Monday , September 16 2019
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Bionic Mosquito

Bionic Mosquito

Why bionic mosquito? Some talking head on CNBC, when referring to Ron Paul, called him a “mosquito.” My reaction – if he is a “mosquito”, he is a pretty powerful one. Hence the name…. If there is one day a resurgence of freedom and liberty in the West, history will record that Ron Paul was the one individual most responsible for sparking the movement.

Articles by Bionic Mosquito

Asking the Right Questions

4 days ago

Those who wish to succeed must ask the right preliminary questions.
–          Aristotle, Metaphysics
Miracles, C. S. Lewis

What we learn from experience depends on the kind of philosophy we bring to experience.  It is therefore useless to appeal to experience before we have settled, as well as we can, the philosophical question.

I am not quite sure what I am going to do with this book, at least within the context of the general direction this blog has taken.  On the surface, writing one way or another about miracles seems outside the scope of this blog, even as widely as I have exercised this scope.
Yet, I am finding something in this book on the idea of naturalism and supernaturalism (as Lewis puts it), and Lewis offers food

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Protesting the Abolition of Man

13 days ago

Earlier this year, Dennis Danielson gave the 22nd annual Weston Lecture at Augustine College in Ottawa, entitled Against the Ongoing Abolition of Man (video here).

Dennis Danielson is an intellectual historian who has written about literature, religion, and the history of science. He studied English Literature at Oxford and Stanford before teaching at the University of Ottawa and at UBC from 1986 to 2017.

His most recent book is entitled The Tao of Right and Wrong, of course invoking C.S. Lewis’ use of the Tao in the Abolition of Man.  This book is a rejection of moral nihilism, and a recognition of the life-affirming moral realism founded in the Tao.
I will offer some thoughts on the lecture; as is always the case with videos,

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The He-Man

15 days ago

Michael Anton has written a piece for the Claremont Review of Books on what apparently is the latest representation of the alt-right: Are the Kids Al(t)right?  It is a review of a book that he had previously never heard of (and the same goes for me): Bronze Age Mindset (BAM) by a person calling himself “Bronze Age Pervert” (BAP).
He was given the book by Curtis Yarvin, who brought the book to Anton who was hosting a small dinner at his home.  Anton does not mention in the piece that Yarvin is better known as Mencius Moldbug.  Probably everyone knows that except for me – I had to look him up.

Self-published in June 2018, BAM quickly cracked the top 150 on Amazon—not, mind you, in some category within Amazon but on the site as a

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‘Diversity Is Our Strength’

19 days ago

Meze or mezze is a selection of small dishes served as appetizers in parts of the Middle East, the Balkans, Greece, and North Africa.

Call it the realm of the former Ottoman Empire.  I have been chewing on a few topics for several days.  Each of these could, perhaps, be turned into a complete meal but I am not in a position to devote the proper attention to each.  So, for now, I will just serve each as a small dish.  It is also equally likely, as is usually the case, that the mezze platter will be sufficient for the entire meal.
Diversity is Our Strength
If there is an overriding theme to the societal disaster that defines the current times, it is this slogan.  More specifically, it is the context in which this slogan is

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Democracy and Egalitarianism

27 days ago

The scene is in Hell at the annual dinner of the Tempters’ Training College for young Devils.

The Screwtape Letters (Screwtape Proposes a Toast), C. S. Lewis
In his toast, Screwtape offers an overview of the situation at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries.  He begins with a review of the situation in the latter half of the nineteenth century: the movement toward liberty and equality among men had borne solid fruit; slavery had been abolished; the American and French Revolutions had succeeded; religious toleration had increased almost everywhere.
Much of this would seem to be contrary to the wishes of the Tempters.  But there is a silver lining, as Screwtape notes: atheism, anti-Clericalism, envy,

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The Garden

August 15, 2019

The future disappears into memoryWith only a moment betweenForever dwells in that momentHope is what remains to be seen
–          The Garden, Rush
The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis

The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity.  He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point at which time touches eternity.

Religion and politics.  I will look at two different letters to examine this topic of religion and politics.    I am glad that Lewis has introduced this topic in this way, because this song from Rush is – in my opinion – one of the most beautiful and meaningful songs from this band.  I have long wanted a reason to include it in a post.
Given this

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We Can Choose the Gospel

August 13, 2019

Maximus: Do you find it difficult to do your duty?Cicero: Sometimes I do what I want to do. The rest of the time, I do what I have to.
–          Gladiator
I had just finished writing the Appendix for the book when I came across this Jonathan Pageau video, “René Girard: Desire and Sacrifice – with Craig Stewart.”  Now, nothing Pageau posts I would describe as easy listening, so after listening to a few minutes of this video I felt overwhelmed and stopped – not thinking about if this was a permanent or temporary stop.  It was just too much for me after just finishing the book.
I then started going through a couple of the more involved emails I had received over the last weeks; I will reply promptly, but some are so involved that I

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The Form of the Good

August 8, 2019

NB: All previous chapters can be found here.
This will be a challenge, both for me and readers of this book.  How to capture the characteristics of Jesus in a manner sufficient to at least paint a picture of the target for which humans should aim – the Form of the Good, demonstrating the proper ends, purpose, or telos for human beings.  Understanding these ends, one can begin to properly apply reason in order to properly deduce Natural Law.
A challenge for me because I know even before I start that I will fail; a challenge for readers because it will take great patience when you bring this to my attention.
Inherently this won’t be a complete picture – turn to your favorite translation of the Bible for that, along with reading

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July 27, 2019

The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis

…the story takes the form of a series of letters from a senior demon Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood, a Junior Tempter. The uncle’s mentorship pertains to the nephew’s responsibility in securing the damnation of a British man known only as “the Patient”.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when beginning this book, yet here in the first letter from Screwtape there is food for thought.  From the book:

It sounds as if you supposed that argument was the way to keep him out of the Enemy’s clutches.

The nephew is attempting to use argumentation to convince the Patient against “the Enemy.” Screwtape finds this a bad idea.  It might have been OK a few centuries earlier, when people understood when

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An Interesting Conversation

July 24, 2019

A discussion between Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro, just posted but presumably recorded several months ago – as Peterson refers to his (as of then) upcoming discussion with Slavoj Žižek “on April 19th.”  This post will not be in the form of a narrative; just some observations about some of the points raised.  Where I offer quotations, these really are approximate as I have no text from which to draw.
Let’s get some of the easy targets out of the way, although some of these will recur throughout the discussion.  Immediately in the discussion, they laughingly dismiss the idea that “Jews” might work on hidden agendas that are beneficial to Jews.  I need not elaborate here.
There are several comments and refences by Peterson to

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The Libertarian Movement

July 16, 2019

I will meander a bit.  I think there is a common thread throughout this post, but I probably won’t spend too much time to try and tie it all together.  In some fashion, an idea buried in here might end up being a chapter in the book; perhaps your feedback will trigger something in me that will point to how and why.

…this vicious attack on Dr. Paul from Nicholas Sarwark is really awful. Read it and weep for our movement.
–          Walter Block

My interest is not in Sarwark’s attack.  I haven’t bothered reading this most recent attack from Sarwark, as I have dealt with him in the past (here, then here); nothing surprises me here.  My interest is in Walter’s comment regarding “our movement.”  I have addressed

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The Search for Liberty

July 3, 2019

NB: All previous chapters can be found here.

This thing which I have called for convenience the Tao, and which others may call Natural Law or Traditional Morality or the First Principles of Practical Reason or the First Platitudes, is not one among a series of possible systems of value.  It is the sole source of all value judgements.  If it is rejected, all value is rejected.   If any value is retained, it is retained.

As you can see, C.S. Lewis makes a strong statement regarding Natural Law – the Tao – in his book The Abolition of Man.  According to Lewis, it is not possible to buy into only a part of it: one must commit to it fully when considering a system of values, or one has nothing to commit to – at all.  With it, a

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The Search for Liberty

June 27, 2019

NB: All previous chapters can be found here.
It seems appropriate at this point to review Natural Law through a Catholic lens.  Now, I know one might suggest that this is what I have been doing via my extensive review of the work of Aquinas.  Well, yes and no.  I have worked through this given my own understanding of his thought; but it seems to me that there is value in testing out how well this review conforms to what might be called a much more well-informed analysis.
While I know many will disagree with the many references toward God (what do you expect from a Catholic source?), I suggest that in those instances, just check to see how consistent the point is with Aristotle.
Natural Law, New Advent
According to St. Thomas, the

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The Search for Liberty

June 12, 2019

NB: All previous chapters can be found here.

The Form of the Good was the ultimate form for Plato, from which every other form derived its goodness, but it was impersonal.
–          Plato and Christianity

Plato gave us the Form of the Good, an abstract form that exists but not embodied; Aristotle embodied this form, and – through his Four Causes – pointed us to find the proper end, goal, or purpose of the thing in which this Form of the Good is embodied.
It leads one to ask: in the case of humans, where do we find this Form?  (And for non-Christians in the audience, please be patient regarding the next few paragraphs; I will come back to you before this is over):

We know that in Platonism, God can be thought of as the Form of

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An Argument for the Defense

June 8, 2019

On November 27, 1095, Pope Urban II mounted a platform set up in a meadow outside the French city of Clermont, surrounded in all directions by an immense crowd.
This is precisely the point where history began as far as the mainstream narrative of the Crusades is concerned.
In 1999, the New York Times had solemnly proposed that the Crusades were comparable to Hitler’s atrocities or to the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.
And this is precisely where the mainstream narrative of this history ends.
God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades, by Rodney Stark
This book was recommended to me in the comments of a recent post I had written on the topic of the Crusades, where I offered how my thinking has evolved on this topic.  The book

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Is the Pope Christian?

May 29, 2019

Bishop Athanasius Schneider gave an address on 16 May 2019 at the Rome Life Forum on the theme “City of man vs City of God – Global One World Order vs Christendom.”  Consider the theme of this Forum: a Global one world order (city of man) vs. the decentralized governance that was an inherent feature of “Christendom” (City of God) – in other words, the European Middle Ages.
Before getting into this address, a brief discussion on the topic: it is an examination of political universalism vs. political decentralization.  This distinction is a point of conflict not only in the libertarian world, but in the West more broadly.
The universalists see and value no meaningful difference in culture, yet are known for championing “diversity”;

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The Reformation

May 24, 2019

The Reformation is a paradox: a religious revolution that led to the secularization of society.

Rebel in the Ranks: Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the Conflicts That Continue to Shape Our World, by Brad S. Gregory
What does Gregory mean by “secularization”?

…[secularization] refers specifically to the declining influence of religion in public life…politics, law, economics, education, social relationships, family life, morality, and the culture at large.

This secularization is described by Gregory as the broadest and most far-reaching outcome of the Reformation.  A major impact of this secularization is the loss of any ability for the Church (or some form of unified Christianity) to stand as a decentralizing force in

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Reigns of Terror

May 22, 2019

The French really were amateurs when compared to Portugal and Pombal…
In this prison there are nineteen cells: two are almost totally dark, and among the others there are two that have the reputation of being the worst, by their small size, and because they are close to a pipe where filth pours out.
–          Marquês de Alorna, the prisons of Junqueira
This Gulf of Fire: The Great Lisbon Earthquake, or Apocalypse in the Age of Science and Reason, by Mark Molesky
If only life returned to normal in Lisbon within a few months of the earthquake.  No such luck.  Eight months later – in the summer of 1756 – tremors continued, along with riots, murders, and robberies.  Gangs would start fires in the tent cities in order to rob from the

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May 20, 2019

What started as a reform of one Church produces an open-ended array of competing churches, which virtually no one at the time considers a good thing.
Rebel in the Ranks: Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the Conflicts That Continue to Shape Our World, by Brad S. Gregory
The Reformation played out differently in Germany, France, England, and the Low Countries.  Gregory examines each in turn.  This post will run a bit long; I am treating it more like a history lesson (for me) and I want to get through it in one post.  If this isn’t of interest for you or is otherwise unnecessary, feel free to stop here.
Gregory spends some time on The Council of Trent – spelling out the Church’s views on various aspects of Reformation

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Free Sects

May 18, 2019

In every territory and kingdom in Europe, political authorities had to decide for or against the Reformation – including in overwhelmingly Catholic regions such as Spain, where the Reformation was harshly, and violently, suppressed.
Rebel in the Ranks: Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the Conflicts That Continue to Shape Our World, by Brad S. Gregory
City magistrates in Geneva would work with John Calvin; Charles V of Spain helped to foster what has come to be known as the Catholic Reformation or Counter-Reformation; throughout Christendom religion became a diving force instead of a uniting force.
Whether Catholic, Lutheran or Reformed, clergy inject new life into their sermons and catechisms – there is nothing like

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The European Enlightenment

May 16, 2019

This Gulf of Fire: The Great Lisbon Earthquake, or Apocalypse in the Age of Science and Reason, by Mark Molesky
Molesky spends time on the pre-earthquake history of Portugal and significant detail on the disasters that came with the earthquake.  I offered an overview of this previously, so will only touch on a couple of additional points now: Portugal was as Catholic as Catholic could be – even after the Reformation; Portugal also had episodes of being one of the most widespread and wealthiest empires in the world.
My focus here is on the aftershocks – not physical, but philosophic and religious.
God, said to be omniscient and merciful, showed himself to be a very poor sort of father.  So writes Bahngrell Brown when considering

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The Crusades

May 11, 2019

I have been meaning to revisit this topic for some time – considering this episode in European history within the context of my views in general about this period.  I have found medieval Europe to offer the longest lasting example of a society whose laws came closer to libertarian law than any other place or during under any other (extended period of) time.
But what of the Crusades?  Many years ago, I accepted the mainstream view – Christians, for no good reason, decided to invade and slaughter Muslims.  Look hard enough at the history of this blog, and I believe you will find one or two posts that take something like this position for granted.
But over the last couple of years my thinking has evolved – after all, there were

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The Earthquake That Destroyed Lisbon

May 10, 2019

On All Saints Day 1755, tremors from an earthquake measuring approximately 9.0 or higher on the moment magnitude scale swept furiously toward Lisbon…
This Gulf of Fire: The Great Lisbon Earthquake, or Apocalypse in the Age of Science and Reason, by Mark Molesky
Almost instantly, much of the city was in ruins; within 30 minutes, a tsunami barreled up the Tagus River and carried thousands of bodies out to sea – dead and alive; shortly thereafter a fire engulfed whatever would burn.  Lisbon, one of Europe’s wealthiest cities, was virtually no more.
The disaster is significant on its own, but my interest is in the impact on the culture and religion.  Portugal was as Catholic a kingdom that one could find; the earthquake did not just

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Finding the Trunk

April 23, 2019

It is upon the Trunk that a gentleman works.
–        Analects of Confucius, 1.2
The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis
I had no idea what this meant, “the Trunk.”  I did some digging.  I found a more complete passage: “…It is upon the trunk that the gentleman works. When that is firmly set up, the Way grows.”
This second chapter of Lewis’s short book is entitled “The Way.”  But I still don’t really get it.  So I found this:

It is upon the trunk [the fundamental] that a gentleman works. When that is firmly set up, the Way grows.  And surly proper behavior towards parents and elder brothers is the trunk of Goodness.

The words “the fundamental” are inserted by the author of the paper.  So, I at least learn that the trunk is fundamental

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It Depends

April 16, 2019

Jim Davies has pointed me to a post of his entitled “Christian Anarchist”: An Oxymoron?  To which I answer, it depends.
The word anarchist has so many meanings – and here I mean even within what would be described as the “libertarian movement” (talk about an oxymoron).  One could describe the range from left to right.  On the left, no hierarchies are acceptable; on the right, voluntary hierarchies are acceptable.
(As an aside: what of the involuntary hierarchy of parents to children?  Perhaps one reason libertarians as libertarians have no consistent answers when it comes to this relationship.)
Davies believes that the term “Christian Anarchist” is an oxymoron.  As he offers “…there are too many flat contradictions between the

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The Argument for Open Borders

April 13, 2019

Mike Rozeff has re-published at the LRC blog an essay from Jim Davies: Open Borders: YES! Davies makes an argument against Rozeff’s position against open borders.  It will shock many of you to know that I agree with Davies 100% on his open borders position.  Please indulge me; from Davies:

My main criticism of [Rozeff’s] piece is that he did not make explicit his assumption that for the foreseeable future, America will continue to have cities, states, policing, education [sic], welfare, disease control, rodent control, proper housing, traffic control and even taxes – all furnished or imposed by government.

It seems an assumption that one need not make explicitly, but I do not want to belabor this point.

My premise is quite

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Churchill’s Secret War

April 11, 2019

Everyone in Midnapore dates the famine from the day of the cyclone, October 16, 1942.

Churchill’s Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II, by Madhusree Mukerjee
From the beginning of British rule until the mid-twentieth century, events transpired as one would expect regarding the colony: wealth transferred from colony to the empire; rebellions against foreign rule; suppressions against local protests; closing of the local congress.
Most important for this story: India went from being reasonably self-sufficient in food and grain to a significant exporter of these, to the benefit of other parts of the Empire.  Life-expectancy was increasing in Britain while decreasing in India.
Inventory in

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Physicist, Heal Thyself

April 10, 2019

Physicist Dave: “I literally know of no other extended period of history in which there was as systematic an effort for as long a time to brutally suppress freedom of thought as the Middle Ages in Catholic Europe.”

Let’s see.
Fundamental Human Rights in Medieval Law.   Published by the University of Chicago Law School.

…Professor Tierney showed that the idea of natural rights did not enter political life, as he put it, “with a clatter of drums and trumpets of the American Declaration of Independence or the French Declaration of the Rights of Man.” Instead, “this central concept of Western political theory first grew into existence almost imperceptibly in the obscure glosses of the medieval jurists.”  It antedated Columbus by

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When You Say Peace

April 8, 2019

…this episode in Indian history will surely become the Golden Age as time passes, when the British gave them peace and order, and there was justice for the poor, and all men were shielded from outside dangers.  The Golden Age.
–        Winston Churchill
Churchill’s Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II, by Madhusree Mukerjee
In the seventeenth century – before Britain got her hands on it – Bengal was described by physician François Bernier as “the finest and most fruitful country in the world.”  An embellishment, perhaps, but he found markets brimming with rice, sugar, corn, vegetables, mustard, and sesame; fish and meat were plentiful; vibrant towns and cities were interspersed with lush

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The Costliest Heresy

April 4, 2019

At least in this generation…
Dispensationalism is a doctrine that is only about two-hundred years old, and in the Christian world is fundamentally embraced only in America.  Jesus never mentioned it; neither did Paul.  Of course, neither mentions the word “Trinity” either – yet one can at least find the conceptual basis for this word in Scripture.  No such luck for dispensationalism.
The Orthodox Church describes dispensationalism as…

A heresy practiced by many Protestant groups, Dispensationalism is a form of premillennialism which narrates Biblical history as a number of successive “economies” or “administrations,” called “dispensations.” Each of these dispensations emphasizes the discontinuity of the covenants of God made

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