Geniuses: From Suicidal to Criminal

Now the latter is under investigation:

Dr. James Clinton Oleson, an Associate Professor in Criminology at the University of Auckland, turned up this fascinating nugget of information after conducting anonymous surveys and interviews with 465 members of a high IQ society, who possessed an average IQ of 149. He compared their levels of self-reported criminality with those of a control group of 756 ‘bright’ individuals with an average IQ of 115, fifteen points above the societal mean score of 100. The ‘geniuses’ admitted to more crimes overall, and particularly committed more property crimes, white-collar crimes, and violent crimes.

I’ve discussed the suicidal aspects of genius in The Geniuses Commit Suicide, with some backup. As a society we make peoples’ lives miserable over observations about intelligence, and breathe “intelligence” and “meritocracy” in the same breath. But on the other hand we are obsessed with socialisation and, behind the facade, we are worried that the gifted will take over, so we beat them down. The result is that, in practical life, superior intelligence is a liability rather than an asset.

If we could just find a way to let people rise to their potential and let that benefit everyone, we’d have less suicide and criminality in those who happen to do well on IQ tests.

Why the elites hate Vaughan Williams

When Marie Hall stepped on to the stage at the Queen’s Hall in London to give the first full performance of a new piece from Ralph Vaughan Williams, few could have imagined that exactly a century later, this apparently unremarkable piece would have turned into a political football. The Lark Ascending; Romance for Violin and…

Why the elites hate Vaughan Williams

Who do the English think they are?

In the early 5th century the Roman legions abandoned Britain, and the sceptered isle fell off the pages of history. When it reemerges two centuries later Celtic Britain had become the seedbed for the nation-state of England. The Christian religion, newly-established on the island at the time, had given way once again to paganism. Brythonic Celtic speech was ascendant only on the fringes. A cacophony of German dialects spread out across the fertile south and east, radiating out of the “Saxon Shore”.

Who do the English think they are?

Tolkien’s mythic plan for England — UnHerd

On a family holiday in Yorkshire in 1925, J. R. R. Tolkien’s young son Michael lost a beloved toy on a large stony beach. A long search by Tolkien, and Michael’s older brother John, proved fruitless; to console the boy, Tolkien made up a story, Roverandom. It’s an odd tale, featuring a small dog, wizards,…

via Tolkien’s mythic plan for England — UnHerd

The Berlin-Baghdad Express: The Ottoman Empire and Germany’s Bid for World Power, 1898-1918 by Sean McMeekin — The Logical Place

Originally posted on Books & Boots: Memorandum on revolutionizing the Islamic territories of our enemies (Title of a paper written in October 1914 by German archaeologist and Orientalist Max von Oppenheim which argued for enlisting the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire to call on the world’s Muslims to engage in a Holy War or jihad against the…

via The Berlin-Baghdad Express: The Ottoman Empire and Germany’s Bid for World Power, 1898-1918 by Sean McMeekin — The Logical Place

I did my own series on the Ottomans a few years back; the first of that series is here, and the sequence follows.

The Birds are Still Singing

It’s fair to say that it’s been a spring for the record books. COVID-19 has upended our country in general, but for those of us in academia it’s especially bad. For my part the jolting transition to online has been easier on me than my students; I think that the academy has a rough road ahead of it.

Two other events of less general interest have made life difficult. The first was that, Easter Sunday night, a tornado blew through our area. Our own dwelling came through with minor damage but, as you can see, others didn’t. As is the case with every disaster, ministries showed up in a hurry to provide relief, and now the long term recovery is under way. But it was strange to wake up after the night of destruction (there wasn’t much sleep, to be sure) to hear the birds singing outside. How they battened down the hatches during this maelstrom is hard to know, but at least enough did to give us a cheery greeting the next morning.

The second storm (about the same time) came in the Anglican/Episcopal world, where a well known figure departed from a well known program in a way whose tension (or maybe compression) had been building for some time. With some insight on how this came about, I took the trouble to write the one who departed with this insight. He responded in an audio recording, evidently done outside, because in the background I heard the birds happily singing as they had after the physical storm had passed our own house.

It always amazes me that our smug and ostensibly secular opinion leaders display the apocalyptic attitude towards life that they do. Growing up at Bethesda, end times prophecy were not on the radar screen; I had to get off of the island to find out about that. I suspect that a good number of our elites were going the other way, making a “hick moves to town” transition where they simply repurposed the apocalyptic fears of their childhood to the social causes of their careers. Growing up in an ethic where disasters were to be toughed out and problems fixed, I still find the solution-free panic that our elites meet every crisis with hard to take.

But through all of this the birds keep singing and creation moves forward as its Creator intended it to do. A truly Biblical view of the apocalypse doesn’t focus on the disaster but the goal after the disaster. The Bible is premised on the obvious, that difficulties are inevitable in the pursuit of the objective. This grates on prosperity preacher and sybaritic elite alike, but that’s the way it is.

So when things aren’t going your way, stop and listen. You might hear the birds singing.

Maybe We Missed the Messiah After All

An interesting account from A.H.M Jones’ classic The Later Roman Empire, 284-602: a social, economic and administrative survey:

We possess a curious contemporary document. Jacob, a Palestinian Jew who arrived at Carthage in 634, was seized and forcefully baptised under a recent law of Heraclius. Pondering the Scriptures in prison he came to the same conclusion as the elder of the Jews at Sycaminon, and by his arguments persuaded the other Jews of Carthage that Jesus must have been the Messiah. Justus, another Palestinian Jew who arrived at Carthage at this juncture, upbraided him as a renegade, but Jacob asked him: ‘What do you think of the state of Romania? Does it stand as from the beginning, or has it been diminished?’ Justus replied dubiously: ‘Even if it has been somewhat diminished, we hope that it will rise again, because the Christ must come first, while the fourth beast, that is Romania, stands.’ But Jacob convinced him: ‘We see the nations believing in Christ and the fourth beast fallen and being torn in pieces by the nations, that the ten horns may prevail, and Hermolaus Satan, the Little Horn, may come.’

Justus added the convincing proof: the Little Horn had come. ‘My brother Abraham has written to me from Caesarea that a false prophet has appeared among the Saracens. “For when the candidatus Sergius was killed by the Saracens,” says Abraham, “I was at Caesarea, and I went by boat to Sycaminum; and they said, ‘the candidatus has been killed’, and we Jews had great joy. And they say that a prophet has appeared coming up with the Saracens and proclaims the coming of the anointed, the Christ who cometh. And when I Abraham came to Sycaminum, I went to the elder, a very learned man, and said to him: ‘What do you say, Rabbi, about the prophet who has appeared with the Saracens?’ And he groaned loudly and said: ‘He is false, for surely the prophets do not come with sword and chariot. Verily the troubles of today are works of confusion, and I fear lest the Christ who came first, whom the Christians worship, was himself he that was sent by God, and we shall receive Hermolaus instead of him. For Isaiah said that we Jews have hearts that have gone astray and been hardened, until all the earth be desolate. But go, Abraham, and enquire about the prophet that has appeared.’ And I Abraham made inquiry and learned from those that had met him, that you find nothing true in the so-called prophet, save shedding the blood of men; for he says that he holds the keys of paradise, which is untrue.” ‘ (Vol. 1, pp. 316-7)

The prophet who appeared with the Saracens was, of course, Mohammad; these were the beginning of the Islamic conquests of the Middle East and North Africa.

When God Threw His Wallet on the Table —

One of the many “characters” in Vulcan’s long (144 year) history was Jesse H. Perry, Vulcan’s senior field service representative right up until his sudden death. As I mention elsewhere, it took a very special kind of person to do what Jess did. Construction is a high risk activity, and that’s especially true with offshore […]

via When God Threw His Wallet on the Table —

Millennials Wasting Time with Astrology

As documented in this piece today on CBS This Morning:

I can remember growing up on the Miami Herald and seeing the horoscope buried well past the front page.  Now publications like Cosmopolitan put it front and centre.

That piece reminded me of a pithy observation by John McKenzie in his The Two-Edged Sword:

The more petty evils of the demons could be met by magical means and the tremendous mass of magical literature which Mesopotamia has left us is a pathetic witness to the superstition of one of the most intelligent, ingenious and charming peoples which the race has developed.  Bouché-Leclerq concluded his researches into Greek astrology with the desperate remark that it is not a waste of time to study how other people have wasted their time.

I always took a dim view of my contemporaries who suddenly became “scientific” with climate change.  Right or wrong, most of them have neither the aptitude nor the temperament to be really scientific about anything.  Evidently that hasn’t changed down the line either.

Additionally this is just another aspect of the idolatry that’s taking over our culture and even our churches.