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Yesterday -- Tuesday, 2/8/2022 -- I awoke with a brain already in gear composing an email to a friend who had the day before described his mood to me. Here is that email, and I'll reproduce here only the body of the message:

"I've identified the vague elusive atmosphere of drifting and malaise you've been describing to me: we are in Hell on Earth. This is it. This is the real thing, here and now. And if this is Hell, then our leaders, who are running things, must then by implication be identified as the Children Of Darkness. Which gives us slobs the job of being the Children of Light.

"Small children in surgical masks for most of their day away from home. Protesting truckers in Ottawa having donated fuel and food confiscated by the city police. Aldous Huxley and George Orwell would have instantly recognized it, but we're not that sharp."


Posted Wednesday night, February 9th, 2022
Posted terribly early Saturday morning, January 15th, 2022
From: Bob Bernstein  <elided>
To: "Holton, Gerald" <elided>
Subject: Go Webb         
Date: Mon, 27 Dec 2021 02:12:06
User-Agent: Alpine 2.23.2 (DEB 509 2020-10-04)

Early Christmas Day I watched the picture-perfect launch of the James Webb Telescope from French Guiana. When I motioned to my wife to come in and look at my computer screen, I was so on the brink of tears that I could only motion to her to look at NASA's stream of images.

NoW it's early Monday morning and I am daydreaming that I am standing in that remote country watching the launch in person, and have next to me, as a companion, Percy Bridgman. I want to say him, "THERE'S your "ascription of physical reality!"


Posted early Wednesday morning, January 5th, 2022

Percy Bridgman, An Appreciation

So Prof. Bridgman (Dept of Physics, Harvard) seemed to be saying:

"Look, the results we're getting from all our efforts, and all our accumulated knowledge, don't appear that impressive. They are flawed, especially as they concern our dealings with others of our kind, other human beings. Perhaps we should look at how we employ our minds, hearts and voices to navigate and explore the topography of human life on earth? Who can be convinced at this late date that we have used our tools (mind/heart/voice) to their greatest advantage?"

But as soon as he starts out he is hemmed in by two -- in his view -- unavoidable and ineluctable features of human experience. The first is expressed in an individualism so stark the likes of it probably have never before been made the starting point of a philosophy. He places so much emphasis on the role of the individual that he has been charged with outright solipsism (which is defined by WordNet as "the philosophical theory that the self is all that you know to exist"), a charge he would like to deny but which, at least according to the limited proportion of his writings that I have seen, he never quite defeats.


Posted Tuesday night, January 4th, 2022

Russell merits a great deal of attention. Consider the first chapter of his Skeptical Essays (1928), "On the Value of Scepticism."

His basic rule, the starting point which lays the foundation for all of these reflections: is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true,

Russell expands this into three maxims:

The scepticism that I advocate amounts only to this:

(I) that when the experts are agreed, the opposite opinion cannot be held to be certain.

(2) that when they are not agreed, no opinion can be regarded as certain by a non-expert.

(3) that when they all hold that no sufficient grounds for a positive opinion exist, the ordinary man would do well to suspend his judgment.

With his characteristic yet inimitable droll understatement, he adds,

These propositions may seem mild, yet, if accepted, they would absolutely revolutionize human life.

Posted terribly early Friday morning, December 10th, 2021

I think it was Carl Jung who said we must (paraphrasing from shaky memory) be able to hold two opposed ideas in our mind at the same time.

Tonight I sit with two opposed reports of recent life in these United States. One describes events of the week just past at Yale Law School, and the other, events from several years ago at Providence College. Let's begin with the latter, since it bears more obviously on the topic named in the title of this post.

I am subscribed via email to the website The Catholic Thing, which daily publishes relatively short essays on topics that bear on Roman Catholicism in some form or other. The authors can be either clergy or laypersons. The common denominator of all of their submissions is consistently high quality. Yesterday, October 23, 2021, I was very impressed by a piece, "Our Cultural Confusions about Men and Women" by Anthony Esolen, formerly a teacher of English at Provdince College, now on the faculty at Mary Magdalen College.

I was a tad irked that this man had been teaching about only fifteen minutes from my house, yet his name was new to me. After reading his "TCT" (The Catholic Thing) essay I went to Wikipedia for more about him. It appears that he was cancelled a few years ago by Providence College. Obviously, their loss. In the Wikipedia article I read, with deep gratitude, the following, from a fellow academic who supported him. That man, Robert P. George, wrote that those at PC, faculty and students alike, who objected to Esolen's views

...should respond in the currency of academic discourse "reasons, evidence, arguments" not by attempting to isolate, stigmatize, and marginalize him for stating dissenting opinions.1

How archaic that suggestion sounds to our woke-infested ears! It sounds, so, WHITE, if you'll pardon the expression. The Wikipedia article contains more about this episode at PC. Esolen calls to mind this, from George Orwell: “The major problem of our time is the decay of belief in personal immortality.”

As for the "opposed" idea or report we have only to look to Yale Law School last week. The always useful Washington Free Beacon ran an article describing an uproar at the Law School produced by a second-year student's email. I am rather frightened by almost all I read about this, for lack of a better term, "happening." See what you think and please let me know. Perhaps I'm just getting old.

On the other hand, who can read this and simply shrug? From the Asian-American student group at the Law School: "Conservative pundits," the group said, "have invented a crisis of free speech in higher education as a way to distract from the substance of what they are doing in the world—accelerating the climate crisis, propping up the prison-industrial complex, eroding the rights of marginalized communities, deepening economic inequality, and waging perpetual war around the world."

This is not the voice of a "student." This is the voice of a Fascist-in-the-making. And this is the voice of our best and brightest, presumably. God help us all.

The Next Day, 10/25/2021: Addendum.

Amended 12/7/2021: Footnote added last paragraph.

The money quote here is from Robert George: "...the currency of academic discourse "reasons, evidence, arguments..."2

That's what this fight is all about. That's what the phrase "Western Civilization" boils down to. That's what all my perseverations3 on Orwell's concern for the future of objective truth are about. Remember, he said he was more afraid of that than of bombs, and he had seen what bombs do.

  1. Alas, the original source for Prof. George's remark is no longer available. Here is verbatim the footnote provided by Wikipedia to the above citation: "George, Robert P. "I have always thought highly of Providence College". Tumblr. Retrieved May 15, 2017."
  2. See note '1' immediately above.
  3. See, for example, Orwell on Fact and Reality, and Orwell on Fact, Opinion, and Prison
Posted Sunday night, October 24th, 2021

But the General does not possess a first class mind.

The principal question, of course, is whether our leaders, civil or military, need the benefit of a first class mind in order to render the service that the nation needs, and deserves, from them.

As I use the term, a first class mind is able to see over the walls that locally surround it, at least as dictated by the nominal roles that are assigned to it. In the case of a military man, then, a first class mind would empower him to view accurately situations usually thought of as "civilian" matters. Thus, where Milley falls off his horse, in my view, are situations that test the range of his understanding of civil affairs. Obviously he has a first class military mind, but indications are that he rapidly gets into waters quite over his head when required to view, say, current political goings-on.

He's had a lot to say this long Labor Day weekend, in remarks given this weekend to Fox news, and also at the military base at Ramstein, Germany.

What I found quite useful, even revelatory, were the remarks that comprise Wikipedia's article on the General. Despite multiple references to the history of The Third Reich, Milley seems not to grasp the political affiliations of the major players in American politics. So, regarding Biden's Inauguration following the January 6th violence at the Capitol, Milley assures his listeners that "We’re going to put a ring of steel around this city and the Nazis aren’t getting in."

In the presence of a highly visible slow-motion bloodless Communist (if you must, read that as "Democratic National Committee") coup, Milley places the enemy behind the wrong gate. He misunderstands the Reichstag fire by citing it as the model for the January 6th non-Insurrection at the Capitol. A first class mind, to my way of thinking, would be exceedingly cautious of historical missteps of this magnitude. It would be fair to ask of the General "just who are the "Nazis" of which you spoke? His comments on the likelihood of Presidnet Trump resisting a peaceful transition of power similarly betray a large cranial washout in the vicinity of Milley's onboard historical machinery.

Posted late Sunday evening, September 5th, 2021

Let's get oriented for time: it is now some time between one (1) and two (2) am Sunday July 18th. That bizarre creature Psaki has waxed expansively both Thursday and Friday just past as to the probity if not actual sanctity of the Big Tech Censors accepting exact references to what the White House criminal regime deems "misinformation,' for disposition as those censors (Facebook and Twitter) see fit.

Dan Bongino covered her Thursday performance in his Friday podcast ep. 1564), including speculation by him as to the impact on current and future Supreme Court cases her comments may spawn. Then the NYPost ran a column that to my mind simply nailed it. Quoth their contributor Rachel Bovard: "In other words, the platforms have banned debate and inquiry itself." (Ms. Bovard is not indulging in hyperbole; read her piece.)

Five months ago I set about obtaining permission to republish on this blog a longish snippet from a little known piece by George Orwell:


From: Bob Bernstein <>
Subject: Permission to place text on a webpage.
Date: Sat, 20 Feb 2021 23:06:54

I have a roughly one thousand word snip from Orwell's piece "Looking Back On The Spanish War," found here:

...that I wish to place on a webpage I own. It is a non-commercial, practically zero-traffic site that I maintain strictly as a hobby. The site is ''.

I will attach the snip I have chosen in a file named: Orwell_Fading_From_The_World.txt

Pls. advise. Is there another "department" at The Orwell Society to which this mail should be addressed?

Thank you.

-- Bob Bernstein


Since I had made application to the wrong organization (the Orwell Society very courteously and promptly remedied that), it took some time, but the extract is now on this site here: Orwell On Fact and Reality. Now you understand, from the just-cited title I gave the extract, the sense of pathos -- if that's not too strong a term -- with which I view the constant, escalating flagellation by the current regime of the notion of "fact." My purpose in posting that Orwell extract was to provide a text for thoughts on the fact-checking mania that had already, as of last Februray, attained what I felt was crisis proportions. "Someone," I thought, "has to say something reasonable and proper as to what facts are, and are not, and it might as well be me."

As it turns out I was not equal to the task. I dawdled, going down other rabbit-holes, putting up an mp3 snip from an audio version of an Orwell biography, looking into how academic philosophers now treat of facts, and so on. Fortunately Orwell did not prevaricate in his essay, but, in his hallmark plain-spoken-but-surgically-accurate style, set out some markers that any discussion of facts as they can now appear in the Public Square could benefit from as launching points.

It's now gone past three (3) in the morning. so at this juncture I could not do better than to give that link to Orwell himself again: Orwell On Fact and Reality.

Posted terribly early Sunday morning, July 18th, 2021

It would be foolish of the criminal camarilla in and around the White House, who have the dotard in residence there under their thumb, not to wait as long as possible prior to Nov. 2022 before scrapping the filibuster and then bulldozing the For The People Act into law. No sense in giving the opposition extra time to foment unhappiness across these broad fruited plains.

To institute their -- perhaps interim? -- goal of near-martial law they are going to have to finesse as many domestic meltdowns as possible in order to really get the mileage they seek out ot their implementation of the Insurrection Act, which is one of the things that will, per the title of these few thoughts, "happen."

The principal hot-button conflicts the faux and real communists in the government hope to parlay into a massive take-over of raw power are, of course, the crisis at the border, and the coming crisis over the constantly developing public exposure of the recent political crime of the century, the election of Nov. 2020.

At the border it is much more clear how an escalation into armed conflict will occur, and that is what Biden and gang are praying for: "Oh please, let these "patriots" just once -- that's all we ask -- begin to shoot at us. Please!" You will see the Insurrection Act come into force so fast it will make your head spin. The criminal malfeasance on display in respect of the situation at the border is not a failure of the regime; it is their precise intention. The more horrific they manage by sleight of hand and simple lying to make the border zone the more likely it will be that shots will be fired at some point.

As the drumbeat swells for more and more state forensic audits (of the Nov. 2020 vote tallies), which are not going the White House thugs' way so far, the opposition to the For The People Act may reach explosive proportions locally, say, over policing of the no-voter-ID provision, or around demonstrations against the pathetically unconstitutional proscription against legal challenges to the provisions -- remember, at this stage of the game they will be STATUTES -- of S. 1. The crowd violence that may result will make Jan. 6th look like what it actually was: child's play.

Look for "our" Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to play ever more high profile roles in the coming totalitarian crackdown. Fomenting grass-roots violence in order to "justify" wildly over-reaching armed state repression has been a staple of totalitarian-revolutionary thought since the early Anarchists hoped one big explosion could wreak chaos sufficient to trigger "spontaneous" uprising and revolt. And the new Dem's in Congress have done their homework; federal armed incursions into corners of the Public Square could become commonplace. The DOJ now has what amounts to a legacy of co-opting the historical peace-keeping roles of local and state police organizations. Obama and the running dog thug Holder saw to that quite nicely thank you.

To pilfer a line from the late, great Paul Harvey, "and now you know the rest of what is going to happen.

Posted early Friday morning, July 9th, 2021

The following text is for the present submitted without comment.

"If all you have is a hammer...everything starts to look like a fact -- um, I mean..."

The remarkable Cambridge (UK) philosopher, the late John Wisdom, began his landmark essay "Gods" (1944) with this: "The existence of God is not an experimental issue in the way it was."

Belief in God is not now usually put to the test by looking for the results, say, of a particular prayer or ritual. If the desired outcome fails to materialize, suspicion first falls on the prayer; there must have been something faulty in the intention. The initial desire behind the prayer deserves blame, not God. Whether a divine all-powerful benevolent Creator exists is not seen anymore as a question susceptible of being "settled" by a sufficiently diligent collection and collation of facts.

In Western modernity, this has become the accepted wisdom regarding most questions involving "ultimate concerns" (Tillich's phrase). So-called "natural theology," which purports to extract evidence and consequent compelling reasoning from the physical, natural world in support of God's existence and estimable character, has for the most part been confined to a corner of Roman Catholic teaching, being, as it was, a component of the approach of St. Thomas Aquinas to the question. The modern point of view, holding sway since, roughly, the end of the eighteenth century, holds that the really difficult, and most important questions that confront us are not such as can be answered by any imaginable collection of facts, but are instead tangles that demand increased clarity of thought. Conceptual muddles are what bedevil us, not lack of information. Historically, this has been the conclusion since Hume and Kant tackled the foundations of modern science, and left them, still, for the most part not on solid footings.

As an aside it ought to be noted here that the dubiously named enterprise known as "creation science," rather than seeking to make inferences from facts observed in nature to God's existence starts with the latter claim and then attempts to explain in supposed theoretical fashion the facts of evolution. But this is really a dog in another fight, namely the one about the true character of scientific method. What's central to the present discussion is the importance attached to facts in all kinds of diverse settings; their presumed Divine Authorship is yet another fight, one we will bypass for now.

If our ultimate concerns all bear question marks, do we labor more under a dearth of facts, or in a fog of confused thought? Well you may ask, "What are these vital questions that give you so much pause?" Fair question. Let's take a shot:

Is the human mind fitted to understand the universe?

What is reality?

When does life begin?

Does anything exist independently of our idea of it?

In the context of this discussion, here's the real kicker:

What is a fact?

That last one is useful, as it brings out in stark outline the folly of relying on the relentless, and ever-widening search for facts to answer our most basic concerns. This search has gained momentum as more and more aspects of human experience appear to fall under the aegis of something called "science." The medical field especially, awash in new genetic findings almost daily, adds its powerful imprimatur to the notion that very few significant questions ultimately will be left standing when all the data "is in."

We are told that the availability of cheap computing machinery has spawned a new branch of mathematics: experimental mathematics. Are we now to believe that fundamental problems in mathematics have resolved themselves into "factual" questions? Alas, we are going to be bogged down for some time, since the following question is hardly one that can ever be answered by any imaginable collection of facts:

What is scientifc method, and what makes it preferable to, say, divination?

No doubt many will rush in at this point with vague talk about how science can predict events, but actually very, very few sciences have developed to the point where their predictions are much more than educated bets on future outcomes. Physics, chemistry, and some parts of biology can exercise precise predictive capability based on theoretical laws. For the rest of them, they are at best "correlational" pursuits. This, of course, is the wide open barn door through which creation science yokels can drive their buggies into downtown Boards of Education. But to listen to the proud peacocks of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the line between science and beguiling fiction is clear for all to see! Science deals with natural causes of events! Everyone knows that!

By now, you should be ahead of me. You should have already framed in your mind the next addition to our list of important questions which no imaginable collection of facts can ever answer. No? Ok, don't blink: What is nature? How should we discern the natural from what is not natural?

The blame for the creationism debacle in Kansas lies squarely with our scientific community, which has comfortably ignored (for the most part) most all of the philosophical discussion of science that has transpired, as noted, since Hume and Kant pursued their investigations more than some two hundred years ago. That's a long time for perhaps our most powerful intellectual community to ignore the crumbling of its own foundations. And now the piper wants to be paid.

Physicists may enjoy contributing to ventures such as the film What The Bleep Do We Know!?, but if we are all only involved in crafting edifying guiding fictions, then let no one take umbrage when the folks from the other side of the tracks notice that no guiding fiction is any better than any other guiding fiction. Isn't that a fact?

But, when all is said is done, when I look at a pencil sitting in a glass of water, I know the pencil is still straight. I know what is fiction, and what is not. Isn't that a fact?

A pdf of Wisdom's article "Gods" can be downloaded.

Posted Wednesday night, June 30th, 2021

The author of Bob2084 is Bob Bernstein