Thursday, August 17, 2017


Here at the Spherical Model, we have an alternative to right and left, which could help during these times when the terms right and left are being used in absurdly inaccurate ways.

Fascism isn’t right; it never was right by any traditional uses of the term. Fascism is coercion to follow the directives of the people in power. It is totalitarian—which, in the Spherical Model is far south into statist tyranny.
The Political Sphere of the Spherical Model

Nazism is fascist. And specifically it means national socialism—coerced enforcement in which the state decided what people can do with their lives and their money, and even their thoughts. It is, by definition, far south into statist tyranny.

Neo-Nazism is a fringe group of haters who think it’s a good idea to play like Hitler and pretend they can coerce enforcement of statist tyranny—assuming, no doubt, that the fringe will be the ones wielding the power. And this fringe today, like Hitler of old Nazism, tends to be white supremacist. They actually believe the greatest qualifier is not what they accomplish, what they think or invent, or how they treat people—but something they have absolutely no control over: the amount of melanin in their skin.

What is the Alt-Right, then? It isn’t “right”; it is deep south into tyranny. It is essentially Neo-Nazism. It has nothing to do with what could be construed as right or conservative. It has nothing to do with believing “all men are created equal,” or that God has endowed us with basic human rights including life, liberty, and property, which are best protected by limited government as spelled out in the US Constitution. The Alt-Right is white-supremacist—something conservatives in our country have never been and cannot be.

Ben Shapiro, in Monday’s podcast, spent a few minutes defining Alt-Right for us (from 7:30-9:30 in the video):

What is the Alt-Right? The Alt-Right is marching in the streets. And the Alt-Right is supposedly… There’s a lot of misperception. People on the left are calling everyone on the right Alt-Right, and saying everybody’s a Nazi. It’s absolute garbage, Ok. The Alt-Right is its own movement. The Alt-Right is a group of white supremacists who believe, essentially, that western civilization is an outgrowth of white race, and that threats to white race are a threat to western civilization. That’s the basic premise of the Alt-Right.
Ok, a lot of people think they’re Alt-Right now, because they like memes, or because they believe in the god of Kek. Kek is the meme-ry that you see on 4chan and Reddit. And a lot of people who think that if they post a frog, that makes them a member of the Alt-Right. That’s not what the Alt-Right is.
The Alt-Right has a basic root philosophy. What happened over time is that the Alt-Right was mainstreamed by a group of people that decided to broaden the definition to include people who liked frog memes. OK, they decided to broaden the definition. And they used that broadened definition in order to make the claim, basically, that they were a big movement that had a lot of support.
And then you saw people like Donald Trump and Steve Bannon—yes, the president of the United States; yes, his chief strategist—give legitimacy to the Alt-Right and refuse to condemn them in the middle of the campaign, which gave them added impetus. And now you see them marching openly in the streets.
So, was Charlottesville Trump’s fault? No, of course Charlottesville wasn’t Trump’s fault, any more than what happened in Dallas a year ago was Barack Obama’s fault, when a guy who believes a lot of the slogans of Black Lives Matter went out and shot a bunch of cops. You’re only responsible for violence if you are rhetorically calling for violence. Trump has never done that. What he is responsible for, in some degree, is mainstreaming the Alt-Right, and not treating them as a cancer to be excised from the conservative movement that they really are.
I had to look up that bit about Kek and meme-ry, because I’m not a millennial. I read about it here, and it is summarized in this meme. It’s not germane to the discussion from here on.

What happened last weekend in Charlottesville began with an Alt-Right protest. The movement is so small that only a very few locals would have participated; the thousand or so had to be brought together from all over the country to make enough to get media attention. Their purported purpose was to protest any movement toward removing Confederate war memorials.

Without media attention, this event—and, further, the movement—would end “not with a bang, but a whimper.”[i] Instead, the media has used this fringe movement to try to claim every Republican, every Trump voter, is a raving, bigoted imbecile, in a misguided “leftist” effort to unseat our duly elected president.

Trump fights back, but gracelessly. That is probably a good summary of the man. Sometimes he says things that are true, and sometimes he does things that are right for freedom. But he seldom says or does things gracefully. We knew that well before the election.

Just as we knew president Obama was a black socialist SJW (social justice warrior) who would try to impose control over free people where he could, and would have a knee-jerk reaction against police and non-blacks and actual conservatives at every opportunity. The solution is to argue truthfully and wait out the length of his administration.

There are people, however, who refuse to do that with Trump in the White House. And they are easily stirred up.

Stirred up people went to Charlottesville to give voice in opposition to the white-supremacist fringe. Some of this opposition were well-meaning, but among them was a violent group calling themselves Antifa, which is short for “anti-fascist.” Their beliefs are a disgusting soup of SJW fanaticism and radical communism. Ironically, Antifa’s methodology tends toward violent imposition of their particular beliefs.

What was the definition of fascist, again? Fascism is coercion to follow the directives of the people in power. Antifa is fascist, not anti-fascist. They’re labeling any ideas they oppose as fascist, but they are using fascist methods to enforce their views.

Which is why the Spherical Model is so much clearer about these things. The Alt-Right is southern hemisphere statist tyranny. Antifa is southern hemisphere statist tyranny. They are not opposites; they are different flavors of the same thing—a small-stage replay of Germany and Russia in WWII.
Back to Charlottesville.
Fascism and Socialism are similar stripes
in the same zone of statist tyranny.

So, you allow a white-supremacist rally, lawfully exercising free speech, however distasteful. But you don’t also allow, in the same proximity, a violent fascist group that disagrees with that speech. At the very least, you keep these protest groups miles and miles apart, with a strong police force defending the lines they shall not cross.

That didn’t happen on Saturday. Both sides got violent. It looks like Antifa instigated the first violence. Then one lone wolf from among the Alt-Right upped the violence, using a vehicle as a deadly weapon, killing one woman and injuring several others.

Anyone, of any belief tribe, who uses violence to enforce their beliefs must be punished to the full extent of the law. That should happen for the killer, and also for any other violent demonstrators.

There is no civilization where hatred rules. The Alt-Right has no chance of either building or maintaining a civilization based on “my greatest contribution is my skin color.” Antifa has no chance of either building or maintaining a civilization based on “you must believe what I believe, or I’ll force you to.”

Both are ugly, savage, and tyrannical. Oscillating between one or another stripe of southern statist tyranny just ensures more tyranny, poverty, and savagery.

The way to freedom, prosperity, and civilization are known. We need people to choose the behaviors that get us there.

One heartening thing I saw was a story about a black man, Daryl Davis, who has spent decades befriending white supremacists. His question is, “How can you hate me when you don’t know me?” So he gives them a chance to know him, and they—on their own—give up their old beliefs.

I don’t know how he finds them. He’s a brave man. But I think he’s right: the way to get people to stop hating one another is to give them a chance to be treated like a friend by someone they have called an enemy. It sounds like a suggestion made in the Sermon on the Mount.

[i] T. S. Eliot, "The Hollow Men."

Monday, August 14, 2017

Iceland Has Cleanest-living Teens

I’m always in favor of moving toward civilization, along with freedom and prosperity. So when I see an example of where it’s happening, I get interested. That’s why I read a story about Iceland I came across this week (the story first appeared in January 2017). It seems they’re doing something right:

Many of Iceland's teens are involved in sports.
Image from here.

Today, Iceland tops the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42 per cent in 1998 to 5 per cent in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17 per cent to 7 per cent. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23 per cent to just 3 per cent.
The story is long, and detailed, about what they’ve been doing. So I’ll try to condense it, hopefully without leaving out essential information.

American psychology professor Harvey Milkman was involved in learning about drug addiction back in the 1970s. He learned not only why people would choose particular drugs, depending on their approach to stress, but also why they would continue. He figured out that people were on the verge of addiction before trying drugs, and then the addiction followed their style of coping. He published in his doctoral dissertation that heroin users wanted to numb themselves; amphetamine users wanted to actively confront it.  According to the article:

Milkman was instrumental in developing the idea that people were getting addicted to changes in brain chemistry. Kids who were “active confronters” were after a rush—they’d get it by stealing hubcaps and radios and later cars, or through stimulant drugs. Alcohol also alters brain chemistry, of course. It’s a sedative but it sedates the brain’s control first, which can remove inhibitions and, in limited doses, reduce anxiety.
So, if people were trying to change their brains, it seemed plausible that they would be willing to do things that would change their brains without the downside of using drugs or alcohol. That led him to develop a project of activities for teens that offer a natural high. By 1992 he was conducting a program in Denver, Colorado, called Project Self-Discovery, targeting youth in trouble for drugs and petty crimes:

“We didn’t say to them, you’re coming in for treatment. We said, we’ll teach you anything you want to learn: music, dance, hip hop, art, martial arts.” The idea was that these different classes could provide a variety of alterations in the kids’ brain chemistry, and give them what they needed to cope better with life: some might crave an experience that could help reduce anxiety, others may be after a rush.
At the same time, the recruits got life-skills training, which focused on improving their thoughts about themselves and their lives, and the way they interacted with other people.
Meanwhile, in 1991 Milkman got invited to Iceland, to see if he could share his research and implement a program there. Attention on his ideas grew, and change began with data gathering. Youth ages 14-16 filled out questionnaires with questions like:

Have you ever tried alcohol? If so, when did you last have a drink? Have you ever been drunk? Have you tried cigarettes? If so, how often do you smoke? How much time do you spend with your parents? Do you have a close relationship with your parents? What kind of activities do you take part in?
From this they learned what bad shape their next generation was in. But they also learned what activities did seem to work to divert young people toward better behavior. The full list of protective behaviors is something we ought to look at more closely:

[P]articipation in organised activities—especially sport—three or four times a week, total time spent with parents during the week, feeling cared about at school, and not being outdoors in the late evenings.
It’s not enough to just get kids involved in extracurricular activities. That’s helpful, but only within a setting that actually reduces teen stress. And, wouldn’t you know—it takes family.

The way Iceland has implemented their program is interesting. Normally I dismiss anything that is top-down and government controlled. (And I don't want to see yet another government program to control our kids' lives in this country.) But, with this relatively smaller, relatively homogeneous country, they have managed to get good results—not just by putting money into extracurricular classes, but by educating parents, encouraging and arranging for more family time, and getting more parental involvement in schools--things we used to see in this country some decades back.

They have continued to gather data with those questionnaires. So they have—if not proof that there is a causal relationship—evidence that the markers they were looking to improve are getting better and staying that way.

They have been able to export the questionnaire, and therefore various local versions of the program, in Europe and in countries across the world. And they have enough data now to show that what has worked in Iceland can work elsewhere.

Mostly, though, other places pick and choose what to do, leave something out—something important, like being required to be home in late evenings—and they get lesser results. Still, teen use of alcohol and drugs have trended downward wherever some form of the program has been tried.

Inga Dóra Sigfúsdóttir, who was voted Woman of the Year in Iceland in 2016, comments on her country competing well on the world stage in activities as diverse as football (soccer) and music. She says,

We learned through the studies that we need to create circumstances in which kids can lead healthy lives, and they do not need to use substances, because life is fun, and they have plenty to do—and they are supported by parents who will spend time with them.
I don’t expect this government program to be implemented in the US. It could be done at a local school district level, if enough resources could be put to it. But it isn’t really about a government program—whether that program works somewhere in the world or not; it’s about what is done in individual young people’s lives.

There are some non-governmental groups that have excellent success at keeping teens on a healthy path, even without Iceland's program. Among these is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which emphasizes family, and works with families to inculcate principles that lead to life happiness for all members.

There are going to be variations, of course. But we Mormons do involve our young people in a lot of activities that bring meaning and accomplishment. And we have set aside times for families to spend together. In a larger society, getting that family time is still going to cause some issues. But families regularly spend much of their Sundays, and also their Monday evenings together. Youth often get up early, before high school, to do scripture study together. Parents set examples by not smoking or drinking, and by serving in the home and in the larger community. And usually they encourage education and extracurricular activities.

Brigham Young University, my alma mater, sponsored by the Church, proudly holds the title Number 1 most stone cold sober university for 20 straight years. Students have the advantage of, not only having fun during their university years; they were thinking clearly enough to remember it. So the program extends beyond high school years.

This was in this week's alumni update, linked to here.

Another group with success is homeschoolers. Besides having better than typical success at getting into college, homeschooled youth tend to be involved in several extracurricular activities a week. And, by definition, they spend a lot of time with their families, with a lot of involvement and attention from parents.

So, it’s helpful to have the data of a government program. But it’s really about families doing what families must do to be civilized. Having a whole community agree on what that looks like is helpful. But no amount of government intervention and control can accomplish the desired ends without individual parents and families moving toward civilization.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Surprise at Old News

There was a surprising headline that showed up this week: “Gay teens have higher pregnancy rates than their straight peers” in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. I found the story retold at The Daily Wire. And that story linked to The Federalist as its source, which was an entertaining take, linking to the original. So the story is getting around. 

I guess that headline should be surprising, since, by some commonly understood definition, there’s supposedly no pregnancy-inducing sex going on among this demographic.

The pregnancy news, then, is surprising. But the information isn’t actually new.  Among the research I’ve accumulated over the past 15 years of writing in defense of marriage, some of these details have been around.

Here are the graphs illustrating the study, provided by the Star Tribune:

Self-identified homosexual teens (not questioning or bisexual) have pregnancy rates two to seven times greater than heterosexuals in their demographic. Science does not need to be thrown out the window; it still isn’t possible for two people of the same sex to engage in sexual activity that leads to pregnancy. The youth whose data are being analyzed have enough sex with the opposite sex that they are much more likely to get pregnant than their peers.

Around half of homosexual teens were sexually active, while around a quarter of the heterosexual teens were.

It has long been known that those who engage in sex with partners of the same sex tend to be more promiscuous—astronomically more promiscuous—than heterosexuals. According to a 2003 study in Amsterdam, where same-sex “marriage” was socially accepted, homosexual males are found to average 22 partners a year, or as few as 8 partners a year if “married.”[i] The CDC reported, in 1997, that 50% of male homosexuals had over 500 sexual partners. Among the first several hundred AIDS diagnoses, the average was 1100 lifetime partners.[ii]

The numbers for lesbians are a bit different. According to Robert Kronemeyer in 1980, “Lesbian relationships are likely to be more stable and lasting than those of males.” However, “Most of the unions last three years or less.”[iii] And Yvonne Zipter notes, “the lasting lesbian relationship” is a “mythic entity.”[iv] Lesbians, as a population, are measurably less promiscuous than male homosexuals, but they typically have many partners. Most have had sex with a male in the past year, including men who are high risk for sexually transmitted diseases. According to Katherine Fethers, et al., women who have sex with women (WSW) were likely to have 50 male sexual partners in their lifetime; the median for the control (women who only have sex with males) was 12,[v] so, more than four-fold.

The new study, then, isn’t news. But the perspective on teen pregnancy is new.

If we are to draw some conclusions from the science—as opposed to the anti-science politically correct assumptions—we would say that the “born that way” doctrine is still at odds with all the available and mounting data.

We can hypothesize (if allowed) that the entire LGBTQ mindset is much more mental than biological. While individuals of course differ, these groups tend toward multiple high-risk behaviors and mental pathologies. These include alcoholism, drug addiction, domestic violence, depression, suicide, and more.

By the way, the homosexual teen pregnancy study included info on drug and alcohol use, shown in this chart:

United Families International’s Guide to Family Issues:Sexual Orientation has a long list, all with references. Here’s one: 

According to a study in the Netherlands where homosexuality has been accepted and mainstreamed for years, homosexual behavior significantly increases the likelihood of psychiatric, mental and emotional disorders, negating the mindset that society’s lack of tolerance of homosexual behavior and lifestyle produces these psychoses. Youth are four times as likely to suffer major depression, almost three times as likely to suffer generalized anxiety disorder, nearly four times as likely to experience conduct disorder, four times as likely to commit suicide, five times as likely to have nicotine dependence, six times as likely to suffer multiple disorders, and more than six times as likely to have attempted suicide. (Study of 5,998 Dutch adults) Theo G. M. Sandforte et al., “Same-Sex Sexual Behavior and Psychiatric Disorders: Findings from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence” Archives of General Psychiatry 58, 10 (2001): 85-91.
If we could go back 40 years, before the American Psychiatric Association removed same-sex attraction from its almost endless list of disorders, for political rather than scientific reasons, then we might at least look at the LGBTQ mind as a marker for other mental disorders. Studies could be done. Treatments could be developed. People could be gently led away from self-destructive behaviors that will never lead to the contentment they seek.

Some have managed to leave the lifestyle and do much healing, in spite of the lack of professional support. I like this story, byJosh Weed

And, if we could go back, we would be free to return to protecting real marriage, which is the best way for humans to raise other humans. Best social design ever: Princeton sociologist Sara McLanahan sums it up:

If we were asked to design a system for making sure that children's basic needs were met, we would probably come up with something quite similar to the two-parent ideal. Such a design, in theory, would not only ensure that children had access to the time and money of two adults, it also would provide a system of checks and balances that promoted quality parenting. The fact that both parents have a biological connection to the child would increase the likelihood that the parents would identify with the child and be willing to sacrifice for that child, and it would reduce the likelihood that either parent would abuse the child.[vi]

[i] Xiridou, Maria, et al., “The Contribution of Steady and Casual Partnerships to the Incidence of HIV infection among Homoseual Men in Amsterdam,” 1029-1038 AIDS, 17 (7) May 2, 2003.
[ii] G. Rotell, Sexual Ecology: AIDS and the Destiny of Gay Men (New York, Dutton, 1997.
[iii] Kronemeyer, Robert. Overcoming Homosexuality, New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, Inc., 1980, p. 32.
[iv] Zipter, Yvonne, “The Disposable Lesbian Relationship,” Windy City Times, (December 15, 1986), p. 18, and see Zipter, a lesbian, in an article in Chicago’s gay journal for the quote.
[v] Fethers, Katherine, et al., “Sexually Transmitted Infections and Risk Behaviors in Women Who Have Sex with Women,” Sexually Transmitted Infections 76 (2000): 348.
[vi] McLanahan, Sara, and Gary Sandefur. Growing Up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps, Harvard University Press, 1994, p. 38.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Econ Lesson from the South Seas

Today’s post is a combination book review and economics lesson. I just finished reading The Ambassador’s Son, by Homer Hickam. Hickam is the author of Rocket Boys, which became the movie October Sky, about a boy who grew up to be a rocket scientist, which was all I had known him for. The Ambassador’s Son is the second in a series, coming after The Keeper’s Son, following main character Josh Thurlow and his friends from home, off the coast of North Carolina.

In this story, Josh Thurlow is a Coast Guard Captain stationed in the Solomon Islands during World War II. The timeline covers a couple of weeks shortly after the well-documented event of John F. Kennedy losing his PT boat, which was run over by a Japanese destroyer. When we meet him, Kennedy is waiting for court martial, frustrated and disillusioned with leadership who left him and his men without rescue but are fully ready to place blame.

Josh gets the assignment to hunt for a man who has disappeared and may have deserted. Thurlow has a Catalina, an amphibious plane, but he needs a ship to help with the mission. The injured and downtrodden Kennedy is the only option. And the ragtag crew ends up swiping a PT boat, since they can’t get one requisitioned or loaned to them. They alter it, get rid of the torpedo tubes, making it faster, and load it up with guns, turning it into a makeshift gunboat.

So, Kennedy is one of the main characters. Hickam adds a historical note at the end, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that the future president’s story following the night of the PT-109 was previously unknown: “I am proud to reveal here for the first time the adventure that saw him north to Noa-Noa. I suspect it was very nearly the last time John F. Kennedy was truly a happy man.”

JFK is not the only historic person in the book. There’s a poker game, during the quest to obtain a boat, in which Kennedy plays against author James Michener (who gets his book ideas, offhandedly, from one of Thurlow’s crewmen), and Richard Nixon, called Nick, a wheeler-dealer requisitions officer of the Sergeant Bilko type.

Normally this sort of coincidence would doom a book, but Hickam gets away with it, and somehow makes us willing to just go with it to see what happens.

Josh gets left on an island to interrogate the man who claims the possible deserter has run off with his wife. The Japanese control parts of the island, and an island girl appears to help rescue Josh. Many of the story’s surprises relate to this girl, and I don’t want to spoil. But her sister, appearing on another island, at a plantation where Kennedy is recovering from a head injury, says,

“My sister is very beautiful and knows how to kill a man, if she has to.” Kennedy thought that was a comment one would not hear too often in Massachusetts regarding one’s sister (p. 283).
Eventually Josh is led to meet a chief named Joe Gimmee—who is the father of the girls, and a big power on the islands. Joe Gimmee is the source of our economics lessons. When they finally meet, Joe Gimmee asks Josh some puzzling questions. (I’m quoting a few pages from the novel, which makes this post long, but it’s easy reading):

How do you get your treasure?”
“What do you mean? Josh asked, taking his cap off and placing it on the blanket beside him.
“Your boat, the food you eat, the clothes you wear. How do you get those things?”
Josh scratched his head. “Well, it’s all government issue.”
“Explain government issue, please.”
“That means the government gave it to me.”
“Did you pray for it first?”
Josh stared at the old man, trying to figure him out. But then he remembered that Joe Gimmee was Penelope’s father, and the likelihood of figuring anyone out in that particular family was probably going to be remote. “Praying ain’t required, Joe,” Josh finally answered. “Paperwork, that’s the ticket if you want the government to issue you anything.”
“Do you think I could get this paperwork?” he asked.
“I suppose you could, but it wouldn’t do you any good. You have to be authorized to make a requisition from the government.”
“How do I get authorized?”
“Well, you’d have to be in one of the armed services of the United States.”
“May I join one of those services?”
Josh rubbed the old polar bear scar on his chin. “I doubt it. With all due respect, you’ve got a few too many years on you.”
“How about Ogomo? He is young and healthy.”
Josh shrugged. “I don’t think we’re recruiting Solomon Islanders just yet.”
“He’s Australian. His mother was a white woman who entered my life for a brief time.”
“Sorry, Joe. It don’t matter. He can’t join.”
Joe Gimmee chuckled, then looked slyly at Josh. “I knew you would not allow him, for he might discover the great secret if he did. For many years, the people of the Solomons have watched the English received many treasures, and we have asked them again and again how this occurs. They always lie. For instance, when I asked Minister Clarence where his tins of food and his metal cooking pots and his Bibles came from, he said he prayed and God provided. But I knew that was false. The people of the Solomons have prayed for many years, but the gods have never provided anything for us, save the hot sun and rain. Or perhaps those things that were meant for us were intercepted by the English. I stole a cooking pot from Minister Clarence, just to see if that was true. I knew the gods had meant for me to have it as soon as one of my wives used it for cooking.”
“That’s crazy talk, Joe,” Josh said.
“Is it? I traveled to Australis to see for myself. I took a job on the docks moving cargo here and there. Sometimes, it was stacked in warehouses. Other times, on trucks or ships. It went here, it went there. I asked the English blokes and Aussie mates where did all these things come from, and how do you know where it goes, and who gets it? They showed me paper, or simply waved their arms and talked very fast. Once, a crate was dropped and from it spilled many very fine dishes and cups, all with wonderful designs on them. I asked those blokes how these dishes and cups were made, and how the designs were put on them that could not be rubbed off no matter how hard I tried. But they could not tell me. I knew then that the gods must have made these dishes and cups. How do I know for certain? Because the men who are given them do not know how they are made. For instance, do you know how the uniform you wear is made? How did it get that color and that tight, perfect weave, impossible for even the most talented woman to sew? Tell me exactly, please.”
Josh looked at Joe Gimmee and considered telling him a lie, but the old man’s eyes, deep and luminous and intelligent, were unsettling. He was certain that he’d be caught in any fib he tried. “Joe, I don’t know much about cloth,” he confessed. “There are sewing machines, but I’m not sure how they work. That don’t mean the gods made my uniform.”
Joe Gimmee laughed good-naturedly. “White people are all excellent liars. But I don’t blame you. If I knew the great secret, I would keep it to myself, too. Yet when I was in Australia, I began to divine the truth, and then one day it came to me. First, special places must be constructed to receive treasure. The proper ceremonies must be performed. All this is done, of course, to please the gods. Then, and only then, will the treasure be delivered.” Joe Gimmee leaned forward and inspected Josh’s expression. “I am very close to the great secret, aren’t I?”
“Joe, you’re not even in the ballpark,” Josh said, shaking his head. “You want cooking pots, or even a truck? Get yourself some money and you can buy anything you want. That’s all it takes.”
“How do I get money?”
“For money, you have to work.”
“I wondered when you would mention money and work in the same breath. The English always got to that, eventually. It was their way of making the Solomon Islanders do their bidding. But you have already admitted you get your treasure without money or work.”
“Joe, I work for the federal government, don’t you see? It’s like this big man gives me stuff, and working ain’t always required.” Josh thought about what he’d said, then added, “Forget that last part.”
“How can I forget it when you nearly told me the truth? By the way, I saw many times treasure delivered to the plantations without ever seeing any money handed over.”
“They’d likely paid in advance,” Josh muttered. He was glad he’d taken his cap off, though he was ready to throw it across the hut. Joe Gimmee had him all tied up in knots (pp. 278-280).
Joe Gimmee was part of a cargo cult, which was a real thing. They believed the gods would bring them goods (cargo), if they just did the right things to please the gods. So Joe Gimmee creates an airstrip by cutting down a coconut palm plantation on the island of Noa-Noa, sets the date and time for the ceremony, has his people all wear some tiny bit of US military gear they have scavenged, put up a homemade US flag (sort of), and look up in the sky.

It turns out a plane arrives. It is Nick (Richard Nixon), who has arranged to be there to trade whatever the islanders have made for various goods. He sells the souvenirs to the servicemen back on the island of Melagi.

After the exchange—which to Joe Gimmee looks like the gods did exactly what he prayed for—the chief asks for economics truth from Nixon, and gets a pretty good answer:

“It was good to do business with you, Joe,” Nixon said.
Joe replied “When I heard of you, I knew you were especially loved by the gods.”
“Oh, yes, indeed. They love me like a son.”
“I did as you asked,” Joe said. “I brought the people together with all the things they make.”
“Yes. Well, thank you.”
“And now I would ask you to do something for me.”
“Anything, Joe. You just name it.”
“You brought us treasure from the gods because we built this airfield. But others of my people have built airfields and nothing has come. And they have built docks with the same result. And they have built warehouses, yet they were not filled. What is the great secret? What do you do to get your treasure? Tell me, so that we may have treasure, too.”
Nixon gave it all a good think, then wiped the sweat from his face with a handkerchief produced from his hip pocket. “I think I see where you’re coming from, Joe. You just want a piece of the pie. Can’t blame you for that. If I were in your situation, here’s what I’d do. First thing, I’d study up. Education, that’s the ticket. Science, the arts, and economics. Lots on economics, Joe, you savvy? Then, I guess the next step would be to get control of your own affairs. Can’t do much when somebody else is running the show, now can you? My own country used to be owned and operated by the English, too, but we finally wised up and threw them out. Didn’t take us long after that before we were fat and happy. Lots of education and kick out the Johnny Bulls. That’s my advice.”
“Splendid!” Joe exclaimed. Then he faltered. “But how do we do that?”
Nixon gave it some more thought. “Education’s easy enough,” he concluded, patting his damp brow with his handkerchief. “To teach yourself, just start reading every book you can get your hands on. For the kids, start setting up schools, but make sure you hire the teachers and have them teach the importance of being free. Then you ought to form a political party and get ready to declare the Solomon Islands independent as soon as this war’s over.”
“Nick!” Kennedy blanched. “You’re talking about a revolution!”
Nixon shrugged. “Well, we did it back in 1776. Why can’t Joe and his folks?”
Joe grinned. “I should have known the great secret would be complex, but I promise to follow your advice” (pp. 314-315).
Joe Gimmee seems to miss the obvious: you make something, or offer a service, someone else wants and trade it for something you want. A lot else comes into it—figuring out what you can do that people value, figuring out supply and demand, getting resources, using time efficiently.
But wealth doesn’t just come down from the sky—or from the government. As we say at the Spherical Model,

Wealth is not some mystical entity endowed by either government or birthright. Nor is it something that the haves enjoy by depriving the have nots of their fair share. Wealth, simply, represents the accumulation of the results of labor.
What struck me as humorous is that economics lessons often use simple societies, like Robinson Crusoe’s island, to teach the basics. (See here, and here.) But in this story the islander hasn’t yet grasped the basics.

Maybe we could extrapolate, and notice that there are people in our own society that think about wealth in superstitious rather than truthful terms. Education—that’s the ticket. Lots of economics. And teachers that them the importance of being free. If it will work on an island, maybe it will work in America.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Worse than We Imagined, Part II

Sometimes it’s prudent to fact-check the fact checkers.

This Snopes headline came to my attention:

Reading, Writing, and RuPaul
Reports of revised curriculum standards for Washington state led to false rumors claiming that schools there will be teaching "transgenderism" to Kindergarteners.
That relates to what I wrote in my last post, “Worse than We Imagined.” So I began to read, wondering if I had missed something and would need to write a retraction.

But Snopes is…not fully accurate.

They claim that the Daily Caller article on Washington State Board of Education changes to standards to include teaching transgenderism to kindergarteners is “mostly false.”

Image from here

The original Daily Caller article actually begins with this: 

By fall 2017 Washington state public schools will begin teaching gender expression to kindergarteners under newly-approved health education learning standards that designate sexual health a “core idea” of public K-12 education.
Here is what Snopes says is actually true:

Washington State has released updated curriculum guidelines in 2016 that include directives regarding gender and gender expression.
So, Snopes agrees with the Daily Caller so far.

What they don’t seem to like is the conclusion drawn by the Daily Caller opinion piece, that teaching “gender expression” to kindergarteners can easily be construed to mean teaching “transgenderism” to kindergarteners. Snopes says the guidelines don’t actually use the word “transgender” except in the glossary section.

But why would they include transgenderism in the glossary (on page 53 of the .pdf file) of their standards if they did not assume it would come up? The word itself may or may not be used in kindergarten. The state standards writers seem less concerned about the teaching of the word transgenderism than they are about the teaching of the various ways gender can be expressed— which, of course, to them, must include transgenderism, else why change the standards?

The Daily Caller article included the link to the .pdf file (which I also linked in Monday's post and above), and Snopes shows page 29, which is at issue—below.

Snopes uses this to show how overblown the Daily Caller claims are. But I look at the chart and see that the Daily Caller point of view is totally justified.

One point the Snopes piece makes is that the standards are not curriculum; curriculum and lesson plans decisions are made at the local school board level. But, to fact-check Snopes, that’s not entirely accurate.

It has been a long time since I worked as a curriculum writer. I worked in California, writing hi-low textbooks; that is, high interest level (middle school to high school) but low reading level (around second grade). I didn’t write for kindergarten, or even for elementary school. But I think some practices translate across grades.

I wrote mostly government and civics related books and workbooks. But one big project was a biology text (which I did not complete at that job). A publisher looks at who is most likely to buy. The biggest markets then, and probably still, were California and Texas. As a writer I referred to the California and Texas standards; they were different in significant ways. For a biology text, human reproduction had to be handled very differently for the two markets. A publisher might decide to aim for a California market or a Texas market, or might do separate versions, with different chapters for materials for which the standards were disparate.

It was unlikely that a publisher would do a special version of a text just to fit Washington State standards, or Utah standards, or Mississippi standards. The other states would look at what was available and choose from among the variety of available materials—which had been aimed mainly at the California or Texas markets. On the topic of transgenderism, Washington State would probably choose materials aimed at the California market.

Smaller niche marketers, often coming from interest groups, might provide supplemental materials on certain subject matters, and try to sell those to individual states or school districts. (We’ll talk about one of these below.)

In Texas the SBOE does not write curriculum; it reads it and deems it acceptable or not. Then local school districts can adopt what they choose. Local school board members, who are unpaid for their school board work and probably make a living elsewhere, are unlikely to read every text. They might have committees set up to do that. The committees might include community members and parents—or, more likely, they include only teachers and administrators. (I have known parents who volunteered for this work in Texas, because Texans are proactive that way.)

Parents who disapprove typically get involved after they see the chosen materials and then must work to get something inappropriate removed from their schools by going through a long and challenging process.

So, when the Daily Caller says that the standards changes, which clearly include talking about “gender expression” to kindergarteners, might be a way of teaching the LGBTQ agenda on transgenderism, that isn’t alarmism. It isn’t making things up. That is likely to happen across the state—unless parents become aware and speak loudly their disapproval.

The Daily Caller article was originally written in June 2016, shortly after the standards changes were announced and approved. The hope is to get enough attention so that parents can prevent implementation of things they do not want their children to be taught, so those materials will not be forced on them by fall 2017, which is now upon us.

By the way, who might be one of the special interest groups offering materials they hope the schools will teach? Planned Parenthood might be one. In my last post I mentioned obscene materials they were trying to force on teens.

Two days ago I came across a story about Planned Parenthood’s new guidelines for talking to
Image from here
preschoolers about sex. These include, "Boy, girl, man, and woman are words that describe gender identity, and some people with the gender identities “boy” or “man” have vulvas, and some with the gender identity “girl” or “woman” have penises/testicles. Your genitals don’t make you a boy or a girl.”

This differs from their previous guidelines (which also include vocabulary not normally used by preschoolers): "I’m a woman—a girl who is all grown up—so I have a vulva instead of a penis. And you’re a boy, so you have a penis instead of a vulva."

Body parts don’t tell you anything anymore, they say. Because of new science? Of course not. Because they’re pushing an agenda. And they’re aiming it at our children. We can also assume they’re using taxpayer dollars to produce the indoctrination.

Will this new Planned Parenthood preschool material make its way into elementary schools in Washington State? I have no idea. But they meet the new state standards.

So, until the Washington State standards are changed back to something closer to sane reality, assume the standards changes likely means that confusing, biology-denying lies, along with immoral values, are going to be foisted upon your children—unless you stand up and refuse to let that happen to your children.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Worse than We Imagined

I have a good imagination. But imagining the ugly, savage, creepy, disgusting—I don’t spend a lot of time doing that.

So I didn’t imagine that things would get so bad so soon.

Washington SBOE seal
image found here
Let me share the easier bad news first. This is from schools in Washington State, where we lived when my kids started school. The Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has put out a new set of Health and Physical Education Standards. They begin their 126-page document with this reassurance:

The 2016 Health and Physical Education K-12 Learning Standards were developed collaboratively with teachers, administrators, subject matter experts, state and national association, and stakeholders in health and physical education. Teams of Washington state health and physical education teachers started working on drafts in September 2014 with the aim to develop the most comprehensive, relevant, medically-accurate, and inclusive set of health and physical education learning standards for our state.
That is to reassure you parents, who were NOT consulted and were excluded from the process, don’t worry; experts are in charge.

Here’s what the experts are planning for Washington children:

·         Beginning in Kindergarten, students will be taught about the many ways to express gender.  Gender expression education will include information about the manifestations of traits that are typically associated with one gender. Crossdressing is one form of gender expression.
·         Third graders will be introduced to the concept of gender identity.  These children will be taught that they can choose their own gender.
·         Fourth graders will be expected to “define sexual orientation,” which refers to whether a person identifies as heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual; they’ll also be taught about HIV prevention.  Children in fourth grade will be told that they can choose their sexual orientation.
·         Fourth and fifth graders will learn about the relativity of gender roles and why such roles are social constructs that are not inherent to who we are as male or female human beings.
·         Seventh graders will be expected to “distinguish between biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.”
·         High school students will critically “evaluate how culture, media, society, and other people influence our perceptions of gender roles, sexuality, relationships, and sexual orientation.”
In case you, as a parent, are confused about terms, they provide a glossary. [The definitions below were reported by The Daily Caller, but the link to the glossary was no longer available.]

Gender: “A social construct based on emotional, behavioral, and cultural characteristics attached to a person’s assigned biological sex.”
Gender expression: “The way someone outwardly expresses their gender.”
Gender identity: “Someone’s inner sense of their gender.”
So, kindergarteners will be told they don’t know what “boys” and “girls” are, that it’s up in the air, and they ought to go ahead and try out being something they are not, or invent something that is neither boy nor girl and be that.

And fourth graders, who are still in the stage where the opposite sex has cooties, are being told that they might be homosexual if they do not feel attracted to the opposite sex.

Parents are, of course, outraged. Back when we had children in Washington schools, I met personally with the health teacher to go over the curriculum and verify that it met my standards, and that she shared my values. I could have opted out if I had not felt comfortable.

Parents worry that is no longer the case; the LGBTQ agenda is being incorporated fully into the entire health education curriculum. So it’s not a matter of sending a child to the library during the teaching of a particular lesson. It will be multiple days, in multiple ways, over multiple years from K-12.

School board member John Torre claimed parents will be able to opt out, “including the sexual orientation and gender identity lessons.” But Torre also told the Washington Times, the proposed curriculum changes (put out in March, approved in May) have nothing to do with the previous week’s vote to allow boys who identity as girls to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice. That’s just an unrelated coincidence.

Andrea Lafferty, president of Traditional Values Coalition, one of several opponent groups, said, “They are not being forthright with the information. They are not telling people the truth.  They are bullying parents. They are intimidating and they are threatening.”

Meanwhile Torre admits that he cannot provide either the science behind the curriculum changes, or examples of lessons; those things have not been written yet.

I might remind you that schools originally took on the role of informing children about sex for the purported purpose of preventing out-of-wedlock births. And I’ll repeat one of the Spherical Model maxims:

Whenever government attempts something beyond the proper role of government (protection of life, liberty, and property), it causes unintended consequences—usually exactly opposite to the stated goals of the interference.

There’s another, related piece of news that goes beyond what I could imagine. It’s about Planned Parenthood, that bastion of savagery that exists because of taxpayer dollars. I am going to have to quote from an article, because I could not make this up, and I fail to be able to put it in my own words:

Pro-life advocacy group Live Action released a second investigative video on July 15 showing what Planned Parenthood “counselors” teach minors in the name of “sex-ed”: sexual bondage and sadomasochism, and steering them to sex stores to “get educated.” In the latest video, a Colorado counselor told the Live Action investigator (posing as a minor) that “sexual exploration is normal”—and went so far as to suggest defecating and urinating on men as an option. Really. Only conservative media found the film worth reporting….
According to the counselor, “sexual exploration” is “normal” and “can be really fun.” For ideas to imitate, she referenced 50 Shades of Grey as well as porn. She even offered some creative techniques of her own: “There are so many different fetishes out there,” she stressed. “Like, some guys like for women to urinate on them” or “pooping.”…
During a “Hannity” interview on July 15, [Live Action President Lila] Rose, elaborated on Planned Parenthood: “Their interest is not protecting these girls. Their interest is abortion and in pushing a sexual ideology—a sexology—that's very destructive and dangerous on our teenagers.”
Obamacare provided this particular Planned Parenthood with additional funding for educating teens. That means in schools. Rose encouraged parents to contact their principles and school superintendents to find out what their school’s relationship was with Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood Houston
image from here

That is a good first step wherever you are in the country. We think our schools are somewhat safe from such indoctrination here in Texas, because we are vigilant. And yet the huge Houston Planned Parenthood office is guilty of selling baby parts (another abomination I couldn’t have imagined until proof was placed before us), but they were temporarily successful in getting the reporters prosecuted, rather than the actual perpetrators. The reporters were eventually exonerated, but no real justice has been done yet.

I’ll say one more time, homeschooling is a lifestyle choice worth looking into. If there is any way you can do it, your family will benefit—both educationally and socially. If you are in an area where schools are already imposing this savage, anti-family doctrine, you must find a way out now.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Some More Political Philosophy

I was listening, last night, to the latest Uncommon Knowledge interview, with Sir Roger Scruton of Great Britain. He specializes in political philosophy, which is what we do here at the Spherical Model.
Sir Roger Scruton
photo from Uncommon Knowledge

Host Peter Robinson describes his way of thinking like this:

I take it that you decided that you intended to work in the tradition of Aristotle, philosophy as it bears on ordinary political life. Is that correct?
And Sir Roger Scruton answers,

Well, yes. I've always thought that philosophy has ordinary life as its subject matter. That's what it's about. But it's also a reflection on ordinary life and its meaning.
Philosophy in those terms, instead of, “I wonder if I can prove whether this tree really exists,” seems more likely to be fruitful.

He particularly got my attention when he was talking about former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher:

Sir Roger Scruton: She came into our lives as a representative of our country at a time when the country looked particularly enfeebled by the trade unions, by the whole labor party attempt to rope society into a communal prison run by the state. All that was wonderful. We felt, we don't actually have to go along with all that crap. We can do our own thing. And we can revert to our natural condition as rebellious, eccentric Englishmen. But she felt that she had to embellish it with a complete doctrine, which she borrowed from the Institute of Economic Affairs, and about the need for market solutions to every social problem. Now, I'm all in favor of market solutions where they apply, but not every social problem does have a market solution. There is a need for the maintenance of traditions in education and in culture and in the law, which are not traditions of free enterprise.
They continue this conversation:

Peter Robinson: Again, [Scruton’s book] How to Be a Conservative. "Pressed for arguments," I'm quoting you, "Mrs. Thatcher leaned too readily on market economics, and ignored the deeper roots of conservatism in the theory and practice of civil society ... " You've just said this, but I want to tee it up again. " ... family, civil association, the Christian religion and the common law were all integrated into her ideal of freedom of the law. The pity was that she had no philosophy with which to articulate that idea." She felt it. She knew it. But she had not thought it through in a way that permitted her to articulate it. Here's Mrs. Thatcher.
Now, if I may go a step backward, and I am doing something very dangerous, because my knowledge of this history is tenuous. Yours will be deep. Winston Churchill had the capacity to articulate this deeper conservatism. Throughout the war he's talking about love of native land. He uses the phrase ... He actually uses the phrase, which would today have the man thrown in jail. He uses the phrase, "Christian civilization." Yet, in the 1945 election, in the face of the socialists, because he lacked a vocabulary to talk about free markets, he was naked before Attlee and this socialist impulse.
So what I'm getting at is, it almost seems to me as though there's a kind of ideological teeter totter. Conservatives in Britain either get to talk about free markets, or they get to talk Churchill, McMillan, Eden to the extent that he talked about anything. Heath later on. Or they get to try to talk about cultural conservatism. Somehow, the two don't seem to go together. Is there some reason for that, or is it mere happenstance?
Sir Roger Scruton: That's a very insightful observation. I think since Edmund Burke, we've had this tension between the adoption of the free market as the instrument of economic organization, the primary way in which a society should create and exchange goods, and the sense that some things should be withheld from the market, and that those things are just as important but much more difficult to defend.
Of course, Burke was talking about those things which should be withheld from the market: love, family and so on. All societies have recognized from the beginning of history that a market in sexual relations is the end of all social coherence. It's always very hard to say why. That's just one example. All the things that matter to us, as soon as we recognize how much must they matter, we want to withdraw them from the whole business of exchange and proliferation and, as it were, have them to ourselves. It's that aspect of humanity which is so difficult to articulate. But as you rightly say, Churchill did articulate it. And does it so much easier when it's under threat.
Hmm. So, we have free-market conservatism, and we have social conservatism. And we should mention that this is within the frame of thought that the people are choosing how they will be governed—which is what we call classical liberalism, but since the term liberal has been hijacked to mean its opposite, we mean freedom of limited government, as guaranteed in the US Constitution.

So there’s a political sphere, an economic sphere, and a social sphere. To be conservative, then, is to reach for political freedom, economic prosperity, and social civilization. The opposites, whatever words they use today—liberal, socialist, progressive—reach for political control over people, or tyranny: economic control over people, or poverty; and social decadence, or savagery.

The Spherical Model is a way of saying that these three spheres of conservatism interrelate. To be an economic conservative only is to be incomplete. To be a social conservative only is to be incomplete. To expect freedom without a free economy and a self-governing people is an impossibility.

Later in the conversation, they were talking about cultural issues, particularly concerning sex, marriage, and family:

Sir Roger Scruton: We all of us fall away from the standards that are required in this area. That is undoubtedly the case, because this is the biggest area of temptation. But it is also the biggest area in which examples are needed, and in which a culture of resistance is needed. That culture of resistance was absolutely vital to the protection of the working class family, and especially of children who need a father at home and have lost that protection.
It is undeniable that it's liberal propaganda which has made it almost impossible to say those things. It's not possible to say the things that are needed in this area, unless your Charles Murray and don't care what's said about you anyway.
Peter Robinson: Or Sir Roger Scruton.
Sir Roger Scruton: Yeah.
Peter Robinson: That makes two of you.
Sir Roger Scruton: Yeah. Exactly. The point is, it's an area in which the truth has been made unsayable by the liberal censorship.
When pressed, he said that liberal censorship is a main reason Donald Trump was elected:

Sir Roger Scruton: People have been living under a regime of liberal censorship, which makes it very hard to say things without being accused of faults like racism, xenophobia. You yourself mentioned this, which nobody wants to be accused of, but which are very easy to—  These are accusations, which are very easy to make, because there's no criteria on the basis of which to make them, other than the feelings involved.
We do, as individuals, have non-mainstream-media outlets. Like this blog. I can say here what Charles Murray and Sir Roger Scruton say, but I am only safe from the accusations while I am obscure. Even so, the accusations sometimes come. I will nevertheless keep speaking truth as clearly as I can, because I love truth.

I just want to add one more of his comments—this one about immigration issues, particularly illegal immigration. He has a way of making the issue clear:

Sir Roger Scruton: You have a house, which you share with your wife and children, assuming you have them. You do recognize the right to keep out of that house people whom you've not invited in. Don't you?
Peter Robinson: I do.
Sir Roger Scruton: Having invited people in who start smashing things up, you recognize a right to exclude them?
Peter Robinson: I do.
Sir Roger Scruton: Yeah. Just multiply that by a few hundred thousand, and you'll recognize that people taken as a whole have that right. That is another part of democracy, that we live in a place. We have the right to exclude from that place those whom we think are not going to fit into it or to whom we don't want to extend a welcome. If we didn't have that right, we wouldn't feel secure in occupying the place that we claim as ours.

Political philosophy has the means to explore the ideas, and find the truths—aside from the push and pull of political waves. While we still have to function in a political world, at least we can have the depth of understanding that explains what it is we conservatives want to conserve.