Saturday, September 30, 2023
New York Post: Douglas Murray on how stores surrendered to looters.
I am a sick man . . . I am a wicked man. An unattractive man. I think my liver hurts. However, I don't know a fig about my sickness, and I am not sure what it is that hurts me. I am not being treated and never have been, though I respect medicine and doctors. What's more, I am also superstitious in the extreme; well, at least enough to respect medicine. (I'm sufficiently educated not to be superstitious, but I am.) No, sir, I refuse to be treated out of spite. Now, you will certainly not be so good to understand this. Well, sir, but I understand it. I will not, of course, be able to explain to you precisely who is going to suffer in this case from my spite; I know perfecty well that I will in no way "muck things up" for the doctors by not taking their treatment; I know better than anyone that by all this I am harming only myself and no one else. But still, if I don't get treated, it is out of spite. My liver hurts; well, then let it hurt even worse.
- From Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Friday, September 29, 2023
Those of us who are familiar with Twitter know the shock of incidents in which someone is being beaten up while bystanders do nothing but stare or take videos.
Adding to the signals of decline are the inevitable Twitter comments defending the passivity.
No sense of responsibility. No sense of shame.
There is a courage deficit in the Western world.
Thursday, September 28, 2023
For every loud, sudden, and dramatic disaster that makes the front pages, there are millions of quiet ones that slowly arrive in small increments, never making the news.
In the latter case, the number of victims is far greater and the results can be even sadder.
Beware of the incremental.
[Photo by Nikolas Noonan at Unsplash]
Wednesday, September 27, 2023
We sit and watch the barbarian. We tolerate him in the long stretches of peace, we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence; his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creed refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond, and on these faces there are no smiles.
- Hilaire Belloc
Tuesday, September 26, 2023
Individualism is rooted in the attempt to deny the reality of human interdependence. One of the major goals of technology in America is to "free" us from the necessity of relating to, submitting to, depending upon, or controlling other people. Unfortunately, the more we have succeeded in doing this, the more we have felt disconnected, bored, lonely, unprotected, unnecessary, and unsafe.
- Philip Slater, The Pursuit of Loneliness (1970)
The minute I heard of the Parliament applauding a Ukrainian who'd fought against Russia in World War II, I thought 'Whoa."
Blaming the blunder on lack of vetting misses the point that vetting should not have been necessary. Studying history would have sufficed.
Monday, September 25, 2023
There is a creeping sense that our society has turned upside-down. Healthy debate is replaced by activist hysterics. Speech is declared violence; violence is excused as speech. Masculinity is condemned as “toxic,” while men in dresses are celebrated in the public square. It feels as if we are in the midst of a society-wide mental breakdown.
For those in leadership positions, what is most important is to remember that their visions are still personal visions. Just because they occupy a position of leadership does not mean that their personal visions are automatically "the organzation's vision." When I hear leaders say "our vision" and I know they are really describing "my vision," I recall Mark Twain's words that the official "we" should be reserved for "kings and people with tapeworm."
- Peter M. Senge
Sunday, September 24, 2023
Saturday, September 23, 2023
The biggest problems are often hidden inside of qualities commonly thought to be positive and of serious benefit.
Don't just look in dark corners for problems. Look as well in the bright rooms where matters are celebrated.
[Photo by Nicola Pavan at Unsplash]
Friday, September 22, 2023
Thursday, September 21, 2023
Wednesday, September 20, 2023
The tycoons of social media have to stop pretending that they're friendly nerd gods building a better world and admit they're just tobacco farmers in T-shirts selling an addictive product to children. Because, let's face it, checking your "likes" is the new smoking.
- Bill Maher
Tuesday, September 19, 2023
I miss the old banks.
They had at least five or six tellers: human beings who smiled and were able to answer questions while handling transactions.
They didn't urge you to adopt paperless banking.
Many of you may even remember the quaint ritual of those little "bank books" in which all of your deposits and withdrawals were written.
The ambiance was one of quiet competence and friendliness.
Customers were not treated like potential robbers and the tellers were not walled in behind plexi-glass.
Gentler times. Let's go back to that approach.
Robert Pondiscio reviews the current level of knowledge of American history and civics.
He has a new proposal.
Monday, September 18, 2023
A filthy boy stood on the doorstep. He might be scrubbed of all that dirt, eventually - but not of so many orange freckles. No more than fourteen, with skinny, unstable legs like a marionette, he kept pitching forward, shifting soot into the hall. Still, the woman who'd opened the door - easily amused, susceptible to beauty - found she couldn't despise him.
- From The Fraud by Zadie Smith
Sunday, September 17, 2023
Saturday, September 16, 2023
Watched an old documentary about NASA. Then afterward I saw this documentary about how codfish have been gill-netted into extinction in Newfoundland in Canada, so I went out to a Burger King to get a Whaler fishwich-type breaded deep-fried filet sandwich while there was still time.
- From Microserfs by Douglas S. Coupland (1995)
Friday, September 15, 2023
Thursday, September 14, 2023
The worst smell in the world is dead badger. He'd encountered it on his morning walk down a green lane; had caught the odour without seeing the corpse, but had guessed what it was before returning later with a shovel. Whether they all smelled that bad or whether this one had expired of noxious causes he didn't know. As it turned out, he couldn't do anything about it either - the creature had crawled into a tangled nest of roots to die, and it would require heavy machinery and a strong stomach to recover it. Lacking the former, and not wanting to put the latter to the test, Max opted for a third way: he'd walk a different route for a while, and see if one of the local farmers shifted it in the meantime. Which was why he wasn't sure the badger would still be there a couple of nights later, when he was running for his life.
- From The Secret Hours by Mick Herron
Get ready for the backlash against:
- Govt-Big Tech Alliances
- Social Media's Erosion of Community
- The Language Police
- The Lack of Common Courtesy
- Life as a Spectator
- Inflated College Expenses
- Entertainment via Super-Heroes
- Modern "Journalism"
Wednesday, September 13, 2023
Tuesday, September 12, 2023
You don't have to be an extravagant pessimist or an America-hater to think that the last twenty years have been among the most dispiriting periods in the relatively short history of the United States.
- From American Breakdown: Why We No Longer Trust Our Leaders and Institutions and How We Can Rebuild Confidence by Gerard Baker
[Photo by Thomas Kelley at Unsplash]
Monday, September 11, 2023
One thing I have gleaned from a study of history is that horrible mistakes can be made by assuming that other groups will react in a specific way. Some decisions from World War II are especially interesting:
- Mussolini's decision to declare war on Britain and France.
- Hitler's decision to declare war on the United States.
- Japan's decision to attack Pearl Harbor.
City Journal: A conversation between Brian C. Anderson and Martin Gurri.
Sunday, September 10, 2023
Saturday, September 09, 2023
In a healthy society, a web of institutions - families, schools, religious groups, community organizations, and workplaces - helps form people into kind and responsible citizens, the sort of people who show up for one another. We live in a society that's terrible at moral formation.
- David Brooks, "How America Got Mean" in The Atlantic, September 2023
[Photo by Nathan Lemon at Unsplash]
Friday, September 08, 2023
I can see by my watch, without taking my hand from the left grip of the cycle, that it is eight-thirty in the morning. The wind, even at sixty miles an hour, is warm and humid. When it's this hot and muggy at eight-thirty, I'm wondering what it's going to be like in the afternoon.
- From Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values by Robert M. Pirsig
Thursday, September 07, 2023
An old parlor game involves inviting a group of famous historical figures to dinner.
But who'd be on your list among the living famous?
My current (rather lengthy) list:
- Elon Musk
- Eric Weinstein
- Zadie Smith
- Victor Davis Hanson
- Christina Hoff Sommers
- Nicholas Carr
- Thomas Sowell
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- Glenn Loury
- Jacob Rees-Mogg
- John McWhorter
- Megyn Kelly
- Yuja Wang
- Michael Shellenberger
- Mike Rowe
- Heather Mac Donald
- Jeremy Clarkson
- Sherry Turkle
Wednesday, September 06, 2023
Tuesday, September 05, 2023
The stuff is not important until it is. There are no guarantees that it will never be important and priorities can shift within minutes.
That's why safeguards and buffers are valuable. That's why mindless exhortations of achieving greater speed are dangerous and regular reviews of Obvious Things We Are Neglecting are essential.
Don't count on common sense. I would like to see a comparison of the amount of planning on border security versus that on defense against interplanetary invasion.
Monday, September 04, 2023
Tim Reed sits in the driver's seat of his ancient and rust-punched Datsun hatchback, balancing a screwdriver on the tip of his finger. Hutch and Tim are killing time, waiting for some poor guy to come home so they can terrify him and, if necessary, perform grievous harm to the fragile architecture of the man's body. It's the usual deal: reluctance to pay a debt owed. When this happens, when their boss encounters someone offering resistance, there are phone calls. Verbal requests. Polite reminders. A process as old as time. And finally, after all that, Tim and Hutch come by. It's just work. The screwdriver handle, pitted red plastic, wavers only slightly as they sit in the gloom, Tim's features lit pale green by the ghostly glow of the dashboard. The rain's coming down so hard it sounds like someone's flinging pennies on the roof.
- From Fever House by Keith Rosson
Sunday, September 03, 2023
Saturday, September 02, 2023
Friday, September 01, 2023
For twelve years I lived and worked in some of the most sublime places in the world. Zion, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon were all landscapes I was proud to protect. I participated in search and rescues, wildland firefighting, and law enforcement. I directed traffic around tarantula jams. I pursued bad guys while galloping on horseback. I jumped into rescue helicopters bound for the dark heart of the Grand Canyon and plucked the damned from the jaws of the abyss. I raced the sunset. I won arguments with bears. I dodged lightning bolts. I pissed on forest fires. I slept with a few too many rattlesnakes.
- From Ranger Confidential: Living, Working, and Dying in the National Parks by Andrea Lankford