Hebrew prophet

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our Mission Statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

14 August 2018

It is doubtful whether Homo sapiens will still be around a thousand years from now…

Quotation from “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” (2014) by Yuval Noah Harari (b. 1976), an Israeli historian and futurologist who teaches at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Antigone1984:

Food for thought!

Although a millennium may seem an eternity, it pales into chronological insignificance compared with the 13.5 billion years that have elapsed since the Big Bang – arguably – gave birth to the universe and even when set alongside the 200 000 years since Homo sapiens evolved in East Africa.

However, the Hebrew prophet’s predictions have to be taken with a pinch of salt. Referring to pontifications he makes in his latest work “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” (2018), Harari admits: “Obviously, most of this is just speculation”.

Dr Yuval’s books have been translated into 45 languages and are said to have sold more than 12 million copies. His reputation as an intellectual rock star rests on the two works mentioned above plus “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow” (2016).

 —–

 You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

  1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
  2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
  3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
  4. Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
  5. Ladder  (21 June 2012)
  6. A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
  7. A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
  8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.

——-

 

 

Posted in Australia, Canada, Cosmology, Europe, France, Germany, History, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philosophy, Religion, Saudi Arabia, Science, Turkey, UK, USA | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Attaboy! Sock it to ’em!

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our Mission Statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

13 August 2018

When a thousand people believe some made-up story for a month – that’s fake news. When a billion people believe it for a thousand years – that’s a religion.

Quotation from “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” (2018) by Yuval Noah Harari (b. 1976), an Israeli historian and futurologist who teaches at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Antigone1984:

Dr Yuval’s books have been translated into 45 languages and are said to have sold more than 12 million copies. His reputation as an intellectual rock star rests on two earlier works: “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” (2014) and “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow” (2016).

 —–

 You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

  1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
  2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
  3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
  4. Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
  5. Ladder  (21 June 2012)
  6. A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
  7. A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
  8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.

——-

 

 

Posted in Australia, Economics, Europe, France, Germany, History, Ireland, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, Pakistan, Palestine, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Saudi Arabia, Science, Turkey, USA | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Oklahoma!

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our Mission Statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

19 March 2018

NO, NO, OKLAHOMA!

לֹא תִּרְצָח

The last time Oklahoma hogged the global limelight – to our admittedly limited knowledge – was in 1955 with the release of the musical “Oklahoma! ”directed by Fred Zinnemann, starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones and with songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein. The film, wishy-washy hokum in which a cowpoke defeats rival and wins gal, was, nevertheless, a worldwide hit, dragging the state with it into the spotlights.

Thereafter Oklahoma slipped quietly from the global stage.

Now, however, the state is back on the front pages, this time attracting notoriety rather than innocent celebrity.

Despite being somewhat out in the sticks, Oklahoma has a lot of things going for it. Although the state has a population of only 4 million, it is a major producer of agricultural products, natural gas and oil and also boasts important aviation, energy, telecommunications and biotechnology industries. The area of the state is 181,295 km² – on a par with Uruguay or Syria.

However, Oklahoma excels in another field that it might not be so keep to boast about.

It executes more people per capita than any other state in the Union.

Of the 1469 judicial murders in the US since 1976 when the Supreme Court okayed the resumption of executions – suspended since an earlier Supreme Court decision of 1972 – top of the hit parade for killer states is Texas with 548 executions (population 22 million), Virginia (population 8.5 million) with 113 and Oklahoma (population 4 million) with 112.

In addition to that dubious distinction, Oklahoma was the first state in the Union to execute prisoners using a lethal cocktail of chemicals. Another first for the aptly nicknamed “S00ner State”.

Alas, owing to the increasing unpopularity of the death penalty in the civilised world, in recent years chemical firms used to supplying the ingredients for the lethal cocktail to US prisons have become reluctant to tarnish their public image by doing so.

In a recent press conference reported mid-March 2018 in the European media (including the London Guardian and El País of Madrid), Joe Albaugh, Director of the Oklahoma Corrections Department, said that in trying to find a supply of lethal drugs, he had been forced to deal with “seedy individuals” who might have had access to them.

“I was calling all around the world, to the back streets of the Indian subcontinent,” he said. To no avail. Hence, he argued, “we can no longer sit on the sidelines and wait on the drugs.”

However, all is not lost. The canny Okies are nothing if not resourceful. They have hit upon a new solution:

“GAS THEM”

 Yes, these folks may be a tad old-fogeyish, socially if not economically, but they sure stick to their guns. Their attitude to the 17 residents currently on death row in Oklahoma’s prisons is: “We’re gunna top these guys whatever it takes.”

The latest wheeze thought up by Oklahoma’s executioners is to kill the condemned men by gassing them with nitrogen till they choke to death.

Well done, fellas, what a swell idea!!

And if gassing passes the legal hurdles and goes ahead – according to media reports, the procedure has never been tested in a death chamber in the USA – this will be another first for Oklahoma in the grisly hit parade of US state executions.

One must feel sympathy for the squeamish Oklahoma prison boss who has had to liaise with “seedy inviduals” in the backstreets of India as he surreptitiously seeks out the lethal chemicals that will enable him to do his lawful job of killing people.

 But who exactly are the “seedy individuals” in this scenario?

 Is it the nameless backstreet vendors of illicit chemicals in India or is it rather the official representatives of a state from the world’s most powerful nation who are pulling out the stops to be allowed to choke human beings to death with nitrogen gas?

THE HOLOCAUST

 The Oklahoma authorities seem to believe that the shift from lethal injection to gas as the procedure for killing condemned prisoners is simply a matter of replacing one procedure with another: who cares what the mechanics of execution are, the point (from their perspective) is to find a trouble-free method of putting people to death.

In Europe, by contrast, the resort to gas as a method of snubbing out human beings touches the rawest of raw nerves.

Gas was the execution substance of choice when the Nazis systematically slaughtered 6 million Jews in World War II (1939-1945). Innocent men, women and children were suffocated en masse in the gas chambers of the Third Reich. In our view and that of many, the Holocaust – the genocidal carnage of Jews by Hitler’s thugs – was the greatest crime in the history of humanity.

The peoples of Europe are collectively determined that never again will such barbarity be allowed to stain the history of our continent.

This explains the utter revulsion of Europeans to the news that the state officials of Oklahoma are today planning to employ, once again, the methods used by the Nazis to stub out fellow human beings.

We admonish the state officers and elected representatives of the state of Oklahoma to hearken unto a celebrated plea made by Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), leader of Parliament against the Crown in the English Civil War (1642-1646):

I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.

From a letter sent by Cromwell to the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland on 3 August 1650.

CRUCIFIXION

Moreover, if this new ploy is thwarted as a result of fancy footwork by pettifogging liberal lawyers, there is an infinite range of other possibilities to which resort could be made.

In comments on an on-line article on the “gas them” story by Barbara Hoberock on 15 March in the Oklahoma newspaper Tulsa World, reader William Dusenberry, with tongue in cheek, says:

“If we used the Christian god’s preferred method of murdering our murderers, we could use the same torture device (the Christian cross) over and over again indefinitely.….Crucifixion is the way to go — it will deter murderers, and will pay for itself the first time a murderer is crucified in public – during the 1/2 time at a football game. Tourists will flock to watch “live” crucifixions, just as they flocked to the Roman Colosseum to watch live crucifixions and slaves being fed to the lions at the same time. In other words, using crucifixion in Oklahoma (public) would eliminate our deficit faster than all remaining non-political racists can become deplorable GOP baggers….If we executed murders in public by the use of crucifixion and charged admission, we could balance the Oklahoma State budget – and give our teachers a 50% raise.”

Incredible as it may seem, we have seen media reports recently which suggest that support for the death penalty – now, fortunately, on the decline overall both in the US and in the wider world – is exceptionally strong in states with a significant Evangelical Christian presence.

BEHEADING

Or maybe Oklahoma could adopt the barbaric execution method preferred by the USA’s main Arab ally, Saudia Arabia – a fair number of whose nationals were involved in the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York on 11 September 2001 – and behead criminals before baying crowds in the streets? Somewhat like the auto-da-fé bonfires of heretics in Europe in the Middle Ages?

Only an idea. Just trying to be helpful.

 

Antigone1984:

‬לֹא תִּרְצָח

“THOU SHALT NOT KILL”

                  This is verse 17 of Chapter 20 of the English translation of the Book of Exodus in the Hebrew Old Testament [authorized King James English version of 1611]. It is one of the Ten Commandments said to have been communicated by God to the Hebrew prophet Moses on Mount Sinai.

Translation is not an exact science and the passage from one language to another often permits various renderings. Thus, some scholars nowadays prefer to translate the Hebrew verb in the above text as “murder” rather than “kill”.

However, in our view, this does not essentially alter the meaning of the text in our current context where what is involved is “judicial murder”.

In fact, the commandment seems to us to be straightforward and without ambiguity. It is an absolute order not subject to exceptions. For example, it does not say: “Thou shalt not kill, except in the case of killing approved by the state.” The text imposes a blanket ban on killing full stop.

It seems to us, therefore, that, at least so far as practising Jews or Christians are concerned, judicial execution is not permitted in any circumstances.

It is rightly argued that many of those legally condemned to death have themselves been proved in court to have committed heinous crimes, including murder. For our part, in no way do we seek to justify or downplay such acts of barbarity.

The main ground for refuting the justification of capital punishment is that two wrongs do not make a right. If it is wrong for the convicted criminal to commit murder, it is equally wrong for the state to avenge that crime by committing another of the same kind. The laws of ethics bind everyone – institutions as much as individuals.

UNSAFE CONVICTIONS

However, there is another important reason for refraining from implementing the death penalty, namely the risk of error in the conviction. Given that in the case of the death penalty, the sentence is, literally, terminal, there is no possibility of reviewing the sentence later if subsequent evidence demonstrates that the conviction was unsafe. Accordingly, since the sentence in this case, once carried out, is unreviewable, it follows that the proof of guilt must be cast-iron – and not subject to modification should fresh evidence subsequently give rise to doubt. Now since all court judgements are, by their very nature, fallible and can never be considered the last word in assessing guilt or innocence, the emergence of new evidence always remaining a possibility, logically there can be no justification, in any circumstances, for the imposition of the death penalty.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Since 1973 at least 155 convicts have been released from death row in the United States on the grounds that their conviction was unsafe.

Quod erat demonstrandum.

EIGHTH AMENDMENT

 There is a third reason to hold back from imposing the ultimate penalty. Not infrequently, the “mechanics” of executions go wrong and the condemned prisoner dies in agony.

According to a report in the London Guardian on 14 August 2018, Oklahoma has had one of the busiest death chambers in the US, but put executions on hold three years ago after a series of mishaps, including a botched lethal injection in 2014 that left inmate Clayton Lockett writhing on the gurney as well as drug mix-ups in 2015 in which the wrong lethal drugs were delivered. As a result, one inmate was executed with an unapproved drug and a second inmate was just moments away from being led to the death chamber before prison officials realized the same wrong drug had been delivered for his execution.

According to the newspaper, Oklahoma’s multicounty grand jury subsequently delivered a scathing report on Oklahoma’s lethal injection process that accused a number of individuals involved in the process of sloppy and careless work.

Moreover, what about the Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution? This states:

 “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

 According to the report already cited in the London Guardian, any attempt to change the method used to execute inmates in Oklahoma is certain to trigger a flurry of legal challenges. While the Oklahoma authorities maintain that inert gases are increasingly used in assisted suicides, several death penalty experts have retorted that the use of the nitrogen gas on unwilling subjects is entirely untested.

Dale Baich, an attorney representing Oklahoma death row prisoners, is quoted in the report as saying: “This method [the use of nitrogen gas] has never been used before and is experimental. How can we trust Oklahoma to get this right when the state’s recent history reveals a culture of carelessness and mistakes in executions?”

It is surprising to us that the US Federal Government allows individual states to decide whether to terminate the life of US citizens. One would have thought that all decisions pertaining to US citizenship, not least the permanent rubbing out of US citizens, would be an exclusively federal prerogative.

Besides, has the US so little concern for its standing in the world that it is happy to find itself way down there with the world’s bad guys?

GLOBAL EXECUTION STATS (2016)

Of the 193 member states of the United Nations, 141 are abolitionist in law or practice. Those that do not permit judicial executions include the 47 member states of the Council of Europe (among which all 28 member states of the European Union).

According to figures released by Amnesty International on 11 April 2017, at least 1,032 people were executed in 23 countries in 2016. The top killer nations were: China (1), Iran (2), Saudi Arabia (3), Iraq (4), Pakistan (5), Egypt (6) and the United States (7).

 China remained the world’s top executioner – but the true extent of the use of the death penalty in China is unknown as these data are considered a state secret. The 2016 global figure of at least 1,032 executions excludes the thousands believed to have been carried out in China.

For the eighth consecutive year, the USA was the only country in North and South America to carry out executions in 2016.

To us, it is incredible that the world’s number one superpower cares so little for its standing among the nations of the world that it is happy to be lumped alongside such stalwart champions of human rights as China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc.

Our own view is that no nation which permits judicial murder can be regarded as civilised.

 Nonetheless, there has been a global improvement in recent years.

The 20 people executed in the US in 2016 – eight fewer than in 2015 – was the lowest number of executions recorded in a single year since 1991. Moreover, the rate of executions in the US in 2016 is half that in 2007 and a third of that in 1997. However, the latest decline may be due to the difficulty of accessing chemicals for lethal injection.

There has also been a global decline in the number of executions in recent years. In 2016 twenty-three countries are known to have actually carried out executions. This number has decreased significantly over the last two decades: 40 countries carried out executions in 1997.

 OKLAHOMA

 The US state of Oklahoma was created in 1907 partly from territory used in 19 C as a dumping-ground for “Red Indians” deported from their ancestral land in other parts of the United States. The state name derives from “okla humma” meaning “red people” in Chocktaw.

So far as politics are concerned, Oklahoma has traditionally been a red-neck (conservative) state. Its Governor Mary Fallin is a Republican and its Senate and House of Representatives are both Republican-controlled. This tilt towards the right is no surprise as Oklahoma is situated in the southern Mid-West and wide-open to contagion from the hold-the-clock-back culture of adjacent former Confederate slave states that tried to secede from the Union in 1861-1865.

NIETZSCHE

We conclude with a warning from the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900):

“….misstraut Allen, in welchen der Trieb, zu strafen, mächtig ist! Das ist Volk schlechter Art und Abkunft; aus ihren Gesichtern blickt der Henker und der Spürhund. Misstraut allen Denen, die viel von ihrer Gerechtigkeit reden! Wahrlich, ihren Seelen fehlt es nicht nur an Honig. Und wenn sie sich selber ‘die Guten und Gerechten’ nennen, so vergesst nicht, dass ihnen zum Pharisäer Nichts fehlt….”

  • …..distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful! They are a low sort of people from bad stock; out of their countenances peer the hangman and the sleuth-hound. Distrust all those who talk much of their justice! Verily, in their souls it is not only honey that is lacking. And when they call themselves ‘the good and just,’ forget not, that for them to be Pharisees nothing is lacking…

 This is a quotation (slightly truncated) from Part II (Chapter 29: “The Tarantulas”) of the treatise “Also sprach Zarathustra” (published between 1883 and 1892).

—–

 You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

  1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
  2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
  3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
  4. Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
  5. Ladder  (21 June 2012)
  6. A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
  7. A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
  8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.

——-

 

 

Posted in China, Economics, Egypt, Europe, Germany, Globalisation, Hong Kong, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Justice, Pakistan, Politics, Religion, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Torture, UK, Uruguay, USA | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bad losers

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our Mission Statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

8 March 2018

“Elections change nothing.”

Pronunciamento attributed to the then German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble in 2015 in the course of the imposition of a financial strait-jacket on Greece by the European Union (lead by Germany) and the International Monetary Fund.

In a referendum on 23 June 2016, the British people voted by 51.9 % to 48.1 % to leave the European Union.

Those who voted to leave the EU we call Leavites or Brexiteers (a term derived from Brexit – Britain’s Exit from the EU). Those who voted to stay we call Remainers or, more bluntly, “Remoaners”.

The bombshell of the referendum result left Britain’s self-preening metropolitan elite in a state of clinical shock. Smugly confident that the conventional wisdom would, as usual, prevail, they woke up on the morning of 24 June 2016 to the apocalyptic news that they had backed the wrong horse. The Remoan camp had tanked.

The wailing and gnashing of teeth that arose from the distressed herds of Remoaners could be heard from London to Brussels.

The initial lamentations lasted a day or two. Then the forces of reaction set to with a vengeance. The ululations gave way to indignation.

“How dare they, the plebs!” was the new cry. “The sad misguided fools! Knowing nothing of Europe, unlike ourselves, they have voted in culpable ignorance of what is at stake! Otherwise, like any right-minded person in possession of their wits, they would have voted to continue to worship at the altar of the glorious utopia that is our European Union!”

The sound of Friedrich von Schiller’s 1785 “Ode to Joy” as set to music in the final movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s 1823 Ninth Symphony, the marching tune of the European Union, is heard suddenly in the distance….

Before long the Remoaners had regrouped and had developed a strategy to thwart the result of the referendum.

The first step – other strategems will be analysed in our next post on Brexit – was to question the democratic basis of the vote. Frothing at the mouth, they raved that this was not democracy. What? A majority of 51.9 % to 48.1 %, and the result was invalid?

“Yes, this isn’t democracy!” ranted the Remoaners. “It’s populism!”

They seem oblivious of the fact that populism comes from the Latin word “populus”, which is the exact equivalent of the ancient Greek word “demos”. Both words mean “people”.

Democracy is “rule by the people”.

In modern societies the people vote and the winning majority carries the day. Sometimes, as here, the margin between either side is not huge, sometimes it is more substantial. But that is the way the cookie crumbles.

If you are a democrat, populism is actually a good thing.

What is more, direct democracy in the form of a referendum is, by definition, infinitely superior to so-called “representative democracy” in which parliamentary candidates undertake to carry out the will of the electorate precisely until the moment when they get elected, at which point the interests of the people are consigned to oblivion and the newly elected member, in an orgy of unadulterated opportunism, focuses on sucking up to the hierarchs in his/her political party in order to advamce the member’s personal political career.

In any case, most people in western countries most of the time seem to accept the outcome of democratic elections, regardless of whether that democracy is direct or representative.

And that includes the complacent conformists of the lumpen bourgeoisie – so long as they get what they want, which they usually do, since they normally have the power to arrange things – mainly via the inherent corruption of party politics -so that that is the case.

However, as is blindingly evident from the reaction of our bien pensants to the straight-forward democratic result of this referendum, when they don’t get what they want, they kick up an all-mighty fuss and throw their toys out of the pram.

What part of democracy do you not understand? One might ask.

The hypocrisy of this self-serving reaction is all the more evident if one considers what the attitude of the Remoaners would have been had the vote gone in their favour – had 51.9 % voted to remain within the EU and only 48.1 % to leave.

In that case, you would not have heard a dicky bird from them. In that event there would have been not the slightest outrage at the fact that the majority was not more substantial.

In fact, votes take place all the time in democratic countries where the result is fairly evenly balanced. The convention still is, nonetheless, that, in a straight fight between two sides, the winner is the candidate who obtains the majority of votes cast.

The fact that in this referendum the Remoaners are prepared to put the interests of their own class or cabal above the democratic result reveals the dirty underbelly of Britain’s supposedly democratic society.

Which brings us back to the declaration attributed to Schäuble at the head of this post: Elections change nothing”.

The fact is that the EU itself – the embryonic superstate to which the anti-democratic Remoaners aspire – is not the greatest fan of popular participation in the formulation of policy.

In his polemic, “Why vote leave”, a very readable summary of the arguments for Brexit written by UK MEP Daniel Hannan and published before the referendum in 2016, Hannan includes a list of eight referendums in EU member states in which voters rejected the proposition put forward by the EU establishment (Figure 3, page 38). The results of only two of these referendums were deemed acceptable to the EU elite. In the case of the other six, the results were either ignored or the electorate was forced to vote again – until voters came up with the correct result, ie that in favour of the EU position.

Accordingly, on the basis of experience, a general working rule has been adopted in EU member states:

Referendums – direct consultations of the electorate – are to be avoided if possible. If this is not possible, then the EU member state must spare no effort to get its voters to back the EU line in the unwanted referendum. If, nevertheless, the outcome of the referendum is to reject the EU proposition, then the referendum should be re-run until such time as the electorate gets it right. Or, even better, the result should simply be ignored by the powers that be.

A good example of the latter took place in Greece in 2015.

On Sunday 5 July, in a turnout of 63% of the electorate, 63.3 % of voters rejected – and only 38.7 % approved – the punitive economic hairshirt being woven for Greece by the Triad of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund in exchange for a lone.

Barely a week later, on Monday 14 July, Greece’s very own Quisling, Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister and leader of the erstwhile leftwing Syriza party, in a blatant snub to the express wishes of the Greek nation, capitulated hook, line and sinker to the Triad, accepting the evisceration of the Greek economy in exchange for 30 pieces of EU/IMF silver.

This is democracy at work in the EU. It is a bit like democracy at work in the National Congress of the People’s Republic of China.

DIE LÖSUNG

Nach dem Aufstand des 17. Juni
Ließ der Sekretär des Schriftstellerverbands
In der Stalinallee Flugblätter verteilen
Auf denen zu lesen war, daß das Volk
Das Vertrauen der Regierung verscherzt habe
Und es nur durch verdoppelte Arbeit
zurückerobern könne. Wäre es da
Nicht doch einfacher, die Regierung
Löste das Volk auf und
Wählte ein anderes?

 

THE SOLUTION

After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

 

The Solution is a poem written in 1953 by the leftwing poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht (1898 – 1956) about the uprising that year against the Communist regime in East Germany.

 

A post published on the net on 26 June 2016 by “Baron Bodissey” refers to an interview given by Joachim Gauck (German Federal President 2012 – 2017) to the German regional public-service broadcaster ARD. With reference to the growing sense of national identity and the danger that the EU might disintegrate, Gauck explained: “The elites are not the problem at all, the population is at the moment the problem.” In doing so, according to “Baron Bodissey”, Gauck was taking his cue from EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker “who thinks that European governments pay too much attention to popular opinion”.

Antigone1984:

On 21 June 2016 – two days before the referendum – a correspondent addressed us thus:

I’m interested in what you describe as a decision of momentous consequence. ….The reality is that the European Union is an expensive talking shop whose achievements are vastly overblown. It keeps minutes and wastes years…. The truth is that a lot of hot air has been expended and Britain will vote to remain in the UK and the chattering classes will have to find a new topic to preserve their illusion that they too are relevant.”

 

On 24 June 2016, the day after the referendum, when final results showed that the Leave vote had won, this same correspondent, shocked out of their cocksure complacency, was singing a quite different tune:

 

Morons, blockheads, ignoramuses…” these were some of the milder expletives they used to express their contempt for the majority of voters who had exercised their democratic right to vote in favour of Britain leaving the EU.

Yet if this decision was not of momentous consequence, as they had claimed a few days before the referendum, why were they so exercised when the result turned out to be the opposite to what they had expected?

We have to read between the lines. We interpret their position to be as follows: membership of the EU is not a momentous matter – but even if it were, it doesn’t matter in practice, because we are quite sure that there will never be a majority vote in favour of leaving the EU.

According to the philospher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), the ignorant are cocksure, while the wise are open to doubt.

The vote in favour of secession blew these guys out of the water. They are still reeling from the shock.

—–

 

You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

  1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
  2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
  3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
  4. Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
  5. Ladder  (21 June 2012)
  6. A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
  7. A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
  8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.

——-

 

 

Posted in China, Economics, Europe, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Politics, UK | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

John Lennon

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our Mission Statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

1 March 2018

“Reality leaves a lot to the imagination”

John Lennon (1940-1980), British rock musician, founder member of the “Beatles” pop group, murdered outside his home near Central Park in New York.

 

Antigone1984:

Right on, man!

—–

 You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

  1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
  2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
  3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
  4. Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
  5. Ladder  (21 June 2012)
  6. A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
  7. A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
  8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.

——-

 

 

Posted in Literature, Music, UK, USA | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Les neiges d’antan

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our Mission Statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

28 February 2018

 

WINTER

 

When icicles hang by the wall

And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,

And Tom bears logs into the hall,

And milk comes frozen home in pail;

When blood is nipped and ways be foul,

Then nightly sings the staring owl,

Tu-who!

Tu-whit, tu-who!  – a merry note,

While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

 

When all aloud the wind doth blow,

And coughing drowns the parson’s saw,

And birds sit brooding in the snow,

And Marian’s nose looks red and raw;

When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,

Then nightly sings the staring owl,

Tu-who!

Tu-whit, tu-who! – a merry note,

While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

 

Love’s Labour’s Lost (1595), Act 5, Scene 2, line 920, by English dramatist William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Antigone1984:

London – and much of Britain – drew back the bedroom curtains this morning to a rare white-out, a thick mantle of snow carpeting the capital, metamorphising the city’s parks into a wintery Breugelesque landscape.  It feels as if – courtesy of global warming – the last substantial snowfall of this kind took place a decade, nay two decades, ago. It brings back nostalgic memories of childhood when winter snowfall was to be expected and carol singers beat the hoary bounds of the parish before taking refuge in the cosy parlour of the Big House, a log fire burning merrily in the hearth, as mine host welcomed them to a groaning board of mince tarts and mulled wine. Such, such were the days, my friend – we thought they would never end! Today’s snowfall almost wipes out the intervening decades. And lo! In the garden the fox has left his footprints in the fresh snow. The yucca and the palm, the holly and the ivy each bear their pall of white, the lavender bush is sinking under its candid burden, while the buds on the kerria bush, on the brink of blossoming, have decided to hold back for more clement days.  And outside our kitchen window the powdery flakes have magicked two ancient cobwebs into a delicate tracery of white lace. Ah the days of our youth, those days of snow-white innocence as yet unsullied by experience!

—–

 You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

  1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
  2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
  3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
  4. Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
  5. Ladder  (21 June 2012)
  6. A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
  7. A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
  8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.

——-

 

 

Posted in Literature, UK, USA | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The heart and soul of the party

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our Mission Statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

27 February 2018

 

DER UNENTBERHRLICHE

 

Wirklich, er war unentbehrlich!

Überall, wo was geschah

Zu dem Wohle der Gemeinde,

Er war tätig, er war da.

 

Schützenfest, Kasinobālle,

Pferderennen, Preisgericht,

Liedertafel, Spritzenprobe,

Ohne ihn da ging est nicht.

 

Ohne ihn war nichts zu machen,

Keine Stunde hat er frei.

Gestern, als sie ihn begruben,

War er richtig auch dabei.

 

Wilhelm Busch (1832-1908), German satirist

 

THE LIFE AND SOUL OF THE PARTY

 

Really, he was part of the furniture!

Wherever anything happened

That cheered people up,

He was the mover and shaker, he was always around.

 

At shooting parties, at dances in the Casino,

At the horse races, when judging a competition,

At the glee club, at the fire drill,

Without him nothing happened.

 

Without him nothing could be done.

He hadn’t a moment free.

Yesterday, when they buried him,

There he was again, present and correct!

 

Antigone1984:

An old friend of ours recently told a very similar tale about a colleague of his – let us call him JS – at a London office at which our friend worked. JS was the guy described in the poem. Nothing moved at Bullingdon Brothers –the name we shall give to this business – without the nod from JS. At the office from early morning to late in the evening and afterwards at bars and hostelries in the City, JS would be there. His name was on everyone’s lips. “Where’s JS,” they cried. “We’ve got to find him. We need him urgently.” Popular isn’t the word. He could solve any problem, deal with any dilemma, suggest whatever remedy the situation required. He never attacked anyone, he never put anyone down, he never bigged himself up. And he had a never-ending fund of humorous anecdotes, mainly involving the office, that had them rolling in the aisles. If you wanted cheering up, JS was the man to go to. In fact, it was often said that if JS wasn’t there, the business would go under. He was the glue that kept it together. And then one day – as sometimes happens to people – he died. Needless to say, the funeral was a fun thing. Then a strange thing happened. After the funeral, according to our friend, JS was never mentioned again. Not in the board-room, not in the canteen, not in the typing pool, not in the corridors and not in the chill-out room. And the business did not go under. In fact, Bullingdon Brothers went on to scale new heights.

In society you exist only so far as you continue to be there, wherever it is. Once you have left, no trace of you remains, not even a memory, your place now occupied by another.

ἐπάμεροι. τί δέ τις; τί δ᾽ οὔ τις; σκιᾶς ὄναρ
 ἄνθρωπος. 

Here today, gone tomorrow! What is anyone?
 What is he not? Man is but a dream of a shadow
.

View of the Greek poet Pindar (518-438 BC) as expressed in his Pythian Odes  (Book 8, line 135):

 

—–

 You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

  1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
  2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
  3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
  4. Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
  5. Ladder  (21 June 2012)
  6. A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
  7. A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
  8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.

——-

 

 

Posted in Austria, Economics, Germany, Literature, Philosophy, UK, USA | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment