Thoughts and Prayers to Boston

SODOM & GOMORRAH: Three explosions went off in Boston during the marathon. Thoughts and prayers to the runners, fans, and families of those there.

Far from shocked at such acts, we merely reflect at how persistent and heinous the forces of chaos truly are. It is tragic that this should strike at all, much less at an event where people celebrate  the conquest of ourselves in the pursuit of a an external noble goal.

No firm word on who is responsible yet. Personally I sense an individual at work; a group would have owned it by now.

Chalking Justin Bieber’s Anne Frank Comment to Age is Insulting

cukuskumir, Flickr.

cukuskumir, Flickr.

SODOM & GOMORRAH: We don’t usually follow pop news on this site, but this particular event seemed over the top.

While on tour in Germany, Justin Bieber left a somewhat controversial comment in the guest book of the museum. He wrote, “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.” For those not in the know, a belieber is someone who is a fan of Justin Bieber. There was the expected outrage.

Many wrote on the museum’s Facebook page comments in disgust. Various words have been used to describe the comment – they range from insulting, insensitive, selfish, shocking, vile, and some have called Bieber a “shallow doofus.”

The museum itself is just happy to have someone famous come by and give it publicity so they are certainly not saying anything bad.

The outrage has been followed up by some questions about if people were being too hard on Bieber for his comments. Anne Frank was, in many respects, an average teenage girl and might have been a fan of the pop star’s.

@simonpegg even wrote on Twitter that Bieber’s comments can be attributed to age. He’s 19 and 19 year olds say stupid things.

I find that to be slightly insulting.

First off, age is not an excuse for a lack of intelligence. Plenty of 19 year olds say intelligent things, just as plenty of 70 year olds say unintelligent things. To say that, at 19, you are probably not smart enough to know that you shouldn’t make selfish remarks at a museum honoring someone who died in a death camp flies in the face of the way our laws are structured today and the way human society has functioned for thousands of years.

People are often married, raising children, and running a family at 19. Others are fighting and dying in wars at 19. Still more are drinking and gambling (in some places) at 19. To say that at 19, when Justin Bieber has had a large hand in creating his massive and lucrative entertainment brand, Bieber can just be excused for making ridiculous remarks is a bit of a cop out.

Do I think we should censure Bieber and never allow him to live down the remark? No. Do I think this is proof of Justin Bieber’s lack of intelligence and sense about how the world functions? Yes, but I thought he was a “shallow doofus” before he visited the Anne Frank house.

Margaret Thatcher’s Funeral to be Held

Margaret Thatcher's Funeral to be Held

roberthuffstutter, Flickr.

SODOM & GOMORRAH: Margaret Thatcher, the only female Prime Minister to have held office in Great Britain, passed away earlier this week. To mark the solemn event, more than 700 members of Britain’s armed forces will play a role in the ceremonies.

David Cameron, the current head of the Conservative Party and the Prime Minister confirmed that Margaret Thatcher’s funeral will honor her role as a war-time leader. Thatcher, who is famously credited with helping to end the Cold War, also successfully defended the Falkland Islands against Argentina’s forces.

Margaret Thatcher’s funeral will begin with the coffin being taken by hearse to St. Clement Danes in the Strand. There the coffin will be carried on a gun carriage by six horses, accompanied by a sergeant, and officer, and three dismounted foot troops. Members of the Honorable Artillery Company are set to fire processional rounds from the Tower of London.

When her body finally reaches St. Paul’s Cathedral, it will be greeted by several members of the serving armed forces. The steps of that great church will be lined by 18 members, divided into three groups of six to represent the Royal Air Force, the Blues and Royals, and the Royal Navy. Also represented at the site will be the Chelsea Pensioners, the Royal Marines, the First Batallion Welsh Guards, and the F Company Scots Guards.

Margaret Thatcher’s funeral will mark a solemn remembrance of the Iron Lady who was famous for doing battle with labor unions and communists alike.

NASA Corrupts the Youth

Luke Bryant, Flickr.

Luke Bryant, Flickr.

SODOM & GOMORRAH: With the recent expansion of China’s space program, many in the United States are angry that President Barak Obama has cut so much funding from NASA. Being a very contrarian site, Restorus would suggest that Obama’s cuts haven’t gone far enough: the entire manned space program needs to be shut down today.

Note that I did not say that just the government run space program needs to go, nor did I say that the entire space program has to be shuttered, but I did say that the entire idea of sending people into space is a bad one.
In Search of Archimedes

Archimedes wrote that he could move the whole earth with a lever if he just had a place to stand. Manned spaceflight has essentially given human societies access to that Archimedean Point. While not a literal position that we can stand, the inspiration to change the world into our image became a more believable fantasy when we were able to see the planet as an entirety from space.

While the notion of being able to change the world however you want may sound impressive, admirable, and fun, it’s not something human beings are capable of and it’s certainly not anything we’ve ever experienced in our condition before.

Humanity is always limited – we only live for so long, everyone we love will die, we require food and sleep, our memory fails, we are faulty. For millennia this has been a fundamental, unchanging fact of human existence. Those who sought to build towers to heaven or be as gods found themselves either cast down or facing the same mortality as everyone else.

Only with the advent of modernity and the belief in the eternal progress of humanity did the idea that we can transform the world, including ourselves, become mainstream.

Many thinkers could afford to be skeptical and still be considered legitimate authorities in their field. They could point to the strange and bizarre fantasies of utopias where we all lived forever and were as smart as Aristotle, and where the oceans were made of lemonade. Pressing the utopian intellectuals on these points was often enough to win the argument in front of the average person.

But now, we seem to have found that Archimedean Point in space. Those who question the idea of being able to totally transform the earth, those who would suggest that humanity will never achieve a fleshly immortality, are no longer legitimate thinkers to the average person. The skeptics and the realists are driven into seclusion and silence. They are always met with the photographic claim, “But we put a man on the moon, we can do anything!”

We must always remember that the material space of this planet has been an immutable part of the human condition. If we somehow reach a point where it isn’t, then are we still human?
Broken Windows Abound

Most people won’t care about spaceflight being a philosophical and cultural death trap. Philosophy hasn’t been taught in several hundred years, and most of us sold our souls a long time ago. What those trapped in the narrow paradigm of our age (they call it being open-minded) see is money, and there are plenty of economic arguments against a government run space program.

The advances in science, jobs, and so forth comes at the expense of other expenditures. As Rothbard pointed out, every tax is a tax on production. By taxing the public to fund a space program, the government decreases the production of other things that would have been made or invented had the tax not existed. Also, by then taking that taxed money and using it to buy ceramic tiles, rocket fuel, metal, land, buildings, concrete, and everything else you need to run a space program, the price of those goods goes up pushing other private players out of the market.

For those in the United States who would like their country to stand on par with China, they should advocate for more budget cuts across the board. NASA is just one piece of the bloated government that should go. Maybe then America could be secure in its ability to innovate better than the Chinese.

Elf Boulder to be Moved

Keebler. These kinds live in trees though, not boulders.

Keebler. These kinds live in trees though, not boulders.

SODOM & GOMORRAH: Sometimes I wish other countries’ politics were this exciting. Also, sometimes I wish reality didn’t mirror The Onion.

Árni Johnsen, an MP for Iceland’s Independence Party, has made arrangements to relocate a giant boulder to his home Höfðaból in the Westman Islands. Johnsen believes that the boulder is home to three families of elves, which he first encountered in 2010.

While driving an SUV through Sandskeið on Hellisheiði in southwest Iceland, Johnsen had a fairly serious car accident and his vehicle landed near the giant boulder some 40 meters from the highway. The boulder would reportedly be damaged or moved during a highway project, so Johnsen decided to arrange for it to be moved near his home after consulting with an elf expert.

The expert was stunned by the boulder, saying that she had never seen three families live in one dwelling like this. Johnsen and the expert concluded that the elves would be happy with the move so long as the “window side” of the boulder had a decent view.

Johnsen also plans to move the elves in a basket made of sheepskin while their stony home is transported by ferry. He intends to place the stone near a grassy area since the elves intend to raise sheep once they get settled in.

All in all, Johnsen is quite lucky. This group of elves apparently prevented serious accident, while other groups in Iceland have taken to sectarian violence when humans come too close to their homes.

Innovations in Online Education

Caitlyn Willows, Flickr.

Caitlyn Willows, Flickr.

SODOM & GOMORRAH: Innovation and education are two topics that usually inspire fear and dread in the far right, yet these developments show some signs of positive change.

Peter Klein at the Mises blog discusses some new innovations in online education that are taking place. In particular, Klein points out how organizations like the University of Phoenix have empowered people to advance and how models such as the Mises Academy have challenged the traditional university structure.

Some other organizations have also dedicated significant resources to bringing quality instructional courses online at either a low or free price. For instance, Udacity has been set up to provide free computer science courses to anyone who wants to learn programming. Udacity’s founders say that anyone and everyone should have access to advanced programming courses if they have the desire to learn.

Modern tools are often distrusted by people like me. The far right tends to view such things as inherently biased or dangerous because most of the time they’re employed toward evil ends. I would contend, however, that technology in and of itself is fundamentally neutral. Like a hammer, a vehicle, or anything else, the internet can be used for good or for ill.

While I suspect that many of the innovations in online education are going to be used for progressive ends – since almost everything is used for progressive ends because almost everyone is a progressive these days – I feel that the platforms and tools that are being developed can be used to empower contrarians to create their own innovations in online education. What I mean is, the far right can adapt to this new space and create structures that will educate others.

Do you see the potential for a far-right Udacity to provide free or low-cost education in the spirit of reactionary ideas?

More Migrate to Singapore

williamcho, Flickr.

williamcho, Flickr.

SODOM & GOMORRAH: More and more people have begun to migrate to Singapore as the island country begins to appear more desirable than alternatives.

 

About Face for Facebook’s Co-Founder

 

Facebook’s co-founder, Eduardo Saverin, has just renounced US citizenship as he migrates to Singapore for an “indefinite period of time.” According to an IRS list, Saverin renounced his citizenship last September.

 

This article from Yahoo notes that Singapore doesn’t have a capital gains tax and Saverin is not required to report certain foreign earned income. His stock options from Facebook are estimated to be worth several billion dollars.

 

Severin doesn’t escape unscathed, however; he will still face an exit tax from the United States on his stock options. Yet because he is exiting prior to the IPO, the valuation of his options will probably be much lower than they are going to worth when he sells them.

 

The Yahoo article notes that 1,780 Americans renounced their citizenship, up significantly from the 235 who did so in 2008.

 

Healthy Environment for Medical Research

 

The Singaporean government has worked to capitalize on the willingness that educated Westerners have for emigration. Over the past few years, the city-state has been actively promoting the establishment of a medical research hub.

 

To date, Singapore has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Dr. Jerip Susil, the Assistant Minister of Public Health, says that the government has been very active in creating a friendly space for medical innovation, international conferences, and medical tourism. New open medical centers have been constructed to make room for the growing number of people who find it less expensive and more beneficial to their health to migrate to Singapore and other countries for medical care.

 

Dr. Jerip says that the innovation that comes from the medical industry will positively impact other markets as well.

 

Many well-known hospitals and doctors in the region have begun working with and in Singapore to deliver quality healthcare and new technologies.

 

Singapore is the World

 

New York City is often touted as the capital of the world, especially in terms of finance and creativity. Now, Singapore is being branded as the world of creativity.

 

Fredrick Haren moved to Singapore from China and says that the city is a city in the world, not a city in a country in the world. Whatever sort of new age progressive hocus pocus is at work here is beside the point; Haren makes some interesting points about Singapore’s creative environment.

 

  • The country provides a better quality of life. Haren reports that it’s far easier to live a healthy lifestyle in Singapore because the tools and nutrition are close by.

 

  • Singapore is open to new ideas. People tend to be more receptive to new approaches, though one article suggests that they’re somewhat risk-averse.

 

  • Other ideas are more accessible. It’s very easy to find people with different perspectives.

 

The Singaporean Miracle

 

Singapore is listed as one of the richest countries in the world, despite being one of the smallest. The country exports more high tech products such as those relating to aerospace, computers, pharmaceuticals, and the like.

 

After starting out as hardly anything more than a swamp in 1819, Singapore has grown into a spectacular example of what decent government and a business-friendly regulatory environment can do for a country.

 

With over 90% of the population being property owners and the crime rate being phenomenally low, Singapore remains a bright spot in an otherwise dark world – and a constant lure for people with the means to move there.

More Children Born Outside of Marriage

jcoterhals, Flickr.

jcoterhals, Flickr.

SODOM & GOMORRAH: We have likely reached the point of no return for the American family. More women under 30 are giving birth to children outside of marriage than not.

The New York Times touts it as the “new normal.” For the first time, more than half of the women in the United States under 30 are having children born outside of marriage. Child Trends, a Washington-based research group analyzed government data and found that the fastest growth in out-of-wedlock births has occurred among white women in their 20s who have some college education, but no four-year degree.

59% of mothers of all ages were married when they had children according to 2009 data. But there has been a very large surge of young mothers having children born outside of marriage. Close to 70% of children born in the United States are born to women under 30. The surge of children born outside of marriage to mothers under 30 marks a very stark decline in American society.

Marriage has effectively been ruined. The social atomization caused by the influence of hedonistic ideologies is creating a generation of people who float through a series of relationships that lack any real commitment. The Times suggests that the root problem is a lack of education, but researchers have long ago pointed out that higher education is correlated with lower birthrates overall.

Children are being adversely impacted. Researchers have consistently demonstrated that children born outside of marriage are more likely to be poor, fail out of school, and suffer behavioral problems.

The trend is clear. The lower class in America are continuing to have children born outside of marriage. The upper class are continuing to have fewer and fewer children. The future is one full of a small group of rich, stable people educated in progressive schools and a mass of poor people kept out of stable, public life.

New Poll: Marriage On the Retreat

epSos.de, Flickr.

epSos.de, Flickr.

SODOM & GOMORRAH: Wait, I thought the promotion of feminism, gay marriage, universal education, etc. all had a nil or positive effect on marriage? It seems we were lied to.

A new Pew Research Center poll shows that only about half of US adults are married, which is the lowest percentage point the country has ever seen. Pew says that marriage has been “in retreat” for 40 years and that the recession has accelerated its decline. Marriage is less likely to play a central role in our lives and is less likely to impact our children’s perception of family.

Pew notes that 72% of adults were married in 1960. Since then that number has dropped to 51%. Adults in America are also putting off marriage, saying that they spend their 20′s trying to “find themselves” and have decided to marry at a later age. Cohabitation (called “living in sin” in the old days) and single parent households have become more common. Getting married and becoming a parent are increasingly being viewed as separate activities. In 2010, 40% of Americans said that marriage was becoming obsolete.

What this points to is another element of growing social atomization. First (at least to my knowledge) hypothesized by Aristotle, breaking up the social fiber of a society is the prerequisite to tyranny. The family has always been the basis of a healthy society. With its decline, people are less connected to each other, don’t trust each other as much, and have less loyalty to any existing community. Tyranny has been classicaly defined as the rule according to a person’s or a people’s self-interest rather than to a higher standard of good. Since the 1960′s, there has been an almost complete penetration of the tyranny of selfishness and social atomization.

What Can “The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time” Tell Us About Politics?

SODOM & GOMORRAH: Amidst my conspiracy for world domination and right wing restoration, I sometimes play video games. Sometimes.

The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time is, perhaps, the first 3D Zelda game. Made for the Nintendo 64, an ancient behemoth of a gaming system (it uses cartridges, gasp!), the storyline follows Link as he does what Link is wont to do. He must rescue Princess Zelda, defeat the evil Ganondorf, and save Hyrule from certain destruction. In the first half, Link is a child and must collect the three spiritual stones for the Princess, after which he must go to the Temple of Time to unleash the legendary Triforce so that Ganondorf may be defeated. But Link is fooled and Ganondorf takes the powers of the temple for himself while Link is trapped inside for seven years. After seven years, and in the second half of the game, Link must awaken seven sages who will unleash even greater mystical powers to seal away Ganondorf.

So aside from me reliving the past by playing the game once more, what can we learn about politics?

  1. The forces of evil stand for chaos. Likewise, the forces of good stand for order. Ganondorf brings evil and disorder to Hyrule. The hero must combat the disorder, which manifests itself as disrupted prosperity, chaotic natural events, etc. Whether it’s Goron Mountain losing its supply of food or Zora’s Domain freezing over, chaos reigns supreme when evil takes over.
  2. The hero’s task is to restore order. Link must restore order and when he defeats various manifestations of evil, things are restored to their previous state. There is no progressive ideology in Zelda; things are set to what they once were.
  3. Artistic and cultural development occur with the side of good, not evil. The culture from which Gandondorf emerges is built on thievery and deceit. That of Hyrule produces the magic and music that enables Link to fight evil. He Hyrulean culture builds tools that aid the hero in his attempts to restore order. As it is with the forces of the Right as they use the tools of traditional culture to fight the forces of disorder that threaten their lives.