Thor and Lies

 

The man and woman wore Thor’s hammers on their necks. Not the silly cube of the movies, but the intricately chased device of Viking images. Matching. Bronze. Because I am a jerk, I said “Mjölnir?”

Yes,” said they.

I just said that because it is hard to say.” I replied.

Yes, the children are having trouble with that in their religious education.” said the woman.

_ _ _

I was floored. Until now, I have never heard of children being raised heathen. This year I have come across maybe five families. I don’t believe anyone has had a religious experience involving the Germanic gods in over a millennium. I just assumed such things to be a proxy for identification with their Germanic ancestry. Such people are not scholars. [I was wrong. I just met an Eddic scholar. He was not a good scholar.] One had Balder tattooed on his right knuckles and Odin on his left. Balder was misspelled. [As a child I had a very good dictionary. I memorized a few different alphabets. To me runes were exactly as cool and exotic as Cyrillic. Not too.]

Years ago I had a long, deep conversation with a woman who identified as Wiccan. She liked the rituals but did not think they worked. She liked the fashions which she identified with the religion. I came away feeling that she enjoyed posing, and thought the imagery was almost as nice as annoying the right people. She felt no need to raise her children as such.

What to think of such people. As a simple man, I think I should believe in the truth. Science, politics, or religion. I try not to believe in lies. When people pushing a probably true thing lie to me, then I become more doubtful.

Perhaps I am more motivated in opposing liars than following the truth. It is easier to spot a lie than a great truth. Alas, the two processes are not the same. I once told a friend that I was sure CO2 would warm the world greatly. I have since learned quite a bit, but primarily I have seen profound lies. An interest in the Maunder Minimum causes doubts, but seeing unadmitted lies makes me not trust at all and suspect I am being manipulated. Years ago signs were put up in Glacier National Park telling visitors that the glaciers would be gone by 2020. Those signs were scrubbed of the date earlier this year. Last winter I feigned anger at the very cold and snowy winter. ‘Al Gore promised us that if we did nothing, by 2012 our children would not know what snow was!’

Odin and Thor partly leave me cold because my mind’s eye can see the religion changing and rejecting parts of itself. [Elsewhere I have commented on the vanished god, Tiu.] If I saw Newtonian mechanics changing so, I wouldn’t trust engineering.

I have great disdain for revisionist historians. Not because we cannot improve our understanding of the truth, but because they don’t seem to believe in truth at all. Howard Zinn said that impartiality was not only impossible, but also undesirable. That’s as blatant a call for propaganda as I have ever heard. Need I state that I consider propaganda to be lies?

When Hillary Rodham was running for president I heard Malcolm Gladwell making an analogy to a female artist who failed to make it into the big British art academy. She barely failed in the 1880’s, and because she failed it took many years for a woman to gain membership. She herself was no longer considered worthy although her art was even better technically as time went on. Gladwell found her work in a storage room. Gladwell rhapsodized about her near photographic realism. Gladwell implied that if we failed to elect Hillary – even were she unworthy – we would set women back greatly.

Gladwell knows better. The reason that woman never made it was that art changed. Photographic realism was pointless once we had better photography. Art was then an emotional response. Precision came to be seen as mere draftsmanship. Was Van Gogh a bad artist because he was a poor draftsman? That was what Gladwell was implying. A very convenient and well thought-out lie. And I no longer trust Malcolm Gladwell.

Thus I despise creationists. Not because I doubt their premise, but because their very arguments are lies and manipulations. That is not how science or logic work. That is how propaganda works.

When one paints a lying world view, I rebel. I care not if it is religion, science, or history. It is hard enough to find truth without intentional errors.

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Hearing The Important

Let’s put two ideas together:

the Value of an idea is proportional to its surprise.
‘The Sun came up today’ Well, so?
‘It’s noon and the sky is dark.’ Now you have my attention.

Unexpected things are hard to hear or see. We even assume that which we hear is a mistake and correct it in our minds. ‘The senator is an divot.’ He must mean idiot or something else.

When one puts these ideas together, it is hard to see or hear that which is important. One trusts not one’s eyes and ears. One trusts more to the logos. We tend to correct spelling and words in our heads. This makes proof reading difficult. This makes seeing reality difficult.

Wisdom blindness.

Evolutionary Follies

 

Educated people are required to believe certain things in our current society. They don’t really. One thing they pretend to believe is Darwinian evolution.

A dozen years ago James Watson, the co-discoverer of DNA, was hounded out of respectable circles for some bald statements which were not PL. This year he was raked over the coals again for what he said all those years ago. James Watson is over ninety. The blacklist was effective enough that he had to sell his Nobel Prize.

Let me paraphrase Watson’s evil comments:

Isolated groups around the planet evolved to fit in local niches.

The evolved to different hair, pigmentation, size, sexual dimorphism….

Of course they evolved to different intelligences as well.

For this Watson was called evil. The funny part is that those who don’t believe as Watson did and claim to believe in evolution actually believe in creationism. In order to believe that separated groups would evolve to identical states, one must believe in a mystical force directing evolution to a consensus norm. One must also believe that the norm to which were are directed is sub optimal.

Were we to, say, evolve to constantly greater intelligence, those who breed at an earlier age would evolve faster. Unless that mysterious force is causing greater leaps per generation in the later breeders. This is an Evolution from the nose down only. I feel as if I am among medieval superstitions I once read about in school.


Schools treat evolution as something of a litmus test for intelligence. The same schools don’t describe how a society which took it seriously would appear.

Real evolution is not about fashion, or fairness, or justice. Evolution is about children and survival.

Were we to live in a society which took evolution seriously, things would look much different. And those who claim we must all accept Darwinian Evolution would be unhappy. Let us consider sex. Society would be about having healthy children and eliminating the unhealthy ones. A line would be drawn between sex, which is needed and desirable, and fetish, which is counter survival.

Homosexuality as practiced by Plato or Oscar Wilde would be unnoticed. Homosexuality in the manner of Stephen Fry would be a reviled fetish which produces nothing and yet demands resources and respect which could help those who are having babies. Modern homosexuality would be a fetish to be derided in precisely the same manner as celibate priests and maiden aunts. Transvestites would be unremarkable. Transsexualism would be a mental disease of the first order. Right up there with self-castration and not wanting children.

Putting off children until one’s thirties would be risky behavior. Abortion would be evil or required depending on the individual case. And the mother’s wishes would be less than the interest of the genome. Note, someone will claim to speak for the genome. In some societies, that would be a real power.

Those with genetic diseases which don’t manifest themselves until after childbearing years would be viewed as threats and subject to social control. So would their children. Their elimination would be demanded. Expect occasional mass hysteria. Medieval rumors of poisoning wells is nothing beside poisoning bloodlines.

The childless would be regarded as dead weight. Something is wrong about them. Medicine would involve finding which conditions were genetic, so they could be shunned. The activist people would be all about removing harmful genes. It would be regrettable but unavoidable that removing genes requires some rather draconian actions to people. Cull is an ugly word to me, but an essential word for such a society.

Speciation would be an ongoing debate. At what point does your clade seek to cut itself off from those who have a different view of human progress. Do not expect rationality about what constitutes progress. Are we breeding for longevity, or intelligence, or physical prowess. Or something which we do not imagine. One can not breed for all traits at the same time.

Of course there would be good things. Gifted children would be encouraged in a way not seen today. Society would encourage and support healthy sex and childbirth. Unexpected pregnancy would not be a life threatening tragedy. Falling in love with a person of a different ethnic group would be seen as a good which reduces inbreeding.

A civilization which took evolution seriously wold look quite alien. And it would not look palatable to those whose interests favor economic Marxism or ethics. Of course Darwinian evolution seems to be true. Although it will change as we learn more of the genetic mechanisms. Cut that Gordian knot.

The New Grey Lady

 

Shirley, there is great change brewing in our economy. Oddly, the news speaks not of it. The news speaks of tribulations in the markets and courts and congress, but not of the deeper structures upon which we depend.

Palladium has for a couple of weeks surpassed the price of Gold. This does not sound like much. Gold’s price is irrational. It is very high because people conflate gold with wealth and have done so for sixty centuries. I know people to whom Gold Is Money. Our culture demands that gold defines fine jewelry. Anything definitive is a ‘Gold Standard.’ As in the gold standard of, well, anything.

When I graduated high school it was $79/ounce. When I had Terry’s ring made it was under $200. I had to work to find a goldsmith who knew of and would make a palladium white gold ring. Such are the tribulations of a science geek. Palladium was the big sister to silver and the much littler sister to gold. Palladium is really not that good of a precious element. It is not so shiny or inert as platinum. It is somewhat brittle. [Which is why it alloys so well with soft gold.] Palladium is not as good a catalyst as platinum. In the early 2000’s it began to be used for catalytic converters because it worked well enough and was much cheaper.

So, it is less useful than platinum. It is less of a precious metal by properties. It certainly has no glamour. There is no social more requiring its use. In fact, the opposite. Go ahead, tell your love that you are buying her a palladium wedding ring. I dare you.

So why is Palladium 1.7 times the price of platinum. Why is it $80/ounce more than Gold?

I reiterate: Something has changed, and that change is not being spoken of by those who know. There is progress skulking about. Until now I have been just reporting facts which may be easily determined.

Now the doubtful. Palladium has interesting properties with hydrogen gas. If there has been an advance in hydrogen as a fuel, there would be a real use for palladium. If there has been a practical breakthrough in nuclear fusion there would be a valuable use. If its odd properties allow separation of hydrogen isotopes and there have been serious advances, then the price of palladium is a bargain. If the religion of cold fusion has found a new evangelist, a few rich fools could run up the price. I can remember when the Hunt brothers tried to corner the silver market. That was impossible, but they tried and almost changed the economy. The palladium market could be corned by speculators. If so, watch for a crash.

Of course, it just may be an irrational market. But people don’t spend this kind of cash on pet rocks. Some game may be afoot.

Anti Christ

golden rice

I remember driving my friend, Roger, home from college. For over an hour he told me of the most evil thing he knew of that week. Some insidious man – he called him an anti-Christ – had bleached and refined healthy wheat flour. He had removed the wheat germ. And then to disguise his evil machinations, he had enriched it with vitamins. This manipulation of food was a great evil in America.

I didn’t tell Roger that the best I could tell, that man was Dad’s first or second cousin.

To defend a cousin whom I never met, I cannot see the evil in this. If children will not eat coarsely ground whole wheat, if I find Bronze Chief flour impossible to make rise and creates a dense, chewy bread, if pastries of whole wheat are repulsive, does that mean white flour is evil? Is it evil to feed children that which they will eat? Is it more evil to enrich it with vitamins? I know a man whose wife hates iodized salt. He lives in the middle of the continent where seafood and iodine are not prevalent. He sneaks in iodized salt for his kids. Is he evil? Iodine deficiency can cost six percent of one’s adult IQ.

When I was a boy a local museum had some cavalry uniforms from the 1870’s. My class noticed the uniforms were too small for us at age twelve. The people who wore those uniforms were genetically very similar to the boys and girls who were looking at them. There had not been time enough for natural selection. Before refrigeration and decent transportation there were severe dietary deficiencies in the middle of the continent.

I graduated school a touch over average height. I am now more above the current average. I have not grown. I blame it on health food. For decades foods were more and more enriched. People got taller. This fell out of fashion,

Here are the nutrition labels for Froot Loops and Kashi Go Lean. Froot Loops are of no intrinsic merit, but kids will eat them. Kashi is a very fashionable choice among the healthy set, yet one has more vitamins.

Nutritional deficiencies are subtle. Vitamins were discovered when it was found that living just on rabbits one could grow fat and die from something missing. I remember when folic acid was not recommended, and then recommended only pregnant women.

I am larger than my father was. My father than his. He was larger and healthier than the Civil War generation. Something was going right. Nobody speaks of things going wrong, but I suspect it is. It is not limited to enriched food. I know people who seek out unpasteurized milk not for the cream but for conspiratorial reasons. I am willing to believe there may be something lost by pasteurization, but I know there is considerable risk. These are not the only choices. I have friends who fear vaccines more than the diseases which they avert. I don’t wish to decide the future of our health, but I wish such decisions be based on more than fashion trends.

This brings me to Golden Rice. Vitamin A deficiency is a big problem. Half a million children go blind every year from lack of Vitamin A. Half of those die. It is especially a problem in countries where rice is a staple. This is not fated. A rice was made that has vitamin A. The plant always made vitamin A but not in the ‘rice’ part of the plant. For a decade and a half environmental groups fought a battle to stop Golden Rice. It was said to have been finally approved this year. Greenpeace was violently opposed to Golden Rice. It is not for sale anywhere.

Once again I am not sure I oppose the Anti-Christ.

A wise woman once set me up in conversation. The human papiloma virus vaccine was then controversial. She thought I would be opposed. She asked me if I thought it was smart to give girls the HPV vaccine. ‘Of course not,’ I replied. ‘If we only treat our daughters, we miss half the viral reservoir. We must treat the boys as well.’  I am not wise. Cold-blooded, maybe. We know that HPV causes cancer in females. Want to bet that we find another cancer it causes? These arguments must be solved by reason rather than sentiment.


Addendum:

I received this in the mail:

contact@goldenrice.org

Dear David,

Your points are all correct. But still we are not at the point of being able to proceed. I see that our last interaction was in 2014 (I admire your persistence – as you have noted, an important trait in this project!)

I attach some more updates.

Please continue your support.

Best wishes

Adrian

To: Adrian <contact@goldenrice.org>
Subject: Re: golden rice availability.

Sir,

NOW can one get golden rice? The news makes it seem a done deal, but I cannot believe the opposition has collapsed.

I would like to support this project.


The Funniest Nutrition Label:

Prussiate of Soda? Well, prussic acid is an antique way of saying cyanide. Soda – sodium. Sodium Cyanide?

Not quite. Sodium ferro cyanide. It’s not so dangerous. It sounds scary. A 150 pound person could eat 3/4 a pound and be within standard safety limits.

Still, I think health food zealots would freak if they knew. Kosher salt makers must panic.

 

 

 

 

Faith in the System

About $1.20

 

I can solve Venezuela’s hyperinflation in a season. Any fool could. It wouldn’t be a great solution, but one must staunch the arterial bleeding first.

Mint silver coins. Pick a purity – 90% 92.5% 100% – and stick to it. Keep minting the coins until their economic value matches the silver price. That is it. It takes nothing more.

No one with the brains God gave a rutabaga trusts the Dictator Maduro with either their lives or their fortune. So don’t trust him. A 15 gram coin is worth $7. Nobody cares who made it. I have here a 1939 silver coin of King Farouk of Egypt. He was a real piece of work, a general disgrace, but the coin is worth its silver content. About seven dollars. It is worth that almost anywhere in the world. There are places where it is worth more for collectors, but there is a floor to its value. Why does Mr. Maduro not do this? He would give up control. People could flee with their wealth. Their money would be hard to track. People he does not like could keep their wealth. Mostly, people could store their wealth. Mr. Maduro tried to establish a currency backed by oil. It is complicated, unproven, and vulnerable to manipulation. Silver coins could be taken over the border and retain their intrinsic value. Inflation in metallic currencies is a long term hazard which moves at glacial speed. Devaluation is much quicker. One can tell when the silver content is reduced. Picture a hick biting a coin.

Cigarettes are poison, Chocolate doesn’t store well in the tropics. Liquids spill and evaporate. Bottles of scotch work well. Gold comes in too large chunks. Silver has two things going for it: The mental malfunction which has convinced many people in all culture that it is money, and that most silver is made by refining copper to a purity for electrical conduction. The quantity of silver in the world is very roughly in accord to the wealth of the society. Not as well as aluminum. But it is hard to convince anybody that aluminum is wealth.

Commodities are not good currencies. I trust them.

Reasserting Equilibrium

A series of horses passing by is a cavalcade. A series of columns is a colonnade. [That’s a double ‘n’ so as not to mean a series of colons.]

A series of cannon shots is, of course a cannonade. Rifle shots, a fusillade. Pistolade. Motorcade.

To me a used car dealership is a lemonade.

This year has been a a diabolade. Just one damn thing after….