Monday, December 27, 2004
My comments about my Christmas day generated a few comments of interest. There was some skepticism about my comment that the Scots "loathe" the English. I guess that was too strong a term. How about "profound suspicion" of the English instead? I first went to Scotland accompanied by a Scottish wife so I saw one side of Scotland that way. I also personally did a randomized doorknock survey in Glasgow for publication in the academic journals -- and several journals did in fact publish the results. So I got another view of Scotland that way: A community-wide view. So I saw Scottish people both intensively and extensively, as it were. So I do have some grounds for saying what I do. But one experience I repeatedly had is one that many Australians report: Scots cannot tell the difference between an educated Australian accent (or to some extent any Australian accent) and a Southeastern English accent. So Scots normally assume that an Australian visitor is English -- I was told on several occasions that I "sounded like the TV". And so they usually give the visitor the frozenly polite treatment that they reserve for the English. It is that treatment which causes the English to come to the remarkably false conclusion that the emotional Scots are "dour". When the Scots learn that you are Australian rather than English, however, they are greatly relieved, the frozen mask drops immediately and you are given a thoroughly Scots sentimental welcome. It is a joy to experience and sad that the English never do experience it.
Some readers also doubted that the Scots see the English as oppressors. The Scots certainly shouldn't and perhaps in their objective moments they don't, but one must not forget that Celtic memories are long and I can assure you that the execution of Mary Queen of Scots by Elizabeth I is still a lively memory in Scotland. So perhaps "oppressors" is a bit strong too but again I think "profound suspicion" does a pretty good job of characterizing the Scots attitude to the English. The Scots certainly see Australians in a much more positive light than that.
One reader also commented that the pervasive Leftism of Scotland is a fairly recent phenomenon. That could well be true, though I have some reason to doubt it, but in any case I did explicitly say that I thought the Leftism concerned was "not genetic" -- which means that it could change with circumstances.
There was also some dissatisfaction that I did not criticize the multicultural emphasis of the Queen's Christmas message. I did not do so because I think the Queen was being perfectly realistic in her approach. The English egg has now been thoroughly scrambled and the dark-skinned population is not going to go away. So what the Queen was very strongly saying was that each group should honour both its own traditions and the traditions of others. And that way the different groups could live together without friction. What the multiculti Leftists want, on the other hand, is for the tolerance to be all one way. At the very least they want Anglo-Saxons to be tolerant while Muslims can be as intolerant as they like and it would be better still for Anglo-Saxons to lose their own traditions, customs and identity altogether. The Queen, by contrast, was saying that EVERYONE should be tolerant and that EVERYONE should honour their own traditions. And I agree in seeing that as the only viable solution for community harmony in modern Britain. No doubt there are more than a few people in Britain who would like to kick all the darkies out but that is not going to happen.
I suppose one could argue that the Queen could have stressed assimilation more but, on the other hand, the ethnic community members she showed did seem, as far as one could tell, to be highly assimilated. Assimilation does not imply uniformity -- just a familiarity with and respect for the ways of the majority community.
Sunday, December 26, 2004
As I always do, I attended a large family gathering on Christmas morning -- with "family" being very loosely defined. It is however essentially the same gathering I have been attending for many years. And, like most Australian Christmas gatherings, it is totally secular -- with no religious allusions at all. All the people there are however very good-hearted unbelievers. They even laugh at my jokes, so what more can I ask?
A small sadness for me was that, out of the 17 people present, there were only two children and one teenager. What used to be a very child-centered gathering still is a child-centred gathering but most of the "children" have now grown up and are young adults. No doubt the young adults concerned will one day have children of their own but the longer they leave parenthood, the fewer children they will eventually have, of course. So my family occasion did in a very small way encapsulate a problem that the whole of Western civilization is having -- too few children to replace itself.
I was delighted to see that one of the presents received by the small boy present was a pictorial "Encyclopedia of modern military aircraft" -- something that almost any boy would enjoy but which is of course totally politically incorrect. But the boy's father is a former Royal Air Force man so no doubt he too would be incorrect to the unhappy minds of the Left.
We had a "secret Santa" session before the "real" presents were given out and it was a really fun thing to do, with lots of laughs. I ended up with a "crumb sweeper" -- a small ceramic pig made in China that had a tiny electric motor in that turned it into a mini-vacuum-cleaner. I promised to take it with me next time I go to a Chinese restaurant -- to suck up straying grains of rice!
One of my stepdaughters spent a year in the U.K. recently, most of it in Scotland, and I asked her over breakfast what she thought of the Scots. "Loved them. Lovely people", she said. "But they were glad I was Australian". I too have great affection for the Scots. I even married one once. But Australians probably see the Scots in their best light. The Scots still loathe the English and they see Australians as fellow-sufferers from English oppression! Rather mad, really. But there is a definite streak of craziness in the Scots -- not the least of which is their intensely socialist outlook. But Scots outside Scotland seem to be heavily conservative -- as we know from America's Scots-Irish population (See also here). So it doesn't seem to be genetic. I once did some survey research on the Scottish difference which is reported here.
The weather was normal Australian Christmas weather -- hot and humid. So the various Bing Crosby Christmas songs that were being played in the background ("Jingle Bells" etc.) were referring to a different world. It did however show that culture trumps climate. I did of course eat too much but I think I will draw a discreet curtain over that.
In the evening, I watched the Queen's Christmas message on TV, as I usually do. Every Christmas day the Queen broadcasts a short message to Britain and the other Commonwealth countries and it is always a positive message stressing important basics. She started out this time by stressing that Christmas is a Christian holiday so according to the politically correct brigade she was being most offensive to millions of people. In the British sphere of influence, however, what the Queen does and says is proper by definition so she does not have to worry about petty would-be dictators. Her message also stressed the importance of Britain's different ethnic communities living peacefully together and there were lots of shots of her and her family talking to British subjects of Indian origin. I have always liked Indians and got on well with them so I was delighted to see her extending such acceptance to them.
Friday, December 10, 2004
Below is the letter I sent out with my Christmas cards in 2004
Not a lot of news to report this year. My blogging keeps me busy in front of my computer for about 12 hours a day so I have become more sedentary than ever, if that is possible. I certainly go out very little these days except for frequent excursions to local eateries. Neither Judith nor I are keen on cooking so someone has to feed us.
Judith Middleton has now been living with me for some time. I am not sure what she sees in me but it is certainly not good looks. She is a geriatric nurse by occupation so that must make her feel at home with a moth-eaten old curmudgeon like me. She says that if I sat down to dinner with the residents at the nursing home where she works, no-one would notice anything out of place. She is a very kind-hearted soul so that when the more friendless residents of her nursing home go into hospital, she sometimes goes to visit them in hospital in her own time. It probably needs someone that kind to put up with me.
I am constantly in and out of surgery for my skin cancers these days. I just had three lots done at once yesterday. Rather remarkably, all the local anaesthetic the dermo pumped into me seems to have had a lasting but beneficial side-effect: For the last 4 months or so I have had a very sore left shoulder that I could move only in certain ways without pain. I never could work out for sure where the pain came from but it seemed to be tendonitis rather than arthritis. Anyway, six hours after surgery on my OTHER arm, the pain was all gone and I could move both arms any way I liked! I only hope the effect lasts! They put a lot of adrenaline into local anaesthetic so maybe that had something to do with it. Frozen shoulders are a rather common problem among oldies so now you know how to cure it! There are not many instant cures around for anything these days so it may be worth remembering. There was a famous case in America where some sort of surgical anaesthesia cured a kid of his autism so there may be more in these anaesthetics than meets the eye.
My son Joe is now 17, six foot tall, blue-eyed and blond-haired and definitely a young man. He seems to have inherited my jocularity too. He did a university course in maths this year even though he was still in his final year at High School and got a Distinction (6 out of 7) in it so the Maths Dept. at the University of Queensland have given him a small scholarship to encourage him to study there next year. More about that here. Like his father, he is a born academic. He also seems to be popular too, so he is not really a nerd, though he loves sims (brainy computer games). Rather amusingly, when people ask him what occupation he is aiming for, he always says he wants to be an actuary. That completely stuffs everyone as nobody has ever heard of such an occupation. I think I must be the only person who understood immediately what he meant. But I did teach statistics at the University of NSW for some years so I would.
He has shown no signs of mechanical aptitude yet, though, which slightly surprises me. I was always good at fixing things as a kid and I remember when I was 13 my family moved into an old house that had various old bicycle bits and pieces around and I managed to make a whole bike out of them, to the surprise of my parents. I remember that my father used to borrow "my" bike to go places at times. I painted it a fetching shade of maroon too. Joe is however a keen pianist so perhaps that satisfies his needs to do things with his hands. Like me, he is keen on classical music. Music, politics and history are mainly what we talk about and he does seem to be a born conservative like me. There are some pics of him here
I went up to Cairns for a week's holiday in August and you can see some of the resultant "snaps" here or here
So there you have it: Aches, pains and boasting about kids -- what else are Xmas letters for?
Monday, September 6, 2004
1). My 17 year old son told me yesterday that his bedtime reading at the moment is "Critique of pure reason" by Immanuel Kant. I didn't even know he had heard of Kant. But I was reading St Thomas Aquinas and Augustine of Hippo at his age so I understand his interest. His main enthusiasm is mathematics, however, and he is thinking of becoming an actuary. I myself taught statistics at university for many years so I understand that too.
2). I live in a 10 bedroom house but my Presbyterian upbringing makes me not like seeing things "go to waste" -- including accommodation. So I share my house with others. The others have always comprised an ethnic mix and they at the moment include an Indian, a Bangladeshi, a Chinese, a Korean and a Filipino. So I guess that must make me the world's weirdest "white supremacist" -- which is what Captain Clueless once accused me of being (because I oppose affirmative action and made fun of his support for it).
Thursday, August 19, 2004
My 17-year old son Joe just got his certificate last night for completing his advanced placement course in Mathematics. He got a mark of 6 where the highest score is 7. But the University of Queensland is too PC to use the term "advanced placement" for university courses that selected High School students are allowed to enroll in. They call it an "Enhanced Studies Program". "Advanced" would offend against everybody being equal so you are only allowed to be "enhanced", you see.
Anyway, Joe has just been named dux of his school in Information Technology too so there is no doubt how advanced he is. And he's no isolated nerd, either. After last nights ceremonies, lots of other students came over to talk to him and he soon became the social centre of the evening. Matthew 25:29.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Well, I did the drive yesterday -- from Cairns to Port Douglas. About 35 miles. For about half of the time the road runs right alongside the ocean, with beaches large and small scattered all the way along. It is one of the world's most scenic drives and the wonder is that you can stop at almost any of the many unspoiled beaches and find yourself alone there. If people like to go on vacation amidst crowds, good luck to them, but if you fancy the deserted tropical island experience with none of the inconvenience of a deserted tropical island, you should be booking a flight to Cairns International Airport. It's a longer plane journey than most but droves of the notoriously quality-conscious Japanese seem to think it is worthwhile.
I also spotted another pygmy yesterday. I was sitting on the pavement beside the main street of Port Douglas having a nice cup of tea when a very small dark person walked right by my table: Less than 5' tall with legs like broom-handles. There are obviously still plenty of negrito (pygmy) genes in the area that was until recently dense tropical jungle.
Sunday, August 15, 2004
Either you "get" steam trains or you don't. I do. So I was mightily pleased yesterday to be sitting on a bench at Kuranda railway station (in the mountains above Cairns) when a great black old steam engine came panting in -- hauling a train of passenger carriages. It has been dragged out of retirement for the tourist trade so that makes me grateful for tourists. Stream engines don't handle inclines well, however, so the trip from Cairns to Kuranda takes twice as long as if the train were hauled by a modern diesel-electric. Anyway, it really choked me up as it slowly pulled out again amid much steam and panting. It was magnificent. Steam buffs would understand.
An historical interest of Kuranda that is now almost completely unknown to almost anybody -- and which is certainly not mentioned to the tourists -- is that the last survivors of Australia's pygmy race were found in the jungles around there. There are still quite a few striking photos of them from around a century ago, but intermarriage between them and other blacks since then has eliminated any obviously distinct modern population of them. Yet 99.9% of Australians would think that there has only ever been one indigenous race on the Australian mainland.
The existence of the pygmies used to be mentioned in the history textbooks but is now almost nowhere to be found. Why? Because the indigenous Australian blacks (Aborigines) that we know today appear to be mainly the descendants of a later wave (or waves) of immigration into Australia -- which means that they are not truly the first "owners" of the country. They are just as much invaders as the whites. And they did a pretty good genocide job on the pygmies -- so, as in Africa, the pygmies survived only in the deep jungle. And that TOTALLY undermines the Leftist guilt industry which says that whites as invaders owe the Aborigines something for being the original inhabitants here. More woes for Australia's Leftist historians. And, yes, it IS the wicked Windschuttle who has shown their deceptions up in this matter as in others.
So what did I see in Kuranda yesterday? I saw only about a dozen Aborigines there but two were remarkably short. Isn't that surprising?
Saturday, August 14, 2004
I may be wrong but I have the strong impression that the ideal image of a tropical beach that most people have in mind is an image of a deserted beach. "Getting away from it all" largely means freedom from having to deal with other people all the time. Yet, as far as I can see, that does not happen with most tourist destinations. The crowds follow you. Yet in Australia's far North you can find plenty of long, wide, white, tree-lined, sandy beaches with hardly a soul on them for most of the time. That was certainly true yesterday when I looked in at Cowley beach, Kurrimine and Mission beach. And the smaller beaches in between them are normally absolutely deserted. The dream CAN become reality. Australia certainly makes a laugh out of the Greenie idea that earth is "overcrowded".
My vacation reading has been pretty weird. I have just read (well, most of it) the Papal encyclical Centesimus Annus by John Paul II (1991). Have you ever heard of any other atheist who reads Papal encyclicals on his vacations? There was for me one surprising bit in Centesimus Annus. The Pope supports Sabbath observance: "In this regard, one may ask whether existing laws and the practice of industrialized societies effectively ensure in our own day the exercise of this basic right to Sunday rest". I wonder why we never hear of that?
Like the famous encyclical it commemorates (Rerum novarum), however, Centesimus Annus is a thoroughly conservative balancing act. It says Communism is no good but neither is unbridled capitalism. It says there is a right to private property but not an unrestriced right. It says the State should interfere to look after the poor but it should not interfere too much. As I point out elsewhere, conservatives have always undertaken that difficult balancing. Simplistic all-or-nothing theories and systems are only for the ideologues of the Left. Because Centesimus Annus is a balancing act, however, both Left and Right can find bits in it that they like. It does nothing to check the increasingly Leftist nature of the church hierarchy. The hierarchy can use it to defend any degree of Statism except outright Marxism as being for the good of anyone who is at a disadvantage in any way. So I would call Centesimus Annus an unsuccessful balancing act. It is too vague to be useful. At least Rerum novarum took on Marxism at a time when it was a growing threat. I cannot see that Centesimus Annus does anything similarly useful.
Friday, August 13, 2004
Well bugger me! I rarely use crude language but this is an occasion for it: Bill Clinton is here in Far North Queensland at the same time as I am. I guess his taste in vacation spots is better than his taste in wives. He has been here before so he knew where he was going when he decided to come here for a vacation. I gather he is here for a few days at least. I saw an all-black Learjet on the tarmac as I flew into Cairns International Airport but now I know whom it delivered here. I hope that is all I see of Mr Amorality.
Thanks to my trusty IBM Thinkpad, I am writing this whilst leaning up against a rock and sitting on the beach at tropical Etty Bay. Overhead is a tangle of jungle trees giving me shade. Ahead of me is an expanse of fine white sand with tree-covered hills in the background that come right down to the beach. Although it is midwinter here, the temperature is balmy and I am wearing only a shirt and shorts. There's only about eight other people in sight. It is the beach to which I used to come for outings when I was a child. I know of no other beach where the jungle comes right down to the sand -- though I guess there must be others. It is of course well off the tourist map and long may it remain so. There is a small caravan park here but not much else. It is rimmed in by hills so there is really no scope for any building here. Just a tiny patch of paradise. And everybody here speaks English! To me it the most beautiful place in all the world. The whole point of my coming North on this vacation was that I just had to sit on the beach at Etty Bay once again.
Thursday, August 12, 2004
I have taken a week away from my usual haunts to spend in my ancestral place. All four of my grandparewnts were born and bred in tropical North Queensland and I was too. I am at the moment blogging from Cairns -- the tourist hub of the Far North. I have been to a few tropical tourist destinations in my time -- Fiji, Hawaii, Singapore and Thailand -- and I think North Queensland is as good as or better than any of them. And I do definitely wonder why people go to third-world tropical destinations when they could enjoy every tropical experience in the safety and convenience of a modern Western country like Australia. Because I was born amid magnificent tropical scenery I am very hard to impress when it comes to scenery. I used to think that there was no scenic drive in the world better than the Cairns to Port Douglas road but these days I will concede that a drive through the Western Highlands of Scotland in the summer rivals it.
The Asians have discovered Cairns big time and the Japanese are everywhere. So that parts of Cairns remind me a lot of Asia -- with all the crowded vibrancy that that entails. So if you want to see Asia, come to Cairns! But outside the tourist bazaars, there is no crowding. So forget about tropical islands. Cairns has everything they do. Anyway, for me it is a trip home.
Friday, June 25, 2004
Commenting on two recent posts by Keith Burgess-Jackson: Keith noted that I use only a dialup connection and commented that it must be my Puritan heritage, considering that I could easily afford any connection I want. There is considerable truth in that. My Presbyterian upbringing did indeed teach me frugality, or, as the Scots say: "A careful way wi' money". The sites that I visit are rarely graphics-intensive so dialup is not, however, the frustration it might seem. My frugality is still moderate by Scottish standards, though. When I was in Scotland, I occasionally made jokes about "using things up", "getting your money's worth" etc but nobody ever saw that I was joking. They all thought I was being perfectly sensible!
In another post Keith spoke with some asperity about "dolts" who don't think much about the world around them and know little of politics. Another philosopher -- Socrates -- once said something similar: "The unexamined life is not worth living". Keith got a blast from one of his readers for speaking so ill of ordinary folk -- a blast that Keith posted up without comment -- by way of a mea culpa, I assume.
I can actually see Keith's point of view as well as that of his reader. I am aware of a large gulf between academic types such as myself and the man in the street and I normally have little to do with those with whom I cannot share at least some intellectual or aesthetic interests.
I do not however think ill of ordinary people in any way. I admire them for getting by and leading generally decent lives without the intellectual resources that I have. They quite simply need almost all their attention for their day-to-day lives and so cannot afford the luxury of constant reflection that I can. And I am strongly inclined to believe that, in general, a simpler, more basic life leads to greater wisdom and balance than the far flights of fancy one often encounters among intellectuals.
I have certainly found that so in my personal life. I find that intelligent working-class girls are far easier to get on with as wives and girlfriends than bourgeois women are. The bourgeois ladies are always getting bothered about little things that don't really matter whereas the working-class women just look at the basics and are delighted to get those right. There is no doubt which group is happier.
Monday, May 17, 2004
Many Americans may be unaware that the Crown Prince of Denmark has just married an Australian girl. The event got big coverage in much of Europe (and, of course, in Australia) and was even well-covered in China, but I believe that American coverage was minimal. I guess Americans are not too keen on Royalty. Was there a revolution or something? Australia is a monarchy, however, and I have always been a strong monarchist so I found it interesting and pleasing that the wedding got a lot of coverage around the world. Who says that monarchy is an anachronistic irrelevance? If it is, how come so many people watched a wedding in an ancient European monarchy? It was a beautiful show too, of course. Lots of Australian women in particular were absolutely glued to their TVs while it was all happening. So much nicer than watching anything to do with Iraq.
And, if I have any readers in Scotland, I would be pleased to hear whether I guess right in thinking that the wedding would have got blanket coverage in Scotland too. Why? Well, quite apart from normal Scottish sentimentality, the father of the bride is a Scotsman with a Scottish accent who wore the kilt for the occasion! There would have been not a dry eye in many Scottish homes, I think. I felt a bit teary myself, given my Scottish heritage.
And the wedding is another example of how pervasive the Australian diaspora is in the world. I think most people are aware of the big Australian presence in Hollywood these days and people who take an interest in business will be aware that Australians run both Coca Cola and McDonald's, but having an Australian as the future Queen of Denmark does rather set the seal on what a large and successful diaspora it is. And, unlike most diasporas, Australians are not driven abroad by poverty, warfare, persecution etc. They are just adventurous.
Friday, April 30, 2004
A minor eccentricity of mine is that I find amusement in a lot of things that most others don't find amusing at all. For instance I find Mein Kampf an amusing read -- because you can open it almost at random and be struck not only by what a good Leftist of his day Hitler sounds but also by what a good Leftist he was even in modern terms -- as I have previously pointed out here.
Another text I get a kick out of is about as unlikely as you can get: The "39 Articles of Religion" of the Church of England. To this day all Anglican priests have to swear that they agree with them before they can be ordained. They are the original definition of Anglicanism and go back to 1571. The main reason I enjoy them is that so many of them are very plain-spoken. They conspicuously lack the waffle, obfuscation and infinite compromise that characterizes the Church of England and its daughter churches of today. Note a few of them below. All conservatives should like the last two I quote. The meaning of some words has of course changed a bit over the centuries. "Fond", for instance, meant "deluded" in the 16th century. So being "fond" of someone originally meant being crazy about them! And a "fond hope" was a crazy hope.
The Romish doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, worshipping and adoration as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture; but rather repugnant to the word of God.
It is a thing plainly repugnant to the word of God and the custom of the primitive Church, to have public prayer in the Church, or to minister the sacraments in a tongue not understanded of the people.
The Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the lay people; for both parts of the Lord's sacrament, by Christ's ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike.
Bishops, Priests, and Deacons are not commanded by God's laws either to vow the estate of single life or to abstain from marriage. Therefore it is lawful also for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to godliness.
The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this realm of England. The Laws of the Realm may punish Christian men with death for heinous and grievous offences. It is lawful for Christian men at the commandment of the Magistrate to wear weapons and serve in the wars.
The riches and goods of Christians are not common, as touching the right, title, and possession of the same, as certain Anabaptists do falsely boast; notwithstanding every man ought of such things as he possesseth liberally to give alms to the poor, according to his ability.
It is the English of over 400 years ago but I still think it is hard to beat for plain-speaking: Most refreshing in the present era of political correctness. There was no worry then that they might make someone feel "uncomfortable".
And the simplicity and clarity of the wording does not stem from simple-mindedness on the part of those who wrote the 39 articles. Where they feel a need to get theological -- on the difficult doctrine of predestination (Article 17), for instance -- they are as complex as any modern theologian.
Saturday, March 13, 2004
I drink very little alcohol these days so it was for the first time in years that I had a couple of glasses of German white wine with my dinner last night. It took me ages to find someone in Brisbane who sold German wine. Even so, it cost me only $10 for the bottle (about $6.50 in U.S. dollars). I think it is one of the everyday miracles of capitalism that I can buy a Rheinhessen Qualitaetswein half a world away from where it was made for such a small sum.
It rather perplexes me, though, that German wine has such a patchy following around the world. Maybe its uniformly high quality makes it boring. French wine is mostly rubbish by Australian or German standards but I suppose the challenge of finding a good one makes it interesting. Australian winemakers wouldn't dream of making such a nasty product as French vin ordinaire. Even a $5 ($3.50 U.S.) bottle of Australian red is pretty good.
Monday, March 8, 2004
A very small meditation
Although any idea of "God" ceased to be meaningful to me over 40 years ago, I have never abandoned Christian ethics. I don't claim to be any Abou Ben Adhem but I have always found that if I do the "Christian" (kind, helpful, forgiving, generous etc.) thing, I get a reward for it -- usually quickly and it is often a substantial reward. For me, Christian ethics work. They work so well that I do well understand how Christians would see in such things the hand of their God. I myself see such rewards as evidence that Christ was a very wise teacher who had an understanding of human psychology that is still better than what most modern professional psychologists have.
An instance of how Christian ways have worked for me is one most readers of this blog will know by now. When Keith Burgess-Jackson had just started his blog, I read it and noted with pleasure the philosophical clarity of his writing (Anglo-Saxon philosophy aims to clarify; Continental philosophy aims to obfuscate). When I therefore also noted that he was having trouble with his template, I immediately offered to help and was able to do so.
As a result Keith was very appreciative and has always since been quick to link to my postings -- and I of course also link back to his. So we have been able to steer our respective readers to one another -- which some readers at least appreciate. So my initial Christian deed (which took me only a couple of hours) has benefited Keith, me and our respective readers! Beat that for an ethical system that works!
As an aside, it is perfectly consistent with Keith's energetic and extraverted style (a style I enjoy greatly) that he posts up some of the congratulatory emails that he receives. But I would never be able to do that. Perhaps it is my traditional British reserve. I only post emails that address some topic that I think has general interest. I do in fact receive congratulatory emails all the time and every one of them is greatly appreciated so I hope my readers understand my reserve about posting any of them.
Thursday, March 4, 2004
My 16-year-old son Joe has just started an advanced placement course in mathematics at the University of Queensland. He is in his final year at a large private Catholic high school but is allowed to do one subject at university level. The University of Queensland is one of Australia's oldest and largest universities and is where I got my first degree. Joe actually has classes in exactly the same big old sandstone building where I first had classes exactly 40 years ago. I am pretty pleased about it all -- particularly as he is the only one in his school doing advanced placement. And he arranged it all for himself, too. I had no hand in it.
Monday, February 9, 2004
I have never feared to investigate anything political or religious or to speak the unvarnished truth about what I find as the result of my investigations -- and that means I get a lot of abuse and false accusations -- most of which merely amuse me. I took an interest in politics from an early age and read some of the works of Karl Marx in my junior High School years. I was therefore at that time known as "Commo John". Since then I have joined or associated with almost any political group I could find in the hope of getting to understand them better and find out what I could from them. That neo-Nazis were among the groups concerned has of course at times given Leftists an excuse to call me a Nazi. At the same time as I was attending neo-Nazi gatherings (in the 60s) I was however also attending meetings of my local far-Left student activist group (called SDA after the American SDS) and was also attending meetings of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society. So anyone who claims to infer my sympathies from my associations is pissing into the wind. In fact, my only real passion is for rationality and I just don't find much of that on the Left. I have no formal political affiliations at all these days.
The Australia-Soviet Friendship Society was particularly amusing. Most of the members were what Australians call "wharfies" ("longshoremen" in the USA, "dockers" in the UK) -- as wharfies were almost all Communist sympathizers at that time -- but there were a few extreme Leftists from the university there too. But their way of running meetings was pure wharfie. There were no majority votes about anything. One of the organizers would put up a proposal but instead of votes being called for the question was: "Any objections?". I cannot remember there ever being any!
Because I made no secret of the variety of my associations, I was always suspected of being a police spy wherever I went -- which indeed I was -- but I always just laughed off such accusations (e.g. by saying "testing, testing" into my lapel) so it is rather amazing how much I was given the benefit of the doubt. It's amazing how "brass" carries the day. I guess the members of extremist groups WANT to believe that their arguments are overwhelming so are willing to tell all to almost any listening ear. The police were certainly interested to hear much of what I could tell them of both the neo-Nazis and the student Left.
Because I went straight from being a fundamentalist Christian to complete atheism in my late teens, one type of belief I have never taken the slightest interest in is the "The Occult". I would just not be able to keep a straight face long enough. But I gather that as part of the general Nazi fascination with Germany's pagan past, Hitler did take some interest in it so maybe my studies of Nazi history are incomplete without taking some account of such beliefs. This book gives an occultist's interpretation of Hitler's actions and says that he won the war that he was REALLY fighting. I think there is a grain of truth in that. Hitler went from being a superb strategist in the early part of his rule to being his own worst enemy later on. Why? I think part of the answer to that is that he DID have a higher priority than defeating the Allies. But I don't think we need to suggest any occult motives. Hitler himself could not have made it plainer. Wiping out the Jews from anywhere under his control was his no. 1 aim and he DID win that war -- tragically.
Tuesday, February 3, 2004
The most successful "big lie" of the 20th century is undoubtedly the Leftist myth that Nazism is just a more extreme form of conservatism. Leftists really hate it when you point out that it was the Conservative Winston Churchill who was Hitler's most unrelenting foe and that Hitler and Stalin were allies until Hitler tried to grab Russia. That conservatives did and do oppose Nazism as much as they oppose any other form of socialism or totalitarianism just cannot be fitted into the Leftist worldview. From the Marxist psychologist Adorno onwards (writing in 1950), the Leftist line has always been to ignore the socialist nature of Nazism and to assert fervently that Nazis and conservatives are allies, not enemies.
As an outspoken conservative myself, I too have obviously been the target of such dishonest accusations. Any outspoken conservative (including of course President Bush) will get called a "Nazi" by Leftists sooner or later and I have certainly been called that many times. I am inclined to think that such accusations are in fact a badge of honour: they show that you are an effective opponent of the Left. And a couple of Australian Leftist bloggers have repeated that old accusation about me recently and been rather competently demolished in reply by Sam Ward. And I have also myself replied to similar criticisms years ago.
In fact, however, I have been more of an enemy of Nazism than most people. Leftists just sit in their armchairs and condemn Nazism in order to make themselves feel good without actually doing anything practical about it. I, on the other hand have actively tried to combat and undermine Nazism. Part of that effort has been in the academic journals for over 30 years -- my sociological observations of Australian neo-Nazis -- in which I went out and got to know lots of actual real-life neo-Nazis in order to describe and analyse what they are really like and what motivates them (see here and here). The first step in combatting something is to understand it and I put a lot of time and effort into understanding what makes modern-day Nazis tick in the hope that it might help me understand Nazi Germany better. The usual Leftist explanations of Nazism are rendered worthless by their perverse determination to identify it with conservatism. And all my work on the subject was published in Jewish academic journals, as it happens. So the occasional Leftist claim that my work was sympathetic to Nazism is the height of absurdity.
Until recently, however, I have kept my mouth shut about another very active way I have combatted Nazism -- my role as a police agent reporting on them. My sociological studies of Australian neo-Nazis yielded not only information of psychological and sociological interest but information of interest to the police too. And I gladly supplied that information to the police -- in order to assist the police in preventing any Nazi thuggery. Since over 30 years have now passed since that time, however, I think any need for secrecy is at an end and I have recently gone VERY public about my police role by telling all to Brisbane's Sunday newspaper. The reporter who interviewed me seemed to know a lot about the matters concerned and I was able to give him enough detailed information about my police and Nazi contacts to enable him to authenticate what I said.
So, far from being a Nazi, I have done far more to combat REAL Nazism than any Leftist I know. But that just makes me a good conservative -- contrary to what the Leftists would have you believe. And, in case anybody thinks that studies of Nazism/Fascism are irrelevant to the modern-day world, they should have a closer look at how things are going in Russia.
Friday, January 9, 2004
Regular readers of my blogs will be well-aware that I often write on matters to do with the churches. I even had a well received article in Front Page Magazine some time back that looked at why many mainstream churches are now Leftist. And readers will also have noted how derisively I speak of "liberal" Christians. I imagine however that some readers would want to ask what right an atheist (which I am) has to to pontificate on such matters.
The simple answer is that it is my remote fundamentalist past still speaking. I still have great sympathy for my former fundamentalist brothers in arms despite no longer being one of them. And I share their view of what a "real" Christian is. All that aside, however, I do think that there is an important rational distinction to be made between those on the one hand who sincerely believe that Christ is their saviour and do their humble best to follow his teachings and those on the other hand who have no real convictions but simply use the churches for social, political or even financial purposes. And I will continue to refer to the former as "real" Christians and the rest as "pretend" Christians, "impostors" and "hypocrites" -- or, as Christ called the equivalent people in his day: "whited sepulchres" (Matthew 23:27): "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for ye are like unto whited sepulchres which indeed appear beautiful outward but are within full of dead men's bones and of all uncleanness". I will never be able to better that description.
I should, I guess, make clear that it is pretend belief, not unbelief or unorthodox belief that I am condemning. I have met holy people of all faiths and no faith -- from the Greek Orthodox Church to Jehovah's Witnesses. And in my view the holiest person I know is a geriatric nurse who works in a nursing home. When her lonelier patients finally become so ill that they are sent to hospital she goes of her own accord and in her own time to visit them in hospital. Such good-heartedness leaves me awestruck. She is, as it happens, a complete atheist who says that her strong Methodist background was never anything but a burden. She also is a habitual voter for the A.L.P. -- Australia's major Leftist party -- but like many supporters of that party (including its present Federal leader) she has strong conservative views on many subjects -- in her case including a complete derision for anything to do with governments.
And what I think all of that goes to show is the one thing Leftists hate to admit -- that life is far too complex to be reduced to their simple rules, formulas, slogans and theories.
And Ann Coulter has a very amusing article on the hypocrisy about religion of the current Democrat Presidential hopefuls. Some excerpts: "When they were fund-raising, the Democratic candidates for president all claimed to be Jewish.... To ease Democrats into the Jesus thing, the Democratic Leadership Council is holding briefings for Democratic candidates teaching them how to talk about religion. The participants were warned that millions of Americans worship a supreme being whose name is not Bill Clinton... The only Democrats who go to church regularly are the ones who plan to run for president someday and are preparing in advance to fake a belief in God... "