Category Archives: science

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

Supposedly Mark Twain came up with that one.  Just shows that intelligent suspicion of government and the media has been a concern for a long time.  Even farther back than his time.  Daily we get a running score card about the covid-19 and infections, hospitalizations, and deaths.  You ever give any thought as to how exactly those numbers are gathered and reported?  Who died and went to heaven and appointed Johns Hopkins king of the numbers?  If their were divinely appointed I for one would still like to know the details about how exactly they amass their numbers.  What is their source?  You may recall this past week that some outfit in California came up with a new model that evinces that the death rate was over calculated enormously.

When it comes death rates you can see every source of the media completely drooling with anticipation when the alleged deaths will hit 100,000.  I swear some of them will drop confetti and pop champagne.   What a great number for the headline lead whether in print or on a tv screen.

Presumably and I have read a couple of items that verify that one  source of deaths due to the virus is death certificates.  That makes sense.  How to they accumulate that data?  Is the information of the death certificate accurate? Are they making a real hard count or using some kind of “model” to arrive at their totals?  Sadly in my life I have had more experience with death certificates than the average Joe.  I was the “family” lawyer from the mid ’60’s to date.  Also I was the patriarch by circumstances for many decades.  I had to deal with all the “business” of death for many members of my immediate and family by affinity.  I assure you that those certificates are not always accurate regarding the cause of death.  Human emotions come into play.  The reporting physician is human and takes action as such.  That is not a criticism of their work but an honest observation.  Case in point was an uncle of mine.  He died tragically at a very young age–47.  He was an alcoholic.  His death was not nice or clean.  The death certificate listed the cause of death as cirrhosis and some lung thing.  I am sure the physician saw no point in causing any emotional strain on the family by listing the true cause.  Is was the alcohol.  Period.  I really liked my uncle and he had served honorably during the War.  Of course nothing was ever done to correct that death certificate.  My mom’s certificate listed Alzheimer as her cause of death.  Not true.  For one thing there was no autopsy for verification and having lived through her experience for over 7 years with her dementia I assure you it came from anesthesia problems following an operation after a fall.  The day before her fall she was still completely independent: balanced her check book, did her own shopping, was aware of politics, events and knew everyone.  Three days later it was all gone.  That is not Alzheimer’s.

Today if a 50 year old man who is 80 pounds overweight and gets the virus I am quite confident that the death certificate will say the virus killed him.  But from all the info publicly available it has been repeatedly pointed out that those with such an underlying condition are at a much higher risk of dying from the virus.  Was it really the virus that killed that man or was it his obesity?  If his weight had been normal would he have shown any symptoms at all?  Given the current environment the virus will be listed and likely not the weight issue.  This is not a complaint about the competency or integrity of physicians.  Far from it but accounting for their human behavior.

I make no claim that I know the true number of deaths from the virus.  But inaccurate data leads to inaccurate totals and conclusions.  Whatever the real number it is less than reported.  History says this is true with regard to any account of deaths from unusual causes.  The initial battlefield reports from commanders are always too high whether reporting their own casualties or the enemy’s.  Remember the “data” showed we would likely have millions of deaths only two months ago.  No one mentions that anymore.  Sympathy to  anyone who has lost a loved one.  But these remarks are mostly for those merely trying to muddle along with their lives in face of all the normal dangers: diseases other than the virus, car accidents, and that long list of bad things that can happen.  Life can be dangerous. None of us get out alive.  Be grateful and remember the Serenity prayer and Psalms 91.

On that upbeat tone I will say au revoir before I spoil your day.  It is only the ramblings of an old mind and worthy of little note.

Put another log on the fire while I bed down.   God bless,


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Predictions About The Future

Alright, so I imposed a little on Yogi’s legacy.  He was right then and it still is true.  In our hyperfast info world of today we are literally inundated with predictions of one sort or another.  We don’t probably get that many more than 75 years ago its just that they jump off the website of any news outlet you choose or some talking head is pontificating on your favorite news channel whatever that may be.  To keep this within some boundaries lets focus on three areas–intelligence, financial news and or course today the virus and/or health issues.

Predictions come from the same institutions over and over again.  They are the Government, Academe and the Financial titans or financial analysts. In the last week how many articles or segments on tv have started off–so in so said, opined, believed  ( fill in the blank date) that such and such would happen.  The news media always pick someone who procrastinated correctly or course and someone who fits their particular narrative of the moment–whatever that may be.  Naturally there is always someone who predicted something correctly.  We’ll save for later comment the predictions that were and sometimes disastrously wrong.

We have for good or ill, the FBI, NSA, CIA, DIA and State Department all making their assessments, reports, memos and recommendations regarding military and intelligence matters.  You have any idea how many thousands of people you are talking about doing that work?  Actually it is tens of thousands.  They are not Jack Ryans.  They are mostly little nerds sitting at their desks reading newspapers, magazine, internet sites, debriefs of agents or assets, etc, about their particular area of expertise or geography.  A tiny handful read raw reports from agents on the ground.  They are our experts.  They are also bureaucrats, never forget that, and they do what bureaucrats have done since Egyptian times, they write reports and pass them along to someone up the food chain.   They offer warnings of one type or another and make predictions.

The same thing occurs in academia.  Those PHDs or MDs all work on their specialty.   Doing research which is mostly reading papers written by someone of their ilk at another school, Foundation or Government agency.   We all know that those professors are not spending hours and hours each week in a real classroom or seeing students during so-called office hours.  They study their data and read gobs of research by others doing work in the same area.  Then of course they write papers, essays or assessments.  Like the government groups there are literally tens of thousands of them. They predict future events, in chemistry, medicine, physics, climate warming, engineering or what have you.

Financial analysts and famous financiers make predictions constantly.  You have W. Buffet and Robert Reich and Jim Cramer.   The financial channels are literally overflowing with them.   They make predictions about everything economic or financial virtually every day.  Again there are thousands of these people.  Not as many as they other groups but a boatload for sure.

All those predictions are like the old saw about 1,000,000 monkeys and 1,000,00 typewriters.  Sooner are later you will get Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  Make your own guesstament but I think you would ultimately agree that the overwhelming majorities of all these predictions are wrong.  Some got something right.  But just because you had a bad stomach ache and I predicted you had appendicitis I don’t think you would really want this old lawyer performing the operation.  But hey, I was dead right on my prediction.  When you read or hear about some one who “warned” or predicted something would occur and it did.  Please bear in mind all those other smartest guys in the room who didn’t agree with it.  There is always a large number of them.  Many predictions turn true for the most random of reasons and rarely for the same ones highlighted by the predictor.  Einstein was wrong about quantum mechanics, Fauci has been wrong on several counts.  That doesn’t diminish the value of their opinions.   The Pentagon Papers were an internal assessment made by some in the military.  Their conclusions fit the narrative liked by the NYT and WP.  Voila, a prediction that was prescient.  Hey, the military was making constant assessments about the Vietnam War.  This was merely one of many.  That war could have been fought differently, like interdicting the supply lines of the north Vietnamese, really interdicting with troops, aircraft or whatever it took,   mining Haiphong harbor, destroying Hanoi, etc.  But the only prediction that mattered was the one promoted and touted.  That prediction for what it is worth was not correct.  We didn’t ultimately lose the war as foretold by them.  We quit.

In the name of God, please put all those articles, whether leaning left or, right, that reveal  someone, somewhere predicted, warned or hell, prophesied some particular event would occur in some kind of context.  There is a really good chance that his prediction was one of hundreds and his just happened to be right.  I am old enough to remember the thousands of predictions from the ’50s about nuclear energy. It was going to eliminate coal and natural gas as energy sources. We would have abundant clean energy forever.   Didn’t quite turn out that way but I bought into it as a teenager.  I thought that was really a cool idea at the time.  So when you read about all the current predictions about life after the pandemic passes, apply a healthy grain of salt to flavor it.  Someone will have it right and those other headline predictions will fade, only  an embarrassment if reminded of them later.  Remember those monkeys and Occam’s razor.  My prediction is that we will land in a boring equilibrium like mankind usually does.

Is my prediction worth a toot?  Probably just that, a toot.  Not Beethoeven’s opening in his Fifth symphony.

God Bless from around the campfire.  Time for the old codger to take his brain enhancing pill.


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Wonders And Amazements

We have so many wonders around us every day that we don’t notice and it is amazing the current events and historical occurrences that are ignored by our media.  It must be that old adage at work about hiding in plain sight as the best way to remain unnoticed.

Speaking of adages, the next time you are trying to learn the origin of one, start with the Bible.  There is a very good chance you’ll find it there.   Remember Hamlet  “our fate is not in the stars but within ourselves”?   Well, the Bard was paraphrasing Job.  There when facing the common lament that God caused some misfortune Job responded “why persecute Him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?”  How many times have you said something like “you are the apple of my eye”?   Well, take a gander at Psalms 17:8.   There really isn’t much new under the Sun.  Even that comes from Ecclesiastes.

We worry about global warming and all manner of natural disasters but are ignorant or choose not to face facts that the laws of physics and astronomical facts harbor  enormous changes in relatively short order.  The global warming debate is primarily forecasting conditions roughly a century from now.  A long time compared to a human life but a blink in the grand scheme.  You want to worry about something then try to understand the implications of precession.   That is a term that describes the wobble of the earth as it rotates on its  axis.  You know that the earth tilts at a 23 degree angle that gives us our seasons.  And as it does it also wobbles just like a top slowing down.   For several centuries and for a few more we have had our North Star found using the far end of the pot of the Big Dipper and taking an imaginary line four times that length to find it.  It has been very reliable for a long time.  But, but, but as the earth moves on its wobble the North Star is moving and a few short centuries down the road it will not be the “north” star any longer.  The complete precession takes 23,000 years but not that long to move quiet some distance.  What does that portend for our climate down the road?  No one knows for sure, but perhaps another ice age.   Neanderthals and Cro-magnons made it and hopefully homo sapiens will also.

These modern punters have such big averages per punt.   Not all that impressed with them.  Those punters back when had it much rougher to get a forty yard average for punts.  They changes the rule a few decades ago to make it easier.  The rule used to be that the kicking team could not down the ball inside the opponents ten yard line.  The punter had to be much more accurate to kick it out-of-bounds to achieve those really good numbers.  It was a penalty if the ball was touched or d0wned by the kicking team inside the ten and the receiving team got the ball out on the 20 yard line.  Not like now where the kick team can have guys run down quickly and down the ball near the goal line.  That change immediately pumped up the numbers for the modern kickers.  So when you see the averages from some old punter back in the ’40’s, ’50’s or ’60’s remember the rule he had to work under.

We notice that Apple  and Google and others are using new encryption methods to protect users’ privacy from government surveillance.    A great idea.  The Feds already have too much access to our everyday lives as it is.  I recognize the occasional need to track down a missing child or elderly person or similar emergency.   Fine, let those and other extraordinary circumstances be exceptions.  Require the Feds to go to a judge and lay out those facts and then get access, otherwise leave us alone.

I don’t recall any big feasts for Thanksgiving when I was small after the War.   We had very modest circumstances.  But we had as roof over our head and food on the table.  I guess we had a turkey or maybe a big chicken.  I do know we had pies and cakes.  Mostly even then I knew I had a remarkable Dad and Mom and I never doubted that Dad would take care of us.  I do remember when I was about 5 and we lived in a rented house with an ice box.  Yes, a real ice box where Dad brought home a block of ice every few days to put in the special drawer and my job was to empty out the drip pan every day.  Those were modest days but abundantly lived.   May each of you be so blessed.

“Barbarism is like the jungle; it never admits its defeat; it waits patiently for centuries to recover the territory it has lost”  Will Durant, American historian.




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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

Well, the Holidays are over and the hibernation will be interrupted long enough for the current thoughts and ramblings of the gray matter…..

Another State of the Union address and again we call for the elimination of the current method of delivery.  It is pure political theatre and propaganda.  Regardless of what party controls the White House the prevailing showmanship of the delivery should be stopped.  For well over 100 years the State of the Union was a straightforward written report to Congress from the President.   We need to really tone down this useless drama show.  It should be a business meeting between the Executive and Legislative branches of government.  Put it on C-span and no applause and distractions.  Let the President and his Cabinet present facts and figures about our economy, national security and society.  Let the Congressmen ask questions and challenge the data and assumptions and proposed policies.  It should be give and take.  The Presidents written report should be no longer than 20 pages in length, anything more and you’re getting hyperbole and fluff.

Saw a shooting star the other night.  It was the first one I’ve seen in a number of years what with all the bright lights of the city and trees and roof lines.  It was quite dramatic and very bright as it descended to earth.  So large that I actually listened for a boom.  Did see one so large and close that it produced a loud boom decades ago.  Better than any fireworks display when they are that large.

Not at all surprised that so many people were having their private insurance policies cancelled due to Obamacare.  Those reading these pages remember that I said that would happen back in ’10 when the thing was passed and I actually read the bill.  It provided that the policies being grandfathered in could only be those that never changed.   “Any” change meant they no longer met the standard of a “qualified” plan as approved by the bureaucrat in charge, the HHS Secretary.  So if your premium in the plan you liked was $300 per month and it increased by $5 per month then that change would kick you to the exchanges and you had to get the government approved plans, period.

Fighting wars half-heartedly is always a recipe for disaster. Korea and Viet Nam are probably the worst examples but Afghanistan isn’t far behind with that current guy in the White House view of the military and the mission there.   The object of any military action should always be to destroy and subdue your enemy and do so with all the resources at your command.  History teaches well the old maxim that when you go against and remove the King you better get rid of all his heirs also.   If we aren’t committed to eliminating the Taliban as a force then we might as well get out completely and go back in at our pleasure when we detect specific threats.   If our guys can’t conduct aggressive offensive operations as of now then they are merely becoming targets for the attacks of the Taliban at their pleasure.

Read another detailed and thorough article this week about the probability of our magnetic field starting another flip.  That means the magnetic poles will switch places and your compass would point south, not north.  If that is beginning to occur then it makes a mockery of the concern over alleged global warming.   The process could take thousands of years and the effects on Mother Earth would be enormous.  Weather would change for sure as would the overall climate and the effects of the increased radiation from the Sun would tear apart much of our modern infrastructure built on electrical power and electronic machines of all stripe, not the least of which would be your handy computer.   The magnetic field has flipped many times over the eons and many scientist believe we over  due for another  anytime.  The magnetic field has already weakened and some view that has the harbinger of the flip.  So another item to add to your list of worries but this one is real, the danger is only a question of time, not an if.

About two weeks before we dropped the first A bomb on Hiroshima a US sub made one of the most unusual attacks of the entire War.  The sub had already sunk several Jap ships in a harbor and was due to return to base but the captain noticed a  railroad trestle right on the shore line that was used by the Japs to transport supplies to the war making factories nearby.  They couldn’t have used a torpedo but were innovative both captain and crew.  They decided a shore party could attach a explosive device to the tracks and get the next train to pass after installation.  It took several days to figure out how to do it.  They used the explosive charges that normally are used only to scuttle the ship for the pow factor.  But then they had to devise a method to make the “bomb” explode at the right time to take out the train.  They jerry-rigged a trigger from a battery and copper wires.  The trigger was to be placed under the metal rail after they dug out a small pit for the explosives and then when the train passed over it would depress the rail a bit and that would close the electric circuit and ignite the device.  In the dark of the night a couple of nights later the landing party of 8 went ashore, dug the pit and placed the device there.  As they were heading back to the sub in a rubber dingy a train pulled into sight and then onto the trestle area embankment and sure enough it worked and everything went sky high.  The Captain was already a Medal of Honor winner when this took place.   Needless to say it was the only sub to take out a train during the War.

Even the Fed is beginning to taper.  Now if we could only get Congress to “taper” also and spend less.  I don’t feel like I get a bang for my tax bucks paid, er, extorted, to the Federal government, do you?

“Liberty alone demands for its realization the limitation of the public authority, for liberty is the only object which benefits all alike,…”  Lord Acton, British historian

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

The surprise isn’t that history repeats but that folks are surprised when the same thing occurs again and they think it is something new.

If you  searched or stumbled across the back pages of the news today you may have seen the article about the arctic sea ice.   Since spring of this year we have seen repeated stories about the allegedly alarming reduction in the arctic sea ice and as a harbinger of global warming doom.  Yet, today in the small print we note that the sea ice there has actually increased by 30% this year.  But the media types immediately in the same articles continue the warming that the “models” show that the ice will decline rapidly.  Where’s Groucho when you need him–who you going to believe your lying eyes or what these smart folks tell you?

Both the message and the messenger are important on the major issues of the day.  Syria is a case in point.   Hitler was a great messenger regardless of his evil.  His message was evil for the most part.  Yet it can’t be denied that he could sell the message extremely well.   Check out those old videos of his speeches.  He was very effective with his audience and that is what counts.   In Syria we have the bad combination of a terrible message and an ineffective and arrogant messenger.    The I, Me, My guy in the White House is so egocentric that he makes the issue all about him.  That wears thin after a while and has in this instance.  There needs to be a compelling message and that hasn’t been presented.  Exactly what are we attempting to achieve in Syria?   Whatever that may be, do the facts at hand regarding the combatants there and their goals match up with any vital interests of the US?

Harry Truman was not my guy.  Didn’t like him but he did speak plainly which is appreciated.  At least you knew the devil and his designs.  When faced with a similar conundrum about picking sides between two abhorrent foes he was direct.  When Hitler invaded Stalin’s play pen old Harry said clearly that he didn’t like either of them and he hoped that would slaughter each other.  This was before he become vice president.  At least he knew evil when he saw it.

Vladimir Putin, the great peace maker.    That is something for an old KGB hired hand and ruffian.   I believe he has read his Machiavelli more carefully than our guy.

After a long hot summer it is hard to believe that in only a few weeks some parts of the country will see the first flights of Canadian geese heading south.

We are all familiar with  the basic story of William the Conqueror and his conquest of England and the Battle of Hastings in 1066.   The Normans were on the move during this period of history.  What very few know is that a relative of his Robert Guiscard was during the same time frame conquering and liberating much of central and southern Italy and Sicily.  He and his quite small army threw out the Muslims from Sicily and areas of southern Italy and at the same time dominated Rome and the Pope.  The Pope was glad to have him because he was Christian and was fighting the Muslims and restoring the prestige and power of the Church.  Old Robert also was about gaining power and dominion over as much land as he could.  He even expelled the Byzantine empire from those central portions of Italy.  His children were married off to cement alliances and his 12 sons aided in the conquests.   Those independent Italian  principalities lasted well into the 19th century.  Napoleon’s son become the King of Naples centuries later.  Robert never had more than 10,000 Normans to accomplish all this.  He formed alliances with local groups who had their own  reasons to want the Muslims out and have different rulers in other areas that weren’t dominated by Constantinople.

It is a truism of investing that you don’t buy or sell stocks of feelings or emotions.  But I guess those green tree -huggers slept through that part of the class.  They are still buying Tesla even though the stock is selling at a negative, yes, negative 89 times earnings.  And about 80% of their “earnings” come from selling those energy tax credits to others, not selling and making a profit on  cars.   Good luck to you if you are one of those investors.  Sooner or later morning comes and one has to face the reality of the day, not the dreams of the night.

The Great Pyramid of Cheops is the largest.  The square base is aligned correctly on a north /south and east/west setting.   From the chamber of the Pharaoh buried in the middle there are two passage ways that run at about a 45 degree angle up to the surface hundreds of feet about ground level.  The one facing south points directly at the belt of Orion; Orion was the Egyptian Osiris God.  The one pointing north faces true with the North Star.   Clearly those two markers in the sky were very important to them for whatever reason.  We’ll likely never know for sure why but we know when they constructed these huge structures that those stars were very important.  They went to a lot of trouble to make those alignments happen.

Even as late as this summer Bernancke has continued to insist that the Federal Reserve is not monetizing the debt.  That simply means printing up new money to cover the Federal deficit.  Let’s see, they have been buying 45 billion per month of US Treasuries for well over a year.  The US has run a deficit over or near one trillion dollars for 5 years now.  The Fed now owns more US Treasuries than even China even though some politicians keep talking about the Chinese being our largest creditor.  The Fed is buying about 75% of all US Treasuries trying to keeping rates low. Those rates have jumped dramatically this summer from 1.4 in May to near 3.0 as of today.   Would the US treasury have been able to borrow all those trillions without the Fed at such low rates?   And remember when the Fed “buys” treasuries it does so with a keystroke on a computer, not real money.  But not to worry we’re aren’t monetizing the debt.

“The law is silent during war.”  Cicero.






























































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Darwin’s “Duh” On Social Darwinism

Many folks on the Left including the guy in the White House have used the phrase –social darwinism–as a pejorative turn of phrase.  That has been a trend for decades.  The current occupant of the White House used it a couple of months ago to describe policies that favor more individual responsibility and less federal government control of almost every aspect of your life.  He likened it to every many for himself and survival of the fittest which he viewed as equal to the vilest of human instincts.  His view is that the federal government is there to prevent any such notion or reality of social darwinism to take root or flourish.   The view of the Left is that everyone is in fact equal as opposed to being entitled to equal opportunities in your individual pursuit of life.

This view is evident in the Left’s obsession with a free education for everyone all the way through college level  degrees.   You can only judge them on their rhetoric; they say the want “every child” to get a college education.   Then what would be the value of such a degree?   The Left is constantly hammering the perceived belief that everyone is capable of a college education if only allowed the opportunity.  Of course the also scream at every opportunity that they are the party of “science”;  that their views are based on hard scientific fact–from Keynesianism to climate change.  They certainly believe in Darwinism and the theory of evolution.  They couldn’t be more demeaning to anyone of has any questions regarding any of these theories, or in their world, facts.   Yet when facts and science don’t jibe with their ideological views then they are a quick as a brown fox to jump the fence and abandon the logical conclusions of some of the science.

Human nature and experience for millennia demonstrated that there are indeed vast differences in intellectual and cognitive abilities.   Julius Caesar and Leonardo di  Vinci were noted as geniuses from an early age as was Bacon and Newton to name only a few.  In the last century we’ve had the benefit of refined testing with IQ’s and other skill test to determine not just ability but actual intellectual performance.  We all know that 100 for example is the average for the IQ test.  That means that there are gazillions of folks in our fair land that have IQ’s below that level.  Some of those with hard work and devotion probably can get a college degree and God Bless ’em they would truly deserve it.   But many simply don’t have the brainpower to achieve college degrees.  That does not diminish their worth as citizens, neighbors, friends or family, but it does mark a demarcation of intellectual achievement.   It is a waste of time, talent and money to try to send those without the capacity to college.    Yet the Left insist we expand even further the student loan programs and want to emphasize the societal goal of almost universal college education.  Here they simply will not accept the science and facts.  Not anywhere near that many people can or should be going to college.  At most around 15% or so of our population is and should be college material.   That degree should mean something.  It should signify real intelligence and also a steadfastness of purpose in those who attend college.  If 80% of young people are attending college then we all know as a fact that there is no way they are all qualified to be there.  The course requirements are being watered down or affirmative action programs are allowing admittance and advancement.

There is nothing demeaning about trade school or community college courses and certificates.  A fine violin maker doesn’t need a college degree.  We all appreciate the work of a talented furniture carpenter.  There is value and human merit in working with a metal lathe for one’s lifetime work.  A skilled mason makes buildings and homes more beautiful.  Horse trainers and even computer geeks don’t need college degrees to do their chosen labor.  Everyone sure loves the plumber when he shows up after the flood in the laundry room.   Recognizing reality and science doesn’t mean that anyone short of a college degree has to be or should be demeaned by those who do possess those degrees.

Darwin was correct.  All animals, including man, do evolve.  The best and the brightest and the most advantageous traits are the ones that thrive and survive.  Yes, Darwinism does apply to societies.  Either it applies to Mankind or it is junk science.  The Left can’t have it both ways.  There is a social darwinism at work whether we like it or not, want it or not.  Just look around you.   Some people cope and adjust and advance much better than others.  Some survive hardships and even severe dangers and other succumb to adversity.   And yes it is true that the survivors tend to seek each other out and marry and produce children with those traits.  Those with minimum intelligence and other limited abilities tend to fail and are the ones most dependent on the government.  In the middle are most of us with enough skills to muddle along and don’t damage the future gene p0ol.  We just ask for a fair shot in society so we can achieve as much as our hard work and talents will allow.    Most of us wish we had an IQ of 150 but we don’t.  We are creatures of our backgrounds both genetic and the milieu in which we were raised.   The Left and the rest of us are far better off recognizing the reality of social darwinism at work and dealing with the society we have rather than trying to conjure up a society that only Alice and the Cheshire Cat would recognize.

“In the survival of favoured individuals and races, during the constantly-recurring Struggle for Existence, we see a powerful and ever-acting form of Selection”  Charles Darwin.


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