Essays in Idleness

DAVID WARREN

A note on sternutation

Should some sort of post-mortem ever be conducted on the catastrophic failure of all computer models, it will be done with the help of a computer model, that will cost billions in whatever currency to assemble. It will show the need for more computer studies. And therefore, it will be catastrophically wrong.

But note: for 100 dollars or negotiable, I will produce a minority report that will explain everything, infallibly. I will not preview the report in this Idlepost, however, because it might be worth money to me.

Aw, heck. Since I am rich beyond the dreams of avarice, let me just go ahead and blow all the beans. Let me recklessly tell gentle reader why computer models are always mistaken.

It is because their makers decide the result, before they design the model.

This does not mean they are self-interested phanatics, consciously preying on the gullibility of a drooling, ignorant public; although usually it does. For even if, by disposition, they are lofty, objective types, they will need, objectively, a lofty budget to perform a “credible” study. This means they must beg huge sums of money, and this will only be available from a source with an unhealthy interest in the result.

You see, the problem has nothing to do with computers. Even among humans, the phenomenon of “garbage in, garbage out” is well attested. The intention of following the evidence where it leads, is transient. I should think only a saint could sustain it, for longer than he could hold his breath under water.

By the way, I have “seen” a computer model that incorporates all facts about Roman Palestine, in order to predict the resurrection of Jesus. I put the word “seen” in goof quotes, because, in fact, I “saw” it in the dream, from which I woke this morning. Many of my dreams are satirical; this one would take a cupcake, at least. I was turning page after page of print-out, from computer-generated numbers. Many of my satirical dreams are nightmares.

“Scientists” tell us, that in order to arrive at a secure result, we must know everything that will, or even might, contribute to it. Only then can we predict with confidence.

But supposing, for the sake of having an argument, that everything could be known, about anything, the prediction will still be wrong. That is because, “everything being equal,” everything won’t be equal. Statisticians have gone some way to proving, repeatedly, that there will be disparities between any two groups, no matter how identical they are. What they call “randomness” will sneak into some tiny movement, and tamper with everything that succeeds it, growing until the result is overawed. (Actually, it is worse than they think, but I am trying to keep this simple.)

The “butterfly sneeze” principle attempts to account for this. A butterfly sneezes in north-western Uganda, and there goes the history of the world. One thing leads to another. “For want of a nail, … the kingdom was lost,” according to a pre-scientific proverb I learnt as a child.

But here I am temporarily with the Hegelians. Butterfly sneezes do not determine the history of the world, or even the weather in Brazil. I can know this even without knowing how butterflies sneeze (presumably through their spiracles). For complex events are necessarily too complicated for human comprehension — given the time remaining in the universe. We cannot even know what we mean by “determined.”

A sneeze may however change the course of a computer model. That is why the modeller must insert however many sneezes it takes, until he gets the result he was paid for.

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SEE ALSO, my Thing column for today (here). It also reflects on public statuary.

Answering to a “need”

The Batflu virus isn’t much use to society, according to unspoken consensus. In pragmatic terms, it doesn’t do anything productive. Rather it prevents us from doing things; such as breathing, in extreme cases. But then I don’t think Pragmatism has much use, either. It isn’t good at accounting for paradox, whereas, the use of things is often paradoxical. A contagion might kill off what “needed killin’,” in that fine old Texas phrase. One thinks of the tourist industry, for example. Yet having only very partial views, we may not know what most needs killin’, and often we jump to unfortunate conclusions.

A parallel case may be found in the “civil” services, regulating authorities, non-profits, &c. Jobs in these areas, which command high salaries and pensions, and present delicious opportunities for graft, are outwardly the opposite of productive. They parasitically consume, on a colossal scale,  the resources of the productive.

Look into almost any kind of “charitable” activity, such as social work, and one will find that only a tiny proportion of the cash “trickles down” to the characteristically desperate “clients.” And when it does, they use it to buy not only drugs and licker, but truly useless things, such as lottery tickets.

“Education” systems, in the modern West, exist chiefly to enrich semi-literate, unionized schoolteachers. In many parts of Ontario, for instance, a teacher will make at least double what the average parents make, and therefore feel justified in sneering. The teachers naturally consider that the little ones belong to them, for they are the necessary source of their income. What rights should parents have to interfere in their upbringing?

My best argument for the parasite class (always granting that some may be sincere), is that they protect society from gathering excessive wealth, or living lives of too much ease. Without them, we might easily suffer from the vices associated with too much freedom.

How I preferred the deadbeat, layabout, very English London of the Labour Party, when I lived there in the ‘seventies — to the cosmopolitan, rich, over-swept London of the Thatcher years. There are some advantages to socialism.

And there are other arguments, too, for putting depraved Leftists in power, though on examination they reveal special pleading. For instance, teachers may claim to offer child-minding services, so that mothers, especially, can go to work. But it is because heavy taxation requires the dual income, or women to do horrible and demeaning paid work when their husbands run away, that these services were ever made necessary.

The government does, arguably, “create” employment. Among the most farcical examples are the tax lawyers and consultants. Taxpayers need these to navigate incredibly elaborate tax codes, for their own protection. Only a professional can find the loopholes. Whereas, a comprehensible, flat tax system would put all these “experts” out of business. It would shrink revenue departments spectacularly, and by extension, threaten to shrink taxes. To a professional politician, this would never do. It would shrink his power.

I have come to think of the Batflu lockdowns, and the race riots, as two heads upon a single revolutionary beast, the object of whom is to gain state power. The lockdowns were and are based on fraudulent, scientistic claims; they are by now too obviously a power trip by increasingly demented control freaks, not only at the governor level, but throughout the bureaucracies. Wild efforts must be made to sustain them. Somehow they must, with the help of the media trolls, keep the general public scared — lest they think for themselves, and become disobedient. But the panic of governments is overdone. So long as “the peeple” are still wearing masks, their message is working.

Meanwhile, the majority of those who populate the Black-Lives-Matter “peaceful demonstrations” (i.e. race riots with looting, arson, and gunplay), are young and lily white. They, and their political patrons, can hardly be demonstrating for the black people, whose economic and social interests are being intentionally hurt. The young, and radicalized in our universities, look forward to paying off their crippling student debts with careers in a much expanded nomenklatura, that will enforce the rioters’ demands. For the moment all they have to do is terrorize and demoralize an electorate that stands in their way — and hope that their riots don’t backfire.

Think of all the jobs to be created, simply for censoring the comments in rightwing blogs.

To hell with liberals & conservatives

At different angles, from Tocqueville to Schumpeter to a thousand reporters on the ground, it has been observed that liberalism defeats itself. I mean by this real liberalism, not the poison candy version that is offered to children by our academic Left. The real thing celebrates liberty as the central political good; and equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of result. It frees up economies and societies, by cancelling hidebound rules and regulations.

When much younger and under the influence of my father and his war-veteran generation (his was World War II), I considered myself a “liberal,” for views that activist mobs would now consider to be “conservative,” or as they label them, “fascist,” “racist,” “white supremacist,” and with other smears, both filthy and consistently vicious.

Opposition to totalitarianism was a key to that elder generation. They weren’t shy about using arms. A true liberal was an enthusiast for the War in Vietnam, and other global initiatives. Liberals were “open society” in an explicitly anti-communist, 1950s way. They loved “civil rights,” and opposed the Nanny State, although incoherently. They wished to accommodate the women’s movement. Their instinctive suspicion of social programmes, and revulsion for “ideology,” were slipping away; or had already slipped, to a longer historical view.

To be tediously economic, they were intoxicated by the view that, “now we are rich we can afford to have some fun.” They had long been bored with the absolute moral judgements that their ancestors (to whom neither divorce nor contraception were thinkable) took for granted — based on a Protestant Christianity that had been abandoned by sophisticated intellectuals a century before. “Church versus State” was no longer an issue, and because it wasn’t, morality became a statist “construct,” even without action from the Marxists.

When Ross Douthat writes a book on “decadence,” he is treating it as a temporal trend: something that comes and goes through the decades. His arguments are themselves decadent: something for the chattering classes to play, in the spirit of badminton. It is a topic for upmarket wit; no horror lurks beneath it. The old Gibbonesque “decline and fall” narrative has evaporated with classical culture, and been replaced by a dry happyface from which the wrinkles of serious history are botoxed. The “whig view of history” survives, but only by cliché.

(In private life, Douthat is a timid but not nominal Catholic.)

What isn’t defended, is soon killed off, in nature but also in metaphysics. Leftism flourishes today, not because it has won any argument, but by eating everything on the liberal side. Even the word, “liberal,” went down with a soft burp. It now represents the denial, or reversal, of everything that liberals once stood for. Gentle reader may prove this to himself, by reading old magazines.

Today, conservatism is disappearing, too, into the belly of the beast. It has been reduced to a few defunct liberal principles, such as “freedom of religion” (whatever that means). The conservative defends the last round of revolution against the next round, in a mush of moderations. He draws the line, at a moderate death wish. It is why I came to call myself not a conservative but a Tory, and now call myself a Reactionary to be clearer. We do not, as it were, “stand athwart history, yelling Stop,” but are the knights who say, “Backwards!”

And not to any particular point in time, such as the American Constitution or Magna Carta, but to the “originalist” salvific, Christological manifesto, in all its love and defiance. It is an absolutist, cosmological conception, of a relation between God and man, unrevised and unrepented. Evil must be opposed because it is evil, good must be advanced because it is good, and the wise can know the difference. There can be no glib, superficial “progress”; only a way to Heaven, and a way to Hell. “We walk to heaven backwards.” (Newman.)

Is this position unpopular at the moment?

Who effing cares?

The monied & gated

First, let me assure gentle reader of my qualifications, when writing on this topic. Let me declare my interest, candidly, for I have been accused of bias. I am rich beyond the dreams of avarice, especially since my old-age pension cut in; so wealthy, in material terms, that I am often able to pay my rent sharply the moment it is due, and keep in cigarettes besides. I must have bought twenty thousand books in the course of my life, and through salvage and repurchase have reacquired, say, one in every five. And this is not to mention attractive ceramic pots, and four French copper utensils, and a few hundred classical CDs, with a player. My landlord has supplied a working refrigerator and electric stove. Wires lead to half a dozen light sockets; and there are wall plugs scattered generously about. I have more than I need.

Moreover, I retain my position as Otiosus Otiosorum, Lord Denizen of the High Doganate, and Scrivener-General of the Idleblog. Lots of ugly mail, though.

While there are persons who are wealthier, in worldly terms, I knock Diogenes into a cocked hat, and until the recent Batflu regulations were imposed, went on long walks in my splendour. For did I mention that I am also the proud owner of multiple shirts, more than one pair of trousers, and not only a venerable tweed jacket but a heavy winter coat. Too, I have a hat, infused with waterproofing duck oil, for when it is raining.

So I have no reason to envy or resent those who might seem excessively monied, and live in gated estates with security guards; even those who give us lectures on our racism, and add their voices to demands that we defund the police, or call us stupid when we take what they say at face value. “They have their reward,” as Our Saviour explained. I am not even tempted to pick their pockets and (perhaps here I am getting a little smug myself), would never do acts of violence against them. I haven’t murdered a single one. These days, my pleasure is to avoid them.

I used to mix more freely with the much-monied classes, when I was younger and even richer. Quite frankly, I found them often lacking in elegance, some quite depraved, and all-round, as base as the poor. But it is up to them to make their selection between Heaven and Hell; they were anyway not listening to advice when I gave it. (Always on small points.)

Ruskin spoke well of royalty, both real and affected, when he noticed that they live behind walls. He said he was not curious what they did behind them. There were few paparazzi in his day, though many socialists already. Morbid curiosity they spread like a disease. But ho: if the rich have no business telling us how to live, surely we have no business telling them, either. Myself, I try to give only the most general instructions.

Nor have we any business instructing the poor, although it is a Victorian hobby that is still growing. If they will agree not to riot or set fires, I see no reason to pummel them with clubs or lathi sticks, or shoot those whom we find most annoying. The old-fashioned principle of “live and let live” can be applied to those of all social classes, and impartially with regard to race and gender.

It is not “social distancing” — merely a question of proper hygiene — but a spiritual aloofness that we need most urgently in these troubled times.

At sea

Can a society function within a surge of violent crime? Of course it can; even the societies within Auschwitz or the Gulag were “functioning,” from day to day. Indeed, the destruction of their members was part of the functioning. But were they “functioning well”? Under the dictatorship of relativism that Pope Benedict spoke of, who are we to say how “well” is to be interpreted?

Many are the progressive media hacks and politicians who now argue that our civilization is functioning quite well, by violently destroying itself; or as they would say, by encouraging “peaceful protests” where only a few policemen happen to be maimed or killed, and the looting and arson have nothing to do with it. And where “free speech” may be offered against the premisses of these “protesters,” at the speaker’s personal risk.

At one level, we have begun to cede ownership of that old “Civ” to a new generation, whom we call “millennials.” Some of us oldies remember what a mess we made of what was inherited from our own fathers, but we did continue to observe some ancient customs, such as the recognition of free speech. Only now do we notice that it is passing away, among our own children.

To us oldies, this idea of free, unpunished speech, came naturally, because we heard it being exercised all around us. Some of the millennials still carry this from their homes; especially those who had fathers in them. But for the contemporary college kid, whom I think of as an orphan, there are just two points of view — an “objective” one, taught by their postmodern professors; and “Nazis.”

We might dispute what is “objective.” But the children of our social revolution don’t disagree with anything we say. They tune us out, and can’t hear a thing, until suddenly they get triggered, and form a numerous punishment mob on Twitter. That is their equivalent to a “debate.”

How long will it last?

*

Father Hunwicke has a post especially worth reading today (here), that asks the question, “How long does ‘now’ last?” He is asking it in the light and obscurity of Gaudium et Spes, the grand Vatican II document, which itself spoke, in its own words, de Ecclesia in mundo huius temporis. Was it projecting beyond the Beatles generation? And if so, how long, O Lord?

My thought has heretofore been that “temporal conditioning” is in itself an anti-Catholic concept; which the Council of Trent was trying to resist, but which that of Vatican II embraced “in its spirit,” and by default. It causes the Church to float free of her Foundation, so that phenomena like Bergoglio become inevitable. He tries to “steer” her, as it were, while she drags at her anchor. I’ve thought of her recently as the “Houseboat Church,” the loyalty of all her passengers disturbed by the waves. A mere typhoon or “batflu” becomes extremely disruptive.

Here in Parkdale, after having been set ashore “for our safety,” we will now be allowed back on board in small groups, clutching numbered fairground tickets, following ropes to keep our social distancing, and being asked politely to leave if we stay too long. This new regime starts locally, today.

The long & winding snake

You can get a cat into a bag twice, as someone said (I think it was me); but the second time it has to be dead. This would be the reasoning behind my prediction that a second general lockdown will not even be attempted; but it must be qualified. For many of the people who imposed the first one were demonstrably insane, and they haven’t yet been removed from public office.

The same could be said about our impending “summer of love,” or hot season of race riots, already endured a half-century ago. That cat has been put into that bag before. This time is bound to be a different story.

It is fairly strictly a party question, now. The “theory” behind the lockdowns — to avoid overloading the hospitals in Manhattan — proved a crock, but there is a more cogent alternative theory. The Democrats in Natted States Merica guessed that destroying the “Trump economy,” and encouraging “peaceful” riots in the cities, was the only way they could defeat Trump, having tried other methods to remove him. And for a party of convinced abortionists, defeating Trump takes priority over mere human lives. We’ll see in November whether their Caracas strategy is the final winner.

To be fair, as they say at Instapundit, the Repubs have historically played along with this, and agreed to take responsibility and blame for almost purely Democrat measures. A good example is race, where the party of slavery, the Ku Klux Klan, eugenic birth control to reduce the black population, and Jim Crow laws, presents itself to captive media as the champion of the black man against “systemic racism”; while the party of Lincoln apologizes for itself. That the devil is at large in American politics is, to my mind, an irresistible hypothesis.

The refusal of this Trump fellow to play this game, as his predecessors did, drives Democrats berserk. He actually fights back, to their consternation. It didn’t help that they were so proximate to berserk already.

But I would not wish to miss a kick at the “Republicants” in their old country clubs, either. For generations they were the models of complacency, to their own cost. They weren’t even interested in the black man’s plight, and forfeited the “negro” vote (I used the same term as Martin Luther King), while the Democrats absconded with it. This they did by means of Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society,” whose nanny-state provisions were instrumental in wrecking black families, as well as the families of “white trash,” in Ozarkia and elsewhere. The poor were locked into Pringle-eating, drug abusing, fatherless despair. Systemic “entitlements” (i.e. pogey) preserve this status quo.

On the other hand, I have heard earnest discussions of what “systemic” might mean, among the Republicant factions. With a hat tip to perhaps half of the civil rights legislation (which was supported by a much higher proportion of “Reds” than “Blues” in the legislatures of the time), the Americans have heroically dismantled the genuinely “systemic” racism of the southern Democrat tradition, through the generations since the last World War; so that now it survives only in the leftist imagination.

That individual acts of bigotry continue, even by the occasional rogue cop, cannot be denied. That all tribes are “racist” against all other tribes in the state of nature, is an observation available to the sane. A few anthropological footnotes to Hobbes could confirm this nicely. But in the Western Civ which “multiculti” radicals seek to overthrow, tribal propensities used to be resisted.

In the big fat book that I have never been tempted to write, for fear of terminal boredom, every statement above could be vindicated. For the moment I am only trying to provide some forgotten context. We came to our unpretty pass by a route much different from what the slogans of left demagogues suggest.

The more subtle strategy

My unimaginative “mow them down to marmalade” solution for street demonstrations, and similar public events, might not work smoothly in all instances. I’d hate to create martyrs for ungodly causes. And so, occasionally, we might try subtle variations, such as “let them mow themselves down.”

Seattle is a city I have not visited in forty years. It seemed fairly crazy then, but the “new crazy,” often still wearing suits and neckties. Having only a couple of days at my disposal, I may not have penetrated very deeply into the heart and soul of the Seattle experience. I didn’t even go up the Space Needle. The city’s bourgeois, gentrified districts struck me then as bourgeois and gentrified; other districts as less so.

The Pike Place Market, built on mudflats beneath a bluff beside the tablecloth of Elliott Bay, was a disappointment. At the time, I was visiting from Asia, so my standards for funkiness may have been too high. Already an “urbanist,” I was an enthusiast for small autonomous neighbourhoods in cities, but this one was being tarted up in a way that I dismissed as unspontaneous.

I should have liked to visit it in the days before Pearl Harbor. I gather it was a Japanese district then, and the market stalls were occupied mostly by Japanese farmers. Things happen in the world, and when an American president decided to intern Japanese-Americans generally, the market went into decline. The external world is notorious for intruding on small urban spaces.

Similarly with Seattle’s new “People’s Republic of Chaz,” or whatever they are calling it this morning. While those few city blocks are autonomous for the moment, I do not expect this arrangement to last. In the name of “defunding the police” it is guarded by hippiesque gunmen with AK-47s, under a leftist warlord. “Peace, peace” — they are all peaceful protesters, they say. And in the cause of open borders, barricades have been set across all entrances. Poetry readings and other cultural events are reported, and these are funded in a unique way, by armed local extortion. There is also a welfare system, with veggie food donated for the local homeless. Unfortunately, a gang of them stole all the packages, but what good intentions!

Rather than do something terribly uncool, such as sending in riot squads, or the Army, on my “mow them down” bromide; or follow the more pacific FDR “relocation” approach, to prison camps; I think this little experiment in neighbourhood autonomy should be allowed. Indeed, the mayor of Seattle has compared Chaz to a block party, and now looks forward to “a summer of love.” Who am I to claim being better informed?

After we stop such nasty monopoly services as water, electricity, gas; oppressive fire departments; and global capitalist food supplies; the Chazians will have an opportunity to display their economic innovations. I, for one, will be watching with interest. Verily, my liberalism extends to letting the larger municipalities in the “Blue States” make their own arrangements. I am curious to see what comes after Defunding the Police.

The only security needed, by the “Red State” types in the rest of America, is to prevent the inmates from getting out. Minneapolis, New York City, Baltimore and so forth, could simply be surrounded by the sort of walls now rising along the Mexican border. (Maybe the inmates would like to pay for them.) We could use drones and satellite photography to follow the “progress of progress” within. And if the people inside tire of their confederate status, they could eventually be readmitted to the Union; though under some sort of quarantine. (Mind they don’t get out through the airports, the way they did in Wuhan.)

“Freedom, freedom, freedom, freedom,” as they used to sing at Woodstock, back when the Hong Kong Flu was claiming more (and younger) lives than the Batflu, though hardly anyone noticed. (“Sometimes I feel like a motherless child / a long way / from my home.”)

But like Woodstock, many of these “new democracies” will be on what was, at least formerly, prime agricultural land, and could revert to the primal human condition, as envisioned by Rousseau, and Cain.

Chronicles of scientism

The author of these Idleposts is a psycho. This I deduce from the latest “study,” which claims to reveal the motivation behind all those not in lockstep with the latest therapeutic doctrines. (Here.) Specifically, while I outwardly obey the Six Foot Rule of social distancing (known in Canada as the Two Metre Rule) — for this is always wise in Parkdale where I live — I am inwardly rebellious. And this, although I have no therapeutic excuse. For as we are now told by the epidemiological authorities, one may utterly discard the Rule, but only while acting as rioter, arsonist, looter, race hustler, or “peaceful protester.”

“Ooh, a study!” as Sarah Hoyt says. “That’s almost as good as a computer model!”

Some of my remarks on scientism might perhaps be recalled. We had a “renaissance” of science in the 12th century (see the standard work by Charles Homer Haskins), arguably in the 17th, and some respect for science as late as the early 20th until the Great War, but have sunk back today into scientistic tyranny. The one exception is in applied technology where, because there’s money to be made selling high-end products, and competitive military goods, small corners of the economy are devoted to inventing them. We have scientific “gamers,” as it were. But these people are inclined to go mad, as we see for instance in Silicon Valley — whose genuine, apolitical nerds are under constant pressure to sign on to every left-progressive “talking point.”

This is one of several ways in which, to my view, the “masters of technology” are actually the slaves of it, whether here in the West or in Red China. But well fed, in both places.

As an old Cold Warrior, and once “science kid,” whose childhood developed through the 1960s, there is nothing that ought to surprise me. We have Antifa today; we had the Weather Underground then. We have parallels to every event I witnessed through the idiot box of adolescence, and vice versa. Even the destruction of American cities by riots and crime isn’t new; nor the supine response of our liberal leaders. The obvious left bias of news and entertainment was the same then as now, only less shrieking. The replacement of flatfoot journalists, with malicious ideological clowns from the universities, then a work in progress, was by the end of the last century, complete. The poison spread, through all media of information. We’ve reached an Age of Unreason to match Robespierre’s, and seem now to be waiting for a Napoleon.

Charlatans are the handmaids of paganry. That the charlatans slide into violent insurrection, even against the better pagan customs, is not something historically new.

The alternative is improbable: another Age of Faith. This would necessarily include a subsidiary restoration of faith in science — in the modest belief that if we follow the facts where they lead, as opposed to where we want them to go, a lost perception of cosmological order will also be, willy-nilly, restored. “Modern science” — an unambiguously Christian construct — depends entirely on one assumption. It is, that a universe God created will make sense. Logic, or the principle of non-contradiction, will hold up, and where it doesn’t seem to be doing so, it is not God, but we, who have got it wrong.

By the inversion of “values,” at the present day, the sane views are labelled as “psycho.” The truth is not the true, but what we (or our masters) want to call true. This “truth” is “settled,” from one moment to another; and is not to be discovered, but imposed.

Karens & their kind

When I first saw the name “Karen,” used in the plural, apparently for a whole class of women, I did not look it up. Context told me that I wouldn’t have to; that a Karen was simply the updated term for what I formerly knew as a Becky. There are related, more focused terms, such as “Trixie” for a Karen from upscale white Chicago, and so forth. It is one of many reasons to celebrate the black urban lexical culture from which it emerged. The image of a passive-aggressive blonde, with a pony tail, disputing her order at Starbucks, comes quickly to mind. She will be married to a “Chad” whom she met in law school.

I love stereotypes. They help us understand what the Greeks called syndromes, carrying them beyond the narrow world of medical jargon. “Karen” began as the stereotype for the woman who “wants to see the manager,” but was soon extended through a gallery of related traits. One thinks affectionately through a shortlist of the Karens one has known. For the Christian, it can impact one’s prayer life. (I found myself once praying for a certain Karen Surname, then spontaneously extending it to “Karens everywhere,” with a memorial for the Beckies. I noticed as I searched my memory that many of these Karens were biologically male.)

And today I wonder, as I have often done, at the genius of colloquial language, and the unerring way with which it uncovers fresh stereotypes, that enhance our perception of reality, in a way like painting and the other fine arts. (In a lost portrait, Leonardo depicted a Karen of the Renaissance.)

When, for instance, a Hurricane Karen tracked through wherever, a few years ago, “Karen” passed into meteorological science, then back into sociology. We could now speak of “the path of Karen,” knowingly. Though called a hurricane, it was really just a tropical storm; yet nevertheless, intensely annoying.

In politics, we might observe that progressive, female politicians, especially governors and mayors, are always Karens, and we need a companion term for the male ones. During the recent crisis with the Xi Jinping Batflu, they’ve been in our faces almost full time. To this day their oppression continues, as they regroup with new social distancing requirements — then demand that we ignore these to “peacefully protest” their natural enemies in the hair salons. The replacement of policemen with an Army of Karens is among current demands of the “congresswomen.” (An “AOC” is a kind of super-Karen; the Antifa are their quasi-military scolds.)

But again, this is not the full typhoon (such as might batter China), only an incredibly vexatious, essentially North American, summer holiday storm. I’m sure President Nixon’s “silent majority” will clear them all away in November.

Aside on skulls & crossbones

Under a Conservative government, in England, tens or hundreds of thousands may meet to protest against “Trump,” for a police murder in an American city and state that have been in the hands of Democrat politicians since time out of mind. More or less all the race-hustling, anti-Trump riots, west across the Atlantic, have been in cities and states under progressive Democrat rule, for generations. Even their cops belong to Democrat-controlled unions. The false “black lives matter” attribution of blame is so insane as to be funny.

But back to England. While the hordes of leftists amuse themselves, by for instance despoiling the statues of Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln in Parliament Square — without fear of punishment — a gathering of seven Christians in one place must risk arrest under the Batflu regulations. This is beyond funny, and not merely insane.

A hat tip to the beloved Father Hunwicke, who points to this state of affairs in his Mutual Enrichment blog this morning. He is mild on the Church hierarchy. They have been abjectly begging for permission to reopen their churches — in England, as here in Ontario for that matter. I’m not sure the supposedly Conservative politicians are even answering their phones.

Father Hunwicke proposes roughly what I would propose. It is to open all churches in defiance, and declare:

“We already have our own ancestral memories of being banned from worshipping by your predecessors; of being arrested; and even of worse. Non possumus sine Dominico.”

Unfortunately, our Church is in a sorry state. Our leaders who are not, for instance, Peronist Marxists, are caitiffs, more often that not, vying with each other to overpay their jizyahs to the spirit of the age. Some may have the excuse of senility, but many are younger and do not.

The Road to Hell is Paved with the Skulls of Bishops, to cite an old adage. The bones of priests and monks are also mentioned in the fuller quote, recklessly assigned to the third homily on the Book of Acts by Saint John Chrysostom. What that great 4th-century Father of the Church actually said was, more modestly, οὐκ οῖμαι εῖναι πόλλους ἐν τοῖς ἰερευσι τοὺς σωζομένους, ἀλλὰ πολλῳ πλείους τοὺς ἀπολλυμένους. This has been embellished.

Still, we know what he meant.

A quaint reflection

The distinction between a protest and a riot is a subtle one, as we see from a gallery of unsubtle remarks. Let me be Horatian: it is a matter of taste. I tend to prefer “protests” in Red China, and against totalitarian regimes generally, but not to see the point of them where civil discourse is permitted. Which is not to say that they should be illegal. But where the subtle line is crossed, so that policemen may be requested, to limit thuggery, looting, and so forth, distinctions disappear. At this point, “peaceful protesters” will uniformly absent themselves, leaving the troopers a free hand. In the colourful phrase of Canada’s Stephen Leacock, their task with the remainers is then to: “mow them down to marmalade.”

Surely gentle reader will agree. Too, he will doubt that this is a police function. For one thing, policemen should seldom be armed. Even to see them on the beat in pairs, instead of singly, is to wonder if their budget is too large. A few might need to congregate for a memorable bust, perhaps armed against armed customers; but it is hard to imagine an admirable civic polity wherein this sort of thing occurs.

It wouldn’t if the police were doing their job, to start with. In my view — which prevails in these Idleposts — the police constitute a local “intelligence” service, in several meanings of the term. Through their friendly foot patrols (vehicles are for the army), they become well-informed about potential causes of local crime. This in addition to other functions, such as entertaining children, helping old ladies across the street, and showing a lost visitor to an address. In Japan long ago, and in the brutishly large metropolis of Tokyo, I was once impressed: to see cops functioning as if they’d been employed by a small American town.

And in one of those, within the province of Ontario, I happily recall an “incident.” I was not being warned, let alone arrested: just invited for a chat, to the constable’s tiny office on Main Street. He wanted to advise me. He said other “youff” in the high school I was attending were copying my eccentricities, down to wearing corduroy jackets. This put me under a moral obligation to make a good example for them, as opposed to a bad one. He recommended that I think about this.

Even at the time, I was moved by his kindness and decency — he encouraged my independence — more than I was irritated by his invasion of my privacy. At this remove of time, I celebrate his memory.

He was not a social worker. That was a very small part of his calling. Besides, in the settled environment of a neighbourhood, whether urban or rural, there was precious little “social work” to do. Families took care of that. The biggest part of his job was simply “to be” — a respected figure, who could inspire a young lad to contemplate becoming a policeman when he grew up; or a young lass to dream of marrying one. In this small town, one would not commit a serious crime, for fear that one might hurt his feelings.

Too, one would be caught right away.

I see from the news that a different concept of police work has “evolved.” It isn’t the policeman’s fault that he has been miscast, usually. “Progress” has led, as it invariably does, to horrors. And now we need cops with tear gas, smoke bombs, automatic weapons, and other items more formidable than a gentleman will need for the deer season. Plus the handgun he better be carrying for street life.

On kneeling

One kneels to what one believes to be holy: Jesus Christ, in the case of faithful Catholics; or political correctness, in the case of those who deny Him. In the present circumstances, when the former are denied access to the Sacraments in many places, especially here in Canada, we may still kneel in prayer. This is a gesture also available to all non-Catholic Christians, which was, until recently, universally understood. If, as a Catholic, one kneels before a priest, one is not worshipping but acknowledging him to be In persona Christi capitis (“in the person of Christ the head”). The priest must be a real one, however, in the appointive descent from Our Lord, Christ the King.

Christians were, in the first centuries, willing to die rather than kneel to Caesar, so why should they be any more willing to kneel before the stinking race platitudes of today? Just to avoid being smeared in social media? Or more significantly, in the recent leftist race riots, when a radical demands that someone kneel before him (I have seen several videos), should he do so in order to avoid being beaten, maimed, possibly murdered?

Cowardice is always attractive, and not everyone is fit to be a martyr. But everyone should be capable of grasping that the radical is acting “in the person of Satan.” He is inviting his defenceless victim not only to abase himself, but to be received into Hell.

After that, the failing Catholic goes running to the Church, to confess a sin of great magnitude — the denial of Christ, when put to the test — only to find the church doors bolted against him.

I realize that a “modern” Catholic will consider this silly, and a “modern” priest would be too likely to assure the anxious penitent that what he did was no sin, “because you didn’t have a choice.” When he did, and his sin now goes unabsolved. And the priest had a choice, too, and he chose Hell.

When women were being massacred in the École Polytechnique at Montreal, the emasculated males in the corridors were eager to get out of Marc Lépine’s way. He was, as they quickly realized, only shooting women. Asked later why they didn’t intervene, they all said: “He had a gun.” This was given as their excuse, quite spontaneously.

When I wrote in a newspaper that they utterly disgusted me — not just their cowardice but their excuse for it — I became myself the target of execration, by self-proclaimed feminists as well as “general readers.” The former mocked my own masculinity, falsely claiming that I was boasting of my own bravery.

But I realized that, although probably depraved herself, the modern woman was justified in expecting the lowest possible behaviour in a man.

While this incident happened three decades ago — it was the inspiration for feminist “take back the night” demonstrations — I do not think young men in our culture have improved in this time. Their highest ideal remains personal safety, except when they are risking sports injuries, or overdosing on opiates, or looting and trashing the property of others.

How is it possible that such garbage (I am referring to the men) would have any higher regard for Our Saviour?

Problems that solve themselves

From a Twitter-fed video, I see that the Washington Monument took a direct lightning hit yesterday. It was more remarkable than my correspondent realized. Thanks to digital photography, we could trace the shape of the lightning bolt. It exactly duplicated the trend line on the American economy. Miraculi!

There is Hope, as I argue in my fortnightly column over at the Catholic Thing (here), making a Christian point that is entirely unoriginal — or I hope it is. My orthodox intentions are sometimes undermined by Wrath, and the like; but the notion that Truth cannot be wobbled by the passing events of the news cycle strikes me as irresistible.

I often wish our hierarchy would embrace this (the Truth), so that Catholics who haven’t yet found the time to read Scripture, or the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, might still be reliably informed.

Oddly, I consider this — what we sometimes call “theology” — to be a science. In a more rational age (such as the 13th century) it was known as “the queen of the sciences” because the lesser sciences converge in this apex. A modern person may not understand that the study of God should be top-of-the-pyramid. In fact, I have met self-styled “scientists” who omit the whole subject, truncating the pyramid in a most unsightly way.

Whereas, I proclaim that it is science indeed, leading up to the tip of Revelation. It can even be an empirical science, in the sense that discernible natural truths are lit from above. But the replacement, holus-bolus, of evidence-based science with theory-generated scientism — what I call the Triumph of the Charlatans — has contributed to what the cybernetic specialists call “a buggy mess.”

There are sciences downhill from theology, and many will be needed when or if we get around to re-installing Western Civ. In the meantime, perhaps things are improving, for when progressive forces destroy our teeming cities, obstacles to clear thinking are moved out of the way. (Their proposal to “defund the police,” and replace them with social-work “first responders,” would accelerate this process nicely.)

Then the only distraction will be the refugee crisis, as the “woke” urbanites try to break out, into the rural districts, hunting for food. (For a while, cannibalism might sustain them.) But if the “red state” types are well-enough armed, the perimeters will hold.

Alternatively, if it is bright enough, the urbanites might see the writing on the skies. Weirder things have happened.

But one way or the other, I remain hopeful.