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Pearls of Wisdom

“How much there is that we prefer not to notice.”

The title is from the diaries of the Soviet poet Alexander Tvardovsky, as quoted (and translated) by Helen Szamuely. It’s from a passage describing an incident in the winter of 1955 when he saw young girls attempting to dig ditches in frozen ground.

The girls earn 10-15 roubles a day and their food is terrible. Today I joked a little as I went past: “Why not wait till spring? It will be easier to dig.” A pleasant young girl replied with sad determination: “We have to do it.”

How much there is that we prefer not to notice.

That was just how life was in the USSR. Now, this is not the Soviet Union. It’s not even close. But still, we go along with things for the sake of an easy life. We accept things we’d rather not until they become the “new normal”. There is much, even for us, that we prefer not to notice. “Asian” men abusing young girls in Rotherham, for example.

Once someone did notice, that shocked us all. But sometimes you have to step back a little, and look at what you’ve come to accept in a different light before you realise there’s something to notice in the first place.

I can’t recall exactly who it was – it may have been Helen’s “boss”, Richard North, or his associate Christopher Booker – who when writing about the European Union, asked a Norwegian politician prominent in that country’s campaign against membership exactly why it was that his countrymen voted against it, and received the answer, “It’s the lack of democracy in your system that we don’t like”. It struck whoever it was – and myself, reading it – deeply. “Your system”: we may rant about Brussels ordering around, and still, even now, persist on reporting it as “Foreign news”, but we are a part of this system. It’s ours, it’s governing us, and it’s rotten. We prefer not to notice.

I thought the same thing when I read Andrew Gilligan’s Sunday Telegraph column this week: (more…)

Some observations of foreign types in crowds

There was some strange behaviour outside my hotel this evening, instead of the usual languid European-style pavement restaurant with a few, mainly elderly residents enjoying their café under an iridescent evening sun as a few blonde haired goddesses drift by aimlessly on bicycles, there was a massed throng of unruly teens and drunken men filling the square in front of my hotel.

I presumed that it was some form of political protest as they were uniformly dressed alike, but apparently not, it was in fact an opportunity to get utterly paralytic on Heineken served in plastic cups while watching a giant TV screen erected at the end of the not-so-very-grand place. I initially presumed they were there to watch the local version of “America’s Next One Hit Wonder” or whatever it is called in The Land of Clogs.

(more…)

A Word from Kropotkin

With hat-tip to Bryan Caplan*, of all people!

Parents and schools should be at great pains to see that the children learn this, take it to heart, learn to apply it productively. (I mean, you might know that the horses are leaving piles on the roadway, but the DIY method of taking care of the problem is not to kill all the horses.) It’s one of the main points which libertarianism, the Tea Party movement, and any other sensible political or philosophical group should stress.

In existing States a fresh law is looked upon as a remedy for evil. Instead of themselves altering what is bad, people begin by demanding a law to alter it. If the road between two villages is impassable, the peasant says, “There should be a law about parish roads.” If a park-keeper takes advantage of the want of spirit in those who follow him with servile obedience and insults one of them, the insulted man says, “There should be a law to enjoin more politeness upon the park-keepers.” If there is stagnation in agriculture or commerce, the husbandman, cattle-breeder, or corn-speculator argues, “It is protective legislation which we require.” Down to the old clothesman there is not one who does not demand a law to protect his own little trade. If the employer lowers wages or increases the hours of labor, the politician in embryo explains, “We must have a law to put all that to rights.” In short, a law everywhere and for everything! A law about fashions, a law about mad dogs, a law about virtue, a law to put a stop to all the vices and all the evils which result from human indolence and cowardice.

–Peter Kropotkin,
“Law and Authority”

*Bryan Douglas Caplan is an American economist, a professor of Economics at George Mason University, research fellow at the Mercatus Center, adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and blogger for EconLog. Wikipedia

He contributes to econlog.org.

It was true then, it remains true today

“Mr Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: ‘Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action‘.”

Auric Goldfinger

Pearls of Wisdom

The more one considers the matter, the clearer it becomes that redistribution is in effect far less a redistribution of income from the richer to the poorer, as we imagined, than a redistribution of power from the individual to the State

Bertrand de Jouvenel, economist, philosopher and co-founder of the Mont Pelerin Society

Richard A. Epstein: When, How Should Courts Override Legislatures?

Please, do not miss this 1:26:33 of Prof. Epstein’s inimitable and marvellous discourse. Indescribably educational, and, of course, fascinating; and this one is particularly wide-ranging. My quibble-quotient here is tiny and is swamped by the education effect. The UT description:

Published on May 21, 2012

Richard A. Epstein, legal scholar and author, visits the Dole Institute to discuss courts grounds to invalidate the constitution.

Filmed on October 19, 2006 at the Dole Institute of Politics.

Cooking with Nick Griffin

Yes, you heard it right. For my next trick I suspect it’ll have to be kite-surfing with the Dalai Lama.

Anyway, Nick Griffin, the now bankrupt leader of the BNP is presenting cookery shows on Youtube. I suppose it’s a bit like de-snagging LANs with Hitler. Or something. “Goering, you never told me this network was installed by a Herr Cohen!!!”. I digress and must move on because I have a 9am building a tokamak with Ant & Dec.

Anyway, here is the new Nigella in all his shambolic glory.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8_HThEYP2o&noredirect=1

Well, there are things to note. I can cook and a beef casserole is one of my “signature dishes”. OK, I’m not exactly Michel Roux Jr (who is a perfidious frog, obviously – despite being a UK citizen – and my Mum fancies him!) and Mr Griffin cooked this veritable feast upon an Aga which is of course Swedish and we don’t want those Scandies coming over here with their affordable, but unfathomable furniture and their raping and pillaging of Lindisfarne (Northumberland folk-rock *shudder*) and all that. I once saw a doc about a plumber of Pakistani origin who fixed Agas. He was making a mint out of deranged cougars in Surrey who thought the path to enlightenment required the boiler from the Great Eastern chugging away in their kitchen. Anyway this guy who was doing well (and fair play) branded himself as “The Aga Khan”. It amused me.

Please watch the whole thing if you can. It is long but hilarious in parts. Some of it didn’t exactly amuse me though such as Nicky wearing a “Help for Heroes” shirt. I wonder what the Gurkhas or the many other Commonwealth troops in our armed forces think of that? Or what women make of it or how anyone who isn’t a total moron takes his advice on the need to remove the foil from a stock cube? Well the last one is funny. As are some similar “Top Tips”…

How to be human 101 – Empathy

Bad RobotIn my early years I had an all encompassing belief that the universe revolved around my arse. Apparently this is quite common among single children and ‘tail end charlies’ like myself, whose elder brothers were nearly 10-years older than me.

It also didn’t help that I came into my mothers life at a very difficult time when she was being physically abused by my father, as she told me in later years, I was the raft that she clung to during the storms of her turbulent marriage. She finally divorced my father when he was coming up for retirement as she couldn’t bear the thought of being stuck in the house with the miserable old bastard 24/7. (more…)

Pearls of Wisdom

If there’s an anti-democratic organisation or movement anywhere, an individual dictator or a tyrannical regime, then it’s a safer than safe bet, because it’s a certainty, that somewhere or other a commentator on the Western left (verkrappt section) will be telling you that the said organisation or movement, dictator or regime, isn’t as bad as all that. And it’s a near certainty that one of the somewheres he or she will be telling you this is in the Guardian.

Norm Geras

…As opposed to Imaginary ?

I have just been presented with a can of fancy-schmancy tomato soup.

It says, right there on the label, in LARGE red letters:

“REAL INGREDIENTS !”

Sowell: “Studies Prove…”

Often we hear that “all the experts agree” that A is better than B or that “studies prove” A to be better than B. ….

A fascinating discussion of the fact that statistical studies can be interpreted and presented in various ways…with varying degrees of rigor and of intellectual honesty…for various reasons. Dr. Sowell provides some excellent examples in this three-part article.

Part 1: http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell080906.php3

Part 2: http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell081006.php3

Part 3: http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell081106.php3

Study: Global Warming to Blame for Rise in Violence and Wars

Remember, “Studies Prove…” — Dr. Thomas Sowell

Study: Global Warming to Blame for Rise in Violence and Wars

Posted on August 3, 2013 by Philip Hodges

For thousands of years, aggressive war has been used as a means of consolidation of power and money. But apparently, that’s all a myth. A study released by some group of scientists at the University of California, Berkeley shows that international conflicts and violence in general have nothing to do with power-hungry nations, money-driven individuals or even just a plain old desire to do evil. It has to do with global warming.

The BBC attests to this: “Rise in Violence Linked to ‘Climate Change,’” 2 August 2013.

Here’s the money quote from the column:

Earlier this year, Hugh Hefner’s daughter Christie said that the warmer climate is what causes Chicago’s high violent crime rate: “Last year, [Chicago] hit a record number of murders from guns, and this year, we were already outpacing last year’s numbers. Now, there are contributing factors that are not under anybody’s control, and it may seem odd, but it is factually true, one of them is actually the weather. There is a dramatic increase in gun violence when it is warmer, and we are having this climate-change effect that is driving that.”

I find this odd, since our last real summer-weather was in early June, I think; and for sure July has been reminiscent of late September through mid-October Near Chicago. Here, for example, is a map of the jet stream last week (more maps showing recent temps in the upper Midwest at http://blog.weathernationtv.com/2013/07/27/what-season-is-this/ ):

At least she says the weather is not under anybody’s control. A step, however small, in the right direction.

The 9/11 conspiracy theorist who changed his mind

“If you are presented with new evidence, take it on, even if it contradicts what you or your group want to believe. You have to give the truth the greatest respect.”

The 9/11 conspiracy theorist who changed his mind

The poster boy for a mad movement: Charlie Veitch     Photo: Will Storr

The poster boy for a mad movement': Charlie Veitch Photo: Will Storr

By Will Storr

7:00AM BST 29 May 2013
237 Comments

On a June afternoon in the middle of New York’s Times Square, Charlie Veitch took out his phone, turned on the camera and began recording a statement about the 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center.

“I was a real firm believer in the conspiracy that it was a controlled demolition,” he started. “That it was not in any way as the official story explained. But, this universe is truly one of smoke screens, illusions and wrong paths. If you are presented with new evidence, take it on, even if it contradicts what you or your group want to believe. You have to give the truth the greatest respect, and I do.”

To most people, it doesn’t sound like a particularly outrageous statement to make. In fact, the rest of the video was almost banal in its observations; that the destruction of the towers may actually have been caused by the two 767 passenger jets that flew into them. But to those who subscribed to Veitch’s YouTube channel, a channel he set up to promulgate conspiracy theories like the one he was now rejecting, it was tantamount to heresy. …

His friend showed him the online documentary “Terrorstorm: A History of Government Sponsored Terror,” made by the American radio host Alex Jones. It parsed a new version of history, in which governments secretly organised terror attacks to spread fear and extend their matrices of control. From the Reichstag fire to the Gulf of Tonkin up to the present day, it writhed with apparently unassailable facts and sources.

Jones is a brilliantly effective propagandist who recently made headlines for his hostile showdown on US television with Piers Morgan, over gun control. …

Veitch was now a well-known figure in the conspiracy community. But, while some believers could be dismissed as harmless crackpots, there was a malevolent undercurrent to many of the theories.

In essence, the modern conspiracy narrative is the same as the one that has existed since at least the 19th century: that the few (often termed the “Illuminati”) control the many. This, of course, is the nucleus of the dangerous anti-Jewish myth. …

“I’ve gone full circle in my Right-wing thinking,” he says. “There’s a professional victimhood in conspiracy theorists. There’s a hatred of high achievers.”

As they say — Read the whole fascinating thing. Especially the last three paragraphs. Oh, and some of the comments are interesting too.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/10079244/The-911-conspiracy-theorist-who-changed-his-mind.html

Today’s Quote — 7/3/13

[You capture] the ambivalence of liberty–not easy, not for everyone, not an institution to take for granted.

–Commenter Dave Conley, in response to a comment about the story ‘Canada in landmark move to strike out “hate speech” law’ at

http://www.thecommentator.com/article/3878/canada_in_landmark_move_to_strike_out_hate_speech_law

H/T, RAB.

Pearls of Wisdom

The free press is the ubiquitous vigilant eye of a people’s soul, the embodiment of a people’s faith in itself, the eloquent link that connects the individual with the state and the world, the embodied culture that transforms material struggles into intellectual struggles and idealises their crude material form. It is a people’s frank confession to itself, and the redeeming power of confession is well known. It is the spiritual mirror in which a people can see itself, and self-examination is the first condition of wisdom. It is the spirit of the state, which can be delivered into every cottage, cheaper than coal gas. It is all-sided, ubiquitous, omniscient. It is the ideal world which always wells up out of the real world and flows back into it with ever greater spiritual riches and renews its soul.

Karl Marx – On Freedom of the Press

H/T Brendan O’Neill

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