Another Good Reason Why They Filmed Lord of the Rings in New Zealand

It seems that it, too, is the residual of a sunken continent:

In a paper published in the Geological Society of America’s Journal GSA Today in February, researchers made the case that it should be considered a new continent.

They said it was a distinct geological entity that met all the criteria applied to Earth’s other continents, including elevation above the surrounding area, distinctive geology, a well-defined area and a crust much thicker than that found on the ocean floor.

Covering 1.9 million square miles, it extends from south of New Zealand northward to New Caledonia and west to the Kenn Plateau off Australia’s east.

Readers of The Silmarillion will recall that, after the First Age, most of the western land mass of Middle Earth sunk into the sea.  Places like the Grey Havens, a port for the departure of the Fellowship to the Undying Lands, were very landlocked in the First Age.

So, when Peter Jackson and his troupe were filming the Lord of the Rings, they too were closer to a sea coast then they would have been long ago…

Harvard’s Clubs: So Much for Faculty Governance

The right to take a vote doesn’t make the result meaningful, as one committee at Harvard found out:

On Friday, the Crimson reported that the surprising recommendation to ban all social organizations received only 7 votes from the 27-member Committee on the Unrecognized Single-Gender Social Organizations, which had been empaneled to review implementation of last year’s plan to blacklist members of off-campus single-gender clubs. And according to the Crimson, despite other proposals garnering more support, the committee “never conducted another vote.”

The whole saga of Harvard and social organisations has been a sorry one.  They started by attempting to ban students from single-sex organisations (how that would play out with the trangender business is a subject in its own right) but that got pushback.  Then they proposed to ban all social organisations, which is also getting pushback.  Now we see that the “voting” and “committee” business has been sidetracked.

Most accreditation processes make faculty governance a requirement, but anyone involved in academia knows that this is often honoured in the breach.  Conservatives generally regard faculty governance as giving the inmates control over the asylum, but that assumption needs to be re-examined in view of this.

Anti-discrimination legislation and regulation is giving freedom of association the squeeze these days.  The long-term effect–perhaps desired–of pushing social organisations out of college life is to make the only focus of the students the college itself.  In a world where civic and even private life is cornered in this way, the result will be like the Ottoman “slave institution,” the Janissaries, whose loyalty (in theory) was only to the Sultan.  In a country where an Ivy League education is the necessary ticket to the top in so many fields, this will only accelerate an unfortunate trend.

Personally I had little use for social fraternities, and went to a school (Texas A&M) where they were virtually nonexistent.  But that was the result of the school’s compulsory military status, one not even a decade past when I started.  But I think that a person should have the choice to opt in or out of such a system.

The Turks refer to the end of the Janissaries as “auspicious.”  If Harvard and the other Ivy League schools don’t desist from social engineering like this–which they will then push on the rest of us–they may find their own auspicious moment.

Keeping a Watch on Diversity

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Provost, Jerald Ainsworth, sent out this directive today:

Funding for diversity initiatives has transitioned to Academic Affairs as of July 1, 2017; therefore, requests for funding will be received, reviewed, and funded from the Provost’s Office. The Office for Equity and Diversity will monitor funding and audit our efforts for the purpose of reporting our efforts to the UT System and other agencies.

All proposals will be evaluated by an ad hoc faculty group who will provide a recommendation regarding funding. The funding is available in three categories: Faculty Development, Faculty Opportunity Hiring, and Promoting Equity and Diversity. The link below will take you to a website that provides a detailed description for each of the categories, an application form, and the rubric that will be used to evaluate proposals.

https://www.utc.edu/academic-affairs/provosts-page/diversity.php

Contact the Provost Office if you have questions.

My guess is that the administration wants to keep the funding of this group of people under scrutiny.  Given UT Knoxville’s boffo performances in this regard (with the legislature striking back) that’s not a bad idea.

One think the Diversity people could do that just might be constructive is to feature departments with non-white and/or female leadership, like this one.  But then they would have to admit that they did not contribute to the diversity that resulted, and that would be hard pill to swallow.

If California Can’t Pass Single Payer, the Democrats Will Never Really Win

Most of the attention these days on Congress (the opposite of progress) has centred on the Senate’s inability to pass a replacement for the misnamed Affordable Care Act.  Let me make my first stipulation: the “repeal and replace” business is pure political theatre, has been from the start, and in a sense Donald Trump has called their bluff on it.  (That’s why I dropped the subject when the ACA was passed.)  If I were Trump, I’d let it go down the tube and figure out a “Plan B” to manoeuvre Congress into doing something really worthwhile.

But there’s another legislative drama going on about health care, and it’s in California:

Supporters of a stalled single-payer healthcare bill returned to the Capitol in Sacramento on Monday to express their anger that Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) shelved the measure more than a week ago.

Backers of the bill, SB 562, disrupted a separate hearing on the Assembly floor by unfurling a banner from the gallery before being escorted out. They also attended a hearing of the Assembly Rules Committee, the panel in which Rendon held back the bill, holding up signs on which they’d written personal healthcare stories. And a small contingent staged a “sit-in” near Rendon’s office, chanting “SB 562.”

Single-payer is the left’s “holy grail” from a political standpoint.  But they didn’t pass it when the ACA was enacted and the California Senate can’t bring it self to do it.  Jerry “Governor Moonbeam” Brown doesn’t like it either.  This doesn’t make sense, especially in the single-party state that California has become.

The goal of single-payer is to have mediocre health care for everyone at around 10% of GDP, and the ACA got us half of that.  (Guess which half?)  Under single-payer, people who want something better will have to sneak out of the country for it, hoping that they won’t be caught in a shame/honour reaction the way Charlie Gard did.

Some people say that single-payer is unaffordable. But that’s simply not true.  Once the single entity gets control of the checkbook, if that entity has the political will, they can spend as much or as little as they like to the extent they can stand the political blowback.  That is one of the big “ifs;” the current system allows for blame shifting to outside entities, which is one reason many on the left oppose single-payer, even though they’re loathe to admit it.

At this point in American history, it is my idea that the American people are so deeply into their entitlement mentality and tired of running around for all the “choices” they have in health care that single-payer is what we will, in the end, have.  Politically the left have a winner if they play their cards and pull themselves together long enough to pull it off.

If the Democrats, who are just about the only game in the state, can’t pass single-payer, the nirvana they’ve promised us is a mirage.  And that’s something to think about as we stumble through another election cycle.

The Campus Corporatists Run Scared on Free Speech

A editorial from the University of Maryland lays it out:

Colleges should “screen” speakers to ensure that they are not giving a platform to “intolerant perspectives,” a University of Maryland student argues in a recent op-ed.

“There is nothing inherently wrong with screening speakers, teachers and even students on the campus,” sophomore Moshe Klein declares in an op-ed for The Diamondback, arguing that “intolerant” points of view “prevent certain groups of people from participating in campus life safely.”

There’s a great deal of noise on this subject about the “snowflakes,” but I think the current campus inhabitants’ aversion to free speech (not universal, I might add) stems from two things.

The first is a decidedly corporatist mentality towards education and life itself.  We’ve sold college education–and inspired a generation to go deep into hock for it–as the road to a good-paying job, never mind that many of the majors these people take are dead-ends in that search.  If people come on campus to “rock the boat,” that puts the careerist enterprise in jeopardy.  The boat the students have been on all their lives is one that steers to port most of the time, so it’s no surprise right-wing speakers get attacked the most.

The second stems from the unstable underpinnings of millennial life.  Raised in families that disintegrate on a whim, living in a society that constantly hectors them to “reinvent themselves” while pulling the rug out from under the new reinvention, exhorted to “seek their dream” which may or may not make it possible for them to eat, watching technology blow away entire industries and sectors of the economy, it’s little wonder that stability is highly prized by these people.  My own students are attracted to government positions and, in civil engineering, that’s entirely sensible, and I encourage them to consider that.

I think that the Millennials are making a mistake wanting to suppress free speech, but until people are more secure in who they are and less inclined to seek validation in a corporatist world, that attitude isn’t going to change.

The Church of England Plays the Postmodern Card on Bias Training

Archbishop Cranmer relates the following rather odd exchange at the Church of England synod:

A few other Synod questions relate to the diversity obsession:

Miss Prudence Dailey (Oxford) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops: Q21 Is the House of Bishops aware of evidence that unconscious bias training is ineffective in increasing the representation or advancement of minority groups within organisations, and may even be counterproductive in that regard?

To which the Bishop of Chelmsford replied:

The question unfortunately misunderstands the nature and purpose of Unconscious Bias training. There has never been any suggestion that this work is designed to increase representation of minority groups. The training addresses the fact that everyone, from whatever social group, is affected in their judgements about others by unconscious factors which can lead to bias. The objective is better and more conscious awareness of one’s self, and better and more conscious decision making which will benefit the Church, as it has demonstrably benefitted many other organisations.

But this begs the question: if Unconscious Bias training doesn’t have as one of its goals increasing representation of “minority” groups, then what’s it good for?  It’s the same sort of shell game we play when we say that we’re against quotas, but…diversity departments do this all the time.

What we’re seeing here is the same thing we saw in the Episcopal Church: the proponents of the LGBT+ agenda gumming their opponents to death with endless postmodern “dialogue” (they won’t shut up long enough to really have a dialogue) until their goal is achieved.  That will generally work in a weak Western organisation like the Church of England; the issue is always when.  The big difference between the two sides of the Atlantic is that the Brits are more patient; we’re always in a hurry to get nowhere fast, so we call in Anthony Kennedy or other lawyerly types to force a solution, with acrimony following.

And as Cranmer points out elsewhere, with all the maudlin pining about the persecution of “minorities” in the West, there’s little concern for the real persecution (with death following in many cases) of Christians in many parts of the world.  But that’s what happens when the people whose goal in life is to get laid, high or drunk get the upper hand: everyone else’s concerns get shoved off the agenda.

The Catholic Church Will Lose Again With the “Reverend Jesuit Fathers”

Yogi Berra used to talk about “déjà vu all over again,” and for those of us with any sense of history, we’re seeing it big time with the current Jesuit Pontiff Francis and his henchman, James Martin SJ.  That led me to tweet the “reverend père Jesuite” in this way:

I have no doubt that Fr. Martin got the message.  But why a “rondeau” in French?  The answer to that concerns his order (the Jesuits) and the goal of many prominent in that order, which hasn’t changed in four centuries (and who learned nothing from their own suppression in the interim.)

Without a doubt one of the masterpieces of French literature is Blaise Pascal’s Provincial Letters.  Written after his dramatic conversion experience, the now-Jansenist Pascal went to the mat against the Jesuits, who were for the most part advocating a moral system called casuistry.  The Jesuits’ idea was to “bend the rules” to make Catholic morality more palatable to a Catholic public that was drifting away from the Church.  He did this (in the first half) by having a Jesuit explain to Pascal (and the reader) all the innovations members of his order made to the practical implementation of the teaching of the church, such as that it was okay to kill your opponent in a duel to defend your honor, to simply fear God and not to love him, etc.  For anyone who is familiar with Catholic teaching, listening to the Jesuit is ROFL.

Many editions include the little “rondeau” shown above; it’s translation (I’d love to see better) goes something like this:

RONDEAU TO THE REVEREND JESUIT FATHERS ON THEIR EASY-GOING MORALITY

Go away, sins; the speech without equal
Of the famous troupe rich in Escobar’s evil,
Lets us have your pleasures without their deadly venom:
We taste them without crime; and this new release
Leads without effort to heaven in a profound peace.

Hell loses its rights; and if the devil may complain,
One only needs to say: Come, spirit unclean,
By Bauny, Sánchez, Castro, Gans, Tambourin,
Go away.

But oh, flattering Fathers, foolish on which you stand,
As the unknown Author who by letters remand,
Your politics have found the end,
Your probabilities are close to their end,
One comes back; look for a New World,
Go away.

That pretty much sums the Jesuits’ idea up: if we whittle down the demands of the Gospel by searching our “authorities” and finding the most “probable” opinion, we can get rid of these pesky sins and make it easy.

The French Revolution, in the following century, has been characterized as a “bourgeois” revolution.  But at the time of the Letters and this rondeau, the bourgeois had other preoccupations.  As Pierre Goubert points out in Louis XIV and Twenty Million Frenchmen: A New Approach, Exploring the Interrelationship Between the People of a Country and the Power of Its King:

When historians discover and examine the catalogues belonging to libraries of the period they are continually surprised at the amount of space allotted to the devotional and doctrinal works of the Jansenists.  Even Saint-Cyran and the Bible de Port-Royal might be found among a merchant’s books, alongside the Ordonnance du Commerce, and this not only in Paris and Rouen but everywhere from Orleans to Nantes, in Languedoc, Grenoble and all over the north of the realm…Jansenism, from a scholastic argument, had become one of the greatest currents of French thought.

The bad part of the rondeau is that the Jesuits did indeed seek a New World, which explains much of the quality of Latin American Catholicism.  Now we have a product of both region and religious order as Pope, and the consequences aren’t pretty.  He and others been so inculcated with the Marxist idea that the top of society sets the rules to oppress those below that they are ready to move towards a more “liberal” idea not only for “social justice” purposes but also to keep their system full of people.  They do not understand that the austerity of Jansenism and like systems, with emphasis on clear rules and discipline, is in fact the real “way up” for the bourgeois in a Christian context, and that entangling morality in Jesuitical complexity only benefits those who pull the strings from the upper reaches of society.

As we all know, the triumph of the Jesuits (the Jansenists made something of a comeback, but it wasn’t enough) didn’t stop the advent of the Enlightenment, even with their “concessions” to the world around them.  The bourgeois turned elsewhere for inspiration and ultimately toppled the monarchy which had supposedly backed what was “best” for them, wrecking the Church in France in the process.

I said a long time ago that the Roman Catholic Church is only one bull away from disaster.  We now have the possibility that this bull may be in the wings (some people think it’s already been issued.)  Or perhaps we’re looking at a series of them.  But Francis and his ilk need to wake up to the fact that playing to the crowd–or to the powers that be–won’t save the Church but destroy it, just as it has its liberal Protestant counterparts.

No matter what you think of Roman Catholicism, this would be a catastrophe.  The only good thing is that other churches are more than happy to pick up the pieces.