Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I’m Dreaming of a New York Christmas Part 3

This is part 3 of a three part post, part 1 is here.

Snow is covering the bench lined path which leads us to an exit. We cross Fifth Avenue which is no longer a commercial street once the park begins. Instead prewar apartment buildings, clubs, mansions, and museums face Central Park. We walk briskly east along cross streets lined with brownstone houses and small art galleries. We pass Madison Avenue, another of the City’s many commercial streets.

Then Park Avenue opens before us. A wide boulevard that runs north from Union Square at 14th Street to 132nd Street in the North, Park Avenue is usually a major thoroughfare with heavy traffic, but this afternoon the snow has kept many cars off the street. Islands of grass, bushes and trees, now covered in snow, divide the North bound traffic from that heading south. Christmas trees slowly being decorated with snow are at each end of the islands. The money for them was donated by a family that lost their son during the Second World War. The lighting of them each year is proceeded by a Christmas carol sing at 91st Street and the playing of taps.

We head south on Lexington Avenue stopping at a push cart to buy hot dogs covered with sauerkraut and onions in paprika. The meaty salty sweetness of the hotdogs blend in our mouths with the sour of the kraut and the spicy savor of the onions as we stroll south until we reach the Citibank building, a silver tower balanced atop five pillars. We carefully descend the snows slick steps into the court yard in front of the building. In the mall beneath the building is one of my favorite New York Christmas displays. A huge model train display.

We join a line of businessmen stealing a moment to enjoy one of the pleasures of the season, parents with excited children, and many other people. In the first of the dioramas, the trains wend their way through Newark, New Jersey with the Manhattan skyline in the background. Then heading north along the Hudson Valley, they run through a diorama of a 1950s suburban landscape. I point out fast food joints, a circus, and a drive in movie theater complete with a working movie screen. The trains then climb into the hilly terrain further north with a lumber mill cradled in a valley. Then they descend into the farm land of upstate, with barns and farm houses. Finally the trains run through a winter wonderland of the far north thick with snow before curving out of sight.

We are not required to brave the winter wonderland above, but proceed through tunnels to the 51st street train station of the six train. We hop on a south bound train and look at the great variety of people sharing the car with us. New York has long been a melting pot with people from many different nations living in the city for a time before moving on to other areas of the country. I point out the closed 18th street station barely lit as we speed by. After a 15 minute ride we get off at City Hall.

We surface in a small park. The white neo-classical bulk of City Hall where the 51 member city council meets and the mayor has his office is surprisingly small for such a large city. Across the street is the neo-gothic Woolworth building, once the tallest building in the world, covered in beautiful carving, enamel work and statuary. We stroll south on Broadway into the downtown financial district.

Here the buildings are older than at midtown, since it was the original main business district in the city. Even today, it is the third most important business district in the country and the second largest in the city after midtown. The brownstone bulk of Trinity Church emerges slowly from the swirling snow. This is the oldest Episcopal church in New York and the richest in the country since it owns most of the land on which the surrounding financial district is built. The parish still pays the Queen of Great Britain a rent of one peppercorn per annum. Snow is starting to drift against the grave stones in the church yard. In warmer weather it would be pleasant to look at the old graves but in the cold of this winter afternoon we turn east into the shelter of the canyons of the financial district.

The streets here were laid out hundreds of years before the invention of the automobile, so they are much narrower than those in the rest of the city. The early skyscrapers here seem to close out the sky. After passing through a very narrow block, the street opens slightly.

To our left is the short six story stone bulk of the Morgan Bank building, still pockmarked by the blast of an anarchist bomb that detonated outside in 1920. To our right is the federal building with a statute of George Washington elevated on a plinth before it. It was upon this spot that Washington took the oath of office and became the first President of the United States.

Before us is the New York Stock Exchange one of the most important financial markets in the world. A large Christmas tree stands before it slowly collecting snow. Inside, drifts of paper are accumulating on the floor of the Exchange’s main trading room. Even in this day of computers, the exchange generates frightening amounts of waste paper every day.

We walk east down Wall Street passing office buildings housing some of the worlds most important financial companies. 40 Wall Street on our left was the tallest building in the world for a few months before it was supplanted by the Chrysler Building in Midtown. When I was a boy my father had his office on the 60th floor of this building.

A few blocks later we arrive at the old brick structure of Fraunces Tavern. It was here that General Washington said farewell to the officers of the Continental Army before returning home to Mount Vernon like Cincinnatus returning to the plow. We take a peak inside and look at the historical exhibits. Paintings, Washington’s false teeth, and a number of artifacts of the Society of the Cincinnati.

Leaving the old inn, we walk the through the snow to the Fulton Street station of the A Train. The wind and snow follow us down the stairs. The trains of this line are wider and longer than those of the six train, because it was built later by the city to the train specification of the Brooklyn Manhattan Transit Company, the IRT’s rival. We ride north for more than 40 minutes as a kaleidoscope of humanity parades before us. Something of the neighborhoods above can be cleaned from the dress, and ethnicity of the people who board and exit the train at each stop. At 190th Street we get off and take an elevator to the surface.
The elevator opens into a small stone building. We refasten our coats and put back on our hats before exiting into Fort Tryon Park. We stroll to where the park ends at a bluff overlooking the Hudson river. We can hardly see the far shore through the heavy snow, but if we could we would see woodland. This is because John D Rockefeller Jr. gave the land on the far side to the State of New Jersey as a park so that the land we are standing on which was once his estate would always have a country view across the river.

A few minutes walk brings us the gothic buildings of the Cloisters. This northern outpost of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is made of abandoned French monasteries disassembled and transported to New York where they were reassembled. It holds the Museum’s Medieval Collection, most of it, like the land it stands on was donated by Mr. Rockefeller. We enter the building and ascend a dark stone staircase to the main floor.

We look at the famous tapestries depicting the hunting of a unicorn then step out into the colonnade of the cloister where snow is gathering on the rose bushes. In the summer this is open letting people stroll through the rose bushes planted there, but now we are grateful that temporary glass windows are fitted to keep in the heat.

We walk down a few stairs and look at the gold religious objects in the treasury, then step through an open doorway into the garden. Hops now dormant for the winter cling to one wall. A Pair Tree has been trained into a fork like shape against another wall of the building. Other fruit trees now bare of leaves stand in the middle of wilted garden patches now covered with snow.

The snow fall has temporarily lessened so we are able to see a distance south across upper New York. Since this is the highest point in Manhattan, in better weather we would be able to see all the way down to the financial district 13 miles to the south, but this afternoon as the sky darkens only a mile of two of the city is visable. We retreat into the warmth of the Cloisters for a few more minutes looking at the coffins of crusaders laid out in a small chapel.

Leaving the museum we stroll through the park back to the subway station. The snow drifts around us as we walk through the darkening winter afternoon. The elevator lowers us to the station and we walk to south end of the platform so we can look out of the front of the southbound train.

With a roar and a blast of wind the train enters the station. Standing at the train’s front window, we can see the track ahead and the green, yellow, and red signal lights that tell the operator to go, slow, or stop respectively. Just before the 145th Street station we see the B and D tracks curve in and join with the A line. At 125th Street we get of the train to wait for the C or B trains which run as local trains for this part of the route.

The C pulls into the station and a few minutes later we are exiting at the 81st Street - Natural History Museum station. The station is decorated with mosaics of dinosaurs and more modern animals. We climb the stairs to the surface.
Before us is the great granite and marble bulk of the Natural History Museum. Inside are wonders from the world’s largest star sapphire to African and Asian mammals in display cases with the trees, bushes, and grasses of their habitat used to make realistic dioramas with exquisite paintings in the background. It would be wonderful to stop and explore, but we have one more Christmas stop before heading home and the late afternoon dark is closing in.

We jump on a cross town bus which enters the viaduct across central park. The stone blocks of the walls flash by and at one point we pass through a tunnel carved from the naked rock of the park. Three minutes later we exit the bus, once more on Fifth Avenue.

We cross 79th Street and walk two blocks north to the grand Beaux-Arts building of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We climb the broad stone steps and enter in the great lobby. Huge urns full of seasonal flowers stand in niches on the wall. The money for the flowers was left by a long time patron in her will. We give a donation then stroll through the Byzantine art. We stop and examine a bible bound in gold and gems before walking into a large hall constructed to look like a church so that a gorgeous rod screen could be displayed.

However it is the not the screen that grabs our attention, but the Christmas tree decorated with a swarm of porcelain angels with flowing silk robes. We join the crowd of holiday visitor waiting to get a closer look. At the base of the tree is a crèche with beautiful figurines of the holy family, the wise men, and the shepherds. The tree which is an annual Met tradition is composed of hundreds of figurines from three separate crèche sets made in Italy during the 17th century. As we get closer I point to one of the angels holding a censer. When we get close enough we can see the wise men riding on elephants, camels, and horses. Regretfully we have to move with the flow of people and are soon moved past the tree.

On the way out we swing by the Temple of Dendur a gift from the government of Egypt to the United State for the help given to move it and several other ancient temples when the High Dam at Asswan was built. Without the aid of the United States, the temple would have been flooded by the rising waters behind the dam.

We put back on our hats, coats and scarves before leaving the shelter of the museum. While we have been inside darkness has fallen. This reveals one of the glories of a New York evening snow fall, the way the lights from buildings light the snow. In the country one can’t see the great volume of snow in the air because there is no light to illuminate it except at ground level. The tall buildings of the city serve to light the snow hundreds of feet in the air.

We walk down 82nd Street enjoying the falling snow. I point out my favorite parts of the Upper East Side as we pass them, my sister’s apartment, a bar that our friends meet at during the holidays, and my favorite pizza place. Ten minutes later we arrive back at my parent’s apartment building.

I have to hurry because one of the other joys of Christmas in New York is the large number of parties in the two weeks before Christmas. During Christmas even the lawyers and investment bankers who work unbelievable hours take time to attend holiday gatherings and youngsters back from boarding school and college are eager to be reunited with grade school friends. Any big city is really just a large number of overlapping communities and that is never so apparent in New York as at Christmas.

During the holidays, the city that never sleeps turns its attention temporarily from the creation of wealth to the enjoyment of it. People take the time to realize what an extraordinary place we call home. Most of all we reunite with friends and family and so in that way at least a New York Christmas is not so different from Christmas anywhere.

To say more would be to parade my friends and family in their intimate moments before the public eye, so at the door to my parents home let me wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Some videos of New York snow Storms here, here, and here.

UPDATE: Typo corrected

I’m Dreaming of a New York Christmas Part 2

This the second part of a three part post, part 1 is here.

Offices of all sorts line the street. I point to the wreaths hanging on the buildings. Wreath however is a pallid word for these adornments. A wreath is in our minds 18 to 36 inches in diameter and made of fir branches. That some of these are constructed of evergreen branches is the only point of comparison. To show as anything but a token acknowledgement of the season when mounted on massive buildings, the wreaths have to be on a similar scale. Are the smallest four feet across or six? It is certain that the largest is more than a dozen feet across. Not all are made of fir. Red, silver or gold Christmas tree ornaments are often used instead. As the afternoon darkens all are highlighted with snow.

Unseen on the side streets as we continue north are the Harvard Club, the New York Yacht Club, the Century Association and other bastions of wealth and comfort, no doubt made the more cheery by the cold and white that swirls around us.

We pass the faux log entrance to the Philippine building and soon thereafter the sandstone art deco buildings of Rockefeller Center appear on our left. Snow clinging to the sides of the buildings where the wind has plastered it on like stucco.

We turn and look down the mall between the French Republic Building and the British Empire Building. This latter if urban legends are to be believed would have been the British capital in exile if the battle of Britain had gone differently. At the far end of the mall, the RCA building rises like the cliffs of Dover from the sea. These are but the frame for a double row of white angles trumpeting the good news. Is it the news of the messiah’s birth or of the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. This is left ambiguous.

We stroll along the mall and peer over the railing that marks the edge of the sunken court yard. A small mob zips across the icy surface of the skating rink built here during the winter. The skaters seem almost to be performing a temple dance before the gold statue of a languid Prometheus delivering fire from the heavens. This brings to mind the pagan origins of the Christmas tree, but the tree itself has never been far from our thoughts towering as it does 50 feet above us.

A glass elevator lowers us through the sidewalk to the underground level of the huge complex. As we sip Starbuck’s coffee on chairs in their shop facing out onto the town square of this subterranean city, I tell you about the passages that radiate out from this spot.

You could travel three blocks west and about eight blocks from north to south . Restaurants serving formal French cuisine rub shoulders with McDonalds. Florists sell plants from stores that never see the sun. Candy shops, ice cream parlors, and book stores cater to the whims of people hurrying to the two subways that link this looking glass world to the rest of the city.

Most ubiquitous are newsstands and outlets of a local chain of drug stores. These latter hint that despite the inviting shelter and warmth of this underground mall, breathing the recycled air of tens of thousands of others is less healthful than the brisk winter above.

It is with regret that we leave this warmth and again board the glass elevator for the surface. As we exit we tuck our scarves more securely under our chins and look again into the sunken plaza. The dance continues, but snow is gathering incongruously on the flames of Prometheus’ gift to man.

We turn and walk back past the trumpeting angles. Looming out of the swirling snow, is the storefront of Saks Fifth Avenue. The façade of the building is lit by electric snow flakes that light in turn, coordinated with Christmas music that tinkles from speakers mounted around the building. (Video here) We cross the street and pause briefly to enjoy the smell of roasting chestnuts sold by a street vendor, then plunge into the famous department store. Artificial, but beautiful faux snow covered tree limbs punctuated with white lights decorate the interior creating a winter wonderland effect that seams to compliment rather than clash with the perfume and jewels being sold.

We pause but for a moment here. Upstairs we could buy goods ranging from rugby shirts to diner jackets, but it was the white splendor of the first floor echoing the weather out side that we wanted to see. Leaving this temple to mammon, we are confronted by its rival, St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

This gothic building looks as if it was transported intact from France. When the land was first bought and construction commenced on this second Catholic cathedral of the city, it was called the bishop’s folly because people thought it so far north that no one would ever come. It covers an entire city block and is a testament to the importance of Catholicism even in this very protestant country and to the faith of the immigrants who‘s earnings financed its construction.

As we head north once more, the people thronging the street are thrust before us. Unlike most of the city, here it is the prospect of spending money rather than making it that draws the largest part of the crowd. The two groups are very distinct. Clothing is one mark that distinguishes them, but under winter wraps this is less plain than it would be in summer. But these obvious marks are not necessary. One can tell them apart by how they walk and the set of their face. Are they seeing what is in front of them or what is around them? Do they walk briskly or stroll?

We chose the later option in both cases and so it takes a little longer to reach the Anglo-Norman bulk of St. Thomas’ Church, the Episcopal entry into the Fifth Avenue large church competition. We turn in to look at this monument to the Anglo Catholic. In the narthex is a mosaic that celebrates the end of the second world war. The arms of the big four, the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union are at the four cardinal points of a circle that includes the arms of the other allies.

The sound of singing draws us into the nave where we can see the church’s famous choir of men and boys practicing. The beautiful high notes of the trebles and the stirring rumble of the bases blend into a heavenly sound. The boys in the choir attend the St. Thomas Choir School a boarding school run by the church for the choristers. We sit in a pew for a few minuets listening, then get up and look at the side chapel, the statue of the virgin, and stand quietly before the carved list of the parish’s war dead. We reflect for a minuet on the lives cut short that we might live in freedom, then we head back outside.

Before leaving the shelter of the church steps, we rebutton our jackets and adjust our hats. Then we step into the snow covered streets and head north once again. Through the swirling snow we see Cartier’s store rapped like a giant present. The scaffolding that protects pedestrians from falling debris from work on the building had been transformed with the use of pine boughs into a forest of pine trees Cleverly placed speakers serenade us with Christmas carols as we stroll by the sapphires and diamonds. Even Brooks Brothers has a few Christmas decorations hidden among the preppy cloths.

Towering out of the white is the glass and bronze of Trump tower. We walk under the large wreath hanging over the entrance and enter into the pink marble and brass atrium. Water cascades five stories down one side of the atrium with plants growing in niches along the wall. We could go up the escalators for coffee or down them for a cocktail, but we have a long way to go before reaching home.

Next door, is Tiffany & Co. who’s windows have charming holiday still lives, studded with the firm’s jewels. As we continue north, the Plaza Hotel emerges from the swirling snow. The building is now under renovation and conversion with some of the floors being converted into condominiums for the rich and famous.

We cross the street to where an equestrian statue of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the artist who designed the twenty dollar gold piece, guards the entrance to Central Park. We duck down a flight of stairs into Central Park and all of a sudden we seem to be in the country.

Trees hang over the path which circles a pond slowly accumulating a rime of ice. Bushes poke their branches through the rapidly thickening blanket of snow. As we stroll along the sound of music draws us further into the park.

Dogs frolic in a snow covered field just before we reach one of the few roads that run through the park. Horse drawn carriages and pedecabes carry tourists through the park. The music we have been hearing seams to be coming from behind a rock ledge. The rock slopes up so we are able to clime it without difficulty. When we reach the top a splendid view opens before us.

Below is the source of the music, Wolman Rink. Hundreds of skaters promenade on the ice in a counter clockwise circle. White puffs of smoke stream from the rosy faces of the skaters as they move with the Christmas music.

The trees surrounding the rink make it look like a pond in the woods used for winter sports, but if one looks up, the buildings of Central Park South tower above the scene. It is the epitome of Manhattan an island 14 miles long that has been transformed for the enjoyment of man. Apartments and offices of a highly urban character over looking a park of lakes, trees, and meadows. Elsewhere in the park are a merry-go-round, a restaurant, sports fields, and a zoo, but we have miles to go and the snow is getting deep.

Part 3 is here.

I’m Dreaming of a New York Christmas Part 1

With my law school exams more than half over and my departure from Florida for New York imminent, I am starting to look forward to a New York Christmas and hoping it will be a white one. For those of you who have never been to New York for Christmas (you poor benighted souls) and to get myself into the spirit, I have written that which follows.

The first thing that charms about a New York Christmas is the blatant and unashamed commercialism of the entire affair. I know some hate this, but frankly I can’t understand why. Granted that some people go crazy on Black Friday (when don‘t they), but in New York it is mostly just fun and profit. The obvious fact is that ours is a free and liberal, that is to say, capitalist society. It stands to reason that our holidays are going to be commercialized and New York fortunately doesn’t waste time pretending otherwise. Every store of note has its Christmas display. Windows are turned into celebrations of the season.

Another great thing about a New York Christmas is that if you are lucky enough to have a white one, it is really beautiful. Most probably don’t think of New York City as a very snowy place. It is the reds, browns and grays of concrete, stone, and brick, not the white of snow that New York usually brings to mind. However every few years New York gets a good snow during the holidays and the city is transformed.

I want to try and share with you why I love New York especially at Christmas, but all the year round. To do that I am going to go on a tour of the city with you. Since this is a fantasy lets suppose it is a few days before Christmas and the conditions are just right.

It is about half an hour before noon when we take the elevator down from my parents apartment on the east river in Manhattan. The lobby is decorated in what has become something of a winter holiday tradition for our building with a Christmas Tree and an abstract Menorah. We say good afternoon to Joseph the doorman and walk out under the green awning just as the first flakes start to fall from the steel grey sky.

We walk a block south to 79th street where we jump onto a cross town bus. This major cross street is largely residential but as we proceed west we pass York Avenue (named for Sgt. York if you were wondering), First Avenue, Second Avenue and Third Avenue, the heart of Yorkville. These north-south avenues are full of shops and restaurants. Most are small family businesses, but many are larger corporations or chains. If we continued further west we would pass the mansion of Mayor Bloomburg, but we don’t.

We hop off the bus at Lexington Avenue and button our jackets against the wind and cold. The stretch of Lexington Avenue just south of 79th Street is relatively less developed. Most of the buildings are about five stories high. To the north the buildings rise higher as one looks towards 86th Street once called “the German Broadway” and still this area’s main commercial street. To the south the buildings rise toward the great midtown business district.

Here at 79th Street it is almost suburban from a New York perspective. We head south on foot as the sidewalk now wet from melted snow starts to catch the first flakes to stick, in cracks and crevices in the sidewalk and in the angle formed by the intersection of buildings and the sidewalk.

Two blocks south at Lenox Hill Hospital we turn west and head down the stairs into the 77th Street Station of the Lexington Avenue Subway. Snow follows us down the stairs riding on a blast of wind. The 6 Train or Lexington Avenue local was built in the early years of the 20th century by the Interborough Rapid Transit Corporation or IRT and some signs of this remain for those who look closely. I point to a small tin sign which you can barely read hanging from an overhead conduit which still bares the name of the private corporation that built the first of the system’s major lines. This one line carries more riders than the Chicago, San Francisco, and Boston rail transit systems combined.

With a roar and a gust of wind, the train comes out of the tunnel and into the station. We board and are serenaded by a trio of mariachi performers who have made their way north from Mexico City to this more profitable ground for street performance. After a sufficiency of Dane geld has been collected they stop playing and move on to the next compartment and we are left in peace to contemplate advertisements for Goosedown Vodka “It tastes more like nothing than brands A, B, & C vodka.”

Three stops later we disembark at the 42nd Street station. This is a major subway station where two important lines cross and a shuttle leads to Time Square and even more subterranean transportation options. We ignore these and head for the exit. A semicircle of devout Catholics stands to one side witnessing for the faith. “Hail Marry full of grace the Lord is with thee.” they proclaim as they finger a bead from their rosary. “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus,” the seasonal thought follows us up the escalator.

We emerge into one of the exit corridors of Grand Central Terminal. Instead of leaving this hub of the commuter railroads running north and east from the city, we head inward, west through the building. It is cold out and a block or two walked in the warmth of the building and its warren of tunnels and passages is inviting.

The passage soon opens into the Terminal’s great hall with its brass information hut surmounted by the famous four faced clock where friends and lovers meet. A huge American flag hangs from the ceiling as it has since shortly after Sept. 11. Its bold red, white, and blue stand out against the sandy stone and the pale turquoise ceiling. We walk through the crowd and back into the pedestrian tunnels lined with shops. As we mount a ramp for the surface the smell of fresh baked pastry tempts us, but we manfully ignore it.

We surface at the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and 42nd Street. On all sides the building soar upwards to the heavens, but the falling snow softens the stark elegance of their upward thrust. We walk west on the floor of 42nd Street’s canyon mixing with the throng of people busy making money.

Two blocks further on we arrive at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street one is tempted to say, the corner of the world. Looking to our left we see the Empire State Building rising from the street half a mile to the south. To our right is one of the most exclusive shopping districts on earth.

Before us is The New York Public Library and Bryant Park. (a picture of NYPL here) We walk over and stand at the foot of the steps leading up to the entry. If we mounted the stairs we could burry ourselves in the leather and dark wood of the current periodical room or listen to the echo made by wooden chairs scraping on the stone floor of the 297 foot long main reading room.

More entrancing however is the sight of the snow slowly blanketing the two great stone lions Patience and Fortitude which guard the entrance to this Fort Knox of knowledge. In recognition of the season these rulers of the empire of the mind have deigned to have wreaths placed around their necks and now bejeweled in red and green and caped in white, they are a dignified personification of the season.

To our left Macy’s calls to us, but we have other plans and head north along Fifth Avenue. The light is starting to fade under the weight of snow as we walk north, passing Nat Shermans’ Purveyor of Fine Tobacco Products to those willing to trade money and time for a little pleasure.

Part 2 is here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Multiculturalism the Enabler of Fascism

Advocates of multiculturalism like to pretend they are the vanguard of liberalism. In fact, in both ideology and effect, they are the enablers of fascism.
They put forward the doctrine that all cultures are equal and that to criticize another culture is racist. That the later doctrine is in fact racist is something they are seemingly blind to.

Multiculturalism racist? Why yes. The idea that all cultures are equal and your culture is good for you and my culture is good for me and that no one can say one is better than the other is based on a racial deterministic view of culture. That is to say that multiculturalists believe that people have a culture in the same way that people have blue eyes or black skin or red hair. Thus from the multiculturalist point of view, to judge one culture superior to another, is to judge one group of people superior to another.

This was the same view held by the Nazis. They believed that national socialism was true for Germans. They were willing to admit it might not be true for all people. But it was true for them and that was all that was important to them. They differed from the multiculturalists in believing that the German “volk” was superior to all other races.

All the multiculturalists have done with the Nazi theory is to declare that no one culture is better than another. This is so, they say, because no one can move out side of ones own culture to evaluate other cultures objectively because culture is not a chosen form of behavior, but deterministic.

However it is unclear why if one is unable to judge other cultures one should care for them or consider them of any value what so ever, never mind of equal value. This is exactly what the Nazis did, they held that critiques of their ideas using logic were invalid because it was Jewish-British-Middle Class logic and all they were interested in was “German logic.”

The problem is that if, like the multiculturalists, one rejects the use of reason as a means of relations between people of different cultures, there is nothing left to regulate the relations between cultures, but brute force. It is exactly this that the Nazis argued. Since, according to the Nazis, there was nothing but German logic and French logic, there is nothing to do about conflicts of interest but fight. Of course that is what the Nazis did do. They fought and killed without mercy or reason.

In essence the multiculturalists follow the Nazis up to these last two steps and then flinch from the logical conclusion of their own ideas. That they do draw back from murder and genocide is of course to their credit, but the problem is that they spread one of the basic ideas of fascism.

Now let’s turn to the logical effects of multiculturalism even setting aside for a moment its logical extreme.

Since according to multiculturalism, all cultures are of equal value, it follows that if one culture embraces individual rights, democracy and capitalism, and another perpetual jihad, honor killings, female genital mutilation, and wife beating, one culture is not to be preferred over the other.

In other words the primary effect of multiculturalism is to morally disarm the good and morally arm the evil.

Now let us turn to the effects of multiculturalism as it effects the situation in Europe today with regards to the struggle between Western Civilization and Islamic Civilization.

First of all it should be noted that the idea that this must be an all or nothing struggle with no learning on either side is itself an artifact of multiculturalism. There may in fact be good points that Western Civilization could gain from Islamic Civilization, its high value on hospitality for example. Likewise, Islamic civilization could gain an increased respect for the value of reason, individual rights, and democracy.

However, as long as the multiculturalist idea is predominant no such mutual learning is likely to take place. If French rudeness is of equal value with Islamic ideas of hospitality then why should the French change their ways. Likewise if Islamic female genital mutilation is of equal value with Western equal rights for women, why should Muslims change theirs?

Of course Western Civilization and Islamic Civilization are not of equal value. By comparison Islamic Civilization is barbaric. However this is the one conclusion that multiculturalists feel they must deny. They are in fact frantic to deny it, because they believe, due to the internal logic of multiculturalism, that the only alternative to declaring blind equality is a race war.

Thus anyone who points out that Western Civilization is superior to Islamic Civilization as it now exists, is labeled a racist by the multiculturalists. It is important to understand that this is both a tactic in that having rejected reason the multiculturalists can only resort to name calling or force and it is a reflection of the interior state of the multiculturalists.

By accepting the racial determination of ideas the multiculturalists has put himself in a trap where the only two alternatives are supine surrender to inferior cultures and fascist genocide. The liberal alternative of education and assimilation of the people from the more backward culture is blanked out of their minds by the false alternatives of their racial determinism.

Since most cultures, to be even marginally successful, must consider themselves to be of value and most consider themselves of superior value to other cultures, the multiculturalists declaration that for example Islam is of equal value with Western Civilization is not meet with joy by those the multiculturalists are pandering to.

The pandering is in fact seen as both an insult and an invitation to aggression. Consider that the militant Islamic believes wrongly that his culture is superior. He is met with the insult that his culture is no better than Western Civilization and then observes that this supposedly equal civilization believes that it is of no more value than any civilization however backward. The Islamicist both feels insulted and believes that any action he takes to revenge the insult will be meet with passivity.

The natural result is what we have seen over the past two decades in Europe, increasing sectarian violence by muslems. The first victims of this violence are those from their own culture. Women primarily are increasing abused as it becomes clear that the host culture will not protect them. Next the people who were once part of that culture but have rejected it become the victims of the totalitarian impulses of the Islamicists. Then groups that have been traditionally the enemies of Muslims and whose toleration by Western Civilization is recent or incomplete, such as Jews and Gays come under attack. Finally, as the supine surrender of the multiculturalists becomes obvious, the majority population itself comes under attack. The multiculturalists of course try and ignore this escalating cycle of violence.

Because the idea of fascist genocide is so terrible, the multiculturalists understandably, given their premise, cling violently to their wrongheaded ideology, even as events make the need for action plain. They tend to deny that any problem exists. If they control the media they will tend to down play the aggression of the violent group. They will even lie and suppress evidence that contradicts their fervorent hope that all is well. If they control the state they will tend to use its power to keep the question of civilizational conflict from coming to the fore. They may even pass laws making cultural criticisms illegal. Though they thought themselves the vanguard of liberalism, they find themselves suppressing free speech in the name of fighting racism, real and imagined.

Thus the multicultural European elite demonizes relatively moderate parties that want to take steps to limit the conflict between the native population and the Muslim immigrants. Absurd slippery slope arguments are made that equate reasonable restrictions on immigration with the first step of genocide.
It is important again to realize that as with the hysterical charges of racism, these slippery slope arguments are both tactical and a reflection of the inter beliefs of the multiculturalists.

However the hysterical charges of racism and the absurd slippery slope arguments will have the opposite of their intended effect. They will weaken the forces of liberalism instead of strengthening them.

In fact the multiculturalists will start to find that, just as social democrats were unable in many cases to fight off the contending forces of communism and fascism in the thirties, that the center will not hold.

The center will tend not to hold because of three factors. The first is that the multiculturalists have demonized the only force, liberalism that could have saved them. The second factor is that multiculturalists are in fact ideologically abetting fascism. The more wide spread is the belief in multiculturalism, the more wide spread is one of the tenants of fascism. The last reason the center will tend not to hold is that the same moral emptiness that keeps the multiculturalists from fighting the Islamiscists effectively, will keep them from fighting the fascists in the majority population effectively.

In fact the multiculturalists’ dirty secret, which they hide even from themselves, is that they, to the extent that they do want to stave off Islamic domination, think that the fascists have the right, indeed the only idea, of how to win.

Thus while at present the multiculturalists will tend to demonize the forces of liberal moderation such as the List Pim Fortuyn, the United Kingdom Independence Party, and the Danish Peoples Party, equating them with fascism. In the longer term however they will likely tend towards fascism themselves.

In fact there are as far as I can see only five possible courses forward for Europe.

The best outcome that can be hoped for is that the forces of liberalism will make a massive recovery of their moral strength in the next few years and begin a massive program of education, assimilation, and the enforcement of western values as embodied in the criminal law of their countries to protect the women, children and non violent portions of their immigrant Muslim communities.

The second best scenario is that such a recovery of liberal moral strength, but not until a civil war is inevitable. Then they will have to fight the reactionary forces of radical Islam while simultaneously restraining the fascists among the native population. This will to put it mildly be difficult, especially since both groups of fascists will be trying to provoke atrocities.

Depressingly the third best out come that can be projected is that a liberal revival halts total Islamic victory and Europe ends up like Lebanon as a patchwork of hostile ethnic enclaves.

The fourth and fifth outcomes are frankly unspeakable, either fascist or Islamic victory.

Now since Europe, the EU’s propaganda to the contrary not withstanding, is not unified, different out comes could occur in different countries.

However it is important to realize that Europe has several strikes against it in resisting both fascism and Islamism. First the European Union has no unifying history or ideology that could be used to acculturate the Muslim population and immigrants. Second the closest thing it does have to such an ideology is transnational democratic socialism which has become heavily impregnated with or is identical with multiculturalism, which is the problem. Third, while the European idea is insufficient to be an acculturating force, it maybe powerful enough to constrain the real nationalism of Europe’s actual nations thus weakening one of the potential forces of moderation.

Given the riots in Paris, it maybe to late to avoid civil war, however is may not be. It is cirtaintly not to late to avoid balkanization or fascist or islamist victory. However Liberals, Conservatives, Libertarians and all others who reject the poison of multiculturalism must rally to enforce the protection of individual rights for every citizen and deny special privileges for the forces of Islamic reaction.

I believe that Europe is still strong enough to save itself from the forces of multiculturalism, islamism and fascism, but time is running out.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ron Paul, Gold and the Left

Those who have paid even the most cursory attention to my occasional posts on this blog know that I am by no means an egalitarian. However I have to speak out concerning those of our countrymen on the left who would support the Hon. Ron Paul Tex. for president but are being turned off by his support for the gold standard.

Those who are trying to do a hatchet job on Ron Paul are saying that the gold standard is nutty and reactionary. In fact there are several things about the gold standard that should make left support it.

A. Under the Federal Reserve Them What Have Get More Than They Otherwise Would

First let us look at that perennial complaint of the left, that profits are to high and wages to low. Now whether any particular ratio of wages and profits are optimal is to my mind a question generally best left to the market.

However it is undeniably true that the current system of fiat money elevates the profits of business. Consider that in a given period costs of goods sold are fixed, representing wages and investments in plant and equipment that are already made. These same moneys are then used to buy the products of businesses. When new money is injected into the economy by the federal reserve, that new money is business revenue for which there is no corresponding cost. Since profits equal sales revenue less costs, this this new money always increases the dollar amount of profits.

B. The Gold Standard Subjected the Working and Middle Class to less Investment Risk

Second, the federal reserve system tends to wipe out the savings of the working class and middle class. Traditionally, the financially less sophisticated who tend to be less well off saved in two ways.

First they “banked with their teapot.” In other words they put their money in a safe place and saved that way. Today such a course of action would be madness, the value of the money would be inflated away. If for example one put a hundred dollars under a mattress for 20 years and there is a two percent annual rate of inflation, then at the end of the period the money would have lost about 25 percent of its purchasing power. In contrast between the founding of the Republic in 1789 and the founding of the Federal Reserve Bank in 1912 the purchasing power of the dollar increased by one hundred percent or about half a percent per annum. Thus if one tucked a hundred dollars under ones mattress for 20 years it would increase in value by 10 to 12 percent. In other words under the gold standard the financially less sophisticated had a way saving money and getting a small return without subjecting them to the financial risk that they must brave today.

Second they bought sound bonds. Under the current fiat system this is a sucker bet, unless one takes on huge amounts of risk on so called junk bonds, the returns are eaten up by inflation. In contrast under the gold standard, the bonds of railroads and utilities offered the financially unsophisticated low but constant returns on their investments. It was for example possible to buy bonds that had a fixed rate of interest of 3 percent paid year in and year out for 150 years. Thus the poor but thrifty worker could lend the hundred dollars he had saved to the railroad and know that he would be getting three dollars in interest every year for the rest of his life. Over time the interest he was receiving would grow in value as the purchasing power of the dollar increased. When he died the same fixed rate of interest would be paid to his widow and then his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. A hundred and fifty years later when the principal was repaid by the railroad to his great grandchildren it would have had twice the purchasing power it had when he lent it. I say would have had, because since the establishment of the federal reserve bank in 1912, the dollar has lost 99 percent of its purchasing power. That is to say a dollar today has the same purchasing power as a cent had in 1912. Thus the great grandchildren would not receive not twice the purchasing power as the thrifty saver had expected, but one hundredth the purchasing power of the principal.

C The Gold Standard Allows for Long Range Planning

This leads me to my last point about the Gold Standard. It allows individuals, associations, and corporations to make long range plans.

It is a regular complaint from the left that corporations are short sighted. They don’t invest enough in research and development. They don’t look at technology that could be profitable over the long run and have substantial social or environmental benefits, because they are to focused on the short term return.

Well if one thinks about it this is no surprise. How can a company think about long range projects when it has no idea about the rate of inflation in the future. Suppose that an investment is sure to pay $100,000 every year for the next fifty years. If the inflation rate may bounce around from 1 percent to 20 percent or even higher how does one value that stream of income? The fiat money system is like putting Vaseline over the telescope through which companies and individuals try and look into the future. Think about the lender who bought the 150 year bond thinking he was leaving a legacy to his great grandchildren but who instead left them a penny.

In the 1890s under the gold standard, railroads and savers believed not without reason that they could plan, invest and borrow over a 150 year time horizon. Today the federal government and those who lend to it don’t believe they can plan beyond a ten to twenty year time horizon. That is but one effect of the abandonment of the gold standard.

D What the Left Once Knew

I will close with the words of the fabian socialist George Bernard Shaw who wrote in a leaflet on this subject, “the value of gold and silver money tends to maintain itself, while the value of paper money depends on the honesty and integrity of bankers and government officials, and with all due respect to those gentlemen, I must advise you as long as the capitalist system lasts to vote for gold.”

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

On the Eve of Saint Crispin's Day

Tomorow is an important day in the history of our people. In three battles over 500 years the English speaking peoples emerged victorious. At Agincourt in 1415 Henry V defeated the French and saved his army. On October, 25 1854 the light Brigade Charged to eternal glory. The combined Anglo-American fleet decisively defeated the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1944 at the Battle of Leyte Gulf . This last included the last battleship to battleship engagement thus far and the last time a battle was won by crossing the enemies T.

However it is Shakespere who made this day immortal when he wrote Henry Vs speech on the Eve of Saint Crispin's Day. A youtube reading here.

My cousin Westmorland. No, my fair cousin:
If we are marked to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will, I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It ernes me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
God's peace, I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more, methinks, would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more.
Rather proclaim it presently through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart. His passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the Feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a-tiptoe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall see this day and live t'old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say "To-morrow is Saint Crispian":
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars
And say "These wounds I had on Crispin's day."
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day. Henry V (IV, iii)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Why the United States War Against Iraq is Legal

There has been a wide spread myth propagated by those who oppose the actions of the United States and its allies in invading Iraq that this was illegal because: it violated article 1 section 1 and article 2 section 4 of the United Nations Charter and article 1 of the Pact of Paris (a.k.a. the Kellogg-Briand Pact).

Those who take this position simply either a) don’t know what they are talking about or b) do know but have put their ideology or political opinions ahead of their respect for international law.

The principal that a war of aggression is a violation of international law was first stated in Art. 1 of the 1928 Pact of Paris or Kellogg-Briand Pact which reads in relevant part, “The High Contracting Parties solemnly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.”

Now taken alone, this might suggest that those who condemn the U.S. invasion of Iraq are right in believe that our actions violated international law. However it was well understood by the signatories that the pact did not renounce the use of force in self defense. See e.g. Secretary Kellogg’s Testimony before the Senate and Sir. Austen Chamberlain’s letters on the subject. These make clear that war waged in defense of a nations territory or vital interests are not illegal.

However the Pact of Paris had not tried to define what aggression was so in 1933 a further agreement was negotiated, the Convention for the Definition of Aggression. Art 2 Sec. 5 of the convention reads in relevant part, “Accordingly, the aggressor in an international conflict shall, subject to the agreements in force between the parties to the dispute, be considered to be the State which is the first to commit any of the following actions: (5) Provision of support to armed bands formed in its territory which have invaded the territory of another State, or refusal, notwithstanding the request of the invaded State, to take, in its own territory, all the measures in its power to deprive those bands of all assistance or protection.”

As mentioned previously the Charter of the United Nations states that the purposes of the United Nations is to, “To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.” U.N Charter Art. 1 Sec. 1 and to that end that, “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.” U.N. Charter Art. 2 Sec. 4

Because aggression was not defined in the Charter of the UN a committee was appointed to proposes such a definition. The committee produced a proposal which the General Assembly recommended for further action in Resolution 2214. This definition reads in relevant part. Art. 3 “Any of the following acts, regardless of a declaration of war, shall, subject to and in accordance with the provisions of article 2, qualify as an act of aggression:” Art. 3 (a) “The invasion or attack by the armed forces of a State of the territory of another State, or any military occupation, however temporary, resulting from such invasion or attack, or any annexation by the use of force of the territory of another State or part thereof.” Art. 3 (g) “The sending by or on behalf of a State of armed bands, groups, irregulars or mercenaries, which carry out acts of armed force against another State of such gravity as to amount to the acts listed above, or its substantial involvement therein.”

This language while some what different from the convention of 1933 has the same effect. It is an act of aggression to support armed bands and send them into the territory of another sovereign state. For example if a state pays people to strap explosives to their body and go into another sovereign state and blow themselves up in the middle of a crowd as Iraq did to Israel this is an act of aggression. While no state is obligated to go to war to stop an act of aggression against a third nation, they are certainly entitled to do so, since article 51 of the U.N. charter states that nothing in the charter shall outlaw acts of individual or collective self defense.

To take another example when a state invades another without sufficient provocation under international law and drives out its government and engages in rape and pillage as Iraq did to Kuwait that is an act of aggression. While no state is obligated to go to war to stop an act of aggression against a third nation, they are certainly entitled to do so, as the United States did in this case. While the U.N. sanction for the action made the U.S.’s action legal beyond doubt, it would have been legal in any case. The armistice which ended the war had conditions which the government of Iraq violated repeatedly in the intervening 14 years. It is certainly a vital interest of the United States that the armistice agreements it makes are observed.

Thus when the U.S. invaded Iraq, it had two perfectly legitimate grounds for doing so, first to put an end to Iraq’s illegal war of aggression against the state of Israel and second to enforce its rights under the armistice agreement that ended the first Iraq war. That the United States’ purpose was to ensure that a hostile state did not acquire nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons which it wrongly thought Iraq was in the midst of getting, does not in the slightest effect the legality of the United States’ action.

It is time to lay to rest the myth, propagated by some innocently and by others with malicious intent, that the invasion of Iraq by the United States was contrary to international law. In fact the United States acted to enforce international law outlawing aggressive war when most of the world would have rather looked the other way. It is for shaming the posers in the international community who like to talk, but hardly ever act that the United States and its allies are being pilloried.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

6 Years Later

It has been 6 years since the enemy killed more than 3,000 of our fellows were coldly butcher in total contravention of the laws and usages of war. Those of us who can remember the taste of the grit from the smashed buildings and the shocked realization that as we breathed, we were ingesting the cremated ash of the dead will not forget.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Temeraire

I was surfiing the net and stumbled upon both Turner's masterpiece "The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last Berth to be broken up" here and Melvile's poem on the same subject. Both are old favorate but I haden't thought about either in a long time.

The gloomy hulls, in armour grim,
Like clouds o'er moors have met,
And prove that oak, and iron, and man
Are tough in fibre yet.

But Splendours wane. The sea-fight yields
No front of old display;
The garniture, emblazonment,
And heraldry decay.

Towering afar in parting light,
The fleets like Albion's forelands shine -
The full-sailed fleets, the shrouded show
Of Ships-of-the-Line.

The fighting Temeraire,
Built of a thousand trees,
Lunging out her lightnings,
And beetling o'er the seas -

O Ship, how brave and fair,
That fought so oft and well,
On open decks you manned the gun

What cheerings did you share,
Impulsive in the van,
When down upon leagued France and Spain
We English ran -

The freshet at your bowsprit
Like the foam upon the can.
Bickering, your colours
Licked up the Spanish air,

You flapped with flames of battle-flags -
Your challenge, Temeraire!

The rear ones of our fleet
They yearned to share your place,
Still vying with the Victory
Throughout that earnest race -

The Victory, whose Admiral,
With orders nobly won,
Shone in the globe of the battle glow -
The angel in that sun.

Parallel in story,
Lo, the stately pair,
As late in grapple ranging,
The foe between them there -

When four great hulls lay tiered,
And the fiery tempest cleared,
And your prizes twain appeared,

But Trafalgar is over now,
The quarterdeck undone;
The carved and castled navies fire
Their evening gun.
O, Titan Temeraire,
Your stern-lights fade away;
Your bulwarks to the years must yield,
And heart-of-oak decay.
A pigmy steam-tug tows you,
Gigantic to the shore -
Dismantled of your guns and spars,
And sweeping wings of war.
The rivets clinch the ironclads,
Men learn a deadlier lore;
But Fame has nailed your battle-flags -
Your ghost it sails before:
O, navies old and oaken,
O, Temeraire no more!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day

Today is for an American the most important holiday on the calendar, celebrating the principals upon which the nation was founded. It is also in a way the beginning of the Anglosphere as something distinct from the British state. I don’t have anything to say and will let the words of our third president speak for me.

“When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government ..

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levey war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”

Monday, May 28, 2007

On Virtue

This post is a response to Bill’s Post at EjectEjectEject “You are not alone.” He brought up a point that needs a good place to discuss it and I thought I would provide one until such time as the Ejectia project is further along. That topic is Virtue.

In his post, Bill pointed out and listed the Aristotelian virtues. They are all to my mind important ones, but I think that Rand did a good job when she said that the primary virtues were Rationality, Productiveness and Pride.
There are several other lists of Virtues on the net. Wikipedia is a good place to start looking.

Here are some links for Virtue, Virtue Ethics, the Nicomachean Ethics, and Objectivist Ethics.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I Call Bullshit or You Can’t Have it Both Ways

There are some who are trying to use the tragic events at Virginia Tech to push the anti gun agenda. Never mind that the school was a “gun-free zone,” never mind that gun control is not a proven method of lowering violence in society. However I don’t want to comment on gun control generally in this post.

I want instead to look at the part of the left that has spent the last four years telling us that Bush is Hitler and now demand the disarmament of the people. I agree that this president has dangerously restricted liberty and expanded executive power. However, I do not think Bush is a power tripping genocidal dictator either.

However those who do think that have some explaining to do. Should gays, women, and other potential victims of Bushitler TM be disarmed in the face of the “Bush Agenda” TM ? If the republic is really in danger of being subverted by a dictator, one would think that that was the time to call the people to arms, not to disarm them.

The loony left faces a serious logical problem.

It is called the law of non contradiction. It was first stated by Aristotle more than two thousand years ago. “A thing can not both have and not have the same characteristic in the same respect. Either Bush is a genocidal dictator and the people should, “put their trust in god, but keep their powder dry,” or Bush is not a genocidal dictator and we should trust the authorities under his control to protect us and not keep our own means of self defense, but not both.

So which is it boys and girls? You can’t have it both ways.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Before you Kirk someone remember Google is forever

If you run a company and a blogger makes a critical review of your services you should learn the story of J. L. Kirk & Associates, aka Kirk Associates, or JL Kirk, or JLK, or JLK-A, or “Kirk“, before you decide to have your lawyers send threatening letter trying to shut them up.

Katherine Coble blogged about her husband’s experience with J. L. Kirk & Associates, she related that she felt that the firm was at best a hard sell and at worst, a scam, a fraud, a rip-off, or a con.

The company was foolish enough to have their lawyers send a letter threatening an action for defamation on what seem to be weak or non existent grounds, since the truth is an absolute defense to libel.

In the following 24 hours J. L. Kirk & Associates, has gone from being not well known, to infamous, to a new internet verb.

Kirk, is now a verb meaning to act like a stupid bully towards a blogger.

I have no knowledge of whether or not J. L. Kirk & Associates is or is not guilty of the practices Ms. Coble described. However I am sure that J. L. Kirk & Associates acted like stupid bullies who know nothing of the dynamic of the internet when they had their lawyer threaten Ms. Coble.

Given this I can assert that as fact that I would never do businesses with them and give as an opinion that anyone who does business with them is a fool.

Would you hire the lawyers who gave J. L. Kirk & Associates the service that they did? I would have advised J. L. Kirk & Associates to give it a rest. So would any lawyer who knows anything about the internet.

Also blogging on this are instapundit, captain’s quarters, bill hobbs, and bob krumm. A summary of local reaction is here.

By the way are Kirk and their lawyers now libel proof, that is to say are their reputations now so ruined it is impossible to injure their reputation? We shall see.

Also does Coble have a counter claim? The comment on her blog by a person claiming to be a J. L. Kirk & Associates employee was possibly defamatory.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Infantilization of Our Youth

While doing research for my up coming post for the birthday of Washington, I came across the following which I present because It makes a point I want to address. What follows is part of a longer piece on Valley Forge

"Lewis Hurt, age 17, a private from Connecticut. Benjamin Blossom, age about 31 years, a soldier from Massachusetts. George Ewing, age 23, an Ensign of the Seventh Company in the Third New Jersey Regiment. Joseph Plumb Martin, age 15 when he enlisted in Connecticut's Third Company on July 6, 1776; age 16 when he arrived at Valley Forge. They came from Virginia, North Carolina, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey...They represented every state in the new union. Some were still boys -- as young as 12 -- others in their 50s and 60s."

The point is that once upon a time young people in our society had a lot more independence and responsibility than they do today. They were out fighting for their freedom and the nations independence. Today, all to often, young people are kept-act like children into their 20s.

At Common Law young people had more independence than they do today. While it is true that majority was not until 21, at 14 a boy or girl was able witness deeds and contracts, testify in court, select their own guardian, bequeath personal property by will, own land, and apprentice themselves. With their guardian’s permission, they could marry. They could even enter contracts for necessities and in theory could sell land, but since they had a right to void the contract on turning 21, most buyers would not buy land from minors. However, their guardian could take such action for them if he or she agreed with them.

Basically turning 21 meant that a person not longer needed a guardian, could vote, and that their contracts would henceforth be enforced whether they were in their interests or not. This meant that the period from 14 to 21 was a period of quasi adulthood were the young person could make many important decisions but had training wheals so to speak in the form of his legal guardian and the courts.

Now one may question some of the details of the common law scheme, for example the sexual inequality where by young women of 12 were accorded the “training wheels” stage that young men had to wait until 14 to be given. One might also question whether 21 was an appropriate age of majority. However the over all idea of having a training period where young people can make some but not all of their own decisions is a good one.

If we want superior performance from our young people, we need to both give them more independence and responsibility. (more info on the common law rules here)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Other “Mercenaries"

Arkin’s use of the word mercenaries to describe U.S. forces in Iraq (type his name in yahoo to find, I'm not spreading his bilge) reminds me of two things, first A. E. Houseman’s Epitaph On An Army of Mercenaries, here and secondly of the “mercenaries,” formerly known as volunteers before our Orwellian friends decided that volunteer might send the wrong message, who have played such a prominent roll in the history of our people.

After all it was volunteers that made parliament’s victory in the English Civil War possible. It was volunteers who formed the core of the Continental Army that won the American War of Independence. Volunteers by the millions carried the American republic on their bayonets through four long hard years of war.

In this last context one might point to the politicization of the Union Army, those dreadful mercenaries, who voted overwhelmingly for one party during the election of 1864 but if I noted who they voted for and which party against, I might be accused of “questioning the patriotism” of Arkin or even of waving the bloody shirt.

Nor is this the end of volunteers in the history of our people. The Spanish American war was fought by “mercenaries” most famously the Rough Riders a.k.a. the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment. The Boer War was fought by “mercenaries” from Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Cape Colony and Natal.

Among the English Speaking People the draft is an innovation first seen (briefly) in the American Civil War and more frequently during the 20th Century. It is my hope that aside from militia forces for local defense, conscription will never be seen again among our people. Lets leave conscription to the French who invented it and the Germans who perfected it.

Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday

Today is the 198th anniversary of the birth of a great leader of our people, Abraham Lincoln 16th President of the United States. I could write much about him, but I will just let his own words, spoken at the dedication of Gettysburg National Cemetery durring the third anglosphere civil war speak for him.

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Eton Wall Game, Making a Mystery of the Commonplace

I am taking keyboard in hand today to write about a rather off beat subject, the Eton Wall Game. I want to start by saying that the title of this little post is not meant to put down the Eton Wall Game, but to explain it. Not the rules of the game, those I barely understand, in fact I am not sure you could understand the published rules (here) without looking at the wall and field where it is played and seeing a game or having it described by a player, and that is the point of this post.

From my own experience and from what friends from various back grounds have told me of their own childhood, it is safe to say that young people adopt, mix, and create games that fit their specific circumstances. Tag, soccer, baseball, rugby, American football, when they are played by actual boys (and girls to) on a particular playing field, have their rules adopted to the circumstances of the playing field and of the players. These adoptions are often so extensive as to make the game very different often nearly non understandable to outsiders.

This, it is obvious, is what the Eton Wall Game is all about, a rugby-soccer type game played on a particular field, at a particular school, in Berkshire, the United Kingdom. To prove this point the goals are at one end of the sport’s only playing field, a door and at the other end a tree. (more details here) There is nothing weird about this, on the contrary it is wonderful that the boys at Eton have cared enough about themselves and their school to perpetuate a tradition of play over more than two hundred years and to write down the rules.

However to read some articles about the Wall Game you would think it was either a) something special that only those superior beings who go to Eton could play or b) something foolish that only the under brained off spring of those with more money than sense would play, and in either case mysterious and non understandable. It is neither, it is one of probably 50,000 (or more) different games played on specific lots or fields around the world by a limited number of specific children.

What is interesting about the Eton Wall Game is that by the fame of the school, it draws ones attention to a commonplace phenomenon. It is at once an example of Hayekian spontaneous order (the boys didn’t set out to start a great tradition, they just wanted to have fun) and of Burke’s particularism (it would be pointless to try and make the Wall Game a widespread game with a fixed type of playing field like soccer) It reminds us both that social order does not have to be externally imposed and that general principals however true and important must develop in their own organic way in each specific context.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Letter to the globe re AGW

I wrote the following as a letter to a writer at the Boston Globe

I was really shocked to read the following in your column, “ I would like to say we're at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let's just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.”

This is simply not true. (What is denying the factuality of future events? They haven’t happened yet so theories that claim to describe them can’t be true or false) (note: the theory could be, but we couldn't tell until the future occured) However, the differences in evidence for the two events is instructive.

I have seen movies of the newly liberated camps, the corpses of those who died after liberation stacked like wood. I have meet survivors of the camps, my friends and relatives have meet others. I have read in part, the record and evidentiary documents of the Nuremburg trials. I have meet some of the prosecutors, doctors, and guards who served at Nuremburg and who spoke with the perpetrators. The holocaust undeniably happened. It is a fact of history.

The theory of human caused global warming is an opinion. While I am a non scientist, I have meet scientists, (none employed by the oil industry) who do not believe the earth is getting warmer. I have meet ones who are unsure if the earth is getting warmer. I have meet ones who are sure the earth is getting warmer, but are not at all sure that it is cause by humans. I have meet ones who believe it is getting warmer and that humans caused it. Is this consensus? (Leaving alone the value of consensus in science)

I am of course, not a scientist, but as a citizen of the Republic and as a human being, I take my responsibility to keep abreast of the debate on global warming seriously. I try to figure out what would be happening if this or that explanation was true. What I have read and observed leads me to believe that the earth may be getting warmer, but it may not. The cause (if there is global warming) is to my mind far from clear. CO2 is undoubtedly a greenhouse gas, but is it the cause of the warming that has been observed, (which is far from global by the way, mostly observable in the northern hemisphere) that is not certain. As I say, I am not a scientist, but I am trying to figure out what is going on.

From the above, I conclude that we need to spend a great deal of money on research to figure out what is happening. (I also recommend real estate investment in more northerly climes as a hedge against the possibility of global warming)

I am not impressed by a political statement that is allegedly based on a scientific document that has yet to be released. (Why weren’t they released at the same time? Desire to make the later conform to the former?) The fact that the report is released by the UN and under the approving sponsorship of 100 governments makes me the more nervous. The UN and governments have a huge interest in finding warming. It gives them a reason to expand their power. Have we learned nothing from the 20th century? Then there is the whole religious angle, global warming lets atheists (of which I am one) get in on the whole fire and brimstone act. Also look at the very real religious aspects of the environmental movement and look at its historical roots in the 20s and 30s.

The last thing that I want to say (which I hope you will not take to personally) is that while I am now a law student, I was for three years (Nov. 2000- Nov. 2003) a reporter. I saw the crap that came into the newsroom from all sorts of organizations in their press releases. I, trying to sort the wheat from the chaff would do a quick bit of research and call up the sender and ask a few critical questions. While most senders were full of it, three groups stand out in my mind, corporations, governments and environmental groups. The last were by far the worst offenders. They had the most slender evidence and made the most of what they had. I can’t be alone in this experience. Why, when a document (basically a press release) that is produced by a collaboration of governments and the environmental movement comes out, is meet with so little critical examination?

Very Sincerely Yours,

Stephen W. Houghton II

Friday, February 02, 2007

Happy Birthday AR

Today is the 102nd Aniversery of the birth of one of the 20th Century's heros, Ayn Rand.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Royal America?

Michael Barone has a piece that is to me both interesting and sad. (hat tip instapundit) With the candidacy of Senator Clinton, he asks is not the presidency of United States taking on a touch of Royalism. “Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton. It sounds like the Wars of the Roses: Lancaster, York, Lancaster, York.”

Those who have read my work, know that as a theoretical matter, I consider a well designed constitutional monarchy to be the best form of government. However, I believe that since in fact American liberty was won-defended as a historical achievement by republican (in the narrow sense) governments and enshrined in our republican constitution, it would be dangerous to liberty to abandon our constitution.

Further I admit to a desire to keep the experiment in non-monarchical government going for as long as it protects most liberties. This is motivated by both patriotic sentiment and scientific curiosity. It is for me a passionate hope that I will died and my children, grand children and great grandchildren should live and die as citizens of the Republic. However if the American people really want a royal family to ogle at and be the center of national life then let us not accept the pallid substitute of the Bushes, Clintons, and Kennedys.

For 169 years from 1607 to 1776, what is now the United States was reigned over by a royal house who’s pomp and majesty has never been surpassed and which was and to a greater extent today is relatively amiable to liberty. If we really mean after 231 proud years to bring our experiment in non monarchical government to an end, then I have a suggestion.

She is the High and Mighty Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary by the grace of God of Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Australia, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Barbados, the Confederation of Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, the Dominion of New Zealand, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and her other territories, Queen, Duke of Normandy and Lord of Mann

She would be a most suitable head of state both because she is the legitimate claimant and because she is a women of rare dignity and vast experience. To give but one example her first Prime Minister was Sir Winston Churchill, she has been reading the dispatch boxes for 55 years. We could even keep the republic titularly non monarchical by calling her Lady Defender of the Republic or some such. If we really wanted to restore the monarchy there is even a suitable event coming up, she is scheduled to attend the 400th anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown this summer (she also attended the 350th).

However if we want to keep the Republic non monarchical, than we ought not to keep electing people from the same families to be chief magistrate. I for one am looking forward to Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee in 2012 when I hope she will still reign over all 16 of the Commonwealth Relms, I do not want the United States to be one of them.

Long Live The Republic!