Category Archives: Philosophy

An Experiment in Knowing: Qanon

I have thought a lot about how people in the modern world can separate fact from fiction, how to determine who is lying, and get at some semblance of the truth. Since Qanon suddenly became the massive story (as predicted…by Q… maybe that wasn’t a hard prediction to make, but it is a data point), and I have been tracking the Q story for a while I thought it would make a great test case in Internet Epistemology… Mostly because if it is true, it is the biggest thing happening today, and if false, is an amazing example of narrative building.

But first, a couple of points.

  1. A conspiracy theory is just the derogatory term for the idea that a large number of people make plans in private. This idea is not actually false: see the Bolsheviks, the Borgias, political campaigns, business deals… calling it a ‘conspiracy theory’ is just the modern way to make it so that people don’t have to think, they can just dismiss something as ‘tin foil hat’.
  2. There are pedophiles and evil people do evil things. Rich, powerful, evil people almost certainly have the means to get away with an amount of evil that most Christians cannot imagine.
  3. The Hollywood gossip blog Crazy Days and Nights (CDAN) has accurately called a number of ‘surprise’ sex scandals long before the news broke, including Weinstein.
  4. That CDAN has for a long time been posting about large scale procurement and delivery methods for pedophiles is a data point not easily dismissed, especially in light of the NXIVM cult. A demand for something produces a market and logistics…
  5. So, that Qanon spends a decent amount of time talking about cracking down on pedophiles does not disqualify the group.

So first, who is Qanon? Somebody is posting in places like 8chan somewhat cryptic posts. You can see all of them archived here: Q posts. Here is an example:

I won’t try to unpack it. The idea is that Q is someone, probably military intelligence, who is close to President Trump. This person, or team, is using the obsessive types who spend time on sites like 4chan and 8chan to process hints into real intel that the wider public could digest in order to prepare the country for what it actually means to ‘drain the swamp’.

If you think these internet types are useless… check out this…

So, if these obsessive types could be pointed at the right targets, they could become a kind of minuteman intelligence agency. Not really for gathering intelligence for the government, but taking hints about what the Military types and Trump know and running it down so that people know. These are the same types who brought down James Gunn…

That guy is a creeper… a very wealthy powerful creep… at minimum.

Qanon basically states that the powerful swamp types are often pedophiles and the frequently members of  (or associated with) a kind of loosely-knit satanic movement that at least occasionally also indulges in human sacrifice. (I know, most readers are now busting out their tin-foil to mock Q, but wait, for now, until at least the end of our Internet Epistemology.) And that Trump is moving through a massive, tedious, and tricky process to root out as much as possible i.e. ‘Drain the Swamp’. The role of Qanon is 1) keep the Trump supporters engaged and motivated 2) help prepare people to come to terms with the evil that is just out of sight around every corner (would make the Catholic Priest scandal seem little in comparison) and 3) spread some disinformation to the ‘black hats’ when necessary.

Is this impossible? Well, the Devil whishes to be worshipped and has always really enjoyed pedophilia and child sacrifice. Over at ‘The Other McCain’ (a site you should read often…) McCain writes:

Just yesterday, I wrote about a CIA leaker busted for child pornography. It is very easy to write a phrase like “obviously unhinged” to dismiss suspicions about “child sex rings” as a way to imply that (a) such things don’t exist, (b) no Democrats or celebrities could be involved, and (c) Trump couldn’t actually be working to bust “child sex rings.” Isn’t it a curious coincidence, however, that celebrities were involved the NXIVM sex cult, which didn’t get busted until Trump became president? And let me remind you of a few headlines:

President of NYC Young Democrats Arrested
on Child Pornography Charges

May 27, 2017

Child Pornography Arrest Exposes
Australian TV Reporter’s Sordid Gay Life

April 18, 2017

Canadian Gay Child Pornography Merchant
Reportedly Made $4 Million

Aug. 9, 2016

Australian Gay-Marriage Crusader Was
Fugitive Wanted on Kiddie Porn Charge

May 14, 2016

Gay Pedophiles Used ‘Multiple Fake
Female Personas’ in Child Porn Ring

March 18, 2014

Famous Gay Rights Activist Now Also
Famous for Child Pornography Habits

Jan. 25, 2014

University of Toronto Education Professor
Arrested on Child Pornography Charges

July 8, 2013

Two Gay Men Used Russian Surrogate Mother
to Create Boy for Sex Abuse Ring

July 1, 2013

That’s just a small sample of creeps who’ve been busted the past few years, and don’t forget about this story from 2014:

A new lawsuit has revealed the extent of former President Clinton’s friendship with a fundraiser who was later jailed for having sex with an underage prostitute.
Bill Clinton’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, who served time in 2008 for his illegal sexual partners, included up multiple trips to the onetime billionaire’s private island in the Caribbean where underage girls were allegedly kept as sex slaves. . . .
Tales of orgies and young girls being shipped to the island, called Little St. James, have been revealed as part of an ongoing lawsuit between Epstein and his former lawyers Scott Rothstein and Bradley Edwards.

A billionaire friend of Bill Clinton had a private island with teenage sex slaves, but it’s “obviously unhinged” to suspect that other Democrats and celebrities may eventually be exposed as pedophiles? Is it far-fetched to think President Trump may be getting Justice Department briefings about ongoing investigations of child sex rings? Is it a crazy conspiracy theory to believe that some administration “insiders” might know who’s under investigation, and that they might anonymously post tips on Internet forums?

Also, that Jeffrey Epstein has this on his private island.

See the source image

That is a temple, as per admission… and well, its not anything good. Zoom in of the statues…

Alright, now that you know a tiny taste of what Qanon is about (For a further, very detailed, introduction see: Neon Revolt). We have now started our Internet Epistemology (IE). We must not dismiss something just because all the news outlets over the last 48 hours have called it crazy. We can check  background issues like the existence of NXIVM, Epstein, and the apparent increase in crackdown on pedophiles. And reasonably can conclude that more consideration is needed. We can continue with our IE experiment.

Let us investigate the claim that Q is close to President Trump. Sometimes, Q signs off as Q+ and that is intended to mean that Trump himself posted that post. That is how close we are talking. Lets take Q post #1776. Being an America First type, Q obviously had to commemorate that number somehow. He posted this picture.

The question is: is that or is it not, Donald Trump’s signature under the pen. (And why cover half the signature?) If you compare, it is reasonable to accept that the signature is Trump’s. Does that prove that Q could step over to Trump and say ‘Hey, I need to post #1776, could you sign it?’ No, it really doesn’t. With phenomenal planning, the President’s signature is not impossible to come by.

Next, we have a video of the presidents motorcade passing some supporters, one of whom has a sign asking Q to honk. and… listen, it is towards the end of the 1 min clip.

Many Q followers point out that the Morse code for ‘Q’ is dash – dash – dot -dash… what the white van at the back of the motorcade beeped… Does that mean that Q is real?

.

.

.

Not really, but it probably does prove that someone travelling with the president knows about Q, at least.

How about Trump recognizing a Q shirt?

Or… or… or… if you believe Q, the evidence is everywhere (there are many, so called ‘Q confirmations’). It could be brilliantly engineered confirmation bias, or it could be real. If you don’t believe it, every proof has deniability. And then again  Q would say that was on purpose so that the plan could be followed. Q often reminds people to ‘Trust the Plan’

How can we know? What is real? Every Christian epistemology must start with what we know from what scripture teaches us. We know that throughout the old testament the Israelites bounced between sacrificing their children and fornicating by the Ashtaroth poles and begging God not to destroy them utterly. We know that the Prince of this world is powerful and real. We also can infer some of his favorite things: such as Child Sacrifice. Why would he give that up now, knowing the depravity and wickedness of the current generation? We also know that God raises up men from time to time to punish the wicked and bring comfort to His people. Is that Donald Trump? Maybe, maybe not. But I can say this: the narrative that has been masterfully built by Qanon fits reality far better than the narrative built by the MSM.

I think this is summed up best by McCain again

OK, maybe that’s all tinfoil-hat stuff, but you can’t just call it “baseless claims” and pretend you’ve proven that everything about #QAnon is false. Because for all you know, next week’s headlines will be a new scandal you never imagined in your wildest dreams, and the #QAnon guys will point to a previous tip and say, “See? We told you so!”

One of the best parts about the Qanon is that predictions are made, and sometimes seem to come true. Also, Qanon has an expiration date of November of this year. We will know one way or another. Either a lot of powerful (whether you know their names or not, like Tony Podesta) people go to jail or they don’t.

I think that Qanon is near the president and is at least a counter narrative. Maybe some or many things are not true, but the narrative is truer than that found in the MSM. I think Qanon works to build a back-channel between Trump and the American people so that the conspiratorial monopoly of the MSM cannot destroy the country. (If you think they are not in a conspiracy, look up Journ0list)

I think that Qanon is part of the show that our realty TV president is putting on, all while working for peace in Korea and 4.1% GDP growth and high employment. Whether it is more than that remains to be seen. Internet Epistemology at his point is at least well begun. And as they say, well begun is half done.

Either way, as Q would say, ‘Enjoy the show’.

Update: Q has been posting “Something BIG is about to drop. Q” on and off for a couple of days… so maybe the timeline for knowing the truth is sooner than November…

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Compassion

Here I sit, listening to Bruce Springsteen… yeah… ok, on with the thought.

A while ago I wrote for Independence Day that we do not live in a Christian nation, and neither do we really live in the free country that we dream of: all that is left is the dream. I said that I  was afraid that we have already slipped so far down the slope into despotism that the options to clamber back out as a nation are grim and few. We are passing, what the Tocqueville critical mass… In that same post I shared a poem (a just ok sort of poem) where I wrote this:

O Lord I know not if to pray
For justice swift and soon today,
Or if like Abraham, to plead
For yet more time and grace indeed!

I put a lot of weight to the songs that people listen to, and to what they say. And while listening to ‘The River’ I put words to a long held thought.

With the key verse being:

“I got a job working construction for the Johnstown Company
But lately there ain’t been much work on account of the economy
Now all them things that seemed so important
Well mister they vanished right into the air
Now I just act like I don’t remember
Mary acts like she don’t care”

And suddenly, it was clear that many (or most) Republicans have given up on Republicans… the voters don’t trust any of the people running for office, and there are so very many tired people: people who have slid the most of the way into the final nihilism of Godlessness that they are like the monopoly player against whom the rules now feel stacked, who cannot win no matter what, and they flip the table. At least Trump doesn’t pretend to be truthful… at least he doesn’t pretend to be moral. He is the candidate for the guy in ‘The River’. These people who vote for Trump, who support Trump, deserve… compassion.  They do not need or deserve condescension or hatred or bitterness for their support of the ‘kick the table over’ candidate. Any opportunists jumping on the Trump-train for their own benefit deserve excoriated… but the normal Trump voter has been abandoned by the education system (Almost no one is well educated, even with a Bachelor’s degree) and trapped into unproductive lives, and have largely abandoned Christ. They believe that if they are good, God will give them good things, and therefore: since they are miserable, they prefer to not think about God at all rather than follow the logic to its end.

They need, like most people in this sick and wicked world, compassion, and the preaching of the Law out of compassion, so that their ears are ready for the Gospel.

(And, perhaps the hardest thing to accept is that, despite the stink of nihilism and despair, perhaps they are right about one thing – perhaps America has past the point of no return on the path to despotism, and that a reformer (Cruz) wont be able to do any good, and that the only option left is to kick over the table and draw the steel at ones side. … In which case the proper response is probably to buy ammo… and step into the storm with with the ‘joy of Giants, the joy without a cause’)

 

((You should really click through and read that last link… Kurt Schlichter appears to be one of the last sane people on the Internet… so click through and read the other stuff he writes too.))

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PS… if Kasich doesn’t do well in IN today, and Cruz wins… I predict that Kasich will drop out and endorse Trump within a week…. 

An Offensive Weapon.

I’d like to start this post with a stanza of one of my favorite hymns: Water, Blood, and Spirit Crying, by Stephen P. Starke.

 Though around us death is seething,
    God, His two-edged sword unsheathing,
    By His Spirit life is breathing
       Through the living, active Word.

And now: The Church of Christ Wields an Offensive Weapon.

There is an image of a warrior that resides in the back (or sometimes the front) of everyone’s mind. There is another image that, though usually pushed much further back in the mind, also takes its residence in everyone’s mind: A man dying on his knees. The warrior is tall, he is strong, his grip is iron, his eyes are bright. He may be ruthless and wicked, or kind, a shield to the weak: but he is strong. His enemies fear encountering him. The man dying on his knees is weak, pathetic even. He is bound and has been tortured. His head is shaved and he is thin from being a prisoner. In the mind’s eye, this man is broken into pieces: he is not a man; he is a heap of the fragments of a man. And yet he sings. This man, this broken and dying man, is a witness: a martyr. His blood is spilled because he refuses to deny his Lord Jesus.

Strange, how the mind’s vision is so poor. We ought to look again at the two men before us. It is a paradox that confronts us. When Christ came into this world, everything went inside-out and topsy-turvy. In reality, everything went right-side-up: but if everyone else is upside down, the one who sees the world right side up is ‘topsy-turvy’. When the people of God sing ‘The white robed army of martyr’s praises you’, we confess that these saints, who died ‘poorly’, in truth, died well; that these who were slaughtered with their hands tied, fought and even triumphed in the war.

In today’s world, the church spends most of its time defending itself. It defends its doctrine. It defends its right to speak about what it believes. It defends the lives of the old and the unborn. All this good, yet something of a shame. It is a shame because the church is fundamentally made and equipped for offence. It does not primarily exist to defend its values, or its doctrines or its people. The Holy Church wields, despite appearances, a sharp and well-made sword. It is made to ‘go and make disciples of all nations.’ It sends its warriors out, and often, they die, and the church grows. The strange paradox that slaughter has never annihilated the Christian faith is explained by the fact that in death, the martyr’s victory over the devil is won for him, and the sword of the church strikes true.

And again, the many in the church spend their time doing their best to sound good. The most charitable construction of this is that they are trying to not be misunderstood: so let us think that. Yet, it is a travesty that the church cares overmuch if it offends people. It is not a coincidence that offensive (the technical term for attacking in a fight) and offensive (as in someone was offended) are the same word. The church has been literally guaranteed to offend people. Are people offended when they are told they are sinning? Yes. Are they offended when they are told that this thing, that the church ought to call a favorite sin, that makes them feel so happy, is going to damn them to hell? Yes! Do people loathe it when they are told that even nice people, people they liked a lot, will go to eternal damnation (which is torment) if they do not have faith? Obviously!

And yet: those who engage in sexual perversion need to be told that they are committing sins, that they are perverted. Likewise, people who gossip need to hear that their gossip is also a vile sin that must be repented of. People within, and especially without, the church must hear the conviction of the Law of God. Without the condemnation of the Law, the Gospel has no impact.

The church must be offensive and call evil, evil; and good: good. The Devil, the world and one’s own flesh will scream. People will take you to court, they will close down your businesses with lawsuits, they will threaten you and may one day again make martyrs in the streets. But consider this: the Church is filled with warriors intended to be specialists in offensive combat, and the most potent weapon in her armaments is the witness of the lifeblood of the saints.

I opened with a great hymn, now I will close with a great comic… If you haven’t spent time reading through at Adam4d, you ought to. Click through for the whole strip.

What kind though, Todd? [silence]

A Short Defense of Mysticism

Here is the introduction for the ‘Essays in Lutheran Mysticism’.

In our heavily scientized society, it is tempting to forget, in our great human arrogance, that God is not understandable. We as Christians confess that God is beyond our understanding, yet we often treat Him and His works as if this misunderstanding is one that is just barely out of the reach of Human reason. In fact, the only real difference effectively between the scientism of the modern world and the modern Christian is this: The secularist believes that all things which are currently out of reach will be eventually within reach, while the modern Christian often behaves as though the Nature and Mind of God are barely out of reach and will always remain ever so slightly out of reach. In reality the Godhead is infinitely out of reach. We have forgotten the Mystery (and in a real sense also the Majesty) of God.

In nearly every case this abandonment of the mystery of God is tied to intellectual arrogance as if the creator could ever be understood by the creation. Instead I propose a return to the appreciation of mysticism – not a mysticism that claiming that everything and every attribute of God is unknowable – rather a mysticism of humility. This mysticism recognizes that, while in the Holy Writ, God provides precise detail and clear language in all things necessary to salvation, the human mind is not capable of assimilating the whole (or even a fraction) of the infinite knowledge and wisdom and character and emotion of the Godhead. Thus, in many cases, we are therefore dependent on catching glimpses of God – and be as Moses who turned aside his face upon hearing the whisper of God.

There is a second reason I believe that a return to mysticism is important. This reason is about the state of the unbeliever in today’s Post-modern world. Every age has its own particular virtues and vices: often the latter is indeed a perversion of the former. That these virtues are warped does not negate the ability of the Word of God to sanctify them, and use them to great ends. I believe that the when the underlying virtue of an era’s vice is employed it can have a profound impact upon the lost of that time. St. Paul did not tell the Athenians to stop being so logical and feel more. Consider this: personal belief is a powerful component of the post-modern world, while one of the most distinguishable parts of Christian doctrine is that our relationship to God is a personal, intimate one: that of children with their father. Again, consider the pervasive lie of ‘what is true for you’, and consider the uncorrupted reality of the paradox. Lastly, the post-modern man feels as though his very soul is withered by the arid heat of impersonal science. The post-modern wanders in search of wonder, and ‘their very sins are sad’. In this world, I contend that it is the role of the Christian to be the last rationalist, the last empiricist, the last mystic, and the last hedonist all combined.

So here is my recommendation which may  feel like a paradox: intellectually rigorous mysticism.

Blog announcment

Hello, this is to kick off a series of posts (of indefinite length) in which I attempt to do some constructive philosophy. (Most philosophy these days is either learning what someone else said, parsing, or tearing down people’s worldviews… This will be none of those.)

I thought about writing essays for a little book or something, but I’d rather post them for people to read; it seems to me that if you think you have something interesting to say, you shouldn’t try to charge anyone for it. One ought to at least write enough to convince people that what one says is interesting.

And that brings us to this; what, if it was a book would be ‘Essays in Lutheran Mysticism’. The reason I want to do this will become plain as the essays roll out. But in general, I think the many do not realize that while Luke 2 was written by a scientist and historian, John 1 was written by a mystic.

You can expect a real intro essay (largely to delineate why I think orthodox mysticism is important) in the next day or two… I hope you enjoy it… I have this (probably lost cause) hope that  there may be entertaining arguments in the comments…

 

 

The Korean Kid Hypothesis

Just today, I gave my final exam. I certainly hope that my students knew at least some of the answers. Over the last few days I had a number of office hours and a decent number of my students showed up. It doesn’t really matter how it came up, but I ended up sharing with 5-6 students one of my favorite maxims. It is a proverb of mine. I know that sounds pretentious, but stick with me… its a good one. I told them this:

‘No matter how good you are at something, there is always a Korean 9-year old who is better than you.’

It is a reminder to anyone who is the best in their geographical area, or their school, or their set of acquaintances, that the ocean of possible talent is huge. It is also a reminder of how one becomes excellent at something: hard work, lots and lots of hard work. Starting with some talent is helpful, but at the end of the day, it is hard work and nothing else that makes someone excellent at something.

And that is the Korean Kid Hypothesis.

Vanity

It has been so long since blogging, so long since writing what I wanted to write that I am full up of ideas and don’t have the time or patience to write them all out, so I made a list, a list of things that are true.

1) The grass is green.

2) The snow is white.

2b) The snow is crystalline, therefore purified, water.

3) The night sky is black.

4) The tyrannical impulse of the nannies in this world is almost to the point that I could be permanently branded a racist for points 2 and 3 above.

5) Old people being nostalgic inspires exactly zero young people.

6) To restate 5, your ‘good old days’ never existed.

7) I am sick to exhaustion of people telling me ‘Conservative should do X, Y or Z’ or “don’t enjoy Star Wars, it is ‘unredeemed Pagan’”. We enjoy Star Wars because it is a riot while ‘The Children of Hurin’ is soul-crushingly sad. As a corollary, those pimple-faced wimps that everyone complains about, that de-masculinization of the American man, not sure I buy the premise. I think the reality may be that in the past the weak died, and now we can feed everyone. I think its possible that the only way to have a society of a bunch of really tough people is if 10% of the population dies every few years to plagues and wars. I for one am willing to make the trade. Also, a lot of those ‘pimple faced kids’ care more about life and joy and their liberty that you old curmudgeons who want to dictate what they can enjoy or say or do ever feel.

8) Is it any wonder that no young person wants to be an adult? The country, the church, the communities are all run by the ancient who treat them with disdain and dismiss them as incompetents. There is almost no place in this world, where the old hold on to power with the grasp of a miser, for the young to stretch out and be at liberty to be their own adults.

9) Increased oil production drives down prices, even on a global scale.

10) Given the chance, the free market will kill the cartel every time.

11) Liquid water is mighty wet stuff.

12) Accusations of any crime must be supported by evidence. The magnitude of the accusation carries no weight outside the kangaroo courts of tyrants.

13) False accusations that ruin someone’s life should have weighty penalties attached, otherwise the witch-hunters point at anyone they don’t link, shout ‘Witch’ and the innocent burn at the stake. (See: ‘Salam’, and ‘Duke Lacrosse’)

14) That I believe that 12 and 13 applies to accusations of rape as well as any other accusation of any crime apparently makes me a rape-denier or worse rape-apologist to some people.

15) Irrespective of what people in 4 and 14 think, the truth matters.

15b) There can be no such thing as a lie told to illustrate the truth. Its a lie,                      and  it cannot point to the truth.

16) Eventually, every worldview, every set of beliefs that is not founded upon truth will itself be crushed into tiny fragments by the truth.

17) Sometimes 16 takes a very long time.

18) There are whales in our oceans and trees in forests because of the exploitation of oil.

19) Wind farms slaughter birds and bats.

20) A philosophy of truth that does not include the ability to communicate that truth is fundamentally useless for science: the mass adoption of such a philosophy will return science to the black magic of a priestly caste, i.e. the state that Christian men found science in to begin with.

21) Andrew Klavan is almost always right.

22) If you are unmarried and without children you must put massive effort into serving others, otherwise you are becoming more selfish and self-centered every day.

23) Having a family is sanctifying, because you are constantly required to surrender your wants to the needs of your family: and this is very good.

24) Babies are great, but toddlers are awesome.

25) This morning Leonidas was saying ‘stumble trip. Stumble trip…’ (while moving his feet up and down) ‘WHATS THAT??’ (while pointing) and then in a near roar ‘A BEAR!!!!!’ ‘Raaaaar!’ (With his hands up like bear claws)… Toddlers are awesome.

26)  I probably made 20 paper airplanes over the weekend, at the incessant request for ‘Airpane… airpane’ from a little boy holding yet another flat piece of paper… He even threw a couple such that they flew a little…Toddlers are awesome.

27) The campaign against ebola amounts to nothing more than whack-a-mole… every time the disease lets up a little, we scale back our efforts as if trying to ensure it becomes endemic to the region. If it starts to recede, we should be doubling or tripling our efforts in order to stomp it out of existence…

28) Fighting terrorists should be done the same way, when they are losing, hit them even harder until they are crushed. The goal of campaigns against Ebola and terrorism isn’t containment, the goal is elimination.

29) Ebola doesn’t have to get out of control, it merely has to outlast us. It (obviously) doesn’t know it, but if it lasts long enough those socities will break down entirely and then it will explode out of control.

30) The terrorists, on the other hand, know this full well. ISIS is the ‘exploding out of control’ phase.

31) The grass is green.

Let us end with a fantastic poem from Chesterton.

Ecclesiastes: G. K. Chesterton

There is one sin: to call a green leaf grey,

Whereat the sun in heaven shuddereth

There is one blasphemy: for death to pray,

For God alone knoweth the praise of death.

There is one creed: ‘neith no world-terror’s wing

Apples forget to grow on apple-trees.

There is one thing is needful – everything-

The rest is vanity of vanities.

 

PS. If you want to argue about any of these… I’d be happy to do combat in the comments.