Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Quotations from Jordan Peterson



“Women select men. That makes them nature, because nature is what selects. And you can say "Well it's only symbolic that women are nature", it's like no, it's not just symbolic. The woman is the gatekeeper to reproductive success. And you can't get more like nature than that, in fact it's the very definition of nature.”


“Of course, my socialist colleagues and I weren’t out to hurt anyone – quite the reverse. We were out to improve things – but we were going to start with other people. I came to

Seen on Facebook



"I'm currently in Australia. The country strikes me as the model future vision of Liberal society. Shiny glass boxes, no history, no culture, no religion. No depth, everything is surface. The perennial present, where one day is exactly like the next. The only thing people talk about is food and property. There is nothing to see or do here bar restaurants. The people are like the drugged-up optimists of Huxley's "Brave New World" except they don't need soma - it comes naturally to them.

"As a Northern European I long for depth and history. Our culture may be broken but I like to take refuge in the shadows of the fallen masonry."

Quotations



People are always shouting they want to create a better future. It's not true. The future is an apathetic void of no interest to anyone. The past is full of life, eager to irritate us, provoke and insult us, tempt us to destroy or repaint it. The only reason people want to be masters of the future is to change the past.

Milan Kundera


And herein, I think, all the philosophers of the newest age are open to a serious criticism. What they do not possess is real standing in actual life. Not one of them has intervened effectively, either in higher politics, in the development of modern technics, in matters of communication, in economics, or in any other big actuality, with a single act or a single compelling idea. Not one of them counts in mathematics, in physics, in the science of government, even to the extent that Kant counted. Let us glance at other times. Confucius was several times a minister. Pythagoras was the organizer of an important

Monday, 15 January 2018

'Theresa is more pro European than me.' David Cameron in 2015

"There's a spectrum. George is more pro European than me, so is Theresa, then there's me, then there's Boris and you."
David Cameron to Michael Gove, November 2015, quoted by Tim Shipman in 'All Out War', a Christmas present.

Octav Dragan: today in Herăstrău park, Bucharest

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Saturday, 13 January 2018

The Democrats are trying to hang Trump out to dry: I don't think they are succeeding


“The Democrats, the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.” Steve Bannon 

President Trump, in a private conversation with congressmen, is said to have used an ugly word, 's-hole', to describe Haiti and African countries. 


A British diplomat seconded to the UN called Rupert Colville has denounced this as racist, which is piffle. 

Handing back Hong Kong

I was just told that Israel takes 55% of its fresh water from the sea. Couldn't Britain have arranged for Hong Kong to desalinate sea water rather than handing it to China in 1997, when the lease on the New Territories, with their water supply, expired?

It is so sad for so many reasons that Hong Kong now belongs to China.

Sick of tourism


I am so happy to be back and so blessed to live in Romania.

I find Bucharest in the rain in January far more beautiful and moving than any location at the far end of the world. Especially not the tourist choked locations.


I am giving up on visiting touristland. 


Cambodia in all has five million tourists a year. Vietnam has ten million, Thailand has 33 million and Burma almost three million. In each case the number is growing in leaps and bounds. I'd probably go somewhere else if I were you.

Freedom of speech is a memory in England



Northumbria Police carefully investigated all the comments left on its Facebook page about the Operation Shelter scandal, in which young white girls in were groomed, sexually abused and trafficked by mostly Muslim men of Pakistani descent in Newcastle.

They did so after a member of the public complained that a number of posts referred to the race and religion of the 18 people convicted in the case.

The police tracked down six people who left comments “deemed to be offensive and potentially criminal”.


“Following an investigation, which has now concluded, we spoke to two males as voluntary attenders and visited a further four people in their homes, and provided them with words of advice. All expressed their remorse and stated that the intention of their comments was not to cause concern or to be offensive and have acknowledged the words of advice provided. 
"We would also like to take this opportunity to remind people using social media that they should do so responsibly and ensure they do not post anything which could be considered offensive.”

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Universities should be on-line, free and open to anyone

Universities should not be businesses. They should be free, online (a handful of historic ones excepted) and not passports to employability. All undergraduates should be set an exam in major pre-1900 poets.

The world is an airport



Measuring my life in cappuccinos.




The world increasingly resembles the shopping area in a vast international airport. No air or grass or roots but there are worse things. This is in fact the 19th century liberal dream of free trade bringing peace and prosperity. And a shopping area is nothing more than a bazaar but one with the same brands in every corner of the world.




Nations survive as Thai and Mexican restaurants and even a pub, though not the smoky, family-unfriendly pub full of opinionated old men and subversive opinions, loudly voiced, that we formerly knew.




And in the background men (and women) with machine guns.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Marxism a staging post to a purely technological society

Here is an interesting article about Augustino Del Noce, an Italian Catholic philosopher who thought Marxism merely a staging post on the road to a purely technological civilisation. 

He predicted during the Cold War that Marxism would move from concern for the workers to concern for sexual freedom, a freedom derived from a gnostic contempt for the body.

Love is in the air



A Syrian asylum seeker who belonged to Isis has been found guilty at the Bailey of plotting to build a bomb with a woman he met on a Muslim dating site called SingleMuslim.com.


There is an offbeat romantic comedy in this, perhaps set to music.

Theresa May is no more conservative (or talented) than Hillary Clinton

So Theresa May's long heralded reshuffle, intended to make her cabinet 'less male and pale', didn't happen when two of her cabinet ministers refused to be reshuffled. 

I am glad that she didn't win a majority at the election. Imagine what this woman would be like if she had a 90 seat majority.

Odi profano vulgus



I have given up on touristland. 


Angkor War (its Hindu temples are beautiful and romantic while comparatively untouristed Bagan's are neither) had seven thousand tourists a year in the mid 1990s. Now a million come many staying in swish comfortable hotels with swimming pools.

As Santayana said, luxury requires an aristocratic setting to make it attractive. Upmarket mass tourism isn't, though it is fun. 


It does bring a lot of money to poor countries like Cambodia, though a lot or most of the money goes abroad, while it does a lot of harm to ancient places too.

As a hotelier told me once, tourism is a branch of the entertainment industry.

Which is fine except that industry means being part of a factory line.


I'll stick to Romania and England in future and other offbeat places. Algeria is perfect for the moment. Georgia and Armenia should still be relatively undiscovered, though the Georgian seaside resort of Batumi went from being 1970s Havana to being Las Vegas in five or six years.
I just met a man who has been to Ethiopia three times and would like to go back. I want to return there too. And to Mozambique, Algeria, Egypt and Cuba, but not to other exotic places I've been lucky enough to visit. Unless exotic includes Georgia and Armenia, which it doesn't really.

I probably won't return to Asia beyond the Muslim world. 


"Yes, Sir; there are two objects of curiosity, — the Christian world, and the Mahometan world. All the rest may be considered as barbarous."
Dr. Johnson's aphorism is out of date, but those are the places that speak to me.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Trump: 'A nation that is not proud of its history cannot be confident in its future'

'A nation that is not proud of its history cannot be confident in its future. And a nation that is not certain of its values cannot summon the will to defend them.'

Donald Trump, speaking on Monday, coined a good aphorism.

Germany is an obvious example of the truth of the observation. Compare Austria and Germany today. But Western Europe in general has lost pride in its history. Eastern Europeans have not, but as more and more intellectual Eastern Europeans are educated at Western universities Western guilt and self loathing starts to seep into the previously uncontaminated Eastern half of the continent.

Work



“One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.”
Bertrand Russell

“Jobs are a part of life. Maybe you've heard of the concept. It's called work? See, what happens is that you suffer through doing annoying and humiliating things until you get paid not enough money. Like those Japanese game shows, only without all the glory.”
Jim Butcher

“Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.”
J.M. Barrie


“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”
Douglas Adams

Monday, 18 December 2017

Careers advice

Only those who decline to scramble up the career ladder are interesting as human beings. Nothing is more boring than a man with a career. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do. Walter Bagehot

Through perseverance many people win success out of what seemed destined to be certain failure. Benjamin Disraeli

Youth is a blunder; Manhood a struggle, Old Age a regret. Benjamin Disraeli

Quotations from Walter Bagehot

Dullness in matters of government is a good sign, and not a bad one - in particular, dullness in parliamentary government is a test of its excellence, an indication of its success. 


The habit of common and continuous speech is a symptom of mental deficiency. It proceeds from not knowing what is going on in other people's minds. 

One of the greatest pains to human nature is the pain of a new idea. 

Twenty Years After



A man in the lift this morning asked me how long I'd been in Romania and when I replied almost 20 years he said: 
'It's a generation. Think of "Twenty Years After" by Alexandre Dumas.'
Yes indeed. I read that book, that had belonged to my grandmother (born in Victoria's reign), when I was 8. The Musketeers in their early 40s then seemed unimaginably old. That was unimaginably long ago.

From one year ago


"All holders of public office will have to swear an oath of allegiance to British values in an attempt to combat extremism. Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, said it was not possible for people to play a “positive role” in public life unless they accepted such basic values as democracy, equality and freedom of speech." (The Times.)


I hate the idea of equality, except equality before the law, which is completely discrete from all other uses of the word equality and is a form of freedom. It means fair trials.

I am like Mr. Gladstone, 'an out and out inegalitarian'.

Freedom and equality are antithetical.

And nations are not made of values, but blood and history and shared jokes, but mostly, in the British case, blood.

I am a democrat, but not a theoretical one who thinks universal suffrage is some sort of moral law and that we should have had it in 1900.

In any case, Englishmen should swear allegiance to H.M. the Queen. not to ideas, even good ones.

Friday, 15 December 2017

The Weathermen and their legacy: they won academia




My two posts on the Weathermen, the terrorist wing of the American student radical movement in the era of Richard Nixon, weren't intended as political polemic, although polemic is my strong suit. 

My purpose was twofold. First to bring to people's attention the speech by Bernardine Dohrn about the Manson murders and second to show part of the background to the anti-racist, progressive ideas that have influenced and continue to influence the world so much. 
To recap, Bernardine Dohrn told a Students for a Democratic Society meeting shortly after the Manson murders:
“Offing those rich pigs with their own forks and knives, and then eating a meal in the same room, far out! The Weathermen dig Charles Manson.”
Her audience “instantly adopted” “four fingers held up in the air, invoking the fork left in Sharon Tate’s belly,” according to Mark Rudd, another leader of the group.

And tell sad stories of the death of kings

This morning the queue to see the King lying in state was short (fifteen or twenty minutes) but passing just now at midnight it was hours long.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Why Israel occupies part of the Golan Heights

This, found on the net, is interesting and topical.

Talking in 1976 Moshe Dayan, who was the Israel defense minister in 1967, explained that Syria had not been a threat to Israel before 1967.

"I know how at least 80% of all the incidents with Syria started. We were sending a tractor to the demilitarized zone and we knew that the Syrians will shoot. If they did not shoot, we would instruct the tractor to go deeper, till the Syrians finally got upset and start shooting. Then we employed artillery, and later also the air-force... I did that... and Itzhak Rabin did that, when he was there."
Israel provoked Syria, in Dayan's words, 
"to grab a piece of land and keep it, until the enemy will get tired and give it to us."

1960s student radicalism, the Weathermen and the origins of political correctness

The SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) was an important American student organisation in the 1960s known for its activism against the Vietnam War. It split after 1968 over whether to use violence to overthrow the government. This article is in the public domain and sheds light on the origins of the modern left in the USA.

It was at this meeting that Bernadine Dohrn, celebrated the fork stuck into the heavily-pregnant Sharon Tate's belly.
“Dig it! First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them. They even shoved a fork into the victim’s stomach. Wild!”
I draw your attention to this passage:


The logic of that view was expressed in a statement by Ted Gold, a top Weatherman, who said that “an agency of the people of the world” would be set up to run the U.S. economy and society after the defeat of the U.S. imperialism abroad.

A critic spoke up: “In short, if the people of the world succeed in liberating themselves before American radicals have made the American revolution, then the Vietnamese and Africans and the Chinese are gonna move in and run things for white America. It sounds like a John Bircher’s worst dream. There will have to be more repression than ever against white people, but by refusing to organize people, Weatherman isn’t even giving them half a chance.”

“Well,” replied Gold, “if it will take fascism, we’ll have to have fascism.”

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

“The issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution.”


“The issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution.”

An unnamed “SDS radical” quoted by David Horowitz - I wonder which radical if any said this. I remember hearing this expression back in my 1970s childhood. 


This brings to mind the recent emergence of transgender rights as a political issue.

It is interesting to be reminded of the revolutionary fervour of the 1960s, which later transmogrified into the identity politics of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, both disciples of Saul Alinsky. Alinsky's book “Rules for Radicals” was originally entitled “Rules for Revolution”.

Calling the gendarmes slaves is against the law



Last month a Romanian, posting on Facebook, called the gendarmes guarding the National Anticorruption Department (DNA) "slaves", reports News.ro. He has been ordered to pay a fine of RON 900 (about EUR 195) for offensive language.

Calling the gendarmes slaves is against the law.

Eastern Europe is starting to become as authoritarian as Western Europe: in the 1980s I could not have imagined writing this sentence.


Things are even worse in England where a demonstrator was fine for calling his MP a coward. that only made the local paper.

Freedom is a concept that people increasingly no longer even understand.

Genius and dunderheads



The human desire to create a comprehensible narrative out of haphazard events is very strong.  
Do you remember when Jeremy Corbyn was a dunderhead? It was just before he was a genius, which came just before people wondering if he should be doing better. 
Jeremy Corbyn’s period as a dunderhead started while David Cameron was a genius, which came just before he was a dunderhead too.

Daniel, Lord Finkelstein in The Times today.


As Ed Miliband said, after defeat in the 2015 election,
When you win, everything you did was an act of genius and when you lose everything you did was the work of a fool

On my walk to work

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Stoicism

"An intelligent life is all about such emotional positioning to eliminate the sting of harm, which as we saw is done by mentally writing off belongings so one does not feel any pain from losses. The volatility of the world no longer affects you negatively.


Seen this way, Stoicism is about the domestication, not necessarily the elimination, of emotions. It is not about turning humans into vegetables. My idea of the modern Stoic sage is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into information, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking."

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile

'Plan to ban smoking completely in bars and eateries from 2018 scrapped by far-right Freedom Party'

Headline and sub-headline in the Guardian. 

Good for the Freedom Party. It doesn't stop them being accused of fascism or described by the Guardian as far right. 

In fact they represent the long liberal tradition in Austria politics that brought about the 1848 Austrian revolution. Liberals in Austria believed since the 1840s in a liberal Greater Germany with a small state. They are real liberals unlike the British Liberal Democrats or American 'liberals': they believe in low taxes and freedom.

Note the way the Guardian puts inverted commas around freedom as if gingerly handling with gloves something suspicious and repellent


Austria stubs out looming smoking ban in name of 'freedom'
Plan to ban smoking completely in bars and eateries from 2018 scrapped by far-right Freedom party in coalition talks
Mathematicians have said many interesting quotable things. If they were also philosophers. Think Bertrand Russell. But have natural scientists? If not, and I think not, why not?


I can't imagine Newton, Einstein or Stephen Hawkins saying things as interesting as, say, any second rate poet like Sir John Betjeman or third rate novelist like Angela Thirkell. Or any decent Daily Telegraph writer.
Professor Haldane, what has your study of biology told you about the character of God? 

J.B.S. Haldane: That he seems to have an inordinate fondness for beetles.