15 Sep 2019

Third Democrat Debate

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15 Sep 2019

Europe Faces Death by Bad Conscience

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Pascal Bruckner, in a must-read essay in Quillette, describes how Europe is allowing its own virtue to destroy it.

Western Europeans dislike themselves. They are unable to overcome their self-disgust and feel the pride in their heritage and the self-respect that is so strikingly evident in the United States. Modern Europe is instead mired in shame shrouded in moralizing discourse. It has convinced itself that, since all the evils of the twentieth century arose from its feverish bellicosity, it’s about time it redeemed itself and sought something like a reawakened sense of the sacred in its guilty conscience.

What better example of this proclivity exists than Angela Merkel’s embrace of about a million refugees fleeing war-torn Syria in 2015? Even though this gesture that would help replenish a shrinking labor force was not strictly disinterested, for this pastor’s daughter it was also a spectacular way to repudiate Nazism and escape its shadow. After the catastrophe of the Second World War, the Federal Republic would now offer itself as an ostentatious example to the world. Germany would practice open-heartedness in a single country, just as Stalin in the USSR had once practiced socialism in a single country. Already pre-eminent in Europe, Berlin would call the shots, whether exercising toughness or kindness. Merciless with the Greeks in July, when the Chancellery wanted to eject them from the eurozone, but beneficent with the Syrians in September, it could demonstrate severity or an ever so imperial charity. …

Many people are wondering why it is only Europe that feels guilty, not only for its own past crimes, but also for the faults of others? The answer is simple: we dominated the world for four centuries. The empires have collapsed but their memory remains, and this has given rise to an ever-expanding discipline: post-colonial studies. We have become the continent of the uneasy conscience and we wish to show the rest of the world the face of moral law in all its purity. Europe sees itself as a sacrificial offering, through which the entire world can expiate its sins. It offers to assume the shame for every misfortune that befalls the planet: famine in Africa, drowning in the Mediterranean, terrorism, natural disasters, they are all directly or indirectly our handiwork. And when we are attacked—by terrorists, for example—it’s still our fault; we had it coming and are undeserving of compassion. Since we are overcome by such a torrent of sins, all we can do is bear up and attempt to correct and atone for them all, one by one. An unctuous discourse intended to edify is replacing what was once political and historical analysis; an ideal society must replace the existing one of ordinary men, and be cleansed of its impurities. Two areas in particular reveal this delusion of sanctity—immigration and ecology.

RTWT

15 Sep 2019

Nice Photoshopped Prank

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Alas! the ferocious little beastie isn’t real. He’s just been photoshopped from the image below.


Western pygmy possum (Cercartetus concinnus).

14 Sep 2019

Katsujin-ken Satsujin-to

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In dojos offering training in kendo and aikido, the above phrase written in the grass script on a scroll is commonly hung for purposes of admonition and inspiration.

These Japanese radicals are pronounced Katsujin-ken Satsujin-to (sometimes, Katsujinken satsujinken) meaning “The sword which kills is the sword which gives life.”

They are often rendered more explicitly in English as “The sword which cuts down evil is the sword which preserves life.”

This adage is attributed to the masters of Yagyū school, the Tokugawa shoguns’ personal instructors in swordsmanship.

And those Yagyū school sword sensei-s were right. The rightful use of weapons is essential in an imperfect world to defend innocent lives against unjust violence.

A wider commitment to skill at arms and a more common readiness to defend the innocent would be infinitely more effective at saving the lives of victims of attacks by madmen and criminals than a totalitarian program attempting to enforce universal disarmament.

Katsu-tempo satsu-tempo.

In case after mass shooting case, a gun in the hands of the right bystander could have been the gun which destroyed evil and the gun which preserved life.

The latest couple of manifestations of a trend fostered by devoted media coverage and attention resulted again in all the typical expressions of the phobic attitudes of members of our over-domesticated, metrosexual intelligentsia toward firearms.

Guns are regarded as detestable and intrinsically dangerous objects which need to be kept under official control at all times, ideally in bank vaults. Their complete removal from American society is so unquestionably desirable that even house-to-house searches, and the shredding of the Bill of Rights, would be a perfectly acceptable price.

Obviously, this kind of policy proposal represents not a practical response to a real problem, but rather an irrational and emotional outburst, indifferent to benefits and costs, oblivious to process and law, expressive of an overwhelming combination of fear and aversion so profound as to dispense completely with practicality, proportionality, and cause and effect.

This kind of hostility toward firearms, this hoplophobia, needs to be recognized as the kind of irrationalism that it is.

In a sane society, familiarity and skill with arms, possession of the ability to defend oneself and others would be looked upon as essential components of every man’s education.

(A revised posting from 2007.)

14 Sep 2019

This Frog Activated His Hyperspace Drive

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14 Sep 2019

T.S. Eliot Declined to Publish “Animal Farm”

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Lit Hub excerpted from a history of the renowned publishing house Faber some very interesting rejection letters, mostly by none other than T.S. Eliot.

The most indefensible one has to be:

T. S. Eliot to George Orwell Esq., 13 July 1944:

I know that you wanted a quick decision about Animal Farm; but the minimum is two directors’ opinions, and that can’t be done under a week. But for the importance of speed, I should have asked the Chairman to look at it as well. But the other director is in agreement with me on the main points. We agree that it is a distinguished piece of writing; that the fable is very skilfully handled, and that the narrative keeps one’s interest on its own plane – and that is something very few authors have achieved since Gulliver.

On the other hand, we have no conviction (and I am sure none of the other directors would have) that this is the right point of view from which to criticise the political situation at the present time.[. . .]

I am very sorry, because whoever publishes this, will naturally have the opportunity of publishing your future work: and I have a regard for your work, because it is good writing of fundamental integrity.

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It is that last paragraph that particularly strikes me: in turning down Animal Farm—essentially because it was being rude about our Soviet allies—Eliot was also turning down the unwritten 1984.

RTWT

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Roz Kaveney detected a pattern in Eliot’s thinking.

When we look at Eliot’s writings on culture, we see a fine critical intelligence allied to a fear of possible consequences that is deeply terrifying in the way that in it elitist arrogance masquerades as humility and passionate concern to keep things as they are as a broadly accepting humanism.

13 Sep 2019

Third Democrat Debate

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Democratic presidential candidates are promising free stuff in effort to bribe voters

John Podhoretz watched more of it than I did. Poor guy!

It’s said that as the fourth hour of Otto Preminger’s Israel movie “Exodus” began at its premiere in 1960, the comedian Mort Sahl rose from his chair and said, “Otto, let my people go!” The audience cheered.

As the Democratic debate in Houston entered its third hour last night, I rose from my chair and said, “ABC, let the American people go!” And there was no one to cheer, for I was alone in my office.

Finally, there was to be one debate, 10 candidates, with frontrunners Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren facing each other at last. What happened was what Preminger’s Israelis would have called a “balagan” — bedlam, chaos, tumult, like trying to conduct a conversation at Times Square when the 1 and the 2 are pulling into the station simultaneously.

On issue after issue, the candidates engaged in unclear, confusing, halting policy discussions — that is, when they weren’t engaging in pettifoggery designed to occlude our understanding of their views rather than clarifying them.

It got so bad that Julian Castro, one of the seven people on the stage who have as much of a chance of becoming president as I do, thought he’d caught out Joe Biden in a candidacy-ending mistake. Hadn’t Biden just said everyone would be forced into Medicare two minutes after saying they could keep their private insurance?

Could Biden not remember what he had said two minutes before?

Castro was playing the senility card against the 76-year-old Biden. But the person who was senile in that moment was the 44 year-old Castro, because Biden had not contradicted himself. Castro had misunderstood Biden.

It was easy to misunderstand Biden, whose undeniable energy was not matched by clarity. He gave an answer on Afghanistan and Iran that was so confusing Bernie Sanders accused him of opposing the surge in Iraq when he was talking about the surge in Afghanistan. Biden didn’t object to Sanders’ mischaracterization because he might have gotten lost in his own weeds.

So did Elizabeth Warren, whose words, sentence by sentence, were perfectly clear but whose meaning was not. In a lengthy attack on Trump’s tariffs, she defended Trump’s tariffs. In another assault on Trump’s Afghanistan policy she basically said everything that Trump has said about Afghanistan. Was this deliberate?

As for Bernie Sanders, the only question I have to ask is this: Will the $30 trillion cost of his health care plan cover some throat lozenges? He spent the entire night needing to clear his throat. It was maddening, though perhaps not as maddening as him screaming at us as though we had just cut him off in traffic.

RTWT

12 Sep 2019

Hunting in France

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French hunting is different. They call their hunts “Rallyes” or “Equipages.” Their hunt uniforms are more complicated. They use circular horns and lots of people carry horns where for us only the huntsman has a horn, and where our huntsman only blows a handful of conventional signals, they play fanfares. We hunt foxes and coyotes. They hunt hare, wild boar, roe deer, and even red deer. People too old to ride car follow over here. In France, they have a load of bicycle followers.

12 Sep 2019

Does Your Heart Good to See This, Doesn’t It?

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CFact:

The Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior attempted to block a ship carrying coal from unloading in the harbor of Gdansk.

Armed Polish border guards boarded the vessel, breaking a window to gain entry. They arrested the captain, offloaded all 18 passengers and crew and seized the vessel.

CFACT has reported extensively on the strong antipathy the Polish people feel towards anyone who threatens their energy security, particularly as they view this as driving them into dependence on Russia.

12 Sep 2019

“John Bolton Waves Goodbye, Returns To Sea To Be Walrus Again”

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12 Sep 2019

Anthem of Hong Kong Protestors

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Latest version of protest anthem “Glory to HK” features a full orchestra of protective gear-clad musicians. Powerful stuff.

11 Sep 2019

Islamic Understatement

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