on its source rather than its content).

But they didn’t answer the questions. They ducked and dodged and evaded. After thirty years in journalism, I know ducking and dodging when I see it. It was like cross-examining hostile witnesses.

This is the behavior not of scientists, but of advocates, of True Believers. I used to think that science was about asking questions, not about defending things you didn’t really know. Religion, I thought, was the other way around. I guess I was wrong.

A Preamble

The intent of this essay is not to debate with the ardent of evolutionism. To do so would be pointless. The problem is one of underlying set of mind, of why people believe and disbelieve things. The greatest intellectual divide is not between those who believe one thing and those who believe another, but between those who have an emotional need to believe something fervently and those who can say, “I don’t know.” The former group comprises those tedious Darwinists and Creationists who hurl imprecations at each other like fans of rival football teams. Each blockheadedly refuses to concede the slightest possibility that its doctrine might be other than infallible. To my mind they constitute the best evidence that we did not descend from monkeys, but have not yet ascended to them. Stupidity beyond a certain point is intractable.

I write here for those who can look at the world with curiosity and calm, divining what can be divined and conceding what cannot, without regarding themselves as members of warring tribes. To judge by the writing on evolution in the public prints, there may be as many as three of these.

On Arrogance

“The universe is not only queerer than we suppose, it is queerer than we can suppose.” J. B. S. Haldane

“Queer”: Exactly the right word, suggesting more the world of Alice in Wonderland than the crisp, clean-edged, perfectly ordered and causal world of physics. This paradigm holds that existence is like a vast crossword puzzle. Some parts we have filled in, others we have not, but by its nature the  puzzle is solvable, and it is only a matter of time before we know everything. This is awfully optimistic.

Humans today are a puffed-up and overconfident species. We believe that we  know everything, or shortly will. We have a sense of near-omniscience equaled only by that of teenagers. For do we not have have smart phones and Mars landers and PET scans, and do we not all speak wisely of DNA? We are, if not gods, at least godlings on the way up. If you don’t believe this, just ask us.

It was not always so. A thousand years ago, mankind cast a small shadow on the earth and lived in a dark and mysterious world. Little was known, about anything. Gods of countless sorts walked the earth. Spirits inhabited sacred groves. Lightning, the moon, the stars were…what? We had no idea. This brought humility.

We now believe that nothing is or can be beyond our powers. A contemplative skeptic might advert to a few remaining details: We don’t know where we came from, why we are here, where “here” is, where we are going if anywhere, or what we ought to do. These are minor questions. We only think about them when we wake up at three a.m. and remember that we are not permanent. We are kidding ourselves.

When people become accustomed to things that make no sense, they begin to seem to. Though we no longer notice it as we peck at tablet computers and listen to droning lowbrow shows about the conquest of nature, we still live in a weird and inexplicable universe, an apparently unending emptiness speckled with sparks of hydrogen fire. It is wicked mysterious. More things in heaven and earth, indeed.

We are not as wise as we think. We are just smarter than anything else we know about. I reiterate Fred’s Principle: The smartest of a large number of hamsters is still a hamster.

Where Evolution Fits In

The Theory of Evolution is not just about biological evolution. It is part of a grand unified theory that seeks to explain everything (except things that it can’t explain, which it ignores). It runs briefly as follows: First came the Big Bang. Subatomic particles flew in all directions, coalesced into atoms and into molecules and stars. Planets formed, then oceans, and then life came about by chemical inadvertence. Evolution produced trilobites, dinosaurs, mammals, and us. In the popular version, though not in the scientific, evolution produces ongoing betterment.

It is not particularly plausible. As someone said, evolution writ large is the belief that a large cloud of hydrogen will eventually turn into Manhattan. But, like a religion, it provides an overarching explanation of origins–the Big Bang–and destiny–we are getting better and better–and gives us a sense of understanding the world.

In this it serves the purposes of a religion and is treated as such by its adherents. They react to questioning with anger and they see their hated opponents as Creationists–that is, adherents of another religion. Note that while in the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925, Christian fundamentalists tried to outlaw Darwin, today evolutionists appeal to the courts to outlaw mention of Creation in the schools. This is not rational. Can anyone believe that describing Creation in high schools will deter students from studying biochemistry, and turn them into intellectual loin-cloth wearers burning textbooks?

Interestingly, atheism has to be part of the evolutionist’s mental equipment since if any sort of god exists, or if there is life after death, or anything beyond the laws of physics, then these things might influence existence in a way outside of physics–and this cannot be allowed.

Before going further, let us look at some of the questions  ignored by evolutionism.

In Evolution Writ Large nothing exists but physics. The Big Bang was physics, chemistry is the physics of the interactions of atoms, biochemistry a subset of chemistry and therefore also physics. Everything that happens in a cell is physics  (to include biochemistry). Everything that happens in a living body, from movement to thought, is physics. Mutations are physical events. The behavior of DNA follows the laws of physics.

Note that biological evolution is always regarded as an indivisible entity, yet in fact it consists of several distinct components that are logically separable. First, that life came about accidentally in the ancient seas (highly shaky and certainly not demonstrated). Second, that evolution occurred (as the fossil record would seem to show beyond reasonable doubt). Third, that natural selection drove evolution (demonstrable in some cases, plausible in a great many, and highly unlikely in yet others). Fourth, that random mutations drive natural selection (very shaky, but crucial to evolutionism). Fifth, that nothing else drives it.

The unwillingness to recognize that these are separable leads to a tendency to believe that when one of them can be demonstrated–natural selection, say–it is regarded as confirmation of the whole edifice. It isn’t.

An Embarrassing Necessity Before Getting to the Meat of Things

Inevitably one who writes of evolution without being a PhD at CalTech is assaulted on grounds that he must be ignorant of practically everything. I claim to be an expert on nothing. However, I subscribe to the principle that most problems can be solved by the application of modest intelligence and obsessive-compulsive disorder. A fact forgotten today is that one can learn things by reading books. By doing so I have learned enough to talk about at least a few things, such as:

Basophils, eosinophils, neutrophils. Descemet’s membrane, ciliary body, suspensory ligaments, retinal pigmented epithelium (the eye being of evolutionary interest). Peptide pituitary hormones, vasopressin and oxytocin. Osteoclast, osteoblast. Nephrons, glomerulus, Loop of Henle. Axon, dendrite, sodium in-potassium-out depolarization, neurotransmitters, receptor sites. Rough and smooth endoplasmic reticula, Golgi apparatus, lipid bilayers, hydrophobic and hydrophilic tails, lysosomes, ribosomes, epitopes, m-RNA, t-RNA, transcription, translation. Restriction enzymes, DNA polymerase. The Breeder’s Equation, selection differential, pleiotrophy, epistasis, narrow heritability.Purines adenine and guanine and pyrimidines cytocine and thymine (well, uracil in RNA). Degeneracy of the codon alphabet. Nucleotides, nucleosides, adenosine triphosphate, indels, mitochondrial cristae, single-nucleotide polymorphisms, polymerase chain reaction, restriction-fragment length polymorphism, electrophoresis. Luciferin, (and Luciferout?) luciferase, ATP. X chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA. Peptide bonds COOH to NH 2, water molecule extruded. Socially important compounds like 2, 4, 6- trinitrotoluene, toluene being benzene with a CH 3 group, bond resonance in benzene, pH, the negative log of the hydronium ion content. Levo- and dextro- isomers. Alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, al gore. Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, Permian. Purported transitional forms: The Ichthyostegids of, if memory serves, upper Permian sediments of eastern Greenland; Archaeopteryx, Bavaria 1861; coelacanth, Marjorie Latimer, sort of 1937 I think; and my favorite, Piltdown Man. The amniote egg. Saurischian and Ornothiscian dinosaurs. Sauropods, pseudopods, copepods. Etc.

Eyeing the Argument from Time

A matter that needs to be gotten out of the way before continuing is the insistence that, given billions of years–more accurately, about  four billion–life had to from just because of all that time. This is by no means clear. In questions of the probability of complex events, time can mean surprisingly little. Consider the assertion famously made by James Jeans, often cited in connection with evolution, that a monkey typing randomly at a keyboard would eventually write all the books in the British Museum. This sounds plausible and, in a purely mathematical sense, is true. What are the odds?

Consider a fair-sized book of 200,000 words that, by newspaper average, would contain about a million letters. To make it easy on the monkey, we will ignore upper case and punctuation and let him work with an alphabet of 26 letters. What are his prospects of getting the book in a given string of a million letters?

The chance of getting the first letter correctly is 1/26 times the chance of getting the second letter, 1/26, and so on, making the chance of getting the entire book 1/261,000,000. Since 26 equals 10log 26, (log 26 being about 1.41) the chance of getting the entire book is 1 in 10 log 26 x 1000,000 or about 101,400,000. Innocent  looking numbers like this are remarkably intractable. For example, a billion billion monkeys (more monkeys than I want) typing a billion billion characters a second for a billion billion times the estimated age of the universe (1018 seconds ) would  have essentially zero chance of getting the book.

To give our monkey a fighting chance, let’s ask whether he would get even the title of a book, for example On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, which Microsoft Word tells me contains 119 characters. The monkey’s chance of getting the title in a give string of 119 is one in 10119 x x 1.41 or 10168 Thus our billion billion monkey at a billion billion characters a second for the life of the universe is essentially zero.

Is the chance of accidentally forming a living Crittter a similar problem? We don’t know, especially since evolutionists cannot tell us what the First Critter was. But it is their responsibility to tell us, first, what of what complexity formed and, second, why the odds are not astronomically against it. The point to take away is that the invocation of long  periods of time can mean  little when speaking of the probability of complex yet unspecified events.

 

A Few Early Questions 

(1) Life was said to have begun by chemical inadvertence in the early seas. Did we, I wondered, really know of what those early seas consisted? Know, not suspect, hope, theorize, divine, speculate, or really, really wish. Bear in mind that chemical reactions depend crucially on molarity, pH, temperature, half-life of intermediates, and so on.

The answer is, “no.” We have no dried residue, no remaining pools, and the science of planetogenesis isn’t nearly good enough to provide a quantitative analysis.

2) Do we know what conditions would be necessary for a cell to come about? No, we  don’t.

(3) Has the creation of a living cell been replicated in the laboratory? No, it  has not. Here the evolutionist will say, “But, Fred, how can you repeat in the laboratory something that took millions and millions of years and billions and billions of gallons of sea water?” You can’t, but am I to believe it happened on the grounds that it can’t be proved?

(4) Could it be shown to be mathematically probable that a cell would form, given any soup whatever? No, it couldn’t, and can’t. (At least not without cooking the assumptions.)

(5) Have biochemists designed a replicating chemical entity that plausibly might have evolved into organisms such as we now have? No.

6) This next I ask, knowing that no answer is possible, to make a point: The more complex we postulate the First Critter to have been, the less likely that it would form accidentally. The less complex, the harder to explain why such a Critter has not been designed in the laboratory. With every passing year, the difficulty grows.

In sum: If we don’t know what conditions existed, or what conditions would be necessary, and can’t reproduce the event in the laboratory, and can’t show it to be statistically probable, and can’t construct something that might have evolved—why are we so very sure that it happened? Would you hang a man on such evidence?

A Surfeit of Soups

To see the desperation of the search for plausible beginnings of life, look at this list, from the Wikipedia, of the wildly differing hypotheses, guesses, theories, and lunges, none of which have worked out. Does it give you a sense that evolutionists know what they are talking about?

One hypothesis, as mentioned before, is that life swooped in from outer space on carbonaceous chondrites, or began on Mars (where it conspicuously has not been discovered by a platoon of itinerant Mars landers) and drifted to the earth. That is, life began where apparently there has never been life. The flexibility of evolutionary thinking is greatly to be admired.

Here a point worth making briefly: The press often excitedly reports that “organic compounds” have been found on meteorites, or comets, or interstellar space, or in bottles of chemicals through which an electric spark has been passed. The unfortunate name “organic” suggests origins in living creatures, or the likelihood of turning shortly into living creatures. Actually, “organic chemistry” is, roughly, the chemistry of carbon chains. No living origins nor living intentions are implied. DDT is an organic compound, as is 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene, TNT.

While evolutionists couldn’t demonstrate that life had begun by chemical accident, I can’t show that it did not. An inability to prove that something is statistically possible is not the same as proving that it is not statistically possible. Not being able to reproduce an event in the laboratory does not establish that it didn’t happen in nature. Etc. I didn’t know how life came about. I still don’t. Neither do evolutionists.

Impossibility Theory and Common Sense, If Any

If you look at evolution from other than the perspective of an ideological warrior who believes that he is saving the world from the claws of snake-handling primitive Christians in North Carolina, difficulties arise. Chief among these is the sheer complexity of things. Living organisms are just too complicated to have come about by accident. This, it seems to me, is apparent to, though not provable by, anyone with an open mind.

Everywhere in the living world one sees intricacy wrapped in intricacy wrapped in intricacy. At some point the sane have to say, “This didn’t just happen. Something is going on that I don’t understand.” But an evolutionist cannot say that there is anything he can’t understand, only that there are things he doesn’t yet understand.

Read a textbook of embryology. You start with a barely-visible zygote which, (we are told) guided by nothing but the laws of chemistry, unerringly reacts with ambient chemicals to build, over nine months, an incomprehensibly complex thing we call “a baby.” Cells migrate here, migrate there, modify themselves or are modified to form multitudinous organs, each of them phenomenally complex, all of this happening chemically and flawlessly on autopilot. We are accustomed to this, and so think it makes sense. The usual always seems reasonable. I don’t think it is. It simply isn’t possible, being a wild frontal assault on Murphy’s Law.

Therefore babies do not exist. Quod erat demonstrandum. Unless Something Else is involved. I do not know what.

Complexity upon complexity. In virtually invisible cells you find endoplasmic reticula, Golgi apparatus, ribosomes, nuclear and messenger and transfer RNA, lysosomes, countless enzymes, complex mechanisms for transcribing and translating DNA, itself a complex and still-mysterious repository of information. Somehow this is all packed into almost nowhere. That this just sort of, well, you know, happened is too much to believe. It began being believed when almost nothing was known about the complexity of cellular biology, after which, being by then a sacred text, it could not be questioned. And cannot.

The foregoing is only the beginning of complexity. The many organs formed effortlessly in utero are as bafflingly elaborate as cells themselves. Consider (a simplified description of) the parts of the eye: The globe of three layers, sclera, choroid, and retina. Cornea of six layers, epithelium, Bowman’s membrane, substantia propria, Dua’s layer, Descemet’s membrane, endothelium. Retina of ten layers. Lens consisting of anterior and posterior capsule and contained proteinacious goop. The lens is held by delicate suspensory ligaments inside the ciliary body, a muscular doughnut that changes the shape of lens so as to focus. An iris of radial and circumferential fibers enervated competitively by the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems in opposition. A pump to circulate the aqueous humor. On and on and on. And equally on and on for all the other organs, which last for seventy years, repairing themselves when damaged.

Imposs--ligaments

Suspensory ligaments connecting the lens of the eye to the ciliary body. They form flawlessly on their own.

I can’t prove that this didn’t come about accidentally. Neither can I believe it.

The Details (Wherein Lurketh the Devil)

At every level, complexity mounts. The following simplified description of the biochemical functioning of the retina is from Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution by Michael Behe. The book, which I recommend, is accessible to the intelligent laymen, for whom it is written. The author includes the following technoglop to give a flavor of what is involved in vision. The sensible reader will skip through most of it.

When light first strikes the retina a photon interacts with a molecule called 11-cis-retinal, which rearranges within picoseconds to trans-retinal. (A picosecond is about the time it takes light to travel the breadth of a single human hair.) The change in the shape of the retinal molecule forces a change in the shape of the protein, rhodopsin, to which the retinal is tightly bound. The protein’s metamorphosis alters its behavior. Now called metarhodopsin II, the protein sticks to another protein, called transducin. Before bumping into metarhodopsin II, transducin had tightly bound a small molecule called GDP. But when transducin interacts with metarhodopsin II, the GDP falls off, and a molecule called GTP binds to transducin. (GTP is closely related to, but critically different from, GDP.)

GTP-transducin-metarhodopsin II now binds to a protein called phosphodiesterase, located in the inner membrane of the cell. When attached to metarhodopsin II and its entourage, the phosphodiesterase acquires the chemical ability to “cut” a molecule called cGMP (a chemical relative of both GDP and GTP). Initially there are a lot of cGMP molecules in the cell, but the phosphodiesterase lowers its concentration, just as a pulled plug lowers the water level in a bathtub. Another membrane protein that binds cGMP is called an ion channel. It acts as a gateway that regulates the number of sodium ions in the cell. Normally the ion channel allows sodium ions to flow into the cell, while a separate protein actively pumps them out again. The dual action of the ion channel and pump keeps the level of sodium ions in the cell within a narrow range. When the amount of cGMP is reduced because of cleavage by the phosphodiesterase, the ion channel closes, causing the cellular concentration of positively charged sodium ions to be reduced. This causes an imbalance of charge across the cell membrane that, finally, causes a current to be transmitted down the optic nerve to the brain. The result, when interpreted by the brain, is vision. If the reactions mentioned above were the only ones that operated in the cell, the supply of 11-cis-retinal, cGMP, and sodium ions would quickly be depleted. Something has to turn off the proteins that were turned on and restore the cell to its original state. Several mechanisms do this. First, in the dark the ion channel (in addition to sodium ions) also lets calcium ions into the cell. The calcium is pumped back out by a different protein so that a constant calcium concentration is maintained. When cGMP levels fall, shutting down the ion channel, calcium ion concentration decreases, too. The posphodiesterase enzyme, which destroys cGMP, slows down at lower calcium concentration. Second, a protein called guanylate cyclase begins to resynthesize cGMP when calcium levels start to fall. Third, while all of this is going on, metarhodopsin II is chemically modified by an enzyme called rhodopsin kinase. The modified rhodopsin then binds to a protein known as arrestin, which prevents the rhodopsin from activating more transducin. So the cell contains mechanisms to limit the amplified signal started by a single photon. Trans-retinal eventually falls off of rhodopsin and must be reconverted to 11-cis-retinal and again bound by rhodopsin to get back to the starting point for another visual cycle. To accomplish this, trans-retinal is first chemically modified by an enzyme to trans-retinol— a form containing two more hydrogen atoms. A second enzyme then converts the molecule to 11-cis-retinol. Finally, a third enzyme removes the previously added hydrogen atoms to form 11-cis-retinal, a cycle is complete.

I can perhaps imagine an Airbus 380 assembling itself. I cannot begin to imagine the foregoing evolving on its own. Or working flawlessly for more than a millisecond.

Worse Than Intelligent Design: Layers of Impossibility

If in an unexplored region of the Amazon Basin you find a grass hut next to a dugout canoe, you may not know who made them, but you suppose that someone must have. This is the theory of Intelligent Design. When you find in nature systems of unfathomable complexity that nonetheless work flawlessly, it is not unreasonable to suspect that they were designed, and perhaps sustained, by someone, or something. I have no idea who or what or why.

Equally mysterious—equally impossible, I would say—is how biological systems can function at all, no matter how they came into being. The workings of every detail of, say, a human body can indeed be explained mechanistically, in terms of chemistry and physics, and this is the result that comes out of experimentation. In the laboratory you can show, or seem to show, that enzyme A binds to enzyme B, activating enzyme C and allowing enzyme D to do whatever enzyme D does. (You can show that a massive federal program makes sense in detail. But does it work in practice?)

But to believe that 180 pounds of infinitely complex, interacting chemical reactions (me, for example) can go on for seventy years without utter collapse requires powers of belief beyond the wildest imaginings of religious faith. The whole is less possible than the sum of its parts. Something is going on that we do not understand.

Domain Bloat

Consider a plane geometer. He deals with a limited domain of planes, lines, points, and angles, and nothing else. These produce elegant mathematics and useful results. He cannot deal with volumes, momentum, or tailgate parties, because these cannot be derived from the elements of his domain. They are beyond the scope of his subject.

The domain of the sciences is physics, its elements being space, time, matter, and energy, however hyphenated. Everything in science ultimately reduces to physics.  Evolution is the physics of interactions of biochemical systems with their physical environment over time, and thus also is a subset of physics. Nothing can happen in evolution that does not derive from and follow the laws of physics.

Just as a baseball game cannot be derived from or be explained by plane geometry, which does not contain matter, energy, time, or space of three dimensions, neither can such things as thought, consciousness, morality, volition, or exaltation be explained by physics. The desire to strangle your mother-in-law does not fall out of the equations of motion. When evolutionists try to explain behavior such as altruism in terms of physics (which is what they are doing, though most of them don’t know it) they are like a plane geometer trying to explain a cheeseburger in terms of lines and angles in a plane. It can’t be done. The trouble with the sciences (though not with all scientists) is exactly this, that they try to explain within the domain of physics things that are outside of its purview.

Studying Us: Explaining the Explainers

The sciences get into particular difficulties when they try to explain the explainer, which is to say us. Consider the brain which, we are told, is just an electrochemical machine. Everything that happens in the brain, we are told, follows the laws of chemistry and physics.

And this certainly seems to be the case. For example, neurotransmitters diffuse across the synaptic gap: pure chemistry and physics. They bind to receptors on the other side: pure chemistry and physics. Enzymes like acetylcholinesterase clear the residue from the gap: pure chemistry and physics. The resulting nervous impulse sails down the distal fiber as it depolarizes, sodium in, potassium out: pure chemistry and physics. It is as mechanical as a 1901 typewriter.

Which means that the brain cannot, and thus we cannot, make choices. Physical systems cannot choose what to do. A bowling ball dropped from the top of the Washington Monument cannot decide to fall up, or sideways, instead of down, nor choose how fast to fall, nor how far. Similarly, the end point of a physical system is determined by starting conditions. A molecule of a neurotransmitter binds ineluctably to a receptor because of stereochemistry and charge. It cannot not bind.

It follows then that we cannot choose one action over another. Our thoughts are predetermined by the physicochemical states of our brains. We think what we think because it is physically impossible to think anything else. Thus we cannot think at all. QED.

Unless Something Else is going on. I don’t know what.

Paradox is a consequence of domain bloat. Descartes famously said, “Cogito ergo sum.” Ambrose Bierce less famously but more insightfully said, “Cogito cogito, ergo cogito sum. Cogito.”

Survival of the Survivors

Most people think that, “fitness” meaning “suitability for a purpose,” survival of the fittest means that the smarter, stronger, and faster survive and produce more offspring than the stupid, weak, and slow. It does not. The study of such things is called population genetics and, as a professor of it says, “In population genetics, fitness means the rate of successful reproduction, nothing else.” That is, fitness does not promote survival, but is survival. The circularity is well known: Why do they survive? Because they are fit. How do you know that they are fit? Because they survive.

If fitness means the rate of successful reproduction, we encounter the interesting conclusion that a woman with a genetic IQ of sixty and twelve retarded children by forty-five drive-by fathers is more fit than a Harvard math professor who runs Triathlons but has two children.

If instead of “fitness” with its almost inescapable overtones of  “superiority,” we used “reproduction rate,” clarity would follow. Perish forbid.

A staple of evolutionism is that evolution works to maximize the number of offspring, thus passing on successful genes. This is plausible but, in the case of us, counter to observation (but why let facts debilitate a perfectly good theory?) The populations of advanced countries, all of which could easily support larger numbers of people, are actually falling. For example, Japan, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Russia. In Mexico, as the standard of living rises, the birth rate falls sharply. How one passes on one’s genes by not passing them on is a mystery of population genetics.

Meanwhile the populations of black Africa, the civilizational equivalents of the unwed mother with an IQ of 60, grow rapidly. Which is to say that in advanced countries, reproduction of individuals is inversely proportional to circumstances favoring it–intelligence health, wealth, and education. Among nations, as noted, a similar phenomenon exists.

When this is pointed out, evolutionists hem and haw (or should I say hem and her?), sometimes say that evolution no longer applies to humans, (though they simultaneously insist that evolution is ongoing and rapid) and then often blame falling populations on contraception, as if this were an outside force, like drought or a new predator. But saying that contraception causes falling populations ls like saying that spears cause hunting. People wanted to eat, so they invented spears. They wanted not to have children, so they invented contraception. Not passing on one’s genes is now almost a preoccupation.

Another peculiarity is populational altruism. Countries with declining populations intentionally import inferior but more-fecund genetic groups. Sweden for example imports black Africans. In the United States, the white population feeds and clothes huge number of genetically utterly distinct blacks, and actually seems to be growing them. The Darwinian advantage of this is elusive.

Current Human Evolution

Evolutionists insist that human evolution continues today at a rapid pace. There is nothing illogical in this to the extent that it is a matter of selective breeding and that evolution is defined as a change in phenotype.  In some cases it can be shown to happen.

Consider for example cognitive stratification, in which very smart people tend to go to Ivy universities, marry each other, and produce smart children. The children will tend to revert toward the mean but, as they interbreed, the mean will rise. Thus a fairly distinct subpopulation comes about.

While such things certainly can occur, problems arise in the evolutionists’ casual attribution of traits to evolutionary change. The first is that “selective pressure” usually cannot be measured and cannot be correlated with its purported results. Traits are regularly attributed to genes that have not been demonstrated acted upon by selective pressures that cannot be quantified to produce results that cannot be correlated with the pressures. The second is that results often seem to be inversely related to what would seem to be obvious selective advantage.

Often it seems that evolution is driven less by selective pressure than by the absence of selective pressure. Before the advent of modern medicine, people with inferior genetic endowments– low resistance to disease, or possession of genetic diseases such as diabetes, serious retardation,  etc.–tended to die before reproducing. This selective pressure served to keep those diseases at a low level in the population. Today the defective are kept alive to reproductive age, have children, and thus rapidly increase the prevalence of those diseases in the population.

There is the curious fact that traits of very little obvious value flourish, while those seemingly important do not. Consider the epicanthic fold, which makes the Japanese and Chinese slant-eyed. Evolutionists I have read assert  alternately that the fold serves to conserve energy or to protect the eye against icy winds, thus furthering survival. Characteristically, they cite no studies demonstrating that the fold does either of these things: In evolution, plausibility substitutes for evidence. The fold has become universal in the populations, suggesting that powerful selective pressures must have been responsible.

But what pressures? Do we really believe that the fold provides enough protection to the eye, if it provides any at all, to result in its possessor having more children than others? Do foldless Vikings go blind? Where is the evolutionary noise level? At what point is the selective advantage, if any, so slight as to make no difference?

Which brings us to a baffling question. Why does a trait with very little or no reproductive value–the fold–become universal, when traits such as high intelligence, great physical prowess, astonishing eyesight, and so on not become even common? The genes for all of these already exist in the population without the need for mutations.

If traits that conduce to reproduction become evermore prevalent, it follows that traits that do not become prevalent do not conduce to reproduction. These would seem to include the aforementioned–intelligence, strength, and so on–as these seem no more common now than in c classical antiquity.

If human evolution continues today at a rapid pace as evolutionists say (and indeed it may) it follows that selective pressures must be fairly intense. It is reasonable to ask, what pressures to what end? Cognitive stratification–the self-selection of people with IQs of perhaps 130 and up–qualifies and may lead to a blurry-edged yet distinct subpopulation.

Yet pressures would otherwise seem to be low now. In modern human populations, in which almost no one dies in infancy, almost everyone marries, and almost everyone has the same small number of children, the number of offspring is not determined by life-or-death selection. The football captain gets the prom queen, but the class nerd gets the nerdette and can have as many children. Almost everyone lives past reproductive age, so there is little culling effect as the slow are eaten by wolves. The genetically sickly are kept alive and allowed to reproduce by medicine. Consequently it is hard to image Darwinian selection occurring with much ferocity.

Nor  can I see evidence for more than minor changes in the 2500 years since Fifth-Century Athens. Statues by Phidias and Praxiteles and later Roman copies show people exactly like us. It is impossible to give IQ tests to the long dead, but Plato and Archimedes seem very like the best minds of today, and the writing of such as Xenophon are indistinguishable in complexity, clarity, and quality of mind from good modern writers. Nothing suggests that the ancients were any less athletic, bellicose, or agile than we are, or that they had senses any less acute. The 2500 years of rapid evolution appear to have produce a net of zero.

The Bugs in Darwin

A Thing is Not Possible Merely Because It Happens: The Tarantula Hawk

It is easy to imagine how a complex system, once in existence, can, within limits, evolve under the influence of selective pressures. Any dog breeder can demonstrate this. Or think of the path from Eohippus to Clydesdale. The difficulty lies in knowing how the system came about in the first place.

Consider the Tarantula Hawk, a gigantic wasp that begins life as an egg inside a paralyzed and buried tarantula, where its mother put it. This may seem unmotherly, but there is no accounting for taste. The egg hatches. The larva feeds on the spider, somehow knowing how to avoid the vital organs so as to keep the monster alive and fresh. It pupates and then, a new adult, digs its way out of the burrow.

Off it flies. Never having seen another wasp, or anything else, it finds one, and knows how to mate. (Mating, if you think about it, is a rather more complex process than it may seem to high-schoolers. Some insects mate while flying, which compounds the trickiness. Think airline pilots and stewardesses.) Never having seen a tarantula, it knows how to find one, knows that it needs to attack it, knows exactly how to sting it, knows that it must drag it to its burrow, which it knows it has to dig, knows how to lay its egg on the tarantula and how to bury it.

Now, some of this may be imagined as evolving by gradual steps (emphasis on “imagined,” which in matters evolutionary is good enough) as required by Darwin. All it takes is enough time. In enough time, anything desired will happen. Of millions and billions of eggs deposited in unfortunate tarantulas, over millions of years, some larvae ate the spider’s vital organs and so died in a rotting spider, not passing on their genes. Others pupated but tried to dig out by going downwards or sideways, thus dying and not passing on their genes. Only those with don’t-eat-the-important-parts mutations and this-way-is-up mutations survived, and so their genes became universal. This we are told.

But…but knowing what a tarantula looks like when you have never seen one, or seen anything, knowing that you need to sting it and just how, that you need to dig a burrow and drag the spider to it, and cover it up, when all of this has to occur in order or the whole process fails….

You have to be smoking Drano.

The Bot Flyc

The Bot fly is a squat, ugly, hairy fly that (in one version anyway) catches a mosquito, lays its eggs on on said mosquito after positioning it correctly, and attaches them with a kind of glue. It releases the mosquito. When the little feathery syringe lands on, say, a human, the eggs drop off, hatch, and burrow into the host. These make nasty raised lumps with something wiggling inside them. Later the larvae exit, fall to the ground, and pupate.

How did this evolve? Did a grab-a-mosquito gene occur as a random mutation (assuming that a single mutation could cause such complex behavior)? It would have to be a grab-a-mosquito-but-don’t-cripple-it gene. That is an awful lot of precise behavior for one mutation. At this point the bot fly would have a mosquito but no idea what to do with it. It would need simultaneously to have a stick-eggs-on-mosquito mutation. This would seem to require another rather ambitious gene.

Catching the mosquito without laying the eggs, or squashing the mosquito in the process, or laying eggs in mid air without having caught the mosquito, would seem a losing proposition. None of these awfully-lucky mutations would be of use without the others. How do you evolve this elaborate dance by gradual steps?

There’s not enough Drano.

Hornets, Yet

Living things are impossible, but some are more so. Consider brains. Larger brains supposedly allow more-complex behavior. In a laptop civilization, we refer to this as “processing power.” But consider hornets, cautiously. These have very complex behavior but almost no brains or other nervous tissue. Yet their unbrains control six multiply-joined legs (any robotics engineer will tell you that this is a massive problem), and allow them to fly precisely, also a very difficult problem. They know just how to chew wood fiber to make a paste from which they know how to construct complex nests. They know how and when to mate, which is not a simple a process. The same barely existent nervous system operates various senses and interprets the resulting data, which also isn’t easy. They find food, inform the others of its location, and navigate effortlessly over long distance.

Ant1

Even worse than hornets: Here you see very little ant, and very little of very little ant consists of nervous tissue. Yet they too build nests, control legs,  and senses, and digestive organs, find food, care for young, and lots more. It takes an evolutionist not to suspect that something is going on that we do not understand. Another ant might notice, but not an evolutionist.

Yet hornets are pointy-headed intellectuals compared to pharaoh ants, above, those super-tiny picnic abominations of which several would fit on a hornet’s eye. They too have complex social organization and so on—with hardly any neurons. In general, the behavior of social insects is probably more complex than that of whales. It is inexplicable, or at least unexplained.

Metamorphosis: You Can’t Get There from Here

Straight-line evolution, for example in which Eohippus gradually gets larger until it reaches Clydesdale, is plausible because each intervening step is a viable animal. Darwin himself pointed this out. In fact it is just selective breeding. Yet many evolutionary transformations seem to require intermediate stages that could not survive. Metamorphosis in insects is perhaps the most baffling example.

Consider. There are two-cycle bugs that lay eggs that hatch into tiny replicas of the adults, which grow, lay eggs, and repeat the cycle. The four-cycle bugs go through egg, larva, pupa, adult. Question: What are the viable steps needed to evolve from two-cycle to four-cycle? Or from anything to four-cycle?

Here I am stumped. As best I can see, the eggs of the two-cycler would have to evolve toward being caterpillars, which are enormously different structurally and otherwise from adults. Goodbye legs, chitinous exoskeleton; head, thorax, and abdomen, on and on. Whatever the first mutation toward this end, the resulting newly-hatched mutant would have to be viable—able to live and reproduce until the next mutation occurred.

Let us consider this question carefully.

We begin with a two-cycle bug, that for convenience we will call a roach, which will endeavor to evolve into a bug that, also for convenience, we will assume to be a butterfly.  The roach has the insect’s standard body plan of head, thorax, and abdomen, and the usual chitinous exoskeleton. From a spirit of charity we will assume that it is a flying roach to give it a head start toward butterflyhood.

To achieve that exalted end, our roach would first have to evolve into a caterpillar–that is, a larval form. It is difficult to see how this could occur at all, or why. To become a caterpillar, our roach would have to lose its jointed legs, exoskeleton, and body plan. Since not even the most hopeful evolutionist could attribute such sweeping changes to one mutation, the transformation would have to proceed by steps involving at least several and probably many mutations. Losing the exoskeleton would leave it unarmored and unable to walk, not an obvious selective advantage. Or do we believe that head, thorax, and abdomen first merged mediated by a long chain of accidental mutations under mysterious selective pressures , and then it lost its exoskeleton and became, well– bait?

But if these things did happen, they would lead to a free-standing race of caterpillars, a new species, necessarily being able to reproduce. Then, for reasons mysterious to me, these would have to decide to pupate and become butterflies. And the butterfly would have to lay eggs that became caterpillars.

Which could not possibly work. Metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly is enormously complex and if you don’t get it right the first time, it’s curtains. It would depend on a great many steps which would have to appear simultaneously. First, our caterpillar would have to use its spinnerets (of mysterious provenance, but never mind) to make a cocoon, in which which would proceed to die because it hadn’t yet evolved metamorphosis. Why a caterpillar would think of doing this is not clear. To turn successfully into a butterfly, it would need the biochemical machinery to transform a mushy, legless, wingless, head-thorax-abdomenless worm into an utterly different creature. Where would it have gotten the impossibly complex genetic blueprint of the butterfly?

Methinks something is going on that we do not understand.  

Note that the questions posed by these bugs are not merely pleasant musings on a slow afternoon. Either the Theory of Evolution can explain them, or the theory fails. The problem is usually referred to as that of Irreducible Complexity, the requirement that a great many mutations each of no value in itself, or actually harmful, appear simultaneously to create a given outcome.

Irreducible Complexity

This term, implied in the foregoing, refers to the frequently observed existence in living organisms of systems that depend for their functioning on the simultaneous presence of things that would be either useless or detrimental by themselves, and thus make no evolutionary sense. For example, none of the individual steps of the bot fly’s complicated behavior with its mosquito would be of any value unless all the others were also present. This is irreducible complexity: take away any part and the system fails.

Evolutionists insist that irreducible complexity does not exist. If this is true, then any biological system can be simplified step by step back to its origins without producing  intermediate stages that could not survive. In particular, a living cell, the functionally important parts of which seem irreducibly complex, can be simplified bit by bit to produce the original First Critter. Why has this not been done?

I find it interesting to imagine just how the simplification might be carried out. Perhaps by reducing the number of nucleotides per codon from three to two? This would allow coding  only sixteen amino acids with no STOPs or STARTs. Can we eliminate transcription and go direct to translation? Get rid of the cell membrane so that everything inside floats off in  different directions without extinguishing what was left?

Surely this process would solve the problem of seeing how the cell evolved from the First Critter, and what that critter was.

If there is no such thing as irreducible complexity.

The Two Cop-Outs

Traits often arise for which there is no good evolutionary explanation. Evolutionists here have two escape hatches, (1) conservation of energy, and (2) sexual selection. For example, if one points out that humans are weak and would be more survivable if they were as strong as, say, chimpanzees, the response is that having larger muscles would require a higher caloric intake to maintain them, and lead to starvation if there were a drought. Sexual selection: If peacocks have hugely conspicuous tails that would attract predators, the explanation is that all the girls love a good tail, so the guy leaves more children. Let’s look at these notions.

Conservation of energy. Human beings are conspicuous in the natural world for being weak and slow, and for having poor senses of smell and hearing. Why? Evolutionists have multiple stories. One is that because humans walk upright, they can see farther on open veldt and thus have substituted vision for other senses that just are not necessary.

This makes no sense which, as so often in matters evolutionary, doesn’t matter. Obviously being able to detect approaching predators at night by smell would be a great advantage. Lions are the color of dirt and dead vegetation and take advantage of both. Horses, which have good vision, and eyes at about the level of a human’s, have an excellent sense of smell. This story doesn’t live up even to the usual evolutionary standard of vague plausibility.

Another explanation of the poor olfaction of humans is that a more acute sense would require larger olfactory regions in the brain and, since a surprisingly large proportion of the body’s energy is expended by the brain, these larger olfactory regions would increase the need for food and cause starvation in time of famine.

Does this make sense? No.

Consider. Rats have a much better sense of smell than do humans, which they use in finding what they regard as food. A rat’s brain weighs two grams, a human’s about 1350. Let us assume that a rats entire brain is dedicated to smell, which of course it isn’t. Adding all of a rat’s brain to the human would increase its size from 1350 to 1352 grams, an increase of 2/1350 or .15%, Since the brain uses 15% of a human’s energy budget, the overall increase in energy requirements is 2/1350 X 100 X .15, or .02%. Not 2%, but .02%. This minute increase cannot possibly offset the advantages of an acute sense of smell.

The same reasoning applies to other sense, such as hearing. And of course people already have olfactory regions. They just don’t do much.

Sexual selection Another way of explaining things that otherwise make no sense is “sexual selection.” Many things would seem to work against survival, yet persist in nature: huge antlers not usable in combat, the gorgeous tails of peacocks, and large breasts in humans, among many others. Why do women have conspicuous breasts? They are not needed to produce adequate milk, and they are a substantial physical disadvantage in running (thus we have sports bras). One would expect them to disappear.

Darwin

These things are useless for defense as the animal would have to stand on its head to present them to an enemy. They cannot help balance or speed. We are to believe that they serve as sexual attractants because otherwise they are inexplicable. (I favor option B.)  Since it is unlikely that headgear so glorious sprang from a point mutation, they must have begun as mere bumps. And all the girls swooned?

The answer is sexual selection: men are attracted to large breasts, so those women with them mate and have more children. This suggests that women with modest endowments will have trouble getting laid, which in turn suggests that evolutionists need to get out more.

The problems with sexual selection are twofold. First is that sexual selection requires a pre-existing attraction to large breasts. Otherwise in a cave society when the first woman through mutation appeared with big ones, we would hear one cave man say to another, “Geez, Urk Urk, what’s wrong with Sally?” “Beats, me, Ralph. Maybe it’s cancer.” But why would there be a preference for large breasts when there were no large breasts to prefer?

The second problem is that  if sexual selection favored large breasts, by now most women would have them, which visibly is not the case. (Again, compare Greek statues of 2500 years ago look like us.) And of course when the sexually-selected trait became general in the population, it would cease to be of advantage.

The Problem of Consciousness

While consciousness seems the defining characteristic of life, (“I am conscious, therefore I am.”) or at least of the higher forms of animal life, it cannot be derived from physics. It cannot even be detected. Are ants conscious–or, for that matter, rocks? Are dogs less conscious than people, and ants less conscious than dogs.? Or are they just less intelligent? How could we tell? The questions may seem silly, but they are not. They are tied up with our ability to make decisions, which physics says we cannot. Again, our brains, which are physical systems, cannot act on decisions any more than a dropped bowling ball can decide to fall sideways.

Here is something outside of physics, and therefore outside of evolution, which must be ignored, and is.

There Must Be a Virus

When people have engaged in bitter ideological war over a theoretical ship dear to them, they tend to overlook the cracks and stains and leaks in the planking. Evolutionism is full of such. An unaffiliated skeptic can point them out in droves.

In evolution, traits which conduce to survival, and thus to the passing on of genes, are supposed to flourish, while traits that work against this happy passing on, or simply do nothing, are supposed to be eliminated. Does this happen?

Often, yes. Not infrequently, no.

An obvious problem is male homosexuality. Homosexuals seldom have children. How does not passing on one’s genes contribute to passing on one’s genes?  The condition would seem to be a prime candidate for elimination by evolution, yet it has apparently been with us forever. If this cannot be explained away, then something is wrong with the theory in at least this case.

Here evolutionists fall back on their Maginot Line, vague plausibility. For example Greg Cochran, a physicist of immoderate pomposity at the University of Utah, says that a virus causes homosexuality. The evidence for this virus? Homosexuality. Yet the chief characteristic of the virus unfortunately seems to be indetectability: No one can find it. Without this virus, the evolution would fail, at least at this point.  Therefore a virus must, must, must exist. We infer reality from the needs of our theory.

Other reproductive traits suffer from similar inexplicability: what are the  reproductive value of suicide, masochism, sadism, schizophrenia, and so on? Should these not be filtered from the gene pool? Must we invoke viruses to explain these too? Schizophrenia: A Neanderthal who thought that the CIA put transmitters in his teeth and tried to shake hands with Kodiak bears might limit his reproductive opportunities. While a suicide who blows himself up with a bomb may be said to be disseminating his DNA, it serves little reproductive purpose. Yet all of these things have been with us forever.

I therefore propose the existence of a virus for each of these peculiarities. And perhaps one for sun spots.

Again, the problem is Domain Bloat, insisting that one’s theory explain what it can explain but also what it can’t.

Next, consider pain. If you step on broken glass, it hurts, so you stop doing it, and don’t end up crippled and eaten by wolves, and so you can pass on your genes upon encountering an amiable maiden. This makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense is the agonizing pain caused by many circumstances about which, pre-medicine, the victim could do nothing. Kidney stones, for example, are paralyzingly painful. A choroidal hemorrhage, behind the retina, is hideous. The agony has no utility since the premodern sufferer could do nothing about it. For that matter, the contribution of migraines to survival is not apparent, as a person rolling on the ground and clutching his head would seem vulnerable to ingestion. On and on. Why the abundant pain receptors with no function? Why do they not, like Marx’s state, wither away?

Perhaps instead of asking, “How does evolution explain a thing?” we should occasionally ask “Does evolution explain it?”

Impossible, Impossibler, Impossiblest

Morality

Clear examples of things outside the domain of physics are morality, right and wrong, Good and Evil. A Darwinist cannot say that some things are intrinsically wrong. “Wrong” cannot be derived from physics. Instead he must show that moral behavior exists because it promotes the passing on of genes. Thus I nurse my brother back to health when he has a broken leg because together we can protect ourselves and our women better and thus pass on our genes.

This of course runs into all sorts of problems. In Moslem countries, “honor kills” are thought acceptable: killing one’s daughter on discovering that she had engaged in sex before marriage (thus offering to pass on her, and her father’s, genes, but never mind). In Christian countries, this is called “first-degree murder,” and likely results in Dad’s sitting in a funny chair with wires running to it. Are we to believe that Moslem genomes contain a kill-daughter gene? Or is the obvious  explanation, culture, to blame?

It is interesting that evolutionists do not believe their own doctrine. Suppose a Darwinist found out that my hobby was using a blowtorch to torture to death children with severe genetic retardation. He would be horrified.

“Why?” I would ask. “We certainly do not want them passing on their extremely defective genes. Caring for them expends resources that would be better spent in raising more children to pass on our genes. Torturing them has no more evolutionary meaning than killing them instantly. Actually, all I am doing is terminating certain chemical reactions and allowing others to begin. What then is your objection?”

His objection would of course be that torturing children is wrong. But, again, “wrong” doesn’t exist within the domain of physics, and so of Darwinism. Domain bloat.

There is Something Else involved. I do not know what.

More on Eugenics: What Fun

Eugenics

Appalachian white trash, presenting obvious neurological deficits consequent to inbreeding. A clear argument for eugenics.

Most considerations of eugenics, before wobbling off into discussions of Hitler, deal with intelligence and physical characteristics, notably health and strength. By those who constitute the best argument for eugenics, eugenics is usually interpreted as a means of oppressing the poor, maltreating the more bedraggled minorities, and euthanizing the retarded. Most commentators on the matter would be endangered by the latter, so I understand their concern.

However, behavior may be a more important field for eugenic consideration. Herewith a few ruminations, offering more questions than answers. See what you think.

Most of the gravest problems facing humanity today have existed since at forever. War, crime, genocide and its approximations, the desire for conquest, lust for power, and a nonsensical pursuit of unusable wealth. We often blame these on proximate causes that seem to make sense at the moment. Currently for example, the Chinese are evil, Iran wants to blow us up, Russia plans to conquer Europe, and ISIS threatens our existence. These reasons, it is now evident, are pretexts for the expression of unwholesome instincts. The Romans honestly conquered for empire and booty, the Americans in the name of Manifest Destiny, the Israelis for lebensraum. We always invent a reason. When cats hunt mice for thousands of years, one may suspect that it is built in. We fight because fighting is what we do. 

A crucial point: A great deal of behavior is unmistakably genetic. Babies nurse, toddlers of two raise hell, teenagers rebel and copulate, men of thirty get into bar fights and women don’t.

Genetic behavior goes beyond this into psychological orientation. Dogs are a biological species (or close enough for present purposes). Subspecies of dogs, the parallel of human races, differ genetically in personality and intelligence. Pit bulls and Border Collies are not the same. Within a subspecies, such as German Shepherds, strains can be bred easily for aggressiveness or its absence. Things like pack behavior and barking at strangers exist apart from training or culture. They are innate.

Among humans, individual differences in intelligence and character obviously exist, and any amount of evidence, such as twin studies, suggests strongly that the reasons are substantially genetic.

Philosophical tendencies seem also to be innate. For example, two major  behavioral types–subsubspecies if you will–are liberals and conservatives. These display sharply opposed leanings which almost always occur together. Conservatives see life in terms of struggle, danger, tend to believe in authority, form tribal groups to fight other tribal groups, express strong loyalty to their own groups but have no empathy for others. These qualities, ideal for armies and primitive tribes, are found almost universally among military officers. Liberals across the board are opposite.

Both groups derive their outlooks from the same evidence–the world–and since there is not logical connection between the various traits, genetic causation seems probable.

“Assortative mating,” the tendency for people to marry those similar to themselves, is well known. The intelligent strongly tend to marry each other. There may be political parallels. For example, one does not readily imagine Ann Coulter wedding Michael Moore. Liberals may marry liberals, and conservatives, conservatives, thus aggravating both conditions.

Here we come to genetic manipulation, rapidly moving toward practicality. This is not the place to discuss evolving techniques, (though here), but they assuredly exist. Genetic manipulation hasn’t happened before because the underlying biochemistry was not understood, nor the necessary instrumentation existent. Design is becoming possible, not just by the obvious but politically sensitive use of sperm banks but also, soon, and much faster, by altering DNA. The Chinese are actively working on modifying human embryos for medical purposes.

What I am getting at is that soon, maybe in fifteen years but certainly in fifty, we are going to face the question:

Do we redesign ourselves, or don’t we?

For many people, I among them, the idea is distinctly spooky, encompassing what we think we are, the meaning if any of life, and whether we want to be a race of designer poodles. On the other hand, do we want to go on amid ever-advancing technology with our accustomed slaughter of millions, torture, crime, corruption, and exploitation?

Just now of course no one knows very well what genes control what behavior, or whether all behavior is genetically determined, but this won’t last. Then what? Almost certainly resistance to manipulation will fade as it becomes possible to edit out diseases of genetic origin. This having worked, it will be hard to resist amplifying intelligence. Then…if there are genes for psychopathy, well…I mean, do we really need Ted Bundys? And we are off and running.

Suppose hypothetically that a small number of genes were found to control combativeness. Would it be a good idea to edit the trait out? This presumably would end wars, military budgets, violent crime, and bar fights. If these or other genes caused anti-social behavior, such as burglary and embezzlement, we could end locked doors and police departments. Good idea? Yes? No ? Why?

Of course people designed to be pacific might be at the mercy of those not so designed. A trait highly desirable if universal might be  less so if spotty. We might be sculpting ourselves as sheep in a world of wolves.

Complicating things is that what will at first be inefficiently done only in high-end labs will filter down and down until it can be done easily almost anywhere. Remember when computers were exotic? When only Dick Tracy had the two-way wrist radio? Today, at least within a country, various techniques and lines of research can be controlled or forbidden by governments. This won’t continue. True, we are unlikely to see mail-order Design-Your-Dog kits any time soon. How long is any time soon?

Further, while one country may follow ethical guidelines, or what it regards as ethical guidelines, others may not. Countries that build multi-megaton hydrogen bombs for the explicit purpose of incinerating cities are unlikely to balk at, say, making soldiers of unlimited ferocity and endurance. (Adolf was into that.)

Since controlling them after you built them would be difficult, and given that militaries are moving toward automation of killing, more likely is the breeding–not exactly the right word–of more intelligent engineers. As China develops, the US faces a nation with some five times as many potential engineers. Will countries be forced into the competitive production of smarter scientists as they now compete in the design of supercomputers? Tell me why not.

Interesting question: If manageable numbers of genes are found that increase intelligence, or specific components of intelligence, how much would they increase it? An augmentation of ten or fifteen points of IQ would result in people more or less like ourselves. Fifty or a hundred points would produce almost another species that might regard us as food or detritus to be eliminated.

Skynet or Bionet?

If you think all of this crazy, reflect that gene editing of animals is done now and except for ethical considerations not shared by everyone, the same could be done with humans.  As noted, various groups work on modifying human embryos, killing them after a certain number of days.(Nature:  “Second Chinese team reports gene editing in human embryos.” Subhead: “Study used CRISPR technology to introduce HIV-resistance mutation into embryos.”)

Within a decade or so, this is going to be a big deal. Watch.

Milwaukee

Continuity is comforting. The sun rises, the value of pi remains unchanged, businesses burn, cars are smashed, and rioters with the minds of children and the hormones of adults throw bricks at the police. All in good fun.

These incidents seem to come at shorter intervals. In characteristic confusion, in Milwaukee the mob believed that the dead man was shot in the back when the body-cam video show that he was raising a pistol toward the policeman (Milwaukee, Wisconsin ). Either they can’t read, don’t read, don’t have access to the internet, or don’t care. As usual, sixty years after Brown vs. the School Board they shout in illiterate semi-English.

It isn’t working. The racial thing, I mean. The hunting of whites, beatings of whites, calls for attacks on whites. In the age of cell phones, the media can hide only so much.

To avoid admitting that we are seeing a racial insurgency, the media insist that the police are the problem.  They are not. Blacks are unmistakably gripped by a powerful racial hatred of white people. If the police were perfect, nothing would change.

Milwaukee

Teen neighbor charged with capital murder in slaying of burned elderly veteran” Why is this not racism, or even reprehensible, whereas describing this jewel as what he is results in being fired? “(Birmingham police lieutenant Sean) Edwards said that the preliminary investigation shows the suspect and the victim had an argument, before the victim was doused with gasoline and set on fire.”

In Milwaukee the policeman who shot the criminal was himself black–yet the mob specifically attacked whites. A woman screamed in fluent dey-be-he-be that blacks should burn the suburbs of whites. I saw this on  the video, but now read that CNN has cut that part. If you don’t admit that you have cancer, it will go away.

Perennial problems come in two flavors, those that we can’t solve and those that we won’t solve. For example the war on Afghanistan could be ended simply by bringing the troops home. We just choose not to do it.

I can think of no way to solve the country’s racial disaster. Can you?

Ritual chantings about racism, discrimination, white privilege, institutional racism, and so on are neither a program nor a solution. (Incidentally, why is “Kill Whitey” not racist?) Neither is documenting the intense racism of blacks, interracial-rape ratios, crime, and low scores on promotional examinations.

For the moment, let us assume that all of the complaints of blacks and their allies are correct. All right. We have done that. Now what?

There seems to be no solution. The underlying problem that will not go away is that blacks as a race have not shown themselves able to function in a modern society. Degrees and exceptions yes, but the central fact remains. One is not supposed to say this, and would that it were not true, but it is.

In particular they have lagged far behind academically. Attribute causation as you wish. The condition remains. It has proved impervious to every conceivable social program. For this reason affirmative action has become an entitlement rather than an entry point. For this reason the blacks in the blighted cities will never be employable. Everything works against them, most potently  their own attitudes. Joblessness rises among better qualified whites. Obama brings in more Latinos to compete with blacks.

Further, those in the ghettos show little disposition either to study or to work. This also is an obvious truth that one must not utter. A Mexican woman will work as a maid until she figures out something better; a black woman will not. A young Salvadoran man will make his way up Central America, through Mexican police likely to beat him, ride the Train of Death to the US border, and sneak into a country whose language he does not understand to work construction and send money back to his family. A black in Chicago won’t buy a Greyhound ticket to the same job. Yes, there are reasons. A condition does not go way merely because there is a reason for it.

It isn’t working.

Does anyone, black or white, man or woman, Left or Right, see any hope of change? Apparently not, since discussion consists entirely of vituperation. Squalling about conservative racism or liberal hypocrisy does nothing at all to change anything at all. Blacks, the only ones who could render their schools orderly, or make their children do their homework, or persuade their women to essay matrimony, do not.

The cultural divide appears unbridgeable. Blacks are a self-aware, aggrieved, and angry people widely apart from the civilization of whites. They have little desire for assimilation and indeed actively reject it. In Mexico, blacks speak normal Spanish and, in France, normal French. In America, Dat be actin’ white. They give their children strange names, Latoyota and Keeshawn, to maintain distance from whites. Their music is both frequently obscene and frequently hostile to whites. “Acting white,” as for example by studying, is punitively disdained. This is not headed for comfortable multicultural commensalism.

The core of blackness seems to consist of, first, a belief that all of their travails spring from the malignity of whites and, second, that whites owe it to them to solve their problems.

In politics, the focus is entirely on cosmetics. For example, Obama has ordered the Justice Department to use “justice-involved youth” instead of “juvenile delinquent,” and to cease using the word “Negro.” How this will improve literacy in the ghetto is not clear. He wants schools to suspend black and white students proportionately, being unhappy that blacks are suspended at higher rates. His is the quintessential black point of view:  Everything springs from racism, of which blacks don’t have any, and the solution is a federal regulation.

Obama never says that black kids ought to study more or that black women ought to behave responsibly in childbearing. He clearly believes them incapable of it, a position is indistinguishable from that of the KKK. They both seem to be right.

Why should things be otherwise? Blacks have no roots in European civilization, nor in African, if any  Slavery decultured the slaves, leading to a free-floating miasma of American blacknism. This is unfortunate, which changes nothing.The denomination “African-American” serves more to separate them from whites than to link them to Africa. American African might be more realistic.

The racial experiment has failed. We must not say so, but I suspect that most of us know it. To admit it would be to concede the unspeakable. The horrible question arises again: What now?

It is apparent that nothing of any use in going to be done and probably that nothing can be done. The police? Pulling all police out of black neighborhoods would end complaints of racism by cops. It would also leave the ghettos utterly controlled by criminals. Take your choice.

The calls for the burning of white neighborhoods do not bode well. Whites often are well armed. Gun sales are way up. Men I know have no desire to shoot anyone but will do so if their homes are threatened.

What now? The Fergusons, Baltimores, and Milwaukees may calm down, but if they do, the underlying situation will not change. Nobody seems to have any more idea than I do what to do about it, which is no idea at all.

What now?

Paris, 1787: It Reaches Manhattan, Doubtless Due to Continental Drift

It is easy to underestimate the peasantry, the little people. They appear well under control. All seems calm, unless one looks carefully. The means of control work smoothly: the legions, the church, the media, the secret police, the enforcers of political correctness.  The serfs are cowed. Why worry about a distant peonage? Do we not have our castles? Let us dance and drink champagne.

And comes the guillotine.

I know three young women of exceptional intelligence and talent, all of them mature and disciplined. They cannot find jobs. It is not from lack of trying, far from it. One of them is married to a hard-working man in a highly technical field usually associated with wealth. He is paid a low hourly wage and forced to work on contract, meaning that he has neither benefits nor retirement. His employers know that if he leaves, they can easily find another to take his place. They have him where they want him.

Which may prove a mistake.

Yet this is become a pattern. In a country that prides itself on wealth and justice and boundless opportunity, none of these things actually exists except for our Bourbons. The rich in their palaces in Manhattan and Santa Clara prosper mightily, often by impoverishing the rest. It has happened many times in history. The results have been similar.

The guillotine was devised as a humanitarian measure to cut off a criminal’s head cleanly, the ax-wielding headsmen of the time being notorious for missed strokes and subsequent horror. When the meek and mild peasantry rose in 1789, proving to be less meek and mild than believed, the humanitarian aspects of the instrument were forgotten. The populace just wanted to see their betters bleed. They saw.

In the United States of today, clouds gather as the royalty toast each other with expensive wines. In numbers that a half century ago would have seemed impossible, the American young live with their parents, being unable to find jobs to support themselves. Waitressing in a good bar pays better in tips than a woman with a college degree can otherwise earn, assuming that she can earn anything at all. Employers having learned to hire them as individual contractors, they move into their thirties with no hope of a pension for their old age.

Desperation and hatred are close cousins.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Bezos of Amazon makes spaceships and buys the Washington Post as a toy and the newspapers have reported that a Croesus of Wall Street has bought a Modigliani, it may have been, for $55 million dollars.

Marie didn’t actually say, “Let them eat cake,” but might well have. Instead they ate her. But it can’t happen here. Oh no.

The homeless in San Francisco are now described as “a plague.” There seem to be ever more of them. But not to worry. Never worry. The stock market remains exuberant. In nearby Silicon Valley, a man buys a new Lamborghini every year.

The Russians simply shot their royal family in a basement in Ekaterinburg. The Romanovs, or at least those Romanovs, were actually nice people, very much an Ozzie and Harriet family. Perhaps if you met Bezos, or Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates or Elon Musk, you would find them charming, even decnet. They probably give money to charity. So did Andrew Carnegie. The Romanovs just didn’t pay enough attention. Neither, perhaps, do newer Romanovs.

Unrest breeds surprises. Maybe Louis XVI thought, “It can never happen here.” Today the African population of America is openly insurgent, the middle class sinks, jobs continue leaving under the stewardship of the rich, the government either will not or cannot enforce its laws, the borders are open, half of the country seethes in fury at the other half, and the sale of guns is at record heights.

When people realize that they really have no country, only a collection of rapacious interests, history becomes…creative. In theory, Congress and the President have the well-being of the nation at heart and at least to some extent seek to effect the betterment of the whole. Really they are carrion birds picking the carcass clean and, perhaps, planning flight to the French Riviera.

Mussolini ended as an ornament in the Italian street, hanging upside down from a meat hook. He should have paid more attention.

A short walk from the Capitol in Washington, whole housing developments lie empty, their windows sometimes bricked up to keep the derelicts out. In abandoned houses turned shooting galleries, of which there are many, empty cans of Vienna sausages and old bottles of fortified wine lie among used needles and rags stained with things better not reflected upon. You can live for a surprising time on Vienna sausages, Night Train, and Ritz crackers. Many do. Their organs eventually fail.

No one sees these things, so they cannot be important. A forty-five minute walk away, in Colonial Village across Key Bridge in Virginia, I once bought an 835-square-foot condo for $140,000 and later sold it for $300,000. It is well that the economy flourishes. We live in a land of opportunity.

In this best of all possible worlds the wealthy buy homes for $100 million and sleep secure in their beds, knowing that only half of the country would love to hang them from lamp posts. True, the rise of Donald Trump may disturb the elites a bit as they enrich themselves by sending more jobs abroad. But not to worry. Trump is only Mussolini by Disney and the fury his supporters feel toward New York and Washington will go away once we have Hillary in office. Fly-over land doesn’t really matter anyway.

Unless of course it does. In which case Uber should stock up on tumbrils.

Hillary, Trump, and War with Russia: The Goddamdest Stupid Idea I Have Ever Heard, and I Have Lived in Washington

T14

Don’t look for a walk-over. The T14 Armata, Russia’s latest tank. You don’t want to fight this monster if you can think of a better idea, such as not fighting it. Russia once made large numbers of second-rate tanks. That worm has turned. This thing is way advanced and outguns the American M1A2, having a 125mm smoothbore firing APFSDS long-rods to the Abrams 120mm. (As Hillary would know, that’s Armor-piercing, fin-stabilized, discarding-sabot. You did know, didn’t you, Hill?) This isn’t the place for a disquisition on armor, but the above beast is an ver advanced design with unmanned turret and, well, a T34 it isn’t. (I was once an aficionado of tanks. If interested, here and here.)

A good reason to vote for Trump, a very good reason whatever his other intentions, is that he does not want a war with Russia. Hillary and her elite ventriloquists threaten just that.  Note the anti-Russian hysteria coming from her and her remoras.

Such a war would be yet another example of the utter control of America by rich insiders. No normal American has anything at all to gain by such a war. And no normal American has the slightest influence over whether such a war takes place, except by voting for Trump. The military has become entirely the plaything of unaccountable elites.

A martial principle of great wisdom says that military stupidity comes in three grades: Ordinarily stupid; really, really, really stupid; and fighting Russia. Think Charles XII at Poltava, Napoleon after Borodino, Adolf and Kursk.

Letting dilettantes, grifters, con men, pasty Neocons, bottle-blonde ruins, and corporations decide on war is insane. We have pseudo-masculine dwarves playing with things they do not understand. So far as I am aware, none of these fern-bar Clausewitzes has worn boots, been in a war, seen a war, or faces any chance of being in a war started by themselves. They brought us Iraq, Afghanistan, and Isis, and can’t win wars against goatherds with AKs. They are going to fight…Russia?

A point that the tofu ferocities of New York might bear in mind is that wars seldom turn out as expected, usually with godawful results. We do not know what would happen in a war with Russia. Permit me a tedious catalog to make this point. It is very worth making.

When Washington pushed the South into the Civil War, it expected a conflict that might be over in twenty-four hours, not four years with as least 650,000 dead. When Germany began WWI, it expected a swift lunge into Paris, not four years of hideously bloody static war followed by unconditional surrender. When the Japanese Army pushed for attacking Pearl, it did not foresee GIs marching in Tokyo and a couple of cities glowing at night. When Hitler invaded Poland, utter defeat and occupation of Germany was not among his war aims. When the US invaded Vietnam, it did not expect to be outfought and outsmarted by a bush-world country. When Russia invaded Afghanistan it did not expect…nor when America invaded Afghanistan, nor when it attacked Iraq, nor….

Is there a pattern here?

The standard American approach to war is to underestimate the enemy, overestimate American capacities, and misunderstand the kind of war it enters. This is particularly true when the war is a manhood ritual for masculine inadequates–think Kristol, Podhoretz, Sanders, the whole Neocon milk bar, and that mendacious wreck, Hillary, who has the military grasp of a Shetland pony. If you don’t think weak egos and perpetual adolescence have a part in deciding policy, read up on Kaiser Wilhelm.

Now, if Washington accidentally or otherwise provoked a war with Russia in, say, the Baltics or the Ukraine, and actually used its own forces, where might this lead, given the Pentagon’s customary delusional optimism? A very serious possibility is a humiliating  American defeat. The US has not faced a real enemy in a long time. In that time the armed forces have been feminized and social-justice warriorified, with countless officials having been appointed by Obama for reasons of race and sex. Training has been watered down to benefit girl soldiers, physical standards lowered, and the ranks of general officers filled with perfumed political princes. Russia is right there at the Baltic borders: location, location, location. Somebody said, “Amateurs think strategy, professionals think logistics.” Uh-huh. The Russians are not pansies and they are not primitive.

What would Washington do, what would New York make Washington do, having been handed its ass in a very public defeat? Huge egos would be in play, the credibility of the whole American empire. Could little Hillary Dillary Pumpkin Pie force NATO into a general war with Russia, or would the Neocons try to go it alone–with other people’s lives? (Russia also has borders with Eastern Europe, which connects to Western Europe. Do you suppose the Europeans would think of this?) Would Washington undertake, or try to undertake, the national mobilization that would be necessary to fight Russia in its backyard? Naval war? Nukes in desperation?

And, since Russia is not going to invade anybody unprovoked, Washington would have to attack. See above, the three forms of military stupidity.

The same danger exists incidentally with regard to a war with China in the South China Sea. The American Navy hasn’t fought a war in seventy years. It doesn’t know how well its armament works. The Chinese, who are not fools, have invested in weaponry specifically designed to defeat carrier battle groups. A carrier in smoking ruins would force Washington to start a wider war to save face, with unpredictable results. Can you name one American, other than the elites, who has anything to gain from war with China?

What has any normal American, as distinct from the elites and various lobbies, gained from any of our wars post Nine-Eleven? Hillary and her Neocon pack have backed all of them.

It is easy to regard countries as suprahuman beings that think and take decisions and do things. Practically speaking, countries consist of a small number of people, usually men, who make decisions for reasons often selfish, pathologically aggressive, pecuniary, delusional, misinformed, or actually psychopathic in the psychiatric sense. For example, the invasion of Iraq, a disaster, was pushed by the petroleum lobbies to get the oil, the arms lobbies to get contracts, the Jewish lobbies to get bombs dropped on Israel’s enemies, the imperialists for empire, and the congenitally combative because that is how they think. Do you see anything in the foregoing that would matter to a normal American? These do not add up to a well-conceived policy. Considerations no better drive the desire to fight Russia or to force it to back down.

I note, pointlessly, that probably none of America’s recent martial catastrophes would have occurred if we still had constitutional government. How many congressmen do you think would vote for a declaration of war if they had to tell their voters that they had just launched, for no reason of importance to Americans, an attack on the homeland of a nuclear power?  

There are lots of reasons not to vote for Clinton and the suppurating corruption she represents.  Not letting her owners play with matches rates high among them.

The Maya: Who Woulda Thunk it?

Inasmuch America has a large population of Latin Americans, it seems to me that people, or some people, might want to know about them, and what they are, and where they came from. Most Latinos of the south are either a mixture of Spanish and Indian, or sometimes pure Indian. We have some idea of the Spaniards. They were European. But what were the Indians? What is their contribution to the great numbers of–whether you like it or not–new Americans? In particular, what are their blood lines? Are they, as nativists insist, of very low IQ–83–and have they enstupidated the Spanish? Horrendously primitive?

Without thinking about it, I had the entrenched idea that they were just that. I wasn’t conscious that it was either an idea or entrenched–just a fact. It didn’t occur to me that I knew virtually nothing about these  people, or that there was anything to know.

What pulled me up short was their architecture. Throughout a large region, sort of Yucatan through parts of Honduras, you find ruined cities of monumental architecture that would match most of what is found in the ancient Near East. A great deal of it is overgrown with jungle. To get to major sites like Palenque, you walk through dim  trails with unexplored walls and passageways.  But the existence of these ruins did not set well with the idea of primitive incapacity. The architecture was entirely Indian since they had no contact with Europe.

Maya city

Chiapas. Compares well with a lot of Roman monumental architecture. There are lots of these: Palenque, Tikal, Piedras Negras, Copán, Yaxchilan, Teotihuacan, Caracol, Uxmal, etc.

Maya-Condo

Chiapas. Time and the weather have not treated this building well, but it seems to me that these things must take considerable engineering talent.

Maya pyramid

Pyramid at Chichén Itsá. For scale, note people at lower left.

Aha! I thought with the  brilliance of one who has been hit over the head by the obvious. Something screwy is going on here. How witless can you be and engineer these things? I started poking around. And found interesting stuff. For example:

Mesoamerican Mathematics

The Maya invented a sophisticated base-20, positional-exponential number system, including zero. The invention of zero is regarded as major advance in mathematics, and occurred in India for sure and perhaps in other places, though never in Europe. Until Fibonacci brought zero back from the Hindu-Arab world, Europe used Roman numerals, a horrible system. I knew this, but had never thought about it. Well, it’s worth a little pondering.

In a positional number system, a number–7, say–has an absolute value–in this case unsurprisingly 7–as well as a different value depending on its position. For example, in the number 100,007, seven means, well, 7. In 100,070, its value is 70, and in 10,700, its value is 700.

“Exponential” means that each position in a number represents a different power of the base, in our case 10. Thus we have ten to the zero power equals one, to the first power, ten; squared, 100, cubed, 1000, and so on.

The Maya, using base twenty, had a similar progression, going 1, 20, 400, 8,000, 160,000 etc.. (Inevitably the choice of 20 as the base is attributed to our number of fingers and toes, though I have trouble imagining anyone actually counting on his toes.)

Neither of these ideas is obvious, or anywhere approaching obvious. Both eluded Archimedes, for example. They seem natural to us because were are steeped in them from the first grade and,  since everyone has had high school algebra, exponents seem routine. Using a thing and inventing it are very different animals. Any bright freshman can sling definite integrals; it took a Newton to invent them.

Imagine that you are a Mesoamerican Indian somewhere in Central America trying to figure out how to deal with large numbers. The fact that you are interested in large numbers suggests that you are not stupid. You have never had high-school algebra or heard of exponentiation. I cannot imagine how you would get from here to “Eureka!” (though as a Maya you probably didn’t know Greek either).

The idea  “Hey ,what if I line up powers of 20, multiply them by sort of coefficients, and add them….?”–is a huge intellectual leap. So far as I can determine, it only happened twice. It never happened in Europe.

For the mathematically curious, the Maya system had a remarkable peculiarity. Number systems, or anyway all I have heard of, require a number of symbols equal to the base. For example, binary, base-2, has two symbols, 0 and 1; decimal, base-10, ten symbols 0-9; and hexadecimal, base sixteen, 0-F.  So I thought, Oh help, I’m going to have to memorize twenty symbols of some weird sort.  In fact, the Maya ran a base-20 system with only three symbols representing  0, 1, and 5. That is truly strange, but it works. If interested, the link above explains it nicely.

For the record, from The Story of Mathematics: “The importance of astronomy and calendar calculations in Mayan society required mathematics, and the Maya constructed quite early a very sophisticated number system, possibly more advanced than any other in the world at the time ….The pre-classic Maya and their neighbours had independently developed the concept of zero by at least as early as 36 BCE, and we have evidence of their working with sums up to the hundreds of millions, and with dates so large it took several lines just to represent them. ”

Curious from a Stone Age people, which they essentially were. I note that Europe did not invent zero.

The Wheel

Maya Wheels
It is often said that the Maya never invented the wheel. Actually they did. Hundreds of these wheeled pull-toys for children have been found. Several writers have commented that it is difficult to understand why the Maya were unable to make the mental leap to the idea of making full-sized carts. But of course they could. Thing is, there were no animals to pull them, such as horses or donkeys. Making a mental leap to horses does not get you a horse.

Human Sacrifice

The Maya in the popular mind are thought to have been murdering, torturing savages given to human sacrifice. This is probably because they were in fact murdering, torturing savages given to human sacrifice. Why this is thought especially reprehensible is a mystery. The Romans sacrificed huge numbers in the arena so that the public could enjoy watching them die, crucified large numbers, and poured molten lead down the throats of criminals. In the European witch hunts, sort of 1450-1750, some 500,000 were killed depending on whose numbers you accept, mostly by burning alive. The Tudors hanged criminals, cut them down still alive, opened their abdomens and removed their bowels while still alive, and had four horses attached to their arms and-legs put them into pieces. And of course everybody and his dog  put entire cities to the sword, from Joshua to Hiroshima. Despite their best efforts the Maya could not keep up with the moderns.

Writing

The invention of writing is among the major intellectual achievement of humanity and one that occurred at most three or four times on the  planet, and perhaps fewer. Specialists argue, idiotically in m y view, over whether Chinese was or was not influenced by earlier writing. Specialists have to do something with their time. What is not arguable:

Wikipedia: “It is generally agreed that true writing of language (not only numbers) was invented independently in at least two places: Mesopotamia (specifically, ancient Sumer) around 3200 BC and Mesoamerica around 600 BC. Several Mesoamerican scripts are known, the oldest being from the Olmec or Zapotec of Mexico.”

The Maya script is logosyllabic and said to be functionally similar to Japanese, to which it is utterly unrelated. It is not “proto-writing,” but actual real writing. This was not immediately known because the script had  not been deciphered, but now about ninety percent can be read. This doesn’t help as much as might be expected since the Spanish Christians, as destructive as the Muslims of today, burned almost all Maya books–codices actually–and so everything we know comes from inscriptions carved on buildings. Imagine how we would look to Martians with the same problem. The book to read if interested is  Breaking the Maya Code.

 

The Arts

MayaPot1

MayaPot2MayaPot3

The aesthetic is a matter of taste but these to my eye appear artistically respectable. The Maya of today do nothing in math and technology, but retain a fine sense for design and the use of color.

Astronomy

Again from The Story of Mathematics: The Maya “were able to measure the length of the solar year to a far higher degree of accuracy than that used in Europe (their calculations produced 365.242 days, compared to the modern value of 365.242198), as well as the length of the lunar month (their estimate was 29.5308 days, compared to the modern value of 29.53059).” Try to imagine how they did it.

It is interesting that Europe invented neither writing, zero, nor its number system, but the Mesoamericans did all three. Perhaps the Indians were enstupidated by the admixture of Spanish blood. While this is all good fun, it again raises the question of how and why groups pass through periods of intellectual fertility and then stop, as the Maya certainly have. Always there is some pat genetic explanation that doesn’t make sense, can’t be established, or both. But the Indians did what they did. Interesting stuff, no?

Virtue and the Streets: A Dummy’s Guide to Police Work

Encountering almost daily criticisms of the police by Pathologically Virtuous Whites of the sort one finds at Salon and NPR, many of these criticisms being nonsensical, I find myself wanting to ask these unpleasantly nice people:

Do you know any cops? Have you ever known any? I mean known them well enough  to have a beer with after work, or to invite to a get-together at your house. Have you ever really talked to a cop?

As I thought.

Let’s try this: Have you ever heard an unedited interview, or any interview, with any of the cops or security people accused of gratuitously killing blacks? Or with their lawyers? With any cop at all about anything at all? That is, with anyone who might present their side of the story?

I haven’t either.

Has it ever occurred to you that there might be another side of the story?

Yet I assume confidently that you have heard all sorts of activists and talking heads who weren’t there holding forth on events about which they had no direct knowledge. Doubtless you have heard a lot from Jesse and Al, Barack and Michelle, and Hillary, and Black Lives Matter, and all the commentators. But nothing at all from the cops, right? That is,  your entire understanding of cops, the conditions in which they work, and particular events has been crafted by the media. No?

Now, why don’t you know any cops? For at least two reasons. As a Pathologically Virtuous White (PVW), you are almost certainly a college graduate. The police are blue-collar. PVWs s do not associate with what they regard as lower classes any more than they would let their daughters date a plumber.

Am I wrong?  Do you have a single close blue-collar friend? Or any blue-collar friend?

Another reason why you don’t know any cops is that cops and their families tend to be clannish, to associate mostly with other cops and their families. There are reasons for this. One is that people are uneasy around cops  and, in social settings, the cops are uncomfortable  around PVWs. If you invite a dozen friends to a backyard barbecue, and one is a cop, what happens if a guest, unaware, pulls out a joint and lights it? Does the cop arrest him? Pretend he doesn’t see? Be a good sport about it and risk repercussions for dereliction of duty? Will people even talk about their experiences in the Sixties with a cop around? (“I was flying on psilocybin and….”)

What if some of the guests are a bit, er, flushed with wine and start to drive home? Should he give them a sobriety test to protect the public? When is a cop not a cop?

Further, cops are masculine, a condition seldom practiced or approved by PVWs. They are conservative and like guns. You will be  acutely aware that they hey are not your kind of people. They will be aware that you are thinking this.

So you know nothing about them, their jobs, or the conditions in which they work. Especially the latter. Blank ignorance allows you to have strong, simple ideas and pious indignations about the police without any danger of contradiction by reality. You friends will all have the same notions, and you will all enjoy admiring your inherent rightness.

There are at least two explanations, neither of which you  are likely to understand, for your detestation of cops. On the street, cops have to be hard-nosed or they lose their authority. Citizens are a pain in the ass when interacting with cops. They will lie, argue, bluster, threaten, and weasel. A pretty woman hikes her skirt up before the cop reaches her car door door and makes googoo eyes. Men, especially in groups will try to intimidate an officer, physically or by arguing furiously. They all know the mayor. Why isn’t the cop out catching real criminals?  The only way the cop maintains his authority is to be stone-faced  and not friendly. Thus a cop who laughs and tells stories in the cruiser becomes robocop on the street. 

The other reason why PVWs hate cops is ego. Say that you are a bank  president of forty-five, or a lieutenant general in the Air Force, or the wife of the city treasurer. You are in your forties and have well-developed self-esteem. You are used to deference from others. You get stopped for speeding or, worse, wobbling out of your lane. The  cop is twenty-two years old. A high-school grad.

This…kid…can lecture you as if you were an erring child, order you out of your car, make you walk a straight line or blow in an Alkalsenor, impound your car if he determines that you are drunk, arrest you in handcuffs if necessary and send you to months of drunk-driving school. You have to take it. There is no recourse.

From a twenty-two year old kid.

Most of it won’t happen unless you are an idiot, but the kid can do it. And this rubs Pathologically Virtuous Whites the wrong way.

Now, let us go off the deep end and imagine that you,were required to don a cop’s uniform and spend three months walking a foot beat with a real cop in, say, Newark or Chicago or Detroit, downtown. How would this affect your mind?

Greatly.

You would find yourself in an utterly black neighborhood, probably for the first time in your life. You would not be nearly as comfortable as your multicultural self would like to be. People would not look friendly, especially the young men. There would be cold-eyed, dead stares. What I used to call shark’s eyes. The class and racial distinctions you think you don’t have would kick in hard. 

People will hate you. It will be shock to your system because it runs against everything NPR has told you to think. You will run through the laundry list of slavery, oppression, white privilege, but when you are through they will still hate you. As a momentary cop, you have to deal with what is there, not what you think ought to be there.

Suddenly the killing of policemen by blacks that you saw as abstractions on TV, perhaps half thinking that they deserved it, will not be so abstract.

You will discover that that when you arrest a local, no matter how obviously guilty of what, you will be hated for it. If you decline to arrest anybody for anything–a course whose wisdom you will begin to see–Salon and NPR will attack you for not doing your job.

You will realize that the police are not heavily armed thugs intimidating a helpless and cowering black public. Cops are vulnerable. Anybody passing you on the street could stick an ice pick into you, or blow your head off from behind. When you walk through a group of eight young men who don’t like you at all, for a  moment they will be on both sides of you, in front, and behind. You, a PVW, would probably turn your head to look backward, making you look afraid. Bad move. If you show fear, they are in charge. 

I am not making this up. As I write, the headline are that three cops were killed by blacks in New Orleans.

After a few days, the hostility would begin to get to you. You might want to throw up your hands and say, “Look, I’m with you. I understand your suffering over the centuries. I confess my guilt. Forgive me.”

It wouldn’t work. Nobody likes a whimpering wussy, usually including the wussy. There would slowly grow on you a horrible realization that when people dislike you intensely, you begin to dislike them. When you are afraid of them, dislike comes faster. You would begin to use words like dirtbag, knucklehead, perp. Or at least think them.

Hanging out at the Fraternal Order of Police, you would find that most cops are likable. This discovery would probably disturb you. You wouldn’t like it because it would upset treasured preconceptions. You Would find that some cops do push blacks around as per your training by the Washington Post. You would find, confusingly, that some that you liked some of the men who did the pushing. You  would feel safer with them on the street. You would find that black cops often push blacks around worse than white cops do. This would confuse you further.

You will see things that will change you. The blonde fifteen-year-old rape victim, screaming, choking, sobbing as a paramedic try to get a sedative into her arm. You will note your partner’s knuckles going white on his nightstick, the barely audible, very earnest, “God I hope he resists arrest.” This won’t make you favor police brutality, not at first anyway, and you may mumble appropriately about a troubled youth and white privilege. But you will begin to think.

And you will realize things that Pathologically Virtuous Whites don’t know. They think they do, but not even close: Shit happens on the streets. Really, really bad shit. The dead guy with his face peeled of all skin as if with an Exacto knife, eyes staring like boiled eggs. A little girl dead in a dumpster, hands bound, half her weight for her age from being kept ties in a closet, barely fed, suppurating scars on her wrists from tight ropes. Yeah, I know. Mommy had a bad childhood. The guy who offed himself over a girlfriend in the bushes along the parkway by the Pentagon, in August heat, found a week later: black oozing liquids swarming with maggots. The children burned to death in an arson fire, the color of boiled ham, bellies exploded because internal liquids boiled.

You never forget things like that. The foregoing are not fiction. I saw all of them. Just another day at the office for a big-city cop. After your three months, oh Pathologically Virtuous White–three months of ambiguity, of guesses sometimes wrong, of seeing the misery and venality and unrepentant viciousness–you would come to the cop’s routine conclusion that there are no answers and that the humans are a sorry lot. But you would know what you were talking about–and you would find it a novel experience.

White Nationalists And Practicality: If Any

“White nationalists” as they call themselves  would like to US to be close to one hundred percent white. So would I. So would many tens of millions of Americans who do not call themselves white nationalists, but are. Diversity causes nothing but trouble, and is doing so now. However, America can’t be completely white, or even close. The time for that idea is long past. The practical question becomes: What now?

White nationalists, often inaccurately called “white supremacists,”  want to close the border. So do I. They want to make Obama stop importing every sort of third-worlder he has heard of. So do I. They want to deport illegal aliens. With exceptions, so do I.

For the sake of discussion, let us assume that all of this has been done. At this point the white nationalists (hereinafter just “nationalists”) run out of gas, having so far as I am aware no further plan or aim beyond a loathing for anything not white and European.

The utility of this is not clear. The disappearance of the illegals would leave some 45 million legal Latinos: birthright citizens, naturalized citizens, legal residents and, increasingly, completely American citizens of Latino descent. (The numbers are shaky, but “whole really big bunch” would be accurate.) My question to white nationalists:

What do you recommend doing with, about, for, or to the tens of millions of legal Latinos? What specifically, and how do you propose doing it?

Many of the arguments made by the nationalists are rational—we don’t need the population, American businessmen unemploy Americans by giving jobs to illegals, the costs of assimilating them are high, and so on. Well and good, but mostly a bit late. Meanwhile the nationalists transparently seethe with hatred of Latinos. How this will prove of service to the United States eludes me.

This antagonism leads them to distort and even lie. Their opponents do likewise.  Most of the public I suspect, having no independent source of information, has to guess between.

So, what do nationalists propose? I do this not as a challenge but in search of understanding, a reasonable question in search of a reasonable answer. The question is one of the most important that can be asked.  The country deserves a concrete answer. The politically correct classes say things like, “We need comprehensive immigration reform.” That can mean anything, and therefore means nothing.

My answer would be: Try to make legal Latinos into productive citizens, which should not be terribly hard. Leaving them alone, and not allowing governments to turn them into a welfare class, would probably do the trick. If nationalists have a better idea, or another idea, I would be happy to consider it.

Since tens of millions of Latinos are in the country, and are going to stay, it might be wise to seek at least a modus viventdi and an amicable relationship, and better, assimilation, rather than needlessly encourage hostile relations. A difficulty here is that below the reasoned arguments of the nationalists there lies a horror of intermarriage. Correct me if I am wrong. To many, successful assimilation would be worse than keeping Latinos somehow cordoned off.

The problem, of course–“of course,” anyway, to people who have lived in the developing world–is that so many of the immigrants are not of the middle class. Once people have a decent job, spouse, mortgage, car, refrigerator, two kids and a dog, they become placid, maybe a little boring, and spend their time taking the kids to soccer practice. (How many of the people shooting each other in Chicago fail to fit this description? How many middle-class blacks shoot each other? Exactly) Thus it might be wise to encourage the entry of Latinos  into the middle class.

Unless the desire is to keep them out  of the middle class. Is it?

I have framed the question on the assumption that the border has been closed, which it hasn’t, and won’t be for most of a decade if Hillary comes in.

Do white nationalists propose to encourage assimilation? How? Discourage it? How? Let nature take its course? If the choice is to discourage assimilation, the practicality would seem doubtful, since in many places in the US the races mix amicably, and many Americans in Mexico who have Mexican wives speak highly of the idea.

Do white nationalists favor teaching Latino kids English in the schools,  or not doing so? Should white children be allowed, or required, to learn to speak Spanish? The idea seems to set off spasms of revulsion in some nationalists, though if you told a  German that his kids should not learn English or French, or both, he would look at you strangely. Discouraging monolingualism  would make for assimilation, if that should be desired.

Is assimilation possible? I think so, eventually anyway, but we shall see. I do know that if (a) Latinos, already probably twenty per cent of the population, become ghettoized, isolated, hostile and dysfunctional, the United States is over, fini, done, and (b) constant attacks on them as Latinos tend to lead to this end. It Is one thing to deport illegals, verify citizenship for employment, and punish criminals. It is another endlessly to characterize Latinos as criminal, stupid, and foul. Which is what white nationalists relentlessly do.

The curious thing is that nationalists seem to want Latinos to be as undesirable as possible. If I write that n Mexico the schools are not chaotic and kids learn to read, that Mexicans do not breed like flies, (fertility rate, CIA FactBook: 1960: 6.78; 2015: 2.26), that the country runs the standard technological infrastructure of airlines, telecommunications and hospitals, on and on, the response never varies: Fred is lying, everything good is done by the white part of the Mexican population, and  these defects are genetic  and pleasantly irremediable.

One would think that the nationalists, having millions of Latinos in their country, would welcome evidence that the newcomers were not as terrible as thought–hoped, I could almost say. No. To hell with the country, but do not threaten my internal furies.

We have an interesting approach to national suicide. On one hand, favoring unlimited immigration, we have the Googooing Good, the big money men, Hillary, and Obama, which will make matters worse. On the other hand, white nationalists who apparently want a bar fight. What could be smarter?