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A lexophile is a person who loves words, such as "you can tune a piano, but you can't tuna fish", or "To write with a broken pencil is pointless." Here are the results of an annual competition by the New York Times for lexophiles.

No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

If you don't pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.

I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. I just can't put it down.

Did you hear about the crossed-eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn't control her pupils?

When you get a bladder infection, urine trouble.

When chemists die, they barium.

I stayed up all night to see where the sun went, and then it dawned on me.

England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool .

Haunted French pancakes give me the crepes.

This girl today said she recognized me from the Vegetarians Club, but I'd swear I've never met herbivore

I know a guy who's addicted to drinking brake fluid, but he says he can stop any time.

A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.

When the smog lifts in Los Angeles U.C.L.A.

I got some batteries that were given out free of charge.

A dentist and a manicurist married. They fought tooth and nail.

A will is a dead giveaway.

With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.

The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine last week is now fully recovered.

He had a photographic memory but it was never fully developed.

When she saw her first strands of gray hair she thought she'd dye.

Acupuncture is a jab well done. That's the point of it.

Those who get too big for their pants will be totally exposed in the end.


President Reagan’s two best communist jokes:
…you know there is a ten year delay in the Soviet Union for the delivery of an automobile. And only one out of seven families in the Soviet Union own automobiles. There is a 10 year wait, and you go through quite a process when you are ready to buy, and then you put up the money in advance.

This man laid down the money, and the fellow in charge said to him: Come back in 10 years and get your car.
The man answered: Morning or afternoon?

And the fellow behind the counter said: Ten years from now, what difference does it make?

And he said: Well, the plumber is coming in the morning.

And another one:

…the story about the two fellows in the Soviet Union who were walking down the street and one of them says: Have we really achieved full communism? Is this it? Is this now full communism?

The other one said: Oh no, things are gonna get a lot worse.


MANBIJ, Syria — A raid by the U.S. Army’s secretive Delta Force was nearly aborted when an operator discovered endangered Apollo Swallowtail butterflies, sources confirmed today.
Details about the intent of the mission were not disclosed through official channels, but sources said the elite team was hunting an ISIS commander when one soldier called for the team to stop.
“I got two white swallowtails, could be endangered,” the operator said, according to sources.
The sighting reportedly sent shockwaves throughout U.S. Special Operations Command, which culminated in JSOC commander Lt. Gen. General Austin S. Miller being roused from bed at 3:45 a.m. to oversee the mission himself. Sources confirmed that the war room atmosphere was extremely tense, with passions flaring.
“I thought this fucking environmental impact intel was good!” Miller reportedly shouted at CIA Director Gina Haspel during a phone call. “We’ve got a potential butterfly massacre out there, and my boys are right in the middle of it!”
On the ground, operators were able to confirm that the butterflies were Apollo Swallowtails, which are classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, according to officials. Gen. Miller immediately called an emergency meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to discuss the implications of the development, which led the Pentagon to officially deny all knowledge of the mission.
“Cut the satellite feed,” Miller ordered, according to a source who was present. “And may God have mercy on their souls.”
After almost 30 minutes of attempting to reach tactical command via satellite radio, the Delta team leader ordered his men to fashion signs indicating that the area was off-limits for ISIS training, according to the citation of the action, which was recommended for consideration for the Medal of Honor.
“While engaged in security operations, [redacted name] showed conspicuous gallantry by risking his own life and the lives of his team to draw attention to the waning splendor of God’s creation, which man, blinded by ambition and avarice, degrades and destroys with wanton cruelty,” the recommendation read.
After making sure that the signs were clear and legible, the team rerouted around the field to the target house, but due to lack of concealment, they were spotted during their approach. According to a footnote on the Medal of Honor recommendation, four Delta operators were killed.


Next time I go back to that biker bar, I'm bringing my friends along to help me out.
Sure, they might laugh at *one*, but I bet those chain-swinging morons would
cower before *three* Jedi knights.


Bidding for various objects was proceeding furiously, when the auctioneer suddenly announced, "A gentleman in this room has lost a wallet containing $10,000. If it is returned, he will pay a reward of $2,000."

There was a moment's silence, and then from the back of the room came the cry :

"Two Thousand Five Hundred."

Issue of the Times;
The 30 Best Thomas Sowell Quotes

Thomas Sowell is a prolific author and brilliant economist and he is about as good at distilling conservative wisdom into pithy quotes as anyone you will ever read. If you think there’s not enough extraordinary brilliance left in the world, let me introduce you to Thomas Sowell, one of the greatest minds of our generation….

30. “The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling.”

29. “One of the consequences of such notions as ‘entitlements’ is that people who have contributed nothing to society feel that society owes them something, apparently just for being nice enough to grace us with their presence.”

28. “Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late.”

27. "Virtually no idea is too ridiculous to be accepted, even by very intelligent and highly educated people, if it provides a way for them to feel special and important. Some confuse that feeling with idealism."

26. "I wonder what radical feminists make of the fact that it was men who created the rule of 'women and children first' when it came to rescuing people from life-threatening emergencies.”

25. “The word ‘racism’ is like ketchup. It can be put on practically anything — and demanding evidence makes you a ‘racist.’”

24. “To believe in personal responsibility would be to destroy the whole special role of the anointed, whose vision casts them in the role of rescuers of people treated unfairly by ‘society.’”

23. “What sense would it make to classify a man as handicapped because he is in a wheelchair today, if he is expected to be walking again in a month and competing in track meets before the year is out? Yet Americans are given ‘class’ labels on the basis of their transient location in the income stream. If most Americans do not stay in the same broad income bracket for even a decade, their repeatedly changing ‘class’ makes class itself a nebulous concept.”

22. "There is much discussion of the haves and the have-nots, but very little discussion of the doers and the do-nots, those who contribute and those who merely take."

21. "It would be hard to think of a more ridiculous way to make decisions than to transfer those decisions to third parties who pay no price for being wrong. Yet that is what at least half of the bright ideas of the political left amount to."

20. "When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear. People with careers as ethnic leaders usually tell their followers what they want to hear."

19. "'We are a nation of immigrants,' we are constantly reminded. We are also a nation of people with ten fingers and ten toes. Does that mean that anyone who has ten fingers and ten toes should be welcomed and given American citizenship?"

18. “It is amazing how many people think that the government's role is to give them what they want by overriding what other people want.”

17. “Those who cry out that the government should 'do something' never even ask for data on what has actually happened when the government did something, compared to what actually happened when the government did nothing.”

16. “Four things have almost invariably followed the imposition of controls to keep prices below the level they would reach under supply and demand in a free market: (1) increased use of the product or service whose price is controlled, (2) Reduced supply of the same product or service, (3) quality deterioration, (4) black markets.”

15. “Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.”

14. “Weighing benefits against costs is the way most people make decisions – and the way most businesses make decisions, if they want to stay in business. Only in government is any benefit, however small, considered to be worth any cost, however large.”

13. “Considering how often throughout history even intelligent people have been proved to be wrong, it is amazing that there are still people who are convinced that the only reason anyone could possibly say something different from what they believe is stupidity or dishonesty.”

12. "Since this is an era when many people are concerned about 'fairness' and 'social justice,' what is your 'fair share' of what someone else has worked for?"

11. "For the anointed, traditions are likely to be seen as the dead hand of the past, relics of a less enlightened age, and not as the distilled experience of millions who faced similar human vicissitudes before."

10. "It is amazing how many of the intelligentsia call it 'greed' to want to keep what you have earned, but not greed to want to take away what somebody else has earned, and let politicians use it to buy votes."

9. “If you cannot achieve equality of performance among people born to the same parents and raised under the same roof, how realistic is it to expect to achieve it across broader and deeper social divisions?”

8. "It is amazing how many people think that they can answer an argument by attributing bad motives to those who disagree with them. Using this kind of reasoning, you can believe or not believe anything about anything, without having to bother to deal with facts or logic."

7. “Experience trumps brilliance.”

6. “There is usually only a limited amount of damage that can be done by dull or stupid people. For creating a truly monumental disaster, you need people with high IQs.”

5. "There are few modest talents so richly rewarded — especially in politics and the media — as the ability to portray parasites as victims, and portray demands for preferential treatment as struggles for equal rights."

4. “In short, killing the goose that lays the golden egg is a viable political strategy, so long as the goose does not die before the next election and no one traces the politicians’ fingerprints on the murder weapon.”

3. ”The charge is often made against the intelligentsia and other members of the anointed that their theories and the policies based on them lack common sense. But the very commonness of common sense makes it unlikely to have any appeal to the anointed. How can they be wiser and nobler than everyone else while agreeing with everyone else?”

2. “No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems – of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind.”

1. “There are no solutions; there are only trade-offs.”

Quote of the Times;
“You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” – Trotsky

Link of the Times;
A guy goes over to his brother's house all bruised and his clothes torn.

His brother says, "Man, where have you been?"

"I just got back from burying my mother-in-law," says the guy.

"How did you get all bruised and your clothes torn from burying your mother-in-law?"

"She wouldn't lie still!"


Q: What's the difference between roast beef and pea soup?

A: Anyone can roast beef.


Back during the Soviet Union era; a judge walks out of his chambers laughing his head off.

A colleague approaches him and asks why he is laughing.

"I just heard the funniest joke in the world!"

"Well, go ahead, tell me!" says the other judge.

"I can't. I just gave someone ten years for it!"


A biker gang member was holding his 8-month-old baby while his wife was in the kitchen fixing lunch.

The baby murmured "mother."

The guy gets all excited and hollered to his wife, "Hey, the baby just said half a word!"


Q. Why is sleeping with a man like a soap opera?

A. Just when it's getting interesting, they're finished until next time.

Issue of the Times;
Darwin Unhinged: The Bugs in Evolution by Fred Reed

This is atrociously long, criminally even, by internet standards but I post it anyway because I get occasional requests. Few will read it, which is understandable. Apologies. The Devil made me do it. Regular readers, if there is one, will have seen most of it before since in large part it is a gluing together of several columns.

“A scientist is part of what the Polish philosopher of science Ludwik Fleck called a “thought collective”: a group of people exchanging ideas in a mutually comprehensible idiom. The group, suggested Fleck, inevitably develops a mind of its own, as the individuals in it converge on a way of communicating, thinking and feeling.

This makes scientific inquiry prone to the eternal rules of human social life: deference to the charismatic, herding towards majority opinion, punishment for deviance, and intense discomfort with admitting to error. Of course, such tendencies are precisely what the scientific method was invented to correct for, and over the long run, it does a good job of it. In the long run, however, we’re all dead, quite possibly sooner than we would be if we hadn’t been following a diet based on poor advice.”

How the following Came About

I was in high school when I began to think about evolution. I was then just discovering the sciences systematically, and took them as what they offered themselves to be, a realm of reason and dispassionate regard for truth. There was a hard-edged clarity to them that I liked. You got real answers. Since evolution depended on such sciences as chemistry, I regarded it as also being a science.

The question of the origin of life interested me. The evolutionary explanations that I encountered in textbooks of biology seemed weak, however. They ran to, “In primeval seas, evaporation concentrated dissolved compounds in a pore in a rock, a membrane formed, and life began its immense journey.” Still, I saw no reason to doubt this. If it hadn’t been true, scientists would not have said that it was.

Remember, I was fifteen.

In those days I read Scientific American and New Scientist, the latter then still being thoughtfully written in good English. I noticed that not infrequently they offered differing speculations as to the origin of life. The belief in the instrumentality of chemical accident was constant, but the nature of the primeval soup changed to fit varying attempts at explanation.

For a while, life was thought to have come about on clay in shallow water in seas of a particular composition, later in tidal pools with another chemical solution, then in the open ocean in another solution. This continues. Recently, geothermal vents have been offered as the home of the first life. Today (Feb 24, 2005) on the BBC website, I learn that life evolved below the oceanic floor. (“There is evidence that life evolved in the deep sediments,” co-author John Parkes, of Cardiff University, UK, told the BBC News website.”)

The frequent shifting of ground bothered me. If we knew how life began, why did we have so many prospective mechanisms, none of which worked? Evolution began to look like a theory in search of a soup. Fifty-five years later in 2015, it still does.

What Distinguishes Evolution from Other Sciences

Early on, I noticed three things about evolution that differentiated it from other sciences (or, I could almost say, from science). First, plausibility was accepted as being equivalent to evidence. And of course the less you know, the greater the number of things that are plausible, because there are fewer facts to get in the way. Again and again evolutionists assumed that suggesting how something might have happened was equivalent to establishing how it had happened. Asking them for evidence usually aroused annoyance and sometimes, if persisted in, hostility.

As an example, consider the view that life arose by chemical misadventure. By this they mean, I think, that they cannot imagine how else it might have come about. (Neither can I. Does one accept a poor explanation because unable to think of a good one?) This accidental-life theory, being somewhat plausible, is therefore accepted without the usual standards of science, such as reproducibility or rigorous demonstration of mathematical feasibility. Putting it otherwise, evolutionists are too attached to their ideas to be able to question them.

Or to notice that others do question, and with reason. They defend furiously the evolution of life in earth’s seas as the most certain of certainties. Yet in the November, 2005 Scientific American, an article argues that life may have begun elsewhere, perhaps on Mars, and arrived here on meteorites. May have, perhaps, might. Somewhere, somewhere else, anywhere. Onward into the fog.

Consequently, discussion often relies on vague and murky assertion, or ignores obvious questions. Starlings are said to have evolved to be the color of dirt so that hawks can’t see them to eat them. This is plausible and, I suspect, true. But guacamayos and cockatoos are gaudy enough to be seen from low-earth orbit. Is there a contradiction here? No, say evolutionists. Guacamayos are gaudy so they can find each other to mate. Always there is the pat explanation. But starlings seem to mate with great success, though invisible. If you have heard a guacamayo shriek, you can hardly doubt that another one could easily find it. Enthusiasts of evolution then told me that guacamayos were at the top of their food chain, and didn’t have predators. Or else that the predators were colorblind.

On and on it goes. On any coral reef, a scuba diver can see, or rather not see, phenomenally good camouflage in creatures such as octopuses, said to prevent their being eaten. It does. But many fish are garishly colored. What is the advantage?

Second, evolution seemed more a metaphysics or ideology than a science. The sciences, as I knew them, gave clear answers. Evolution involved intense faith in fuzzy principles. You demonstrated chemistry, but believed evolution. If you have ever debated a Marxist, or a serious liberal or conservative, or a feminist or Christian, you will have noticed that, although they can be exceedingly bright and well informed, they display a maddening evasiveness. You never get a straight answer if it is one they do not want to give. Crucial premises are not firmly established. Fundamental assertions do not tie to observable reality. Invariably the Marxist (or evolutionist) assumes that a detailed knowledge of economic conditions in the reign of Nicholas II substitutes for being able to answer simple questions, such as why Marxism has never worked. This is the Fallacy of Irrelevant Knowledge. And of course almost anything can be made believable by considering only favorable evidence and interpreting hard.

Third, evolutionists are obsessed by Christianity and Creationism, with which they imagine themselves to be in mortal combat. This is peculiar to them. Note that other sciences, such as astronomy and geology, even archaeology, are equally threatened by the notion that the world was created in 4004 BC. Astronomers pay not the slightest attention to Creationist ideas. Nobody does—except evolutionists. We are dealing with competing religions—overarching explanations of origin and destiny. Thus the fury of their response to skepticism.

I found it pointless to tell them that I wasn’t a Creationist. They refused to believe it. If they had, they would have had to answer questions that they would rather avoid. Like any zealots, they cannot recognize their own zealotry. Thus their constant classification of skeptics as enemies (a word they often use)—of truth, of science, of Darwin, of progress.

This tactical demonization is not unique to evolution. “Creationist” is to evolution what “racist” is to politics: A way of preventing discussion of what you do not want to discuss. Evolution is the political correctness of science.

The Lair of the Beast

I have been on several lists on the internet that deal with matters such as evolution, have written on the subject, and have discussed evolution with various of its adherents. These men (almost all of them are) have frequently been very bright indeed, often Ivy League professors, some of them with names you would recognize. They are not amateurs of evolution, or high-school principals in Kansas eager to prove their modernity. I asked them questions, such as whether we really know what the primeval seas consisted of, etc. I knew the answers; I wanted to see how serious proponents of evolutionary biology would respond to awkward questions.

It was like giving a bobcat a prostate exam. I got everything but answers. They told me I was a crank, implied over and over (again) that I was a Creationist, said that I was an enemy of science (someone who asks for evidence is an enemy of science). They said that I was trying to pull down modern biology (if you ask questions about an aspect of biology, you want to pull down biology). They told me I didn’t know anything (that’s why I was asking questions), and that I was a mere journalist (the validity of a question depends on its source rather than its content).

But they didn’t answer the questions. They ducked and dodged and evaded. After thirty years in journalism, I know ducking and dodging when I see it. It was like cross-examining hostile witnesses.

This is the behavior not of scientists, but of advocates, of True Believers. I used to think that science was about asking questions, not about defending things you didn’t really know. Religion, I thought, was the other way around. I guess I was wrong.

A Preamble

The intent of this essay is not to debate with the ardent of evolutionism. To do so would be pointless. The problem is one of underlying set of mind, of why people believe and disbelieve things. The greatest intellectual divide is not between those who believe one thing and those who believe another, but between those who have an emotional need to believe something fervently and those who can say, “I don’t know.” The former group comprises those tedious Darwinists and Creationists who hurl imprecations at each other like fans of rival football teams. Each blockheadedly refuses to concede the slightest possibility that its doctrine might be other than infallible. To my mind they constitute the best evidence that we did not descend from monkeys, but have not yet ascended to them. Stupidity beyond a certain point is intractable.

I write here for those who can look at the world with curiosity and calm, divining what can be divined and conceding what cannot, without regarding themselves as members of warring tribes. To judge by the writing on evolution in the public prints, there may be as many as three of these.

On Arrogance

“The universe is not only queerer than we suppose, it is queerer than we can suppose.” J. B. S. Haldane

“Queer”: Exactly the right word, suggesting more the world of Alice in Wonderland than the crisp, clean-edged, perfectly ordered and causal world of physics. This paradigm holds that existence is like a vast crossword puzzle. Some parts we have filled in, others we have not, but by its nature the puzzle is solvable, and it is only a matter of time before we know everything. This is awfully optimistic.

Humans today are a puffed-up and overconfident species. We believe that we know everything, or shortly will. We have a sense of near-omniscience equaled only by that of teenagers. For do we not have smart phones and Mars landers and PET scans, and do we not all speak wisely of DNA? We are, if not gods, at least godlings on the way up. If you don’t believe this, just ask us.

It was not always so. A thousand years ago, mankind cast a small shadow on the earth and lived in a dark and mysterious world. Little was known, about anything. Gods of countless sorts walked the earth. Spirits inhabited sacred groves. Lightning, the moon, the stars were…what? We had no idea. This brought humility.

We now believe that nothing is or can be beyond our powers. A contemplative skeptic might advert to a few remaining details: We don’t know where we came from, why we are here, where “here” is, where we are going if anywhere, or what we ought to do. These are minor questions. We only think about them when we wake up at three a.m. and remember that we are not permanent. We are kidding ourselves.

When people become accustomed to things that make no sense, they begin to seem to. Though we no longer notice it as we peck at tablet computers and listen to droning lowbrow shows about the conquest of nature, we still live in a weird and inexplicable universe, an apparently unending emptiness speckled with sparks of hydrogen fire. It is wicked mysterious. More things in heaven and earth, indeed.

We are not as wise as we think. We are just smarter than anything else we know about. I reiterate Fred’s Principle: The smartest of a large number of hamsters is still a hamster.

Where Evolution Fits In

The Theory of Evolution is not just about biological evolution. It is part of a grand unified theory that seeks to explain everything (except things that it can’t explain, which it ignores). It runs briefly as follows: First came the Big Bang. Subatomic particles flew in all directions, coalesced into atoms and into molecules and stars. Planets formed, then oceans, and then life came about by chemical inadvertence. Evolution produced trilobites, dinosaurs, mammals, and us. In the popular version, though not in the scientific, evolution produces ongoing betterment.

It is not particularly plausible. As someone said, evolution writ large is the belief that a large cloud of hydrogen will eventually turn into Manhattan. But, like a religion, it provides an overarching explanation of origins–the Big Bang–and destiny–we are getting better and better–and gives us a sense of understanding the world.

In this it serves the purposes of a religion and is treated as such by its adherents. They react to questioning with anger and they see their hated opponents as Creationists–that is, adherents of another religion. Note that while in the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925, Christian fundamentalists tried to outlaw Darwin, today evolutionists appeal to the courts to outlaw mention of Creation in the schools. This is not rational. Can anyone believe that describing Creation in high schools will deter students from studying biochemistry, and turn them into intellectual loin-cloth wearers burning textbooks?

Interestingly, atheism has to be part of the evolutionist’s mental equipment since if any sort of god exists, or if there is life after death, or anything beyond the laws of physics, then these things might influence existence in a way outside of physics–and this cannot be allowed.

Before going further, let us look at some of the questions ignored by evolutionism.

In Evolution Writ Large nothing exists but physics. The Big Bang was physics, chemistry is the physics of the interactions of atoms, biochemistry a subset of chemistry and therefore also physics. Everything that happens in a cell is physics (to include biochemistry). Everything that happens in a living body, from movement to thought, is physics. Mutations are physical events. The behavior of DNA follows the laws of physics.

Note that biological evolution is always regarded as an indivisible entity, yet in fact it consists of several distinct components that are logically separable. First, that life came about accidentally in the ancient seas (highly shaky and certainly not demonstrated). Second, that evolution occurred (as the fossil record would seem to show beyond reasonable doubt). Third, that natural selection drove evolution (demonstrable in some cases, plausible in a great many, and highly unlikely in yet others). Fourth, that random mutations drive natural selection (very shaky, but crucial to evolutionism). Fifth, that nothing else drives it.

The unwillingness to recognize that these are separable leads to a tendency to believe that when one of them can be demonstrated–natural selection, say–it is regarded as confirmation of the whole edifice. It isn’t.

An Embarrassing Necessity Before Getting to the Meat of Things

Inevitably one who writes of evolution without being a PhD at CalTech is assaulted on grounds that he must be ignorant of practically everything. I claim to be an expert on nothing. However, I subscribe to the principle that most problems can be solved by the application of modest intelligence and obsessive-compulsive disorder. A fact forgotten today is that one can learn things by reading books. By doing so I have learned enough to talk about at least a few things, such as:

Basophils, eosinophils, neutrophils. Descemet’s membrane, ciliary body, suspensory ligaments, retinal pigmented epithelium (the eye being of evolutionary interest). Peptide pituitary hormones, vasopressin and oxytocin. Osteoclast, osteoblast. Nephrons, glomerulus, Loop of Henle. Axon, dendrite, sodium in-potassium-out depolarization, neurotransmitters, receptor sites. Rough and smooth endoplasmic reticula, Golgi apparatus, lipid bilayers, hydrophobic and hydrophilic tails, lysosomes, ribosomes, epitopes, m-RNA, t-RNA, transcription, translation. Restriction enzymes, DNA polymerase. The Breeder’s Equation, selection differential, pleiotrophy, epistasis, narrow heritability.Purines adenine and guanine and pyrimidines cytocine and thymine (well, uracil in RNA). Degeneracy of the codon alphabet. Nucleotides, nucleosides, adenosine triphosphate, indels, mitochondrial cristae, single-nucleotide polymorphisms, polymerase chain reaction, restriction-fragment length polymorphism, electrophoresis. Luciferin, (and Luciferout?) luciferase, ATP. X chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA. Peptide bonds COOH to NH 2, water molecule extruded. Socially important compounds like 2, 4, 6- trinitrotoluene, toluene being benzene with a CH 3 group, bond resonance in benzene, pH, the negative log of the hydronium ion content. Levo- and dextro- isomers. Alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, al gore. Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, Permian. Purported transitional forms: The Ichthyostegids of, if memory serves, upper Permian sediments of eastern Greenland; Archaeopteryx, Bavaria 1861; coelacanth, Marjorie Latimer, sort of 1937 I think; and my favorite, Piltdown Man. The amniote egg. Saurischian and Ornothiscian dinosaurs. Sauropods, pseudopods, copepods. Etc.

Eyeing the Argument from Time

A matter that needs to be gotten out of the way before continuing is the insistence that, given billions of years–more accurately, about four billion–life had to from just because of all that time. This is by no means clear. In questions of the probability of complex events, time can mean surprisingly little. Consider the assertion famously made by James Jeans, often cited in connection with evolution, that a monkey typing randomly at a keyboard would eventually write all the books in the British Museum. This sounds plausible and, in a purely mathematical sense, is true. What are the odds?

Consider a fair-sized book of 200,000 words that, by newspaper average, would contain about a million letters. To make it easy on the monkey, we will ignore upper case and punctuation and let him work with an alphabet of 26 letters. What are his prospects of getting the book in a given string of a million letters?

The chance of getting the first letter correctly is 1/26 times the chance of getting the second letter, 1/26, and so on, making the chance of getting the entire book 1/261,000,000. Since 26 equals 10log 26, (log 26 being about 1.41) the chance of getting the entire book is 1 in 10 log 26 x 1000,000 or about 101,400,000. Innocent looking numbers like this are remarkably intractable. For example, a billion billion monkeys (more monkeys than I want) typing a billion billion characters a second for a billion billion times the estimated age of the universe (1018 seconds ) would have essentially zero chance of getting the book.

To give our monkey a fighting chance, let’s ask whether he would get even the title of a book, for example On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, which Microsoft Word tells me contains 119 characters. The monkey’s chance of getting the title in a given string of 119 is one in 10119 x x 1.41 or 10168 Thus our billion billion monkey at a billion billion characters a second for the life of the universe is essentially zero.

Is the chance of accidentally forming a living Crittter a similar problem? We don’t know, especially since evolutionists cannot tell us what the First Critter was. But it is their responsibility to tell us, first, what of what complexity formed and, second, why the odds are not astronomically against it. The point to take away is that the invocation of long periods of time can mean little when speaking of the probability of complex yet unspecified events.

A Few Early Questions

(1) Life was said to have begun by chemical inadvertence in the early seas. Did we, I wondered, really know of what those early seas consisted? Know, not suspect, hope, theorize, divine, speculate, or really, really wish. Bear in mind that chemical reactions depend crucially on molarity, pH, temperature, half-life of intermediates, and so on.

The answer is, “no.” We have no dried residue, no remaining pools, and the science of planetogenesis isn’t nearly good enough to provide a quantitative analysis.

2) Do we know what conditions would be necessary for a cell to come about? No, we don’t.

(3) Has the creation of a living cell been replicated in the laboratory? No, it has not. Here the evolutionist will say, “But, Fred, how can you repeat in the laboratory something that took millions and millions of years and billions and billions of gallons of sea water?” You can’t, but am I to believe it happened on the grounds that it can’t be proved?

(4) Could it be shown to be mathematically probable that a cell would form, given any soup whatever? No, it couldn’t, and can’t. (At least not without cooking the assumptions.)

(5) Have biochemists designed a replicating chemical entity that plausibly might have evolved into organisms such as we now have? No.

6) This next I ask, knowing that no answer is possible, to make a point: The more complex we postulate the First Critter to have been, the less likely that it would form accidentally. The less complex, the harder to explain why such a Critter has not been designed in the laboratory. With every passing year, the difficulty grows.

In sum: If we don’t know what conditions existed, or what conditions would be necessary, and can’t reproduce the event in the laboratory, and can’t show it to be statistically probable, and can’t construct something that might have evolved—why are we so very sure that it happened? Would you hang a man on such evidence?

A Surfeit of Soups

To see the desperation of the search for plausible beginnings of life, look at this list, from the Wikipedia, of the wildly differing hypotheses, guesses, theories, and lunges, none of which have worked out. Does it give you a sense that evolutionists know what they are talking about?

Current models
3.1 Origin of organic molecules
3.1.1 “Soup” theory Reducing atmosphere Monomer formation Monomer accumulation Further transformation
3.1.2 Eigen’s hypothesis
3.1.3 Hoffmann’s contributions
3.1.4 Wächtershäuser’s hypothesis
3.1.5 Zn-World hypothesis
3.1.6 Radioactive beach hypothesis
3.1.7 Ultraviolet and temperature-assisted replication model
3.1.8 Models to explain homochirality
3.1.9 Self-organization and replication
3.2 From organic molecules to protocells
3.2.1 Deep sea vent hypothesis
3.2.2 Coenzyme world
3.2.3 RNA world
3.2.4 “Metabolism first” models Iron-sulfur world Thermosynthesis world Bubbles Pumice raft

One hypothesis, as mentioned before, is that life swooped in from outer space on carbonaceous chondrites, or began on Mars (where it conspicuously has not been discovered by a platoon of itinerant Mars landers) and drifted to the earth. That is, life began where apparently there has never been life. The flexibility of evolutionary thinking is greatly to be admired.

Here a point worth making briefly: The press often excitedly reports that “organic compounds” have been found on meteorites, or comets, or interstellar space, or in bottles of chemicals through which an electric spark has been passed. The unfortunate name “organic” suggests origins in living creatures, or the likelihood of turning shortly into living creatures. Actually, “organic chemistry” is, roughly, the chemistry of carbon chains. No living origins nor living intentions are implied. DDT is an organic compound, as is 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene, TNT.

While evolutionists couldn’t demonstrate that life had begun by chemical accident, I can’t show that it did not. An inability to prove that something is statistically possible is not the same as proving that it is not statistically possible. Not being able to reproduce an event in the laboratory does not establish that it didn’t happen in nature. Etc. I didn’t know how life came about. I still don’t. Neither do evolutionists.

Impossibility Theory and Common Sense, If Any

If you look at evolution from other than the perspective of an ideological warrior who believes that he is saving the world from the claws of snake-handling primitive Christians in North Carolina, difficulties arise. Chief among these is the sheer complexity of things. Living organisms are just too complicated to have come about by accident. This, it seems to me, is apparent to, though not provable by, anyone with an open mind.

Everywhere in the living world one sees intricacy wrapped in intricacy wrapped in intricacy. At some point the sane have to say, “This didn’t just happen. Something is going on that I don’t understand.” But an evolutionist cannot say that there is anything he can’t understand, only that there are things he doesn’t yet understand.

Read a textbook of embryology. You start with a barely-visible zygote which, (we are told) guided by nothing but the laws of chemistry, unerringly reacts with ambient chemicals to build, over nine months, an incomprehensibly complex thing we call “a baby.” Cells migrate here, migrate there, modify themselves or are modified to form multitudinous organs, each of them phenomenally complex, all of this happening chemically and flawlessly on autopilot. We are accustomed to this, and so think it makes sense. The usual always seems reasonable. I don’t think it is. It simply isn’t possible, being a wild frontal assault on Murphy’s Law.

Therefore babies do not exist. Quod erat demonstrandum. Unless Something Else is involved. I do not know what.

Complexity upon complexity. In virtually invisible cells you find endoplasmic reticula, Golgi apparatus, ribosomes, nuclear and messenger and transfer RNA, lysosomes, countless enzymes, complex mechanisms for transcribing and translating DNA, itself a complex and still-mysterious repository of information. Somehow this is all packed into almost nowhere. That this just sort of, well, you know, happened is too much to believe. It began being believed when almost nothing was known about the complexity of cellular biology, after which, being by then a sacred text, it could not be questioned. And cannot.

The foregoing is only the beginning of complexity. The many organs formed effortlessly in utero are as bafflingly elaborate as cells themselves. Consider (a simplified description of) the parts of the eye: The globe of three layers, sclera, choroid, and retina. Cornea of six layers, epithelium, Bowman’s membrane, substantia propria, Dua’s layer, Descemet’s membrane, endothelium. Retina of ten layers. Lens consisting of anterior and posterior capsule and contained proteinacious goop. The lens is held by delicate suspensory ligaments inside the ciliary body, a muscular doughnut that changes the shape of lens so as to focus. An iris of radial and circumferential fibers enervated competitively by the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems in opposition. A pump to circulate the aqueous humor. On and on and on. And equally on and on for all the other organs, which last for seventy years, repairing themselves when damaged.


Suspensory ligaments connecting the lens of the eye to the ciliary body. They form flawlessly on their own.

I can’t prove that this didn’t come about accidentally. Neither can I believe it.

The Details (Wherein Lurketh the Devil)

At every level, complexity mounts. The following simplified description of the biochemical functioning of the retina is from Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution by Michael Behe. The book, which I recommend, is accessible to the intelligent laymen, for whom it is written. The author includes the following technoglop to give a flavor of what is involved in vision. The sensible reader will skip through most of it.

When light first strikes the retina a photon interacts with a molecule called 11-cis-retinal, which rearranges within picoseconds to trans-retinal. (A picosecond is about the time it takes light to travel the breadth of a single human hair.) The change in the shape of the retinal molecule forces a change in the shape of the protein, rhodopsin, to which the retinal is tightly bound. The protein’s metamorphosis alters its behavior. Now called metarhodopsin II, the protein sticks to another protein, called transducin. Before bumping into metarhodopsin II, transducin had tightly bound a small molecule called GDP. But when transducin interacts with metarhodopsin II, the GDP falls off, and a molecule called GTP binds to transducin. (GTP is closely related to, but critically different from, GDP.)

GTP-transducin-metarhodopsin II now binds to a protein called phosphodiesterase, located in the inner membrane of the cell. When attached to metarhodopsin II and its entourage, the phosphodiesterase acquires the chemical ability to “cut” a molecule called cGMP (a chemical relative of both GDP and GTP). Initially there are a lot of cGMP molecules in the cell, but the phosphodiesterase lowers its concentration, just as a pulled plug lowers the water level in a bathtub. Another membrane protein that binds cGMP is called an ion channel. It acts as a gateway that regulates the number of sodium ions in the cell. Normally the ion channel allows sodium ions to flow into the cell, while a separate protein actively pumps them out again. The dual action of the ion channel and pump keeps the level of sodium ions in the cell within a narrow range. When the amount of cGMP is reduced because of cleavage by the phosphodiesterase, the ion channel closes, causing the cellular concentration of positively charged sodium ions to be reduced. This causes an imbalance of charge across the cell membrane that, finally, causes a current to be transmitted down the optic nerve to the brain. The result, when interpreted by the brain, is vision. If the reactions mentioned above were the only ones that operated in the cell, the supply of 11-cis-retinal, cGMP, and sodium ions would quickly be depleted. Something has to turn off the proteins that were turned on and restore the cell to its original state. Several mechanisms do this. First, in the dark the ion channel (in addition to sodium ions) also lets calcium ions into the cell. The calcium is pumped back out by a different protein so that a constant calcium concentration is maintained. When cGMP levels fall, shutting down the ion channel, calcium ion concentration decreases, too. The posphodiesterase enzyme, which destroys cGMP, slows down at lower calcium concentration. Second, a protein called guanylate cyclase begins to resynthesize cGMP when calcium levels start to fall. Third, while all of this is going on, metarhodopsin II is chemically modified by an enzyme called rhodopsin kinase. The modified rhodopsin then binds to a protein known as arrestin, which prevents the rhodopsin from activating more transducin. So the cell contains mechanisms to limit the amplified signal started by a single photon. Trans-retinal eventually falls off of rhodopsin and must be reconverted to 11-cis-retinal and again bound by rhodopsin to get back to the starting point for another visual cycle. To accomplish this, trans-retinal is first chemically modified by an enzyme to trans-retinol— a form containing two more hydrogen atoms. A second enzyme then converts the molecule to 11-cis-retinol. Finally, a third enzyme removes the previously added hydrogen atoms to form 11-cis-retinal, a cycle is complete.

I can perhaps imagine an Airbus 380 assembling itself. I cannot begin to imagine the foregoing evolving on its own. Or working flawlessly for more than a millisecond.

Worse Than Intelligent Design: Layers of Impossibility

If in an unexplored region of the Amazon Basin you find a grass hut next to a dugout canoe, you may not know who made them, but you suppose that someone must have. This is the theory of Intelligent Design. When you find in nature systems of unfathomable complexity that nonetheless work flawlessly, it is not unreasonable to suspect that they were designed, and perhaps sustained, by someone, or something. I have no idea who or what or why.

Equally mysterious—equally impossible, I would say—is how biological systems can function at all, no matter how they came into being. The workings of every detail of, say, a human body can indeed be explained mechanistically, in terms of chemistry and physics, and this is the result that comes out of experimentation. In the laboratory you can show, or seem to show, that enzyme A binds to enzyme B, activating enzyme C and allowing enzyme D to do whatever enzyme D does. (You can show that a massive federal program makes sense in detail. But does it work in practice?)

But to believe that 180 pounds of infinitely complex, interacting chemical reactions (me, for example) can go on for seventy years without utter collapse requires powers of belief beyond the wildest imaginings of religious faith. The whole is less possible than the sum of its parts. Something is going on that we do not understand.

Domain Bloat

Consider a plane geometer. He deals with a limited domain of planes, lines, points, and angles, and nothing else. These produce elegant mathematics and useful results. He cannot deal with volumes, momentum, or tailgate parties, because these cannot be derived from the elements of his domain. They are beyond the scope of his subject.

The domain of the sciences is physics, its elements being space, time, matter, and energy, however hyphenated. Everything in science ultimately reduces to physics. Evolution is the physics of interactions of biochemical systems with their physical environment over time, and thus also is a subset of physics. Nothing can happen in evolution that does not derive from and follow the laws of physics.

Just as a baseball game cannot be derived from or be explained by plane geometry, which does not contain matter, energy, time, or space of three dimensions, neither can such things as thought, consciousness, morality, volition, or exaltation be explained by physics. The desire to strangle your mother-in-law does not fall out of the equations of motion. When evolutionists try to explain behavior such as altruism in terms of physics (which is what they are doing, though most of them don’t know it) they are like a plane geometer trying to explain a cheeseburger in terms of lines and angles in a plane. It can’t be done. The trouble with the sciences (though not with all scientists) is exactly this, that they try to explain within the domain of physics things that are outside of its purview.

Studying Us: Explaining the Explainers

The sciences get into particular difficulties when they try to explain the explainer, which is to say us. Consider the brain which, we are told, is just an electrochemical machine. Everything that happens in the brain, we are told, follows the laws of chemistry and physics.

And this certainly seems to be the case. For example, neurotransmitters diffuse across the synaptic gap: pure chemistry and physics. They bind to receptors on the other side: pure chemistry and physics. Enzymes like acetylcholinesterase clear the residue from the gap: pure chemistry and physics. The resulting nervous impulse sails down the distal fiber as it depolarizes, sodium in, potassium out: pure chemistry and physics. It is as mechanical as a 1901 typewriter.

Which means that the brain cannot, and thus we cannot, make choices. Physical systems cannot choose what to do. A bowling ball dropped from the top of the Washington Monument cannot decide to fall up, or sideways, instead of down, nor choose how fast to fall, nor how far. Similarly, the end point of a physical system is determined by starting conditions. A molecule of a neurotransmitter binds ineluctably to a receptor because of stereochemistry and charge. It cannot not bind.

It follows then that we cannot choose one action over another. Our thoughts are predetermined by the physicochemical states of our brains. We think what we think because it is physically impossible to think anything else. Thus we cannot think at all. QED.

Unless Something Else is going on. I don’t know what.

Paradox is a consequence of domain bloat. Descartes famously said, “Cogito ergo sum.” Ambrose Bierce less famously but more insightfully said, “Cogito cogito, ergo cogito sum. Cogito.”

Survival of the Survivors

Most people think that, “fitness” meaning “suitability for a purpose,” survival of the fittest means that the smarter, stronger, and faster survive and produce more offspring than the stupid, weak, and slow. It does not. The study of such things is called population genetics and, as a professor of it says, “In population genetics, fitness means the rate of successful reproduction, nothing else.” That is, fitness does not promote survival, but is survival. The circularity is well known: Why do they survive? Because they are fit. How do you know that they are fit? Because they survive.

If fitness means the rate of successful reproduction, we encounter the interesting conclusion that a woman with a genetic IQ of sixty and twelve retarded children by forty-five drive-by fathers is more fit than a Harvard math professor who runs Triathlons but has two children.

If instead of “fitness” with its almost inescapable overtones of “superiority,” we used “reproduction rate,” clarity would follow. Perish forbid.

A staple of evolutionism is that evolution works to maximize the number of offspring, thus passing on successful genes. This is plausible but, in the case of us, counter to observation (but why let facts debilitate a perfectly good theory?) The populations of advanced countries, all of which could easily support larger numbers of people, are actually falling. For example, Japan, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Russia. In Mexico, as the standard of living rises, the birth rate falls sharply. How one passes on one’s genes by not passing them on is a mystery of population genetics.

Meanwhile the populations of black Africa, the civilizational equivalents of the unwed mother with an IQ of 60, grow rapidly. Which is to say that in advanced countries, reproduction of individuals is inversely proportional to circumstances favoring it–intelligence health, wealth, and education. Among nations, as noted, a similar phenomenon exists.

When this is pointed out, evolutionists hem and haw (or should I say hem and her?), sometimes say that evolution no longer applies to humans, (though they simultaneously insist that evolution is ongoing and rapid) and then often blame falling populations on contraception, as if this were an outside force, like drought or a new predator. But saying that contraception causes falling populations ls like saying that spears cause hunting. People wanted to eat, so they invented spears. They wanted not to have children, so they invented contraception. Not passing on one’s genes is now almost a preoccupation.

Another peculiarity is populational altruism. Countries with declining populations intentionally import inferior but more-fecund genetic groups. Sweden for example imports black Africans. In the United States, the white population feeds and clothes huge number of genetically utterly distinct blacks, and actually seems to be growing them. The Darwinian advantage of this is elusive.

Current Human Evolution

Evolutionists insist that human evolution continues today at a rapid pace. There is nothing illogical in this to the extent that it is a matter of selective breeding and that evolution is defined as a change in phenotype. In some cases it can be shown to happen.

Consider for example cognitive stratification, in which very smart people tend to go to Ivy universities, marry each other, and produce smart children. The children will tend to revert toward the mean but, as they interbreed, the mean will rise. Thus a fairly distinct subpopulation comes about.

While such things certainly can occur, problems arise in the evolutionists’ casual attribution of traits to evolutionary change. The first is that “selective pressure” usually cannot be measured and cannot be correlated with its purported results. Traits are regularly attributed to genes that have not been demonstrated acted upon by selective pressures that cannot be quantified to produce results that cannot be correlated with the pressures. The second is that results often seem to be inversely related to what would seem to be obvious selective advantage.

Often it seems that evolution is driven less by selective pressure than by the absence of selective pressure. Before the advent of modern medicine, people with inferior genetic endowments– low resistance to disease, or possession of genetic diseases such as diabetes, serious retardation, etc.–tended to die before reproducing. This selective pressure served to keep those diseases at a low level in the population. Today the defective are kept alive to reproductive age, have children, and thus rapidly increase the prevalence of those diseases in the population.

There is the curious fact that traits of very little obvious value flourish, while those seemingly important do not. Consider the epicanthic fold, which makes the Japanese and Chinese slant-eyed. Evolutionists I have read assert alternately that the fold serves to conserve energy or to protect the eye against icy winds, thus furthering survival. Characteristically, they cite no studies demonstrating that the fold does either of these things: In evolution, plausibility substitutes for evidence. The fold has become universal in the populations, suggesting that powerful selective pressures must have been responsible.

But what pressures? Do we really believe that the fold provides enough protection to the eye, if it provides any at all, to result in its possessor having more children than others? Do foldless Vikings go blind? Where is the evolutionary noise level? At what point is the selective advantage, if any, so slight as to make no difference?

Which brings us to a baffling question. Why does a trait with very little or no reproductive value–the fold–become universal, when traits such as high intelligence, great physical prowess, astonishing eyesight, and so on not become even common? The genes for all of these already exist in the population without the need for mutations.

If traits that conduce to reproduction become evermore prevalent, it follows that traits that do not become prevalent do not conduce to reproduction. These would seem to include the aforementioned–intelligence, strength, and so on–as these seem no more common now than in c classical antiquity.

If human evolution continues today at a rapid pace as evolutionists say (and indeed it may) it follows that selective pressures must be fairly intense. It is reasonable to ask, what pressures to what end? Cognitive stratification–the self-selection of people with IQs of perhaps 130 and up–qualifies and may lead to a blurry-edged yet distinct subpopulation.

Yet pressures would otherwise seem to be low now. In modern human populations, in which almost no one dies in infancy, almost everyone marries, and almost everyone has the same small number of children, the number of offspring is not determined by life-or-death selection. The football captain gets the prom queen, but the class nerd gets the nerdette and can have as many children. Almost everyone lives past reproductive age, so there is little culling effect as the slow are eaten by wolves. The genetically sickly are kept alive and allowed to reproduce by medicine. Consequently it is hard to image Darwinian selection occurring with much ferocity.

Nor can I see evidence for more than minor changes in the 2500 years since Fifth-Century Athens. Statues by Phidias and Praxiteles and later Roman copies show people exactly like us. It is impossible to give IQ tests to the long dead, but Plato and Archimedes seem very like the best minds of today, and the writing of such as Xenophon are indistinguishable in complexity, clarity, and quality of mind from good modern writers. Nothing suggests that the ancients were any less athletic, bellicose, or agile than we are, or that they had senses any less acute. The 2500 years of rapid evolution appear to have produce a net of zero.

The Bugs in Darwin

A Thing is Not Possible Merely Because It Happens: The Tarantula Hawk

It is easy to imagine how a complex system, once in existence, can, within limits, evolve under the influence of selective pressures. Any dog breeder can demonstrate this. Or think of the path from Eohippus to Clydesdale. The difficulty lies in knowing how the system came about in the first place.

Consider the Tarantula Hawk, a gigantic wasp that begins life as an egg inside a paralyzed and buried tarantula, where its mother put it. This may seem unmotherly, but there is no accounting for taste. The egg hatches. The larva feeds on the spider, somehow knowing how to avoid the vital organs so as to keep the monster alive and fresh. It pupates and then, a new adult, digs its way out of the burrow.

Off it flies. Never having seen another wasp, or anything else, it finds one, and knows how to mate. (Mating, if you think about it, is a rather more complex process than it may seem to high-schoolers. Some insects mate while flying, which compounds the trickiness. Think airline pilots and stewardesses.) Never having seen a tarantula, it knows how to find one, knows that it needs to attack it, knows exactly how to sting it, knows that it must drag it to its burrow, which it knows it has to dig, knows how to lay its egg on the tarantula and how to bury it.

Now, some of this may be imagined as evolving by gradual steps (emphasis on “imagined,” which in matters evolutionary is good enough) as required by Darwin. All it takes is enough time. In enough time, anything desired will happen. Of millions and billions of eggs deposited in unfortunate tarantulas, over millions of years, some larvae ate the spider’s vital organs and so died in a rotting spider, not passing on their genes. Others pupated but tried to dig out by going downwards or sideways, thus dying and not passing on their genes. Only those with don’t-eat-the-important-parts mutations and this-way-is-up mutations survived, and so their genes became universal. This we are told.

But…but knowing what a tarantula looks like when you have never seen one, or seen anything, knowing that you need to sting it and just how, that you need to dig a burrow and drag the spider to it, and cover it up, when all of this has to occur in order or the whole process fails….

You have to be smoking Drano.

The Bot Flyc

The Bot fly is a squat, ugly, hairy fly that (in one version anyway) catches a mosquito, lays its eggs on on said mosquito after positioning it correctly, and attaches them with a kind of glue. It releases the mosquito. When the little feathery syringe lands on, say, a human, the eggs drop off, hatch, and burrow into the host. These make nasty raised lumps with something wiggling inside them. Later the larvae exit, fall to the ground, and pupate.

How did this evolve? Did a grab-a-mosquito gene occur as a random mutation (assuming that a single mutation could cause such complex behavior)? It would have to be a grab-a-mosquito-but-don’t-cripple-it gene. That is an awful lot of precise behavior for one mutation. At this point the bot fly would have a mosquito but no idea what to do with it. It would need simultaneously to have a stick-eggs-on-mosquito mutation. This would seem to require another rather ambitious gene.

Catching the mosquito without laying the eggs, or squashing the mosquito in the process, or laying eggs in mid air without having caught the mosquito, would seem a losing proposition. None of these awfully-lucky mutations would be of use without the others. How do you evolve this elaborate dance by gradual steps?

There’s not enough Drano.

Hornets, Yet

Living things are impossible, but some are more so. Consider brains. Larger brains supposedly allow more-complex behavior. In a laptop civilization, we refer to this as “processing power.” But consider hornets, cautiously. These have very complex behavior but almost no brains or other nervous tissue. Yet their unbrains control six multiply-joined legs (any robotics engineer will tell you that this is a massive problem), and allow them to fly precisely, also a very difficult problem. They know just how to chew wood fiber to make a paste from which they know how to construct complex nests. They know how and when to mate, which is not a simple a process. The same barely existent nervous system operates various senses and interprets the resulting data, which also isn’t easy. They find food, inform the others of its location, and navigate effortlessly over long distance.


Even worse than hornets: Here you see very little ant, and very little of very little ant consists of nervous tissue. Yet they too build nests, control legs, and senses, and digestive organs, find food, care for young, and lots more. It takes an evolutionist not to suspect that something is going on that we do not understand. Another ant might notice, but not an evolutionist.

Yet hornets are pointy-headed intellectuals compared to pharaoh ants, above, those super-tiny picnic abominations of which several would fit on a hornet’s eye. They too have complex social organization and so on—with hardly any neurons. In general, the behavior of social insects is probably more complex than that of whales. It is inexplicable, or at least unexplained.

Metamorphosis: You Can’t Get There from Here

Straight-line evolution, for example in which Eohippus gradually gets larger until it reaches Clydesdale, is plausible because each intervening step is a viable animal. Darwin himself pointed this out. In fact it is just selective breeding. Yet many evolutionary transformations seem to require intermediate stages that could not survive. Metamorphosis in insects is perhaps the most baffling example.

Consider. There are two-cycle bugs that lay eggs that hatch into tiny replicas of the adults, which grow, lay eggs, and repeat the cycle. The four-cycle bugs go through egg, larva, pupa, adult. Question: What are the viable steps needed to evolve from two-cycle to four-cycle? Or from anything to four-cycle?

Here I am stumped. As best I can see, the eggs of the two-cycler would have to evolve toward being caterpillars, which are enormously different structurally and otherwise from adults. Goodbye legs, chitinous exoskeleton; head, thorax, and abdomen, on and on. Whatever the first mutation toward this end, the resulting newly-hatched mutant would have to be viable—able to live and reproduce until the next mutation occurred.

Let us consider this question carefully.

We begin with a two-cycle bug, that for convenience we will call a roach, which will endeavor to evolve into a bug that, also for convenience, we will assume to be a butterfly. The roach has the insect’s standard body plan of head, thorax, and abdomen, and the usual chitinous exoskeleton. From a spirit of charity we will assume that it is a flying roach to give it a head start toward butterflyhood.

To achieve that exalted end, our roach would first have to evolve into a caterpillar–that is, a larval form. It is difficult to see how this could occur at all, or why. To become a caterpillar, our roach would have to lose its jointed legs, exoskeleton, and body plan. Since not even the most hopeful evolutionist could attribute such sweeping changes to one mutation, the transformation would have to proceed by steps involving at least several and probably many mutations. Losing the exoskeleton would leave it unarmored and unable to walk, not an obvious selective advantage. Or do we believe that head, thorax, and abdomen first merged mediated by a long chain of accidental mutations under mysterious selective pressures , and then it lost its exoskeleton and became, well– bait?

But if these things did happen, they would lead to a free-standing race of caterpillars, a new species, necessarily being able to reproduce. Then, for reasons mysterious to me, these would have to decide to pupate and become butterflies. And the butterfly would have to lay eggs that became caterpillars.

Which could not possibly work. Metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly is enormously complex and if you don’t get it right the first time, it’s curtains. It would depend on a great many steps which would have to appear simultaneously. First, our caterpillar would have to use its spinnerets (of mysterious provenance, but never mind) to make a cocoon, in which which would proceed to die because it hadn’t yet evolved metamorphosis. Why a caterpillar would think of doing this is not clear. To turn successfully into a butterfly, it would need the biochemical machinery to transform a mushy, legless, wingless, head-thorax-abdomenless worm into an utterly different creature. Where would it have gotten the impossibly complex genetic blueprint of the butterfly?

Methinks something is going on that we do not understand.

Note that the questions posed by these bugs are not merely pleasant musings on a slow afternoon. Either the Theory of Evolution can explain them, or the theory fails. The problem is usually referred to as that of Irreducible Complexity, the requirement that a great many mutations each of no value in itself, or actually harmful, appear simultaneously to create a given outcome.

Irreducible Complexity

This term, implied in the foregoing, refers to the frequently observed existence in living organisms of systems that depend for their functioning on the simultaneous presence of things that would be either useless or detrimental by themselves, and thus make no evolutionary sense. For example, none of the individual steps of the bot fly’s complicated behavior with its mosquito would be of any value unless all the others were also present. This is irreducible complexity: take away any part and the system fails.

Evolutionists insist that irreducible complexity does not exist. If this is true, then any biological system can be simplified step by step back to its origins without producing intermediate stages that could not survive. In particular, a living cell, the functionally important parts of which seem irreducibly complex, can be simplified bit by bit to produce the original First Critter. Why has this not been done?

I find it interesting to imagine just how the simplification might be carried out. Perhaps by reducing the number of nucleotides per codon from three to two? This would allow coding only sixteen amino acids with no STOPs or STARTs. Can we eliminate transcription and go direct to translation? Get rid of the cell membrane so that everything inside floats off in different directions without extinguishing what was left?

Surely this process would solve the problem of seeing how the cell evolved from the First Critter, and what that critter was.

If there is no such thing as irreducible complexity.

The Two Cop-Outs

Traits often arise for which there is no good evolutionary explanation. Evolutionists here have two escape hatches, (1) conservation of energy, and (2) sexual selection. For example, if one points out that humans are weak and would be more survivable if they were as strong as, say, chimpanzees, the response is that having larger muscles would require a higher caloric intake to maintain them, and lead to starvation if there were a drought. Sexual selection: If peacocks have hugely conspicuous tails that would attract predators, the explanation is that all the girls love a good tail, so the guy leaves more children. Let’s look at these notions.

Conservation of energy. Human beings are conspicuous in the natural world for being weak and slow, and for having poor senses of smell and hearing. Why? Evolutionists have multiple stories. One is that because humans walk upright, they can see farther on open veldt and thus have substituted vision for other senses that just are not necessary.

This makes no sense which, as so often in matters evolutionary, doesn’t matter. Obviously being able to detect approaching predators at night by smell would be a great advantage. Lions are the color of dirt and dead vegetation and take advantage of both. Horses, which have good vision, and eyes at about the level of a human’s, have an excellent sense of smell. This story doesn’t live up even to the usual evolutionary standard of vague plausibility.

Another explanation of the poor olfaction of humans is that a more acute sense would require larger olfactory regions in the brain and, since a surprisingly large proportion of the body’s energy is expended by the brain, these larger olfactory regions would increase the need for food and cause starvation in time of famine.

Does this make sense? No.

Consider. Rats have a much better sense of smell than do humans, which they use in finding what they regard as food. A rat’s brain weighs two grams, a human’s about 1350. Let us assume that a rats entire brain is dedicated to smell, which of course it isn’t. Adding all of a rat’s brain to the human would increase its size from 1350 to 1352 grams, an increase of 2/1350 or .15%, Since the brain uses 15% of a human’s energy budget, the overall increase in energy requirements is 2/1350 X 100 X .15, or .02%. Not 2%, but .02%. This minute increase cannot possibly offset the advantages of an acute sense of smell.

The same reasoning applies to other sense, such as hearing. And of course people already have olfactory regions. They just don’t do much.

Sexual selection. Another way of explaining things that otherwise make no sense is “sexual selection.” Many things would seem to work against survival, yet persist in nature: huge antlers not usable in combat, the gorgeous tails of peacocks, and large breasts in humans, among many others. Why do women have conspicuous breasts? They are not needed to produce adequate milk, and they are a substantial physical disadvantage in running (thus we have sports bras). One would expect them to disappear.


These things are useless for defense as the animal would have to stand on its head to present them to an enemy. They cannot help balance or speed. We are to believe that they serve as sexual attractants because otherwise they are inexplicable. (I favor option B.) Since it is unlikely that headgear so glorious sprang from a point mutation, they must have begun as mere bumps. And all the girls swooned?

The answer is sexual selection: men are attracted to large breasts, so those women with them mate and have more children. This suggests that women with modest endowments will have trouble getting laid, which in turn suggests that evolutionists need to get out more.

The problems with sexual selection are twofold. First is that sexual selection requires a pre-existing attraction to large breasts. Otherwise in a cave society when the first woman through mutation appeared with big ones, we would hear one cave man say to another, “Geez, Urk Urk, what’s wrong with Sally?” “Beats, me, Ralph. Maybe it’s cancer.” But why would there be a preference for large breasts when there were no large breasts to prefer?

The second problem is that if sexual selection favored large breasts, by now most women would have them, which visibly is not the case. (Again, compare Greek statues of 2500 years ago look like us.) And of course when the sexually-selected trait became general in the population, it would cease to be of advantage.

The Problem of Consciousness

While consciousness seems the defining characteristic of life, (“I am conscious, therefore I am.”) or at least of the higher forms of animal life, it cannot be derived from physics. It cannot even be detected. Are ants conscious–or, for that matter, rocks? Are dogs less conscious than people, and ants less conscious than dogs? Or are they just less intelligent? How could we tell? The questions may seem silly, but they are not. They are tied up with our ability to make decisions, which physics says we cannot. Again, our brains, which are physical systems, cannot act on decisions any more than a dropped bowling ball can decide to fall sideways.

Here is something outside of physics, and therefore outside of evolution, which must be ignored, and is.

There Must Be a Virus

When people have engaged in bitter ideological war over a theoretical ship dear to them, they tend to overlook the cracks and stains and leaks in the planking. Evolutionism is full of such. An unaffiliated skeptic can point them out in droves.

In evolution, traits which conduce to survival, and thus to the passing on of genes, are supposed to flourish, while traits that work against this happy passing on, or simply do nothing, are supposed to be eliminated. Does this happen?

Often, yes. Not infrequently, no.

An obvious problem is male homosexuality. Homosexuals seldom have children. How does not passing on one’s genes contribute to passing on one’s genes? The condition would seem to be a prime candidate for elimination by evolution, yet it has apparently been with us forever. If this cannot be explained away, then something is wrong with the theory in at least this case.

Here evolutionists fall back on their Maginot Line, vague plausibility. For example Greg Cochran, a physicist of immoderate pomposity at the University of Utah, says that a virus causes homosexuality. The evidence for this virus? Homosexuality. Yet the chief characteristic of the virus unfortunately seems to be indetectability: No one can find it. Without this virus, the evolution would fail, at least at this point. Therefore a virus must, must, must exist. We infer reality from the needs of our theory.

Other reproductive traits suffer from similar inexplicability: what are the reproductive value of suicide, masochism, sadism, schizophrenia, and so on? Should these not be filtered from the gene pool? Must we invoke viruses to explain these too? Schizophrenia: A Neanderthal who thought that the CIA put transmitters in his teeth and tried to shake hands with Kodiak bears might limit his reproductive opportunities. While a suicide who blows himself up with a bomb may be said to be disseminating his DNA, it serves little reproductive purpose. Yet all of these things have been with us forever.

I therefore propose the existence of a virus for each of these peculiarities. And perhaps one for sun spots.

Again, the problem is Domain Bloat, insisting that one’s theory explain what it can explain but also what it can’t.

Next, consider pain. If you step on broken glass, it hurts, so you stop doing it, and don’t end up crippled and eaten by wolves, and so you can pass on your genes upon encountering an amiable maiden. This makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense is the agonizing pain caused by many circumstances about which, pre-medicine, the victim could do nothing. Kidney stones, for example, are paralyzingly painful. A choroidal hemorrhage, behind the retina, is hideous. The agony has no utility since the premodern sufferer could do nothing about it. For that matter, the contribution of migraines to survival is not apparent, as a person rolling on the ground and clutching his head would seem vulnerable to ingestion. On and on. Why the abundant pain receptors with no function? Why do they not, like Marx’s state, wither away?

Perhaps instead of asking, “How does evolution explain a thing?” we should occasionally ask “Does evolution explain it?”

Impossible, Impossibler, Impossiblest


Clear examples of things outside the domain of physics are morality, right and wrong, Good and Evil. A Darwinist cannot say that some things are intrinsically wrong. “Wrong” cannot be derived from physics. Instead he must show that moral behavior exists because it promotes the passing on of genes. Thus I nurse my brother back to health when he has a broken leg because together we can protect ourselves and our women better and thus pass on our genes.

This of course runs into all sorts of problems. In Moslem countries, “honor kills” are thought acceptable: killing one’s daughter on discovering that she had engaged in sex before marriage (thus offering to pass on her, and her father’s, genes, but never mind). In Christian countries, this is called “first-degree murder,” and likely results in Dad’s sitting in a funny chair with wires running to it. Are we to believe that Moslem genomes contain a kill-daughter gene? Or is the obvious explanation, culture, to blame?

It is interesting that evolutionists do not believe their own doctrine. Suppose a Darwinist found out that my hobby was using a blowtorch to torture to death children with severe genetic retardation. He would be horrified.

“Why?” I would ask. “We certainly do not want them passing on their extremely defective genes. Caring for them expends resources that would be better spent in raising more children to pass on our genes. Torturing them has no more evolutionary meaning than killing them instantly. Actually, all I am doing is terminating certain chemical reactions and allowing others to begin. What then is your objection?”

His objection would of course be that torturing children is wrong. But, again, “wrong” doesn’t exist within the domain of physics, and so of Darwinism. Domain bloat.

There is Something Else involved. I do not know what.

Quote of the Times;
“The most ominous of modern perversions is the shame of appearing naïve if we do not flirt with evil.” - Dávila

Link of the Times;
A man is lying in bed in a Catholic hospital with an oxygen mask over his mouth. A young auxiliary nurse appears to sponge
his face and hands.

"Nurse," he mumbles from behind the mask, "Are my testicles black?"

Embarrassed, the young nurse replies, "I don't know, I'm only here to wash your face and hands."

He struggles again to ask, "Nurse, Are my testicles black?" Again the nurse replies, "I can't tell. I'm only here to wash
your face and hands."

The ward sister was passing and saw the man getting a little distraught so marched over to inquire what was wrong.

"Sister," he mumbled, "Are my testicles black?"

Being a nurse of longstanding, the sister was undaunted. She whipped back the bedclothes, pulled down his pajama trousers,
moved his penis out of the way, had a right good look, pulled up the pyjamas, replaced the bedclothes and announced,

"Nothing wrong with them!"

At this the man pulled off his oxygen mask and asked again, "Are my test results back?"


25 Smart Synonyms You Should Be Using

The word thesaurus literally means "repository" or "storehouse," and it ultimately comes from the same root as the word
treasure. There's certainly some treasure to be unearthed in one, so in honor of Thesaurus Day, here are 25 smart-sounding
synonyms to reboot your vocabulary.


Derived from the same root as abdomen, if you're abdominous then you have a paunchy stomach, or a large, protruding belly.


Billingsgate was a famous fish market in central London. Thanks to the foul language of the people who worked there, the
name eventually became synonymous with all coarse or abusive language.


Derived from the Greek "bad character," a cacoethes (that's "ka-ko-EE-theez”) is an insatiable desire to do something


Daedalus was the architect who built the Labyrinth in the ancient myth of the Minotaur, and, derived from his name,
someone who is daedal is especially skilled or artful.


A brangle is a squabble or a noisy argument, while to embrangle someone is to throw them into a quandary or to utterly
perplex them. An embranglement, likewise, is a tricky, confusing situation.


If you've come down with the flu you might be feeling febrile, or feverish. It might only be a febricula (that's a light
or passing fever), but nevertheless, you might need a febrifuge (a drug that lowers your temperature).


If something glidders, it freezes over, which makes something gliddery very slippery, as if covered in ice.


That's the medical name for this curious phenomenon, which is also called gooseflesh, henflesh, or goose-pimpling.


It's a little on the old-fashioned side, but idoneous, derived from the Latin word idoneus, makes a perfectly, well,
appropriate replacement for words like proper, fit, and suitable.


Derived from a Latin word meaning "to boast" or "speak out," jactance or jactancy is vainglorious boasting.


A word from Scots dialect but with its roots in Scandinavia, kenspeck or kenspeckle means "easily recognizable" or


Laodicea was a city in ancient Asia Minor. According to the biblical Book of Revelation, the people of Laodicea were known
for their religious apathy, their fair-weather faith, and their lukewarm interest in the church—all of which prompted a
pretty stern letter from St. John. As a result, a Laodicean is an apathetic, indifferent, or unconcerned person when it
comes to religion.


A mephitis is a noxious, foul-smelling fume emanating from inside the earth, and anything that smells as bad as that is
mephitic. Case in point, skunks were known as "mephitic weasels" is the 19th century.


As well as being another name for a ship's purser (the steward in charge of the ship's accounts), a nipcheese is a mean,
penny-pinching person. Feel free to also call your most miserly friend a nip-farthing, a shut-purse, a pinch-plum, or a


Derived from the same root as the word oblique, if something obliquates then it turns or bends to one side.


Ironically, the thesaurus is full of weird and wonderful words for people who don't say very much. As well as
pauciloquent, people who like to keep things brief can be laconic, synoptic, or breviloquent.


Quintessence is already a fairly smart-sounding word, but you can up the stakes with quiddity: Derived from a Latin word
meaning "who," the quiddity of something is the very essence or nature of something, or a distinctive feature or


Derived via French from the Latin word for "laugh," if you're riant then you're cheerful or mirthful. A riant landscape or
image, likewise, is one that makes you happy or is pleasurable to look at.


A saccade is an involuntary twitch or movement of the eye—and, figuratively, that makes someone who is saccadic
characteristically fidgety, twitchy, or restless.


To tergiversate literally means "to turn your back on" something, but more loosely, it means to dodge a question or issue,
or to avoid a straightforward explanation.


Probably originally meant to be onomatopoeic, ululation is a howling sound like that made by wolves. More figuratively, to
ululate can be used to mean "to bewail" or "lament."


Derived from the Latin word for a soothsayer or seer, to vaticinate is to prophesize or predict something.


Wanchance is an old Scots dialect word for misfortune. Derived from that, the adjective wanchancy has fallen into more
widespread use to mean "unlucky," "ill-fated," or in some contexts, "uncanny" or "eerily coincidental."


There are more yester– words in the dictionary than just yesterday. As well as yesternight, there's yesterweek, yestereve,
and yestermorn.


Zoilus was one of the harshest critics of the ancient Greek writer Homer, and he was known for his scathing, nit-picking
attacks on Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. Derived from him, a zoilist is an overbearingly harsh critic, while unduly harsh
criticism is zoilism.


Living on the moon would be fun.

But it would sure suck having to walk a mile every time you missed a Frisbee.


THE PENTAGON — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has vowed to kill the next person who refers to him by the nickname of “Mad Dog,” sources confirmed today.

After the secretary’s press officer briefed him on the latest news outlet to refer to him by the nickname — which he claims a reporter just made up years ago — he asked for the name of the next “son of a bitch” who utters it so that he can be disemboweled with his favorite E-tool, defense officials said.

“Mad Dog? I hate that name. I hate it. You hear?” Mattis said, according to a source briefed on the conversation. “Nobody calls me ‘Mad Dog,’ especially not some duded-up, egg-suckin’ gutter trash.”

A senior defense official told reporters that Mattis should be referred to as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, or by his radio callsign “Chaos,” an acronym that was bestowed on him by his fellow officers in the 7th Marine Regiment that means “Colonel Has Another Outstanding Solution.”

The official added that Mattis could also be referred to as The Death Star.


Who says building a border wall won't work?

The Chinese built one over 2,000 years ago and they still don't have any Mexicans.

Issue of the Times;
What I Learned at “Racial Justice” Re-indoctrination Camp by Thomas DiLorenzo

Several months ago the president of Loyola University Maryland, Brian Linnane, announced to the faculty that he had been thinking a lot about the Baltimore riots that took place two years earlier. (The riots, you may recall, were a response to the death of a local black drug gangster while in a police van after he had been arrested. All of the police involved, most of whom were black, were eventually acquitted at trial. The rioters looted the CVS pharmacies in town, emptying them of oxycodone and other painkillers, then burned them to the ground along with police cars, private homes, and public buildings. The former mayor of Baltimore publicly referred to the rioters as “our children” and instructed the police to stand down and “give them their space” to loot, vandalize, and burn down parts of her city).

In response to all of this the college president decided that what is needed to reduce the likelihood of such events in the future is to put the affluent, mostly white, Loyola University Maryland faculty through a round of cultural Marxist “racial justice” training. Such language reminded me of Chinese and Vietnamese communist “re-indoctrination camps” where attendees were pressured/coerced into becoming good little obedient communists. So, naturally, I had to attend to see what it was all about.

What I learned is that all the problems of the 65 percent black population in Baltimore city (one of the highest murder rates in the world, poverty, horrible government schools, criminal gangs randomly attacking tourists at the Inner Harbor, street crime run amok, “no-go zones” where even the police won’t go for fear of being shot at, etc.) are caused by “white privilege.” The lowliest, indigent, white redneck who lives in a rusted-out old school bus down by the river in Tennessee is “privileged,” by definition, whereas the children of multimillionaire Barack Obama or multimillionaire Tiger Woods are not privileged. In fact, since they are black they are, by definition, “oppressed” by the white redneck who lives in the rusted-out old school bus down by the river.

A close second in terms of the causes of Baltimore’s problems, I learned, was the bigotry of white men who died fifty years ago or longer. We were shown parts of a video documentary about “the history of racism” up to the 1950s and were told that little or no progress has been made in Baltimore’s black community because of this permanently-debilitating history. This is why “things never seem to change in the city,” I was told by one of the presenters. No mention was made of the fact that, just a few miles down the road in Columbia, Maryland one will find some of the most affluent black professionals in the world who share this same history. What they don’t share is being ruled by the extreme leftist Baltimore city government for the past half century with their corrupt police and courts that refuse to imprison violent criminals, their extortionate taxes, lavish welfare handouts, and a completely dysfunctional school system ruined by teachers’ unions.

I also learned that only white people can be racists or commit racist acts. This is because the cultural Marxists have redefined racism to mean an act of discrimination plus “power,” and only white heterosexual males can wield this “power.” Several of my faculty colleagues sheepishly questioned this obviously bogus idea, based on their life experiences, but got no response from the presenters.

I asked the presenters the following hypothetical: If the Congressional Black Caucus got a law passed that funded “minority scholarships” for black students and advertised that white people need not apply (we do have such programs), would that be discriminatory? I did not get a yes or no answer, but another mini lecture about white privilege.

Of course, only a moron would believe that only white people can be racists. All the “racial justice” presenters would have to do to learn this would be to listen to some of the harsh racist language on several of the black-owned radio stations in Maryland. That does not fit with the virtual reality they have invented for themselves, so there is no chance of that happening.
Although the supposed purpose of all of this was to address the root causes of the problems of crime, poverty, and lack of education that plague Baltimore, the work ethic-destroying and family-destroying effects of the welfare state were studiously ignored and not mentioned at all as possible problems. Nor was the awful, corrupt, teachers’ union-controlled government school monopoly, the extortionate property taxes that have driven tens of thousands from the city, the squalor and crime in the government housing projects, all the crime caused by the government’s war on drugs, and myriad other government policies and interventions that have been shown by social scientists for decades to be the real causes of “urban decay” (See Losing Ground by Charles Murray).

In fact, the seminar ended with a power point presentation that recommended that what “people of color” really need is “more resources,” which is the usual leftist code language for more welfare, more money down the rat hole of the government school monopoly, more taxes, and more bureaucracy. This is always espoused as though it is a brand new idea that has never been tried before. This of course is the point of white privilege seminars – to censor out all discussion of how “the legacy of liberalism and interventionism” is the real problem with cities like Baltimore, not the legacy of slavery and discrimination.

On the same day as the racial justice seminar the front page of the Baltimore Sun and the chatter on local talk radio included a discussion of how, on Halloween night, a gang of inner-city “youth” armed with baseball bats and wooden planks went around the city bludgeoning people and stealing their wallets and cellphones. This was two weeks after a family of ten tourists from New Jersey was attacked at the Inner Harbor by a gang of “youths” who punched every one of them in the face, including the 80-year-old grandmother, knocked them to the ground, kicked them, robbed them, and then disappeared. Now that I have been re-educated I understand that this was merely the latest manifestation of white privilege in Baltimore.

Quote of the Times;
Boredom is where all evils enter the world. And when a person is bored, he is bored with himself. Interesting people, in their daily lives, are never bored as they find everything interesting.

Link of the Times;
There once was a religious young woman who went to confession. Upon entering the confessional, she said, "Forgive me,
Father, for I have sinned."

The priest said, "Confess your sins and be forgiven."

The young woman said, "Last night my boyfriend made mad passionate love to me seven times."

The priest thought long and hard and then said, "Squeeze seven lemons into a glass and then drink the juice."

The young woman asked, "Will this cleanse me of my sins?"

The priest said, “No, but it will wipe that smile off of your face."


I asked a Chinese girl for her number.

She said, "Sex! Sex! Sex! Free sex tonight!"

I said, "Wow!"

Then her friend said, "She means 666-3629."


Recently, a large corporation hired several cannibals to increase their diversity. "You are all part of our team now,"
said the Human Resources rep during the welcoming briefing. "You get all the usual benefits and you can go to the
cafeteria for something to eat, but please don't eat any employees." The cannibals promised they would not. Four weeks
later their boss remarked, "You're all working very hard and I'm satisfied with your work. We have noticed a marked
increase in the whole company's performance. However, one of our secretaries has disappeared. Do any of you know what
happened to her?" The cannibals all shook their heads, "No." After the boss had left, the leader of the cannibals said to
the others, "Which one of you idiots ate the secretary?" A hand rose hesitantly. "You fool!" the leader continued, "For
four weeks we've been eating managers and no one noticed anything. But no, you had to go and eat someone who actually does


A Mexican magician says he will disappear on the count of three.

He says, 'uno, dos...' and poof.

He disappears without a tres."


What's red and bad for your teeth?

A brick.

Issue of the Times;
Progressive Will Not Stop Until Civilization is Completely Destroyed by Louis Stuart

A great deal of people have often commented here asking: “Where does it stop?” In everything from the efforts to stigmatize normal flirting (while ignoring rape from “migrants”) to criminalizing the failure to celebrate transgenderism, so many people wonder where does it end. When will this insanity finally run its course? The answer is…


Modern “progressives,” as the way they style themselves suggests, are obsessed with everything they see as being “new.” As Thomas Sowell said over 20 years ago, it’s vital to their self-image that they differentiate themselves from the rest of the public, which they view as being hopelessly backward and morally inferior to themselves. Yet, it’s actually in this instinct that they reveal themselves as not being “new” at all. The “social justice” peacock of today is nothing more than the latest version of an old zealot that stretches back to Ancient Egypt. This zealot is the revolutionary in the service of the “Year Zero” cause.

What is Year Zero?

The term itself originates from Pol Pot. He borrowed it from the French, who in their revolution declared that the execution of Louis XVI was the event that began Year One on the new, revolutionary calendar. All events prior to that date were irrelevant, not worth preserving, and were to be erased from memory, along with everyone who defended them, or who were merely insufficiently enthusiastic for the new era.

The remains of dead royals were destroyed, the churches were closed and desecrated (which included throwing what was said to be the Crown of Thorns into the gutter), and any defenders of the old order (or simply those suspected of it or connected to it in passing) were sent to the guillotine.

The impetus of a Year Zero revolution is to raze the existing culture to the ground and build a new one from scratch. Any connection to the past, whether in the form of art, law, or people, needs to be erased. Pol Pot was perhaps the most extreme in this. Seemingly anyone at any time was prone to being killed. Even those who wore glasses were in danger of being seen as intellectuals and thus an obstacle to the implementation of Pol Pot’s agrarian socialist paradise. Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge killed more people in their country per capita than anyone else.

A Year Zero regime is the fullest measure of totalitarianism. Not even language itself is immune. The use of Orwellian terms has often been mocked, but the art form goes way back. The pioneer of Newspeak was the Pharaoh Akhenaten, who sought to overthrow the ancient religious order in Egypt and replace the familiar gods with his one god, the Aten. Akhenaten closed down the temples and prohibited the worship of the old gods, but this was only the start. Akhenaten of course erased the names of the old gods, but he even went so far as to cross out the plural “gods” on inscriptions all over Egypt. Prominent people would change their own names, usually to reflect solar deities (say, from something like “Wenamon” to “Wenare”) to either incur his favor or avoid his displeasure.

Not even the age-old beliefs in the afterlife were immune from the revolution, as the famous death prayers were no longer addressed to lord of the dead, Osiris, but to Akhenaten. A depiction has even been found of the Aten defeating the gods of the underworld. This would have been a stunning and dismaying piece of propaganda for an ancient Egyptian, who would have always been concerned about his eternal life. This was a culture that, more than any other, created entire industries to ensure that people would be able to have a comfortable afterlife.

It’s often been said that Communist propaganda was designed to be as demoralizing as possible. The architecture in Soviet-occupied Europe, for example, was stunningly ugly. This is certainly a tendency that’s been carried over into our own time, from the celebration of vulgar art, to the celebration of fatness, to the mandated use of “proper pronouns.” Yet, as we’ve seen, none of this is new. It’s an age-old technique to enforce submission to the revolution through compulsory amnesia. Nothing about the past can be looked on fondly or even spoken of at all.

And it’s certainly no coincidence that both ISIS and the “social justice” peacocks have a penchant for toppling statues. Both are driven by the same instinct in service of whatever their conception of utopia is.

What happens after the revolution?

Unfortunately for the Year Zero zealots, things never go the way they expect. They’re usually too busy accusing each other of anti-revolutionary sentiment in a bid for power, or focusing on nonsense. Prioritizing the personal behavior of the population and the imposition of a manufactured (and therefore ugly) culture makes for bad government.

People can only pay attention to one thing at a time, and failure to control your attention will lead you to make the wrong decisions in life. Akhenaten focused so greatly on his revolution that the Hittites sponsored the conquest of Egypt’s Asiatic vassals under his watch. The French Directorate was too busy replacing the calendar and accusing each other that they neglected to manage the wars that country got into as a result of the Revolution.

Into this vacuum of chaos usually steps some kind of strongman to lead the reaction against the revolutionaries and restore order. After the chaos of Akhenaten’s regime, a general named Horemheb eventually took control of the country, putting down the domestic disorder the revolution caused and restoring order, which included an ironic turn of the tables – he began the erasure of Akhenaten, his heirs, and his regime from memory.

This example would repeat throughout the centuries. Into the disorder after Oliver Cromwell died stepped General George Monck and a restored monarchy in Charles II, who purged Cromwell’s cronies and destroyed radical factions like the Fifth Monarchists. Theaters were reopened and other excesses of Cromwell’s regime reversed. The populace was overjoyed.

140 years later, Napoleon would lead an armed coup, overthrow the Directory, and end the reign of the Year Zero revolutionaries in France. Though he was no conservative by the standards of his time, Napoleon would go on to restore law and order, the church, the calendar, and other institutions the revolutionaries had sought to overthrow, becoming immensely popular.

These are only a few examples. Because the Year Zero revolutionaries bring such chaos and disorder, they demoralize and anger the population, and because they’re extremely violent, little options remain for the disaffected population but to rally to the support of these strongmen. They restore the old order, but certain liberties are often lost in the process. As leftists in our own culture grow more violent and brazen, we would be well served by remembering this pattern.

If the “social justice” peacocks think Donald Trump is some kind of strongman, they might surprise themselves at what comes next, should they continue to act so insufferably – and all evidence says they will.

Quote of the Times;
When starting a new hobby, activity, or even job, search “things I wish I knew before I started [x].” This can get you a ton helpful tips to boost you when starting off

Link of the Times;
My nine-year-old granddaughter addressed a letter to: God c/o Pearly Gates, Heaven.

It was returned.

Someone at the postal service had written across the envelope:

"Nobody at the post office is headed that way. Sorry!"


I think complete lack of patience should be a covered disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Then people like me wouldn't have to sit through all those annoying red traffic lights.


Q: What's the difference between a nine-month pregnant woman and a super-model?

A: Nothing (if the pregnant woman's husband knows what's good for him).


The dean and the coach struck a simple deal. Despite his abysmal grades, the all-star tackle could play in the big game if and only if he could learn and remember the formula for water before then. The coach and the chemistry teacher both worked with the gridiron star and were confident that he'd come through with flying colors.

On the morning of the game the dean came down to the locker where the tackle was suiting up. "Well?" said the dean. "What is the formula for water?"

Grinning broadly, and drawing confidence from the presence of his proud coach, the player said, "H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O."


I was reading an article the other day about how "political correctness" has infected the manufacturers of school text books in the United States. These publishers have to scrub their text so as to not offend anyone.

I'm not making this up.

For instance, these publishers can't even print the legendary "The Old Man and the Sea" by Ernest Hemingway.

"Old" is ageist.

"Man" is sexist.

"Sea" can't be used in case a student lives inland and doesn't grasp the concept of a large body of water.

Issue of the Times;
'Star Wars: The Last Jedi': The 5 Biggest Complaints From Fans by James Barrett

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” has owned the box office in its first ten days in theaters, but it has already fallen far behind “The Force Awakens” in total revenues. While it has a surprisingly good 92% among critics on the Tomatometer, it’s getting bad reviews from fans, currently at just 52% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’ve seen the film twice. The first time with great anticipation; the second time with the faint hope that I’d be able to appreciate the movie more after having accepted its various shortcomings. Unfortunately, the second time I saw it, I felt even worse about it. When I went back and watched “Force Awakens,” the frustration with its sequel intensified. I’ve since gone on to read a bunch of fan reviews and found a lot of similar responses. Below's a discussion of what I found to be the five most consistent and significant complaints from fans about director Rian Johnson’s epic misfire.

1. Burns It All Down

As Daily Wire editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro highlights, it becomes clear by the end of “The Last Jedi” that Kylo Ren’s call to kill the past is actually the theme of the Disney sequels. Not only does the film literally endorse book-burning—the destruction of the collective wisdom of our forebears—it also methodically tears down and then needlessly murders the characters “Star Wars” fans love.

Han’s murder at the hands of his own son in “Force Awakens” is a meaningless sacrifice, serving no purpose in helping the Resistance and having no positive impact on his son, whom Solo clearly did a terrible job raising. Like Han, Luke has retreated from the world, allowing the boy he badly trained run rampant murdering millions while he sulks in self-pity and deconstructs the “hope” his character once embodied. His bizarre life on the island with the fish-nuns and the alien sea cows comes off as pathetic and cowardly, not the austere life of a monk trying to attain further spiritual enlightenment. In fact, Luke has gone apostate, so what exactly is he doing hanging around the books he eventually tries to burn, other than being a coward? When he fights Rey, he loses to a novice in a way that diminishes him.

Luke's final confrontation with Kylo Ren at first appears like true heroism, but Johnson burns that down too. We learn at the end of the showdown that Luke isn’t even there, only astrally projecting himself, thus facing no actual physical threat. Sure, Luke fades away at the end with a beautiful parallel to the powerful moment on Tatooine from Episode IV (still the best moment in the franchise), but that feels more like his fated time coming than having bravely sacrificed himself. Like Han, Luke’s portrayal (which Mark Hamill hated, by the way) feels mean-spirited, as if Disney wants to show its audience that these old, classic embodiments of heroism need to go the way of Old Ben.

2. Diminishes Old and New Characters

Not only are the old characters diminished—except perhaps for Leia (though her constant call for retreat isn't exactly inspiring)—the new additions are less likable by the end of “The Last Jedi.” Poe gets abused the worst in this film. For some reason, Johnson decided to portray Poe as an even more two-dimensional version of Maverick who’s every action in the film until the final retreat proves to be rash and counter-productive. Johnson also seems to go out of his way to repeatedly emasculate Poe: he gets slapped by Leia, looks physically and intellectually small next to Laura Dern’s Vice Admiral Holdo, and then gets knocked unconscious by the "woke" general after his pointless mutiny.

Finn is a flawed character from the start. We’re told that for most of his life he was trained to be a soldier, yet he is always in a state of panic in battle and seems to know surprisingly little about being a soldier. He delivers one of the worst lines in the new film when he declares that it was “worth it” to make the rich people feel some pain when he and Rose free the horse-like alien creatures. No, it isn’t “worth it.” The #Resistance might be destroyed, and Rey with it, if he and Rose don’t succeed. Petty schadenfreude has no place in Star Wars.

Despite attempting to build Snoke up as the unbeatable bad guy, the all-digital villain is killed off rather easily and before the audience is given any background whatsoever on him. His treatment in “Force Awakens” suggests he will be the Emperor that haunted all six of the first films, but with a simple click of a light saber, he’s out of the series.

Kylo Ren is the most interesting new character, but both “Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi” do grave damage to him as the bad guy. In the first film, he’s bested by someone who’s never picked up a light saber before. It’s a terrific fight scene, for sure, but it undermines his threat. In the second film, he easily falls for Luke's delay tactic and thus is defeated again. The only time we see Darth Vader defeated in battle is in “Return of the Jedi”—and Luke has to nearly embrace the Dark Side to do it. Kylo Ren’s temper tantrums are also getting ridiculous. He can’t keep breaking his toys every time something goes wrong and still be respected by the audience.

Like Leia, Rey comes out of the second film okay. She is earnest, brave, and contains the “ray of hope” that her name is supposed to invoke. Building up to the revelation about her parents, however, feels like a cheap trick—though thematically it does work well with the democratization of the Force theme.

3. Breaks Cardinal Rule In Cinema

Director Rian Johnson breaks the most important rule in film: Never waste the viewers’ time. The unspoken agreement between an audience and a filmmaker is that every second of the film is there for a reason. “The Last Jedi” breaks this rule repeatedly by taking us on a number of missions that do not further the plot, and in so doing, undermine the sense of purpose in the plot and the audience’s trust in the lead characters’ judgment. Finn and Rose’s trip to the casino world (which is prequel-level silly) to get the “master code breaker”—whom they didn’t find, but did find sort of(?)—and their harrowing mission onto the command ship all ends up being pointless. So does Poe’s utterly unnecessary takeover of the Resistance ship. After being once again smacked down by Leia, Poe wakes up to learn in about 10 seconds what he should’ve been told by Holdo before the waste-of-time mutiny. The dominant motif of the film is "delay and retreat"; in many ways, the entire film feels like one big delay tactic.

4. Gets Political

This film feels political in a way that previous Star Wars films wisely avoid—and many fans have commented on this as one of the key distractions of the film. Many critics, on the other hand, clearly loved this aspect of it. The #Resistance is led entirely by women, who make a point of putting men in their place. Rey even bullies her elder and would-be father figure Luke, while he proves that he indeed is not a worthy mentor—except, in the film's worldview, that he’s willing to burn down the past, just like Kylo Ren. The burning down of the past, particularly ancient spiritual texts, feels a whole lot like a direct slap in the face of religious viewers. The pointless sequence on the silly Casino planet could’ve been written by someone from the Occupy movement, particularly the gross schadenfreude moment from Finn and Rose. Rey, who is the most likable of the new characters, is set up by the end of the second film to be the perfect millennial social justice warrior, who we’re told doesn’t need to learn anything from her elders or any old ancient books because she knows it all already.

5. Doesn't Understand Star Wars Humor

The opening sequence in which the daring and increasingly stupid Poe says he’ll “hold” for Commander Hux (played by chronic overactor Domhnal Gleeson) was jarring. I saw this movie twice with two totally different audiences, and each time there were uneasy laughs from fans. The reason is that the humor is simply not Star Wars humor, a comment that many fans made in their complaints. Same thing goes for Luke flippantly tossing the light saber over his shoulder, his "that is nowhere" line, and the insane sea cow scene where Luke glowers at Rey as he drinks his fresh-squeezed alien milk. Then there’s the fish-nuns, which were supposed to be comic relief at one point, but ended up spoiling the whole isolation feel of Luke’s monkish existence. Neither heavy sarcasm nor outright silliness work in this universe.

The Good

The movie is certainly not all bad. It is beautifully filmed. The action sequences are mostly terrific (except for the "gravity in space" bomb-dropping nonsense). The fight between the imperial guard and Rey and Kylo Ren is awesome. The connection between the two is also intriguing, and both actors probably have the capacity to carry the series. The balance of nostalgia and newness is difficult to manage. So far Disney has failed on the character and theme level, but has largely succeeded in the look and feel of the Star Wars universe, as well as the overall tone and pacing of the series. Has Disney left enough of the original spark to keep fans coming back? We'll see, but a lot of longtime fans, including this one, suspect that the studio has fully embraced Kylo Ren's mission to snuff it out.


'Star Wars: The Last Jedi': The Full Shapiro Review:

On Saturday night, I went with my wife and dad to see the new Star Wars film. I’ll save my general rating for the end of this review, but it’s very difficult to put an overall grade on such a chaotic film. There are great parts, there are terrible parts, and there’s a lot in between. The best way to break this thing down is to bifurcate between the good stuff and the bad stuff. So that’s what we’ll do.

1. The Force Awakens Apparently Never Happened. At the end of the last movie, you’ll recall, the Rebel Alliance blew up the Starkiller Base, devastating the First Order’s capacity to make war. Or not. It turns out that they’ve still got heavy advantages in weaponry, which they make obvious from the outset. It’s somewhat weird that the Republic was re-established and fell in less than 40 years thanks to weapons inferiority. I’m fine with pretending The Force Awakens didn’t happen — it essentially ruined my childhood by turning Han Solo into a loser absentee father — but it’s tough to dismiss the ending and just start as though the Rebel Alliance didn’t do a whit of damage to the First Order.

2. There Is No Gravity In Space. The opening sequence features bombers dropping explosives on a First Order dreadnought. It’s a cool scene. But the bombers literally drop explosives in space. That’s not a thing, guys.

3. Snoke Is A Throwaway. In the last film, JJ Abrams made a big deal out of this Snoke guy. Now, I’m not a fellow who spends a lot of time googling whether Snoke is actually Darth Plagueis or whether he’s Mace Windu. But if you’re going to build up a big baddie who has the power to seduce Kylo Ren to the Dark Side, completely override Rey’s force abilities, and threaten Luke, you’ve got to tell us who the heck he is. And then he’s dispatched in particularly easy fashion by Kylo Ren. It’s satisfying to see him go, but he can’t be that scary if Kylo Ren can take him out by activating a light saber.

4. Kylo Ren Isn’t Intimidating. This is the biggest problem. In TFA, JJ Abrams did Kylo Ren a tremendous injustice by making him a petulant man-child who is stymied by a Mary Sue. Remember, Darth Vader literally doesn’t lose a battle until Return of the Jedi — and even that’s after Luke nearly turns to the Dark Side. By castrating Kylo Ren in TFA, it makes it difficult to think of him as the ultimate bad guy in the universe. Snoke was supposed to fill that gap. Now Snoke is dead. Why, exactly, should the Rebel Alliance be worried? Rey has bested Kylo several times already, plus Leia apparently has Force abilities, plus General Hux isn’t exactly terrifying.

5. Rey’s Backstory Sucks. After the last film, there was an insane amount of buzz about who Rey was. Who were her parents? Was she Obi-Wan’s granddaughter? Did Luke have a kid he didn’t know about? Was she Han’s bastard? Then it turns out that she’s just a nobody. Now, some of this is George Lucas’ fault for his midi-chlorians nonsense in the prequels, which made coordination with the Force a sort of genetic inheritance. The series wanted to reset so that anybody could have abilities with the Force — a laudable goal. But by sucking Rey out of the family drama, we’re no longer dealing with the central storyline — a point Kylo Ren makes to Rey openly. I guess the idea is that we’re supposed to now think that small street urchins without any sort of bloodline can become incredible Jedi. That’s democratic, but it’s not true to the storyline, and it doesn’t provide any drama.

6. Luke’s Weird Farmer Life Is Weird. Did we really need a whole day of Luke going around milking an alien seacow and drinking it?

7. Luke Is A Bad Teacher. Luke says that he’s going to provide Rey three lessons. The lessons consist of him (1) telling her what the Force is (okay, we already knew that); (2) having her touch a rock and see the Dark Side (she’s drawn in by it but not seduced). There is no third lesson — that’s a lesson for Luke from Yoda, who makes an odd cameo to tell Luke that the Force doesn’t need old texts, so let’s burn us some antique books. Rey literally learns zero practical things from Luke. This isn’t Yoda teaching Luke on Dagoba. It’s just Luke moping.

8. Celebrity Cameos Make No Sense. Laura Dern with purple hair? Benicio Del Toro stuttering? What are these people doing here?

9. Poe Dameron’s Story Arc Is Foolish. Poe is supposed to be newfangled Han Solo. Fail. First off, there is no new Han Solo. Second, Poe is a dolt. And Admiral Laura Dern, working with Leia, has a plan they could easily just tell Poe and solve half the conflict of the plot. Why keep it secret from Poe? We never find out. Instead, Poe runs around like a moron, making stupid plans with Finn that have no actual effect on the plotline.

10. Finn’s Storyline Is Useless. Finn should have died at the end of TFA. He should have died at the end of The Last Jedi. Instead, he goes on a random jaunt to Monte Carlo with aliens, and then rides a bunch of camel/horse/kangeroos to freedom while street urchins cheer. It’s godawful. Then, finally, when he’s about to do something useful, Rose stops him from doing it. Why is he here again, except to have awkward hugs with Rey?

11. Rose Is Useless. Rose is added to the plot to give Finn someone to travel with and develop awkward romance with. But her presence is simply not useful. She doesn’t do anything particularly special. She does give Finn a lecture about income inequality, though. So I guess that’s something.

12. Social Justice Warrioring On Interplanetary Monte Carlo Is Awful. Awful. In this little jaunt, we learn that income inequality is bad (see, street urchins are riding the magic horsecamels, and that’s terrible!), that animal abuse is bad (see, the ugly alien is abusing the magic horsecamels and that’s terrible!), and that weapons dealing is bad (yeah, talk to the Rebel Alliance using all those X-Wings). This whole sequence never should have happened.

13. Captain Phasma Is A Nothing. She’s apparently a white woman who wears a cool suit, and then Finn — a dude who five seconds ago was a janitor — beats her. Welp.

14. Luke Shouldn’t Have Been A Hologram. Turning Luke into Obi-Wan Kenobe for purposes of the reset makes some sense. But his death made none. Why is it cool for Luke to survive a barrage from AT-ATs if he’s not even there? Why is it cool for Luke to best Kylo Ren in a light saber battle if (1) Rey has already done so, and (2) Luke isn’t even there? They easily could have brought Luke there, and had him do exactly the same thing, but sacrifice himself — or perhaps just fade away in front of Kylo Ren.

15. The Powers Of The Force Aren’t Magic. We learn that through the Force, you can now hologram yourself places, and that you can also survive being thrown into space (Leia). Wut?

16. Light Speed Can't Be Used As A Weapon. You can't destroy ships by flying at them at light speed. If you could, the entire first scene would have been unnecessary (forget the bombers, just shoot an X-wing through that dreadnought), and the Rebel Alliance could have taken down every Death Star ever in the same way.

17. Why Would Luke Try To Kill Kylo? He tried to save Vader after Vader destroyed a planet and cut off his hand. He sensed good in him. He senses evil in Kylo and for a moment wants to kill him? That seems like a mild stretch at best.

18. There Are No Interesting Characters Left Except For Kylo Ren. So, now everybody’s dead. Han’s dead. Luke is dead. Leia was never that interesting, but Carrie Fisher died, so Leia can’t stick around for long. That means we’re left with the new characters — which is the point, since Star Wars can’t survive on nostalgia forever. But Rey isn’t particularly interesting — they just gave her a crappy backstory — and Poe is apparently stupid. Finn is a nonentity and nobody cares about Rose. This leaves Kylo Ren as the only interesting character in the Star Wars universe, and unlike Vader, who was wildly intimidating because of his mystery, it’s incredibly unclear that Kylo Ren can carry this series on his shoulders. It’s also unclear why Kylo Ren would want to rule the galaxy at this point. Everybody’s dead, he’s gotten his revenge on everybody except Leia (who he didn’t want to kill), and he seems to have little idea how to govern except for Hulk Smash.

19. Kylo Should Have Sided With Rey. This is the biggest problem of all. Once Kylo and Rey team up, they should stay teamed up. Rey is a far cooler character as a moderating influence on Kylo than on her own. And Kylo is far more interesting as a character trying to hold his darkness in check than as a guy who gives into it. There’s also no hint that Kylo has some desperate need to rule the universe, so it’s odd that he gives up the possibilities of a joint rule with Rey in order to destroy the transports. Why wouldn’t he just call off the attack on the transports and then work with Rey? That would be a radically different direction for the franchise. As it is, we’re back to Luke vs. Darth, that binary fight that was only interesting the first time around.

Okay, that’s a lot of criticism. But it’s not all bad.

Here’s what’s right with the film:

1. The Kylo/Rey Connection Works. The entire film is built on this relationship. It’s the only interesting thing remaining in this universe. The scenes in which Kylo is being called to the Light Side by Rey absolutely work. They’re great. The truth is that Star Wars was always built on relationships, and this is the only remaining interesting one. You believe it when Kylo turns against Snoke. That’s what makes for one of the best scenes in the Star Wars canon.

2. The Light Saber Battle. The killing of Snoke works emotionally, although as noted before, it makes little sense to kill Snoke before we learn anything about him. But the Rey/Kylo team-up is awesome — it brought open cheers in the theater. The choreography works, it’s emotionally resonant. It was a mistake to immediately jettison that for a forced conflict between Kylo and Rey.

3. Luke’s Final Scene. The mirror image of Luke looking off into the distance at the two suns of Tattooine is his death scene. It works, and it’s heartbreaking. If you grew up with Mark Hamill at 26 and now you’re watching him fade out at age 66, that’s pretty moving stuff. That’s why he should have gone out in a blaze of glory rather than with a cheap apparition trick.

Those big things that are right with the film are more important, in many ways, than the things that are wrong with the film. Rian Johnson, the director, didn’t play it safe, and that’s great. But he did play it safe by having Kylo return to the Dark Side and turning Rey into an avatar of populism. Those are mistakes that will haunt the franchise. And without Luke and Han and the nostalgia factor, can Star Wars carry forward with the same legacy, without just turning into another Avengers series — a fun watch that has no real emotional resonance?

Overall, better than The Force Awakens, which doesn’t hold up on repeat, and planted seeds that poisoned The Last Jedi, particularly with regard to Kylo Ren. Not as good as Rogue One, and below Return of the Jedi. It’s difficult to imagine how Episode IX can remain interesting with a universe this narrowed and a set of compelling characters reduced to a grand total of two: Kylo and Rey.

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