Retired, sometime civil servant, sometime consultant, active intellectual, former lawyer, active property manager, and on rare occasions in the past a political activist. He has recovered from the experience.

Retired, sometime civil servant, sometime consultant, active intellectual, former lawyer, active property manager, and on rare occasions in the past a political activist. He has recovered from the experience.

How many ideas and institutions will not survive?

Rebel Yell and I were speaking yesterday (he from his castle, I from mine) about what the current plague will mean, does mean, for ideas and institutions that have wandered the landscape these many years that will disappear as snow in spring.

I predict the following will be gravely diminished or are about to be finished:

I think that all social institutions will be gravely hurt – which is bad – and that a lot of activity will have to move on-line if the isolation lasts more than four months:

  • churches
  • masons, fraternities, knights of columbus etc
  • sports leagues
  • schools

How are courts to function? How will witnesses be heard? How will lawyers argue?

Are universities necessary if they do not perform the function of educating students?

There is a part of me that figures this is all a plot of Satan (fill in your favourite force of evil in the spot occupied by Satan, but why not go to the top?) to further isolate people in their cells, to confine them to quarters, to have them willingly surrender their freedoms for a bit of security. We are becoming like the former Soviet Union, where zero trust is the operative condition; where you must have known people from high school before you are able to trust them with political discussion. We are nearly at that stage now in Ottawa. Or maybe we have been in that stage for thirty years and I am finally noticing the political repression.

Here is a piece of music written in equally fraught times by the Catholic composer William Byrd at the time of the English Reformation. Two pieces actually: Ne Irasceris Domine (be not wrathful, O Lord) and Sancta Civitas (Holy City) with its great line “Ieruslaem desolata est”. Jerusalem is indeed desolate this morning. But I am feeling quite well.

Compared to what?

It is a rare day that I disagree with the courageous, and particularly with Heather MacDonald. Today is one of them. Miss MacDonald published an article in the New Criterion, entitled “Compared to What?” which argues that the response to the coronavirus is overdone by far.

She writes:

“Even if my odds of dying from coronavirus should suddenly jump ten-thousand-fold, from the current rate of .000012 percent across the U.S. population all the way up to .12 percent, I’d happily take those odds over the destruction being wrought on the U.S. and global economy from this unbridled panic.”

She then compares Covid19 deaths to the 38,000 traffic deaths across the United States in 2019 to the slightly over 5,000 deaths from the virus worldwide, and makes other reasonable arguments that the reaction to the virus has been overdone by far. She then says

“Rather than indiscriminately shutting down public events and travel, we should target prevention where it is most needed: in nursing homes and hospitals.”

This attitude is really quite foolish, for a number of reasons.

Covid19 is highly infectious, and is transmitted by breathing the same air as an infected person. The virus hangs about in suspension. One is infected for days before one shows symptoms. Some people will never experience any negative symptoms whatever, just as there were a few people who buried their families at the time of the Black Death in 1348 and went on to live long after the bubonic plague. Those people unaffected by Covid 19 are still infectious. So whether a person has symptoms or not, they can be transmitters.

Second, washing of hands may reduce the infection rate, but has no effect on the main transmission path, which is airborne. Increased vigilance about cleaning surfaces is welcome, for many reasons, because it gives people a sense of agency, but it will not do that much to prevent infection. This point was made clear in an interview by Joe Rogan with an epidemiologist, Michael Osterholm. (around minute 6 of the interview).

Third, you will have heard by now of the idea of “flattening the curve”, which means slowing the incidence at which the infection burns through society so that hospital facilities are not overwhelmed. I found this graph at Steve Sailer’s post in Taki Mag.

The dreadful assumption behind this graph is that eventually everyone, or sixty, or eighty percent of the population will get Covid19. The purpose of isolation measures is to slow the rate of infection so that medical resources are not overwhelmed.

Here is Stave Sailer on the topic:

“Fortunately, a new idea has emerged from the data released last Friday on new coronavirus cases in Wuhan up through Feb. 18. Back in January, each person with the disease was passing it on to an average of 3.86 other people. An R0 (the “basic reproduction number,” which is pronounced “R-nought”) of 3.86 represents exponential growth nearly to the power of four, a catastrophic rate.

“Mathematically, as long as R0 is greater than 1, the epidemic spreads. When R0 falls below 1, however, it starts to die out.

“Via heroic shutdown measures (basically, confining most of the population of this huge city to their apartments), the Chinese cut the R0 in Wuhan by more than an order of magnitude down to 0.32. New infections fell by almost 95%.”

As Michael Osterholm said in the interview with Joe Rogan, this is not a Coronavirus blizzard, this is a Coronavirus winter. Expect months of this. Whether the measures of isolation that have been ordained will work, and will be sustained, is a matter of social discipline.

So far every social and religious organization to which I belong has shut down. There are no church services in my denomination, no Masonic Lodge meetings, no fraternal or voluntary gatherings. Meetings of the condominium have been cancelled. More will follow.

The response in North America has been fully compliant. We have evinced a great measure of social cohesion in obeying what will be seen in a short while to be a significant burden.

Just as Canadians were climbing out of our burrows and sniffing the spring air, we have been sent back for more winter. It is enough to try the souls of men, and more such trials are coming.

Heather MacDonald has never written anything so silly, but until you come to grips with the mathematics of airborne plague – the doubling time of infection – it seems plausible that we have over-reacted. We have scarcely reacted enough, according to the epidemiologists, and maybe we are in time.

Do we do more harm than good by closing schools? Discuss.

At the moment the only appropriate response to slowing the rate of infection is to slow the rate of human interactions. Thank God for the Internet, because you will be spending a lot of alone time in the coming months. PornHub’s offer of reduced rates to Italians was actually insightful and wise. Italy is our future. Empty shopping malls will be the new normal.

Cultural penetration

Two very Orthodox Jews perform a creditable “Shine on you Crazy Diamond” in Jerusalem, to the delight and amusement of the crowd. Cultural appropriation as it ought to be. Take the best and leave the rest.

Hat tip to Ghost of a Flea, which is always interesting.

Take a deep breath

I came across this paragraph as I ate breakfast this morning:

“In 1848, revolutions broke out again in Europe. For several years economic recession and hunger had provoked food riots in parts of Germany and France. By early 1848, almost a third of the workers of Paris were unemployed. In February, as the crisis rapidly worsened, the Parisians rose and overthrew the July monarchy”.

The citation comes from David Gress’ fascinating “From Plato to Nato: the Idea of the West and its Opponents” (at page 327).

Now that the Covid-19 plague is upon us, and as everything shuts down to slow the rate of infection, we can read paragraphs like that with fresh eyes:

hunger riots

one third unemployment

As recently as 1848!

Our current crisis is being met with cancellations of large meetings, shutdowns of sporting events, self-monitoring, isolation, quarantines, and concerns for whether the wine collection would last more than a week. My pension continues to arrive via electronic transfer. I may be seriously inconvenienced. Mrs. Dalwhinnie may not be able to visit some of her aged patients. The crisis is serious, but it not catastrophic.

In the duration I may finally be able to finish Gress’ book. It is highly recommendable for anyone whose interests include western civilization: does it exist? (yes) What does it stand for? (quite a lot) Has its meaning changed over time (yes). I thought I was learned in history before I read this book; clearly I was in error. Gress appears to have read and remembered everything since the pre-Socratics. A tour de force.

Disasters and alarms

  1. Let’s start with coronavirus. Imagine that within 18 months, 2% of humanity might have died from it. Exaggeration? Try this sober analysis from Richard Hatcher. Attack rates could be between 50 and 70% of global population. Death rates, even if low, may not mean that much if we all have to go into our cells and stay there.

Meetings are being cancelled, people are working from home, supply chains are being disrupted, businesses harmed, and things are not being done because of the epidemic. High rates of illness may be the more important aspect than the actual deaths that ensue. The disruption occurs when public assembly points are shut down: schools, theatres, shopping centres. The social isolation that people use to protect themselves generates most of the disruption. The combination of infectiousness and lethality has not been seen since the Spanish flu of 1918, which killed 50 million.

20% of people who are infected show no symptoms, hence they can roam freely. We have no built-up resistance to it, so the disease is new and may become endemic, meaning it will become a permanent feature of existence.

We may be experiencing something akin to the waves of plague and disease of the latter Roman Empire, when smallpox and other new diseases came out of Africa and killed large portions of the population. Kyle Harper’s The Fate of Rome must be read to appreciate that Rome fell under a series of blows of plague, and barbarian invasions driven by agricultural collapse caused by sudden global cooling around AD 400. It did not fall from one thing, but a combination of things. We may be at the start of a series of hammer blows that could disturb all the benign predictions ever made by Steven Pinker about the golden age we have been living in, or we may by contrast be at the start of a minor perturbation in the long run of history. Either way we are in for a tough year.

The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire (The Princeton History of the Ancient World)

The nature of exponential increase is explained in this youtube from 3blue1brown.com. Watch it for the mathematical truths that are explained.

Aside: I am not the first to observe that, when people believe there is a real risk, they act on that belief. When people are not persuaded there is a real risk, then no matter what they actually profess to believe, they act as if there were no risk. Think of Obama buying an 15 million dollar house six or ten feet above sea level at Martha’s Vineyard. Does Obama believe glaciers are melting? With one part of his mind he does. Does he believe his house will become unlivable as a consequence? Obviously not.

2. Then there is the collapse of investment in Canadian energy projects. This is not an act if God. It is a deliberate policy pursued by Gerry Butts and the Prime Minister. I need not write more about it here, you have seen the details in the papers.

3. The Indians of Canada have been deceived into thinking that they now hold the reins on economic development of natural resources, and perhaps they are right in that opinion. This is another man-made disaster of the federal Liberal party and its feckless leader, Justin Trudeau. The Indians, aided, abetted and driven on by anti-development leftists among Canadian whites, have not been resisted at any stage by the governments of Canada from an arrogant usurpation of the rights of their fellow Indians and ordinary Canadian citizens who favour economic development.

4. Oil price collapse. Russia is feuding with Saudi Arabia over oil production. The effect on US oil production, which has become highly dependent on shale oil, may turn out to be disastrous. Lower gas prices may not mean much when your schools are closed or when factories operate at far less than capacity because of supply chain disruptions caused by coronavirus. The effect on other oil producing countries like Iran or those in Africa, whose costs of production are high, will be severe.

Image result for breakeven oil price by country 2019

The breakeven price for Canadian oil sands is $70/barrel, according to the graph above. It is questionable whether the figure for shale oil is correct in terms of today’s technology. 96% of Canadian oil reserves are in the form of tar sands.

Conclusion

It has not been a good week, and it has not been a good month, and it is going to get worse.

Bloomberg, South Carolina, and the States generally

Mrs Dalwhinnie and I recently drove north from Charleston, South Carolina for several hours to reach the I-95. It was the most depressing landscape of poverty I can recall seeing. Crap towns. Abandoned stores with plywood for windows. No agriculture to speak of, just endless pine forests. Hovels, shacks, bungalows, trailers. Scarcely a middle class, well-maintained house, for hour after hour. Dozens of Protestant churches for every five miles of road. A dozen varieties of Baptist churches, some little better than shacks, one Presbyterian Church for the prosperous, and a few African Methodist Episcopal, which looked positively prosperous next to the Southern Baptist. Two hours of driving on secondary roads through this desolation was utterly weird.

Image result for south carolina pine barrens

Anyone who thinks the US is rich compared to Canada needs to contemplate places like South Carolina before they get too confident. The same poverty exists in New Brunswick too, but I have not seen poverty so extensive as that of South Carolina. The region is a pine barrens. We have something the same as when you drive from Ottawa to Peterborough on Route 7, and come across little shacks selling blueberries. But this is the result of no soil and bare rock. In South Carolina the poverty appears to be without geographic limit.

This brings me to Bloomberg’s spending $500 million on television ads.

Roughly $1.50, for every American: 500 divided by 327

The claim that this would have produced a million dollars for every American is a mistake. The actual amount of Bloomberg’s expenditure would be $1.50 per American, which could get them a Coke or something, and not a million per American, as the people on TV seemed to think. Innumeracy is growing as fast as ignorance, thanks to modern education.

As we drove north on I-95 and then I-81, we did not see prosperity thicken until Virginia. The Shenandoah Valley looks as rich and productive as good soils can make it. At the upper end of it, near Maryland, were huge factories and warehouses, probably serving the Washington-Baltimore-Richmond prosperity zone. Even former coal mining and manufacturing towns of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, and Binghampton, looked wealthy by comparison to South Carolina.

Mrs Dalwhinnie, who crossed the US in February, said that west of Iowa, a lot of the American West looks much like South Carolina: people living in trailers, scarcely any towns, Walmarts every third town serving as the only shopping available, and hard, hard lives.

These are among the people who will put Trump back into the Presidency. Life may be getting better for the lowest paid of the American population under his nationalist policies, but scarcely soon enough. For the well-off, they have only to look at their retirement savings accounts. They may not like Trump, but they like what he is doing for them.

https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2020/01/09/trends-in-income-and-wealth-inequality/

“On the outer edges of rationality”

Nutters will be nutters. Even a court ruling is not sufficient to get the UK police to consider they might be wrong. No evidence is required to establish a hate crime. Repeat – no evidence is required. How is the hate crime established? By the subjective state of any nutter that your post was “hate”.

Respect hereditary chiefs

Is this the only country in the world where such respect is shown to pre-feudal political organizations? A bunch of feathered and beaded aristocrats are taken more seriously than their elected rivals and the expressed will of their own tribe. Of course a majority of their subjects may not prevail against the will of hereditary Chiefs, can they?

Of course, the real reason for people supporting them is that the Chiefs serve the interests of Tides and the anti-development crowd. If the hereditary Chiefs were pro-development – as some are – they would be ignored by the likes of the Toronto Star and the protestors.

Their purpose is nothing less than the deligitimation of European settlement of North America, in which anti-development and carbon dioxide madness fit like hand in glove.

When are we going to have government leaders who boldly announce we shall not be governed by pre-modern tribal institutions of peoples who never got as far as metallurgy or the wheel?

When are we to have leaders who tell the Supreme Court of Canada that its talk of white racism is unacceptable?

Paul Canniff

Paul Canniff was the webmaster of Barrelstrength. He died of a sudden viral infection in Regina, Saskatchewan after being ill for a couple of days, scarcely fifty three years old. This is how I remember him.

“I met Paul in early days of the Reform Party in Ottawa, which was, as you can imagine, a minority taste for a government town. I was immediately taken by his immense cleverness and by his uncanny capacity to mimic and quote from every cultural motif of the past twenty years. Entire episodes of the Simpsons could be cited at will, in the right voices. He could put an audience into paroxysms of laughter when he was “on”, as he often was.

He was a new
kind of person to me: one who engaged with the world of computers to make a
living out of helping people put up websites. His work, in my direct experience,
was always precise, creative, and tasteful. I am not sure it has ever occurred
to him that many other kinds of mind are softer-edged and more tolerant of
error and imprecision. He was not tolerant of fluffiness in others because he
was not tolerant of it in himself.

If I may
speak the truth on this occasion, I came to realize over time that his early
years had left their scars upon him. He had emerged from difficult family
situation, one where his mother had been unable to provide a steady flow of affection
to her children equally, and where heavy dread may have been the normal state
of affairs. I do not know whether he was favoured or disfavoured by his mother
but he could not have had an easy time growing up.

He joined
the Masons at some point in his thirties and there he found the stability and
the explicit value system that did much to keep him on an even keel thereafter.
The formality of Masonry, and its explicit appeal to sanity of behavior, the
central idea that we are all building our temple, not to the self, but to make
a worthy place for God in our lives, as we might conceive him, and to be the
kind of person who can be approved of by the Great Architect: all these ideas held
him and cradled him and kept him from wandering off the path. He was a man for
whom Masonry was the true path of manhood.

He was also
assisted in Masonry by his quite phenomenal brilliance. We have all been impressed
at various times with his abilities to recite the various declamations and
orations of the Masonic ritual. These were but a small part of a mind that, in
former ages, cited books of the Iliad, or reams of poetry, or lore, from memory.
No small part of the charm of our institution is its emphasis on exercising the
skills of memory, in which he was a master.

I have seen
him up and I have seen him down. I have seen him both manic and depressed.  Paul’s was not an easy life. He faced it with a
courage that was native to his character. Whatever ailed him was external to
his true being. What assisted him was the Craft, its fellowship, and its essential
message.

Finally, when he was on, there was no one funnier. I still recall a party nearly thirty years ago when, as people are wont to do, they crowded into the kitchen. Paul picked up an empty wine bucket which amplified his voice and he spoke in deep tremolo. He imitated the voice of the monster in the first Ghostbusters movie, saying “There is no Dalwhinnie, only Zuul” and went on in this vein for a time. I started to laugh, and as he kept on, I was reduced to gasping for air. I had to crawl out of the crowded kitchen trying to clutch my ribs at the same time – I assure you it cannot be done – to recover myself in the living room. We cannot party like that anymore, being closer to seventy than to forty, and I miss those times and I miss the person he was then.

I hope you
in Saskatchewan were able to enjoy this wholly madcap side of Paul, and that he
had not suppressed it in later age, because his comic genius was as true of him
as was his more serious Masonic self.

Perhaps,
whether in Lodge or outside, you might devote yourselves to recalling this
wonderful man at his best. I will miss him. I am sure you will too. I can only
hope that at least a few of you got to know him at his best, because when he
was ‘on’ he was very, very good indeed.

Rest in
peace, my friend.

Dalwhinnie

And that, me lad, is all she wrote
On being made Master of the Lodge

The Buffalo Declaration: egalite ou independance

Canada is plagued with a gutless government of feckless Liberal nincompoops. Every bad idea of Trudeau the Lesser, and the consequences of those ideas: global warming, green energy, blockades of railways to protest pipeline construction, aboriginal rebellion, left-wing industrial sabotage – is coming home to roost. I see today the publication of the Buffalo Declaration. It may be the most significant document in the past twenty years of Canadian politics.

We are in a serious time, and fools in Parliament think they can sweet talk their way out of it, while still thinking they can shut down western energy projects on their way to net zero carbon emissions and gently remove pipeline protestors without violence in a month or two, after more “dialogue.”

The whole mess is the legacy of Gerry Butts, and the thinking he represents.

I join with others in thinking that Scheer has been at his best, and Peter Mackay has been weak and scared to put his foot wrong. By contrast, watch a real leader.

The Buffalo Declaration is found here. Read it, skim it, parse it. It is the sign of Confederation in crisis.

As Peter Zeihan pointed out five years ago, every single problem Alberta has would be instantly solved by joining the United States. Otherwise patriotic people are starting to think in these terms. I recommend you watch Peter Zeihan on Alberta so that you can understand the depth of the crisis. Said Zeihan “Four million Albertans are paying for 35 million Canadians and 8 million Quebecois” (included in the 35 million). Predicating Canada on soaking Alberta while strangling its economy is obviously insane, but this is what we are doing.