David Goldman, aka Spengler, has written a book, How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is Dying Too). It’s an interesting read, and worth a longer review than it’s getting here. But the book is worth reading, if only for his elaborations on “Spengler’s Universal Laws,” given below:
A man or a nation at the brink of death does not have a “rational self-interest.”
When the nations of the world see their demise not as a distant prospect over the horizon, but as a foreseeable outcome, they perish of despair.
Contrary to what you may have heard from the sociologists, the human mortality rate is still 100 percent.
The history of the world is the history of humankind’s search for immortality
Humankind cannot bear mortality without the hope of immortality
You don’t know who’s naked until the tide goes out (courtesy of Warren Buffett).
Political models are like automobile models: you can’t have them unless you can pay for them.
Wars are won by destroying the enemy’s will to fight. A nation is never really beaten until it sells its women.
A county isn’t beaten until it sells its women, but it’s damned when its women sell themselves.
There’s a world of difference between a lunatic and a lunatic who has won the lottery.
At all times and in all places, the men and women of every culture deserve each other.
Nothing is more dangerous than a civilization that has only just discovered it is dying.
Across epochs and cultures, blood has flown in inverse proportion to the hope of victory.
Stick around long enough, and you turn into a theme park.
When we worship ourselves, we eventually become the god that failed
Small civilizations perish for any number of reasons, but great civilizations die only when they no longer want to live.
If you stay in the same place and do the same thing long enough, some empire eventually will overrun you.
Maybe we would be better off if we never had been born, but who has such luck? Not one in a thousand.
Pagan faith, however powerful, turns into Stygian nihilism when disappointed
Democracy only gives people the kind of government they deserve.
If you believe in yourself, you’re probably whoring after strange gods.
Optimism is cowardice, at least when the subject is Muslim democracy.
The best thing you can do for zombie cultures is, don’t be one of them.
Marine Le Pen is a favorite of The Weekly Standard, despite the reflexive anti-Americanism of her National Front Party. So her qualified approval is of the treatment of Dominique Strauss-Kahn is noteworthy:
I don’t particularly like the American justice system, but in my opinion there’s at least one respect in which they have something to teach us: namely, the fact that they treat the immigrant maid and the head of the IMF perfectly equally. We have a lesson to learn from that: …on how to treat the victim [of a sexual assault], on how to treat the powerful and the poor, who should be treated on an equal basis, which is not the case in France. You know very well, if this episode had occurred in France, it would not have turned out [the same way]…
I’m probably late to the party, but I feel obliged to pass along this link. It’s a set of color photographs taken in pre-revolution Russia. That is, the Russian Empire. I’m enthralled by color photographs from this time period. The people in them always look very ancient, yet the nature of color photography makes them look modern. It’s a good reminder that it wasn’t that long ago.
This site contains a lot of French color photographs from 1917 and 1918, but the Russian pictures are from a little earlier. And they’re from the Russian Empire. Here’s the Emir of Bukhara, a vassal of the Czar(!). Here’s three generations of Russians in 1910; the grandfather looks very antiquated. Here’s what it would look like if Borat ran a mining company.
Bizarrely, I found this by going to the Wikipedia entry for tea, where they had this extremely high resolution color photograph of Russian peasants harvesting tea. That version’s big enough that you can really zoom in and get a good look at the people. The photograph was taken sometime between 1907 and 1915; it’s worth thinking about what horrors those children would see in their lifetime, and what dreadful conditions the adults had put up with for their whole lives.
Apollo posted this at 6:22 PM CDT on Thursday, April 21st, 2011 as Uncategorized
A few weeks ago, a UCLA student named Alexandra Wallace posted a three-minute rant on Youtube complaining about “hordes of Asian*” students having long, loud telephone conversations at the school library. This, she said, is disruptive and not in accordance with “American manners.” Wallace , who — unfortunately, in this context — is blonde-haired, blue-eyed, and wears heavy make-up, went on to mock Asian accents, worked in a stupid reference to the Japanese tsunami, gave some disparaging opinions about Asian culture, and generally acted like a Ugly American.
The youtube video was condemned by UCLA’s president, which then got picked up by the mainstreamspress and went viral on the Internet. Despite a public apology, Wallace has been harassed all over the Internet (google her name with “racist or “bikini,” if you must) and has even received a number of death threats. Just a few days ago, she announced she’s leaving UCLA.
Yesterday, David Bell weighed in in an op-ed that was picked up on NPR and Gizmodo:
It seems like a great time to be a bully. When I was a kid, even the most productive bulliescould only manage a handful of victims at a time. What used to take a lot of effort can now be handled with a couple thumbs and some Wi-Fi. A hateful rumor can spread a lot faster on Facebook than it could on the school bathroom wall.
And who are these bullies Bell is talking about?
The connection between bullyand target is so seamless that hate speech can often spread more rapidly than its originator ever intended. One assumes that’s the case with UCLA student Alexandra Wallace, who recorded a three-minute rant against Asian students, in particular those who use cell phones in her school library…
Tomorrow’s kids — in addition to facing the usual natural disasters that come with adolescence — will be confronted with the multichannel, always-on, upsettingly viral slings and arrows of bullies. Although Alexandra Wallace is a far cry from the worst of bullies, the whole incident left me feeling depressed about the future.
Wallace may be a fool and a boor, but a bully? Bullies shames others to gain power or slam them up against walls to take their lunch money. Wallace didn’t threaten anyone; she didn’t intimidate anyone; she didn’t ruin anyone’s life. At worst, she’s offended people and made them cry, something she’s suffered and apologized for profusely.
That college kids say dumb things on the Internet is a regrettable part of life. That others threaten and bully college students for this behavior is a lamentable one. That seemingly respectable news organizations think its the dumb college kid who is the bully in all this, not the Internet hordes who expose, belittle, and drive them into hiding…well, I haven’t found the right word for that yet.
* As Apollo has previously noted, an adjective that could equally apply to Russians, Chinese, Afghanis, and Japanese peoples is remarkably useless.
From the Daily Bruin:
“If she’s received a death threat, I find that as deplorable as her original YouTube video. If this is the response of students on campus, we’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Robert Naples, associate vice chancellor and dean of students.
“As deplorable.” Good grief.
Tom posted this at 12:05 PM CDT on Saturday, March 26th, 2011 as Uncategorized
An enjoyable and reasonably clever mystery, The Sherlockian is actually at its best when the action stops and its characters stop to talk about their shared obsession: Sherlock Holmes. For a few moments, the novel has something to say about fame and literature before it reverts to its competent, but paint-by-the-numbers, plot.
Moore switches constantly between two connected stories. In the present-day, amateur Holmes scholar Harold White tries to solve the murder of a fellow "Sherlockian," killed the day before he was to reveal the contents of a missing diary of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, lost for over a century. The second concerns the events described in that lost journal, as Conan Doyle works to solve another murder with the aid of Bram Stoker. It’s a clever premise, rewarding to anyone familiar either with Holmes stories or geeky societies in general.
The novel suffers from having a set of predictable and overly-familiar characters. Harold is an Everynerd, a late 20-something who needs a chance to prove himself, preferably to the attractive and mysterious reporter who — conveniently for both him and the plot — tags along during his investigations. The problem is less pronounced in the Conan Doyle time-line, but still present.
Recommended as a light read, especially for Holmes enthusiasts.
I appreciate that in making the CRZ, a “sports hybrid,” Honda would have to make some performance compromises. They seem to have done a competent job, which will probably disappoint anyone interested in real performance.
But did they have to make a commercial that actually makes the car look slow?
On the commercial, it takes fully one second to go from 20 to 22 miles per hour. I used to have a Civic Hybrid, certainly not something that anyone would call a “sports hybrid,” and it accelerated faster than the CRZ does in its own commercial. Look at the car weaving through columns in the garage. It looks slow.
Apollo posted this at 8:34 PM CDT on Wednesday, October 13th, 2010 as Uncategorized
O’Brian continues to amaze, even 15 books into the series.
In addition to writing a superb novel in its own right, he’s is clearly up to something with the addition of Clarissa Oakes to the cast of characters; (especially since the book’s original title was, simply, Clarissa Oakes). I’m not entirely sure what’s going on, but I’m keenly interested to find out.
DO NOT review any book about Ayn Rand. Even if you rave it, her gremlins will find something to go bananas about and write you a letter: “Dear Social Metaphysician! Examine your anti-Objectivist premises and you will see that your epistemology stinks!!!”
Anthony Daniels (aka Theodore Dalrymple) has written a thoughtful take down, and her gremlins are now hounding The New Criterion. Given that most of their articles get no comments, getting 135 (as of this writing) is moderately astounding—only moderately, since this is Ayn Rand. A sample from Daniels:
Rand’s virtues were as follows: she was highly intelligent; she was brave and uncompromising in defense of her ideas; she had a kind of iron integrity; and, though a fierce defender of capitalism, she was by no means avid for money herself. The propagation of truth as she saw it was far more important to her than her own material ease. Her vices, of course, were the mirror-image of her virtues, but, in my opinion, the mirror was a magnifying one. Her intelligence was narrow rather than broad. Though in theory a defender of freedom of thought and action, she was dogmatic, inflexible, and intolerant, not only in opinion but in behavior, and it led her to personal cruelty. In the name of her ideas, she was prepared to be deeply unpleasant. She hardened her ideas into ideology. Her integrity led to a lack of self-criticism; she frequently wrote twenty thousand words where one would do.
It’s hard to imagine anything more pathetically desperate, hysterically awful, and blatantly sexist than this video from Rock the Vote:
Is it tongue-in-cheek? As with much of the worst kinds of political commentary — I use that word loosely – it’s hard to say. Is Rock the Vote really telling young women (or, at least, just hot ones?*) to deny sex to men who oppose health care reform and, by implication, to make themselves sexually available to those who support it? Maybe “advocate” is too strong a word, but you get the distinct impression that they’d be fine with people who did this. So long as, you know, it’s what they want to do.
Regardless, it’s incredibly cowardly. To supporters, it’s presented as a pseudo-serious advocacy on behalf of a substantive issue. But if anyone calls them on it, they can counterattack by accusing their critics of being humorless sex-scolds. It’s purposefully obfuscating in a way that would make Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin blush.