Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Augean Stables

I just found a new blog, The Augean Stables, which I found via neo-neocon. It looks like there's some good thinking going on, such as the recognition of the two game styles being played -- zero-sum vs. positive-sum -- the nature of shame-based societies, and some bad thinking styles having to do with your expectations of other people (they're as good as you are, they're always out to get you, etc.).

I'll have to do some more reading before commenting on it.

North Korea

I'm watching a documentary about North Korea. It is the most depressing thing I have ever seen. The people who are filming the documentary are being led around by a guide, so of course they see only the "nice" parts of the country. Big pageants and processions, theatrical dances and such. The mausoleum of the Great Leader, where his private train car and Mercedes are on display.

The people have been fed endless mythical tales about Kim Jong Il and his father, that heavenly cranes were going to take the father away but they saw how sad people were about it so they left him in the palacial mausoleum. The propagandists make up stories about Kim Jong Il's supernatural powers. The people buy it because they have no choice.

Then there is the surrepticious footage of the faceless cement apartment buildings, the starvation, people eating tree bark and clay to fill their empty stomachs. Escapees tell tales of concentration camps and political prisoners being messily murdered.

Dennis Prager is right: the whole country is a concentration camp. Here's a famous photo of North and South Korea at night. North Korea is almost completely dark. What an apt metaphor.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

August 22

It's the end of the world, and I feel fine.

That comes from a song, but I don't know which one. And I'm alive to type it because Amadinejad didn't destroy the world today as his answer to the UN about discontinuing Iran's uranium enrichment program. Some bloggers noted that Ahmadinejad got awfully specific about when he would answer. The UN gave him until the end of August, and he insisted on the 22nd. Which on the Islamic calendar is the date they celebrate Mohammed's ascension to heaven on the back of a winged horse. So people thought maybe he would "light up the sky over Jerusalem" with a nuke as a dramatic answer.

But instead, they handed over an envelope with their answer inside: thumb to nose, fingers wiggling, essentially.

And last Sunday, Doug Miller passed away. I didn't watch his program often because I'm not into the kind of outdoors activities that he likes (fishing, hunting, RVing, etc.), but I still thought he was quite the character. Loved his voice and his enthusiasm. How can Utah be Utah without the Doug Miller show?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Lileks goes off on the Hipsters

Great Bleat at Lileks today, though it's more like a Screed, wherein he complains about the celebration of adolescence that was the late 50s-70s.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Solzhenitsyen's 1978 Address at Harvard

Posted at The Belmont Club: "Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs" and also here.

Some money quotes (all emphases mine):

A decline in courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party and of course in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. ... And decline in courage is ironically emphasized by occasional explosions of anger and inflexibility on the part of the same bureaucrats when dealing with weak governments and weak countries, not supported by anyone, or with currents which cannot offer any resistance. But they get tongue-tied and paralyzed when they deal with powerful governments and threatening forces, with aggressors and international terrorists.


People in the West have acquired considerable skill in using, interpreting and manipulating law, even though laws tend to be too complicated for an average person to understand without the help of an expert. Any conflict is solved according to the letter of the law and this is considered to be the supreme solution. If one is right from a legal point of view, nothing more is required, nobody may mention that one could still not be entirely right, and urge self-restraint, a willingness to renounce such legal rights, sacrifice and selfless risk: it would sound simply absurd. One almost never sees voluntary self-restraint. Everybody operates at the extreme limit of those legal frames. An oil company is legally blameless when it purchases an invention of a new type of energy in order to prevent its use. A food product manufacturer is legally blameless when he poisons his produce to make it last longer: after all, people are free not to buy it.


It is time, in the West, to defend not so much human rights as human obligations.

Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, motion pictures full of pornography, crime and horror. It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counter-balanced by the young people's right not to look or not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil.

And what shall we say about the dark realm of criminality as such? Legal frames (especially in the United States) are broad enough to encourage not only individual freedom but also certain individual crimes. The culprit can go unpunished or obtain undeserved leniency with the support of thousands of public defenders. When a government starts an earnest fight against terrorism, public opinion immediately accuses it of violating the terrorists' civil rights. There are many such cases.

Such a tilt of freedom in the direction of evil has come about gradually but it was evidently born primarily out of a humanistic and benevolent concept according to which there is no evil inherent to human nature; the world belongs to mankind and all the defects of life are caused by wrong social systems which must be corrected. Strangely enough, though the best social conditions have been achieved in the West, there still is criminality and there even is considerably more of it than in the pauper and lawless Soviet society.


How many hasty, immature, superficial and misleading judgments are expressed every day, confusing readers, without any verification. The press can both simulate public opinion and miseducate it. Thus we may see terrorists heroized, or secret matters, pertaining to one's nation's defense, publicly revealed....


There is yet another surprise for someone coming from the East where the press is rigorously unified: one gradually discovers a common trend of preferences within the Western press as a whole. It is a fashion; there are generally accepted patterns of judgment and there may be common corporate interests, the sum effect being not competition but unification.


There are meaningful warnings that history gives a threatened or perishing society. Such are, for instance, the decadence of art, or a lack of great statesmen. There are open and evident warnings, too. The center of your democracy and of your culture is left without electric power for a few hours only, and all of a sudden crowds of American citizens start looting and creating havoc. The smooth surface film must be very thin, then, the social system quite unstable and unhealthy.


[M]embers of the U.S. anti-war movement wound up being involved in the betrayal of Far Eastern nations, in a genocide and in the suffering today imposed on 30 million people there. Do those convinced pacifists hear the moans coming from there? Do they understand their responsibility today? Or do they prefer not to hear? The American Intelligentsia lost its [nerve] and as a consequence thereof danger has come much closer to the United States. But there is no awareness of this. Your shortsighted politicians who signed the hasty Vietnam capitulation seemingly gave America a carefree breathing pause; however, a hundredfold Vietnam now looms over you.


The next war (which does not have to be an atomic one and I do not believe it will) may well bury Western civilization forever.


However, in early democracies, as in American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted because man is God's creature. That is, freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility. Such was the heritage of the preceding thousand years. Two hundred or even fifty years ago, it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual could be granted boundless freedom simply for the satisfaction of his instincts or whims. Subsequently, however, all such limitations were discarded everywhere in the West; a total liberation occurred from the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their great reserves of mercy and sacrifice.

Notice that this was before the fall of the Soviet Union. Especially interesting are his remarks about terrorism. I don't remember enough about terrorism in the 1970s to know what he's talking about; I guess the lefties were sympathetic to terrorists back then, too.

The discouraging thing is that in the comments on Belmont Club and also on Neo-neocon, people seemed to be put off by the suggestion that what we need is more religion. "But that's pushing us closer to the Islamists," they protest. As if what the Islamists were up to had anything to do with religion. It is, pure and simple, the same will to power that impelled the Nazis, Communists, and anyone else hoping to save the world via some man-made Utopia.

Great Moments in Blog Comment Threads

The Panic Room
– Ace

The left prides itself on its "freethinking," and castigates the right for "repeating the Bush/Rove mantra," but the left sure just seems to repeat the same blog-propagated nonsense over and over.

Their big one right now (and for a few months) is that they're all too "manly" to be a-sacared of terrorists. Whereas we "piss our diapers" at the thought of "brown people." With "vasline." Or even "peroxide-based slurry liquid bombs."

We're such chickens. Bwak, bwak.

As threads are a good place for catharsis, I thought I might do the dextrosphere the service of providing a thread where you can admit your abject terror and mind-numbing fear at all the events in the world--assuming, of course, you can keep your hands from trembling long enough to actually type on a keyboard.

I'd wish you all "Courage," but I have none to give. My teeth are chattering so damn hard I can barely think above the din.

Whoops, I just made a mess in my boxers again. I thought of a "brown person" and was so overcome by shirt-drenching fear I lost all involuntary control over my excretory system. Let me lock the doors, peek out the windows for "brown people," and wash myself, and I'll be back as soon as I'm done having a terror-induced conniption on the floor.

I schedule those for around 12 every day. It's good for the abs. It's like a cardio version of Pilades.

Some of the comments are too freakin' hilarious:

While walking form the parking garage to my office this morning, I heard what sounded like the soft mewling of a kitten from out of an alley. I froze in terror, unable to move, as the sound came closer and closer to me. I eventually became so overcome with terror that I bolted back to my car, raced home and have been working from under my bed ever since (thank you, wireless connection.)

I have no proof, but I am sure that it was not a kitten, but was, in reality, a "go" signal of the surburban terrorist. Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but someday soon, I am sure I will be proven correct in my assumption.

Then who'll be laughing, huh? HUH?

Posted by wiserbud at August 18, 2006 11:54 AM

First of all I would like to thank Ace for giving us this safe zone where we can finally come clean about our fears in a friendly, welcoming environment.

I have many fears which paralyze me on a day to day basis and which have caused me to become one of the biggest Depends users you'll run into. You wouldn't believe the how much I used to spend on pants before I heard about Depends. In any case I have a two car garage and full basement filled with them. You may think this is overkill but let me fill you in on my day to day usage, this is today alone:

7:35am Alarm goes off turning on radio. Doing ok until I think I hear the DJ say terrorist, shit myself. Fortunately I have learned to wear my Depends to bed and my accident does not soil my sheets. OBTW DJ actually said hair piece.

8:05am While taking a shower find a hair that appears to be african american in origin, Shit myself. Turns out to be a pube. No Depends used since I was in the shower.

8:45am Watching Today Show and having breakfast. Doing ok until Casey Casem is called out as guest, shit and piss myself. 2nd Depends of the day.

9:30am Driving in to work I get behind an Escalade at a stoplight. Shit myself and pass out with my head landing on the horn. Driver of Escalade comes to see if she can help. It turns out she is a middle aged white woman and a psychologist. She wakes me up and leaves me her card. Nice lady. 3rd Depends.

9:55am While pulling into the lot at work a plane goes overhead. Lose complete control of all bodily functions. 4th Depends and I have to go home and reshower and change due to excessive vomit covering me head to toe.

11:45am While using the bathroom I notice a suspicious white powder on the sink. Shit myself, pull fire alarm and go screaming from the building. Powder turns out to be dried toothpaste. 5th Depends

12:45pm Co worker mentions they are going to the new fallafal place downtown. shit myself, piss myself, break down in tears and beg George W. Bush to protect me. Get a fallafal and some humus and pita. Pretty good.

1:30pm Hold afternoon circle jerk with co workers while we watch video of Israeli atrocities. Afterwords someone switches the channel to PBS. Tavis Smiley is on. Shit myself.

Thank you for letting me unload my secret fears. I feel better already.

Posted by Big E at August 18, 2006 02:26 PM

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Free-floating anxiety

I don't know why, but today I've got a lot of free-floating anxiety dogging me. It's making it difficult for me to concentrate, which is unusual because I usually can't concentrate because of sleepiness. A can of Mt. Dew and I'm all better.

But I'm afraid that caffeine would only make me worse. I'm bouncing like a wagon on a washboard trail. I think it's the crazy world that's got me uptight. I feel like I need a good cry and a hug. Or some good distractions.

On Yahoo, one of the most-sent photos is this one. The caption reads:

Iranian women attend the international cartoon contest on the Holocaust in Tehran. An international contest of cartoons on the Holocaust opened in Tehran today in response to the publication in Western papers last September of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed. "We staged this fair to explore the limits of freedom Westerners believe in," Masoud Shojai, head of the country's "Iran Cartoon" association and the fair organizer, said. (AFP/Behrouz Mehri)

So they're trying to see if we'll go totally ballistic if they publish cartoons offensive to us. Wow. They really don't get it. They think that freedom of the press means that we only publish stuff we like and don't put up with stuff we don't like. They've obviously chosen the Holocaust because they think that the Evil Joooos control the West, and that the Joooos, with their Super Evil Omnipotence, will come out and say "freedom of the press doesn't mean freedom to offend," which is what the Muslims were saying about the Danish cartoons.

They don't get that in a pluralistic society, you allow other people to say "wrong" things, even offensive things, all in an effort to make sure that there is no ideological tyrrany. But to them, there ought to be ideological tyrrany, because Islam Is Right and all else is corruption. And the corruption is intolerable. Destroy it. End of story.

I despair of ever changing their minds. It seems that the only thing we can do is defeat them so soundly they won't dare come up against us again. Maybe if their alleged civilization is in ruins, they'll be more open to new ideas, the way the Japanese were.

Or not. It's only going to get worse. And worse. And worse. It's 1938. Strap in and hang on.


I've decided to create another blog to complement the one I have on Live Journal. The LJ is supposed to be more of a diary than a blog, and I have kept it free of politics as much as possible because most of my readership is to the left of center. And they can kick my butt in a debate. So no thanks.

But I've been feeling a lot of anxiety lately what with the situation with the mideast and the War on Terror getting scarier. Not scarier in the sense that I think we're on the brink of annihilation. I'm not living in fear of the next terrorist attack, if it comes. If they get me, they get me, but I doubt SLC is high on their priority list.

So I'm not a bedwetter. What's causing the distress is the bizzaro world's reaction to the situation, the inversion of values, the freakin' insanity of the thought processes of the Euroleft and the jihadis themselves.

Commenting on another's blog is fine, but then the blogger chooses the topic. Here I get to bloviate on the subject of my choice without eating up someone else's bandwidth. And without worrying about TROLLS, because I have no readership. :D

Which is fine with me. I'm OK with not being heard.