Saturday, July 30, 2016

Psychology and Religion

I was raised by Jewish atheists, and psychology was one of my majors in university. For a long time I was against religion, especially against Christianity. That is no longer the case.

There are several reasons for this. One is that I've had very real spiritual experiences. Atheists and materialistic psychologists scoffed at them, called me crazy, called me weak, called me irrational, claimed that I was not living in the real world. But the experiences that I've had are as real as you and as real as me, and I am willing to face whatever persecution may come my way to defend them.

Secondly, I've seen horrible behavior by atheists, especially ones of the “skeptic” persuasion. Quite simply, they were the most vicious people I've ever known. Lacking the humility and the grace that is taught by most religions, they maliciously attack anyone who's had spiritual experiences. Most of these people are not even scientists. That does not prevent them from thinking that their ignorance of spirituality makes them the only sane people in the world.

Finally, while psychology damns people for life, religion offers redemption. According to personality psychology, once a sociopath always a sociopath; once a borderline always a borderline; and once a narcissist always a narcissist. According to personality psychology, some people are evil and can only be evil whatever they do, however hard they work, and whatever work they do on themselves. Whereas Christianity and Islam teach that any sinner can be redeemed, and yogic and zen disciplines offer a workable path toward personal betterment that can be taken by anyone. The people who are denied life by personality psychology find life in Christ, Mohammad or Eastern religion.

In this manner religion is light years ahead of personality psychology. Psychological views on this matter are not even rational. If people are responsible for their behavior then anyone – even a sociopath – can choose to act rightfully; and if some people cannot act rightfully whatever they do, then people are not responsible for their behavior. This is a worthless ideology, useful only for conducting witch hunts. And that is exactly what we have seen from believers in these things.

At a church I attended in Virginia, the pastor said that the Christians must be “dangerous people for God.” This of course carries appeal to all the many people who have been described as dangerous by the purveyors of social totalitarianism. The people who otherwise would be seen as human garbage are given a way to live and to do the right thing. Psychology fails to do that. Religion does.

I've found religious people to be far more tolerant and merciful than materialist fundamentalists. Not all Christians are good human beings, but Christianity does not damn people. It gives them life. This makes it a wiser direction than personality psychology and one far more humane. Having gone from the point of hating religion to the point of practicing it, I recommend it as a wiser and nobler alternative to psychological theories that lead to witch hunts, persecution and relentless abuse against people accused of having personality disorders.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Jews and Jesus

For a long time many in the church – the Catholic, the Eastern Orthodox and the Lutheran – justified their antipathy toward Jews by claiming that the Jews crucified Jesus.

I, for one, did not crucify anyone. I have an admiration for Jesus. He is a much better person than me. As for the Jews at the time, they were only following the law of Moses. The first commandment is “Thou shalt have no gods before me.” Jesus claimed to be God; which, to the Jews of the time, was the worst possible crime in the book. That is why they let off a murderer while insisting on crucifying Jesus. What they did is no sign of any kind of “wickedness.” They were following the Ten Commandments.

When a New Age guru was telling me that there are no unwilling victims, I asked him, “Well what about the 6 million Jews who got killed by Hitler?” He said that the Jews had a victim mentality that brought on the persecution. Uh-huh. Did the 1 million Jewish children who were killed by Hitler have victim mentality as well? What about the 50 million Russians and Ukrainians who died in Stalin's labor camps? How about the million Americans who died in the Civil War? I was quite advanced in the New Age at one point, but beliefs of this kind turned me off of it. According to this belief, if a witch gets burned then she has to think that she has caused it. And according to this belief, if I were to rape you and kill you it would be your fault rather than mine.

Present-day Lutherans have a doctrine that God has separate covenants with the Jews and the non-Jews. I've listened to a Jewish convert priest in a DC-area megachurch, Lon Solomon, claiming that there is only one way to get to heaven and avoid hell and that is through Christ. He has lead a successful effort to convert Jews to Christianity. It has been a part of a large-scale trend of Christians reaching out to Jews; which may or may not be a good thing. But if they are to achieve any kind of success they need to drop the idea that Jews are wicked and do a better job of reading the Bible. The first commandment is, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” If someone says that he is son of God, the person following the Ten Commandments will want him dead.

Recently during a meditation session, an otherwise smart and knowledgeable person told me that Jews practiced ritual sacrifice of babies. This is very similar to English media in 1990s claiming that New Agers practiced “Satanic ritual abuse” of children. I am familiar with both Jewish and New Age practices, and I know for certain that neither claim has any truth to it whatsoever. This kind of nonsense discredits the people who claim it – and discredits also the faith of which they are a part. A Christian who tells blatant lies discredits Christianity. And that makes it lose its appeal to honest people, resulting in more honest people leaving it.

In the same way as New Agers claiming that there are no unwilling victims discredits New Age, likewise resulting in honest people leaving it.

Was Jesus the son of God? From the rational standpoint, I would say that an omnipotent being can beget any number of sons and any number of daughters; and from a rational standpoint I want to know why Christ has not done more to correct His followers when they were doing wrong things or fighting each other in His name. Why does not Christ, for example, tell the warring Catholics and Baptists which one of them – if either - is right? I have, however, also experienced what I believe to be the presence of Jesus, and I know many people who claim convincingly that Christ has worked miracles in their lives. I continue to struggle to reconcile the different things that I have experienced with what I know from science and what I've learned from both Christianity and New Age.

German philosopher Lessing referred to Jews as “sensuous” and Christians as “spiritual.” I have definitely known any number of highly spiritual Jews and any number of Christians who had no spiritual inclinations whatsoever. I question the traditional Christian view that the spirit and the body are enemies of each other. In the experience of romantic love, the two come together; and the love that people feel for one another is spiritual and physical at once. It is a passion both of the soul and the body; which, if the two were pitted against one another, could not be.

John Keats said that the way to intelligence is to make one's mind a thoroughfare for all kinds of thoughts. Not all ideas are created equal, and some are easier to disprove than others. I find it very easy to refute, for example, Nazism and Marxism. Spirituality and religion is different. With both the major religions and the stuff “out there,” we find bogus cosmology and real powers. It is easy to refute the cosmology; not easy at all to deny the powers if you are at all honest.

Christians are expected to continue reaching out to the Jews, and the people loyal to Jewish creed will make many efforts to keep Jewish people from converting. The Christians who do reach out to the Jews will need to do away with the perception that Jews are wicked and read the Bible better. Jesus, in claiming to be God, violated the First Commandment; and the Jews who got him crucified were only following the Biblical law.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

On "Stereotypical Thinking"

One line of thinking that is constantly reinforced in academia is that one should avoid all stereotypical thinking, and that all stereotypical thinking is ignorance and bigotry.

By the logic of science itself, if something takes place at a rate greater than chance then there must be a reason for it. It may be a completely different reason from what one would expect it to be, but there will be a reason regardless.

Thus, many people saw the long-time failure of African countries as being caused by black people being inferior. Rather the reasons are historical rather than racial. These countries had been governed by alien powers for centuries, and they did not know how to govern themselves. They are getting better at it, and Africa is improving. In recent decade and a half, some of the highest rates of economic growth around the world have been recorded by Nigeria, Ethiopia and Angola.

No, it is not ignorant or bigoted to say that for a long time Africa was a mess. It is however completely ignorant and bigoted to say that the reason is the racial inferiority of black people.

We've gone so far as to claim any statement made about any given population as being bigoted. In fact there are all sorts of cultural and social differences among populations, and some statements about them are correct. It is correct to say, for example, that violence against women by Muslim fundamentalists is extreme; that Russians tend to drink too much; that many black guys in the inner city – as well as many white “rednecks” - are brutes.

Real reasons for social phenomena are not found through artificial blindness. They are found by seeing the situations in which things occur at a greater rate than chance and finding the correct cause. A person honest to his scientific training will do just that.

Political correctness is not even scientific. It is a way of plucking out people's eyes so that they do not see the obvious. Real science will look for real causes whenever confronted with a phenomenon that takes place at a greater rate than chance. It is this kind of thinking that should be encouraged. The result will be obliteration of both deliberate blindness and false prejudicial explanations; and the outcome will be correct description of social phenomena, resulting in possibility for correct solutions.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Costs and Benefits of Globalization

Some on the Right claim globalization to be an attempt by the Left to establish an international tyranny. In fact there are constituencies both for and against globalization on both the Left and the Right.

The conservatives who are for globalization are for the most part business-affiliated entities that want an access to international labor and international markets. The liberals who are for globalization for the most part want world peace, international friendship and poverty relief in the Third World.

The conservatives who are against globalization are people who want their nations to be sovereign and not have to follow instruction by entities such as United Nations, the WTO and the European Union. The liberals who are against globalization are for the most part labor – especially union labor – that has seen their jobs go overseas.

Who is right? Who is wrong? It appears that everyone involved has a point. Having been a part of the 1990s tech boom, I know how much prosperity global economy can generate. Having been either unemployed or underemployed the following decade, I know how hard can be the situation of the person whose job has been outsourced. I have been on both the winning side and the losing side of the global economy; and from what I can tell the amount of prosperity generated by global economy for business and consumer both should make it possible for the winners of the process to compensate the losers of the process – either through retraining them for jobs that are in demand or by hiring them on to do government projects.

From the standpoint of pure economics, globalization makes every bit of sense. I say this as someone with education in economics from a conservative American university. The problem is that the process also creates losers; and many of these losers become so through no fault of their own. An American laborer cannot compete with a man in China who can do the same job for $2,000 a year, and an American programmer cannot compete with someone in India who can do the same job for $5,000 a year and has a master's degree. By the logic of conservative himself, some degree of patriotism is called for in economic participants; and while some demands of the union movement – such as undoing free trade – are economically destructive, we cannot ignore the needs of working families who stand to lose their jobs to international economics.

Socially, globalization is a force for the better; however the process can be difficult in the short term and may be experienced as disruptive or painful by many participants. Ultimately it will work for the better, as it will tend to make winners of both men and women who are willing to be good to the other gender and losers of men and women who are not willing to be good to the other gender. Matches involving Western men and women from Russia, India, Iran or Brazil, will stand to result in better relationships for both parties than they stand to have at home. They will also result in an incentive for Western women and men in Russia, India, Iran and Brazil to treat the other gender right. People who want to be bad to the other gender will be rendered uncompetitive, and there will be a real-world reason for people to be good to the other gender, without there being any taxpayer money spend toward that effect. Many Western men – especially ones who like to be violent toward women – fear losing their women to men from abroad. If they were really thinking like Western men are meant to think, they will be seeing opportunity. An average Muslim or Russian man is worse to his wife than even the average “redneck”; and for a Western man globalization means access to beautiful, cultured, family-oriented woman from abroad for whom even he would be an improvement over what she faces at home. It allows him to be free of the feminist Western women he hates and gives him a chance at a life with a woman who is willing to be nice to him.

One thing that is known for sure: Globalization is in no way limited to the Left. I attended a conservative church in Virginia whose pastor said that “God is globalizing His world.” I was given empirical evidence that globalization is good economically by a conservative American university. The phrase “New World Order” was first used on a large scale in American political debate by Republican president George Bush Sr., who recommended it as a solution for “a world run by the rule of law and not by the law of the jungle.” The Cold War had ended, and the American statesmen, in whose favor it had ended, sought to move it from a world centered around the Cold War to a world based on international economics and rule of law. In neither case do we see any kind of tyranny, at least not of the left-wing type.

Of course the losers in globalization will seek its undoing; and the winners in globalization will seek to perpetuate it. I have been both; and what I seek is the best of all possible worlds. People should have the economic and social benefits of globalization, and there should be one or another way to compensate the economic losers. As for the social losers, the solution does not have any cost whatsoever. They just need to change their attitude to the other gender and the treatment thereof.

Friday, July 15, 2016

"Skeptics," Science, Spirituality and Religion

According to the logic of the so-called “skeptics,” spirituality and religion is craziness.

By that definition, the bulk of humanity is mentally ill, as the bulk of humanity has one or another form of spirituality. This leaves these people thinking that they are the only sane people out there.

If there is such a thing as narcissism, I can think of no more glaring narcissism than that.

Most “skeptics” are not even scientists. Real scientists are curious, and many are as curious about spirituality as they are about everything else. I am good friends with a distinguished scientist who openly talks about having had very real spiritual experiences. He has a vast body of academic knowledge, is very well-reasoned and uses scientific method to excellent standard. That has not prevented him from having a spiritual life.

Spiritual experiences happen all the time, at least they do in my life. I've had many experiences with less than a billionth chance of happening; and I am nowhere close to being the only one. Many people either forget the experiences that they have or deny them; but if you dig enough you will find in many cases that they have in fact had very real spiritual experiences. The problem is that they do not know how to make them parse with what they know about the world from science and mathematics. This results in many of them denying these experiences; and toward that effect any number of people have come up with any number of tricks.

Some want to say that experience is “anecdotal” and does not count as valid evidence. Others want to ascribe it to being on drugs, or being depressed or anorexic, or being otherwise non compos mentis during the time of the experience. Others still start going into beliefs such as that truth itself is relative. In all cases we find dishonesty. It is dishonesty that comes from dischordance between the logical implications of the experience and the worldview.

Is science wrong? No, it isn't. Materialist fundamentalism however is completely wrong. I seek an explanation that will be consistent with both scientific fact and the facts of my and other people's spiritual experiences; and I am continuing to look for this explanation in any number of paths.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Australia's Domestic Violence Problem

I've lived in Australia since 2006, and I love it here. Australia is a beautiful, prosperous country full of kind, generous and compassionate people. It is beautiful naturally, and it has a good economy and a working democracy. There is no other place I'd rather be.

Like all places however, it has its problems. The biggest problems with Australia – that keep giving it a bad international reputation – are racism and abusive treatment of women. These problems are, however, fixable.

In both cases, the solution does not require vast outlays of taxpayer money. It is as simple as change of attitude, and that is done for free. As someone who's changed his attitudes on a number of occasions, I say that this is completely doable. It can be uncomfortable, even painful. But the results are worth it.

Not being either a woman or an Australian aborigine, I am not affected by these things one way or another. But for both women and Aborigines these are very real problems. Some attitudes that I've found expressed by Australian men, especially on the Internet, are absolutely shocking. They appear to have assimilated Eminem and Osama Bin Laden and want to act like American gangsters and have the same “rights” that are had by Muslim men.

Many of these people see people who affirm women's rights as “commies,” “feminazis” or “watermelons.” In fact, conservatives, if they are to be true to their stated values, need to be first in line in fighting violence toward women. The conservative virtue of character, the conservative virtue of family values, and the conservative virtue of responsibility all demand that men be better to their wives. And a man who does not practice these virtues has no business calling himself a conservative. It is not solely a liberal, feminist or Communist cause; it is a human cause and one that should be supported by people across the political spectrum.

Australia's problems are much more easily fixable than the problems of Russia or Africa. It would take much less money, and it would take much less time. It is a matter of change of attitude. This requires very little in way of resources, nor does it have to be a solely public endeavor. Any number of men of goodwill can, and should, prevail upon other men in Australia to cool it. They need to tell them that being real men includes self-control and discretion. And that means that they need to learn to keep their fists to themselves.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

The False Virtue of "Normalcy"

When I was 12, I had a neighbor of the same age named Gerald. Gerald was a gifted kid; but his father would not let him into a talented-gifted program because he wanted him to be a “normal kid.” I never quite understood that.

Why do so many parents want their children to be “normal”? I find this an atrocious approach to parenting. This way, the kid is made to be something that he is not while being denied who he is.

And that means: Also denying the world the benefits of what the kid has to offer.

Of the major contributors to humanity, very few were what many people would regard as being normal. Thomas Edison and Friedrich Nietzsche went insane. Steven Jobs was a hippie. Dostoyevsky was an epileptic. Nikolai Tesla, Lord Byron, William Blake, John Keats and any number of others were tortured geniuses. I do not need to mention King David, Jesus Christ, Mohammad and Lao Tsu – people from whom the bulk of the world derives its moral instruction. None of these people are anywhere close to being “normal.”

I do not see why being “normal” should be seen as a virtue – any kind of virtue. There is virtue in originality, intelligence and ingenuity. There is virtue in wisdom, compassion and kindness. There is virtue in integrity, in courage, in hard work. These are genuine virtues, and ones that should be cultivated in children and adults alike.

All of these things make for far superior instruction than forcing gifted kids to be what they aren't while denying them – and others – the benefits of what they are.

The values related to this matter should be reworked. Real virtues should be cultivated and instilled in children. The world owes vastly to people who aren't “normal,” and forcing all children to be “normal” is wrong. It forces children to be what they are not while denying what they are. And that means: Denying the world the benefit of what they have to offer.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Why Domestic Violence Should Be a Conservative Cause

According to recent research, the biggest causes of family violence are not, as used to be believed, psychological or economic, but rather ideological. The biggest predictor of family violence has been found to be violence-supporting beliefs. This means that the best thing one can do to fight family violence is to deconstruct these beliefs and replace them with better ones.

Most family violence takes place in socially conservative communities; which means that to fight domestic violence effectively it will be necessary to deconstruct the violence-supporting beliefs that have found their way into conservatism. And this has to be done using the logic of conservatism itself.

Now conservatives do not believe in feminism, gender equality, human rights or non-violence. Many also reject psychology and sociology altogether. However there are conservative values to which it would be possible to appeal to get them to stop being violent toward their wives.

One of these values is character. Conservatives talk a lot about character, although not all of them show it. A part of character is self-control and discretion. A man who beats his wife exercises neither self-control nor discretion. Which means that, according to the logic of conservatism itself, he fails.

Another of these values is “family values.” I can think of no more important family value than being good to one's wife and children. A person who truly speaks in favor of family will demand of the man treating his family well; and that means, first and foremost, doing away with domestic violence.

Still another conservative value is responsibility. The man bears full responsibility for what he does with his fists and his mouth. A man who beats up on his wife and children fails to exercise responsibility; which means that, once again, according to logic of conservatism itself, he fails.

Right now, the bulk of the fight against domestic violence has come from people on the Left. It should involve people on the Right as well. Character, family values and responsibility demand good treatment of one's family. Which means that this should be a conservative cause as much as it is a liberal one, and it should become a part of the conservative agenda.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

The Foolish Concept of Adequacy

There are many people who are adherents of the concept of adequacy. They are all very wrong.

I was described as being inadequate when I was making $80,000 a year, had a beautiful girlfriend and was taking martial arts. Some people can simply forget the ugly nonsense that others tell them; I cannot. I have to refute the nonsense.

And the refutation with which I've come up is: Adequacy is a concept that applies to machines, not people. Furthermore, it is a concept that would pathologize everything that has taken the man from caveman to man on the moon. No human being is an adequate match for a tiger; he uses better technology to outsmart the tiger and in so doing advances the lot of humankind.

It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. According to the believers in the concept of adequacy, a farmer is a farmer because he is an inadequate hunter; a laborer is a laborer because he is an inadequate farmer; and an office worker is an office worker because he is an inadequate laborer. In all of these cases, someone has applied intelligence toward solving problems of the previous state of affairs. These were people who were not satisfied with the previous state affairs and sought something better. By the standards of the previous order, they were inadequate. Yet they took matters to a better level.

It is this spirit that is essential toward all human progress. Not striving for “adequacy”; actually improving the world. Humanity owes nothing to “adequacy striving” and everything to ingenuity. It is this ingenuity, and not “adequacy striving,” that should be encouraged and supported in people.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

In Defense of Generation Y

My generation (Generation Y) has been accused of being lazy and wanting things handed to us on a platter. I, for one, am not lazy at all. I had better work habits at age 12 than many people do when they are adults.

There is a vast difference between not wanting to work and not being able to find work. After the 1990s technology boom ended, many people were out of work. Recessions hit younger people more than they do anyone else; and my generation saw just that.

Generation X likes to see itself as hard-working; but they came of age in 1980s, when the economy was good. It remained good in 1990s as well. By the time of the crash, most of these people were already well-established and did not need to fear being laid off.

The computer industry, in which I was able to make $80,000 a year at age 23, is now far more competitive, and it is not prospective to compete with a guy in India who can do the same job for $5,000 a year and has a master's degree. The biotech industry was billed as the next computer industry; but I knew from the start that that was nonsense. There are far less things that can be done with biotech than with computers; and while biotech should be a solidly growing field I do not see it ever becoming as big as the computer industry.

What economic endeavors are prospective at this time? The underlying reality is that baby boomers are starting to get old, which means that there will be a lot of room in health care and aged care industries. Medical technology – including biotech – should become big as well; but once again never as big as the computer industry.

Right now I work in political research and have taken classes in aged care. I also have made a lot of contributions to culture, including translating five books of classical Russian poetry into English. I am not lazy, nor do I want to have things handed to me on a platter. There are many hard-working people in my generation. And they – and I – do not deserve to be painted this way.

The Failed War on Drugs

One of the most counter-productive policies of recent decades has been the War on Drugs. It resulted in prison population growing four times. And it turned the inner city into a war zone.

Yes, drugs can be harmful; but so can alcohol and tobacco. Neither of these substances is against the law, and I do not see why marijuana or LSD should be.

Most of the crime associated with drugs is due not to drugs themselves but to the fact that they are illegal. Mafia had its heyday during the Prohibition, when alcohol was against the law and only the criminals could supply it. Since drugs are illegal, that creates a bonanza for gangs and cartels, both of them doing what they do in the same way as criminal entities have always done it – brutally.

The War on Drugs has created two parasitical infrastructures. One is the gangs and cartels to supply the drugs; the other is a bloated prison bureaucracy. In Netherlands, where drugs are legal, incarceration rates are one tenth those of the United States; and there is much less violent crime.

The people who pushed for the War on Drugs are the same people who advocate for small government. A small government is not a government that tells people what they can put into their bodies. America's vast incarceration rates are not “the price for a free society.” Netherlands is a much freer society, and its incarceration rates are much lower.

Yes, there are drug users who become irresponsible. But there are many responsible people in places like California who use marijuana, and it does not harm their lives in any way. The only negative consequence they get is if they get arrested; and that is not the fault of drugs but the fault of drugs being against the law.

The War on Drugs must be wound down. It is a failed policy, and its results have been disastrous. Drugs can be bad for people; however there are many other things that are bad for people that are legal. It is not up to the government to tell people in a free country what they can put into their bodies. And criminalizing drugs empowers only the real criminals.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Business and Government

There are people who blame the government for all the world's problems, and there are people who blame business for all the world's problems. Both are wrong.

Reagan stated that “the government is not the solution, the government is the problem.” In fact, most of the people who worked in the government at the time did so for principled reasons. They answered John Kennedy's call for public service. They asked not what their country could do for them but what they could do for their country.

Many of the people who went into business under Reagan did so for right reasons as well. They wanted to build prosperity. They wanted to make their country powerful. They wanted to be in charge of their lives. They wanted to provide for their families. Many of these people were not jerks, although some were. And even many of the jerks did what they did for the right reasons.

Both business and government can go wrong – sometimes terribly wrong. We have seen recent examples of both. But neither business nor the government is the bogeyman. I've known wonderful people in both business and government; and they should be respected for what they are.

Both the businessmen and the “bureaucrats” are people, and many of them are good people. Neither should be demonized. If people either in the business or the government do wrong, they should be made accountable. But both pursuits are important, and neither the one or the other deserves to be destroyed.

Were Baby Boomers Really the Worst?

Many people are looking fondly back to 1950s and want to re-create them. I caution them against doing that. If you re-create 1950s, you will re-create the conditions that led to 1960s; which means that you will be met with something like 1960s down the road in one or another form.

It is said that the people who fail to learn from experience are doomed to repeat it. The people who see 1960s as an anomaly have not studied history. The Romantic Era that followed Enlightenment and the early 20th century that followed Victorianism both carried many of the themes that took place in 1960s. The 1960s do not have a monopoly on these themes. It wasn't the first time that they were tried, nor will they be the last.

I attended a private Anglican school on a full scholarship. I was a star student for some time, then I started acting like a 1960s teenager. This was highly disturbing to some in the administration. They thought that the baby boomers were a bad crop, and that only they behaved that way. They were wrong. Not many people in my generation took the route of the baby boomers. The young people these days, however, have a lot in common with the baby boomers of that time. They are passionate about big issues, they take a strong stance against corruption and oppression, and many of them are attracted to the same beliefs to which the baby boomers were attracted when they were younger.

I get tired of people attacking the people who had been a part of the 1960s. I've known a number of them, and I was impressed with what I found. I want these people to have a legacy that lasts after they are gone.

Many people want the World War II generation to have a strong legacy; and that is fine. There was much good about that generation; but let us not be under any illusion that they were all that gen-Xers think them to be. I've known any number of baby boomers whose World War II generation parents raped them or murdered their siblings. It was also the people in that generation that were attracted to ideologies such as Nazism. They were strong and hard-working; they were also brutal and authoritarian. These qualities win wars; they also start them.

Were baby boomers, as many gen-Xers claim, the worst generation? They include Steven Jobs, Colin Powell, Jane Fonda, Oprah Winfrey, Bob Woodward and any number of other admirable individuals. Some of them were bad parents; but some were excellent parents. I am good friends with a baby boomer who has raised three very healthy and highly successful children, one of whom started a multi-billion-dollar company. He has kept true to the 1960s ideals while becoming a successful entrepreneur; and in his retirement he has created, from his own resources, a huge political information website to inform the voters about the candidates that they will face.

He is not the only admirable baby boomer I know. I know a woman who has been a teacher, a journalist, an MD and an editor of a bestseller by a premier American scientist, and who is presently fighting corruption in the medical system while being a successful entrepreneur. I know another woman who was a headmistress of a private school for 30 years and turned it from a place where bullying and abuse was common to a much more humane, and highly respected, institution. I know eminent professors, brilliant psychologists, and first-rate artists who are baby boomers. Maybe the gen-Xers who hate baby boomers do not know these people; I however do.

So no, 1960s was not an anomaly, and baby boomers are not the scum of the earth that gen-Xers regard them to be. There is much that is right about both. If social conservatives try to re-create 1950s, they have not learned their lesson from history. They will be met with the same themes that took place in 1960s. And that hardly works in their best interests.

The Task For Contemporary Intellectual

For a long time, the infrastructure of political correctness suppressed people's real thoughts and feelings. As this infrastructure is being challenged from many directions, a lot is coming out. And some of it is butt-ugly.

It is neither possible nor desirable to suppress such sentiments. Rather they need to be met with solid and effective refutation. This is what is supposed to happen in a democracy; and I for one have been putting a lot of mental energy into doing just that.

Just what are these sentiments? One is anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism. These are no longer limited to obvious morons and have attracted some people with brainpower. Which means that it will take more people with brainpower to stand up to refute these abominations.

We have seen Eminem; we have seen Alex Jones and Glen Beck. And now we are seeing Donald Trump wanting to exile Mexicans and Muslims. Political correctness is powerless against these things. Real intelligence however is not.

Political correctness is simply wrong. The West is not the bogeyman. By the standards of liberalism the Muslim world is much worse. A person who simply attacks the West leaves open the door for groups like ISIS. Political correctness is powerless against them. Once again, real intelligence is not.

Now is therefore the time for real intelligence. If you are of an intellectual bent, this is your time. This time demands lots of brainwork to refute destructive ideologies. Whether you are in the academia, or in psychology, or on the Internet, there is work to do. And much will be decided by how well this work is done.

"Family Values" and America's Greatness

Many claim that America's greatness is owed to its “Christian heritage” and “family values.” They simply have not studied history. Both Christianity and the institution of family predate America by over a thousand years, and most of the places in which these existed were not great at all.

America's greatness is owed to superior political and economic practices: Namely democracy, scientific and technological progress, and business. It is these that distinguish America from feudal-aged England or Inquisition-aged Spain. And it is important to remind people of this, as many tend to forget.

I am a family man, and I go to church. But I would not dream of demanding that the next person do the same. Christians are not oppressed by the fact that there are atheists, single mothers and homosexuals. Nobody is telling them that they have to live that way. What is demanded of them is tolerance, which is in no way oppressive.

Christians are nowhere close to being persecuted in America. The only place where Christians are persecuted is the Muslim world; and there, everyone is persecuted. The American Christians have every right to stand up to their brothers and sisters in Middle East. But they have no business claiming that they are themselves being persecuted. And them doing so insults people who are being persecuted for real.

Are Christianity and family values responsible at all for America's greatness? America became the world's greatest country in early 20th century. It was a time of great economic and technological progress; it was also a time when “traditional” values were being questioned. Feminism became strong at that time; so did sexual freedom. Prior to that, in the Victorian era, England was the greatest country in the world.

The World War II generation saw a return to “traditional family values”; but that was not limited to America. In 1950s most of the world, including the Soviet Union, was family-oriented; and once again most of the world's countries at that time were far from great. My Soviet Communist grandmother was just as family-oriented as the American 1950s conservatives; but nobody among the agitators for family values recommends Communism.

Is family a good thing? In my case it has been a wonderful thing; but I also know that it can be a terrible thing as well. The number of people I know who got raped, badly injured, severely beaten, even killed, in families is vast. The family is as good as what goes on inside the family. A good parent does not need to bludgeon his children with concept of family values to force their loyalty; his actions toward them generate genuine love and respect.

There will always be families; there will always be parents. A person truly interested in family values will make family a better experience for the people inside the family. In my parenting I use intelligence. I treat my daughter not as an animal but as an intelligent form of life. When she does something wrong I tell her why it is wrong, and she does not do it any more.

If family values are again to become a force in the Western world, it has to be done right. Incest and brutality must be eradicated, and parents must be taught to treat their children like human beings rather than like beasts. Family must be done better. That being done, family can again become a value.

So no, the people who beat their wives and rape their children are not responsible for America's greatness. Rather they are a disgrace to the country they claim to love. America's greatness is in no way owed to such practices; and a true American patriot will see this and work to make family a better experience for wives and children.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Artists and Arrogance

Many people see artists as arrogant or elitist, even narcissistic. In my experience, artists have been the most welcoming and the most open people out there. Fancy a total stranger going into a meeting of doctors and reciting poetry. In an art school, I was welcomed and praised when I did just that.

I once ripped a hole in my pants while climbing a fence, then I stumbled into a poetry reading in DC. They welcomed me. Would a bunch of lawyers, or businessmen, or engineers, welcome a person with a hole in his pants? Yet artists did.

Why do the artists have this reputation, and doctors or lawyers don't? Probably because fewer people in places such as America and Australia see use in arts than they do in law or medicine, which means that sometimes artists have to blow their horn. When someone is seen as useless, he needs to do more to make a place for himself than when he is seen as useful; and doing that can come across to people as chutzpah, narcissism or self-absorption.

I've known more arrogant doctors than arrogant artists. These people tend to be of the conviction that because they've finished medical school they are better than the rest of the world. I've also seen this attitude among engineers, who tend to think that only they do important work in the world and that everyone else is lazy or insane. Many scientists, military people and businessmen also think that they are the most important people in the world. I have known no artist who thought that art was the only important thing in the world, but I have known many engineers, military people and businessmen who thought that their profession was the most important profession in the world.

So no, artists are not more arrogant than an average person. Certainly there are arrogant artists; but artists come nowhere close to owning arrogance. Some artists are arrogant, some are not. Same with everyone else. It is time to stop equating creativity with arrogance and allow it to do its job of making the world a more beautiful place.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Environmentalism, Technology and True Progress

There are many people who see environmentalism as irrational. In fact it is highly rational. Man has not created nature, and he cannot at this time re-create nature. Which means that he needs to exercise discretion and responsibility in dealing with the environment and ensure that his economic activities are as least as possible destructive to nature.

I am not against technology, and I am not against business. Both are very important pursuits. I am against wrong uses of technology and I am against brainless business practices. Burning down the Amazonian rainforest in order to create a ranch that lasts for two years and then becomes a wasteland is brainless. And business, technology and the civilization are insulted when they are used as justification for such brainless practices.

Burning down the rainforest is not progress; wastefully burning coal or oil is not progress. Essential toward progress is the constructive use of intelligence. Technologies such as solar and hydrogen are much more intelligent than oil and coal. They are more brain-intensive and less resource-intensive. Which means that progress means moving toward these technologies.

Viable human life demands both nature and civilization; which means that both must be in the best shape that they can possibly be. This is not “having one's cake and eating it too”; this is intelligence. The mind has always been the true saving grace of humanity. And in applying it toward creating smarter technologies is realized true technological and economic progress.

Is this socialism? No. Intelligent energy technologies can be put into place just as effectively by private business as it can be by government. The biggest problem facing it has been relentless opposition by the oil companies. The oil companies are simply not thinking straight. Oil is a resource with a vast amount of uses, such as in creating plastics and pharmaceuticals. The more oil is used for such things, and the less oil is burned, the greater profit is realized and the more money is made in the long run.

There is no contradiction between environmentalism and economic and technological progress. True intelligence will support both. The economic needs of humanity can be met in a way that leaves a vibrant environment for future generations.

It is toward that effect that economic and technological endeavors in humanity must be moved at this time.

Why Globalization Is In Best Interests of Western Men

There have been any number of Western conservatives attacking globalization as some kind of a liberal attempt at a global tyranny. In fact globalization is both natural and profitable for the very same Western conservatives who attack it the most.

I have seen children play happily across racial and national lines. If little children are wiser than us, then boy do we have a lot to learn. My daughter's first social interaction at age 1 was coming up to a little Malaysian girl and giving her a hug. Pierre LePen, Glenn Beck, Alex Jones: A one-year-old is smarter than you.

The biggest irony is that globalization works very much in the interests of the very same conservative Western men who attack it the most. With globalization, they have the pick of the best of the world. Instead of being limited to the feminism-influenced Western women they loathe, they have the attention of beautiful, cultured, family-oriented women from Russia, Brazil, Iran and India. Which means that these men should stop whining about some kind of a liberal tyranny and see the opportunity that globalization presents them.

Sure, there are some who claim that cultural differences are too much to handle in a relationship and that people should be with people from their own culture. My response to that is that people are not limited to how they were raised, and there is a lot more to the people than the accident of where they come from. There are many people who either do not fit in where they come from or do not like where they come from; and there are many people who prefer it somewhere else. America and Australia have both been built by these people. The women in misogynistic cultures such as Iran would do anything to be with a solvent Western man; and in such a situation both the woman and the man stand to have a better relationship than they would have with the person from home country.

A conservative Western man would have a better relationship with a woman from Russia or Brazil than he would with a feminist Western woman; and a woman from Russia or Brazil would have a better relationship with a conservative Western man than she would with a Russian or Brazilian man.

My advice to these conservative men is: Be a man. Take the opportunity. Make the best of the situation before you and use it to your benefit. Globalization has put before you the pick of the best of the world. Go with a woman from a non-feminist culture, avoid the feminists that you loathe, and create for yourself and someone else a livable life.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Feminism, Conservatism and Positive Middle

When I say anything about conservatism I get called a left-winger, and when I say anything about feminism I get called a right-winger. I am neither. I seek the positive middle path.

No, not just any middle path, as the middle path can be found in all sorts of undesirable places. I mean the positive middle path that sees what's right about each side and combines it while doing away with the wrongs in each.

Feminism is right to affirm women's right to a fulfilling life outside the home; wrong to attack love, beauty and family life. Conservatism is right to seek prosperity and strength in the face of Islamism; wrong to deny global warming or to attack efforts to extend to people an affordable education and healthcare.

Science is right to produce useful knowledge; wrong to see spirituality as mumbo-jumbo. Religion and spirituality is right to affirm people's right to spiritual experience; wrong to attack science.

Environmentalism is right to seek less wasteful and less destructive economic practices, wrong to attack the technological lifestyle. Capitalism is right to seek convenience and prosperity, wrong to blindly destroy the environment.

People should have the benefits of both nature and civilization; both private economy and affordable education and health care; both science and spirituality; both thinking and feeling; both the women and the men.

There are two kinds of conflicts that take place at the political level. One is the conflict of values; the other is the conflict of interests. While a case can be made that compromise based on values is evil, compromise based on interests is a workable definition of good. In conflicts such as the one between business and labor, neither side is right and neither side is wrong. Both are capable of both good and evil. Business is capable of all sorts of corrupt and destructive practices, and labor is capable of demanding ridiculous things from their bosses while themselves hardly working. Neither deserves to dominate, and neither deserves to be subjugated. Both can do both right and wrong, and at the political level the task is to incentivize rightful behavior by both while disincentivizing wrong behavior by both.

I am neither a right-winger nor a left-winger. I seek the positive middle path. I hope more people see the reason in this and do likewise.