"Restore(s) a little sanity into current political debate" - Kenneth Minogue, TLS "Projects a more expansive and optimistic future for Americans than (the analysis of) Huntington" - James R. Kurth, National Interest "One of (the) most important books I have read in recent years" - Lexington Green
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The stillness of the dead world’s winter dawn
Amazed him, and he groaned, ‘The King is gone.’
And therewithal came on him the weird rhyme,
‘From the great deep to the great deep he goes.’
Then from the dawn it seemed there came, but faint
As from beyond the limit of the world,
Like the last echo born of a great cry,
Sounds, as if some fair city were one voice
Around a king returning from his wars.
Thereat once more he moved about, and clomb
Even to the highest he could climb, and saw,
Straining his eyes beneath an arch of hand,
Or thought he saw, the speck that bare the King,
Down that long water opening on the deep
Somewhere far off, pass on and on, and go
From less to less and vanish into light.
And the new sun rose bringing the new year.
The strifes and sadnesses and laughter and joy and work and play and songs and silences of another year are now sealed up and put aside and stored away in the attic of memory. And now the new year with its prospects and menaces, its and tediums and discoveries, its old friends and new ones, comes faintly into view.
2012 will be a contentious and eventful year. Be good to each other. Keep your sense of humor. Don’t personalize the political, and correct or avoid those who do. The personal is too valuable to be debased in that way. Be hopeful. Have gratitude. Fear God and dread nought.
Contrary to Instapundit’s regularreminders, I am not stocking up on 100 watt light bulbs right now. That’s because Monday I plan to try and buy them after the toothless New Year’s dead line passes and they are “banned”. It will be an educational experience all around. If I find them stocked, well and good. I have regular retailers with the stones to do the right thing, offer a legal product despite the protests of the nannies. That’s a useful thing to know and something that ordinary people don’t have a chance to find out in the regular course of business with their retailers. As economic corporatism becomes more and more accepted on the left, this will increase in importance.
I’m going to set aside enough time for this chore that I can have several calm conversations with managers at my local retailers in case they have been cowed or are on the other side. Those on the other side lose my business and I go into “name and shame” mode. Not only are these people siding on the side of the green fascists, they’re taking sides in a constitutional battle between the Congress and the Executive. If defunding a regulation doesn’t stop it from taking effect, what point the power of the purse? Those who have been cowed get to find out that they’re between a rock and a hard place and they might as well pick the option that at least gives them additional sales.
Previously, I read and reviewedBrynjar Lia’s Architect of Global Jihad, about Islamist terrorist and strategist Abu Musab al-Suri. A sometime collaborator with Osama bin Laden and the AQ inner circle, a trainer of terrorists in military tactics in Afghanistan and an advocate of jihadi IO, al-Suri was one of the few minds produced by the radical Islamist movement who thought and wrote about conflict with the West on a strategic level. Before falling into the hands of Pakistani security and eventually, Syria, where al-Suri was wanted by the Assad regime, al-Suri produced a massive 1600 page tome on conducting a terror insurgency, The Global Islamic Resistance Call, which al-Suri released on to the jihadi darknet.
Jim Lacey has produced an English digest version of al-Suri’s influential magnum opus comprising approximately 10% of the original Arabic version, by focusing on the tactical and strategic subjects and excising the rhetorical/ritualistic redundancies common to Islamist discourse and the interminable theological disputation. There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach.
It sounds like a perfectly impractical and even risible notion – to remove the Pyramids of Giza from the view of the righteous by covering them with wax. Good heavens, what would happen on the first hot day of summer, assuming such a thing could even be accomplished? A vast puddle of melted wax, I am certain. Stick a wick the size of a Titan rocket made out of cotton string in the middle, empty in a couple of truckloads of essential perfume oils and you’d have a scented candle the size of Texas, the eighth wonder of the ancient world and something that could probably fumigate most of the Middle East. Read the rest of this entry »
I spend a lot of time reading and writing and I do so primarily within a specific environment – my home office. The space reflects the man, to some degree.
Surveying my office space here at home, I noticed that my desk has begun, like a coral reef, to accrete various objects, oddments and curious like a layer of bric-a-brac sediment. Some objects change, others stay forever. Exclusive of papers, books, printers and a computer, here’s what my desk holds: Read the rest of this entry »
This post is an annual Committee of Public Safety Christmas tradition. From Wikipedia c. 2008:
The metamorphosis of Saint Nicholas into the more commercially lucrative Santa Claus, which took several centuries in Europe and America, has recently been re-enacted in the saint’s home town: the city of Demre. This modern Turkish town is built near the ruins of ancient Myra. As St. Nicholas is a very popular Orthodox saint, the city attracts many Russian tourists. A solemn bronze statue of the Saint by the Russian sculptor Gregory Pototsky, donated by the Russian government in 2000, was given a prominent place on the square in front of the medieval church of St. Nicholas. In 2005, mayor Suleyman Topcu had the statue replaced by a red-suited plastic Santa Claus statue, because he wanted the central statue to be more recognizable to visitors from all over the world. Protests from the Russian government against this action were successful only to the extent that the Russian statue was returned, without its original high pedestal, to a corner near the church.
Alas, poor Russia. So far from God, so close to the North Pole.
I wish my fellow Chicagoboyz (who thankfully haven`t had me hauled in for being AWOL yet, although they have every reason to [I`ll come in from the cold sooner or later, but not just now]) and our readers a Merry Christmas.
P.S: Don`t let the aniti-capitalist message of Charles Dickens` “A Christmas Carol” get to you.
P.P.S: I missed Thanksgiving, so consequently also didn`t wish you all a Happy Same. To make up for my oversight, I`ll paraphrase Ludwig Wittgenstein in wishing you all the very essence of turkeyness for the rest of your lifes (if and when you want it, that is – I`ll leave coercion to agents of the state).
I did a tour in Korea in 1993-94, which hardly makes me an expert on the place, seeing that I have that in common with a fair number of Army and Air Force personnel over the past half-century plus. Reading about the expected fallout from the change of régime-boss north of the DMZ I think of that tour now as something along the lines of being put into place rather like an instant-read thermometer: there for a year in Seoul, at the Yongsan Army Infantry garrison, where I worked at AFKN-HQ – and at a number of outside jobs for which a pleasant speaking voice and fluency in English was a requirement. One of those regular jobs was as an English-language editor at Korea Broadcasting; the national broadcasting entity did an English simulcast of the first fifteen minutes of the 9 PM evening newscast. I shared this duty with two other AFKN staffers in rotation: every third evening, around 6PM, I went out the #1 gate and caught a local bus, and rode across town to the Yoido; a huge rectangular plaza where the KBS building was located, just around the corner from other terribly important buildings – like the ROK capitol building. Once there, I’d go up to the newsroom – which was a huge place, filled with rows of desks and computers, go to the English-language section, and wait for any of the three or four Korean-to-English translators to finish translating the main news stories for the evening broadcast, correct their story for punctuation and readability, stick around to watch them do the simulcast at 9 PM, critique their delivery. Read the rest of this entry »
There are members of the National Association – of this association that has achieved a reputation owing to the justness of its demands – highly esteemed members who have stated that all standing armies are superfluous. Well, what if a public assembly had this view! Would not a government have to reject this?! – There was talk about the “sobriety” of the Prussian people. Yes, the great independence of the individual makes it difficult in Prussia to govern with the constitution (or to consolidate the constitution?); in France things are different, there this individual independence is lacking. A constitutional crisis would not be disgraceful, but honorable instead. – Furthermore, we are perhaps too “well-educated” to support a constitution; we are too critical; the ability to assess government measures and records of the public assembly is too common; in the country there are a lot of Catiline characters who have a great interest in upheavals. This may sound paradoxical, but everything proves how hard constitutional life is in Prussia. – Furthermore, one is too sensitive about the government’s mistakes; as if it were enough to say “this and that [cabinet] minister made mistakes,["] as if one wasn’t adversely affected oneself. Public opinion changes, the press is not [the same as] public opinion; one knows how the press is written; members of parliament have a higher duty, to lead opinion, to stand above it. We are too hot-blooded, we have a preference for putting on armor that is too big for our small body; and now we’re actually supposed to utilize it. Germany is not looking to Prussia’s liberalism, but to its power; Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden may indulge liberalism, and yet no one will assign them Prussia’s role; Prussia has to coalesce and concentrate its power for the opportune moment, which has already been missed several times; Prussia’s borders according to the Vienna Treaties [of 1814-15] are not favorable for a healthy, vital state; it is not by speeches and majority resolutions that the great questions of the time are decided – that was the big mistake of 1848 and 1849 – but by iron and blood.
Pop history sees the trees of “blood and iron” but misses the forest surrounding it: loss aversion. This mental bias intensifies man’s fear of loss, making it a stronger motivator for action than any hope for gain. Since the brain is a narrative computer that discovers truth by linking the most of vivid facts together through the most vivid of events, loss aversion often shows up in the form of negative fables. While positive fables link together facts with events to show how x + y + z = gain, negative fables gloomily argue that x + y + z = loss.
History, a game where the many try force square facts into round fables, often channels loss aversion as “no more” complexs.
No more Lehmans
No more Iraqs
No more Afghanistans
No more September 11ths
No more Srebrenicas
No more Rwandas
No more Vietnams
Is every stand that anyone takes in private or public life is only a thin veneer stretched over a no more complex? If so, history is little more than one no more after another. Otto von Bismarck’s own history, a history that let him to bait the (classical) liberals of the Prussian parliament with provocative talk of “blood and iron”, was strongly motivated by one “no more”: no more Olmützs.
This was a great lunch, except for the corn, which was tasteless. But, overall, it was really good.
The liver beguiled me as the Sirens beguiled Odysseus. However, unlike Odysseus, I lacked the strength to have myself lashed to the restaurant booth. That is what really happened in the Odyssey. The Sirens lured mariners onto treacherous rocks by creating a fragrant mirage of liver, onions and fries in front of them. Only Odysseus had the foresight to have himself tied to his boat’s mast, and to have his men’s nostrils plugged with beeswax so they wouldn’t be tempted by the fatal aroma.
My only regret is that I didn’t take a picture of this before I started eating, but I was hungry.
One moonless night, while flying a routine training mission over the Pacific, I wondered what the sky would look like from 84,000 feet if the cockpit lighting were dark. While heading home on a straight course, I slowly turned down all of the lighting, reducing the glare and revealing the night sky. Within seconds, I turned the lights back up, fearful that the jet would know and somehow punish me. But my desire to see the sky overruled my caution, I dimmed the lighting again. To my amazement, I saw a bright light outside my window. As my eyes adjusted to the view, I realized that the brilliance was the broad expanse of the Milky Way, now a gleaming stripe across the sky. Where dark spaces in the sky had usually existed, there were now dense clusters of sparkling stars Shooting stars flashed across the canvas every few seconds. It was like a fireworks display with no sound. I knew I had to get my eyes back on the instruments, and reluctantly I brought my attention back inside. To my surprise, with the cockpit lighting still off, I could see every gauge, lit by starlight. In the plane’s mirrors, I could see the eerie shine of my gold spacesuit incandescently illuminated in a celestial glow. I stole one last glance out the window. Despite our speed, we seemed still before the heavens, humbled in the radiance of a much greater power. For those few moments, I felt a part of something far more significant than anything we were doing in the plane. The sharp sound of Walt’s voice on the radio brought me back to the tasks at hand as I prepared for our descent.
One of humanity’s oldest forms of national economy is the “palace economy.” Under this system, the king would have the harvest brought into a central granary for storage. In Genesis 41, Joseph interprets Pharoah’s dream as predicting seven good harvests and seven poor ones, and says: “Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years. And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.”
Egypt, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, the Minoans, and the Mycenaean Greeks all had similar arrangements. It was a command economy, with subsistence farming as a base and the excess over bare necessity taken into the care of the government. Many examples of early writing are simply accounting records for the acquisition, storage, and disbursement of grain, wine, and olive oil. In theory, the stored food would be redistributed to the poor and, in times of shortage, to the people in general. In practice, it put the weapon of hunger into the ruler’s hands.
Politically, the ruler was the representative and near relation of the gods, and was invested with divine attributes. That may or may not have included shooting 18 holes-in-one in a single round of golf.
Is any of this starting to sound familiar?
Good riddance to the god-king of North Korea. I hope his fellow god-king Stalin has saved him a seat by the fire.