What a Jerk

I guess the Killer was kind of a jerk too, though. Maybe it goes with playing piano like an ace.

'An Astonishing New Theory'

Pluses: it's a new theory about time and reality from MIT!

Minuses: it's not from an astronomer or a physicist, but from an MIT philosopher. Also, either he or the journalist hasn't done the reading. Probably it's the journalist. 
An incredible new theory established as the “block universe” theory asserts that time does not actually “flow like a river”; rather, everything is ever-present.

Dr. Bradford Skow, a philosophy professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, proposes that if we “look down” on the cosmos as if it were a piece of paper, we would see time stretched out in all directions, just as we perceive space at any given time.
This is not a new theory. This is roughly Aquinas' theory of what reality looks like to God, who 'looks down' on time from eternity, which is not everlasting time but something beyond time. Thus, God can see the whole at once. 

Immediate downside: predestination and collapse of free will. In addition to being undesirable, the loss of free will violates our most basic experience. You can't do the scientific method without free will, because you have to decide what to study and decide to take the steps, and at every point in the experience of conducting an experiment you're making choices -- at least apparently. 

They go on to say how this enables a new theory of time travel, but even insofar as it does it makes time travel pointless. You can't 'go back' and alter the past or change bad decisions you'd made if everything is frozen in a big block of time -- or, to put it in the Norse mythological terms, if the Norns wove the skein of wyrd long ago, and all will happen as foredoomed. 

Alternative theories have existed for centuries to grapple with that problem. You can read a layman-level explanation of two of them, one of them my own, in my novel Arms and White Samite. One of them, mine, preserves free will more successfully than the other. The other one is known as perdurism, or 4D-ism, and there are numerous scholarly books about it.

Army Kills FT Benning Multi-Gun Tournament

A big hit in the past, this year it was canceled because of newly-imposed 'safety' registrations that made it difficult and expensive for competitors. No problems had occurred in the past -- the competitors are highly professional athletes at running their firearms. However, 'in an abundance of caution' to avoid active shooters on the military base, the new regulations would have required everyone to stay off-post, travel off-post for all meals, fill out registration forms for every firearm brought onto base for the competition, and travel on-post only from the gate to the range and back. 

Well, there are other places you can find a range.

Women in the History of Philosophy

Cambridge University Press has made free four of its six books on the subject. Unfortunately the one of probably greatest interest to most of you, Early Christian Women, is not one of the four (though you can still buy a print copy, they are quite expensive). You can get a book on Pythagorean philosophers who were women, however, as a free download. If you've enjoyed the ancient philosophy commentaries here, you may well like learning about these thinkers. 

The others may also be of interest especially to the feminists among you, but they are outside my area so I can't offer any useful remarks: mostly for being too contemporary, but one for being a Korean Neo-Confucian of whom I admit I've never heard before this morning.

Ave, Abe

Shinzo Abe, a longstanding firebrand of a Prime Minister in Japan, was assassinated yesterday while giving a campaign speech for a party member. [Link is to the Wall Street Journal, but pick whatever paper you'd like: this story tops all the major ones today.]

Abe was one of those foreign leaders often described by our press as 'conservative' even though he doesn't fit an American mold very well at all. He was the reason that Japan is as well-positioned as it is now to resist a resurgent China, keeping its 'self-defense forces' as close to being capable of real military operations as he could without violating Japan's pacifist constitution. Under his watch, Japan began building what was obviously a power-projection capacity, including its first aircraft carrier since World War II.

He was also a nationalist and a patriot, the kind who is willing to forgive his country for its sometimes-intense sins in order to celebrate its genuine glories. As far as I know he was unapologetic about this habit of character unto his death. A 'habit of character' of such strength in moral matters is either a virtue or a vice in Aristotelian terms; Abe was loved or condemned depending on what judgment individual people had of which category his habit properly belonged.

Though he was thereby an American ally, he was always Japanese first, as he ought to have been. Loyal to his ancestors and his people, he passes now to face a better judgment and a final one. 

Confidence in Institutions

The new Gallup poll on Americans' confidence in our institutions is out. Longtime Hall readers know I've watched this poll for a very long time. For a long time my great concern was that confidence in our democratic and constitutional organs was falling, while only coercive institutions -- the police and the military -- managed to stay above water. That suggested dangerous consequences, should the organs of constitutional government collapse while people still believed in and trusted institutions whose purpose is to force people to obey.

This year confidence in the military is down somewhat, but still above water; somewhat surprising, I think, given the massive recruitment troubles they're having. Confidence in the police is now below water at 45%, with the left wanting to defund them and everyone else noticing that they stopped enforcing the law during the recent riot seasons. Forty-five percent is still too much, if you ask me; indeed neither of these institutions deserve to be considered widely credible. 

Congress has generally enjoyed the lowest level of confidence from everyone, and this year has single digits across the board except among Democrats -- and even there they only rise to ten percent. But look at these Presidential numbers:

Republicans: 2%
Independents: 18% down from 31% last year
Democrats: 51% down from 69% last year.

Two percent is even lower than Congress, and even Democrats could barely muster a majority with faith in the institution with it firmly in their control. 

Boom in Georgia

Somebody blew up the Georgia Guidestones last night -- well, one of them. The Georgia State Police apparently destroyed the rest of them 'for public safety.' 

There's apparently been some controversy over them lately, with some calling them 'satanic' for some reason that escapes me. I guess people didn't like that they were astrologically aligned, but that's if anything pre-satanic: Men of the West were aligning ancient stones with the sun and stars long before anyone knew the name, at least. They had some ancient languages inscribed on them, as well, but the 'guides' were more Star Trek than satanic; I'd guess it was a collection of new wave professors from the nearby University of Georgia who put the things up.

I rode out to them back in 2015 after I'd heard a rumor about their existence. Here's the panel talking about the astronomical alignment.

And here's one of the guideline panels, which includes at least one piece of very excellent advice we should be following even today:

The marble is from nearby Elberton, Georgia, where my son used to wrestle occasionally back in high school. It is the home of a notable quarry, which if were I Sherlock Holmes I is where I would begin my investigation into who blew the thing up. That explosion looks like dynamite to me: not big enough to be artillery but still sizable, and near a quarry where dynamite is available and where there are people who know how to use it. I am not Mr. Holmes, however, so I shall leave the matter in accord with the Two Rules of Business. 

Draining US Strategic Petroleum Reserve to Lower Gas Prices....

...in China.

More than 5 million barrels of oil that were part of a historic U.S. emergency reserves release to lower domestic fuel prices were exported to Europe and Asia last month, according to data and sources, even as U.S. gasoline and diesel prices hit record highs.... The flow is draining the SPR, which last month fell to the lowest since 1986....

Cargoes of SPR crude were also headed to the Netherlands and to a Reliance (RELI.NS) refinery in India, an industry source said. A third cargo headed to China, another source said.

Real Journalism

The Washington Post deserves praise for this story, adapted from a book by the authors, exploring how the opioid crisis was made possible by Big Pharma suborning DEA.

Corruption abounds, but it's rare to see a forthright examination of it in a major media outlet. Good for the Post.

An Idea Whose Time has Come- Electoral College for States

 Honestly, I can't believe I've never heard anyone suggest this before.  Not only that we need the Electoral College federally, but that we should extend it to the state level to counteract the new 'big states', the megalopolis city-states that run our lives.

Razorfist's (aka Rageaholic's) shtick is to be crude and drop a lot of F-bombs- I even debated not posting the video- so be forewarned that there's more vulgarity here than you'd normally expect in the Hall- but it's too good an idea he's presenting to not post this- so I beg your indulgence this once-

I think this is an idea whose time has come, and even if we were unsuccessful in implementing it, a Democrat party/media complex would be too busy fighting this to go after the Federal Electoral College, which would itself be a win.

A Forgotten 4th of July Song

 At least, I forgot it was one ...

Sketchy Review of "Woke Racism"

This isn't a good review of John McWhorter's recent book Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America. Nope. For that I'd have to do a lot more work and time is short.

In brief, McWhorter, a black professor of linguistics at Columbia U., argues in six quick chapters that CRT and all that racial wokeness is a new religion that is unintentionally racist and harmful to black Americans. He calls the members of this new religion the Elect. He offers a way to genuinely help black children instead of teaching them all that CRT nonsense and a way to deal with the Elect.

McWhorter is a leftist and starts by saying he's writing for fellow leftists. While he doesn't say what his own beliefs are, in arguing that wokeness is a new religion, he treats religious belief as essentially irrational, unprovable, and not amenable to rational argument. He reminds me of Steven Pinker, a Harvard linguist who is also on the left but who argues for Enlightenment rationalism as well as freedom of thought and speech.

As for helping black children, his answers are nothing new: "1. End the war on drugs." "2. Teach reading properly", i.e., via phonics. And "3. Get past the idea that everybody must go to college" and focus a lot more on vocational education.

His method for dealing with the Elect is remarkably similar to what I've heard from the right. In a section titled "Just say no", he writes, "What we must do about the Elect is stand up to them. They rule by inflicting terror ..." A key part of that, he claims, is that people need to get over their fear of being called racists in public (172-3). You can imagine what he says in the next section titled "Separation of church and state." Finally, he offers sample scripts for how these conversations with the Elect might go. Kinda interesting how he imagines them.

A significant part of the value of this book for me was how he gets to these conclusions. I won't even attempt a summary; the value is in his complete arguments, because he argues rationally from the left's viewpoint.

There are things I disagree with McWhorter about, but it's a good book, a quick read, and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in this topic, especially if you live or work in a woke environment.

More Worries about "Christo-Fascism"

Vice has pulled a video from Tik Tok that it believes illustrates a serious threat. I appreciate that they defined their terms.
Christian nationalists believe that their country’s national policies and laws should reflect evangelical Christian values, and culture war issues like LGBTQ rights, “critical race theory,” or immigration, are regarded as signs of moral decay that imperil their nation’s future. 

Christo-fascists take that one step further, and believe that they’re fighting primordial battles between West and East, good and evil, right and left, Christians and infidels. These two labels, however, sometimes overlap. 

On TikTok, ideologues from both ends of the spectrum are weaving together a shared visual language using 4chan memes, scripture, Orthodox and Catholic iconography, imagery of holy wars, and clips from movies or TV...

It’s no accident that this community is burgeoning on TikTok of all places, according to Thomas Lecaque, an associate professor of history at Grand View University in Iowa who focuses on apocalyptic religion and political violence. “You build your audience with a young demographic, and then you spread your ideas that way. This is how you build the next generation of fascists,” he said. 

Christianity could be associated with a fascist movement because both the faith and the ideology are corporatist. That doesn't mean 'corporation,' but rather comes from the Latin corpus meaning 'body.' The idea is that the Church or the state is a kind of organism, and the different parts of the organism have different functions. This is by analogy to the way that the hand or the eye are different organs with different functions, but each of which is part of a greater whole that it serves according to its functions. The Pope or Leader is supposed to be the brain; the eyes are inquisitors or police; the hands are the people who do the work they are assigned and directed to do. 

Fascism gets its name from the Roman fasces, a device that was both a weapon and a symbol. The fasces was a bundle of sticks bound together, sometimes with an axe head bound up in one end. Roman magistrates carried one to administer corporal punishment, but more to symbolize the way the Roman order worked: the sticks were individually brittle and weak, but bound together they became strong. 

The trick is that some version of that idea is necessary for any successful politics: if you can't come together in common purpose, you aren't going to build any sort of state. It is thus not merely fascists who have reason to talk this way; any political philosophy at all is going to have to do it. Anarchists may wish to do without leaders, but they can't do without common purpose and people pulling together to get things done. Together we are stronger, and it is only by pulling together that we get the garden dug and weeded and harvested. 

So you do get communities of a corporatist mindset in Christianity -- abbeys and monasteries and religious orders and the like -- but of course you do, because you couldn't build a society that didn't have some version of that idea. The presence of a necessary condition is not surprising just because it was necessary

There's something similar at work here, I think. Christianity is under attack -- I see memes designed to mock and belittle it every day -- and not only nor even especially from 'the East' but from those within our culture. Pulling together in defense of it is the only way in which it might survive.

Also, I notice the two images that they pulled as exemplary are not unhealthy messages by themselves. "Revolt against the modern world not because it is modern but because it is evil" says one; perhaps you might substitute "insofar as it is evil," but otherwise this is a traditional message for every age. The second one features a knight wearing Crusader livery, and says "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." That's a healthy message. 


"Ladies Love Outlaws" is a classic Waylon album from 1972, and he is now classic Americana. Waylon thus provides a good ending piece for Independence Day. 

That album also featured this piece, which I think he got from Elvis. The 1972 version was not especially great, as he was still sounding a lot like Nashville (and notice the clean shaven face in the album cover). By 1974, he really had his sound worked out with his band.

Very productive years for him, seventy-two to seventy-four. By seventy-four he was at the top of his game.

Bluegrass, Red Rock

 The music is fine, but the rocks are the real attraction here. My goodness, what beautiful stone.

Epictetus on Freedom

We spent part of the winter with Epictetus, so you might be interested in hearing his thoughts on freedom. 

Via the Daily Stoic, which adds that changing our nation's history is beyond us, but striving to perfect adherence to our principles of liberty is within our power. That is a worthy goal for free human beings.

 Via Tim Kennedy, former Green Beret. He advises: "Don't lose."

Independence Day

This year I have had women write to tell me that they don't feel like they can celebrate Independence Day. This strikes me as a strange sentiment; 'I feel our government is so oppressive that I can't celebrate the idea of overthrowing an oppressive government.' This should be the ideal holiday. Go practice handling explosives.

Democrats in general seem to be having trouble this year. Same answer. 

Read again The Spirit of Rebellion. If you're against the government, do something about it. Be free for an hour of your life at least. If you're not, have a barbecue to remember those who once were. Authority turns septic sometimes. Human dignity entails and requires occasional rebellion. 

Perhaps -- so the Church teaches -- it also requires occasional (or even regular) submission to legitimate authority. We can worry about that on another day. Today is the Fourth of July.

Happy Independence Day.

Hony Tonk


Freedom means decision, choice and difference.

Off the Request Line

 I don't know who that guy is, but the meme is by request in the comments below.