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Ten Ten Twelve

As you have no doubt heard, The Universe is big — really big. But how big is it?

Scientists seem to have a reasonable grip on how old The Universe is (around 13.8 billion years, give or take). The size of the cosmos, though, appears to depend on whether the inflationary model is correct.

Russian-born physicist Andrei Linde has been a pioneer in this field. In The Whole Shebang: A State-of-the-Universe(s) Report, Linde gives author Timothy Ferris an estimate of the radius of the Cosmos that simply blew my mind:

101012

This, for the uninitiated, is one followed by a TRILLION zeroes. The unit of measurement is centimetres, but it wouldn’t matter much if it were micrometers or megaparsecs — this number is way beyond the comprehension of any mortal mind.

This number had a profound psychological effect on me: I felt humiliated, debased, less than nothing. It put in stark relief the pitiful nature of my existence. I was awestruck. This number haunted my mind for months.

On the other hand, this number has tremendous explanatory value. In a Universe so big, the development of self-conscious beings becomes a near certainty; the possibility that creatures somewhat like ourselves becomes ever more likely.

From the degradation, I found consolation.

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On Nihilism

Nihilism has gotten a bad rap. It has induced panic in god-botherers and atheists alike, and conjures mental images for the perplexed of people fornicating with their pets in public spaces.

But what is the big deal? The version of Nihilism I ascribe to simply states that there are no human values that are not the creations of humans themselves — there is nothing “outside” the human mind that creates those human values.

This gives us the freedom to create our own values. But as Erich Fromm noted, some humans will find freedom to be psychologically burdensome, and retreat into the comfort and security of totalitarianism. If this be true, it is not an argument against Nihilism; physics is not rejected as a discipline because most people don’t know what a quark is.

Embrace the benign indifference of the Cosmos.

The ‘Hail Mary’ That Came Off

It is rare for debates of a political or intellectual nature to have sharp delineations. One such instance was 9/11: the moment the first plane hit the North Tower, the notion that Islam had a place within any civilized society disintegrated. What, then, were the devout to do?

Islam, with its vague and angry denunciations of infidels, legalized misogyny, and incitements to violence, was never going to cut it in the “marketplace of ideas” in the twenty-first century. The situation was desperate, but the younger generation of Muslims had an idea: Islam would get “woke.”

The religion of Mohammed would be repackaged, not as an imperialist Arab ideology imposed on dark-skinned people at the point of the sword, but as an integral part of black culture. This would imply that pesky folks who complained about Islamist terrorism are simply racist.

This strategy of “racializing” Islam has been surprisingly effective. The effects on our socio-political discourse are, at times, bizarre.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to poke the Islamist academic historian, Will Scates Frances (also known as ‘Will Abu Muezz’). Frances reacted the way you’d expect a Sunni supremacist to — with threats of violence. The unusual part is that he denounced me as a “white supremacist.”

Now Will Scates Frances is a white man. Frances gave no examples of my alleged white supremacist leanings, so why would he say that? One explanation is that Frances has become so bamboozled by the conflation of blackness with being Muslim that he’s convinced himself that he’s a black man.

Whether or not Will actually believes that he is a black man, he seems to act as if he were black, aggrieved by the intolerance of whiteys such as myself. That urban hipster crypto-Leftists like Liam Hogan, or pseudo-arnarchists like Andy Fleming, would fall for this kind of posturing is no surprise. More hardened and cynical creatures, such as myself, are not fooled.

 

Spooky (Part Two)

My piece from a couple of days ago impressed neither Bellingcat, nor Little Atoms. I haven’t exactly been in sparkling form when defending that piece, either. I will, though, explain here why Little Atoms is such an insidious outlet.

An information outlet — an outlet with pretensions to being on the “intellectual” side, at least — should be assessed not merely by the number of readers it has, but by what a hypothetical Serious Person might think of its content. The qualities this person might have, among others, would be: prudence, sobriety, articulateness, a tendency to base their beliefs on available evidence (as opposed to whimsy or flippancy). In short, a “rational actor.”

For example, right-wing British tabloids can easily be dismissed by a Serious Person, as the bulk of its readership consists of Nigel Farage fans and pot-bellied soccer hooligans. Little Atoms, by contrast, with its veneer of “liberalism,” can disseminate all sorts of imperialist propaganda, masked by the educated and “cosmopolitan” status of both its readers and contributors.

The facade dissipates, however, when you look at the type of person who writes for Little Atoms. A person such as Caroline Criado-Perez.

Criado-Perez, a beady-eyed sex-negative feminist who is the daughter of an extremely wealthy Argentinian, Carlos Criado-Perez, has been published just once in Little Atoms; but it is her work for The Pool which is the most incendiary.

This article is one of the vilest things I’ve read from the British press, and that is saying something. Criado-Perez clearly insinuates that it was a Jeremy Corbyn supporter — not a member of the fascist Britain First party — who killed Jo Cox. (That this was the deliberate intention of Criado-Perez, and not a mistaken interpretation on my behalf, was later confirmed by one of Caroline’s associates, Tracy King.)

Caroline Criado-Perez successfully lead a campaign to put Jane Austen’s face on Britain’s ten-pound note. She might not care much for ordinary women, but she is taken seriously by the British media elite. She would pass the Serious Person test.

This is what makes her, and Little Atoms, so dangerous.

 

 

 

Spooky

You’re poking about on the internet; you come across a website that claims to be “crowd funded” and “independent” — sounds good. You start reading…but something seems off. It seems that all these writers seem to have a worldview that precisely matches that of the US State Department, or MI6.

Welcome to Spooksville.

This is what someone who randomly came across the Bellingcat website might feel. Luckily, there is an open-source tool called the Internet, where you can find out that its founder, Eliot Higgins, is just another think tank grifter trying to restart the Cold War to boost his bank balance. Case solved.

There are some critters that are a little slipperier.

Take, for example, Little Atoms. This outfit is upfront about its alignment with British government policy in Syria (which is standard for the British media), though who exactly is pulling the financial strings remains unknown. Little Atoms is a “product” of 89UP, a London-based PR company; who or what finances 89UP is unknown to me at this stage. There are clues, however.

While Little Atoms is really mad about Syria, it has little interest in Yemen; and when I say “little,” I mean zero: Little Atoms’ Twitter account has never mentioned that country, and their main site only contains two references to Yemen (once in an article attacking Iran, another in a passing comment by Padraig Reidy that admits the bombs being used by the Saudis are “British-built”).

This lack of outrage at “British-built” Saudi atrocities hints at a possible link between the Saudis and Little Atoms. I am, however, merely speculating.

Slippery critters.

UPDATE: I have been informed by the folk at Little Atoms that the latest print edition of the magazine has a piece on Yemen, by Iona Craig. I will read this if I can find it.

The Grift

Richard Cooke wrote an interesting piece a few months ago on the seeming incoherence of the Australian Right. Here is a segment describing Pauline Hanson’s lack of policy development:

 

Hanson’s crackpot plan for a 2% flat tax was called Easytax, and brought One Nation to the brink of collapse the first time it was mentioned in a press conference. She was unable to answer basic questions about it, had not costed it, and had no idea how it would work.

There has been no sign of workshopping over the decades. The policy is almost exactly the same, and by one current estimate would punch a $230 billion hole in the budget. Her plan to abolish the Family Court and replace it with “Family Tribunals” fronted by mums and priests instead of lawyers is back as well, with even less detail. Her time in the wilderness seems to have taught her nothing at all.

There is a definite reason for this: Pauline Hanson is not a politician.

To clarify: Yes, Hanson holds political office, but that is not the raison d’etre of One Nation. Hanson is only involved in politics to make money.

This is not an isolated case. Donald Trump seems to have waged a presidential campaign to boost his business empire, but Hillary Clinton’s gross incompetence landed him with the poisoned chalice of victory.

The Trump era has brought out a whole cavalcade of deadbeats and losers into the public arena. One of these deadbeat losers is former Federal Opposition Leader, Mark Latham.

After a decade haunting the pubTABs and Hungry Jack’s of western Sydney, Latham has re-emerged, re-branding himself from failed politician to larrikin “outsider,” bravely challenging the diktats of Political Correctness issued by militant gays, raving loony feminists, and other Cultural Marxists.

Latham and Hanson are identical not only in their faux common (wo)man posturing, but their total lack of any lasting policy achievement. For all their hot air, they are doomed to obscurity, with nothing to show for decades of bombast.

Quite appropriate, for two people with no interest in politics.

[Featured Image via theconversation.com]

 

 

Is Corey Robin A Bigot?

I have mentioned Professor Corey Robin several times on this blog. I noted that Robin is an adherent of Conservative Judaism; what I failed to note is that this sect maintains a strict ban on marriages between Jews and Gentiles.

If you read Professor Robin’s work, you will find it full of humanistic and egalitarian sentiments; but in his private life, the good professor feels it beneath him to marry outside of his divinely-selected Chosen People.

What are we to make of this contradiction? It seems that Professor Robin lacks Authenticity. Thus we are not sure which is the real Corey Robin: the socialist, progressive Corey Robin; or the Jewish tribal supremacist Corey Robin.

In fairness, it must be said, Robin could have turned out much worse — he is no Avigdor Lieberman. Perhaps, one day, Professor Robin can throw off the shackles of his ghetto mentality.