What I Took Away from the Weekend Horror Fest

I waited yesterday instead of writing a post.  I wanted to sift through my thoughts.

My opinion is we’re in a lot of trouble.  And I’m not talking about Democrats and Second Amendment attacks and presidential polls.  Put all that aside for a minute.

Connor Betts was 24.  Patrick Crusius is 21.  We have young men who are of an age where they should be enjoying life to its fullest.  Instead they’re flushing their lives down the drain in a senseless orgy of violence.  And it’s happening more and more frequently.  Without a doubt, the ones committing these crimes are the most damaged of their generation.  They are probably terrible misfits that don’t feel empathy and live inside the tiny world of their own thoughts.  There have always been people like this and there have always been crimes like these.  But nowhere near as many.

What I’m afraid we are doing is widening a window of people who can fall into this kind of trap.  Adolescence is a rough time, especially for males.  Without someone watching out for them it’s easy to get involved in destructive behavior.  And that someone no longer exists.  Nobody is watching out for these kids.  Mom and Dad are both working.  Many times, there isn’t even another brother or sister around to communicate with.  No one even knows or cares if they go to school.  Work doesn’t leave any room for these kids.  So, they spend their time on the internet or video games.  If they fall behind in school or get into trouble often the parents and teachers will paper over it and make believe that something didn’t happen or didn’t mean anything.

And in the last ten years we have added a new dimension.  The Millennials grew up in a world where there were no jobs to be had.  So, after spending twelve years bored in school, without a job you live in your parents’ basement and have no adult life or even prospects of it.  So, in addition to the truly disturbed individuals we are pushing the fragile normal people into the same place.  They’re angry and are looking for someone to punish for their wasted lives.

The mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton are, as always, shocking.  But what isn’t a surprise is that these two young men were dangerously mentally ill long before their rampages.  Just looking at the pictures and reading the accounts of their histories should be enough to convince people that what we have in this country isn’t a gun problem, it’s societal dysfunction causing a mental health emergency.  Look at the kid in Ohio.  The stories contain the fact that while in high school he had a list of kids he wanted to kill and a list of girls he wanted to rape.  If you’re the parent of this boy what else do you need to hear to know that your son is a ticking time bomb?  And maybe they did know.  And maybe it’s just where we are as a country that they didn’t know what to do.  What would I have done in that case?  What can be done?  These aren’t easy questions to answer.  But they sure do have to be answered.  We’ve got a whole continent full of young men growing up in a world that doesn’t value their talents and doesn’t have anything to keep them gainfully employed.  That is a recipe for extinction.

So other than a lot of talk, what does all this mean?  Well for the most deeply disturbed we have to stop thinking that antidepressants will allow criminally insane individuals to walk among us.  These people need to be institutionalized for life.  That’s for their own good but mostly for ours.

But for the run of the mill kid growing up in America there’s still plenty that needs to be done.  What my take away from this is spend a lot of time with your sons and your grandsons.  Don’t assume that just by keeping them in school and driving them to soccer practice that they’re okay.  Talk about the future with them.  Talk realistically and constructively about how kids transition into adults.  Know their friends.  Check their homework and see if they’re prepared for tests.  Pay attention!  Be aware of their activities on the internet.  Help them to socialize in a constructive way.  And don’t let them feel alone or bored.  A kid is better off with a manual labor job than sitting around alone all day.

You may think that these things only happen to the worst of the worst people.  But I don’t think that’s the case.  The world that we live in isolates us and destroys our communities, families and especially our sons.  Don’t let it.  Even the kids who don’t go off the deep end are struggling in an environment that’s almost unfathomable even for adults.  Help them!  Adapt to the problems, compensate for the dysfunctional arrangements we live under.  Save your kids.  They’re the only possession of value you have.

 

War Pig – Second Amendment and Gun Registration and Licensing

Ok, here’s one I recently wrote on the FoxNews site about the Second Amendment and gun registration/licensing.

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We don’t have to register to exercise our free speech (unless we’re conservatives on a liberal college campus). We don’t have to register or be licensed to enjoy freedom of religion, nor freedom of peaceful assembly.

I postulate that speech has killed more people than private citizen’s guns. How many people did Hitler kill, himself, I mean? How many times did he pull the trigger and take a life? No record on if he ever did it in WWI, and as far as we know, he only ever pulled the trigger on one person – himself. Yet he used words, speech, to create hatred for millions of people and gave orders, which are words, to exterminate over 6 million people who had no guns to defend themselves from his words. Sticks and stones may indeed break bones but words can cause a Holocaust.

If the pen indeed be mightier than the sword, then maybe we should start registering pens and speech, forcing practitioners of free speech whether verbally or in writing to comply with odious licensing procedures and taking away the pen and speech whenever someone waves a “red flag”. I bet you’d see CNN and MSNBC howl then.

The 10,000 Year Explosion – A Book Review

I just finished reading Gregory Cochran’s and Henry Harpending’s 2010 book “The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution.”  In some senses this book seems to be a rebuttal of Jared Diamond’s book “Guns, Germs and Steel, The Fates of Human Societies.”  Diamond’s thesis was that geography was the basis for all the differences between the levels of human technological progress across the world.  The underlying message of Diamond’s book is that all humans are exactly the same biologically.  An Australian Aborigone and Albert Einstein are equally likely to discover general relativity as long as they were both living in Eurasia at the right time in the right place.  In my review of Diamond’s book I stated that the results of geographic isolation clearly had great impact on the ability of neighboring peoples to benefit from the latest technological technology discoveries.  But I also doubted that this provided any proof that there were no meaningful differences between different human population groups.

“The Ten Thousand Year Explosion” is the answer to Diamond’s assertion on equivalence of human populations.  Cochran and Harpending provide a thesis on why human populations would differ and then a litany of examples of where they do.  The book is a fascinating story of how modern humans expanded out of Africa at the end of the last Ice Age and interacted and replaced the archaic humans who preceded them in colonizing Eurasia.  It is truly amazing that in a few short years Neanderthals and other archaic humans have gone from a few bones sitting in a museum display to creatures whose DNA can be compared gene by gene with our own.  Cochran and Harpending examine the genetic evidence and put forth the case that hybridization of modern humans with Neanderthals in Europe is the most likely explanation for the explosion of genetic and cultural changes that occurred when these two human populations interacted.  Their thesis is that the introduction of new alleles (genetic options) gave these humans added flexibility to adapt to their new environment and this led to selection for physical and mental characteristics that in turn gave rise to advances in agriculture, technology, culture and language.

Another message that Cochran and Harpending stress is that human evolution has not slowed even now.  A final example to reinforce this idea is the case of the Ashkenazi Jews.  Cochran and Harpending analyze the history of the Ashkenazi people and the genetic linkage between their higher average intelligence as a group and a number of genetic diseases that are linked to brain function.  He points out that these changes occurred in a period of less than a thousand years and are the result of natural selection reinforced by reproductive isolation and selective advantage based on occupation.

The 10,000 Year Explosion is a fascinating book.  You’ll learn that there literally was a tribe that gave rise to all the Indo-European speaking tribes (Celts and Greeks and Romans and Slavs and Germans and Aryans) and that this pastoral tribe went on to conquer and mix with people over half of Eurasia because they could digest lactose in milk.  And they were epic poets in Ireland, Greece and India.  The book is full of interesting facts and thought provoking ideas.  And I think it will convince most people that Jared Diamond is only looking at half the story by neglecting the genetic and other physical evidence about human history that is now available to scientists.  It turns out nature and nurture are inextricably linked and progress breeds change and vice versa.  We continue to change and to deny this is silly and counterproductive.

Guns, Germs and Steel – A Book Review

“Guns, Germs and Steel, The Fates of Human Societies” by Jared Diamond is an extremely interesting book about what factors might be responsible for the varied trajectories that technological progress has taken in different times and places and by different peoples around the world.

Diamond reviews the history of the two most advanced civilizations found on Eurasia, namely the Far Eastern Kingdom of China and the Euro-Middle Eastern complex of cultures that succeeded from the Sumerians.  He catalogs the series innovations that occurred since the end of the Last Ice Age that catapulted humanity from the Stone Age to the Space Age in the space of 13,000 years.  Now this sounds like a long time but compare it to the hundreds of thousands of years in which the only progress was advances in stone spearhead technology.

Next, we are walked through the other civilizations that existed around the world.  We meet the new world cultures in mesoamerica and the andes.  We follow the Austronesians as they go from Taiwan to every island between Madagascar and Easter Island.  We meet the various peoples inhabiting sub-Saharan.  And we meet the Australian aborigines and the inhabitants of the New Guinea highlands.  And we watch as these primitive cultures collide with the modern Europeans.  And we see how the Guns, Germs and Steel of the title decimate these primitive cultures.

And finally, Diamond explains how the vicissitudes of geography are completely responsible for the difference between Albert Einstein and Yali the genius of the New Guinea highlands.  Apparently we are all exactly the same.  I know this because Mr. Diamond repeats it liberally throughout the text just in case you aren’t paying close attention.

And I will admit that many of the points are very persuasive.  It is quite interesting how the Austronesian people developed along entirely different technological trajectories depending on what were the resources of the various islands they ended up on.  So, those that ended up on New Zealand or Hawaii were able to progress to agricultural societies while those on wretched dots of land like the Chatham Islands barely clung to life as hunter gatherers.  And the great advantages of inhabitants of Eurasia are fairly convincing.  Being able to borrow from civilizations in all directions around you surely helped the people of Europe to advance rapidly.  But when at the end of the book he hunts for a reason as to why European culture was able to outperform the Chinese and other Asian cultures in the colonial period he rather weakly claims that the comparative isolation of Europe due to the fragmentation into peninsulas and islands was the reason.  To me this seems to be a case of blowing hot and cold.  Or possibly the Doctrine of the Three Bears.  This place is too isolated, this place is not isolated enough but this place is isolated just right!  Seems a bit weak.

Well anyway, I learned a good bit about early human civilization.  I also found out that the modern Japanese came from the Korean people.  But I’m not sure I really believe that the Australian Aborigines are really that close to their own space program.  But Mr Diamond thinks they are.  Good luck with that.

It’s a good book and highly interesting.  I recommend it if you can ignore the virtue signaling.