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Anglosphere

The Pope may also have a tendency towards Catholicism…

…and we all know about ursine silvan defecatary habits…

This staggering gem from the NYT/Daily Mail. I recall when the fun and games started in the ‘stan. There was a twinkly old bar steward “massing” with a fucking hatchet on the Af/Pak border and ranting to the BBC about killing Americans. Above him were the contrails of a B-52. He was (self) impo(r)tently waving his little mashie at the bomber. And he was ponying up from Pakistan’s “restive” tribal areas. Or Hell on Fucking Earth as is better known.

Anyone who sincerely believes the Pakistani government has been our best buds through this farrago which has cost something like 3,000 NATO lives, God knows how many Afghans and you may have noticed how well we’re doing in the Paralympics of late… Well they are demented.

It comes down to this. The USA has had an alliance with Pakistan for many years. In their early wars against India, Pakistan flew largely F-86s, and the Indians got chummy with the Soviets and flew MiGs (they also had some Hawker Hunters and the Pakistanis got some Supermarine Attackers which were truly dreadful but that would detract from the narrative). The Indians still are chummy with the Russians on aerospace which is why the Su-34 has a microwave oven and a proper toilet. It was specced-up and partially designed by HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) primarily for India. A great strike fighter (with a microwave!) but they should have fitted (along with the toilet) variable geometry inlets for the engines to get the speed past Mach 2. Because under successive US Admins there has been a bizarre “Game of Thrones” in the spheres of interference and Pakistan landed in the US one and India in the Soviet one for whatever reason. But genuine friends? Seriously?

We know, or ought to know, who our real friends are. The first British DFC awarded to a female pilot came from her (and her crew) flying through an unbelievable shit-storm of fire into a fort (yes a fort!) to rescue a critically wounded Dane, twice – shot down first time around. Now my people stood (with fuck-off axes) against them Scandy sorts but the Battle of Stamford Bridge* was like nigh on a thousand years ago. Since then we’ve made-up and bought Lego and are genuine mates – real allies. This is not blood – though I am Nordic/Celtic ancestry. I have long blonde-ish hair right now and look like I’m about to lead the Éored down the right flank. Good. I like it as does my wife. I am not being racist. Indeed I’m suggesting I am of immigrant blood and blood matters nothing. What matters is culture and if not it’s exact convergence but the mutual understandability. That makes for genuine friendship and not the sub “Game of Thrones” we have with Pakistan and the Afghans. I mean Dear God we liberated Afghanistan so they could impose a law legalising marital rape! When we stormed the beaches of Normandy did we expect to set-up such societies? I have been to France and Germany and they ain’t like that. I haven’t been to Japan or The Republic of Korea (though I have put enough moollah their way) but I have been to the Korean War memorial in DC. That is a memorial to 50-odd thousand soldiers who died to ensure half the peninsula didn’t get over-run by the vilest regime on the planet.

And it isn’t blood, or culture or even religion (I found Turkey very friendly). Well, maybe it is culture. The culture of not being an arsehole. I am sure many Afghans manage it but not the Khazi of Kabul. Though a man not without sin there can be a need for an Atatürk (as we had a need for a Cromwell). Sometimes you need a hard bastard to pull you out of the soup.

Or maybe not. It’s not very libertarian is it? But Turkey would be a complete shit-hole without Mustafa Kemal (insert obvious joke). Mind, the current Turkish PM seems hell-bent on a return to the fucking dark ages.

Or maybe not. The great social changes I have seen in my lifetime have been of the slowly, slowly monkey catching variety. Sometimes you need society to simply change and the biggest change I have seen is probably gay rights. There has been a phenomenal change in that since I was at secondary school.

But fundamentally you don’t choose your friends – your genuine allies – they choose you or you just get on. There is a reason every year the Norwegians ship us a ginormous Christmas Tree for Trafalgar Square. There is a reason Hamid Khazai ships us fuck all (apart from heroin on the sly) – an Eid prezzie would be nice. It isn’t blood or treasure or religion. We simply get on with Norway and we don’t with ‘stan (because they are cunts, largely). That in a sense is what this war is about. Or isn’t. It is an attempt at “nation building”, in shit-holes. I saw on the telly a couple of years back a US Army Cpt taking tea with tribal elders. He was an engineer and wanted to build a bridge employing local labour so they could go to town and get jobs but all the lads had gone off Talibaning. The US officer was very obviously pissed-off. I don’t blame him. He couldn’t say anything, alas. But there was a definite look about him that said, “Well, if that’s their attitude then fuck ‘em”. Of course he offered to build a bridge and not offer the chance to “marry” pre-pubescent girls so he was buggered from the start.

These are not allies in the sense of friends. The French might be founder members of the “Awkward Squad” but I reckon we can vaguely trust ‘em. We can certainly trust some other Europeans and the USA and some of the Commonwealth. We have friends, genuine friends and that is very different from having “alliances”.

I know people I would stand with (if it came to it) to the last gasp and I know they would stand with me but realpolitricks never works in the long term.

I know this post has rambled and I hope it is taken in the right sense. This is not a rant contra Islam and it is not a paean to Nordicology. I am just saying that if you want a genuine friendship which is the utter prerequisite for a real alliance you have to get on rather than manufacture it. And a country that harbours public enemy #1 within a brisk walk of its premier military academy for years is not a friend and should not therefore be regarded as an ally. It is both a strategic and some level a moral failure.

*Some enormous Viking held the bridge with a giant axe until a sneaky Saxon went underneath and skewered the IKEA merchant with a spear up the fundament.

Richard Epstein & Federalist Society Panel on Direct Democracy

Government of the People, by the People, and for the People?

The second Showcase Panel at the the Federalist Society’s 2010 National Lawyers Convention. November 19, 2010.

Prof. Epstein, as usual, has some thoughts on practicalities. (He’s wrong about the V-N War, though. What can I say, he’s a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn. And among other things he did time at Berkeley.)

Very interesting discussion, and the gentlemen all are. :>)

From the description:

Direct democracy is feasible today to an extent that it was not feasible in 1787. Does that change the calculus in choosing between direct democracy and representation? What lessons, positive or negative, can be learned from the state experience with initiatives and referenda? Should Congress set up a system of national initiatives and referenda? Can Congress delegate its legislative power to the American people without violating the nondelegation doctrine? Should national initiatives and referenda be binding or merely advisory? Would it be acceptable for a national referendum to alter a law so as to effectively reverse a Supreme Court decision? Should the health care law be subject to such a referendum? Should increases in the national debt or in taxes be subject to voter approval?

In order of appearance:

Steven G. Calabresi — Moderator (Introduction, 6:32)

Panelists, speaking roughly 15 min. each:

William N. Eskridge, Jr. — Yale
Richard A. Epstein (at ~19:40) — NYU, U. of Chicago
Robert D. Cooter — Berkeley
Thomas W. Merrill — Columbia

Then the moderator puts a few questions, and finally there’s Q&A from the audience.

Yale Thinks I Have an Eating Disorder

This is outrageous — the Yale Administration’s Mommy-Knows-Best attitude, if that’s what it is…but no, I don’t think it’s that. I think it’s the “You’ll do what I say, OR ELSE, young lady!” attitude. In loco parentis* on steroids! I have to cheer this woman for writing this up, even if she did see fit to post it on HuffPo.

Coming on the heels of Prof. Rubenfeld, he of the Yale Law School, and in light of Yale’s reputation for having an unfortunately highly Progressivist weltanschaaung, I find myself disgusted with Yale altogether. When Lucy grows up I’m sending her to Oxbridge.

Herewith, the whole thing. I just don’t see how to break it up without ruining the flow.

–J.

Yale University Thinks I Have an Eating Disorder

“I don’t know if my body is even capable of gaining three more pounds.”

The nurse looked at me apprehensively. “It’s easy to gain a couple pounds. What I’m afraid will happen is that you’ll lose it again and you’ll just be cheating yourself.”

I couldn’t keep the impatience out of my tone. “So you’re just going to keep checking on me until I graduate?”

“If we don’t tackle your low weight now, it will kill you.”

***

In the past three weeks alone, I have spent ten hours at Yale Health, our student health center. Since December, I have had weekly weigh-ins and urine tests, three blood tests, appointments with a mental health counselor and a nutritionist, and even an EKG done to test my heart. My heart was fine — as it always has been — and so was the rest of my body. So what was the problem?

The medical professionals think I have an eating disorder — but they won’t look past the number on the scale, to see the person right in front in them.

I visited the cancer hospital on September 17, 2013, worrying about a lump in my breast. It turned out to be benign, but I received an email in November from the medical director about “a concern resulting from your recent visit.” My stomach lurched. Was the lump malignant after all?

I met with a clinician on December 4 and was told that the “concern” was my low weight and that I would meet with her for weekly weigh-ins. These appointments were not optional. The clinician threatened to put me on medical leave if I did not comply: “If it were up to the administration, school would already be out for you. I’m just trying to help.”

I’ve always been small. I’ve been 5’2” and 90 pounds since high school, but it has never led to any illnesses related to low weight or malnutrition. My mom was the same; my whole family is skinny. We all enjoy Mom’s fabulous cooking, which included Taiwanese beef noodle soup, tricolor pasta, strawberry cheesecake, and cream puffs, none of which make the Weight Watchers shortlist. I just don’t gain weight easily.

Yet the clinicians at Yale Health think there’s more to it. Every week, I try to convince my clinician that I am healthy but skinny. Over the past several months, however, I’ve realized the futility of arguing with her.

“You should try to gain at least two more pounds.” (What difference does two pounds make?)

“Come next week to take a blood test to check your electrolytes.” (No consideration that I had three exams that week.)

“I know you’ve said in the past that you don’t eat as much when you get stressed out.” (I’ve never said that.)

So instead of arguing, I decided that perhaps the more I complied, the sooner I could resume my normal life.

I was forced to see a mental health professional. She asked me all of the standard questions — how I felt about my body, how many calories I ate. I told her everyone’s body is beautiful, including mine. When I said I didn’t know how many calories, since I don’t care to count, she rephrased the question, as if that would help.

Next step was a nutritionist. The nurse passed a post-it note, saying “Here are two times for the nutritionist next Tuesday. Usually it takes three months to get into nutrition at all.” What a privilege! Now I get to feel guilty about using clinical resources in desperately short supply!

Finally, I decided to start a weight-gain diet. If I only had to gain two pounds, it was worth a shot to stop the trouble. I asked my health-conscious friends what they do to remain slim and did the exact opposite. In addition to loading up on carbs for each meal, I’ve eaten 3-4 scoops of ice cream twice a day with chocolate, cookies, or Cheetos at bedtime. I take elevators instead of stairs wherever possible.

Eventually, the scale said I was two pounds heavier. When I saw her last Friday, I felt my stomach tighten, my heart racing. Would I finally be granted parole?

“You’ve gained two pounds, but that still isn’t enough. Ideally, you should go up to 95 pounds.” I hung my head in disbelief. I’ve already shared with you the memorable exchange that followed.

She had finally cracked me. I was Sisyphus the Greek king, forever trapped trying uselessly to push a boulder up a hill. Being forced to meet a standard that I could never meet was stressful and made me resent meals. I broke down sobbing in my dean’s office, in my suitemate’s arms afterwards, and Saturday morning on the phone with my parents. At this rate, I was well on my way to developing an eating disorder before anyone could diagnose the currently nonexistent one.

It seems Yale has a history of forcing its students through this process. A Yale Herald piece from 2010 told the story of students in similar situations. It’s disturbing how little things have changed. “Stacy” was “informed that if she kept failing to reach [Yale Health]‘s goals for her, she would be withdrawn for the following semester.” Unfortunately, “the more she stressed out about gaining weight, the more she lost her appetite.”

Furthermore, a recent graduate messaged me saying that her cholesterol had actually gone up due to the intensive weight-gain diet she used to release herself from weekly weigh-ins.

It is clear that the University does care about students suspected of struggling with eating disorders. And it should. Eating disorders are particularly prevalent on college campuses and Yale is no exception. However, because the University blindly uses BMI as the primary means of diagnosis, it remains oblivious to students who truly need help but do not have low enough BMIs. Instead, it subjects students who have a personal and family history of low weight to treatment that harms our mental health. By forcing standards upon us that we cannot meet, the University plays the same role as fashion magazines and swimsuit calendars that teach us about the “correct shape” of the human body.

I was scheduled to have a mental health appointment at 9:00 a.m. and a weigh-in at 10:30 a.m. this past Friday. But I’m done. No more weigh-ins, no more blood draws. I don’t have an eating disorder, and I will not let Yale Health cause me to develop one. If Yale wants to kick me out, let them try — in the meantime, I’ll be studying for midterms, doing my best to make up for lost time.

. . .
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.

What is in a name?

They can be millstones. I have heard of an Arthur “Art” Kraft and an Ophelia Tushmann. They were first gen Americans so they probs hadn’t got the hang but arguably the must risible was a Fanny Doktor. Of course I was to have a kid I’d give them a serviceable name though I’m not up on the idea of shortened forms as official names. I am officially a Nicholas but everyone calls me Nick. So this crop of Charlies and Archies (the later mainly to be found in a buggy the size of a Challenger 2 tank going round Waitrose (possibly with iDave at the helm)). Nah! Give ‘em the long forms but use the short unless they have been very naughty and then they’ll know they are in for it!

I recently saw a plant in Amsterdam that is virtually extinct. It was quite sad. It is the only one left and it is from an old species that comes in male and female forms rather than being male and female as most plants are. They can take cuttings mind so it ain’t exactly over. He’s a boy and he’ll never meet a girl. Well, maybe those genetics wizards will figure something out. I saw as much as I could stand of “Sharktopus” on the telly. That was bloody dreadful. So God alone knows. Let’s call him Bob.

Anyhoo, ancestry.com has compiled a list of similarly dying names in much the same way botanists classify endangered species though frankly I’m not sure a name dying is quite the same as a species kicking the bucket eternal. You wanna hear them? (these are UK).

‘Extinct’ – (None recorded in latest birth records):
Male – Cecil, Rowland & Willie
Female – Bertha, Blodwen, Fanny, Gertrude, Gladys, Margery, Marjorie & Muriel

Cecil, Rowland & Willie – Sounds like a Dickensian law firm.

‘Endangered’ – (Have fallen in prevalence by 99 per cent since 1905):
Male – Clifford, Horace, Harold, Leslie & Norman
Female – Doris, Edna, Ethel, Hilda, Marion & Phyllis

And it goes on… My personal feeling is most of the names to have fallen into disuse deserve their fate. The only Horace I ever met was hungry (or skiing or fighting spiders).

So it just goes to show… something. Some modern names are curses too but so are some of the oldies. But oddly enough some names never seem to go in or out of fashion. Rachel or Thomas spring to mind as hardy perennials. There are loads more of course. And of course there are names which have nothing wrong in themselves taken individually but the first/surname mix makes it risible. Austin Healey and Minnie Driver spring to mind. But it goes way back

What is in a name? A lot. It defines you in various ways and it kinda sticks. And I think it is a responsibility for parents to select something wearable. In many ways it is the first and most important decision they have to make.

Libertarianism and Conservativism – foes or friends?

F.A. Hayek at the end of his “Constitution of Liberty” (1960) wrote “Why I am not a Conservative” – which is odd as Hayek had (perhaps without knowing it) a good grasp of what actually is a positive conception of conservatism, and a poor grasp of libertarianism.

Hayek rejected the word “libertarian” as “artificial” which is just as well as he was not a libertarian – philosophically or politically.

Philosophically Hayek was a determinist (like so many 19th century and early 20th century thinkers, he assumed that “science” mandated determinism). Hayek took David Hume literally (whether Hume should really be taken literally is a hotly contested issue), the “I” (the human person) is an illusion, as is human choice – a thought does NOT mean a thinker (a reasoning “I”) and as there is no agent (no human being – no reasoning “I”) there is no agency (no free will), actions are predetermined by a series of causes and effects that go back to the start of the universe – and humans (who are not beings) can do no other than we do (we could not have done otherwise – as choice is an illusion).

Politically Hayek claimed to an “Old Whig”, but is hard to see how his philosophical views are compatible with the Whig point of view – which was based on the MORAL value of human free will (it is not an accident that David Hume was not a Whig) . The determinist (such as the Thomas Hobbes) holds that “freedom” is just an absence of external restraint – for example when a dam fails the water is “free” to rush out and destroy towns and so on. “Freedom” (in the determinist view) is not a matter of moral choice (remember choice is an “illusion”) so “freedom” is like taking one’s hand off a clockwork mouse and letting this clockwork mouse go around on the floor. It is hard to see how this “freedom” can be of any moral importance at all – if any view of politics can be based upon it would be a politics of tyranny (exactly the politics that Hobbes did base upon it), after all walls of water from broken dams (and so on) does not sound very nice.

Still does Hayek say anything else about his politics? Yes he does – again in the “Constitution of Liberty” we are told that he supports the “limited state” not the “minimal state”, because (according to Hayek) the minimal state can not be defined and the limited state can be defined.

Hayek is just wrong – the minimal state is easy to define (although very hard to achieve or maintain – an anarchist would argue impossible to maintain or achieve). The definition of a minimal state is one that just uses force only against the violation of the non aggression principle (attacks on the bodies or goods of people or groups of people). It is actually the “limited state” that is hard to define. Limited to what?

Hayek does make some vague efforts to define the “limited state” – for example he says that such a state applies “general rules” that apply to everyone.

O.K. then – everyone is to have their head cut off. Is that a good example of a “limited state”?

Hayek also says that a limited state does not seek to have a monopoly of any service.

O.K. then – everyone but the children of Mr Smith of 25 Silver Street to go to a state school?

Unfair example? O.K. – how about the state hands education and healthcare “free” (at the expense of the taxpayers), but you are free to pay twice (i.e. pay again on top of taxation) to go private? Is this the limited state?

How about you can go to any doctor you like and send your children to any school you like, but the state pays the bill (no matter how big it is), is that the limited state?

Such a state (one that seeks to provide or pay for education, healthcare, old age provision and on and on) will end up spending half the entire economy (and still fail). That does not sound very limited or sustainable – and Hayek (in his attack on the Welfare State) shows he understands this. However, his “limited state” is not defined in a way that prevents it.

Oh dear this post seems to have turned into “why Hayek is crap” which is unfair as anyone (even the best of us) looks terrible if one just concentrates on errors and weaknesses. I will leave the above out if I ever give a talk on this subject (because it sounds terribly negative) – but it needed to be put on record.

So why is Hayek (perhaps without knowing it) insightful about Conservatism?

Hayek’s own definition of Conservatism (given in “Why I am Not a Conservative”) is not good. He just defines it as being opposed to change – so (for example) a North Korean conservative now would be a socialist (or that is the system they have) and a British conservative I (say) 1870 would be a free market person – as this was the system of the time.

Whatever Hayek may have believed that is not a serious definition of Conservatism. But Hayek (again perhaps without knowing it) does give a description of Conservatism – in “Constitution of Liberty”, “Law. Legislation and Liberty” (and other works).

Cosmos not Taxis – spontaneous order (evolved over time) not top down planning. What Hayek called the results of “human action not human design” (it would be have been better to say the results of voluntary action not forced action – but Hayek had philosophical problems with even voluntary design).

Or (in the language of the conservative writer M.J. Oakeshott) a Civil Association not Enterprise Association, a Societas not a Universitas.

Institutions and customs that evolve over time often without people knowing the reasons they are useful – till they are broken.

As Tolkien’s (Tolkien being a Catholic Conservative) character “Gandalf” puts it in the “Lord of the Rings” – “he who breaks a thing to find out what it is, has left the path of wisdom”.

This is what Conservatism is about – a preference for evolved custom and ways of doing things (ways of living) over imposed “rational” planning by the state.

The state (in the Conservative view) is like the Thrain of the Shire (Tolkien’s) and the Mayor.

The Thrain does nothing in peacetime (in war it is different) – he just farms his estate. And the Mayor is the leading figure at formal dinners (like those of the old Closed Corporations that were the only “urban local government” before the Act of 1835 in England and Wales), he does not order folk about. Families govern their own affairs and do not attack each other (police forces were not compulsory on the counties of England and Wales till 1856). There is plenty of (moral – traditional) authority, but little naked “power”.

I think it is obvious show this view of Conservatism is close to libertarianism (hence “Tory Anarchist”) – a friend not a foe. But is it tied to Hayek and his philosophical opinions?

No it is not – which is why I mentioned Oakeshott and Tolkien (two Conservatives with very different philosophical opinions to Hayek). Both Oakeshott and Tolkien believed in free will (agency – moral responsibility, the ability to choose to do otherwise).

Even in the 18th century Conservatives did not follow the philosophical opinions of David Hume (again IF they were his opinions – I repeat this is hotly contested). Neither the Tory Conservative Dr Johnson or the Old Whig Conservative Edmund Burke (a real Old Whig – unlike Hayek) accepted determinism and the denial of human personhood (moral choice – the ability to choose to do otherwise). Edmund Burke and Dr Johnson (the Whig and the Tory) both believed in free will (agency – moral responsibility, the ability to choose to do otherwise) and were moral universalists (not just Dr Johnson – but Edmund Burke also, for the T. Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson view of his is totally wrong, to Burke it did not matter if something happened in the Middle Ages or right now, in India or America – right was right and wrong was wrong).

Is this the only view of Conservatism?

Of course not – there are other views of Conservatism. For example the statism of Disraeli (with his life long commitment to “social reform” – yuk).

However, that is hardly “doing nothing” (against those who do not themselves aggress against others). The Tauist Old King Log sitting in the shade – rather than Young King Stork “helping” his subjects by eating them.

Bill Clinton is right – the U.N. will prove to be a lot worse than the NSA.

Bill Clinton may be a crook (well forget the “may be” – he is a crook), but that does not mean he is not right – indeed it gives him an insight into corrupt minds. And not being in the service of a political ideology (being an “honest thief” rather than a “bitch” [a servant of the Soviets] – in the language of GULAG) he has no reason not to say what it is going on.

We now see what the Edward Snowden thing was really about (as well as giving the FSB some tips in the cyber war – stuff they most likely guessed at anyway). It was about discrediting United States control of the internet – thus giving Mr Obama an excuse to do what he always wanted to do. Hand over control of the internet to the United Nations international telecommunications union (read Russia, China and the Islamic powers). The NSA just wants to know what you are saying – the new masters of the internet (with no pesky First Amendment) will want to stop you saying it.

Was Mr Snowden just a useful idiot – or an FSB agent all along? I do not know – but the censorship of the internet (not practical under American control of the internet) is now a real possibility. Barack Obama may get his dream (control of speech – by P.C. doctrine) by the back door of the “international community”.

The young people (the ones who nod their heads at the “libertarians” on Mr Putin’s “Russia Today” television station) will not (yet) believe me. But the NSA (and yes the CIA also – people such as Mike Baker who risked his life so many times for young people who think he is a “Fascist”) were not the enemy (they never were). They (the NSA and the CIA) were not out to censor you. It is your “saviours” (the people you hero worship) who want to censor you.

“We are techno people, no censorship will work on us” – oh you silly people, that is not what censorship is about. Censorship is about the average person not seeing something.

Titles restored

Until the 1970’s the Australian honours system mirrored that of the Brits, from whom we inherited it.

Gough Whitlam, on becoming Prime Minister, abolished the old system and instituted a new one, called the Order of Australia.

No problem with the concept, a little disappointed at the lack of imagination in its name tho.

Anyway, the old titles were swept away. No more lords, knights or dames. No more CBE’s, MBE’s and so on. The awards were – Member, Officer and Companion of the Order of Australia, and the left rejoiced.

Then, for those who know their modern Australian history, Gough was swept away, and the Tories got back in. In 1976 Knight and Dame were added to the list, and the left snarled.

Ten years later, in 1986, Bob Hawke, or Hawkey as some fantasise it is affectionate to call him, abolished those titles, and the left rejoiced, again.

Now, one would have thought that, 28 years having passed, the matter would be settled, but no. The age of chivalry remains undead, and like zombies rising from their graves, Knights and Dames have returned.

Not only that, but the positions will be institutionalised. The Queens Representative in Australia, the Governor General, will be given the title of Sir or Dame on ascension, and will be head of the order for the period of their tenure in office.

Snigger.

Personally, I don’t care, I am a bit of a traditionalist, so I also don’t object. After all, what is the difference between putting OA (Order of Australia) after your name, and putting Sir or Dame before it?

Now, Australia doesn’t have a system of nobility, even if there is no constitutional prohibition against it, as the US has. So a Knight is the lowest rank of nobility, does it matter? The titles aren’t hereditary, so, no, not to me.

This has meaning for me only to the extent of the pleasure I will gain from watching progressive heads explode.

Quids…

The Daily Fail just has to say this. OK, it’s bimetallic but that is it. It doesn’t really look like the Euro. More to the point if we are introducing a new coin design does that not imply a commitment to Sterling? I don’t want the Euro. Guess why? Euro notes are OK. Euro Coins are very difficult to distinguish and God alone knows what they make ‘em from but after a couple of years they look tatty as Hell. Look, I can get myself around say US coinage, or Czech or Polish or British but Euros don’t float my boat. OK, so like the Euro coin it’s bimetallic but so is the GBP2 coin which I rather like. “Standing on the shoulders of giants” and all that caper. But dear me! The Euro cents I handled in Amsterdam recently just looked rough – like they came from one of those toy tills. They looked like they had been through a Belgian. Or an Alsation. Something of that kidney. They all look the bloody same yet different. Having different national images is a pain because whereas we have instantly identifiable symbols whereas having a variety of national symbols on the reverse you don’t bloody know – I mean you know if it is German* or French but it isn’t obvious if it is 10c or 20c. It identifies where the coin came from but not what it is worth. Having them all the same colour is a hyper-pain too. The notes work. The coinage doesn’t. And it looks shonky. It doesn’t look like the Euro my dear Fail. It looks nothing like it. I think it looks quite nice. Although by 2017 I bet it won’t buy a Coke but that is another matter. And there is also too many. I like the US system (I know they have other coins) but largely it’s 1,5,10,25 and that is your small onion. Works. OK, the fact that the nickel is bigger than the dime always annoyed me but nothing to the Euro. I also liked the dollar bill. I, being a Brit, am just not used to holding a wad of foldable. I felt like a movie star though in truth I had about enough to go to Wendy’s for a burger. The smallest paper you get here is a fiver which is worth roughly USD8.30**.

But, let’s get back to the score. The pound coin is not being scrapped. The Fail is mongering the scares. It is being replaced. Fair enough. It still has her Britannic Majesty’s head on it. It looks fuck all like a Euro. I quite like it.

*The German one has Norman Foster’s “Friendly Eagle” on it. You know the one that doesn’t invade Poland. And let us all be grateful for that. Because the last time that happened…

**So I say to my wife. “That’s good – can we go to the USA”. Problemo. Myt wife is a translator and is often paid in USD so that isn’t good. Swings and bloody roundabouts. You simply can’t win. You can run but if you do so you’ll only die tired.

Sherlock Who?

After reading a small few of the tidal wave of articles on the latest Sherlock I am forced to ask myself, and you, should I watch it?

I ceased to take any notice of that show some time ago when I realised that, under Stephen Moffat, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes and Matt Smith’s Doctor Who were essentially the same character.

Now, Doctor Who changes character with every regeneration, so, fine. If played by Smith he is a manic egomaniac I can live with that. But Sherlock Holmes? Sherlock Holmes DOES NOT prance about like a ninny, and I am not interested in watching him do so. I turned the episode off, and have never been back.

Should I revise my decision?

England

We have a problem.

abbott-harper-key

Tony Abbott, Stephen Harper and John Key, the conservative Prime Ministers of Australia, Canada and New Zealand respectively, met for a quiet lunch prior to the funeral of Nelson Mandela.

Where is David Cameron? Given the attitudes of each of these men to the major issues facing us, would the British Prime Minister have been welcome? Or even have anything to contribute?

H/T Catallaxy Files

The Taliban: (Not Just) America’s Enemy

I subscribe to the newsletter from Brigitte Gabriel’s “ACT! for America” foundation*. Miss Gabriel is Lebanese by birth, but now is an American citizen I believe. She’s a Maronite Christian and strongly pro-Israel as well as pro-America (and the other relatively free countries).

The source for this piece is the newsletter, which I received yesterday as a private e-mail.  Therefore I quote it in full (although it’s addressed to Americans and therefore specifies the problems and atrocities here),  and I haven’t covered over the article’s URL’s.  The boldfaced type is my punching up of the obvious.  :>)

 

The Taliban: America’s Enemy
By Brigitte Gabriel

The Taliban have recently published the autumn edition of their magazine, Azan.

This is the fourth issue of the magazine and is significant in that it calls for Muslims in the West to launch attacks at home or fight in foreign battlefields, urging recruits to even leave behind their children or elderly parents (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/al-qaeda/10503925/Taliban-magazine-urges-jihad-and-profiles-the-Honda-125.html)

Surely such calls to Jihad are nothing new, so why is this particular publication important?

Because it has been released just a few days after the Obama administration was quoted saying that “the Taliban are not our enemies and we don’t want to fight them.” (http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2013/11/27/Karzai-Will-Sign-Agreement-with-U-S-Says-Obama-Administration-Claimed-Taliban-Not-Our-Enemy)

Such statements about the Taliban are nothing new from the Obama administration. Vice President Joe Biden told Newsweek magazine the same thing almost exactly two years ago (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/12/vp-biden-says-that-the-taliban-per-se-is-not-our-enemy/).

Not only are these statements from the administration disheartening because our brave troops have been fighting Taliban Jihadis for a decade, they also demonstrate a profound ignorance about Jihadist doctrine.

Jihadist doctrine does not regard nationalities or international borders as significant. Under their doctrine, Jihad is to be waged to make Allah’s law and religion supreme around the entire world. With their latest magazine, the Taliban clearly demonstrate adherence to that doctrine with their call for Muslims in the West to launch attacks at home.

What’s more this is not something new from the Taliban. When they seized power in Afghanistan in 1996, they announced that Afghanistan was to be a launching pad for global Jihad and invited Jihadi fighters to come to their country. Jihadis from all over the Islamic world and even parts of the West and the Pacific Rim heeded that call and gravitated to the new Shariah-ruled outpost established by the Taliban regime.

Among those who relocated to Afghanistan was Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. We know the rest: Al Qaeda launched its attack on America from Afghanistan and the Taliban harbored Al Qaeda from the US when America sought to bring justice down on them.

How anyone can look at these facts and conclude that the Taliban are not our enemy is mind-boggling. The idea that the Taliban want to strictly limit their evil designs to Afghanistan is absurd.

Moreover, the Taliban have in fact been involved in terrorist plots and activity on US soil:

• In May of 2011, six people, including two Imams at a Florida mosque, were indicted for providing material support to none other than the Taliban (http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/May/11-nsd-621.html).

• Faisal Shahzad, the Jihadist who attempted to detonate a Vehicle-Born Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) in New York’s Time Square in May 2010, was trained at a Taliban camp and, according to Attorney General Eric Holder himself, “the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attack…We know they helped facilitate it. We know they probably helped finance it and that he was working at their direction.” (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LE12Df01.html)

• Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan-American who pled guilty in a plot to bomb the New York City subway in 2009, traveled to Afghanistan to join the Taliban when he was recruited by Al Qaeda to go back to America to attack targets in the US homeland. This shows the continued, close cooperation and collaboration between the Taliban and Al Qaeda (http://www.investigativeproject.org/case/345).

Conclusion

The Taliban are committed Jihadists. As such, they are undoubtedly an enemy of America. They have killed and wounded thousands of US GIs in combat over the past decade and they have, from the time they originally seized power in Afghanistan to today, involved themselves with other Jihadist organizations from around the world. Jihadis do not limit their scope based on political borders; their stated goals are global. To say that the Taliban are not the enemy of the United States is to demonstrate a profound ignorance of the doctrinal basis for the threat from Jihad. When that ignorance comes from the executive branch of the US government, it can only be described as frightening.  [This statement applies just as much to the other Western governments ... and their people.  --J.]

——————————————————————————————-

ACT for America
P.O. Box 12765
Pensacola, FL 32591
www.actforamerica.org

*”ACT” stands for “American Congress for Truth,” which was the original name of Miss Gabriel’s foundation.

ACT’s page about Miss Gabriel describes some of her activities and accomplishments.

There is also a Wikipedia article about Miss Gabriel, who was born Nour Saman.

On this day

In 1865, slavery was Abolished by the REPUBLICAN PARTY. 

In the teeth of opposition by the Democratic Party.

Epstein: Can the U.S. Survive Health Care Reform?

In this video from April, 2010, before the Annihilation of Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Health Fraud) was passed, Richard Epstein gave an exceptionally lucid explanation (in his usual rapid-fire manner) of just exactly why it will not and cannot work, and just a few of the ways in which the U.S. will be the worse for it. Here he is not arguing its morality–although morality does peek in around the door here and there–but rather the predictable practical results.

(He also mentions, briefly, what YrsTrly has said: People got used to Medicare and Medicaid, and now they feel they’re entitled to it, and also they do depend upon it; so it’s better left to wither away than yanked out from under us wholesale.  –Well, to the extent that they’ve lost their own control of their lives, they’d like to know that they’re going to get what they were supposed to get in return.  Of course, his audience mostly consists of students, who have no memory at all of Life Before Medicare, and probably feel as though it’s always existed.  Like Mt. Rushmore.)

He also mentions the effectiveness of private charity, and alternative payment methods, and so on–before the government involved itself in running this aspect of our lives.

To my mind, this is one of his best, and one which sounds right to me.

No more

It looks as if Australia and Canada are taking a lead on this.

FEDERAL cabinet has ruled that Australia will not sign up to any new contributions, taxes or charges at this week’s global summit on climate change, in a significant toughening of its stance as it plans to move within days to repeal the carbon tax.

Cabinet ministers have decided to reject any measures of “socialism masquerading as environmentalism” after meeting last week to consider a submission on the position the government would take to the Warsaw conference.

Lets not pull any punches on this matter. It doesn’t matter what the problem is, the solution is always the same – more government, and less accountability. More EU, more UN and less democracy.

Someone is finally saying “enough is enough”.

This doesn’t bode well for future negotiations on Sustainability and Agenda 21. At least, not from the point of view of the collectivists.

(more…)

How William James of Harvard helped undermine moral responsiblity – agency.

Most libertarians (and conservatives) have some idea of the harm Harvard University (in spite of the good elements that have always existed there) has done to the United States and (by extension) the rest of the West.

For example, Harvard (via its relationship with Cambridge in England) helped push Keynesian “economics” thus undermining real economics – and leading to the credit bubble nightmare the world now faces.

Before this Harvard Law School actively discouraged study of the text of the Constitution of the United States and the other writings (showing the intentions) of those who wrote that text – pushing the study of “case law” instead, thus undermining constitutional limitations on government power in the United States.

It is true to say that both in economics and law many other American universities followed the example of Harvard – because of its prestige (based, in part, on its being the first American university and its vast resources).

However, before the harm it did in economics and law, Harvard did great harm in the study of human beings themselves (in what was called the study of the “nature of man”) – in philosophy and psychology.

Once American philosophy had been dominated by those who believed and defended three great principles.

The objective nature of the physical universe.

The objective nature of good and evil.

And the ability of humans to choose between good and evil – that humans were beings (agents) that they had the capacity (if they made the effort – a big “if”) to choose good and reject evil.

Both the Aristotelians who dominated Catholic education and the “Common Sense” thinkers who dominated Protestant education (sometimes called followers of “Scottish philosophy” of John Reid and so on – although the principles go back to 17th century thinkers such as Ralph Cudworth and before).

Harvard took the lead in attacking these principles – by the rise of the American “Pragmatist” School.

The “Pragmatists” are best summed up in the words of William James (one of the leading members of the group) “the right is just the expedient in our way of thinking” – and by this William James meant both “the right” in the sense of truth (there was no objective truth – whatever it was useful to be “true” was “true”) and in the sense of “good and evil” (right and wrong – in both senses), to the Pragmatists objective good and evil did not exist – they were “myths” just as objective truth was a “myth”..

The European “philosopher of violence” Sorel, was later to make use of this doctrine of “useful myths” – what did it matter if one told lies (to incite violence) if truth and lies did not really exist? If what was “true” was just what was “useful” to  the cause.

Mussolini did the same thing – what did it matter if both reason and evidence had refuted socialism? So much for reason and evidence! He might move from strict Marxism (because it was too easy to refute – at least for people who believe in such things as objective truth), but his new form of socialism (“Fascism”) would do – it would be based upon “myths”  and if there was no objective truth. lying was O.K. (indeed a new “truth”).

One can even see this in the writings of the Oslo murderer (he wanted his name to be famous – so I never use it) – William James was his most favoured philosopher (on his Facebook page – before it was taken down). So what if the people he murdered were unarmed kids – if his “truth” was that they were armed foes, and he was a “Knight Templar” was not his “truth” as valid as the “truth” of anyone else? And was not his “good” (murdering unarmed kids) not as valid as the “good” of anyone else?

Not even religious people were immune from the spell of William James – as Dietrich Bonhoeffer pointed out, one was more like to hear the name William James than Saint James in the Churches of the Progressives.

How can it be objectively wrong to murder millions of helpless people – if there is no such thing as objective wrong (or objective right)? Besides it is not convenient to try and save the helpless people being murdered – one might be hurt (or even killed) trying to save them, so it may be “your truth” that they should be saved, but it is not “my truth”.

Besides “modern scientific thought” had “proved” that one could not choose between good and evil (which do not objectively exist anyway) – choice is an “illusion”, one is really controlled by impersonal social forces of “class” and/or “race” in one’s “historical period”.

The Schoolmen (the scholastics) had been fond of saying “natural law is the law of God – but if God did not exist natural law would be EXACTLY THE SAME” – the “new” way of thinking (actually this evil is as old humanity – but I will not go into this here) held that natural law (right and wrong, good and evil) did not really exist for the religious or for atheists – and that (even if they did exist) humans were not beings (not agents) and could not choose between them anyway – choice (morality) being an “illusion”.

Thus the fury (righteous fury) of Dietrich Bonhoeffer with the “Christians” who either murdered the innocent (after all “what is innocence?” said the smooth talking scum) themselves, or stood by and did nothing as the innocent were murdered in front of them.

And it was not just in Germany. in the United States the eugenics movement was welcomed by the “religious progressive” – both the holding down and cutting up of women for being “inferior” (only Justice Pierce Butler, the “arch reactionary”, voted against forced sterilisation – the other eight Justices on the Supreme Court thought it was fine) and even plans to actively exterminate the “inferior” – even if this “inferiority” was actually a “useful myth”.

And even if is evil (although objective evil does not exist……) we do not “really” choose our actions – choice is just an “illusion” (so it is not my fault that I pushed these children into the gas chamber and then murdered them).

But how did William James (and his “intellectual” friends) undermine moral responsibility – agency. the courage to choose good and reject evil? To stand against the “social forces”?

How did the philosophy (and the psychology) of “Common Sense” thinkers such as James McCosh (the once famous President of Princeton) and Noah Porter (the once famous President of Yale) get replaced?

One looks in vain for in “Psychology” (1892) for a formal refutation of (for example) Noah Porter’s “The Human Intellect: With An Introduction Upon Psychology And The Soul” – which, before the work of William James, was the standard work on psychology in the United States. Indeed the name “Noah Porter” is not even mentioned in the book.

Instead we get this……..page 457 “Psychology” by William James (1892).

“But a psychologist cannot be expected to be thus impartial, having a great motive in favour of determinism. He wants to build a Science; and Science is a system of fixed relations. Where ever there are independent variables, there Science stops. So far, then, as our volitions may be independent variables, a scientific psychology must ignore that fact, and treat of them only so far as they are fixed functions. In other words, she must deal with the general laws of volition exclusively; with the impulsive and inhibitory character of ideas; with the nature of their appeals to the attention; with the conditions under which effort may arise, etc.; but not with the precise amounts of effort for these, if our wills be free, are impossible to compute, She thus abstracts from free-will, without necessarily denying its existence. Practically, however, such abstraction is not distinguished from rejection; and most actual psychologists have no hesitation in denying that free-will exists.”

The word “psychology” goes back to Ralph Cudworth in the 17th century – the great defender (against Thomas Hobbes) of human agency, the great denier that humans were just machines (not beings). And. by the way, the great attacker of the “chopping up” of the human mind between “will” and “reason” ( a perhaps mistaken practice of the scholastics). Noah Porter (the most famous writer on psychology in America ) had only died a couple of years before this book by William James was published, James McCosh (the great “Common Sense” philosopher) was actually still alive (he died in 1894). Reason (agency) had defenders (at that time) in almost every university in America – yet William James comes out with this tissue of lies – and that is what (thanks to Harvard – and its influence) future generations of students would be taught.

I will now translate what William James wrote into English – I will give its “practical” sense, to use his term. “Practically” (without his cowardly evasions – such as “without necessarily denying its existence”).

Humans are not beings, human volition (agency) does not exist. Humans are just machines – all of whose actions are predetermined. There is no real “choice” (it is an “illusion”). There is no moral difference between a human and a clockwork mouse. And we need not be concerned with enslavement of humans by the state – because humans are slaves (indeed machines – not beings) by nature anyway.

The utter denial of human freedom – no agency, no moral responsibility.

The victory of evil – total and absolute.

That is at the heart of modern academia (of “Nudge” by Cass Sunstein and all the rest of it) – and it came long before (indeed was the cause) of the corruption of such things as law and economics.

Why should humans make the great effort (suffer the terrible pain) required for agency (for standing against evil) if this is impossible? If humans are not really beings (not really agents) at all.

This is the heart of evil.

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