Gelernter Gives up Darwinism

Yale Computer Science professor and—as I found out today—Trump supporter David Gelernter has given up on Darwinism, finding it to be a “beautiful” but flawed theory.  Gelernter acknowledges that species make small adjustments based on their environment, etc.—adaptation—and that Darwin was correct in that regard, but that the process of new species developing from existing ones is mathematically impossible, even if the universe is trillions of years old.

For conservative Christians, skepticism of Darwin’s theory of evolution is something you keep quietly to yourself, lest you’re mocked roundly, or that you militantly espouse, which tends to turn people away—they tune out.  Regardless, the world at large has bought into Darwinism completely, even with holes in the theory (like the lack of a plethora of pre-Crambrian fossils that should, according to Darwin’s theory that all life descended from a common ancestor, be present given the Cambrian Explosion).

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TBT: Babes for Trump

Blogging daily for nearly nine months now, I’ve started noticing some interesting little blips in my reader data.  I don’t get a ton of daily views as a rule, but I’m always intrigued by the pieces people read when I’m late getting up the daily post.

I’ve noticed lately that, for several days, this piece—“Babes for Trump“—keeps getting one view.  I don’t know why—I haven’t linked to it in awhile, and it was kind of a quick, throwaway piece.  I don’t have the kind of high-level WordPress account that lets me dig that deeply into the data, but I’m hoping someone just keeps Googling “hot Trump babes,” but who knows?

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Ratcheting up Towards Civil War

I’ve been catching up on photog’s excellent blog Orion’s Cold Fire, and boy did I miss a doozy.  Good ol’ photog regularly presents his pick for American Greatness “Post of the Day,” and on August 7, he wrote about a sobering Angelo Codevilla piece, “Igniting Civil War.”

Meanwhile, Southern history think-tank The Abbeville Institute posted an essay Monday asking “Is Political Separation in Our Future?”  These pieces suggest that something cataclysmic is looming for the United States.  Are they right to be concerned?

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Trade War with China is Worth It

There’s a lot of disingenuous scuttlebutt flying around about a looming recession, the inverted yield curve, and the costs of the trade war with China.  I can’t help but think such doom and gloom reporting is part of an effort to undermine President Trump.  Investor and consumer confidence are emotional, fickle things, based as much on feeling as they are on hard economic data.

As such, I suspect that major media outlets are attempting a bank-shot:  scare investors and consumers enough, and they panic into a recession.  President Trump’s greatest strength at present is the booming economy and low unemployment rate; take that away, and loopy, socialist Democrats have a much better shot in the 2020 elections.  With Leftists like Bill Maher actually hoping for a recession to unseat President Trump, that’s not a far-fetched speculation at all.

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First Day of School 2019

It’s the first day of school for yours portly.  I’m excited to start the new school year, and the whirlwind first day back is in the books.

I’m teaching three sections of United States History this year (Advanced Placement), a semester of Economics (followed in the spring semester with US Government), and my middle and high school music courses.  I’m particularly excited about the High School Music Ensemble, which is a good group of music program veterans, young and old.

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Lazy Sunday XXIII: Richard Weaver

I’ve been fan-boying a great deal lately about Richard Weaver.  He’s one of my favorite authors, even though I’ve read comparatively little of his work.  Weaver died during the prime of his academic career, but before his premature death he managed to bequeath a rich heritage of scholarly works about literature, religion, and his beloved Dixie.

As I’ve written again and again, I always enjoy rereading the introduction to Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences, and hope to reread the entire book again soon.  The introduction sums up the modern West’s maladies starkly and clearly, tracing their origins to the nominalism of William of Occam.

I found one podcast in which two conservative commentators summarize and discuss the book, chapter-by-chapter; it’s a good, quick overview if you’ve got fifty minutes in the car:

That said, while I reference Weaver quite a bit, I actually have not written as many posts about him and his work as I thought.  Nevertheless, while I’m in the midst of my annual Weaver Fest, I thought it would be the perfect time to give the great academic his own Lazy Sunday:

1.) “Capitalism Needs Social Conservatism” – a #TBT post from the TPP 2.0 era, this post was part of a series on social conservatism, which I dubbed the “red-headed stepchild” of modern conservatism.  The post is more inspired by Weaver than it is about him, but I mention the paradox of prosperity near the end when I discuss Weaver’s drunk.

That’s my phrase for a metaphor Weaver employs near the end of the introduction to Ideas Have Consequences in which he compares modern society to a drunk.  The more inebriated and alcoholic the drunk becomes, the less capable he is of doing the work necessary to feed his addiction.  So it is with modern man—the more he luxuriates in excess and comfort, the less willing he is to do the uncomfortable work necessary to sustain his opulence.

2.) “Back to School with Richard Weaver” – the subject of last Thursday’s TBT, this little piece was from a 2014 Facebook post in which I quoted from “The South and the American Union,” an essay from Weaver’s Southern Essays.  It contrasts the Southerner’s “Apollonian” worldview of fixed limits and “permanent settlement” to the ceaseless striving and progression of the Northern, “Faustian” worldview.  It’s a fascinating dichotomy that, while controversial, certainly rings true to Southerners like yours portly.

3.) “The Portly Politico Summer Reading List 2016” – my classic, original reading list; naturally, Ideas Have Consequences tops the list!  As I wrote at the time, if you’re going to read just one book this summer, make it Ideas Have Consequences!

4.) “Ideas Have Consequences – Introduction” – I wrote this little summary for my History of Conservative Thought course.  It’s my quick rundown to help breakdown the main ideas from the introduction to high school juniors.  Hopefully it worked!

Well, that’s it.  Enjoy Weaver Fest 2019!  It’s back to school for me tomorrow.

–TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

SubscribeStar Saturday: The State of Education Update

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Back in February, I wrote about the “The State of Education” in the United States today.  The post detailed the travails of a New York City public school French teacher, Mary Hudson, and her often horrifying experiences trying to mold young minds in the worst of conditions.

Fortunately, I do not teach in corrupt, inner-city New York City public and magnet schools helmed by incompetent administrators; nevertheless, some of the underlying problems Ms. Hudson faced are universal for educators in all settings and all across the country.  I teach at a small private school in rural South Carolina—about as distant from the bustling, crammed schools of urban America as one can get—and still see some of the same issues that faced Ms. Hudson at work.

To read the rest of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Creepy Techno-Elites Spy on Users

If you weren’t convinced that techno-elites are working hand-in-glove with the Deep State, news that Facebook hired scribblers to transcribe voice calls on the Messenger app should wake you to the fact.

That’s a level of creepy beyond merely selling your data or using an algorithm to use facial recognition software.  That’s creepy, to be sure, but when it’s some faceless formula it doesn’t seem as bad.  When a living, breathing humanoid is pouring over your voice conversations (salacious or otherwise), it adds a whole other layer of skin-crawling chilliness to creepiness factor.

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TBT: Back to School with Richard Weaver

Every year I try to reread the introduction to Ideas Have Consequences, Richard Weaver’s masterful work of analysis and prophecy.

With school starting back in just FOUR DAYS—may God have mercy on us all—it seemed germane to bring back this post from 2018, itself a contextualization of a Facebook post from 2014.

Here is “Back to School with Richard Weaver“:

Every year, I try to sit down and re-read at least the introduction to Richard Weaver’s seminal Ideas Have Consequences, probably the most powerful book I’ve ever read.  I tend to undertake this re-reading around the time school resumes, as it helps remind me why I teach.

In addition to Ideas Have Consequences, Weaver wrote some of the most eloquent essays on the South—and what it means to be Southern—in the twentieth century.  In 2014, I posted the following quotation on Facebook; I will allow it to speak for itself[:]

I’m undertaking my annual baptism in the works of Richard Weaver to focus my philosophical thinking for a rapidly approaching school year, and, as always, I’m presented with an embarrassment of riches. Few thinkers cram so many nuggets of truth into so little space. Every paragraph of Weaver’s writings yields insights that speak to the very heart of humanity.

Here’s an excerpt from “The South and the American Union,” an essay from _The Southern Essays of Richard Weaver_, published posthumously in 1987. It might clarify a few things for some of my Yankee friends who have expressed a certain bafflement with Southern mores and attitudes…:

“The Southern world-outlook was much like that which [Oswald] Spengler describes as the Apollonian. It knew nothing of infinite progressions but rather loved fixed limits in all things; it rejected the idea of ceaseless becoming in favor of ‘simple accepted statuesque becomeness.’ It saw little point in restless striving, but desired a permanent settlement, a coming to terms with nature, a recognition of what is in its self-sustaining form. The Apollonian feeling, as Spengler remarks, is of a world of ‘coexistent individual things,’ and it is tolerant as a matter of course. Other things are because they have to be; one marks their nature and their limits and learns to get along with them. The desire to dominate and proselytize is foreign to it. As Spengler further adds, ‘there are no Classical world-improvers.’ From this comes the Southern kind of tolerance, which has always impressed me as fundamentally different from the Northern kind. It is expressed in the Southerner’s easy-going ways and his willingness to things grow where they sprout. He accepts the irremediability of a certain amount of evil and tries to fence it around instead of trying to stamp it out and thereby spreading it. His is a classical acknowledgment of tragedy and of the limits of power.

“This mentality is by nature incompatible with its great rival, the Faustian. Faustian man is essentially a restless striver, a yearner after the infinite, a hater of stasis, a man who is unhappy unless he feels that he is making the world over. He may talk much of tolerance, but for him tolerance is an exponent of power. His tolerance tolerates only the dogmatic idea of tolerance, as anyone can discover for himself by getting to know the modern humanitarian liberal. For different opinions and ways of life he has no respect, but hostility or contemptuous indifference, until the day when they can be brought around to conform to his own. Spengler describes such men as torn with the pain of ‘seeing men be other than they would have them be and the utterly un-Classical desire to devote their life to their reformation.’ It happened that Southern tolerance, standing up for the right to coexistence of its way of life, collided at many points with the Faustian desire to remove all impediments to its activity and make over things in its own image. Under the banner first of reform and then of progress, the North challenged the right to continue of a civilization based on the Classical ideal of fixity and stability….”

There are so many great passages I could cite (“Man [to the Southerner] is a mixture of good and evil, and he can never be perfected in this life. The notion of his natural goodness is a delusive theory which will blow up any social order that is predicated upon it. Far from being a vessel of divinity, as the New England Transcendentalists taught, he is a container of cussedness.”), for almost all of Weaver is quotable.