Once upon a time, a minor argument could become a duel to the death. That was England. That was the first of the Anglosphere.
Here is a thought: If you see someone carrying a badly spelled injunction to kill Jews and the police are doing nothing to stop him, take his sign and smash it. Sticks and stones, remember, really do break bones but it's the name calling that leads to murder. We let this happen before and we said we would never let it happen again.
Urban knitting kind of totally kicks parkour's ass. Are you hard enough?
there's a new form of graffiti in town, and it's extremely pleasant. so pleasant that i can't imagine even the harshest critics of regular graffiti getting wound up. i mean, who in their right mind would come face to face with a sweater-wearing tree and do anything but smile?
i've scoured all yarn covered corners of the intertubes to find some of the best examples of knit/crochet graffiti (legal or otherwise), we'll start with a video from a crew by the name of knitta please, a renowned and nimble fingered group of rebels who have been covering public property with guerilla knitting for some time.
I want to say something about it. About that slogan.
Not long ago, on BBC TV, a member of the British government tried justifying yet another police state Nu Labour law by saying it was to protect the majority's right to life. The audience expressed disgust. (It was a programme called Question Time.)
This started me thinking.
Supposed the only right you had was the right to life? No right to justice, no right not to be tortured or enslaved. No right to free speech, freedom of thought, personal privacy or security. Only the right not to be killed.
Imagine living a life of tortuous slavery. You're raped for the amusement of your owners. You're hobbled to stop you escaping. You're punished for thoughts you're presumed to have. Your life is a living hell.
What value does the right to life have?
The right to life is a right with no intrinsic value.
The value of that right is in the other rights that depend upon it. You can shut someone up by killing them. Deny someone justice by killing them. Stop someone's thoughts by killing them.
With these other rights, such as the rights to justice, free thought and speech, privacy and security, the right to life is vital. It is as valuable as the most valuable of all the other rights, since those other rights usually depend on life itself being preserved.
Sacrificing those other rights and freedoms for the sake of protecting the right to life is itself an absurdity, a perversion. It is sacrificing the very value of the right to life for the sake of preserving that then worthless right.
More gear for the new Caliphate to deploy against China and India. These toys are worthless without the will to use them. We would be better off spending the money on one last big party before the veil descends.
A very interesting contract announced yesterday: The UK is paying General Dynamics Electric Boat unit to design a Common Missile Compartment (CMC) for its next ballistic missile submarine (SSN), slated to replace the Vanguard-class SSBNs from 2022 onwards. The contract could be worth almost $600 million.
However, the contract also states that the CMC is intended for the US Navy's Ohio-class replacement as well. While the US and UK SSBN programs have long been joined at the hip through the use of the same missiles, this is another step forward in collaboration.
According to a diagram, printed on a single sheet of white paper and affixed with tape to a dusty slab of office drywall, his vision looks like a medieval torture device: a metal ball surrounded on all sides by metal rods and bisected by two long cylinders. It's big but not immense -- maybe 10 times as tall as the little robot man in the lower right corner of the page who's there to indicate scale.
What Laberge has set out to build in this office park, using $2 million in private funding and a skeletal workforce, is a nuclear-fusion power plant. The idea seems nuts but is actually, he says, not at all far-fetched. Yes, he'll admit, fusion is generally considered the kind of nearly impossible challenge undertaken only by huge universities or governments. Yes, fusion has a stigma to overcome; the image that it is fundamentally bogus, always and forever 20 years away, certainly doesn't help. Laberge would probably even admit that the idea of some Canadians working in a glorified garage conquering one of the most ambitious problems in physics sounds absurd.
But he will also tell you that his twist on a method known as magnetized target fusion, or MTF -- to wildly oversimplify, a process in which plasma (ionized gas) trapped by a magnetic field is rapidly compressed to create fusion -- will, in fact, work because it is relatively cheap and scalable. Give his team six to 10 years and a few hundred million dollars, he says, and his company, General Fusion, will give you a nuclear-fusion power plant.
The technology for the Aetheric Battle Zeppelin of the Flea is almost upon us. Now to find a sheet of graph paper big enough to start dungeon mapping the Demiplane of Dread (hat tip to Capt H and Mr Barnett).
Tom Cruise attempts to martyr himself on an altar of stupid. Sadly, $cientologists - who will believe anything - probably believe this nonsense too.
As everyone is quite aware of at this point, Tom Cruise had a high-stakes film opening over the weekend. Coincidentally, a little more publicity comes his way with reports that “Katie and Tom call in FBI” after alleged death threats were made against the Cruise family ...
Naturally, Tom doesn’t think anyone but anti-Scientology group Anonymous would target him, so that’s what the Daily Mail, in all its journalistic integrity, has quoted the “source” as believing.
If you're a male gamer who has been looking for love in all the wrong places, it might be because you're spending too much time playing MMOs. Or, depending on your fantasy woman, maybe that's exactly what you should be doing. You see, not only is nearly half of the Everquest II gaming population female, but they're apparently much more likely to be bisexual than non-EQ II players, online surveys suggest.
Top ten: I survived a faculty meeting by generating a top ten introductory speculative fiction list for a colleague. I reproduce it here for your edification and brickbats.
I have been reading Gordon Dickson... fun with not terribly well thought out military sf but he does not make the cut. I am going to assume you have read Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. If not, Pratchett's The Colour of Magic goes to the top of the list! You are one of the few people who will appreciate his Lovecraft references.
1. Frank Herbert - Dune
2. Frank Herbert - The Dosadi Experiment
Featuring Jorj X. McKie, Saboteur Extraordinary and one of my favourite characters, like, ever.
3. Robert Heinlein - Citizen of the Galaxy
Free Traders kick ass. I believe this is the "before" of Firefly.
4. Anne Rice - Interview with the Vampire
On the remote off chance you have not read it. '70s Victoriana.
5. Robert Holdstock - Mythago Wood
Quite possibly the only original fantasy novel since Tolkien. Fun with archetypes.
6. Larry Niven - Protector
My favourite in Niven's "Known Space" continuity. Fun with evolution.
7. Tanya Huff - Summon the Keeper
I met Austin on several occasions. Fun with talking cats.
8. Scott Westerfield - The Risen Empire
The newest title on this list. Fun with immortality.
9. Robert Harris - Fatherland
A gateway drug to the Harris oeuvre (my favourite is Pompeii). Fun with counterfactual history.
10. William Gibson - Neuromancer
"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."
And a PS: Cannot believe I forgot this one.
Max Brooks - World War Z
I am not much for zombies but I am all for oral histories of the zombie war.
War doesn't determine who's right. War determines who's left.
A great catch by Feng at Information Dissemination. The Peoples Liberation Army Navy has not sent just any ships against the pirates; China has sent two of its most advanced destroyers.
The fleet that China is sending to Somalia looks to be far more formidable than orignally thought. It will be sending ships 169, 171 and 887 there from the Sanya sea base. For those who don't know, 169 is one of the two 052B class destroyers in service with SSF, 171 is the latter construct of the 052C class (making it possibly the most advanced destroyer currently in service with PLAN) and 887 is one of the new generation replenishment ship just joined SSF in the past 3 years. And the Sanya base is the one that was reported with alarm as the home of China's new SSBNs.
More on the 052B class destroyers and type 052C class destroyer; the latter is an ever so slightly more recent vessel built for a fleet air defence role around the same hull as the type B. The Chinese are using this deployment to make a point. I hope the Somalis are about to open a fortune cookie that says "Man who run in front of car get tired."
Gaza braces for invasion as Barak threatens children
Such is the headline to an Agence France Presse piece in the Daily Star. The article reports on the killing of two "Palestinian" children by a rocket launched by other Arabs trying to kill Jews.
Ehud Barak is the Defence Minister of Israel. His name does not appear in the article.
But that is nothing next to Israel's actual policy: Pinpoint strikes for the delectation of Europe's anti-Semite press and a massive shipment of medical supplies for the near enemy in Gaza. Note to Israel: You are doing it wrong.
And there is the small matter of Persian nuclear weapons this little sideshow is doing nothing to resolve. Such is democracy. Once again it is only the incompetence of the enemy - and the grace of God - that may ultimately save us from ourselves.
One of the most telling and important political contributions of 2008 came from an old semi-reformed radical Marxist, Frank Furedi, now a professor of sociology, who delivered an attack on the strange and ambivalent manner in which we view children these days. "We cannot organise the world around the default position that we are all pedophiles," Furedi lamented in a magazine interview. He talked, too, about the other side of the coin, the control children seem to have over parents these days. Furedi called it "reverse socialisation", the kids being told to tell their parents to eat healthier food, or recycle their rubbish properly, or not to smoke in the home. And much of it can be dragged back to what Furedi called the pre-political authority of parents disciplining, or failing to discipline, their kids. They do not have an idea any more of right or wrong, he suggested.
Well, indeed; but whose fault is that? Place it alongside all the stuff I mentioned above and it would seem to be the logical consequence of an agenda driven by the liberal middle-class Left over the past 30 years, in which the common denominator is the yearning for an artificial world that is entirely risk-free. Certainly there must be no risk to life or limb, even if that risk is vanishingly small. No risk, either, that anyone could possibly be offended by anything, no matter how barking mad you would have to be to take offence. No risk that anyone's sensibilities (religious or otherwise) might be offended, no matter how thin their skins may have become over the years. It is an aspiration towards a pretend world, a confection every bit as make-believe as Santa's grotto.
Read the whole thing. In mounting horror.
Exit observation: We have to retake the education system or everything else is lost. Our economic and military might will count for nothing so long as we continue to cede civilization to the barbarians and to heap abuse on those few remaining men willing and able to protect the rest of us.
The Taliban have extended their campaign into Pakistan proper, announcing they will kill girls attending school.
Progressives everywhere: You keep telling us you oppose military action under almost any circumstance and, in practice, see any American military intervention as imperialism. Your new President has made plenty of noise about Pakistan, including specific noises about an overland invasion from Afghanistan. Let's assume (quite safely in my opinion) this approach is a non-starter.
Fine. Now is your chance. Use all your soft power might to protect the rights of women and specifically the rights of Pakistani girls to an eduction. Go!
Later: No, seriously. Do something. Tell me what you are doing. I will help in whatever way I can.
Much later: Kind of assuming you don't actually give a damn about Pakistani girls and could do nothing about the situation even if you did.
Michael Tennenhouse, 18, said he was home in Springfield on winter break, taking in impeachment hearings at the Capitol, when he came across a nativity scene, a menorah and an atheist group's display in the rotunda. The exhibits have stirred up controversies, all of which struck Tennenhouse as silly.
"This is grown adults arguing about something nobody could really prove," he said. "Religious displays should not be in public buildings."
So Tennenhouse filled out an application to put up the Festivus pole ("the lady burst out laughing"), which was approved the same day.
On the remote off chance you are having an unstressful season of good cheer, you can take ten minutes away from the spirit of goodwill to all men and try to pass the 11-plus. I did pass but the prospect of having my ass kicked by an eleven year old was disconcerting.
Thirty-two years after most grammar schools were abolished the 11-plus exam which controlled entry to them still divides opinion among parents and teachers. But how difficult was it?
Not that Canada's state broadcaster could be bothered airing it this year. They used to hang people for sedition. And draw and quarter. But I digress. (Update: My apologies to the CBC. Please see the comments to this post.) Here is the Queen, bless. Harry does a good job too.
As a Christian, I think this Christmas business is complete pagan nonsense, obviously. Fortunately, I happen to enjoy a bit of pagan nonsense on the side. Time enough for the witch burnings and the denunciations in the New Year (the New Year also an human social convention, of course).
Don't forget to feed the elves, and one jolly old elf in particular; they get tetchy otherwise. Worth considering: In the beginning this creature did not give presents; it demanded them.
Related: "Scientists" warn Christmas lights harm the planet. I say "scientists" need a kick in the teeth. That's the Christmas way.
I always liked the story where a British officer was looking for volunteers to jump out of an airplane behind enemy lines in Burma in WW2. He explained the mission to a Gurkha company and then asked for volunteers to raise there hands, only three Gurkhas raised there hands, he was suprised by this because he had heard about the Gurkhas bravery. He then had a word with the translator and realised that he had failed to mention that they would be wearing parachutes! when he informed the Gurkhas that they would be wearing parachutes they all put their hands up.
Karen Turner offers a handy review of store bought eggnogs, though missing from the list is the best of them all. Kawartha Dairy produces an eggnog that is unmatched; creamy and suggestive and lacking the chemical yellow most producers add in place of making something that tastes like real food. Kawartha: That's a spicy egg nog!
I can only speak for southern Ontario, of course, so results will vary for Flea-readers worldwide. A heads up on the best nogs of, say, Australia would be much appreciated.
"It’s simple. Just list all the jobs you’ve had in your life, in order. Don’t bust your brain: no durations or details are necessary, and feel free to omit anything that you feel might tend to incriminate you. I’m just curious. And when you’re done, tag another five bloggers you’re curious about."
For your edification, most of the jobs I have had in my life arranged more or less chronologically. There is a lot of overlap and I have left out odd jobs like the brief gig I had in demolition; writing about concrete is much easier than breaking it... Happily, my current employment is the best ever:
baking bagels / selling bagels
selling music (records and tapes)
selling books (various)
teaching anthropology / cultural studies
teaching anthropology / registrar for a television museum
research consultant (policy / supply chain and vendor management)
teaching archaeology / urban studies
teaching business studies
contract research (policy / change management)
partner in a film production start up
teaching anthropology / cultural studies / communication studies
teaching archaeology / history
partner in a television production start up
research administration (cancer research)
teaching communication studies
The Taliban have announced they will ally with Pakistan in the event of war with India. Expect leftist transvaluation of cause and effect to follow as surely as snow follows Gore; they will blame George Bush for having driven these "foes" together.
Stephen Fry has a podcast, damn him. I have finally cracked and installed iTunes as a result.
The latest episode: Language. To me, Fry embodies everything both irritating and inspirational about a certain worthy Anglicanism. Old fashioned, a bit stuffy and somehow profoundly reassuring. Fry's latest features news to me regarding the term "willy-nilly", a bit obvious once it is pointed out.
Handy for Stephen Fry: Cobbled together out of vintage Cold War-era Soviet vacuum fluorescent tubes and custom driver circuitry, the Super Electrofluorescent Profanity Machine sits at the juncture of steampunk form and steampunk function (hat tip to Minicapt).
Having recently - inaccurately - been described as a "Tory", it is with some satisfaction I note the Flea has not made the cut for Michael Taube's best of the blogosphere (right-wing version). That said, and given the Flea also does not qualify for the left-wing version, it is with some consternation I find the Flea does not even make the list of ok, non-partisan blogs. Given the Flea's links and traffic - and the fact I have been at this for some years now - Taube might usefully expand his horizons ever so slightly.
Or maybe he thinks I suck.
Either way, I am forced to conclude I am typing in an air pocket. Or possibly that Canada is the problem, that there is a good reason 85% of my traffic is from the US of A, that I am an American at heart and that Canada's media establishment can kiss my ass.
TH.2058 looks 50 years into the future to a London of incessant rain and sculptures kept from growing like weeds.
This is your chance to share your vision of 2058 by adding your short story.
All submissions will appear here. At the end of January, six stories will be selected by a panel of judges (including writer Jeff Noon and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster) to form an audio book voiced by Christopher Ecclestone, which will be available for download once it is produced.
To be more specific about life in 2058. I expect contributors are meant to run with this conceit.
TH.2058 is the ninth commission in Tate's Unilever Series for which an artist is invited to transform the space of the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. In this, Gonzalez-Foerster's first ever commission in the UK, the Turbine Hall is transported to the year 2058. Incessant rain is plaguing London, changing its landscape and forcing its inhabitants to seek shelter within Tate Modern, amongst monumentally large sculptures swollen by the rainfall, fragmentary film projections and books, rescued from the rain.
Lest anyone doubt the inventiveness of the young, I bring news to set your mind at ease. Or, if you are in a teaching profession, to fill you with an incalculable dread/rage/foreboding. I have only just got used to the idea my lectures will be second guessed live by the top ten Google search results (which is pretty cool, if I'm honest).
Now for those of you who don't follow pop culture and web trends, et. al, a "mosquito tone" is simply a 17KHz sine wave that geeky youngsters have been known to use on their cell phone to alert them when they've got a text message so the teachers can't hear it. See, studies say that most of us old folks (I'm over 30 now) can't hear much above the 13-14KHz range.
Plastic Mind hosts sample tones for the more sceptical Flea-readership. I can just hear 16KHz... do remember to turn down your speakers...
Related: How to shovel now without breaking your back. A variety of advice: What to do if you are in an accident, how to drive in a blizzard, what your emergency kit should contain and how to control a skid.
The end of the world: A society with too little to complain about decides to be outraged at the term snowmageddon.
There were four main sources of frustration for Torontonians walloped by the biggest storm of the season today: The wind, the snow, the lack of city ploughs — and the guy who coined the suddenly ubiquitous word ‘‘snowmageddon.’’
Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips acknowledged many people found the term — which became the most popular term internationally on Twitter and inspired a series of ‘‘I survived snowmageddon 2008” t-shirts — overblown.
Mr. Phillips said he knows which of his co-workers first coined the term in a press release, and called it an “appropriate” way to describe the massive winter storm that walloped southern Ontario today and the two more snow dumps that are expected this week. But he would not tell us his name.
Erudite and perspicacious as ever, Theodore Dalrymple is interviewed for Pajamas Media (via Solomonia). I particularly enjoyed the following observation on inclusion and self-esteem, both exemplary of hegemony in a strict Gramscian sense.
Trying to understand the concept of social inclusion is like trying to catch a cloud with a butterfly net. Roughly speaking, it means or implies that the bad outcomes for certain social groups are the result of acts of exclusion by other, more privileged groups. The excluded then suffer from poor self-esteem, which can be boosted by telling them that they are doing very well, irrespective of what they actually do. In order to compensate for their alleged exclusion, they are included by not holding them to the standards of the rest of society. Of course, this keeps them exactly where they are; if you were a Marxist, you would think that the British and American public education systems were conspiracies by the bourgeoisie to keep the poor poor.
RTWT, obviously. Food for thought regarding a false compassion for criminals and the substitution of daydreams for ambition. He is right about something else too. I cannot speak to the before of hospital life but having recently worked for two years at a large research hospital, I can second Dalrymple's observation on the universality of the will to power as its organizing principle.
A short cut to fine wine, yes. But the secret to removing a wine's Canadianity remains elusive.
The secret ... is an electric field. Pass an undrinkable, raw red wine between a set of high-voltage electrodes and it becomes pleasantly quaffable. "Using an electric field to accelerate ageing is a feasible way to shorten maturation times and improve the quality of young wine," says Hervé Alexandre, professor of oenology at the University of Burgundy, close to some of France's finest vineyards.
Majel Barrett Roddenberry has died of leukemia, aged 76. Doubly sad news as Variety reports she had reprised her role as the Enterprise computer in J.J. Abrams' forthcoming Star Trek reboot. She will be missed.
There is very sad news today in the Star Trek world. Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, widow of Gene and known to fans as Nurse Chapel, the original Number One, Lwaxana Troi, and of course the voice of just about every Federation computer in every show and movie, has passed away at age 76. She had been fighting leukemia for some years, evidently, and unfortunately died of complications from the disease early this morning in California.
Fair warning on the following fan tribute: Jerry Goldsmith's Main Title to First Contact kicks in at about 1:58. There cannot be a dry eye in the house.
I expect there are many who will not understand the sadness at her passing, let alone earnest, hasty - and slightly sad - tributes like this one, spelling errors and all. Say what you like about fans: We know we are standing on the shoulders of giants.
As I have been introducing the Girlfriend of the Flea to Clive Barker's Hellraiser oeuvre, it is with a grotesque sense of timing Agent Bedhead should choose to profane these sacred works by associating their sacred words with Trent Reznor, the poseur who destroyed industrial music.
Yes, I have photoshopped poor Trent Reznor into a sort of industrial Santa Claus. This act coincides with the conclusion of the 2008 leg of Nine Inch Nails’ Lights In The Sky tour. That’s awfully convenient timing, isn’t it? I’m basically saying that, as far as I am concerned, Trent Reznor really is Santa, and I won’t stop him if he slides down my chimney on Christmas Eve.
To Buddhists, hell is a state of mind; in light of this evidence, I am forced to concede they have a point.
"We live in more of a pussy generation now," Clint Eastwood tells Esquire upon the release of his new film Gran Torino. "Everybody's become used to saying, 'Well, how do we handle it psychologically?' " Eastwood, who grew up having to duke it out with bullies, looks back to a more stoic time: "My father had a couple of kids at the beginning of the Depression. There was not much employment. Not much welfare. People barely got by. People were tougher then."
But stoicism didn't mean a lack of sentiment, Clint adds. "Look how fast—seven years—people have been able to forget 9/11. Maybe you remember if you lost a relative or a loved one. But the public can get pretty blasé about stuff like that. Nobody got blasé about Pearl Harbor."
Next to doing concept sketches for the designs of the ships and aliens on Battlestar Galactica 1978, Ralph McQuarrie was also asked to paint 24 color images to be used on the first script of the pilot "Saga of a Star World". This script (of which only 50 were printed) was written to convince the studios to pick up this costly project and the illustrations helped to explain and visualize the story. This gallery shows, for the first time, a complete set of those 24 color images.
The unannounced construction of the new base, a few kilometres from an older one at Yulin, had long been known about. Yet the pictures attracted considerable media attention. To some, the large-scale facility suggested a menacing ambition. Sanya is on the southern coast of Hainan island and faces the South China Sea, whose waters are contested by several countries, China among them. The sea would be the conduit for any projection of Chinese naval power into South-East Asia and (as officials in Delhi fear) the Indian Ocean, as well as into the Pacific.
The obsession with military secrecy sits oddly with China’s efforts to turn Hainan, which is about the size of Sri Lanka and sits on China’s southernmost fringes, into an international tourism hotspot. Officials proudly describe the island as China’s Hawaii. From the beach, this correspondent clocked a couple of Luyang-class destroyers and a missile frigate. One of the destroyers emerged from the base and steamed cheerfully up and down in front of the hotels.
On the plus side, if the Chinese become the global hyperpower, capitalism may triumph over socialism after all.
Elizabeth Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (better known to her fans by her UK stage name, Elizabeth Windsor) and her family have been hit hard by the credit crunch as her dressmaker Hardy Amies and porcelain maker Royal Worcester and Spode have both filed for administration (that is Chapter 11 to our American friends), the former business failure perhaps going some way to explain why "Windsor" has been spotted wearing the same outfit twice this year.
Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who is Queen of Quebec amongst other places, is quoted as saying the situation is "awful", asking "Why did nobody notice it?" and exclaiming rhetorically "How can a merciful God have allowed this to come to pass?"
Though perhaps not that last one.
(Image hat tip to the Parental Units of the Flea, who most probably will not approve this message.)
Speaking truth to power, dissent as the highest form of patriotism, yadda yadda yadda. An incident involving Czech President Vaclav Klaus and 68er Daniel Cohn-Bendit illustrates the difference between an authentic dissident and a poseur.*
President Klaus, an economist and former dissident against Stalinism, has authored Blue Planet in Green Shackles, a book expressing scepticism regarding supposed global climate change. Klaus has also criticized the European Union, comparing it to the Soviet Union and claiming it is a threat to democracy, freedom and prosperity. Green European Parliament leader, Cohn-Bendit - who allowed children to open his fly and tickle his private parts in his days as a kindergarten operator (YJCMTSU) - and other equally notable figures, chose a meeting at Hradcany Castle as their moment to object.
You can read about Cohn-Bendit's grandstanding for yourself. For me, the moment of maximum leftist contempt for democracy lies in a further exchange with Irish MEP, Brian Crowley, Crowley exclaiming.
... "all his life my father fought against the British domination [of Ireland]… That is why I dare to say that the Irish wish for the Lisbon Treaty. It was an insult, Mr President, to me and the Irish people what you said during your state visit to Ireland." Klaus repeated that he had not experienced anything like this for 19 years and that it seemed we were no longer living in a democracy, but that it was "post-democracy which rules the EU".
On the EU constitution, Klaus recalled that three countries had voted against it, and that if Mr Crowley wanted to talk about insults to the Irish people, "the biggest insult to the Irish people is not to accept the result of the Irish referendum". This provoked Crowley to retort angrily, "You will not tell me what the Irish think. As an Irishman, I know it best."
This is typical of what now passes itself off as the left: Truth drawn from collective racial identity no matter what the democratically expressed will of the electorate might happen to be. We used to call it Nazism.
Also typical, catastrophic sums they could never have earned for themselves squandered on fictional problems, an overweening sense of entitlement, and the gruesome spectacle of a moral dwarves lecturing a decent man.
Hayek was – more than half a century ago, which means before the current prevalence of electronic media – aware of the enormous power of intellectuals to shape public opinion and warned us that “it is merely a question of time until the views held by the intellectuals become the governing force of politics”. This is as valid today as it was when he wrote it.
The question is what kind of ideas is favoured by the intellectuals. The question is whether the intellectuals are neutral in their choice of ideas with which they are ready to deal with. Hayek argued that they are not. They do not hold or try to spread all kinds of ideas. They have very clear and, in some respect, very understandable preferences for some of them. They prefer ideas, which give them jobs and income and which enhance their power and prestige.
They, therefore, look for ideas with specific characteristics. They look for ideas, which enhance the role of the state because the state is usually their main employer, sponsor or donator. That is not all. According to Hayek “the power of ideas grows in proportion to their generality, abstractness, and even vagueness”. Hence it is not surprising that the intellectuals are mostly interested in abstract, not directly implementable ideas. This is also the way of thinking, in which they have comparative advantage. They are not good at details. They do not have ambitions to solve a problem. They are not interested in dealing with the everyday affairs of common citizens. Hayek put it clearly: “the intellectual, by his whole disposition, is uninterested in technical details or practical difficulties.” He is interested in visions and utopias because “socialist thought owes its appeal largely to its visionary character” (and I would add lack of realism and utopian nature), the intellectual tends to become a socialist.
I usually wear a BH -- booby holder as Indonesians call it -- during my walks because I don't want to scandalize the neighborhood: it's cold in the morning, and without a bra, my T-shirt makes it clear that my highbeams are on. And what's more, my house is only a few hundred meters from Jakarta's border with the district of Tangerang, whose bylaws have imposed criminal sanctions on women who do not cover up the aurat, those parts of our bodies that need to be covered to prevent men from getting horny (I mean, it makes sense that it's our fault, right?).
OK, fine, so what's the problem with me modestly donning my sports bra? Answer: Now there's also a fatwa against bras! Bras? Why on earth would bras be considered blasphemous? Well, the reasoning of our revered clerics is that bras fool men into thinking that a woman's breasts are bigger than they really are, so it's a kind of fraud.
India is to test a multi-layered ballistic missile defence system. This would be the same sort of missile defence that communists, fellow travellers and the morally retarded have insisted was impossible since the mid 1980s.
India is all set to test layered missile defence in December 2008. This test will involve 2 Ballastic Missile interceptors intercepting a single modified Prithvi Missile. The first interception will take place at an distance of 80 km altitude. The second interception will take place at the distance of 30 kms altitude. The 80 Km or exo-atmospheric intercepter is expected to hit the incoming missile and the 30 Km or the endo-atmospheric interceptor will try to destroy the largest surviving debris.
Next up: India continues to ignore imaginary global warming.
Related: The Sanskrit lyrics for Duel of the Fates, i.e. the only good thing about the first "prequel".
Cad Goddeu (English: The Battle of the Trees) is a poem from the Book of Taliesin in which the legendary enchanter Gwydion animates the trees of the forest to fight as his army. The poem is especially notable for its striking and enigmatic symbolism and the wide variety of interpretations this has occasioned.
Agent Bedhead tells us Anne Hathaway's cab light is switched on. Given Hathaway's glassy eyed predatory look, I think I speak for much of the Flea's male readership in seeing hazard lights followed closely by my turn signal.
From Michel Foucault's "What is an Author?" translated by Donald F. Bouchard and Sherry Simon in Language, Counter-Memory, Practice.
Even within our civilization, the same types of texts have not always required authors; there was a time when those texts which we now call "literary" (stories, folk tales, epics and tragedies) were accepted, circulated and valorized without any questions about the identity of their author. Their anonymity was ignored because their real or supposed age was a sufficient guarantee of their authenticity. Text, however, that we now call "scientific" (dealing with cosmology and the heavens, medicine or illness, the natural sciences or geography) were only considered truthful during the Middle Ages if the name of the author was indicated. Statements on the order of "Hippocrates said..." or "Pliny tells us that..." were not merely formulas for an argument based on authority; they marked a proven discourse. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a totally new conception was developed when scientific texts were accepted on their own merits and positioned within an anonymous and coherent conceptual system of established truths and methods of verification. Authentication no longer required reference to the individual who had produced them; the role of the author disappeared as an index of truthfulness and, where it remained as an inventor's name, it was merely to denote a specific theorem or proposition, a strange effect, a property, a body, a group of elements, or a pathological syndrome.
At the same time, however, "literary" discourse was acceptable only if it carried an author's name; every text of poetry or fiction was obliged to state its author and the date, place, and circumstance of its writing. The meaning and value attributed to the text depended upon this information. If by accident or design a text was presented anonymously, every effort was made to locate its author. Literary anonymity was of interest only as a puzzle to be solved as, in our day, literary works are totally dominated by the sovereignty of the author.
I gather there is some sort of controversy as to the provenience of Victoria Beckham's new line. Roland Mouret appears to have had a hand in. Smart chap.
Pace Christopher Hitchens, it is not only the DPRK using 1984 as a guide to best practice rather than a warning. Words associated with Christianity, the monarchy and British history have been declared doubleplusungood and dropped from Oxford's Junior Dictionary for children. Children in a modern, multicultural and multifaith Britain need to be told what an MP3 player is, apparently.
The following words are surplus to requirements and have been condemned to the Memory Hole. But enough of Orwell, he saw this coming; it is the shade of Tolkien that weeps. Soon the Black Speech of Mordor will be spoken as the master's tongue in the smoking remains of the Shire. Oxford might as well take "Britain" out of their next edition.
And "English" while they are at it.
Note the word "bacon" has been removed. Allahu sodding akbar.
I have spent the last several days browsing with Google Chrome and am only now noticing some embedded video formatting fun in Firefox. Despite Mozilla's product being a memory hog - Google's product appears to use more but does so better - and the blindingly fast load times in Chrome, it is back to Firefox for me. There are important gadgets I am missing in Chrome and for some reason it cannot or will not find the font style and link buttons in Movable Type. That is enough html for now, thanks Google.
While I dread to think of yet another virtual gadget in my life, it does seem to be a good vehicle both for presenting material that falls outside the posting format of the blog and more importantly for pestering Agent Bedhead.
Some will criticize Marilyn Manson. I say: Enjoy your symptom!
In his essay “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” (1920) Freud relates how he observed a boy of around 36 months who had just mastered a few words and basic sounds throwing a wooden reel out of his cot and exclaiming “fort” [“gone”], and then reeling it in and exclaiming “da” [“there”]. The episode was often repeated, as was his habit of throwing toys away into a corner or under a bed, then struggling to get them back. Other parents have often noted similar behaviour as children around this age toss a favoured toy out of their cots and then wail miserably until it is returned to them. The “fort – da” episode, as it is now often called, was interpreted by Freud as a game whereby the child gained mastery over loss: the wooden reel or favourite toy stood for the mother whose absence and then presence the child was enacting and controlling via the toy.
A film review site shocked - just shocked - to learn there are Republicans in Hollywood. For the rest of us, good news about Dennis Hopper, Vince Vaughn, Denzel Washington, Dwayne Johnson and Sam Raimi. The last one is particularly important as it facilitates 100% guilt free Army of Darkness viewing, baby (via Agent Bedhead).
Ace considers Jon Stewart, sticks and stones and the left's newfound bellicosity.
Perhaps now that the real enemy, George Bush, has been deposed, it's safe for the left to support the war against our secondary enemies.
Though, in fairness, the left has a point in setting these priorities: The war is not an engineering problem - it is a cultural problem - and it is the left that must be defeated if we are to win/survive. It is, after all, cultural Marxism that is the real strategic adversary; were it not for our moral and intellectual turpitude, we would have swatted the savages without a second thought and gone back to the serious business of driving big ass cars, eating steak, drinking scotch, and listening to Frank Sinatra albums.
We paved paradise but instead of enjoying the spoils we handed the lot over to people who had contributed nothing to building the empire and to those whose fondest wish is to tear it down and (force other people to) live in grass huts. Whether the grass hut is to be stocked with a Koran or An Inconvenient Truth is only a question of ideological superstructure, the feudal mode of production will be the same.
The latest communique from Anonymous details attempt by $cientology to block sale of John Duignan's The Complex, a book that describes the inner workings of the cult's paramilitary Sea Organization. Amazon UK has already folded and withdrawn the book from sale "for legal reasons".
So now you're coming on all collegial and angling for a big-picture debate about the broader issues. Well, you're welcome to contact my agent and try to book me for a speech at Ryerson for my usual fee, and I'll be more than happy to take your question afterwards - although I should warn you, as I always say on these occasions, that, while I welcome hostile questions, after a certain point I'd rather just settle it through physical violence. But, other than that, I've no desire to get into an interminable debate on my opinions with a guy who thinks the state has the right to criminalize them. With respect to that, let me quote my late comrade Oriana Fallaci once again, from the very first line of my (rigorously fact-checked) obituary of her in The Atlantic Monthly:
(To begin with an aside: I now think I know why YouTube/Google has been running so slowly for 48 hours; they were introducing these retarded search bars to the top of their embedded video function. Congratulations Google, you have pushed my lazy butt one step further toward your competitors.)
(Update: The feature is now a default but can be disabled by adding "&showsearch=0" to the URL. I will leave the code as is on the first video below for demonstration purposes. It does not look so bad in the first video as the image has already been letterboxed but looks like hell on a normal television aspect ratio.)
Here is an idea: Excepting the Cree and the Mohawk who are Canadian, Canada should force Quebec out of confederation. They can take their corrupt politics, their sodding metric system and above all their permanent whining with them. Good riddance.
For non-Canadians, the background in detail. Steve Paikan is a sensible fellow and can guide you in the boring intricacy of our ways.
Tallying voter percentages vs seats is a nonsense, btw. Otherwise, the Green Party should have a place in the coalition and two seats in cabinet and the Bloc should be given the External Affairs portfolio (what other cabinet position could suit their supposed ideology?). If we are to accept the legitimacy of a Prime Minister who has already been rejected by his own party and the prospect of our next Prime Minister to be elected by the Liberal Party without having to face the polls for years to come - such is the Parliamentary system - then we cannot justify said coalition by attacking the first past the post system that got them into Parliament in the first place.
Unless, that is, said coalition were taking power in order to replace said system with proportional representation or some such. But as they are planning to take power for the sake of "economic stimulation" (with release) they can shut the hell up if they do not like the numbers.
On that note, you have a choice. Take the Blue Pill, watch the video again and go about your life. Or you can take the Red Pill and see what it really looks like down the rabbit hole (more below the fold).
For those of you who took the Red Pill and want to take it back: I don't make the rules.
The bright lights of downtown seen from our distant suburb
Is our planet at the centre of a giant cosmic void? If the hypothesis gets rid of dark energy, I am all in favour of it. It might also account for why the Earth has yet to be sterilized by Berzerkers.
our uncertainty about galaxy distances allows an interesting possibility. The distribution of matter could look the same in all directions, but vary with distance from us. In particular, we might be sitting in the middle of a "void" - a vast spherical bubble in an otherwise homogeneous universe. This bubble is not devoid of matter. In fact, most of the stars and galaxies we can see from Earth would be contained within it. It's just that everywhere beyond it, which is too far away to see, the density of stars and galaxies is much higher.
André Maurois, the great French Anglophile, for example, wrote a classic text about British character, Les silences du Colonel Bramble. Maurois was a translator and liaison officer between the French and British armies during World War I and lived closely for many months with British officers and their men. Les silences was the fruit of his observations. Maurois found the British combination of social self-confidence and existential modesty attractive. It was then a common French opinion that the British were less intelligent than the French; and in the book, Maurois’ fictional alter ego, Aurelle, discusses the matter with one of the British officers. “ ‘Don’t you yourself find,≈ said Major Parker, Ωthat intelligence is valued by you at more than its worth? We are like the young Persians of whom Herodotus speaks, and who, until the age of twenty, learnt only three things: how to ride, archery and not to lie.’ ”
Aurelle spots the paradox: “You despise the academic,” he replies, “and you quote Herodotus. Even better, I caught you the other day in flagrante, reading Xenophon. . . . Very few French, I assure you . . .”
Parker quickly disavows any intellectual virtue in his choice of citations or reading matter. “That’s very different,” he says. “The Greeks and Romans interest us, not as an object of enquiry, but as our ancestors and as sportsmen. I like Xenophon—he is the perfect example of a British gentleman.”
Today, not so much. To my mind, Dalrymple's most important point in this piece: "It is a more important goal of government to uphold civilization than to find a general principle that will iron out all the apparent inconsistencies of the current dispensation."
As always, read the whole thing for context and, as you do so, please consider what we can do to reclaim that England (and that Canada and that America...).
One hopeful moment I have been meaning to pass on: My recent excursion to the annual book sale at Trinity College was an encounter with the same line ups, the same elbows and knees and - this year - the unpleasant discovery of just how many bibliophiles need to consider adding deodorant to their vocabularies. The Poetry section was picked over as never before and the Astrology/Occult section was, as usual, a bust. But I cleaned up in Classics and Military History, scoring a first edition of The Generalship of Alexander by J.F.C. Fuller and a gorgeous 1904 printing of Langhorne and Langhorne's Lives by Plutarch.
As much as I was pleased by my finds I was more pleased to learn the men competing with me for the classics were in Canadian armed forces uniforms. It may be that most of our people are no longer taught - and no longer care to learn - our most profound history. But it may be the most important of our people have not forgotten and are eager to educate themselves. I met a woman in the stacks who was organizing a drive to send reading materials to Canada's forces in Afghanistan. A number of us searched out some improving material to send along with the (also important) diversions.