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Meanwhile statistics inform us that Italians are the most long-lived nation in the world, with an average life estimate of 76,1 years for men and 82,2 for women.
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http://old.news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20111207/ap_on_re_us/us_texas_welfare_shootings
Positively perfect. No welfare-state coddlings, but free availability of guns "to defend oneself against the tyranny of the state" (which is NOT what the Second Amendment says).

Diversity

Sep. 12th, 2011 11:50 pm
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Plato knew what he was talking about when he said that people love what they do not have. To be precise, however, one ought to say that people make an idol of what they lack. The excessive worship of a quality in the abstract is often accompanied by the gaping and damaging absence of that quality in daily life. For instance, Mussolini's political system and claims (once, of course, he had abandoned his pacifist and socialist beliefs) hinged on an exaggerated, overheated, roaring assertion of the ultimate value of Willpower - Will as the first and final quality, Will as the heart of politics and life. And so one is not surprised to find that in real life Mussolini was catastrophically overwhelmed, to the point of enslavement, by the stronger willpower of Adolf Hitler. It was because he had no strong and living willpower - such as that which Francisco Franco, from a much weaker position, exercised to keep himself out of a disastrous alliance - that he made so much of Willpower in the abstract. Likewise, we are not surprised to find that the author of the super-rationalist fantasy of Sherlock Holmes was, in his own life, a devoted believer to the most depressingly irrational and ridiculous mystical fads, falling even for two ten-year-old girls' obviously fake pictures of fairies. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle didn't have a lick of sense, but had enough sense of what reason meant to create, from his own internal lack, an immortal fantasy of the omnipotence of reason. In reality, hardly any investigation is solved, or indeed can be solved, by Holmes' methods; but that is not important.

Why am I saying this? Because of a fresh and rather disgusting experience. Somewhere in LJ-space there is a densely populated thread of people who have all felt the need to repeat, with very narrow stylistic variations and no variation of content at all, the same proposition; to assert to each other the very same views; to repeat to each other what each has just said to the other, and then pat each other on the back for their brilliant and principled, individual resistance against the forces of oppression.

What was their common theme?

Diversity.
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Before anyone has so much as began to see the end-game of the Murdoch scandals - which, let us remember, arise entirely from the criminal behaviour of Murdoch and his employees, behaviour which was known to be criminal and has been so for decades - a number of conservatives are yelping about left-wing conspiracies and assaults upon freedom of the press. Well, apart that the most monstrous assault upon the freedom of the press ever mounted was Rupert Murdoch's, don't you think, my dear people, that you should wait for any actual evidence of any such plot to arise, before you dedicate pages upon pages of yelping conspiracy theories to it? All you are showing right now is that you fear that without the mafia protection of this criminal, your views might not get a hearing. Well, perhaps I am in a privileged position: as a social conservative, whose views would never have got a hearing in Page Three land, I definitely have nothing to lose by the collapse of this champion of wickedness. But I would say that this instinctive display of fear suggests a lack of confidence in one's own beliefs and a psychological dependence on criminality and subversion that certainly does not speak well for anyone who holds it. If your views are correct, they shall be proven so. Meanwhile, be grateful that your side, whatever it is, has been cleared from a destructive and corrupting influence.

Edited InDaniel Hannan talking sense. The mind reels. But perhaps his fellow Thatcherits will pay attention. http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/100096817/the-phone-hacking-scandal-is-not-a-leftist-conspiracy-for-heavens-sake/
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One day after the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the free and united nation of Italy, the European Court of Human Rights voted by fifteen against two that the display of the Crucifix in school rooms does not violate any human right.

I was wrong in fearing that the Court might judge wrong, and equally wrong in doubting the Government's will to go on with this. IN spite of all his other enormous faults and flaws, Berlusconi has, at least once, acted honourably. Let us record this wonder (we are not apt to witness it again soon) and give thanks to God.
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Those conservatives who feel hard done by, who react to any charge of hate speech and violent suggestions with an air or injured innocence, would do well to look at themselves and at those they walk with. Here is a selection of headings that have appeared in the last few days in American Thinker, which is not the worst offender:


•The Left, Not the Right, Owns Political Violence - Michael Filozof
•Mayor Bloomberg: An Abject Failure - Pamela Geller
•Why the Constitution is Better Than Marx - James Lewis
•What Obama Thinks of America - Wendy Wright
•Give Me Liberty or Give Me Health - Andrew Foy, MD
•Saving America - Harvey M. Sheldon
•Psychology and the Shrinking of America - Robin of Berkeley
•Bush Derangement Syndrome vs. the Obama Hate Machine - Trevor Thomas
•The Triumph of Propaganda - Nemo Almen
•Obama's Bucket and Other Social Science Insights into His Presidency - Jay Partin
•Rule of Law in the Age of Obama - Scott Strzelczyk
•The Stealthy Spread of Socialism in the U.S. - K.E. Campbell


I think political debate, when you get to the point of arguing "Why the Constitution is better than Marx.", has hit the buffers. We are being infantilized. Pick a hate target - Karl Marx - then use it to signify the whole range of your opponents, most of whom are no more Marxist than they are Zoroastrian, and finally wave the flag at them - that is the only way by which the ludicrous comparison of apples and oranges of "the Constitution" and "Marx" can be described. Any editor with a brain in their head, whether conservative or not, would have consigned this piece of nonsense to the dustbin without even bothering to read it.

How dominant is this idiocy of "my enemies are as I define them, and words mean what I mean them to say" can be seen in the fact that the average American conservative is, at present, ineradicably convinced of two propositions that manage to be both mutually contradictory and both utterly false: That Karl Marx' system is one and the same with Socialism (not even close; in reality, Marx tried unsuccessfully to take control of a pre-existent and widely diverse movement, and neither he nor his successors managed it); and that nonetheless Hitler and Mussolini were Socialists (which is like saying that foxes must be the same as rabbits, since they murder rabbits). It does not take a great deal of brains to realize that whether or not these propositions are false (and they are both false), they cannot both be true, because whatever Hitler and Mussolini were, they certainly were nothing like Marxists! And yet the mental world of Jonah Godlberg and his likes can tolerate this and many other atrocities. Who but a complete idiot would present such a proposition as "Give me liberty or give me health"? The truth is that conservatives are as bad as Kos Kids; they only talk to each other, they are busy confirming each other's prejudices, and they often react badly to anyone who has any substantive objection.
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Two questions to the illiterate idiots trying to drive the shock for the Arizona shootings in a politically convenient direction:
1)
Were the murders of President Lincoln, President Garfield, President McKinley and President Kennedy, the attempted murder of President Reagan, the murders of Senator Robert Kennedy and Governor Huey Long, and those of too many lesser elected officers to count, and all the many multiple killings from the Texas Tower sniper to Columbine and beyond, also the fault of the "angry" culture of the Tea Parties?  Or is it just something that tends to happen with sickening regularity among the disaffected and ineffective social detritus of a country where everyone owns a weapon?
2)
Since everyone knows all these things, and even illiteracy is not sufficient excuse to speak as though they had never happened and as though the Arizona shootings were anything new and unexpected, how can you possibly not be ashamed of the level of mendacity to which your Palin Derangement Syndrome has sunk you?
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IN one form or another, fandom has dominated my life. I started out in comics when I was sixteen, and since then I only left comics fandom to plunge right back into JKR fandom in the internet age - which, to us old-time dead tree users, is fandom on steroids.

One of the hardest things Read more... )
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At times like this, I really do feel sorry for atheists. One has to be grateful for artistry so miraculous, but they have nobody to be grateful to. (And don't give me any crap about "the human spirit" - that is what we owe the Murdoch press and robotic dance noise to.)
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...the award to Obama stops being a joke and becomes a scandal. Apparently, the defeated candidates included the following:
Chinese Human Rights Activist Hu Jia - imprisoned for campaigning for human rights in the PRC.
Wei Jingsheng, who spent 17 years in Chinese prisons for urging reforms of China's communist system. (Not to mention the symbolic value of awarding a Chinese dissident on the 20th Anniversary of the Tianenmen Square Massacre.)
Greg Mortenson, founder of the Central Asia Institute has built nearly 80 schools, especially for girls, in remote areas of northern Pakistan and Afghanistan over the past 15 years.
Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, a philosophy professor in Jordan who risks his life by advocating interfaith dialogue between Jews and Muslims.
Afghan human rights activist Sima Samar. She currently leads the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and serves as the U.N. special envoy to Darfur.

And someone observed that the man who invented fibre optics - probably the most important single invention since the radio - in the sixties has only just received the Nobel Prize for Physics. When such prizes are awarded sanely, they are awarded to a career - not to a "hope".
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Whether everyone has or has not the right to their own opinion is a moot point. The problem with the internet is that everyone has the faculty to express an opinion - however ill-informed, moronic, perverse or demonstrably wrong. The brain-sick have been empowered, and the rest of us spend more time than we would wish trying to repair the damage they do.
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The one good thing about the British parliamentary system is the stake that every MP is supposed to have in his or her constituency. They are supposed to be ambassadors for the needs and interests of their constituents. However, in order to have a career at all they have also to be subservient followers of the party line, and, where the government is in power, of the government line. The two positions are contrasting and often incompatible. Good constituency MPs will give ministers trouble and will not be promoted to the exalted position of Parliamentary Private Secretary (individual crawler to a Minister who has already in his/her turn been a PPS and a crawler). Selection will work in reverse: the best will remain to warm the back benches and the worst will be rise through the ranks till their mediocrity and "team spirit" has got them to an interchangeable ministerial role. Because of course any politician good enough to be Minister for Education is equally able to be Minister for Defence or Minister for Agriculture. And if you think I am fantasizing, study the careers of genuinely good constituency MPs such as the late Gwyneth Dunwoody.

Nuisances

May. 1st, 2008 08:41 pm
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A couple of days ago I read an outrageously bad and insulting fanfic passage. I left a brief though angry review, noted here that I was worried this might get me in trouble with FA again (which was the only thing that really mattered to me) and left it at that.

Someone else, however, was not willing to. The news must have gone like wildfire among the author and her friends, since my LJ was soon under siege by a company of irate people who wanted... well, what DID they want? Their polemic did not seem to want to deny that the author had written wha she had written, but that she might possibly not have meant it, because it was spoken by one of her characters, and because that character later went on to do some rather nasty things to someone or other. On further debating, it turns out that the character is the survivor of a whole family slaughtered by Voldemort, a situation that compares with Harry Potter's and hardly suggests that she is not to be trusted; and that it is as a result of this trauma that she eventually viciously abuses someone. Not that I could be bothered to read the story, but none of this suggests that her account is unreliable.

The strangest feature of this sequence of events is that the author was actually one of the people who had attacked me, but, until unveiled by someone else, she kept her identity hidden from me. Once unmasked, however, she showed not the least embarrassment. That she had plainly started her game with the hope of remaining unrecognized and perhaps manipulating me did not seem to faze her.

What annoys me the most is that the bunch then reformed and migrated to someone else's blog, where they proceeded to pat each other on the back about their inept performance. Un sot trouve toujours un plus sot qui l'admire, although in this case the feminine gender would be more indicated. I have had to resist my impulse to go after them and the further bunch of twits who gathered to offer them support; life is too short, and after all I have had more damaging enemies. But it does leave a sour after-taste in the mouth - even after the author, in the safety of someone else's blog, all but admitted that the passage in question was insulting. Which did not prevent one late-comer from trying to start the polemic all over again, repeating like an echo-chamber the exact same arguments that I had already answered to more than satiety.
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There is one tremendous and widespread mistake about atheism: that is, that it is not a religion - that it somehow even opposes religion. Many of us, including many Christians, accept this claim implicitly, using the nouns "atheism" and "religion" as opposites.Read more... )
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Most British are not Christian and have been socialized to hate and fear what they call "organized religion". This does not make all of them atheist: but the number of ranting, proselytzing, fanatical atheists is remarkably high. Two out of three of the Sorry Trinity, Hitchens and Dawkins, are British. What it does do is make them amazingly wayward in their thinking and profoundly incompetent in their arguing. Their ideas about religion are not only fanatical but astonishingly ignorant and stupid. It is only in British blogs dedicated to Christianity, for instance, that you find rabid, unreasoning vulgar Calvinists, with their idea of their own sect drawn not from the Institutio or from Jonathan Edwards but from base summaries in school textbooks, delivering religious opinions that a child would blush at. Religion discussion threads on British blogs, as compared to American and Italian, are of a very low intellectual level, because they come from people unusued to debate on that issue. (The same people may often turn out to be a lot more intelligent on politics, sports, economy or even science.) At the same time, you cannot make them shut up about it. If you take an American or Italian blog on religious issues, you may be sure that nearly every one of the commenters will be in sympathy with the blog's basic religious stance: Catholic blogs will draw Catholics or people interested in Catholicism, Jewish blogs will draw Jews or people interested in Hebraism, Evangelical blogs.... you get it. Trolls do exist, but are relatively rare as compared to constructive posters, and tend to get banned. And this has an interesting effect: because of the general constructive atmosphere and relative shortage of trolls, an outsider coming in will often feel a general sense of constructive engagement that may draw him/her in even if s/he does not share the local views, or at least give a picture of why and how this attitude can be felt to be reasonable and make sense. I have been on Evangelical or Jewish blogs where I agreed with 90% of what was said and felt able to criticize the rest without anger. On the other hand, take a British Catholic or Anglican blog - and I have the examples to prove it. From a half to two thirds of all interventions will be made by trolls. They will be mostly atheist (although I mentioned the occasional Jack T.Chick Calvinist or ranting Orthodox): always the same people, obsessional, sickening, coming back comment after comment with the same everlasting dreary hate-ridden jingle, hijacking the thread no matter what it was on - religion is superstition - you ought all to follow reason - your minds are diseased - etc. etc.

Such are the fruits of bad education. It is impossible to understand what these people get out of days, weeks, months of sabotaging other people's discussions and repeating without imagination, insight or interest their sorry message of ignorance and hate, except for one thing: that religion is something that affects them so intensely that they simply cannot leave it alone, they must come back again and again. They would say it is in the hope that someone will be converted to their way of thinking, but surely that is the most inefficient possible way to go about it. It cannot even be pleasant for them, all that bile - at least, I hope they know the difference. The truth is that the mere existence of Christians sickens them so intensely that they cannot keep away: they can neither cope with it, or keep away from them. And this, I assure you, is a widespread phenomenon in the United Kingdom.
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Am I the only person to be wholly underwhelmed by the agitation taking place in a couple of US states over the mechanics of the death penalty? As long as you are going to kill a man, unless of course you have them crucified or impaled or broken on the wheel or whipped to death, what difference does it make if it takes two or twenty minutes to kill him? This seems to me rank sentimentality. There is no such thing as a painless death, and if you want a quick and sure one, the Chinese way - one bullet to the back of the head - can hardly be beaten. Either way, this strange business of deciding that you are entitled to send a man to death, only to then worry about the degree of pain the poor fellow will suffer, seems to me the most incoherently sentimental of all pieces of nonsense. I am against the death penalty, of course, except for treason in wartime or for tyrants like Hitler. But I am not too concerned with the specifics.
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I rather think that my answers to various people who commented on my last two posts were too curt and possibly even aggressive. I sincerely apologize. I should not even have tried to respond to lengthy and complex answeres having just come in tired and cold from a long bus journey.
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The seeds of the evolutionist idea were planted in the superhero genre from the beginning; Read more... )

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