... asset inflation—ultimately, the debasement of the currency—as the principal source of wealth corrodes the character of people. It not only undermines the traditional bourgeois virtues but makes them ridiculous and even reverses them. Prudence becomes imprudence, thrift becomes improvidence, sobriety becomes mean-spiritedness, modesty becomes lack of ambition, self-control becomes betrayal of the inner self, patience becomes lack of foresight, steadiness becomes inflexibility: all that was wisdom becomes foolishness. And circumstances force almost everyone to join in the dance.
Although TV viewers have long suspected it, a forecaster finally admitted yesterday that they daren’t mention the capital for fear of getting a deluge of complaints about being London-centric. GMTV weather girl Clare Nasir said there was a lot of pressure not to focus too much on London, in case viewers elsewhere across Britain complain of favouritism.
‘You could argue that city workers in offices don’t need to know the weather in the same way people who live off the land do, so perhaps we have got it right.’
The Mail’s Science Editor Michael Hanlon noticed the geographical correctness phenomenon last month, noting: ‘Scotland ( population five million) usually gets about the same amount of airtime as England (52million).’
And you could argue that given the weather programs are broadcast from London, some thought might be spared for her teeming hordes. If the Outer Hebrides feel excluded, they might consider paying for their own weather reporting or, better yet, save themselves the bother by looking out the window.
Can you imagine what the parents of the deceased would be going through when they found out that their 28-year-old daughter died alone in total darkness? I serve no time. Not inconvenienced by the burdensome obstacle of incarceration, I seek to maintain my elected position. I am successful and remain a senator for the next four decades. Would any deed I performed in that time, besides going to prison for the negligent homicide I committed all those years ago, be enough to wipe the slate clean?
Thus does Rollins become one of the few liberals apparently more exercised at Kennedy for what happened at Chappaquiddick than at Andrew Breitbart for insisting on bringing it up. As a supplement to the Kennedy reading list in last night’s Quotes of the Day, I offer you two pieces in juxtaposition: Michael Kelly’s harrowing 1990 piece for GQ describing the great feminist’s sexual assault of a waitress and E.J. Dionne’s insulting paean to Teddy’s alleged “empathy” in today’s WaPo. The title of his piece, no joke: “Ted Kennedy’s Humanity.”
Real Americans are not anxious to punish the people who shut down al-Qaeda’s domestic operations. While liberals wave the Justice Department’s report on CIA interrogation techniques at the rest of the world and tearfully beg them for forgiveness, the rest of us are wondering why we don’t reduce the deficit by selling the rights to these interrogations on pay-per-view. The contestants on your average Japanese game show go through more intense ordeals.
I forget if it was Mark Steyn who observed that if it is something you are prepared to undergo for the sake of a magazine article then it is not torture (pace Mr. Hitchens). I say, force everyone at Guantanamo to watch MSNBC and see how long it takes for them to break.
Joseph Peden's lecture to the Mises Institute Seminar on Money and Government in Houston, Texas on October 27, 1984 makes ancient economics seems all the more topical decades on as we Latter Day Spenglerians contemplate the twilight of the West.
I've been asked to speak on the theme of Roman history, particularly the problem of inflation and its impact. My analysis is based on the premise that monetary policy cannot be studied, or understood, in isolation from the overall policies of the state. Monetary, fiscal, military, political and economic issues are all very much intertwined. And the reason they are all so intertwined is, in part, due to the fact that the state, any state, normally seeks to monopolize the supply of money within its own territory.
Monetary policy therefore always serves, even if it serves badly, the perceived needs of the rulers of the state. If it also happens to enhance the prosperity and progress of the masses of the people, that is a secondary benefit; but its first aim is to serve the needs of the rulers, not the ruled. And this point is central, I believe, to an understanding of the course of monetary policy in the late Roman Empire.
A 3000-year old barrel of butter is an interesting find (still spreadible if not edible) and it is fascinating to me the thing could still attract cows after all that time. But I draw the discovery to your attention not for its own sake but for the following passage.
It is thought that the butter was put in the bog for practical reasons, rather than ritual.
"There are accounts dating back to the 1850's with people used to wash their cattle once a year in the bog and then put some butter back into the bog. It was piseogary," Mr. Clancy explained, adding that the butter was usually "stolen by the following week!
Now try googling "piseogary". Most returns - save the following - lead back to this passage. As it happens, a pishogue is a kind of fairy enchantment... a word is born!
"What pishogues (an anglicized version of the Irish 'piseoga') were or are is vague; even as a part of speech the word is hard to define. Certain actions were deemed to be pishogues, but beliefs also were....If you said it was bad luck to come in and out of a house using the same door, someone would accuse you of believing in 'ol pishogues.'... A lot of pishogues surrounded cows and milk. If the cow wasn't inclined to give milk they believed someone had done pishogues. If the cream didn't turn into butter after you dashed it in the churn, that was pishogues, too; and if a woman was seen skimming the top of water from a pond on your land she was said to be doing pishogues, andit would have a bad effect on your cows..."
Vanity googling turned up a post by Raphael Alexander I should have linked several months ago (it has been busy). Alexander uses Robert Jago’s (then) monthly list of top 25 political bloggers as a reference for a discussion of blogging and anonymity; it turns out most of us on the list blog under our own names. More fools us, perhaps.
I still think my response is quite clever.
Sure if I was the Batman, the Flea would be my secret identity. But as Rorschach, the Flea is more like putting on my real face.
(Google that one, hypothetical future employers!)
For the record: No need to turn to the copyright statement; my name is in the sidebar.
Above me, beyond the reach of my headlamp, the roof is also invisible, but I know it's holding up about 2,500ft of limestone. My aching muscles don't need to be told. To get here from the entrance, a gaping rent in a flank of the Picos de Europa mountains in northern Spain, we've already descended more than 30 vertical 'pitches', from shortish drops the height of a house to vast echoing chimneys up to 300ft deep.
Taking Alain de Botton as an inspiration, Tanya Gold has become writer in residence at the Edgware Bus Station. I would do the same at the Spadina streetcar platform but I suspect TTC security would show me the door in short order.
I approach a woman. I explain that I am in the writer-in-residence at this bus stop and I ask her, what is the central narrative of your life? Who are you? The woman looks at me. "I am an overweight mother of two with an awful job," she says. I scribble down – "Hates job." And why are you here? "I want to catch a bus."
Then I speak to a man reading a newspaper. He is called Graham. He is chubby and affluent; he looks content. I ask, who are you? "I am a building surveyor," he says. "I spend my days looking at broken guttering. I am one of the non-people." And is this what you want? "I would rather be sailing a yacht round the Caribbean," he says. And he gets on a 340 to Harrow Weald. I scribble: "Dreams of water."
"I am one of the non-people." Such is the bus stop of our discontent.
Rather than admit that all its policies have conduced to the development of psychopathy as a pronounced social trait, and therefore reverse them, the government wants to install CCTV cameras in bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms: with what one might call the enforcement apparatus of romanticism, of the view that the greatest freedom which a man can enjoy is the freedom from consequences. But consequences are like nature: though you toss them out with a pitchfork, yet they return.
A further note of historical interest to Flea-readers: England and France were Christian kingdoms in "Europe" noted for frequent conflict before they came to know peace.*
Marshal Philippe Pétain established his government at Vichy in July 1940, following Hitler’s triumphant blitzkrieg and occupation of much of France. He ruled the unoccupied rump of his own country and most of France’s overseas colonies in awkward collaboration with the Nazis. Until at least the winter of 1942, Vichy forces abroad fought the allies with a vigour that caused Britain’s prime minister to remark crossly that he wished they had tried as hard against the Germans in 1940.
You can't blame the French for being annoyed. They are in the unique position of having lost the Second World War twice.
* I take the liberty of translating "peace" into English. Cognate terms in the original common tongue include "submission".
Thanks to a Medusa effect, a "perfectly preserved" fossil squid-like creature comes complete with ink sac.
Dr Phil Wilby, who led the team which found the fossil, said: ‘The decomposition process usually means only the hard parts of an animal are preserved. It is extremely rare to find any fossil with the soft parts preserved. We call it the Medusa effect - specimens turn to stone within a matter of days, before the soft parts can be eaten away.’
All very interesting. But ultimately of trivial importance next to the awakening of those nameless things that sleep just beyond the stars. Wilby has conjured the ink. Wilby has loaded the pen. Wilby has made his mark with preterite care, aligned his head vertically to an uncaring sky and cried out in ecstasy: "Yog-Sothoth is the key to the gate, whereby the spheres meet. Man rules now where They ruled once; They shall soon rule where man rules now. After summer is winter, and after winter summer. They wait patient and potent, for here shall They rule again."
Canadian mathematician and walking zombie enthusiast Robert Smith? claims only frequent counter-attacks with increasing force can hope to stem a zombie outbreak.
In their study, the researchers from the University of Ottawa and Carleton University (also in Ottawa) posed a question: If there was to be a battle between zombies and the living, who would win?
Professor Robert Smith? (the question mark is part of his surname and not a typographical mistake) and colleagues wrote: "We model a zombie attack using biological assumptions based on popular zombie movies. We introduce a basic model for zombie infection and illustrate the outcome with numerical solutions."
The Space Game is set in the vast reaches of Canada, oh wait I mean SPACE, where there await fields of mineral-rich asteroids, ripe for exploitation. However it seems that the best asteroid belts lie within pirate territory, and they love nothing more than to crack open space miners’ skulls and feast on their space brains.
I have been sketching characters for a new project and consequently have been after reference pictures for objects and such. An image search for skulls turned up "The Skull of Zurbarán" (above) and with it an impressive Virtual Dali collection. Not terribly useful for sketching but quite excellent for thinking with.
With the advent of "sleek" singers including Latvian soprano Marina Rebeka, mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca, and Australian-born Danielle de Niese (pictured above), the era of Wagnerian* opera divas may be over.
The much-parodied large, Wagnerian soprano, resplendent in a horned helmet, may soon be a fond operatic memory. This summer pundits are hailing the birth of a new breed of female opera singers – all of them sylphs compared to the conventional Brünnhilde-type.
At the world-renowned Salzburg festival, the heaving bosom of a traditional, generously proportioned opera diva has been replaced by slim waists and scanty outfits. The streets and shop windows of the Austrian city are papered with posters celebrating the svelte figures of international stars who have flown in to sing. And three of them together would fit inside the voluminous costumes once worn on stage by great singers such as Joan Sutherland and Montserrat Caballé.
"Insiders have said the feature is to be a complete reimagining and will stand separately." Reimagining a show that was super-popular and just ended this year is all sorts of ridiculous. Even if it's aiming to focus on the original show, that's still reimagining source material that was just reimagined to great success. That's more than enough "reimagination" for anyone.
A follower of 1960s cult leader Charles Manson has been freed from jail after serving nearly 34 years for trying to kill then-President Gerald Ford. Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, 60, was convicted in 1975.
Most Americans have yet to notice, still less the European "powers", still less minor dependencies such as Canada. To a large part of the world, history has moved on and the contest lies elsewhere.
Indian academics are up in arms over what they regard as provocative incitement of the country’s demise by a Chinese essayist.
“China can dismember the so-called ‘Indian Union’ with one little move!” claimed the essay posted last week on China International Strategy Net, a patriotic website focused on strategic issues. The writer, under the pseudonym Zhanlue (strategy in Chinese), argued that India’s sense of national unity was weak and Beijing’s best option to remove an emerging rival and security threat would be to support separatist forces, like those in Assam, to bring about a collapse of the Indian federal state.
“There cannot be two suns in the sky,” wrote Zhanlue. “China and India cannot really deal with each other harmoniously.” The article suggested that India should be divided into 20 to 30 sovereign states.
This via Danwei who reports the email has been floating around since at least 2005. So much for the West. What is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy's strategy and consequently we must support a strong, democratic India.
August 13, 2009: China has changed its policy and agreed to enforce UN sanctions on North Korea. Fed up with the infighting among senior officials in North Korea, and continued inability to do anything about their mismanaged economy (and inability to feed its citizens), the Chinese are now stopping illegal goods (like materials for building missiles and nuclear weapons) from entering via China.
Yet more related: The Peoples Liberation Army Air Force is practicing with its Su-30s amd a ski ramp, presumably in preparation for carrier operations. This is the first I have heard of the Varyag rechristening.
Earlier this year, the Russian aircraft carrier Varyag was renamed the Shi Lang (after the Chinese general who took possession of Taiwan in 1681, the first time China ever paid any attention to the island) and given the pennant number 83. The Chinese have been refurbishing the Varyag, one of the Kuznetsov class that Russia began building in the 1980s, for several years now. It is expected to be ready for sea trials by the end of the year.
Glowing eyes, cliche behavior, evilness, that kind of thing
Flea-readers may have guessed I have been watching the Stargate franchise from start to finish and consequently have this stuff on the brain. But, seriously, a part of us always suspected Michael Jackson was a Goa'uld, right? There is a limit to the number of times you can run yourself through a sarcophagus. You may keep some semblance of youth - even keep your nose, if you are lucky - but you will surely lose your soul.
An ancient Egyptian bust on display at the Field Museum in Chicago has been the focus of interest since Michael Jackson's death as visitors double-take at the eerie similarities between the 3,000-year-old statue and the singer. The limestone statue, which depicts an unidentified woman, went on display at the museum in 1988 and was carved during the New Kingdom Period, dating from between 1550 BC to 1050 BC.
" We've had people coming to the museum and asking 'Where's Michael Jackson?' So we have to tell them that he's not here, but there is a bust that looks a lot like him."
Like Jackson's surgically-altered face, the carving has a distinct, upturned nose and rounded eyes. And like Jackson -- if rumors of the singer's prosthesis are to be believed -- the statue's nose has partially disintegrated.
No blaming Napoleonic enthusiasm for the nose job this time. And imagine the spirit if this long lost Egyptian woman, immortalized at great price and not at all in the way she most probably hoped she would be.
The Pentagon is trying to speed up the deployment of an ultra-large bunker-busting bomb, which would constitute the largest non-nuclear bomb the U.S. has ever used. The Massive Ordnance Penetrator, or MOP, is a 30,000-pound bomb that would dive deeper than any previous bomb, and could be strapped to B-2 or B-52 bombers by July of 2010.
The MOP is 20 feet long and can penetrate bunkers up to 200 feet before exploding. At 15 tons, the MOP is a third heavier than the previous "mother of all bombs", the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, which was only 10.5 tons. The MOP also packs a whopping 5,300 lbs of explosives, which is 10 times the amount its predecessor bunker-buster, the BLU-109, carried. Basically, it's massive.
Massive, yes. But in this as in life what matters is how you use it. With Jimmy Carter squared in the White House, these massive penetrators may have to wait until after 2012 to get into the rubble bouncing business.
As a British dog, you get to choose (through an intermediary, I admit) your veterinarian. If you don’t like him, you can pick up your leash and go elsewhere, that very day if necessary. Any vet will see you straight away, there is no delay in such investigations as you may need, and treatment is immediate. There are no waiting lists for dogs, no operations postponed because something more important has come up, no appalling stories of dogs being made to wait for years because other dogs—or hamsters—come first.
President Ronald Reagan's Address to the British Parliament (June 8, 1982) is the specific for what ails us. And by "us" I mean "me". I have read Tolkien and I understand despair in the face of the darkness is a sin. This helps (transcript here).
Universe Today reports the best news I have read in some time, thoughtfully including an illustrative map of Titan (pdf file) made possible thanks to the Cassini fly-by.
Titan's mysterious dark plains will be named after planets in the series of "Dune" science fiction novels by author Frank Herbert. The US Geological Survey Astrogeology Science Center announced the first plain or "planitia" given a name will be designated as Chusuk Planitia. Chusuk was a planet from the Dune series, known for its musical instruments.
Michael Weiss considers John Hughes, Republican ersatz class warrior. It is an elegy for Hughes, dead of a heart attack at 59, and deserves to be read in full. I shall excerpt the immortal words of Ferris Bueller by way of introduction.
-Ism's, in my opinion, are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, "I don't believe in Beatles, I just believe in me." Good point there. After all, he was the walrus. I could be the walrus but it still wouldn't change the fact that I don't own a car.
Don’t make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, don't hesitate to make it beautiful
An affordable apiary is now in reach. I suspect I just want one so I can say I have a Beehaus.
The plight of the declining honeybee has tugged on the heartstrings of nature-lovers across the country. But now even city-dwellers can do their bit to save the humble insect with the launch of an affordable, easy-to-use beehive that can slot into even the tiniest back garden. However, amateur apiarists might find they need to hand out some of the 50 jars of honey it promises to produce to neighbours distressed by the sudden invasion of bees.
It's the news that fans of the original Alien film have longed to hear – Variety reports that Ridley Scott is to return to the franchise he launched in 1979, taking the director's chair for a prequel.
The new film will be set before the events of Scott's 1979 film, in which the crew of a commercial towing ship respond to a distress signal from the empty ship, only to discover too late that the signal was meant to warn them.
The prequel will be Scott's first science fiction project since Blade Runner in 1982 and will be based on a script by Jon Spaihts, who seems to be Hollywood's sci-fi writer of the moment. Apart from the Alien prequel, Spaihts is also working on Shadow 19, which has Keanu Reeves attached; Reeves in turn has hired him to write "space journey epic" Passengers. Spaihts is also reportedly scripting Children of Mars for Disney.
In my opinion, some nasty acts of canon-hacking will be needed to suggest that there were adequate human machinations to generate an entire film prior to the Nostromo's involvement.
But what choice is there, if this is the road the producers have chosen? The chances of Alien 0 dealing entirely with an expensive CGI/prosthetics space-jockey civilisation are pretty remote, not least because such an outlandish project doesn't tick all the demographic boxes for the target audience (who are almost inevitably going to be young teenagers, I fear). The producers will be needing pretty faces to shroud in face-huggers - and probably younger ones than featured in the original movie.
Jeremy Clarkson's closing to the finale of Top Gear season 13 was superficially (and fundamentally) a review of the Aston Martin V12 Vantage, a beautiful car and a triumph of engineering. Somewhat more pointedly, it was a rejoinder to recent criticism of the show's "speed is good" philosophy (and much else, as ever).
Perhaps it is my Spenglerian bent - or rather, Melnibonéan - that attaches a rather more comprehensive, civilizational spin to the piece. If the V12 Vantage represents an elegy for speed so too does it represent an elegy for the West. Having watched what the busybodies have done to smoking, it is all too easy to imagine ourselves to be one enervated step away from a generation of Gammas stopped short in wonder that such a machine was ever built.
They will have forgotten how. Worse yet, they will have forgotten why.
Britain's last fighter aircraft factory faces closure within five years after the government’s decision last week to curtail its purchases of the Eurofighter Typhoon.
The industry, founded on the Sopwith Camel in the first world war, is expected to come to an end when the last of the Typhoons rolls off the production line in 2014. The BAE Systems aircraft manufacturing plant at Warton, Lancashire, would close with the possible loss of 20,000 jobs at the site and in support trades.
Under the Eurofighter deal, the RAF was due to receive 232 aircraft, now known as the Typhoon, in three batches. They were to be built at Warton as part of the joint British, German, Italian and Spanish project. Last Friday, however, it was announced that Britain would buy a total of only 160 aircraft in what is in effect a £4.5 billion defence cut. The number of RAF frontline Typhoon squadrons will be cut to five from the six that were planned.
Funny how it takes 232 aircraft to man six squadrons but only 160 to man five squadrons. With math skills like these perhaps it is best to leave the defense of the realm to its traditional defenders: The Americans.
By contrast: India has plans to build 100 warships; and with 120 warships the Indian navy is already the fifth largest in the world. Given my pessimism about United States naval power, I think people who believe in democracy, pluralism and genuine celebration of diversity must soon look to India as their protector. Any suggestions on how to secure an Indian passport?