19 Jun 2019

A Chance Encounter in the Appenines

, , , , ,


Clouded Apollo (Parnassius apollo siciliae)

The Spectator has an excerpt from Eric Newby’s
Love and War in the Appenines:

I took off my rucksack and lay down in a grassy hollow at the edge of the cliff. The sun was hot and soon I took off my shirt and then my boots and socks. The air was filled with the humming of bees and the buzzing of insects and from somewhere further up the mountain there came the clanking of sheep bells, carried on a gentle breeze that was blowing from that direction. Then a single bell began to toll in the valley, and other more distant bells echoed it, but they soon ceased and I looked across to the distant peaks which previously had been so clearly delineated but were now beginning to shimmer and become indistinct in the haze that was enveloping them. And quite soon I fell asleep.

I woke to find a German soldier standing over me. At first, with the sun behind him, he was as indistinct as the peaks had become, but then he swam into focus. He was an officer and he was wearing summer battledress and a soft cap with a long narrow peak. He had a pistol but it was still in its holster on his belt and he seemed to have forgotten that he was armed because he made no effort to draw it. Across one shoulder and hanging down over one hip in a very unmilitary way he wore a large old-fashioned civilian haversack, as if he was a member of a weekend rambling club, rather than a soldier, and in one hand he held a large, professional-looking butterfly net. He was a tall, thin, pale young man of about 25 with mild eyes and he appeared as surprised to see me as I was to see him, but much less alarmed than I was, virtually immobilized, lying on my back without my boots and socks on.

‘Buon giorno,’ he said, courteously. His accent sounded rather like mine must, I thought. ‘Che bella giornata.’

At least up to now he seemed to have assumed that I was an Italian, but as soon as I opened my mouth he would know I wasn’t. Perhaps I ought to try and push him over the cliff, after all he was standing with his back to it; but I knew that I wouldn’t. It seemed awful even to think of murdering someone who had simply wished me good day and remarked on what a beautiful one it was, let alone actually doing it. If ever there was going to be an appropriate time to go on stage in the part of the mute from Genoa which I had often rehearsed but never played, this was it. I didn’t answer.

‘Da dove viene, lei?’ he asked.

I just continued to look at him. I suppose I should have been making strangled noises and pointing down my throat to emphasize my muteness, but just as I couldn’t bring myself to assail him, I couldn’t do this either. It seemed too ridiculous. But he was not to be put off. He removed his haversack, put down his butterfly net, sat down opposite me in the hollow and said: ‘Lei, non e Italiano.’

It was not a question. It was a statement of fact which did not require an answer. I decided to abandon my absurd act.

‘Si, sono Italiano.’

He looked at me, studying me carefully: my face, my clothes and my boots which, after my accent, were my biggest give-away, although they were very battered now.

‘I think that you are English,’ he said, finally, in English. ‘English, or from one of your colonies. You cannot be an English deserter; you are on the wrong side of the battle front. You do not look like a parachutist or a saboteur. You must be a prisoner-of-war. That is so, is it not?’

I said nothing.

‘Do not be afraid,’ he went on. ‘I will not tell anyone that I have met you, I have no intention of spoiling such a splendid day either for you or for myself. They are too rare.

RTWT

18 Jun 2019

Have a Seat in Technological Innovation’s Great New Driverless Car!

,

Nicholas Phillips, at Quillette, delivers up a hearty serving of old-fashioned curmudgeonly skepticism of the benignity of all technological change. No Robotic Communism for him!

When forecasting the future, perhaps the only thing that can be trusted is the emergence of unprecedented, unpredictable events that violate past trends. On the eve of the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis, none of the models used to forecast house prices accounted for the possibility of a price collapse—for the simple reason that no such collapse had ever happened. Price data was historical, and extrapolating that history into the future rendered us blind to the possibility that something ahistorical might happen. Or as Pessimists Archive unwittingly put it: the possibility that “this time it’s different.”

But techno-optimists take the exercise a step further, by using data about one thing to forecast the future of an entirely different thing. This moves us from the flawed to the absurd. For instance, when techno-optimists compare anxiety over driverless cars to the protests of the horse-and-buggy industry over the automobile, they ignore the ways that driverless cars implicate fundamentally different problems than did automobiles. Driverless cars stand ready to collect immense amounts of personal data about the habits of their passengers, and their networked structure creates serious national security risks. What could the successful debut of the automobile in the early 20th century possibly tell us about that?

The political philosopher Gerald Gaus argues that the less precedent there is for some practice working, the less reason there is to prefer it. In the case of new technologies that implicate brand-new problems, the data we have about the success of past technologies is simply irrelevant. History gives us no reason to prefer a world in which, for example, most manual work is automated. It’s never happened before.

We draw spurious historical analogies precisely because it’s easy. If we can say that Change A is just like Change B, which went fine, it allows us to avoid grappling with the actual qualities of Change A. Argument by analogy displaces argument on the merits. It’s far more convenient to assert that past change was good, present change is just like past change, therefore present change is good too.

Unfortunately, by any objective measure, most new things are bad. People are positively brimming with awful ideas. Ninety percent of startups and 70 percent of small businesses fail. Just 56 percent of patent applications are granted, and over 90 percent of those patents never make any money. Each year, 30,000 new consumer products are brought to market, and 95 percent of them fail. Those innovations that do succeed tend to be the result of an iterative process of trial-and-error involving scores of bad ideas that lead to a single good one, which finally triumphs. Even evolution itself follows this pattern: the vast majority of genetic mutations confer no advantage or are actively harmful. Skepticism towards new ideas turns out to be remarkably well-warranted.

The need for skepticism towards change is just as great when the innovation is social or political. For generations, many progressives embraced Marxism and thought its triumph inevitable. Future generations would view us as foolish for resisting it—just like Thoreau and the telegraph. But it turned out that Marxism was a terrible idea, and resisting it an excellent one. It had that in common with virtually every other utopian ideal in the history of social thought. Humans struggle to identify where precisely the arc of history is pointing.

Techno-optimists would likely prefer to put aside failed products and ideologies and consider instead those innovations that have already proven successful. We’re talking about the iPhone, after all. Is popular adoption of an innovation reason enough to suspend skepticism? No—we turn out to be quite bad at predicting the full impact of even our most successful ideas. Adding lead to gasoline made automobile transportation more efficient, but it caused widespread brain damage and may have been responsible for the 20th century crime boom. Freon in refrigerators punched a hole in the ozone and had to be banned by international compact. Fossil fuels, one of the most successful product innovations in history, are experiencing what might politely be called a re-evaluation.

Another massively successful innovation undergoing a re-evaluation of its own is the internet itself. Optimists promised emancipation: knowledge would be democratized and civil discourse would flourish. Now, we understand that the internet is also a highly effective system of control. Incentives to commodify personal information have resulted in more and more of our daily lives becoming subject to data collection, transforming our economy into a surveillance ecosystem. This renders our conduct “visible” to states, which can punish us for it—as China is doing now through its dystopian “social credit” system. The whole thing could turn out to be a terrible mistake—we don’t know, because we’ve never had to solve this problem before. The fact that we previously solved the problem of the telegraph is irrelevant. One could probably fill a podcast—call it the “Optimists’ Archive”—with inappropriately rosy predictions about the wonders of new technology.

We are engaged in a giant social experiment. For 99 percent of the time humans have lived in settled societies, life in each generation was essentially like life in the generation before. Stasis, not change, was the rule. Now, for the first time, we live differently, and the gap between the generations grows wider as the pace of change grows faster. Can this continue indefinitely? We have no precedent for that working. Analogies to history are analogies to nothing at all. We might as well analogize the driverless car to the hand-ax.

Instead of empty analogies, the only way to survive change is to have a vigorous debate about the merits of our new ideas—precisely the kind of debate that techno-optimists want to foreclose by appealing to history. We might ask instead: what does this new thing do to us? Do we understand enough to answer that question? If not, on what basis does our confidence rest? Debate on the merits is essential to distinguishing good ideas from bad ones. And for that, you need the people that techno-optimists most loathe: conservatives.

RTWT

17 Jun 2019

Shop at Dick’s!

, ,

17 Jun 2019

The Nemrod Toggle Action Fusil Superposé (Over-and-Under Shotgun)

, , , ,

On the Double Gun Discussion Board, there recently was a short discussion of the Nemrod Toggle Action Fusil Superposé (Over-and-Under Shotgun), a strange and interesting contrivance out of St. Etienne.

There’s one of these cool guns for sale right now on the French Outdoor Auction site Natura Buy for €1100, not a totally appalling price, but unfortunately we lost our Freedom long ago and Big Brother won’t allow you or me to import a firearm. No, no, no! We have to use a specialized importer who, poor chap! must fill out forms roughly the size of the Holy Bible and must grovel to the minimum wage security staff at Customs. Consequently, his service fee is large, typically about a grand a gun.

Last 20th of September a similar gun went for a mere £600 (plus buyer’s premium, I expect) at Holt’s.

17 Jun 2019

There’s a Good Story Here

, , , ,


An alligator in Sugar Lake, Texas has been seen, and photographed, swimming by with a knife sticking out of his head.

Fox6Now.com:

Local resident Erin Weaver was quoted as saying:

“I feel that somebody did this on purpose.”

16 Jun 2019

Joe Biden’s Faux Catholicism

, , ,

A lot of democrats, Nancy Pelosi, all the Kennedys, like Joe Biden have roots in the old-time Roman Catholic working class, but rose, via politics, up and out, not only of their class origins, but out of any meaningful religious convictions.

Western Chauvinist, at Ricochet, discusses the impeding Biden attempt to run for the Presidency as an ethic Catholic.

When he was exploring a run for the presidency in 2008, Biden famously said: “I will shove my rosary beads down the throat of any Republican who says I am not a Catholic.”

I stand in awe of Joe Biden as a fellow Roman Catholic. Never have I known a coreligionist so utterly immune to conscience in the pursuit of the awesome power of the presidency. Not even John Kerry. Or the Kennedys. Oh… never mind. I thank God we Catholics don’t have to claim the Clintons! My sympathies to the Baptists (Bill) and the Methodists, for whom Hillary Clinton once taught Sunday school. Ack! Get thee behind me Satan!!

The above quote is taken from Fr. George W. Rutler’s piece in Crisis Magazine titled, The Strange Case of Dr. Biden and Mr. Hyde, in which he “destroys” Joe Biden. No, really, I sound jokey, but you must read the whole thing. Here’s a teaser:

    Biden was given an honorary doctorate from Trinity College, Dublin, in 2016, enriching his academic laurels which were tenuous after he placed 75 out of 86 in his Syracuse College of Law class, although he claimed to have been in the top half. But if politics is the art of the possible, one must expect artistic liberties. Drawing on, and perhaps exhausting, his information on Shakespeare, Biden said that his mistake regarding school grades, like his propensity for appropriating sources without attribution, is “much ado about nothing.” Academic rankings are not assurances of intelligence; in fact, Mr.—that is, Dr. Biden told a voter during a campaign stop in New Hampshire in 1987: “I think I probably have a much higher I.Q. than you.” Armed with such confidence, Biden has wrestled with his conscience like a Sumo wrestler, thudding against that “aboriginal vicar of Christ” and bouncing off. Free of constricting guilt, and unafraid of the foolish need for consistency which is the hobgoblin of those little minds with I.Q.’s less than his, Biden now presents himself to the public as a prodigy of rejuvenation. With hair thicker and teeth whiter, beyond the skill of frail Mother Nature, and armed with his lethal Rosary, he is ready to lead America like an eager Boy Scout helping an unwilling lady across the wrong street.

I don’t think I can add anything to that. Rutler has left Joe Biden standing naked in the public square, strategically clutching his Rosary beads and grinning that dopey Brite Wite grin.

Be sure to read the entire Butler hit piece on Biden cited above. It’s great stuff.

16 Jun 2019

The American Heimatsicherheitdeinst

, , ,

Eric rants appropriately on one of the most disgraceful features of today’s American life, one earlier generations of Americans would never have put up with for a minute.

It makes you wonder: when did the people of this country become so European-style obedient, domesticated, and emasculated?

Heimatsicherheitsdeinst (literally, Homeland Security) and TSA have nothing to do with “catching terrorists” and everything to do with habituating people to arbitrary authority and routine degradation by government goons – so as to make them feel the same way that prisoners feel – I get the deer-in-the-headlights face from most of them.

I then go on to ask them whether they think it is beyond the means and capabilities of real “terrorists” to charter a plane. As Eric remarks, today you could tell them to climb into the train car headed for the extermination camp, and just about all of them would.

The whole thing is absurd – and evil almost beyond words. Perhaps the worst part is the willing complicity of so many people – from the TSA geeks themselves (no one puts a gun to their head; they could seek honest work that didn’t involve treating their fellow Americans like cattle on the way to Treblinka – and that’s no coincidence, either) to the people who don’t have to fly to keep their jobs/feed their families – but do it anyhow. If even 10 percent of “optional” flyers had refused to fly until the TSA was abolished, the TSA would be abolished. But most people will not inconvenience themselves in the least to take a stand for the right thing.

HT: Vanderleun.

16 Jun 2019

Etymology of Greek Provinces

, ,


(click on image for larger version)

14 Jun 2019

British Regional Edwardian Accents

, , , ,

German scholars made more than 200 recordings of British POWs during WWI in an effort to study regional speech and accents. Surprisingly, these century-old voices have survived to today.

HT: Aram Bakshian.

14 Jun 2019

Why Does the US Use Farenheit Instead of Celsius?

, , , ,


Norman Rockwell, 15 Below.

Short answer as to why Americans use Fahrenheit – it's people who want to know the temperature.Fahrenheit is how hot…

Posted by ScienceBlogs on Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Short answer as to why Americans use Fahrenheit – it’s people who want to know the temperature.

Fahrenheit is how hot it feels to humans.
Celsius is how hot it feels to water.
Kelvin is how hot it feels to atoms.

We’re all atoms, we’re all primarily water, but we are human.

13 Jun 2019

Bull’s Head From Persepolis

, , ,

Chicago Oriental Institute’s colossal head of a bull from Persepolis.

Carved from dark grey limestone and highly polished, the head measures over two metres high and a metre and a half wide and weighs an estimated ten tons. Enormous yet beautifully sculptured, the head was attached to the body of a bull that still stands as one of a pair flanking the northern portico of the so-called Hundred-Columns Palace (also called the Throne Hall).

Entrances to important buildings were frequently ‘protected’ by pairs of colossal animals (some of which were mythological guardian creatures) in the ancient Near East. And the pair of bulls the Chicago head was once associated with would have been no different. The bodies of the bulls were carved in relief on the side walls of the portico, whereas the heads were carved in the round.

Sometime in the past, perhaps when the city was sacked, both heads became detached from their bodies. They were found not far from the bodies during excavations in 1932/3 by archaeologists from the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute. Unfortunately, the ears and horns, which were clearly not carved from the same block of stone but added separately, were not recovered.

12 Jun 2019

It’s Scary When You Find This Kind of Thing in Your Newspaper of Record

, , , ,

How far down the road to Totalitarianism has our contemporary elite community of fashion gone? This far.

Aaron Bastani says:

The World Is a Mess. We Need Fully Automated Luxury Communism.

Asteroid mining. Gene editing. Synthetic meat. We could provide for the needs of everyone, in style. It just takes some imagination. …

But there’s a catch. It’s called capitalism. It has created the newly emerging abundance, but it is unable to share round the fruits of technological development. A system where things are produced only for profit, capitalism seeks to ration resources to ensure returns. Just like today’s, companies of the future will form monopolies and seek rents. The result will be imposed scarcity — where there’s not enough food, health care or energy to go around.

So we have to go beyond capitalism. Many will find this suggestion unwholesome. To them, the claim that capitalism will or should end is like saying a triangle doesn’t have three sides or that the law of gravity no longer applies while an apple falls from a tree. But for a better world, where everyone has the means to a good life on a habitable planet, it is an imperative.

We can see the contours of something new, a society as distinct from our own as that of the 20th century from feudalism, or urban civilization from the life of the hunter-gatherer. It builds on technologies whose development has been accelerating for decades and that only now are set to undermine the key features of what we had previously taken for granted as the natural order of things.

To grasp it, however, will require a new politics. One where technological change serves people, not profit. Where the pursuit of tangible policies — rapid decarbonization, full automation and socialized care — are preferred to present fantasies. This politics, which is utopian in horizon and everyday in application, has a name: Fully Automated Luxury Communism.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

RTWT

“Just abolish freedom of choice and market capitalism, just surrender all decision-making power to us scientific experts, the Nomenklatura, and the world will be different.

We’ll abolish scarcity and inequality and with our great big brains and unlimited benevolence, we’ll create heaven on earth. Of course, you better not disagree, or criticize our vision, or try standing in our way.”

It’s been tried before, of course, in lots of places.

Links
Philosophy
  • Overcoming Bias
  • More or Less Sound Blogs
  • A Mind Aroused
  • Aaron’s cc
  • ABFreedom
  • Ace of Spades HQ
  • Albion’s Seedlings
  • Alphecca
  • American Conservative, The (Buchananite Paleocons)
  • American Nihilist Underground Society
  • Amused Cynic
  • An Antique Dealer’s Blog
  • Andrew Cusack
  • Ankle Biting pundits
  • Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
  • Art of the Blog
  • Assistant Village Idiot
  • Assistant Village Idiot
  • Augean Stables
  • Austin Bay Blog
  • Becker-Posner Blog
  • Begging to Differ
  • Bidinotto Bog, The
  • Big Lizards.net
  • Black and Right
  • BlameBush!
  • Blue Crab Boulevard
  • Brainster
  • Brussels Journal, The
  • Brutally Honest
  • Captain’s Journal, The
  • Carnage And culture
  • Cato at Liberty
  • Cato Unbound
  • Cave of the Curmudgeon
  • Chaos in Motion
  • Chequer-Board of Nights and Days, A
  • Chicago Boyz
  • Claremont Institute
  • Clarity & Resolve
  • Clayton Cramer’s Blog
  • Cobb–Curious,Skeptical,Analytical
  • Cold Fury
  • Colonel Robert Neville Always Dresses For Dinner
  • Conblogeration
  • Confederate Yankee
  • Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid
  • Corner – National Review Online
  • CounterIntelligence Center
  • Coyote Blog
  • Crosspatch Chronicle
  • Cubachi
  • CultureGrrl
  • Daily Pundit
  • Daisy Cutter
  • Dalrock
  • Damnum Absque Injuria
  • Dangerous Times
  • David Bellavia
  • David Frum
  • David Thompson
  • Dean’s World
  • Death By 1000 Papercuts
  • Democracy Reform
  • Dennis the Peasant
  • Diminished Expectations
  • Dinocrat.com
  • Don Surber
  • Doug Ross
  • Dust in the Light
  • Eject! Eject! Eject!
  • Enchiridion Militis
  • Error Theory
  • ex-Liberal in Hollywood
  • Faster, Please (Michael Ledeen)
  • FKIN
  • Flit(tm)
  • Flopping Aces
  • Forward Movement (Jules Crittenden)
  • Fraters Libertas
  • Front Porch Republic
  • Future Uncertain, The
  • Gates of Vienna
  • Gateway Pundit
  • Gays Defending Marriage
  • Greg R. Lawson's Blog
  • Grouchy Old Cripple
  • Hog on Ice
  • Horsefeathers
  • Hugh Hewitt
  • Ideas
  • IMAO
  • In Mala Fide
  • In the Bullpen
  • INDC Journal
  • Interested-Participant
  • Irish Pennants
  • Isegoria
  • Jack Lewis
  • Jawa Report, The
  • JayReding.Com
  • Jeremayakovka
  • Jeremy Lott
  • Jon Swift
  • Just One Minute
  • Ken McCracken
  • Kim du Toit
  • Kobayashi Maru
  • Law of the Bad Premise
  • Left Exposed
  • Likelihood of Success
  • Lileks
  • Lone Pony
  • Make Haste Slowly (Trad)
  • Man Without Qualities
  • Mark Levin
  • Mike Stopa
  • Modern Art Notes
  • Mr. Blonde’s Garage
  • Musings of the Geek with a .45
  • Nation of Riflemen, A
  • New Majority (David Frum) -Neocon Sellout Blog
  • Nickie Goombah
  • No End But Victory
  • No Left Turns
  • Obsidian Order
  • Oh, That Liberal Media!
  • One Cosmos
  • One Hand Clapping
  • Only Republican in San Francisco, The
  • Other Things Amanzi
  • Outside the Beltway
  • Palmetto Pundit
  • Patterico’s Pontifications
  • Pileus
  • Point Five
  • PoliPundit.com
  • Political Horizons
  • Political Teen, The
  • PostLiberal Blog, The
  • ProfessorBainbridge.Com
  • Prospero; the Home of the Generative Thought Experiment
  • Protein Wisdom
  • QandO
  • Radio Blogger
  • Rage Against the Kakistocracy
  • Rantingprofs
  • Reason Online – Hit and Run
  • RedState.org
  • Republican Dan
  • Revolutionary War Veteran’s Association Weblog
  • Riding Sun
  • Right Reason
  • Right Wings News
  • Rightwing Nuthouse
  • Roger L. Simon
  • Room 12A
  • Samizdata.net
  • SayUncle
  • Scylla & Charybdis
  • Secular Right
  • Shot in the Dark
  • Shrinkwrapped
  • Solid Surfer, The
  • Soxblog
  • stikNstein
  • Stop Obama
  • Stop the ACLU
  • Strange Women Lying in Ponds
  • Sultan Knish
  • Sweetness & Light
  • Taki’s Top Drawer
  • Tech Central Station
  • The Buck Stops Here
  • Three Rounds Brisk
  • TigerHawk
  • Tim Chapman Blog
  • TKS
  • Tom Delay
  • Tongue Tied
  • Transterrestrial Musings
  • Unqualified Offerinds
  • Unqualified Reservations (Mencius Moldbug)
  • Vanishing American
  • VariFrank
  • Victor Davis Hanson
  • View from the Right
  • ViewPointJournal.Com
  • Vince aut Morire
  • Vodka Pundit
  • War and Piece
  • Watcher of Weasels
  • Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Western Confucian
  • What Would Charles Martel Do?
  • Will Wilkinson
  • Winds of Change
  • Wizbang
  • Xavier Thoughts (Pawn Shop Guns!)
  • YARGB – Flares into Darkness
  • Blogs From Australia
  • Dissecting Leftism
  • Tim Blair
  • Blogs from Mauritius
  • An Economist in Paradise
  • Blogs From the Philippines
  • Pinoy Stupid
  • Blogs From Israel
  • Zionist Conspiracy
  • Racial blogs
  • Undercover Blackman
  • Blogs From Russia
  • Mat Rodina
  • Blogs From Japan
  • Gaijin Mama
  • Photo Blogs
    Linguistics
  • Language Log
  • Statistics
  • William M. Briggs
  • Shrink Blogs
  • Dr. Sanity
  • Macho Blogs
  • FKIN
  • Business
  • OilPrice.com
  • Blogs From Germany
  • Observing Hermann











  • Feeds
    Entries (RSS)
    Comments (RSS)
    Feed Shark