Saturday, October 22, 2016

Immigration and Emigration in Germany

The website Zero Hedge has a dispiriting piece about what's happening in Germany as a result of Chancellor Angela Merkel's immigration and refugee policies that have resulted in an influx of over a million Muslims in the last two years. Here's a summary of the Zero Hedge report:
  • More than 1.5 million Germans, many of them highly educated, left Germany during the past decade according to the newspaper Die Welt.
  • Germany is facing a spike in migrant crime, including an epidemic of rapes and sexual assaults. Mass migration is also accelerating the Islamization of Germany. Many Germans appear to be losing hope about the future direction of their country.
  • "We refugees... do not want to live in the same country with you. You can, and I think you should, leave Germany. And please take Saxony and the Alternative for Germany (AfD) with you.... Why do you not go to another country? We are sick of you!" — Aras Bacho an 18-year-old Syrian migrant, in Der Freitag, October 2016.
  • A real estate agent in a town near Lake Balaton, a popular tourist destination in western Hungary, said that 80% of the Germans relocating there cite the migration crisis as the main reason for their desire to leave Germany.
  • "I believe that Islam does not belong to Germany. I regard it as a foreign entity which has brought the West more problems than benefits. In my opinion, many followers of this religion are rude, demanding and despise Germany." — A German citizen who emigrated from Germany, in an "Open Letter to the German Government."
  • "I believe that immigration is producing major and irreversible changes in German society. I am angry that this is happening without the direct approval of German citizens. ... I believe that it is a shame that in Germany Jews must again be afraid to be Jews." — A German citizen who emigrated from Germany, in an "Open Letter to the German Government."
  • "My husband sometimes says he has the feeling that we are now the largest minority with no lobby. For each group there is an institution, a location, a public interest, but for us, a heterosexual married couple with two children, not unemployed, neither handicapped nor Islamic, for people like us there is no longer any interest." — "Anna," in a letter to the Mayor of Munich about her decision to move her family out of the city because migrants were making her life there impossible.
According to the article, a growing number of Germans are abandoning neighborhoods in which they have lived all their lives, and others are leaving Germany for good, as mass immigration transforms parts of the country beyond recognition.

Given that Hillary Clinton has announced that she wants to increase our own refugee numbers by 500% we can anticipate that what Germans, Swedes, and other Europeans are experiencing today, we may very likely be experiencing tomorrow.

Yet it seems as unnecessary as it is foolish. Just as there are ways to help the homeless without inviting them to live in our own homes there are surely ways to help those fleeing war without deeply disrupting and forever altering our own culture by bringing them into our country (See here, for example). Perhaps when the results of Europe's experiment with immigration become more widely known our politicians will reconsider the course they've set us upon. If they don't, then maybe we'll all have to learn to speak Arabic.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Stanley Kurtz at National Review tells us a bit about Robert Creamer, a convicted felon and Democratic operative who works behind the scenes to orchestrate violence at GOP rallies so that Republicans will be blamed and discredited.

Kurtz writes:
In 2007, Robert Creamer published Stand Up Straight! How Progressives Can Win, a tactical handbook for the left that he wrote while serving a prison term for tax evasion and bank fraud. Creamer’s advice on how to handle conservatives (pp. 74-6) makes for interesting reading about now:
In general our strategic goal with people who have become conservative activists is not to convert them—that isn’t going to happen. It is to demoralize them—to ‘deactivate’ them. We need to deflate their enthusiasm, to make them lose their ardor and above all their self-confidence…[A] way to demoralize conservative activists is to surround them with the echo chamber of our positions and assumptions. We need to make them feel that they are not mainstream, to make them feel isolated… We must isolate them ideologically…[and] use the progressive echo chamber…By defeating them and isolating them ideologically, we demoralize conservative activists directly. Then they begin to quarrel among themselves or blame each other for defeat in isolation, and that demoralizes them further.
Despite, or maybe because of, his sleazy tactics Creamer has been welcomed at the Obama White House almost 342 times since 2009 and met with President Obama almost 50 times. He unknowingly admits to his gutter tactics in the video below.

Please don't watch the video if you're likely to be offended by vulgar language. I issued this same caution concerning another video that featured the same cast of characters on Wednesday, but that video exposed the attempts to fraudulently get ineligible people to vote. This video exposes the attempts to foment violence and make it appear that it's Republicans who are guilty. I'm very reluctant to post material that features people who insist on repeatedly dunking us into a septic tank, but this is so important that I felt it should be posted:
The Daily Caller has more on Creamer and his dubious dealings and history.

It should be astonishing but isn't that the mainstream media hasn't been showing these videos on a continuous loop for the past week. They certainly would be if Creamer and his henchmen were Republicans, but because they're working for Hillary - with her knowledge, Creamer avers - the media simply looks the other way. Much of the major media have turned themselves into a North American version of the old Soviet news agency Pravda, serving as little more than propaganda organs for the statist party.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Cicero's Warning

Here are words of a man who lived over two thousand years ago in circumstances not too dissimilar from those we find ourselves in today. His words might cause us to pause and reflect. The man is Marcus Tullius Cicero, one of the chief citizens of Rome in the first century B.C. and one of the most famous of all Romans. He writes:
A nation can survive its fools and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself.

For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.
I hope Cicero was right that a nation can survive fools and the ambitious. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure he's right that a nation cannot survive corruption that starts and spreads from within. When the pillars of society, the institutions that bind us together and strengthen us as a people, are undermined we become like a massive tree that's hollowed out by years of internal decay and which crashes to the ground in the next strong wind.

When people are conditioned by those who want to see us fall to lose trust in their government, their courts, the news organizations and the free market, when our citizens are encouraged to no longer value family, church, school and the Constitution, when everyone is propagandized to believe that all that matters is their own personal happiness and that the way to achieve that is through accumulating consumer goods, entertainment and pleasure, then we, like that tree, like ancient Rome, will be too corrupt to withstand stresses imposed from outside.

One way to avoid that fate is to recognize that there are many voices out there whose rhetoric is designed to erode our confidence and faith in the institutions that made America great (I apologize if that sounds Trumpian. I don't mean it to.). The second thing is to stand up to those voices or stop listening to them altogether. The third thing is to get about the business of repairing the damage that has been done to those "pillars of the city."

If enough people commit themselves to this project then perhaps we can avoid the fate that Rome suffered. If not, if we lose the will to resist, as Cicero puts it, then how will we keep the human wolves at bay?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Four Small Steps for Saving Friendships

Mary Tillotson at The Federalist discusses four things we should all keep in mind as the election gets closer and our political conversations get more intense and perhaps more heated.

She opens by noting that,
1 in 14 Americans has apparently lost a friend over this election. While this year seems especially awful, 7 percent seems to be a fairly stable number of friendships fracturing during election years.

Somehow, only 70 percent of respondents say this year’s election has brought out the worst in people. Maybe that’s because fully 30 percent “feel that the harsh language used in politics today” is justified.

It’s unfortunate, because if there’s one thing we ought to be able to agree on, it’s that we could use a little more civility in our civic conversations. So here’s a guide I hope people on both sides of the aisle—and anywhere in between—can use to keep their conversations civil, their friendships intact, and, therefore, their country strong.
I list her four recommendations here with a brief note about each. She goes into more detail at the link:

1. Believe in the other person's good intentions: This, Tillotson states, is the first important principle of civility: believe in good intentions. Even when people are objectively wrong they probably have good intentions underlying their opinions. That doesn’t make them right, but it does make them worth respecting and listening to.

2. Keep an open mind and reject polarization: If you never honestly consider others’ opinions, Tillotson believes, your mind will shrink and become its own little echo chamber. Listen to your interlocutor. Plan to learn something. Put yourself in his or her shoes and consider a perspective you hadn’t thought about before. Maybe there is a valid concern that you weren’t aware of and is bringing you to different conclusions. That may be true vice versa, as well. Political issues are complicated, and different policies affect different people in different ways.

3. Remember your priorities: Consider whether your friendship or your political opinions are more important. Is your friend’s one vote going to change the course of American history? For that matter, is your friend likely to vote the way you vote after you’ve fallen out over politics? If anything, your friend is probably less likely to agree with you after a fight.

4. Keep it off Facebook: Social media probably isn't a good venue for having a productive political debate. In fact, because it's so public, it may be the worst venue if we're interested in persuading our friends and keeping them as friends.

Tillotson gives good advice. Check out the whole article at the link.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Is the Fix In?

Donald Trump has had a rough couple of weeks, some of it deserved, some of it completely unfair.

An example of the latter was the blowback from his threat to prosecute Hillary for her manifest crimes. Ordinarily such a threat in the midst of a political campaign would at best be unseemly, but given the fact that Democrats have so often shown no reluctance themselves to use the law to intimidate or punish their political opponents the unseemly aspect of this is, in fact, the hypocrisy of the left's faux indignity over Trump's threat.

Trump has also taken a lot of flak from the media for his assertion that the coming election is rigged. Well, whether it is or not, it's certain that there's plenty of potential for electoral fraud as these stories from Indiana, Texas, and the nation as a whole illustrate.

And here's some icing on the fraud cake from The Federalist.

In any case, even if there really is no significant fraud in November it's not because the Democrats aren't trying. Undercover journalism by James O'Keefe's operatives reveal in the following video some of the egregious attempts by Democrats to manipulate and cheat the system to get illegal residents to the polls to vote.

I have to warn you, though, the language used by these people is as vulgar as their ethics. Please don't watch the video if you'll be offended by obscenity and sleaziness:
Meanwhile, the left continues to resort to violence against the Trump campaign with hardly a peep of outrage voiced by our media. Not only are Trump supporters attacked at rallies, but, in good brown-shirt fashion, Trump campaign offices are being vandalized and firebombed.

And these are the people who tell us that Trump lacks the temperament and character to be president. Well, I don't argue with that, but look at the people who are offering themselves as the alternative.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Nature of Time

The class discussion recently turned to questions concerning the nature of time and a student dug out this post from 3/7/2014. Since it addresses some of what we talked about in class I thought it might be worthwhile to run it again:

Anthony Aguirre at Big Questions Online discusses the two theories of time. His discussion is difficult to follow unless one is familiar with quantum mechanics and relativity theory, but he does give a clear explanation of the two basic theories on offer. What he calls below the "Unitary Block" theory is sometimes referred to as the B-Theory of time. What he calls the "Experienced World" is the A-Theory.
When we step back, we thus seem to have two rather different and contrary views of time’s nature. In one, the ‘Unitary Block’, spacetime and quantum states are laid out ‘all at once’, specified once and for all by some set of boundary conditions. Everything at any time is uniquely determined by — and thus implicitly contained in — any other time, and the world exhibits no distinction between past and future.

At the same time, the ‘Experienced World’ we actually inhabit and observe has a very clear distinction between past, present, and future, produces entropy, and allows branching between a single present reality and several possible future realities.

Among knowledgeable and thoughtful people, there seem to be three basic views of this paradox:

1.The Unitary Block is the fundamental, and by implication more true description; things such as the arrow of time, definite experimental outcomes, etc., are emergent phenomena that, if we only could make precise enough computations, could be reduced to ‘nothing but’ the fundamental description.

2.The Unitary Block is wrong in some essential way. A more correct view would be much more like — and much more readily reconciled with — the Experienced World.

3.The Experienced World is more fundamental than the Unitary Block, which is just the correct description of regularities in the Experienced World in very particular regimes.

View 1 is by far the most common amongst my theoretical physicist colleagues, but I’ll make three arguments as to why we should think carefully before embracing it.
His arguments for considering the Experienced World (A-Theory) to be fundamental can be read at the link. One might wonder why scientists even think there is a Unitary Block. The answer has to do with Einstein's discoveries about relativity:
Right now, this second, an old man is exhaling his last breath. Elsewhere, two young lovers exchange their first kiss. Farther afield, two asteroids silently collide. Sunrise comes to a planet orbiting a neighboring star. This very second, a supernova detonates in a faraway galaxy.

And yet ‘this very second’ across the universe apparently does not really exist! Our best fundamental theory of space-time, Einstein’s Relativity, expressly precludes a single, objective definition of simultaneity. Events occurring ‘now’ by one observer’s estimation can — with equal validity — be said to occur at different times according to another observer who is far away and/or in motion relative to the first.

We don’t notice this issue much here on Earth, but it becomes very obvious for example in cosmology, where how one defines ‘now’ can determine whether the universe looks uniform or not, and even if it is finite or infinite!
It's all very fascinating stuff with fascinating implications. For example, if the Unitary Block theory is correct I'm not sure what sense it makes to talk about the age of the universe. Every moment of time would have come into being at the instant that the universe was created. If that's so, then what does it mean to say that the universe is 14 billion years old?

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Fortunate Universe

Two Australian cosmologists, Luke Barnes and Geraint Lewis, have published a book on the fine-tuning of the universe. The book is titled A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos and it explores the implications of cosmic fine-tuning.

By fine-tuning is meant that there are numerous parameters, forces, and values that comprise our universe which, if they were even minutely different than what they are, the universe would either not exist at all or not be the sort of place where life could exist. In some cases the fine-tuning is calibrated to a precision which boggles the mind.

If, for example, the initial expansion rate of the universe at the time of its origin had varied by just one part in 10^120 the universe never would have formed. To give an idea of how enormous this number is, and thus how precisely set the expansion rate must have been, there are about 10^80 atoms in the entire universe.

No one questions that the universe is fine-tuned, but since a finely-tuned universe has profound implications for one's metaphysics, particularly the question of whether the universe is intentionally designed or not, and since the notion that it's designed is repugnant to naturalistic materialists, three alternative possibilities have been advanced to account for the universe's breath-takingly precise constants.

Lewis and Barnes have put together a short video to introduce their book and give a brief summary of each of these alternatives. Take a look:
For a list of some of the parameters and constants that are agreed by most scientists to be fine-tuned, and a lucid explanation of each, see the article by philosopher of science Jay Richards here.