Unity is NOT the answer

Calls for unity from the left are actually calls for surrender. It is a call for conformity, for rule by consensus – an end to diversity of thought and freedom of speech.

Case in point: a literary agent is fired merely for having an account on alternative social media platforms and for supporting free speech.

If you want to surrender to the new fascism: rule by consensus, at least be honest about what you are doing.

There is a unity worth pursuing. It is to unite with those who share your values. Values of individual rights, of liberty, of free thought and freedom of expression, of respect for property and, above all, respect for life – meaning respect for each person’s right to live their own life the way they chose. These used to be called “liberal” values. That’s why it’s wrong to refer to the left as “liberals”. They are not “progressives” either. The left are actually conservatives, reactionaries who want to return to an era where social elites dictated the rules everyone was to live by. Advocating unity with such an evil is akin to dosing pure water with arsenic – it only takes a little to turn a life saving drink into poison.

Unite on the basis of shared principles. Life affirming and life enhancing principles. This unity requires that we disengage with those tyrants of the left who insist we let politicians, celebrities, corporatists, big tech, and big media do our thinking for us.

If you want to preserve and even increase your personal freedom, disengage the state and its lap dogs. Unite with those who share your values on alternative platforms. Yes, there will be terrible people there as well. But do what people who respect the rights of others should always do – discriminate. That is, you be the judge. You decide whether something is right or wrong, good or bad, correct or incorrect. Exercise your moral agency.

White privilege

Here’s a slightly edited conversation I’m participating in on Facebook on whether there is such a thing as white privilege.

Me: White privilege is a convenient fiction used by those who want to take what others have instead of earning it for themselves.

Anthony: Where’s your hood bud? Don’t you have a cross to burn somewhere? Y’all act like white privilege means we got everything handed to us when all it means is the colour of our skin in most cases doesn’t negatively affect the way we are viewed or treated in the world we live in. And would you mind explaining how anything having to do with white privilege has tried to take anything from anyone?

Me: I’m from a time when there were still a few real white racists – who thought they were entitled to jobs and favours because they were white. Sickening. Beyond stupid. I don’t know of anyone like that now. But there’s a new racist – the non white who thinks things that happened years before he was born entitle him to jobs and favours now because he’s not white.

In the past the hard working black or native kid could be justified in resenting a white kid who got things because he was white. Now some people, mostly white liberals, but also some others who see a way to cash in, want to keep discriminating on the basis of race. It just creates a violent, resentful culture where skin colour matters more than how hard you work and how well you treat others.

Which way is best? A society where you get stuff based on race or based on how what you do benefits other people? I don’t understand how anyone could think that continuing to divide people into races is better than treating everyone as an equal member of the human race – the only race that counts.

Anthony: If you don’t know of anyone like that now that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Ever lived in the Canadian midwest? They are everywhere I bet you know at least one person that is a self proclaimed non-racist that has no problem saying they just don’t want their child to marry a black person.

Affirmative action types of policies and non-discrimination laws were enacted for a reason not just pulled out of thin air to be some supposed cash cow for minorities. Give me one example of anything even remotely like someone “cashing in”

As for your “new racist”, well racist have always came in every colour. I haven’t met one yet the thinks he/she was entitled to a free ride based on the past and I bet you don’t either. I do know minority’s that are more than willing to use programs and systems put in place to help level the playing field. We still live in a society where people get over looked and mistreated based on the colour of their skin.

The problem here is there’s a bunch of you people that think they know something. But answer this: is your family very mixed? Was your school very mixed? Is or was your community very mixed? Have you ever lived in a black community or a predominantly black neighborhood?

Y’all seem to forget to walk a mile someone else’s shoes. And if you cant answer yes to some, if not most of those questions, how could you possibly know a thing about white privilege? Because once again white privilege doesn’t mean being white made your life easy. It just means the colour of your skin most likely has never made your life harder.

Me: I have had to sit down with a struggling, hard working, well-qualified white student and tell him he didn’t get the job because he wasn’t female, black or native – one of the requirements for the government grant that created the job. He was angry and resentful. He called it discrimination. He was right. It was sexist and racist.

At university I paid my own way, working 40 hours per week with a working wife and 4 kids and amassing student loans. Some of my classmates had their costs paid for, including a living stipend and were given free tutors – because of their race. That’s not only wrong, it’s stupid. Which do you think would impress a future employer more? Why would any capable person with self respect think s/he needs extra help to do as well as a white person? To do as well as a rich person? Sure! It’s hard to get good marks and work full time and look after a family. But I got into the program because I merited it so much that I got in and succeeded. Not because I was white, but despite the disadvantages I had because I was white.

The advocates for yesterday’s victims have become today’s oppressors. They are perpetuating the cycle of violence and disrespect. Don’t give me any of this white privilege garbage. It’s made up to justify new racism.

Who benefits? Let’s try people who don’t want to accept responsibility for their own lives so they want to blame others and justify their demand of something for nothing. Let’s try politicians and their supporters who see those people as voters they can easily buy with promises to give them something for nothing. Let’s try leaders of groups funded by government – who make careers out of perpetuating racism. Let’s try reporters who know that cars burning on the street get more views than roses and sunshine. Let’s try silly while liberals who really have had it easy and despise themselves (and their parents) for it and once again take the easy road by standing with the “victims” rather than doing the hard work of looking at how much harm those who pretend to represent these victims are actually doing.

Who benefits? Just about everyone except those with enough self-respect to accept responsibility for their own lives and who want to work for a peaceful, productive society where no one wins or loses based on race, gender, ethnicity, or any other irrelevant characteristic.

True Doctrine

I just noticed a Facebook post that I made a couple of years ago on this topic. I still like it but would like to modify it slightly so I am restating it below, slightly updated.

A word respecting official LDS doctrine. There is no official church doctrine, only an official source of doctrine – the standard works – scripture. And even that is an oversimplification as it isn’t even scripture per se but the revelation that comes when seriously contemplating scripture. True doctrine is received by revelation, which “distills upon our souls as the dews from heaven” (DC 121), as we contemplate scripture. True doctrine revealed as part of a process that includes scripture. The role of scripture is not to recite or contain true doctrine but to facilitate the revelation of true doctrine.

Some, unfortunately, consider attempts to articulate the results of such contemplation “idle speculation”. But there is nothing idle about the process – neither is it merely speculative, necessarily. It is intellectually challenging and the quality of the result, and ensuing satisfaction derived therefrom, is commensurate with the effort. Ironically those who oppose such “idle speculation” are idolaters. Their intent is to preserve the purity of the doctrine they mistakenly believe the scriptures to contain. But instead they raise the uncontemplated words themselves to the level of a false idol. “A Bible! A Bible!” (2 Nephi 29).

Or, just as unfortunate, they point to someone else and accept their articulation of doctrine as authoritative. “If so and so says it, it must be true.” This raises “so and so” to the level of mediator between the slothful servant and God. Any attempt to articulate truth must fail, at least in some measure, due to the inherent imperfection, or imprecision, or inadequacy, of words, being mere symbols. Our unarticulated concepts are far from perfect representations of reality but their accuracy is diminished further when they are articulated.

All this is really to say that the old advice that if you want the truth you ought to seek it in the horse’s mouth applies. As we contemplate the word of God, not only written in scripture but also as written in nature, we can glimpse the truth in its purest form. Then we start fitting it into our flawed concepts and some of that purity is lost. Then we try to articulate it and the glass darkens further.

That’s not to say our contemplation can’t be improved by including the relevant views others have articulated. But these absolutely must be taken as an aid to our own contemplation and not as a substitute for it.

Never cease to contemplate (not just read) the articulated word of God because, if you look beyond the words themselves, the Spirit will reveal the truth. “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10).

The case for more government depends on lies

Here’s an example. This is a meme from the “Women’s Justice Center” decrying the fact that an insulin pen in the US costs $700 while in all other countries it is under $100. But I easily found a coupon that gets you an insulin pen in the USA for $126.

But that’s still too high. And the costs in those other countries is under reported because tax payers pay the difference.

More government is not the solution. Less government is the solution.

End drug patents No one should own an idea. Let anyone who wants to sell, sell and the price will go down to what supply and demand says it should be.

End regulation. Government agents, eager to justify their cushy jobs, take too long and come up with too many obstacles that make it too hard for companies to bring drugs to market at low prices. Without government interference there would still be people who would test and report on drug safety for a fee. The free market would ensure they were as low cost and efficient as possible.

End border controls on drugs. Let people buy from wherever they can get the drugs they need for the lowest cost.

Government is never the answer. People need to grow up, take responsibility for themselves and stop looking for government to solve their problems because governments are in the business of making problems so they can pretend to fix them.

The Truth about Truth

A member of our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) once objected to what he perceived to be the impossible level of certainty expressed by others:

“I don’t like it when people stand in testimony meetings and say, ‘I know.’ You can’t know stuff like that. You can believe or have faith, but you can’t know!”

But in John 8:32 we read that Jesus said
“Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”.

And again in John 17:3 Jesus asserts:
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent”

These statements by Jesus made it clear that:
it is possible to know things
to know God is eternal life, so its pretty important that we do know things

But doesn’t the member I quoted make a valid point? We can’t really know anything for sure, right?

Consider how we come to know the things we say we know. The everyday things. We might say that we know that the sun is in the sky. Why? Because we can look up and see it. It’s right there. But what’s really happening?

Deep inside the sun physical processes create a tiny package of information called a photon that makes its way to the surface and then flies to earth at the speed of light where, eight minutes after it leaves the sun, it pierces your cornea and slams into your retina at the back of your eye. That excites your optic nerve which sends an electrical signal all the way to the back of your brain where your brain cells interpret the signal as a flash of light.

But one photon isn’t enough to register with our conscious mind. It takes many of these photons slamming into our retina before our brain discerns a familiar pattern, a circle, a circle of light. That pattern, coupled with the pattern of impulses that our brain recognizes as meaning that our head is raised and we are looking up into the sky, is interpreted as meaning we are looking up at the sun.

But notice that we don’t experience the sun directly. We only experience the photons, the little packages of information, directly. It’s our repeated experience of interacting with similar photons in similar ways that our brains interpret as seeing the sun. Repeatedly experiencing patterns like this is how we come to know things.

But are the things we experience in this way really there? Do we know these things with a perfect knowledge just because we say we see them?

In 2015 The Dress became an Internet phenomena. It was a picture of a dress which some people saw as being white with gold trim and other people saw as being blue with black trim. People saw different things, even though they were looking at the very same picture.

In 2018 two brief audio clips became famous for similar reasons. Listening to one clip some people heard the name “Yanni” while other people heard the name “Laurel”. Their experience was different even though the sound itself was the same.

Another clip sounded like “brainstorm” to some and “green needle” to others. There was no trickery at play in any of these examples. So was the dress white and gold or blue and black? Neither. Different people perceived these phenomena differently because of subtle differences in the way their brains interpreted the input they were receiving.

The other day my wife mentioned that we had pecan pie and gestured to the pumpkin pie that was sitting on the kitchen counter. “What kind is it? I asked. “Pecan,” she replied. I raised an eyebrow. “Pumpkin pie was on sale so I bought one,” she explained. “But you said it was pecan,” I said. “No, I said it was pumpkin,” she responded.

Now the thing is, pecan pie is my favourite and I dislike pumpkin to the point that I won’t even eat it so the distinction was very important in my mind so I’m sure I was right. But we both were “sure” we were right, even though we couldn’t both be right.

My point is that sure, perfect or absolute knowledge is not a characteristic of human experience, regardless of how many times you may hear people lay claim to it. Neither the everyday things we say we know nor the more abstract truths discovered by careful study and thoughtful reflection can achieve the level of absolute certainty. There is always room for self-delusion or to be deluded by others. For our minds to play tricks on us

But that doesn’t mean that those of us who testify of eternal truths are mistaken when we say, ” I know that the gospel is true.” Repeatedly experiencing patterns of cause and effect can justify increasingly confident assertions. And that’s what these claims to knowledge really are – ways of expressing our high confidence that our declarations of truth are accurate.

Alma can help us understand what we mean when we claim to “know” the truth. Alma famously speaks of conducting an experiment. “Experiment upon my words,” he exhorts us in 32:27.

He says the experiment is like planting a seed and watching to see if it grows. It it grows, it is a good seed. If it doesn’t grow, it is a bad seed. All you need to have to begin the experiment is two things:

  1. A seed
  2. A desire to know if the seed is good – an inquiring mind open to accepting the truth

Now if you just don’t care about whether the seed is good or bad, you won’t even bother conducting this experiment. You’ll find something else to do. But if you do want to find out, you will plant the seed and watch and if it grows, then you will have as close to a perfect knowledge as its possible to have that this was indeed a good seed.

Now I’m not sure whether Alma was a farmer but I do know he was a missionary and that this experiment he spoke about wasn’t really about seeds. His invitation was to “experiment upon my words” as he taught gospel truths.

This experiment is not just for non-members who want to know whether the gospel as taught by our missionaries is true. It applies to all of us, regardless of how few or how many years we’ve been members of the Church. It applies to any bit of new information we want to know the truth about whether we hear it from someone, or read it somewhere, or it just pops into our mind.

So remember the two things we need to begin the experiment? The seed can represent any information. Our desire to know the truth is the other thing we need because without that desire, we will never find the time or energy to plant the seed.

What does it mean to plant the seed? How do we plant information? What soil do we plant it in? We plant it in the soil of our lives. We begin to live as if we already knew that the information was true and we see how it affects us.

Alma says that if the information is true, it will begin to:

  • “Enlarge your soul”
  • “Enlighten your understanding”
  • “Be delicious to you”

What can these things mean? What do they mean to you? To me they mean that truth leads to more truth. Truth helps me understand other truths more clearly, more deeply. Each Truth helps me see how all Truths fit together as pieces of a great puzzle – a puzzle I yearn to complete and help others complete.

Discovering truth is delicious. It makes me feel great, happy, that the little things that go wrong in life don’t matter because I know the truth and, as Jesus said, the truth sets me free from those little unimportant things.

I remember when I was little my father built a sandbox for us in our backyard. I would play in the sandbox with my friends, making roads and buildings. and pretending that what we were doing was important. Because that’s what kids do when they play. They practice being adults by pretending to do important adult things. They might seem silly to us but to kids play is serious business.

Once in a while I would catch a glimpse of my mother peeking at us from the window, just unobtrusively watching over us, but ready to intervene should we get carried away with our play and take it too seriously. Imagine, getting upset because someone ran his toy car into your little sand house. At that age it could start a fight but now it seems hilarious that we’d attach such importance to sand.

I often think of how my old sandbox story is analogous to our adult lives. We might think of ourselves as vastly more sophisticated than our children but to Heavenly Father we are all still children. Whenever I catch myself getting worried or upset about things I remember that, in truth, Heavenly Father is watching over us, ready to intervene if needed and that in reality we are still just little kids playing in the sandbox he built for us, pretending that what we do is important, when it is really only just practice for the important work of eternity. This truth sets me free.

We worship truth. We sometimes capitalize the word Truth because it is one of the names for Our Saviour who said, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light. (John 14:6)

Oh say, what is truth? ‘Tis the fairest gem. Priceless in value. The brightest prize. An aim for the noblest desire. The pillar of truth will endure to the last for ’tis the last and the first and tho the heavens depart and the earth’s fountains burst, Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst, eternal, unchanged, evermore.”

All these words from that great hymn describe Truth and He who exemplifies Truth. We are by nature attracted to truth. DC 93:29 tells us that our essential nature consists of light and truth. So when we hear the truth, read the truth, plant the truth in our hearts or, in other words, live our lives in a manner consistent with the truth, we will feel it and know it to be truth. It will enlarge our souls, enlighten our understanding, and be delicious to us. The Savior taught that: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine” (John 7:17).

Notice that Alma says the truth will “begin” to feel this way to us. We needn’t think we will experience a sudden overwhelming awareness of truth. That may happen, but it is more likely that our appreciation for the truth will grow gradually – like a tree that emerges from a seed grows.

In vs 37-39 Alma tells us that as the tree begins to grow, or in other words, as we begin to feel the positive effects of living the truth, we need to carefully nourish the tree so it takes root and produces fruit. Because, if we don’t, it will not take root and the sun will wither it away. If that happens it won’t be because the seed was bad, but because we failed to nurture it.

And how do we nurture the truth in our lives? President Gordon B. Hinckley said that every member needs “a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing with ‘the good word of God.'” Full participation in the Church will provide all of those things and be the means by which we constantly nourish our little tree of faith and ensure that it grows and bears much good fruit.

Brad Wilcox described the way we can obtain a knowledge of the truth in this way:

“We gain a testimony through experience as we participate in the Church and interact with other members. We attend classes and activities. We go to sacrament meeting, where we partake of the sacrament. We worship the Savior and learn of Him. We sing hymns, prepare and give talks, and participate in interviews. We know what it is like to live as Latter-day Saints because we have experienced it firsthand. And though we may not always recognize it, the Spirit is there, which helps us receive knowledge.”

It is often said that when we pray, we speak to God and when we read scripture, God speaks to us. But I say it is not by simply reading scripture that revelation comes. We need to nourish the seed of truth that we find in the scriptures by acting upon those truths. Doctrine & Covenants 121:45 promises that the doctrine of the priesthood will distill upon our souls as the dews from heaven as we live charitably and virtuously. We must learn, and then we must do, and only then will we know.

To seek and expect an absolute knowledge is to look beyond the mark. But we don’t need a philosopher’s standard of knowledge, we need a carpenter’s, or a farmer’s. We don’t need certainty. All we need is to experience the yield of good fruit from gospel living to experience the Spirit’s gift of overwhelming joy that accompanies and confirms the truth when we declare, “I know the Saviour lives.”

Can a god be bored?

Point 1: We can make computers that do more than one thing at a time (parallel process or multitask). God is omnipotent. Therefore, God can multitask.

Point 2: We get the most happiness by overcoming challenges. When we don’t have any, or when those we have are being particularly difficult to overcome, we invent some (games, sports, etc.) In these invented challenges we typically submit to rules which limit what we can do to achieve the goal.

Putting these two points together, when we, as gods, get bored, why won’t we use our ability to multitask to use a part of our consciousness to continue working (bringing to pass the immortality and eternal lives of our own spirit children) while using another part of our consciousness to overcome an invented challenge?

I imagine myself reliving particularly enjoyable experiences. Further, I imagine that I will restrict the access that part of my consciousness I assign to reliving the experience has to my memory so that as I relive the experience it will seem to me that I am not reliving it but experiencing it for the first time. Imagine experiencing your first date, your wedding day, the birth of a child, over again, as many times as you wish, but not merely as a memory but as if it were happening for the first time.

What about that game winning shot you made? That overtime goal? The day your business started to make a profit? That painting you finished? The book you wrote? We’ve all had so many experiences where we had that irreplaceable sense of accomplishment for having successfully overcome a significant challenge. Reliving them but as if for the first time could relieve an eternity’s worth of boredom.

What about tweaking those memories a bit to improve them? What if you missed that last second shot and lost the game? This time you make it. With part of your mind you simulate what the rest of your life would have been like had you made that shot while another part of your consciousness experiences that newly simulated life, or as much of it as you wished, as if it were real. (And why wouldn’t it seem just as real as your real life? And if it seems just as real, why wouldn’t it actually be just as real?)

Modern video games let you assume the role of a basketball star playing through an entire season or even an entire career. Couldn’t a god simulate the same thing only in perfect full immersion virtual reality down to the most exquisite detail? And if you enjoyed basketball in this life, and were now a god, and could multitask so you could do your work while simulating a basketball career, why wouldn’t you? The only reason not to would be because you had something even more enjoyable to do.

So, if reliving, as if for the first time, your most joyful experiences, or creating new joyful experiences for yourself and experiencing those, always as if for the first time, is the least fun you can have as a god, while concurrently being able to share this delightful mode of being with your spirit children, I conclude:

Conclusion 1: Gods don’t get bored.

Conclusion 2: Maybe you are already a god and this is exactly what you’re doing right now, in which case, you may be in for a very, very exciting day!

Americans should not emulate Canadian health care system

If Americans want to suffer and die like Canadians while they wait for treatment then sure, they should go for universal public health care. I don’t know why though. Now American hospitals offer public apologies for 15 minute wait times while Canadian ERs routinely require people to wait 4-6 hours or longer. The wait time for medically necessary procedures is even worse and getting even worse.

The problem with the US isn’t too little government but too much – mostly in the form of ridiculously huge damage awards and the effect they have on costs and insurance premiums.

1) Respect the right of patients to contract out of potential negligence claims (sign a waiver of liability) in return for lower prices.

2) Allow anyone, including nurse practitioners to offer whatever services, treatments, etc. they want.

3) Support private watch dogs like Consumer Reports for health care or the various doctor rating websites to track the competency of health care providers.

All of this is simply respecting the rights of consenting adults to voluntarily do business with each other without some politician, judge, or bureaucrat interfering. This would guarantee that the market would provide exactly what we really need at a price that represented its true value.

Cataclysm Playthrough

For background on the game see: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/125977/cataclysm-second-world-war


France has strong relationships with many countries of eastern Europe in an effort to encircle and contain the newly emerging Reich. At home the French step up work on a series of fortresses facing their German neighbour. Italy’s influence is strongly entrenched in Austria and Albania while Britain’s influence holds sway in Iraq and Jordan and even stronger in Egypt where the relationship is virtually colonial.

In Britain cabinet unity and popular opinion make the occasion ripe for a bold government initiative. In the Soviet Union, Stalin has successfully implemented some important military reforms and observers expect some assertive new initiatives from him as well. (Both Britain and Russia took flags and passed their ensuing stability checks.)

Canadians kill in the nicest way possible

Guilty: Harper’s Conservatives, Trudeau’s Liberals and all those who support and sustain them with votes and money.

Crime: Aiding and abetting Saudi Arabia in the murder of those who fail to obey the Saudi monarch and who said monarch’s agents can get their murderous hands on. This includes anyone in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Is Saudi Arabia deploying Canadian-made weapons in Yemen?

Saudi Arabia beheads 37 citizens and pins one of the headless bodies to a pole

Fact: During the Arab Spring the Saudi puppet dictator of Yemen was tossed out by the people. The Saudi army, using, inter alia, Canadian arms, has been killing Yemenis ever since.

Fact: The Saudis have been lopping the hands and heads off anyone who they get to confess, under torture, of having extreme ideas – ideas opposed to the inhuman application of Islamic law by the Saudi regime.

Penalty: All rational (i.e. moral) persons ought to deny all support to the Saudi state and to any state that aids and abets it’s murderous activities, including Canada.

Fixing the NBA

Just a quick fun little post of a thought I had.

What if each of the 30 teams played each other team twice, one at home, one away. That would be a 58 game season. Always have at least 1 day off between games.

Rank the teams 1-30 based on w/l percentage.

Eliminate the bottom 14 leaving you with 16 for the playoff round.

Divide the 16 into 4 pools. A random team finishing 1-4 goes to poll A, one to pool B, etc. Same with teams finishing 5-8, 9-12, and 13-16.

Teams in each pool play home and home against the others adding 6 more games for each team. Winner of pool A plays 2nd place in pool B, etc. 3rd and 4th place finishers are done. Those series are best of 5.

Pairs of remaining winners play best of 7 and then a final series is best of 7.

Meanwhile the bottom 14 teams have their own tournament to determine the draft order with the winner getting first pick.