November 20, 2022
Categorizing the Un-Discussable
Devon Del Veccio has done a superb job of breaking down what fascism is and has divided it into 3 broad categories. He's brought the receipts, with a reading list that is as turgid as it is extensive.
As it happens, I'm currently slogging through ONE of the mentioned tomes now (Sternhell's The Birth of Fascist Ideology) which, sadly, just seems like something one ought to read nowadays. I marvel at Dev's patience in reading through all these mind-numbingly opaque books.
I've been aware of the broad strokes of the origins of Fascism since the mid-90s but this video goes into specifics that are pretty interesting.
I've long equated the struggle between Fascism and Communism in the '30s to the religious wars of 16th century Europe.One does not consider Catholics, Orthodox Christians, or, Protestants not to be Christian, though they have different means of attaining the same goal (salvation) yet they fought bloody wars over quibbles about ideology. Leftists, likewise seem to have violent, passionate disagreement amongst themselves about the minutia of how they control people's lives and will bring about their utopia, but to those of us not part of that worldview, they look indistinguishable.
His discussion of 'post fascism' is likely to raise some eyebrows, since some of the ideologies he mentions as having fringe elements fall under that banner are not intuitively fascist by any means. However, I think a very loose analogy can be made to the difference between the American tradition of a commune, which is a voluntary association of idealistic people working together, (who can, of course leave) and the state having much the same philosophy, which always results in much less genteel outcomes.
It's an interesting watch at any rate.
August 02, 2022
Some Damn Fool Thing About an Old Property Lease The Diplomat reports on a strange international legal situation that could add yet another complication to the Balkans-in-1914-like conglomeration of conflicting interests, unclear jurisdictions, centuries old grievances, ethic hatreds, overlapping/contradictory treaties and great power intrigue that is Southeast Asia.
The issue has its origins in a 1658 agreement by the ">Sultanate of Brunei to cede the province of Sabah to the Sultanate of Sulu as compensation for Sulu's assistance in putting down a Bruneian revolt.
This was somewhat complicated by an 1878 agreement with the British Empire to lease the province... a contract which was continued by the Malaysian government who continued to pay the modest stipend to the heirs of the long defunct Sultanate of Sulu after the country gained independence from the Brits.
The Sultanate of Sulu covered northern Borneo, islands in the Sulu Sea and the southern end of Mindanao, today the southernmost big island of the Philippines.
The Sultanate of Sulu was the focus of considerable ire from the Spanish who, having claimed the Philippines, did not recognize their territorial claim over those islands. Sulu never actually signed a treaty of surrender however and when the U.S. acquired the Philippines in 1898 the centuries old conflict was still going on in the region known as Morro. The U.S. DID get a treaty from the last Sultan of Sulu in 1915, ending the bloody 'Morro Rebellion' and the last reigning Sultan retreated to Northern Borneo where his remaining lands were subsequently incorporated into British possessions there.
The area became part of Malaysia when that country gained independence but the lease continued to be paid to the heirs of the Sultanate....
Well...until 2013 when the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu started an insurgency that killed at least 60 people in the province of Sabah. Given that this was an attempt by terrorists to re-establish a defunct Sultanate the Malaysian government put a stop to the payments to the family.
From here it gets....complicated.
Because the Sultanate of Sulu had a large par of their historical territories in the Philippines, the Philippines, for most of their existence as an independent country laid claim to Sulu's historical territories in what is now Malaysia including Malaysian islands in the Sulu Sea and northern Borneo. (Note that the U.S. never made this claim)
The Sultanate of Sulu was somewhat at odds with the other Islamic Kingdoms in the area because their interpretation of the Koran was....less nuanced... than the other, comparatively moderate Sultanates in the Southeast Asian archipelago. Their beliefs seem to be somewhat similar to the Whahabists of the middle east. Note that at least one of the Morro factions in the Philippines (which even today are waging a nasty insurgency there) aligned themselves with ISIS a few years ago. The Morro themselves, as mentioned earlier are a Sulu remnant who never accepted the peace treaty.
The heirs to the Sultanate of Sulu consider the Government of Malaysia, to be too moderate to be a legitimate ruler of Muslims.
Thus, when the heirs to the old Sultanate made their putch in Malaysia in 2013 the Malaysian government naturally cut off payments to them.
Which is where Luxembourg gets involved.
The Petronas corporation, Malaysia's big oil conglomerate (you may have heard about a couple of their buildings) holds the actual lease at the crux of all this. Well, the company was just taken to court by the remnants of the Sultanate of Sulu...in, uh, France. There it was found that was found that, Petronas Corporation, by complying with Malaysian government, had unjustly denied the heirs to the Sultanate of Sulu the approximately $5,300 annual stipend that had been promised them by the British in 1878 and grandfathered in upon Malaysian Independence. Thus they were awarded 14.9 B...B...Billion and their subsidiaries (which were registered in Luxembourg) have been seized.
Let us review:
A group of heirs to a defunct kingdom with territorial claims that overlap two countries and known ties to Islamic extremists as been awarded almost 15 billion dollars because a company stopped paying a $5,300/yr lease the company inherited from the British after the government asked the company to please not fund terrorists.
15 billion will buy a lot of suicide vests and other kit, but there are more troubling implications. It appears that the remnants of the Sultanate of Sulu, in addition to insurgents and suicide bombers, possess a weapon that is singularly formidable and heretofore not thought of as a large part of their arsenal.
June 05, 2022
When Someone Tells You What They Want To Do, BELIEVE THEM Especially if their mask comes off.
This blog is based in the U.S.A. and that has the happy benefit of being in a nation that is kept from falling into a state of anarchic autocannibalism or Hobbesian totalitarianism by it's institutions and laws, which form a set of checks and balances on the ill-considered passions of the people as well as their leaders.
History, of our nation as well as others has taught us that when those safety rails are torn down, then terrible sorrow of one form or another will soon follow. This holds true even if the reasons for removing those guardrails was noble and somehow not clouded by hysteria and emotional passions.
Thus, one should ponder closely any politician that utters such a phrase as this...
"If the filibuster obstructs us, we will abolish it. If the Supreme Court objects, we will expand. We will not rest until we've taken weapons of war out of our communities."
"spare me the bullshit about constitutional rights”
Be sure to watch the short videos, and read the context (which is absent from most of these videos.)
SPOILER: the context doesn't help.
Whatever the the merits of a particular political goal might be (and with the goal in question the merit is near zero) removing all of the legal system's arrestor switches and the political system's pause buttons then one is guaranteeing that something very dark will soon come to pass.
The left of today assumes that they will always have the power and that removing the governors and guardrails from the engines of society will only bring suffering upon their enemies. Their current feral mindset does not allow them to recognize that the club they wield could easily be lifted by those they now drive before them, and that those who pursue power without mercy might find themselves begging for it from those they now torment.
Such clubs are hard to put down.
If institutional safeguards and constitutional rights are removed, then which ever side might win a given political contest, ALL of us will ultimately lose.
Paul Schofield has timeless thoughts on the matter here:
May 23, 2022
Rudyard has a good overview of the phenomenon.
It's a much better take than several of my history professors, who would angrily declare that "countries don't fall do to decadence" and seem to feel that expressing concern about decadence is a warning sign of being a NAZI .
January 27, 2022
A Distinction Often Lost So Justice Steven Breyer announced his retirement today. A milestone in his storied life that was somewhat robbed from him by the little weasel that leaked the news yesterday.
After an unusually coherent introduction by the POTUS, Bryer today gave a short speech.
The speech really rather emphasized the stark difference between an actual, old school American Liberal, and a Leftist/Progressive.
Should be cued up to the 5 minutes of clarity in the 58 minutes of...stuff.
Direct, to the point, and brimming with optimism, Bryer avoided punitive language and threats as he laid out a Raison 'detre for our judiciary, a bit of cautionary perspective to those who think the system we have should be abandoned, and a much needed word of hope extolling the virtues of civics.
Breyer is indeed a man of the left, but he is a Liberal.
November 02, 2021
Voting Day Observations As some of you know, I live in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the current elections in which, is, at the moment, the focus of a great deal of attention from national pundits as it is assumed to be a bellweather.
As they are constitutionally mandated to happen every other odd numbered year, Virginia's elections are not just 'off year' elections, they are double secret off-year elections.
Turnout tends to be even lower than the turnout in non-presidential federal elections we have on alternating even numbered years.
I've been voting since 1988, and I have NEVER seen a line at the polls stretching out into the rain on an off year, let alone a state election. That was the case this afternoon.
I was pleased to see that the dems had not removed all the Republican election signs from outside the polling place as is their habit. It IS possible that they were simply replaced, by Republican poll-workers but there was no pile of Republican election signs at the usual spot in my neighborhood.
To my surprise, Deanna Stanton, the Republican Candidate for the local house of delegates seat was just outside the "no campaigning line" actively greeting people in the parking lot and handing out sample ballots...which helped in identifying who to vote for for school board as school board elections and candidate positions are notoriously opaque and their party affiliation is , by law, not listed on the ballot.
In this blue district she has a snowballs chance in a blast furnace, but it was nice to see a Republican with pluck and verve making a go of it.
Despite much hyperventilation , and McCaullif's odious nature, I'm not optimistic.
Democrats are like tonail fungus in that when you get them in control of your government they are almost impossible to get rid of. They put in place laws district borders and pollworkers to ensure their perpetuation. They also have undeniable appeal to a segment of the electorate:
Enthusiasm is certainly very high in this blue city.
Still, it's good to see people care enough to vote in one of these off-year elections.
There were reports of pollworkers turning people away for not wearing masks, which is illegal and was overturned this afternoon, but damage was still done that adds to the institutional headwinds faced by Youngkin and company.
I'm not very optimistic, but in a couple of hours we'll know.
UPDATE: It's been a couple of hours...we know nothing. Mcauliffe did not concede and instead noted that they had lots of votes to count, before walking off the stage with a Cheshire Cat grin on his face. In most definitely unrelated news, Fairfax, the most populous county in the state announced that they have had "difficulties" and won't know anything for a while. Youngkin has a comfortable lead that will soon be firm enough to establish how many votes will be needed to be found in Fairfax to catch up.
UPDATE 03:55: The new York Times is calling it for Youngkin.
Neither is particularly anxious to make such a call, so I'm cautiously optimistic. I'm tired so I'm going to bed, and hope I'm not disappointed when I wake up.
UPDATE: McAuliffe conceded! Bill Clinton's bag-man and bundler, the guy who set Virginia on a path that has seen it circling the drain for the last 8 years, has finally thrown in the towel. There is a chance, however slim, of turning this around.
October 09, 2021
Excellence is Racism, Bigotry is Intellect New York City has declared that they will eliminate their gifted and talented program. Mayor DeBlasio seems to think that getting rid of a means to enable bright kids to excel is striking a blow for equality.
Harrisson Bergeron call your office.
Neo has thoughts on the matter as an ex leftist and her take is always worth reading, but the thing that leapt out at me was the NYT articles subheading, which reads
The mayor unveiled a plan to replace the highly selective program, which has become a glaring symbol of segregation in New York City public schools,Emphasis mine.
There are few more racist notions than those implying that the act of demanding excellence is somehow racist. The implication is, of course that black students are too dumb to possibly compete. This reinforces some of the most wicked and pernicious stereotypes of black inferiority and white supremacy.
This is one of the toxic fruits of the equity fixation the left has. White supremacists and "race realists" will point to current standardized test scores and make much the same point. However white supremacists and "race realists", repugnant and vile though they are, are not as stupid and logically challenged as DeBlasio and company in that they do not support putting people who DO NOT make the cut in various highly skilled positions for the sake of balance.
Both the avowedly racist, the "race realist" and woke falsely claiming not to be racist Brahmins come to the same racist argument albeit for different reasons.
This racist argument is ostensibly based on education data going back to about 1970, but the data is flawed. One of the advantages to being a southern history buff is that Sons of Confederate Veterans of all people is made up of history enthusiasts who look at the history of our misguided ancestors 'warts and all'. We've had this conversation with the racists who try to enter our spaces. You see, in the 1950's and early '60s African American students were, (despite the poorer physical condition of their schools) on a par with and not infrequently outscored white students on the standardized tests that were then required in the south to matriculate from primary school to junior high school and into high school. This was partly a product of the fact that African American families pushed their kids to learn in much the same way as Jewish and Asian families are thought to do today. Additionally, the segregation of the age, while certainly abominable, did mean that the Black teachers, were teaching black students and pushing them hard. One result of this can be seen by reading Letter From a Birmingham Jail by the late Dr. Martin Luther King. This historic document used to be required reading in the freshman year of high school. It was favored as a teaching tool not just because of its eloquence in expressing Dr. King's message of racial tolerance and human dignity, but because it teaches modern readers a lesson in cross referencing. King references, amongst other things, the Bhagavad Gita in reference to Gandhi's then recent struggles in India, and the whole thing is written at such a level that the text is, today considered too advanced for freshmen...in college. However, King wrote this for and got it published as a letter to the editor in an African American paper. It was written at, what was at the time, a SIXTH GRADE READING LEVEL..among black students in 1963.
The error all three groups of racists (the white supremacists, the "race realists" and the woke,) are making, is assuming that African American educational attainment of current year is a product of African American abilities in the cognitive space. Again, prior to the currently used data set that was NOT the case, but the older data sets were not well preserved , are not well researched outside of redneck history nerds and are not as readily reference-able online. The latter data set feels like it affirms the preexisting bigotries of all three groups of bigots quite well. The "Woke" in particular cannot abide the truth of prior African American academic excellence because the problems with present day African American academics are the result of catastrophic cultural changes that happened very rapidly and mostly after 1968, including, but not limited to, the devastation of black families through divorce and out of wedlock births leading to the sudden ubiquity of single motherhood in that community.
So the idea that asking for academic achievement is racist is deeply flawed, and if ones goal is greater African American participation at the higher levels of society, one should look at the root causes, which are cultural in nature and better handled through black churches and institutions and not through holding back others "so the poor blacks can catch up" which only serves to power up resentment, and reinforce the most evil and racist of stereotypes.
But this decision is worse than that.
We have, in the U.S.A. a toxic and aloof ruling class that has become very insular. Whereas in previous years it was filled largely with the best people of all walks of life who clawed their way to the top, it has become, since about 1970, much more stable, based on credentialism and patronage rather than raw merit. Ironically this happened just as the nation was becoming serious about removing racial obstacles to advance into the upper echelons of society.
That is another thing that is toxic about this decision:
It eliminates a way for outsiders to get into the elite schools that are necessary to enter the new aristocracy. These gifted and talented programs were a way for ANYONE of any race, who was smart enough, to move into the program, get out of terrible schools and move on to big name universities. Eliminating this rout not only slams the door in the face of poor kids, it removes competition from the children of the elite, making out pernicious ruling class even MORE self-perpetuating.
Finally there is a utilitarian argument for why this decision rests at the intersection of stupid and evil. It stops the practice of picking out our best and brightest and making them the best they can be. It stifles them, and does not allow them to meet their full potential.
How many Madame Curies, Einsteins, George Washington Carvers, Freeman Dysons, or Sequoyahs we are loosing because of this decision is unknowable, but if this decision stands it will be vast.
Finally, while equality under the law is a civic virtue and moral good, equality of outcome is the worst form of tyranny, and those who have tried to enforce the latter, have filled more graves than one might think possible.
The Khmer Rouge prized equity highly, and saw to it that people who had an educational advantage were not allowed to compete unfairly with those not so privileged.
September 25, 2021
Wow. By no means a dispassionate analysis; but one that, between expletives, handily puts into perspective what was and what was not found. It also provides some historical context regarding senate race shenanigans in AZ that explain why conservative Arizonans were so hot about this thing.
There is more on this here and here and the current mainstream take on this....ignoring the elephant in the room...can be found here.
A few things.
This is 1 county. This is NOT going to decertify the 2020 election, at least any time in the next year or so.
Even if it turns out that Biden did not win this (and other states sufficient to swing the election)....and even though that does seem quite possible, this will not change anything. There is no constitutional process for fixing this. The election was certified. That's it. The end. A president can be impeached, but that replaces the president with the Vice-President, not the opposition in the last election. As gobsmackingly inept and malicious as Dull Joe's Bizarre Misadventure has been, Kackels Mc Karen is almost certainly going to be a step down for the country and it behooves us to delay that inevitable transition as long as possible.
This audit does lend credence to the notion that our election systems are seriously broken and need to be secured. Mail-in voting has always been exceedingly vulnerable to fraud and needs to be massively limited.
The very real possibility of screwed-up ballots aside, the total subversion of the media and tech landscape has "fortified" our elections for a decade, to the extent that they're not even hiding how rigged the system is, they're bragging about it. If there is to be any hope of voting our way out of our pickle, the out and out scam of mail in ballots will have to be ended.
But as important as pushing for reform, indeed even more so, is to not give up. The only reason I can come up with that the bizarre Time mea-culpa was published was wave in our faces that they could admit what we'd long suspected and do so without fear. The Time story was an expression of dominance intended to demoralize the right. Whatever horrid revelations come of this ongoing process it is imperative that everybody (who is legally entitled to) vote. Because if we beat them larger that the margin of fraud, we still can save the country, but if we throw our hands up in despair and say "What's the point?" all hope is lost and we will never carry the day again.
August 10, 2021
Golly Kill 15,000 people by either utter malice or by violating all common sense and you're OK.
I guess we know where the real power lies.
June 27, 2021
Recent Omissions From The Newspeak Dictionary
‘It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well." - Syme (from some book by some reactionary no one remembers)
The following words are now disallowed.
Victim / Survivor
"Everything going on right now”
"I'm going to kill myself"
May 28, 2021
Suddenly: A Video Appears How'd THAT happen?
May 23, 2021
Dave Rubin asks....the Question.
May 18, 2021
9-0 Good GRIEF!
A unanimous decision from SCOTUS. Meaning it's not another example of our liberties hanging by a thread. Also meaning that they'll now have to go for a 19 justice court.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against a warrantless seizure of guns while a man was in a hospital for a suicide evaluation.
That there was any question about this is a sign of how screwed up things are, but the decision, especially its unanimity is a most welcome surprise.
This may well kneecap the red flag laws in addition to the now debunked idea that people can just express "concern" about a gun owner and have all their guns seized without so much as a warrant.
May 13, 2021
Oh. Dear. I have a degree in History. It's not worth a lot and its acquisition realistically passes no cost-benefit-analysis. However, that useless degree does foment a bit of dread in me when I read this.
Affirmation is not always a cause for unbridled joy.
Now for some music...
May 11, 2021
No Gas There is one gas station out of the four I passed on the way back from the dentist that still had gas. Given the line that was shutting down one lane of traffic I expect that is a transient situation. Two of the now empty stations had gas when I went TO the dentist.
Unlike the other stations, Royal Farms has no sign announcing their lack of gas, they have little signs on each gas pump and people are wasting that extra little bit of precious petrol to line up to read the signs.
I would take pictures but the areas around gas station are filled with agitated angry people acting and driving crazy.
I'm glad I filled up on Friday.
UPDATE: Because some people are perplexed by the fact that the colloquial term in the U.S.A. for gasoline is gas despite it being a liquid...
"Gas" was once the colloquial term used to refer to the hydrocarbon gasses being pumped through cities (at the time mostly for illuminating and occasionally cooking). It came to mean, in that context, not the third state of matter, but a hydrocarbon fluid used for combustion. GasOl refered to a hydrocarbon fluid that behaves much like oil. And GasOl-ine appears to have been a trade name. "Gas" is a shortened form of that.
Remember too that petrol is short for petroleum and even the kerosenes like diesel and jet fuel are much closer in behavior, (if not appearance) to heating Oil than gasoline is...Gasoline is a light end, behaves differently from other petroleum based fuels and is in some ways more dangerous to handle, making a different term a good idea. As an aside, gasoline has a very low vapor pressure and is constantly trying to be a....gas.
In fairness, none of this is particularly obvious if one is upside down and surrounded by fires and angry spiders.
May 08, 2021
Invest in Physical Petrol
...if you're on the East Coast of the U.S.
There has been a cyber-attack that has shut down over half of the oil flowing into the East Coast from Texas. The Pennsylvania fields alone can't carry the load and so if its not resolved by tomorrow night there will be shortages in very short order. This appears to be a ransomware attack and this may be the most consequential one ever.
Picture is (hopefully) unrelated:
I'm curious if the IT professionals in the audience have anything to add.
May 04, 2021
A User's Manual For the Society We're Entering Devon over at SFO has thoughts on how the cancellers are coming to terms with their increasingly being the targets of their own cancellation. Unsurprisingly, the chosen examples are not exhibiting introspection and/or awareness.
I, like Dev, know, have known, and/or have talked to several people who have lived through the Balkans, Eastern Europe, the fall of Weimar, the former USSR and Maoist China. To a person their reactions to the current climate is one of dread and foreboding. As some have told me "There is nowhere left to run".
I suggest watching the whole thing, which is half an hour, However, there is a clip that must be seen to be believed at 15:37. In the clip, ContraPoints suggests as a solution to the increasingly frequent cancellation of lefties. Instead of stopping the whole process, she describes what amounts to a Maoist style struggle session in which people will be able to prostrate themselves before the mob and emerge, like a prodigal child, rehabilitated. One of the co-hosts points out (approvingly) how this is literally Maoist and they all agree that this is a point in its favor. The clip from Linday Ellis, going through a process similar to what these people imagine it would be, (rather than what it WOULD be) is terrifying for different reasons.
I know a woman who lived through the Cultural Revolution and spent 10 years in prison and work camps. To have people nodding enthusiastically about this is bewildering and horrifying. It's like 9 year old boys playing war, but these aren't children.
Dev's a (liberal) leftie and an Atheist, so there's things that he and I don't agree on. But he is an excellent videographer and he really nails it here.
There is a related vid of his that is also relevant from some years ago concerning just HOW onerous this can be (doing a deep dive on a point I'd briefly touched on as one of many, earlier in the month). That video of his puts to rest the notion that one can simply batten down , move to the country and keep ones nose clean until this passes, for Lindsay Ellis is correct about one thing. It is a "Beast"; a manifestation of the darkest angels of human nature and now that it is unleashed it is insatiable.
Stay safe everybody. Good night and good luck.
May 01, 2021
Happy Mayday Everybody.
April 28, 2021
The Terrible Crush to Get Vaccinated
Yeah. After months of trying to get my vaccine appointment, having it delayed, and being told that I'm not essential enough an essential worker I finally got an appointment for my first shot.
Above was the line.
There was literally no one else in the Rite Aid aside from staff. I talked to the pharmacist to find out if this was where I was supposed to be for my 10:03 appointment. He looked momentarily confused and checked his computer and said "We DO have one today." He then got my info, sat me down, injected me with Moderna's Mysterious Miasma and told me that I could not leave for 15 minutes lest I keel over or something. I sat in a chair in the corner for 15 minutes and at about minute 12, someone with an Australian accent came in and asked for the shot.
I have questions.
Why was my appointment at 10:03...like there was a 10:02 and 10:04?
Why was getting this shot like pulling hen's teeth? I've been trying for MONTHS.
Why the talk of how tight supplies are?
I can't see what anybody GAINS by this. It seems that setting up vaccine stations as 1st come 1st serve, now that old people are taken care of would be a better option.
April 19, 2021
Dateline: Clown World
Not pictured: the temptress herself.
Yes boys and girls, they finally found a motive in that Fed Ex shooting the other day and just as expected....
"I hope that I can be with Applejack in the afterlife, my life has no meaning without her,”
" 何 the f**k? "
Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.
What the Hell is going on?
Given that 'we live in a society' and given that same society's predilection for understanding cost-benefit, risk, and root cause analysis, there can be no doubt that the banhammers will soon be a-bonkin' this most demonstrably dangerous degenerate drama.
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