A wise course of action

Hans Zeiger puts down the pen:

For awhile I have contemplated writing this column but haven’t had the full sensibility to do it yet. I began submitting columns online at age 17, back in the year 2002. I began the process with the hubris of a budding pundit and kept the habit until now, with a declining sense of the value of this kind of writing. Now I am 21 and about 21 percent half-educated.

I now know at least this: I don’t know enough to be weekly offering my opinions as though possessed of some eminence. There is a thousand times more sense in one of Seneca’s ancient moral sketches or Joseph Addison’s essays 300 years ago than in the freshest columns I could put forth on any topic. Wisdom is better nurtured in the memorization of Solomon’s Proverbs than the attempt to produce new proverbs for the age of YouTube and iPod. The Bible is better for the soul than the morning newspaper.

Hans Zeiger isn’t the first young pundit to realize that he is merely regurgitating conservative talking points and doesn’t really know what the Hell he’s writing about. Kyle Williams came to the same conclusion last year and to his credit, also decided to stop committing punditry while clueless.

Here’s hoping that the Littlest Chickenhawk soon sees a similar light. It would be unfair to suggest that Me So Michelle would do well to do likewise, in her case, we’ll merely encourage her to RTFRHD* prior to writing a history book.

* this is an acronym similar to RTFM, only it refers to the Relevant Historical Documents. I was amused to read the following in Paul Johnson’s “Modern Times”, published in 1983: “After the initial operations were completed, there was a theoretical intention to move against India and Australia. But there was no plan at all to invade America, knock her out of the war or destroy her cpacity to wage it….

“Colonel Iwakuro, a logistics expert, told one of the regular ‘liason conferences’, where the top military and government met, that the differentials in American and Japanese production were as follows: steel twenty to one, oil one hundred to one, coal ten to one, aircraft five to one, shipping two to one, labour force five to one, overall ten to one….

“The Emperor had been told that the war could not be won as early as February 1942.”

There are worse ways…

… to spend an evening than drinking the “Naturally Australian” cab-shiraz blend. It’s cheap, but really good as a table wine. And while I’m normally loyal to my Italian merlots, proseccos and lambruscos, it was a rather nice break from the alchohol routine.

And there’s nothing like a proper, well-steamed cappucino with a healthy shot of Bailey’s added to top off dessert.

Unless, of course, it’s figuring out a new way to set up the projector with the XBox 360. You haven’t played Call of Duty until you’re comfortably ensconced ten inches off the floor (on the Super Lowrider Maxi-Comfort exercise bike) in front of what is effectively a 90-inch screen. Now I just have to dig up an old Thrustmaster, figure out how to get Wing Commander running in DOSbox, and I’ll be Living The Dream.

And they wonder why I never leave the house….

Mailvox: three questions

Thimscool poses a triad:

1) Atheism has not been a significant political force for very long, so it’s hard to say what the empirical evidence will be two thousand years from now.

Agreed, but its track record thus far is astoundingly appalling. Given that the first formally atheistic government produced The Terror, the second one produced the Leninist and Stalinist slaughters, the third launched a vicious persecution that sparked the Cristero rebellion and gave birth to the fascistic PRI that ruled Mexico until very recently.

One would be irresponsible to leave out the massive atrocities under the officially atheist governments of China, Vietnam and the Khmer Rouge as well. Indeed, it is hard to think of an atheist government – as opposed to a merely secular one – which doesn’t occasionally slaughter a significant percentage of its people.

I note that the Scandinavian countries which are famously populated with atheists have never had atheist governments, for example, the Lutheran Church of Sweden was the state church as recently as 2000.

2) Atheism, by itself, offers very little support upon which to build a cohesive society, much less a civilization. Atheism was a tenant of communism, but atheism does not imply communism, or nihilism. It simply doesn’t have much to say. The point of secular humanism is to construct a ‘religion’ or a way for society to organize, based in part on atheism.

Agreed, for the most part. However, atheism certainly does imply nihilism, it’s worth recalling that Nietzsche derived his philosophy of nihilism from the postulate that God was dead. Given the millenia of philosophical recognition that civilization requires a basic belief in some form of deity in order to thrive – recognition which includes Christian, pagan, agnostic and atheist philosophers alike – the burden is on the atheist to demonstrate that this is not the case.

I have yet to see anyone even begin to build a reasonable case for it. Given that the most famous atheist philosophers, Nietzsche and Sartre, argue to the contrary, I think this would be a difficult task. Certainly I was unable to do so during my years as an agnostic.

3) I am still curious what you think about Kant’s system, and its consistency (or lack thereof).

Not much. I’ve read two of his works and if I recall correctly, I found them to be consistent but largely beside the point. Given that I believe there is a surfeit of empirical evidence demonstrating that Man is not a rational animal, I consider the concept that reason can be relied upon to provide a universal basis with which to dictate behavior to be fallacious. Kant came up in a discussion a while back; the White Buffalo performed a pretty amusing demolition of the Categorical Imperative that some regulars here will remember.

I don’t remember much about how it went, except for the funniest moment when an atheist Champion of Reason finally lost it and posted something that can be summarized as: “If you don’t stop pointing out how my morality is reducible to might makes right, I’m going to break your teeth with a rock!”

Anyhow, the WB’s brother-in-law is writing his PhD thesis on Kant, perhaps he can take a break and enlighten us with his thoughts on the matter one of these days.