tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:/posts The Para-Rigger 2024-02-26T20:29:58Z tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2092893 2024-02-26T20:29:58Z 2024-02-26T20:29:58Z Into The Black
Merritt Island, Cape Canaveral, the home of the Kennedy Space Center, wasn't, when NASA acquired it, much of an island at all.  An 88,000-acre swamp capillaried with gray-green water that was called home by alligators, manatees, dolphins, storks, wild pigs, tortoises and plagues of salt-marsh mosquitoes, it was as liquid as it was solid. The job of making it ready for service as a spaceport was handed to the Army Corps of Engineers. Fifteen thousand individual tracts of privately owned land were bought up, then dredged, drained, squeezed and packed with and before construction work began on launchpads, firing rooms and processing facilities. At the end of September, 1965, the workforce moved into their new buildings: a tableau of tan, beige and gray concrete modernism that, in a land devoid of trees, seemed to sit on top of a landscape rather than truly being a part of it.

   At the heart of the complex was the Vehicle Assembly Building - the VAB. Founded on a hive of thousands of piles driven 160 feet down through the soft ground until they found the bedrock below, the VAB was, at the time of its completion in the midsixties, the world's largest building. A third bigger than the Great Pyramid and enclosing a greater volume that either the pentagon or nearly four Empire State Buildings, the giant iron-lattice cathedral seemed utterly alien on Merritt Island; a vast, pale corrugated box standing over fifty storis high that dominated the view from any direction.  The scale of the VAB was to accommodate the towering Saturn V moon rockets, assembled vertically within a building that was large enough, on hot, humid days, to generate rain showers from beneath its ceiling, then stacked on top of a 2,700-ton caterpillar-tracked flatbed transporter that carried it to the launch pad three miles away, where the Cape met the Atlantic.

Low cloud and chill air hung over the Cape, when, at dawn on December 29, the huge doors of the Vehicle Assembly Building rolled open - a process that took forty-five minutes to complete. Around 8:00 a.m., the Shuttle stack emerged from the sanctuary of the high bay,, rolling slowly on the top of the crawler toward the pad along a track laid deep with crushed rock and river gravel - a three-mile journey on the back of a 5,500 horsepower machine as big as a baseball diamond that took ten hours to complete. By 6:30 that evening, as the sun went down behind the VAB, Columbia took her place on pad 39A, casting shadows that reached out toward the Atlantic.


Into The Black, The Extraordinary Untold story of the First Flight Of The Space Shuttle Columbia And The Astronauts Who Flew Her
Touchstone, c 2016
pp 237-238
Rowland White
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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2092415 2024-02-24T14:16:54Z 2024-02-24T14:16:55Z The Pet Food Industry: 200 Dogs, 200 Cats, 1 Lab

pet food
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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2090926 2024-02-20T07:25:07Z 2024-02-20T07:25:07Z From Pepper X to the Naga Viper, The Seven Hottest Peppers In The World


Pepper X Source: Hot Ones
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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2090889 2024-02-20T02:28:30Z 2024-02-20T02:48:28Z The End Of China's Property Boom
Evergrande: the end of Chinas property boom | FT Film 

NANJING CHINA - JANUARY 16 2023 - Aerial photo shows a large residential community in Nanjing East Chinas Jiangsu Province Jan 16 2023 On the same day data released by the National Bureau of Statistics showed that in December 2022 the number of cities in which the sales price of commercial housing fell increased among 70 large and medium-sized cities The sales price of commercial housing in all tier cities remained flat or fell on a month-on-month basis and rose in first-tier cities and fell in s
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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2090688 2024-02-19T02:52:26Z 2024-02-19T02:52:26Z For Tyranny, Look to Germany, Not Russia

At the end of World War Two Germany had twice tried to conquer the world, or at least significant chunks of it. And twice, Germany failed. The project of militarily imposing German will on the entire planet was an absurd one, a fantasy based on late unification and a very late arrival to the era of European imperialism. Germany came to the imperial party just as the lights were going out and everyone was trudging home, then somehow imagined that it could achieve in a few short years what took the Spanish, the French and the British centuries to build.

There was always something deeply insecure in the German race to catch up and overtake its European rivals, a frantic psychological component which existed both before and after the full schizophrenic episode of Nazism. If we look at the two European nations from which the worst excesses of 20th century tyranny were formed, Germany and Russia, (Nazism and Communism), we see two nations with vast resources which had nonetheless long been peripheral in many ways to European greatness, overshadowed by the earlier successes of Spain and Portugal, and by the wider successes of France and Britain.

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Just as with individuals, embittered and insecure nations in a rush to assert their significance, are more dangerous than long established or long successful ones secure in their identity.

But what the failure of German militarism proved is just how impossible the old routes to power had become. The age of conquerors was dying. Even the enormously powerful new colossus of the United States, after World War Two, would find its record of successful war after that conflict rather sparse. Despite the 800 or more military bases, despite the perpetual war policies, despite the trillions of dollars of investment in military budgets, the US could be embarrassed by Communist rice farming peasants in Vietnam or by Iron Age religious savages in Afghanistan.

What hope, then, for militarism in Germany, which started World War Two with the most prepared, bloodied, experienced and dedicated troops in Europe, led by some of the most innovative and brilliant generals, and ended it in shattered ruins and utter humiliating defeat?

A Germany which had deeply resented military limits and imperial limits imposed at the end of World War One, enthusiastically embraced self-limitation after World War Two. Clearly, Germany was not going to try to impose itself militarily on its neighbours. It certainly wasn’t going to be suffused with a semi-mystical sense of Aryan destiny and German greatness. If anything, it entered into a long orgy of self-hatred, its new insecurities the exact opposite of the ones which had fuelled its military ambitions. Germans became Europe’s most enthusiastic self-deniers, deeply suspicious of nationalism, and determined to expunge their War Guilt by plunging into internationalism and every bureaucratic and modish replacement cause imaginable.

But again it was a curious mix driven by insecurities. Germany was home of a postwar industrial miracle soon making it an industrial powerhouse again. It reclaimed the German reputation for efficiency and hard work. But it also developed paternalistic working attitudes that made Germans almost as unsackable as French or Italian workers. It was content with its reduced Army and with ex Allied WWII opponents being camped on its soil. But it was soon once again bullying its neighbours and imposing its will, this time through its funding of and dominance within the EU, sometimes to the extent of sparking resentments harking back to its Nazi period-as we saw for instance with Greeks furious at German and EU interference during their economic troubles.

The German might now be a curious pedant insisting on a standard measurement for all bananas, or a Green fanatic in an unfashionable jumper, or a diligent pen pusher in some corporate or bureaucratic environment where no military uniform would ever intrude, but he was still a bit of a control freak. And of course if he was in Eastern Germany until the fall of that regime, he was still learning the lessons that come with actual tyranny.

The awkwardness of the synthesis and the curiousness of 20th century German experience and psychology was perhaps best manifested in the person of long term Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel was raised under East German Communism and retained a lifelong rather Communist fashion sense. She was dour, humourless, plain, a dumpy hausfrau without a scintilla of human warmth. She achieved a similar sternness to Margaret Thatcher, and a similar political dominance within her home nation, but with none of the sparkle and surprising femininity that those who interacted with Thatcher often reported. She was as blunt and unlovable as a brick, but Germans saw strength and solidity there.

Everything that worries a Brit or a Yank about bureaucracy, offers a warm blanket of comfort for Germans. If it comes with a form in triplicate, it must be sensible, respectable, and safe. Germans were likely to demand more rules regarding the acceptable length and shape of a banana, rather than regard the whole thing as absurd. Merkel was a skilled politician, but at heart happiest as a bureaucrat.

And few people have manifested the contradictions of modern anarcho-tyranny globalism so well as Merkel did, being always ready to suffocate Germans beneath ever greater legal restrictions whilst simultaneously inviting the wild savages of the world to descend on Germany in (literally) rapacious hordes.

The insecure instinct for dominance and tyranny militarism makes obvious and faces outwards, towards the conquest of foreign nations, did not leave Germany and German psychology at all. Not even Nazism’s gotterdammerung could expunge it. Instead it turned into the inwards meddling of restrictive bureaucracy and the on the surface of things peaceful and consensual march of transnational bodies into every public and private sphere. Germans were as bluntly unsympathetic to those resisting EU demands as they were towards those who once resisted panzer divisions, both at home and abroad.

All of this is by way of providing context for developments today and a truly chilling and important article by the popular Substacker Eugyppius. https://substack.com/app-link/post?publication_id=268621&post_id=141755263&utm_source=cross-post&utm_campaign=1032096&isFreemail=true&r=1dh1hq&token=eyJ1c2VyX2lkIjo4MzA5NjI3MCwicG9zdF9pZCI6MTQxNzU1MjYzLCJpYXQiOjE3MDgyMDE1MTcsImV4cCI6MTcxMDc5MzUxNywiaXNzIjoicHViLTI2ODYyMSIsInN1YiI6InBvc3QtcmVhY3Rpb24ifQ.Zs9lvwaIZRANK3vPNvoEz1gwORZBH-HrOe_ya-9TtZg

I don’t often provide links or direct recommendations, but in this instance the article is so important I felt that I should. I urge everyone to read it because what Eugyppius describes in it is the template of modern tyranny, even moreso then the COVID measures we saw in 2020-22 and the lawfare we see in the US against Trump. It’s the European model of the Chinese Communist State, and it is truly terrifying and foul.

Eugyppius doesn’t have to uncover secret documents, expose hidden facts, or provide hitherto obscure information. He shows us in the direct words of current German officials where they stand, and where we stand. Almost everything he describes is official German policy and thought, expressed by current German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, of the respectable, mainstream SPD party.

And it’s pure tyranny.

Ostensibly the press conference that Eugyppius references was about ‘fighting far right extremism’. Actually it was about justifying the complete removal of all basic rights to free speech, free thought and free political association from the German people.

Faeser argues that ‘far right networks’ should be treated like terrorist organisations or Mafia style criminal conspiracies. But she and people like her are going to define what these ‘far right’ groups are. And they are, by the definitions she gives, anyone who wants to vote for parties she doesn’t approve (especially the AfD which is the second most popular party in Germany). Far right networks are anyone who attends a conference or a lecture or shares an internet clip she doesn’t like. Far right networks are millions of ordinary voters with views she doesn’t share. Far right networks are people who think the wrong thoughts. This is not my interpretation. She announces this in her own words.

The definition of far right is broad and flexible enough to simply designate anyone they want it to designate. Anyone who argues against the policies of the German State. Anyone who mocks the State or its policies. Anyone who opposes anything!

And how will these people be treated? Imprisonment. Seizure of assets and bank accounts. Removal from the public sphere. The definition of the allowable response is again broad and vague enough to include pretty much anything and reverse any and all existing civil liberties.

All based on crimes of wrongthink and all by the curious reversal of describing enforcing total control as protecting Democracy.

What Germany today openly declares, is the model the western world is embarked on as a whole. Once again, Germany wants tyranny. And this is a far more real threat than Vladimir Putin.

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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2089586 2024-02-16T11:03:53Z 2024-02-16T11:03:54Z Ettore Bugatti and the Veyron

Today's selection -- from Iconic by Miles S. Nadal and Ken Gross. The fate of the iconic Bugatti brand:


“Bugatti was founded in 1909 in the town of Molsheim, in the Alsace region of France, along the Swiss and German borders. Specializing in building fast cars, Italian-born founder Ettore Bugatti built some of the most legendary racecars of the 1920s and 1930s. His finest creation, the 57SC Atlantic, was created in conjunction with his talented son, Jean. Only four were ever made, one of which belongs to iconic fashion designer Ralph Lauren. 


“Unfortunately, financial problems forced the Bugatti family out of the auto industry shortly after the end of World War II. But that wasn’t the end of the Bugatti story. After several failed attempts to revive the brand, it was purchased by the Volkswagen Group, who were looking for an elegant brand with serious competition history. VW chairman Ferdinand Piech immediately announced a bold plan to build a 1,000-bhp, 250-mph supercar. The seeds for the Veyron were sown. 

Bugatti Veyron Fbg par Hermès


“Named after Pierre Veyron, a top driver for the Bugatti factory team in the 1930s, the Veyron was an audacious mechanical marvel that easily lived up to its promotional hype. The technical specifications are remarkable, even today. Equipped with four turbochargers, its alloy mid-mounted eight-liter V16 produces 1,001 bhp and 992 foot-pounds of torque. The transmission is a seven-speed, dual-clutch DSG with launch control that can be operated manually or automatically. Zero to 60 mph is achieved in 2.5 seconds and top speed clocks in at 253 mph. 


“‘What Bugatti has done with the Veyron has altered the accepted parameters of car manufacture,’ said noted author Martin Roach. Bugatti planned to build three hundred examples—and they sold them all. This car was purchased from Bugatti Beverly Hills by American Idol star Simon Cowell, who drove it only 1,300 miles before trading it in, whereupon it became the first certified pre-owned Bugatti in a special new program.”

Iconic: Art, Design, Advertising, and the Automobile
 
author: Miles S. Nadal, Ken Gross  
title: Iconic: Art, Design, Advertising, and the Automobile  
publisher: Assouline  
date:  
page(s): 60
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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2089208 2024-02-15T10:34:44Z 2024-02-15T11:14:52Z Delancy Place - Why Sharks Matter


Today's encore selection -- from Why Sharks Matter by David Shiffman. The ripple effects that come from the removal or diminished size of a predator's population:

 
"Sometimes the ecological effects resulting from changes in predator populations ripple through the food chain. This ripple effect is called a trophic cascade. The classic example of a trophic cascade comes from the Pacific Northwest. When orca whales began to consume more and more sea otters in the kelp forests of the North Pacific, it wasn't surprising that sea otter populations declined. But the plot thickened! One of sea otters' favorite foods is the sea urchin, which they consume by adorably crushing them with rocks on their bellies. The population declines of sea otters then resulted in sea urchin preda­tion release. The increasing sea urchin population ate more and more of their preferred food, seaweeds called kelp, resulting in kelp declines. All of this was caused by a change at the top of the food web. Even though area whales and otters don't eat kelp, changes in how orcas interact with otters significantly affected kelp. And that was bad for everything that lived in the kelp forest.

"The most famous example of a trophic cascade in a terrestrial ecosys­tem occurred in Yellowstone National Park as a result of wolf declines. Fewer wolves meant an increase in the wolf prey population, including giant herbivores like elk. More elk meant more grazing, and perhaps most impactfully, grazing in areas where elk were previously afraid to graze, such as riverbanks that restricted their ability to run away from a predator. This led to major disruptions in a unique Yellowstone ecosys­tem called an aspen forest. The Yellowstone case study also remains one of the best examples of predator restoration: when wolves were even­tually restored, they ate more elk, bringing the population back under control and pushing elk back to their normal feeding grounds. As a result, the aspen forest is growing back.

"What about sharks, which are sometimes called the 'wolves of the sea'? There are two commonly cited examples of shark-driven trophic cascades. Both are considered fairly controversial in the marine biology world, but I'll explain them here because you're likely to come across them in the conservation discourse. The first, documented in a 2007 paper led by Ram Myers, took place near North Carolina's Outer Banks, where seven species of apex predatory sharks have declined significantly since the 1970s. Sandbar sharks experienced the least decline: 87% since 1972. Declines exceeding 99% since 1972 have been documented among several other species. These declines were believed to result in predation release of small sharks and rays, including the cownose ray. The authors claim that this increase in cownose rays was partially re­sponsible for a collapse in populations of bay scallops, once a commer­cially important fish in the region, resulting in a shark ----> cownose ray -----> scallop trophic cascade.

"To me, the key message of this study was 'Sharks are important and bad things can happen when we overfish them, so let's not do that.' Others got a different (and unfortunate) message from this study: 'Oh my god, cownose ray populations are exploding. We need to kill them all to save our scallop fishery!' This led to the birth of the 'Save the Bay, Eat a Ray' movement. There were even fishing tournaments for cownose rays where anglers used explosive-tipped arrows to shoot at the surface-swimming rays, which is hardly sporting in my opinion. It is unlikely that ray populations could survive this kind of pressure for any extended time, given their very low reproductive rates. I'd argue that trying to solve a conservation crisis by causing another conservation crisis is perhaps not ideal.

"It turns out that the data showing this trophic cascade has major flaws in its underlying assumptions, and has been thoroughly rebutted. If you look closely at the data, it would suggest that cownose ray pop­ulations supposedly started to increase well after scallop populations began to collapse, almost as if something else caused the scallop pop­ulations to decline. (Dean Grubbs, who led the rebuttal, pointed out that this explanation only makes sense if you think that cownose rays can go back in time like the Terminator.) Also, cownose ray populations aren't increasing as much as these data seemed to show. What's instead happening is that existing cownose rays are migrating into new waters. Furthermore, shark populations haven't declined as much as these data seemed to show. The Grubbs rebuttal also notes that including more datasets complicates the supposedly clear pattern shown by the Myers paper. Finally, cownose rays don't really eat very many scallops. So al­though this is a well-known example of a trophic cascade that is often cited by environmentalists as a reason to protect sharks, it's a fundamentally flawed one.

"Another possible shark-driven trophic cascade might operate on coral reefs. Coral animals have a symbiotic relationship with tiny photosyn­thetic organisms called zooxanthellae. They live inside the corals and secrete sugars, which the corals eat. Without exposure to sunlight, zoo­xanthellae cannot photosynthesize, and the corals will starve. Happily, herbivorous fish like parrotfish help to graze fast-growing algae off of the corals, ensuring that sunlight can reach the zooxanthellae. Parrotfish are eaten by larger fish like grouper, which are eaten by (you guessed it) sharks. The decline of shark populations may cause predation release in grouper, which then eat more and more parrotfish. Fewer parrotfish means more algae growing on coral reefs, which means dying corals.

"This model seems to be essentially correct, but it's more complicated than that. It turns out that humans aren't just overfishing the sharks, but also the groupers, and in some cases even the parrotfish, Algae also grows on the coral for because of warmer waters or nutrient blooms, not simply because parrotfish populations are declining. Additionally, corals face other threats besides algae overgrowth. And while it's true that reef sharks often occupy a pretty similar seep on the food chain as groupers, some larger sharks eat small and medium sized groupers. So do sharks keep coral reefs healthy? They certainly play important roles in main­taining coral reef health under many circumstances, but as you can see, there are many variables to consider.

"A 2013 paper claimed to find true evidence of a trophic cascade on coral reefs. Specifically, the authors argued that Pacific coral reefs that had been heavily fished were home to fewer sharks and more medium­sized predators (called mesopredators) than protected reefs, which had more sharks and fewer mesopredators like groupers. On fished reefs with more mesopredators, the authors found fewer herbivorous fishes. Is this a case of a trophic cascade, with declines in sharks indirectly leading to declines in herbivores? Not so fast -- a 2016 paper claims that the pattern isn't quite so clear. This rebuttal argues that the difference in shark populations between fished and protected reefs isn't as significant as claimed in the 2013 paper. Furthermore, it argues that some of the fish species the 2013 paper authors counted as mesopredators shouldn't have been created as such because sharks don't eat those species. That re­buttal got a rebuttal, which got another rebuttal -- such is often the way of science. As of this writing, there hasn't been any conclusive evidence of trophic cascades driven by the loss of sharks on coral reefs -- in fact, an early 2021 paper found pretty strong evidence of the lack of trophic cascades on the Great Barrier Reef -- but the search is ongoing.

"Other possible shark trophic cascades include a reef shark -----> octo­pus -----> rock lobster food chain. Overfishing reef sharks in Australia seems to have led to an explosion in numbers of their octopus prey, which ace all the rock lobsters and damaged one fishery. Yet another possibly shark-driven trophic cascade involves seals. Fewer sharks means more seals, which eat a lot more fish. Trophic cascades are powerful forces in nature, but they're also really hard to detect because food webs are so large and complicated. I'd guess that even though some of the most popular examples of shark-driven trophic cascades may be flawed, it's very likely that some real cascades caused by sharks are out there.

"Some conservation activists have taken things too far, incorrectly asserting that, because of trophic cascades, the crash of shark populations could be directly responsible for the extinction of all life on Earth. According to this argument, which got its highest-profile mention in the documentary Sharkwater, phytoplankton, the base of the ocean food web, produce about half of all oxygen on Earth. If we lose sharks, the reasoning goes, this will destabilize the whole ocean, kill all the phy­toplankton, and result in the loss of half of all oxygen on the planet, killing everything -- including us. Let me note again here that this is not correct, but it's an example of using trophic cascade theory for conservation advocacy.

"Trophic cascades are, generally speaking, more likely to occur in simpler ecosystems with more straightforward food chains. If you have five species that serve similar ecological roles as top predators, losing one probably won't disrupt the whole system because the other four can still keep mid-level predator populations in check. If you have only one top predator, losing its ecological role is more likely to disrupt the whole system. The examples described above range from hotly debated to thor­oughly debunked, and I share them just to illustrate the general prin­ciple despite their particular imperfections. Despite their flaws, these high-profile examples are still useful to think about, if only because something like this is probably happening somewhere."

Why Sharks Matter A Deep Dive with the Worlds Most Misunderstood Predator
 
author: David Shiffman  
title: Why Sharks Matter: A Deep Dive with the World's Most Misunderstood Predator  
publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press  
date: 2022 Johns Hopkins University Press  
page(s): 51-55
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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2087983 2024-02-12T08:41:33Z 2024-02-12T08:49:54Z Descent Into Madness: Dostoevsky and the End of the West

By Boyd D. Cathey
My Corner

February 12, 2024

Our society is coming to resemble a dystopian “peoples’ paradise” in its darkly disturbing features. Think back to iconic works of literature like Arthur Koestler’s Darkness At Noon and George Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four. Are we not living in a society which is little more than a cross between the nightmare visions of Koestler and Orwell? Do we not live in a society where dissidents are branded as “domestic terrorists,” “insurrectionists,” or “racists,” and face imprisonment for heretofore unimaginable thought crimes, all in the name of “defending our democracy”? –where our children have become wards of the state and are indoctrinated daily by mountains of fetid radical ideology? –where television and the Internet are employed to fashion a particular jaundiced view of life?—where science is now used to tell us the world will end in, what, ten years, if we don’t take immediate action to curb “the climate crisis”?—where we are cajoled to accept a “great reset” and a “new world order” controlled by unseen elites?

Far too many citizens do not fathom what has occurred and is happening in our society. And those who do understand, whether here in the US or in Europe, are swatted down by the long arm of “Big Brother,” turned into “non-persons,” their reputations destroyed, awakened by armed-to-the-teeth FBI agents before dawn and imprisoned for months or years without trial or the benefit of counsel—“enemies of the regime.” Is this not reminiscent of what occurred in Eastern Europe immediately after the conclusion of World War II, when the Soviets progressively installed socialist dictatorships by successfully eliminating and suppressing any real opposition, all happening why the benevolent USA looked on?

But in some ways our situation is worse than that of those Soviet-occupied countries in the aftermath of the world war. For while the post-war Communists essentially maintained certain inherited standards of behavior, for instance, supporting large families and traditional marriage, our elites continue to push the boundaries of what was once thought normative and acceptable in every area of human endeavor, even under Communism. And the disruption or rejection of the laws of nature and those well-established and valid millennia-old norms of behavior and belief leads to gross and grotesque imbalances and vicious infections in society which distort and eventually destroy it—what I have called in an earlier essay, “the zombification of our culture.”

It’s as if significant portions of American (and European) culture have been possessed by frenetic Evil incarnate…in academia and education, in our media and communications, in politics, and in our entertainment and sports industries. We are now supposed to be like Pavlov’s dog, trained to bark when prompted, to sit when told, in short, to be obedient and receptive subjects of the latest ukase or dogmatic proclamation of government or revelation of its satraps and lapdogs at some formerly-prestigious university 0r from fashionable glitterati.

As I read through various recent news articles, chronicling some of the more bizarre actions and occurrences in our modern American society, example after example abundantly confirms this impression.

Let me cite just a handful of recent egregious instances from our educational sector—there are far more, too numerous to count:

In Oregon, the Department of Education recently sent out a “mathematics guide …to schools tell[ing] educators that asking students to show their work in math class is a form of white supremacy.” The guide offers a year-long framework for “deconstructing racism in mathematics.” It calls for “visibilizing [sic] the toxic characteristics of white supremacy culture with respect to math.”

In Houston, Rice University launched a course (January 2024), titled “Afrochemistry,” which reportedly will “apply chemical tools and analysis to understand black life in the U.S.” According to the University’s website, “Diverse historical and contemporary scientists, intellectuals and chemical discoveries will inform personal reflections and proposals for addressing inequities in chemistry and chemical education.”

In Brookfield, Connecticut, the public school administration placed tampon dispensers in boys’ restrooms, which were promptly vandalized by some boys who disagreed with school policy. The administration related that the “vandals” had been dealt with. But the worst aspect of this is that dispensers were put in place in compliance with a Connecticut law which “requires all schools from grades three to 12 to put menstrual dispensers in female restrooms and at least in one male restroom” in each high school.

One last example, and it would be truly comedic if not so serious in its implications about the state of higher education in America. Several years ago (2018) Professor Peter Boghossian, formerly at Portland State University in Oregon, and two colleagues, prepared a series of scholarly articles in the humanities, and several were accepted by so-called prestigious peer-reviewed journals. The submitted papers sounded all the chords of ideologically “progressive scholarship,” supposedly pushing boundaries in what the authors called “grievance studies,” such areas as “critical theory” and “gender identity.” But with one major characteristic: the articles were all complete spoofs, skillful fakery which managed to deceive those who claim to be “the best and the brightest.”

As Boghossian explained in a later summary of the project:

“While our papers are all outlandish or intentionally broken in significant ways, it is important to recognize that they blend in almost perfectly with others in the disciplines under our consideration. To demonstrate this, we needed to get papers accepted, especially by significant and influential journals. Merely blending in couldn’t generate the depth necessary for our study….”

And a number of the articles were eagerly accepted and were praised fulsomely by other academics. Indeed, it is fascinating to read what peer reviewers wrote.

One of the  papers is titled, “The conceptual penis as a social construct,” and it was published to great acclaim by the journal Cogent Social Sciences, in 2017. Here is the abstract:

“Anatomical penises may exist, but as pre-operative transgendered women also have anatomical penises, the penis vis-à-vis maleness is an incoherent construct. We argue that the conceptual penis is better understood not as an anatomical organ but as a social construct isomorphic to performative toxic masculinity. Through detailed poststructuralist discursive criticism and the example of climate change, this paper will challenge the prevailing and damaging social trope that penises are best understood as the male sexual organ and reassign it a more fitting role as a type of masculine performance.”

These few examples can be replicated ad nauseum. Such poisonous nonsense characterizes what passes for learning and scholarship in our colleges and schools; it undergirds and informs our journalism and media; it drenches our entertainment with its infectious dross; it disintegrates and perverts our artistic and musical heritage. It is engaged in total war against the two millennia inheritance of our Christian civilization, which it seeks to destroy.

Have we not descended into sheer madness, collective insanity on a massive cultural and social scale? Indeed, are we not experiencing a foretaste of Hell itself, of the Nether Regions where proud souls possessed by sheer evil and brazen malfeasance are eventually rewarded by their own incredibly excruciatingly painful self-immolation?

Of course, it is not at all fashionable to believe in a literal Hell these days. Yet, the imagery of such a state envisioned by a number of our greatest authors over the centuries describes a reality which is becoming all too palpable in our day, at least for those who care to notice.

The common denominator which characterizes those visions, whether from the pen of Dante Alighieri, John Milton, or other writers, not to mention the strictures from the Bible, is this: without Hope in something greater than ourselves, something beyond the mere material, something indeed spiritual, we are lost. And all the puffed-up scholarly texts about “gender identity” and “critical studies”—all the foul and ugly detritus which passes for modern culture and entertainment—lead only to individuals T. S. Eliot calls “hollow men,” dead souls, with no past to guide them, no future to welcome them, isolated, alone, and empty.

As tiny individual specks in the Universe we are as atoms, at times self-important, but in the scheme of things, miniscule and falling back continually on our own very limited powers and abilities, with the great leveler, Death, our conclusion.

Has this not been the insight and wisdom of our Christian civilization, that without that spiritual understanding, life becomes a mere few short years of banging about until our time is up?

It is Hope, that belief in something beyond ourselves, eminently spiritual, which enables us to lead lives according to both the Natural Law and the Divine Positive Law, which properly and superbly fit, guide and measure our own human natures.

I am put in mind of a piece I wrote for Chronicles magazine a few years back (“The Devils in the Demonstrators,” Chronicles, November 2021. Pp36-37) which focuses on my direct experience with such persons who inhabit a counter-reality, peopled by dead souls whose hatred for our civilization is only matched by their uncontrollable, burning rage.

I offer it now.

The Devils in the Demonstrators

I was chairman of the Annual Confederate Flag Day at the North Carolina State Capitol in March of 2019 when our commemoration was besieged by several hundred screaming, raging demonstrators—Antifa-types and others. It took a mammoth police escort for us to exit the surrounded Capitol building.

I clearly recall the disfigured countenance, the flaming eyes, the foul imprecations of one of the protesters: he was young, white, and obviously not impoverished, probably the son of some well-to-do parents who had shelled out thousands of dollars for his education at one of North Carolina’s premiere universities. His contorted, angry grimace was that of a possessed soul, made mad by years of slow and patient educational indoctrination from our complacent society which tolerates and encourages everyday evil in nearly every endeavor we experience.

I remembered that day—that face—over two years later as I finished watching a made-for-television Russian series titled Demons. Based on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s 1872 novel of the same name (also known as The Possessed), the plot is fairly complex and difficult to compress into a filmed series. Yet, enough of that complexity and meaning still comes forth while watching its English subtitles.

I read the novel many years ago. Even back then it was a difficult read, especially for someone unfamiliar with Russian history of the mid-19th century and Dostoevsky’s interest in the ideological visions of various revolutionary and nihilist movements then existent in Imperial Russia.

But the television series does an admirable job of encapsulating the novel’s main themes and storyline. And like much of Dostoevsky, the theological questions of good and evil, sin and redemption, and order and disorder are never far from the surface. For the great Russian author saw deeply into the hearts of his fellow men, particularly those vacuous and empty souls of the fanatical idealists who professed a secular vision of a future socialist and globalist utopia on earth, a paradise without the encumbrances and limits of tradition, tsarist authority, and God. But it was precisely such natural and real lineaments which both regulate our innate freedom of will (so that it may not become license), and also provide a safe and ample space for our existence.

In tracing the evolution of revolutionary thinking personified in his diverse characters, Dostoevsky captures and illustrates—as perhaps no other author before or since—the true nature of evil which inevitably ends not only in the destruction of the individual, but eventually also spurs the dissolution and decay of the social fabric of society.

That evil—and it is pure demonic evil as Dostoevsky reveals in Demons—is all consuming, a madness which he both historically and theologically identifies with rebellion against God and, in his particular view, in opposition to the traditional Russian Orthodox Church. But that meaning is applicable for all of traditional Christianity.

In another Dostoevsky novelThe Brothers Karamazov, his worldly and secular character Ivan makes a statement often expressed as: “If God does not exist, everything is permitted.” By novel’s end he realizes that God does—must—exist, and therefore there must be—and are—rules and law, both divine and human, that must be observed for there to be any kind of human society. Indeed, without them there can be no genuine liberty, no justice, no true happiness.

In Demons the revolutionary cell in Dostoevsky’s imagined provincial town is composed of mostly young members of the upper classes, a couple of disaffected military officers and intellectuals, and the magnetic personality of Nikolai Stavrogin.  Stavrogin is highborn, refined, handsome, self-assured, and intelligent. And yet there is, as the narrator of the story informs us, something repellent, deeply cynical, and inherently foul about him. The other revolutionaries are fascinated by him, specifically Pyotr Verkhovensky, perhaps the most loathsome and manipulative character Dostoevsky ever created, a man capable of murder simply on caprice or whim, without any apparent sense or thought of regret. Truly he is a man possessed.

Verkhovensky, who claims to be taking orders from a central committee in St. Petersburg, is bedazzled by Stavrogin and wishes him to lead the revolutionary efforts; but Stavrogin hesitates. In the depths of Stavrogin’s consciousness, there is that awkward awareness of his own misshapen and fatally damaged soul. Finally, after some hesitation, he visits a spiritual guide, Father Tikhon, where he confesses that he has lost any sense of good and evil, and that all that remains is simply avarice. Stavrogin is a man who refuses God, but in his frustration he innately realizes that nothing else can satisfy that emptiness. Indeed, without God, without the fullness of faith, it is the Devil, Evil Incarnate, who fills the void. Without God, everything is permitted.

Ivan Shatov is perhaps the character with whom Dostoevsky most closely identified. He had once idolized Stavrogrin and looked up to him as a potential leader who would inspire Russia to Christian regeneration. Disillusioned, he has now come to regard him as an irresponsible man of idle luxury. Stavrogin, he declares, is driven by a passion for inflicting torment, not merely for the gratification he receives in hurting others, but to torment his own conscience and wallow in amoral carnality.

Verkhovensky detests and hates Shatov, and conceives a plan to assassinate him, for Shatov, he believes, stands in the way of the triumph of the revolution. And, in fact, one of the conspirators lures Shatov to a remote location where he is cruelly murdered, much to the insane delight of Verkhovensky.

But the conspiracy unravels, and the conspirators are arrested or, in the case of Verkhovensky, flee to St. Petersburg where he can again work his revolutionary mischief. And Stavrogin, understanding finally the futility of his life, and understanding more profoundly than any other of the revolutionaries the nature of the revolutionary contagion—a true “demonic possession”—does what for him is the only logical action: he hangs himself. Unable or unwilling to make repentance, and knowing darkly that he has been possessed by demons, but refusing the mercy of God, like a brightly burning supernova, he collapses upon himself, extinguished and damned.

Of all the great counterrevolutionary works—novels, autobiographies, narrations—Dostoevsky’s stands out for its very human, very real description of the sheer personal evil and demonic lunacy of the then-nascent Marxist revolution incubating in Russia. In more recent times, we have a George Orwell, an Arthur Koestler, and an Aleksander Solzhenitsyn who recount what they experienced or what they saw and observed. But it was Dostoevsky who with deep insight visualized it a century earlier, who plumbed the depths of the human psyche and the inherent and personal nature of what is essentially a “revolution against God and Man.”

For the rejection of God as He desires to be known and obeyed through his Word, His law, and through His church does not result in a secular utopia, a kind of secular parousia or Heaven-on-Earth. The revolutionary madness is, as Dostoevsky declares, a form of possession of men who have misshapen and empty souls which have then been occupied by demons, by evil.

Thus, as I watched Demons I remembered that day several years ago with its seemingly possessed protesters. I also recalled images flashed across the television screen more recently of our latter-day violent Verkhovenskys and Stavrogins, those deracinated students, wooley-brained woke academicians, effete Hollywood celebrities and media personalities, and political epigones who have turned the American republic into a charnel house where the bones of a once-great nation lie in trash heaps.

Over the past many decades, we have permitted our government to impose on us and much of the world what is termed liberal democracy and something we call “human rights.” But those precepts and vision are of a secular, globalist world where the Verkhovenskys dominate a complacent and obedient population, where our culture has been so infected and so poisoned that, as William Butler Yeats prophesied a century ago, “the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

It does not and will not end well. The “American Century,” without the kind of repentance that was offered to Nikolai Stavrogin, and which he would not accept, is over. And despite our insouciance and material gratification, there will be a price, a severe and heavy price to pay.

Observing the pre-World War I revolutionary fervor which would soon overtake the world, the Anglo-French critic and essayist Hilaire Belloc wrote these lines in This and That and the Other:

“The Barbarian is discoverable everywhere in this that he cannot make; that he can befog or destroy, but that he cannot sustain; and of every Barbarian in the decline or peril of every civilisation exactly that has been true. We sit by 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 creeds refreshes us: we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond: and on these faces there is no smile.”

Dostoevsky, through Father Tikhon, reminds us that there is a way out of the fetid and poisonous bog we are drowning in. In his day it was not taken by the revolutionaries who eventually would have their way in Russia and later in the world, with the charnel house counting eventually 100 million victims.

Like Verkovensky, that frenzied youthful demonstrator against Confederate symbols back in March 2019 was possessed, incapable—unlike Stavrogin—of recognizing his diabolical possession.

Good and evil stand in eternal conflict; one must triumph and one must be extinguished. Dostoevsky fully understood that, and so must we.

Reprinted with the author’s permission.

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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2087291 2024-02-10T12:23:18Z 2024-02-10T12:23:19Z Inside the World's Wildest Restaurant

the cookbook store blog: The Faviken Experience, Jarpen, Sweden
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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2086066 2024-02-07T11:57:52Z 2024-02-07T22:50:35Z Another Bodyguard of Lies

In a 1922 essay about Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in his book Prejudices: Third Series H.L. Mencken asked, “Am I the first American to note the fundamental nonsensicality of the Gettysburg Address”?  One example of the nonsense of Lincoln’s rhetoric as explained by Mencken is as follows:

“Think of the argument in it.  Put it into the cold words of everyday.  The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination – that government of the people, by the people, for the people, should not perish from the earth.  It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue.  The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves” (emphasis added).

(“Nonsense on stilts,” by the way, was a phrase coined by nineteenth-century writer Jeremy Bentham to describe social contract theory.  Today we would probably say “nonsense on steroids”).

Now along comes historian Paul C. Graham, a little over a century later, who has expanded upon Mencken’s essay in a short book entitled Nonsense on Stilts: The Gettysburg Address & Lincoln’s Imaginary Nation.  It is easy to come to the conclusion after reading Graham’s book that it is hard to imagine a larger collection of falsehoods ever packed into a single political speech anywhere at any time than the Gettysburg Address.  In essence, the Address was a radically false rendition of the American founding designed to fool the public into believing that the founding fathers did after all create a highly centralized, monopolistic superstate with virtually unlimited powers.  That is why the totalitarian-minded “Pulitzer prize winner” (as Graham calls him) Gary Wills celebrated the Gettysburg Address as “a giant, if benign, swindle.”

Following Mencken’s example, Graham picks apart the Address by the old railroad industry trial lawyer/lobbyist, slick phrase by slick phrase.  First of all, no “new nation” was brought forth “four score and seven years ago” as Lincoln absurdly asserted.  The thirteen colonies seceded from the British empire and did not then create an empire of their own.  “The colonists were not inventing something new; they were protecting something old, namely, self-government and their inherited rights as Englishmen which was being threatened by the English parliament . . .”

“Declaration of Independence” is actually slang for the actual title of the document, “The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen united States of America.”  As in all the founding documents, “united States” is in the plural, signifying that the thirteen free and independent states were united in their desire to secede from the British empire.  That is why, at the end of the Revolution, King George III signed a peace treaty with each individual state, not something called “the United States government.”

The first constitution, the Articles of Confederation, declared that each state “retained its sovereignty, freedom, and independence.”  They retained, not gained, their sovereignty as “free and independent states,” as they are called in the Declaration.  States rights, state sovereignty, the right of secession, and the states delegating a few powers to the central government as their agent were the ideas of the founders, not creating “a new nation.”  There was no pledge of allegiance to “one nation, indivisible”; that was an invention of late nineteenth-century socialist and Lincoln worshipper Francis Bellamy.

Graham describes the second Constitution as an attempted  and failed coup by the nationalists in American politics to destroy state sovereignty and consolidate all political power in the  national capitol.  At the constitutional convention Alexander Hamilton, for example, proposed a permanent president (aka a king) who would appoint all governors, with the central state having the right to veto any and all state legislation.  His plan for a centralized dictatorship of course failed, but the nationalists, including Lincoln, would never give up.

Lincoln’s claim that America is a “nation” dedicated to the “proposition” that all men are created equal is a non-sequitur for several reasons, including the fact that it was never established as a “nation” but as a collection of sovereign states (with sovereign rights to raise taxes and wage war, as all sovereign states do, according to the Declaration).  Besides, as Graham points out, a “proposition” is something that can be either true or false.  This means that these words of the slick railroad trial lawyer from Illinois were, well, a meaningless jumble.  Moreover, the founders would have been amused to learn that they created a “nation” predicated on a “proposition” that could be either true or false.  Such language does open the door, however, to endless revolutions in the name of whatever proposition the political class of the day decides to invent – war in Ukraine, war in the Middle East, war in Vietnam, war in Russia . . .  As for Lincoln’s rhetoric of “equality,” he was always very clear about that when it came to racial equality.  As Graham quotes him, “no sane man,” said Lincoln, “will attempt to deny that the African upon his own soil has all the natural rights that instrument [the Declaration] vouchsafes to all mankind.”  Describing black people as alien beings – “the African”– they can all be equal, but only in Africa, not in America, said the former “manager” of the Illinois Colonization Society that sought to use tax dollars to deport all free blacks out of the state.

Lincoln’s claim in the Address that secession would destroy the American union is also nonsense on stilts (or steroids).  The U.S. government thrived during the War to Prevent Southern Independence, as all governments do during wartime.  Had the South seceded peacefully the U.S. government would still have existed of course, but  probably would not have taken such an imperialistic path as it did.

Equally nonsensical is Lincoln’s claim that no state can secede unless given permission by all the other states.  New York, Virginia, and Rhode Island specifically reserved the right to “reassume” any powers delegated to the federal government in their ratification documents, and those same rights then applied to all other states, present and future.  The government in Washington never had the constitutional “right” to abolish self government by the citizens of the free, independent, and sovereign states.  It gave itself that “right” with bullets, bombs, and mass murder.

Lincoln said that one party to a contract cannot break the contract without the other party, but the Constitution was not a normal contract.  The states ratified it, as stated in Article 7, and therefore were the creators of the powers of the central government, to be used supposedly for their benefit, farcical as that idea seems today.  They were in no way equal parties to a contract, contrary to the words of the old contract-writing lawyer/lobbyist.

Lincoln’s biggest knee slapper in the Gettysburg Address is his statement that the union is older than the states.  Yeah, just as all marital unions are older than either spouse.

Graham succinctly explains the purpose of the small mountain of politically-inspired falsehoods that is the Gettysburg Address by recalling a conversation between Andrew Jackson and John C. Calhoun.  In response to a toast offered by Jackson “to the Union, it must be preserved,” Calhoun said “The Union, next to our Liberty the most dear; may we all remember it can only be preserved by respecting the rights of the States, and distributing equally the benefit and burden of the Union” (emphasis added).  “That’s the meaning of the whole bloody war,” writes Graham, “and everything surrounding it . . .”

The Best of Thomas DiLorenzo

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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2085633 2024-02-06T13:35:41Z 2024-02-06T13:46:04Z Never Before Nor After




                                   

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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2084102 2024-02-02T21:05:03Z 2024-02-02T21:05:03Z Rogue Wave Comparisons

The most extreme "rogue wave" on record has just been confirmed in the North Pacific Ocean. File pic: AP
Image:The most extreme 'rogue wave' on record has just been confirmed in the North Pacific Ocean. File pic: AP
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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2083906 2024-02-02T12:26:24Z 2024-02-02T12:26:25Z Hollywood Was Dying

hollywood-sign-1978-LAPL.jpg

                                                                            Hollywood Sign: 1978

Today's selection -- from Oscar Wars: A History of Hollywood in Gold, Sweat, and Tears by Michael Schulman. Movie attendance peaked at 78.2 million a week in 1946, but had declined to a mere 15.8 million by 1971:


 “On April 14, 1969, a tuxedoed Gregory Peck strode across the empty lobby of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion like a weary cowboy crossing abandoned prairie. Peck had become Academy president two years earlier, and his job was to introduce the Forty-First Academy Awards. On camera, Peck descended a mirrored staircase in the atrium, looked around with his thick eyebrows furrowed, and pronounced in his deep, godlike voice, ‘It's kind of lonesome out here. The audience is already on the inside.’ 


“The cameras cut to the stage, where Frank Sinatra crooned the title song from Star!, a new Julie Andrews vehicle from 20th Century-Fox. The most nominated films that year were the splashy studio musicals Oliver! and Funny Girl, whose star, Barbra Streisand, showed up to the ceremony in a see-through pantsuit. Streisand was a new kind of old star—’ethnic,’ but with showbiz chops. In an effort to make the Oscar broadcast less lugubrious, Peck had hired stage director Gower Champion. In place of Bob Hope, hosting duties were shared by ‘Oscar's best friends,’ among them Ingrid Bergman, Sidney Poitier, Burt Lancaster, and, for the youth vote, Jane Fonda, her short hair marcelled for They Shoot Horses, Don't They?


“When Bergman opened the Best Actress envelope, she found a shocker: Streisand had tied with Katharine Hepburn, for The Lion in Winter. Because Hepburn was absent, Streisand, who was ten days away from twenty-seven, had no chance of being upstaged. She cooed to her statuette, ‘Hello, gorgeous.’ Oliver! won five awards, including Best Picture. Only six months earlier, the MPAA had instituted a new rating system, replacing the old Production Code after three and a half decades. Oliver! was rated G, designating it as the kind of wholesome studio entertainment that could be enjoyed by ‘general audiences,’ whoever that was.

Peck in 1948


“But a closer look revealed another Hollywood—and a more unconventional kind of movie—clawing at the gates. Rosemary's Baby was nominated only for Roman Polanski's screenplay and for Ruth Gordon, who won Best Supporting Actress. Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey had managed four nominations, Best Picture not among them, and won for special effects—the only Oscar that Kubrick would ever receive. And sitting next to Streisand was her estranged husband, the little-known Elliott Gould, wearing the droopy mustache he had grown for Robert Altman's M*A*S*H.


“After the awards, congratulations on a smashing show poured into Peck's Academy mailbox. ‘At a time when the morals within movies are being pushed to the outer edges of chaos,’ Vincent Canby wrote in the New York Times, awards for the likes of Oliver! ‘reassure everyone in the industry that all is well, that Hollywood really isn't some giant bordello that's about to be raided.’


“He spoke too soon. Just a year later, Gould would be nominated for a movie about spouse swapping, Fonda would hold up a fist on the red carpet, hippie frocks would turn the Oscar stage psychedelic, and the winning picture would be rated X.


“Beneath the gilded schmaltz, Hollywood was falling apart. Movie attendance, which had peaked at 78.2 million a week in 1946, was on a downward slide that would bottom out at 15.8 million by 1971. The old studios, desperate to distinguish themselves from television, had spent the decade filling screens with musical extravaganzas and Spartacus-like words-and-sandals epics that displayed the industry's bloat, but they had little idea how to speak to anyone younger than Streisand. Star! Would lose $15 million and all seven of its nominations, hammering another nail into the coffin of Hollywood's business model since 1965: re-create the success of The Sound of Music. Popular music didn't sound like Oliver! anymore. Vietnam had marred the innocence of Doctor Dolittle. The sixties were almost over, and Hollywood still hadn't caught up.


“Despite a wave of corporate takeovers, the last of the golden age moguls held the studios in an arthritic fist. In 1966, Jack Warner, at seventy-four, had sold his controlling interest in Warner Bros. to Seven Arts Productions—but he ran the studio until late 1969. Daryl Zanuck,

in his late sixties, remained on the throne of 20th Century-Fox, having installed his son, Dick Zanuck, as head of production in 1962. At Paramount, newly acquired by Gulf and Western, Adolph Zukor, in his nineties, and Barney Balaban, in his eighties, sat on the board, which Zukor would chair until his death in 1976 at the age of 103.”

Oscar Wars: A History of Hollywood in Gold, Sweat, and Tears
 
author: Michael Schulman  
title: Oscar Wars: A History of Hollywood in Gold, Sweat, and Tears  
publisher: Harper  
date:  
page(s): 223-225
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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2083169 2024-01-31T19:02:48Z 2024-01-31T19:02:48Z The Seawise Giant - The Largest Ship Ever Built

No photo description available.
No photo description available.
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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2081190 2024-01-26T20:17:01Z 2024-01-26T20:17:02Z The Quest To Decode The Mandelbrot Set

Image result for mandelbrot
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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2079830 2024-01-24T02:19:35Z 2024-01-24T02:19:35Z O.K. REALLY Not mathed, But Still...
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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2078570 2024-01-21T13:12:47Z 2024-01-21T17:23:13Z Federal Powers That Should Not Exist

Americans Are Fighting For Control Of Federal Powers That Shouldn’t Exist

Today’s federal government is almost entirely unconstitutional


It’s no secret that politics in the United States is growing increasingly acrimonious — to the point that a 2022 poll found 43% of Americans think a civil war is a least somewhat likely in the next decade.

But here’s what few people realize: The intensity of our division springs from a federal government operating far beyond the limits of the Constitution — fueling a fight for control over powers that were never supposed to exist at the national level.

To put it another way, if the federal government were confined to its actual granted authorities, federal elections would be of little interest to the general public, because the outcome would be largely irrelevant to their everyday lives.


America’s founders drafted the Constitution with great trepidation. Having just escaped British tyranny, the people of the separate states that would comprise the proposed union were wary of centralizing too much power at the federal level, and thus sowing the seeds of a new tyranny.

They therefore set out to create a federal government to which the states delegated only certain limited powers, with all other subjects of governance reserved to the states.

Those powers — only 18 of them — are listed, one by one, in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. They include such things as the power to raise armies, maintain a navy, declare war, borrow money, coin money, establish punishments for counterfeiters and pirates, set standards of weights and measures, secure patents and establish post offices.

Reassuring those who were considering the enormously consequential decision of whether to ratify the Constitution, James Madison wrote,

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. [Federal powers] will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce…The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people.”

To win over those would-be ratifiers who still feared the proposed federal government would undercut state sovereignty and infringe individual liberties, ten amendments were drafted — the Bill of Rights. The 10th Amendment codified Madison’s previous assurance about the division of authorities between the federal and state governments:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

We arrive then at a hard fact: Today’s sprawling federal government, which involves itself in almost every aspect of daily American life, is almost entirely unconstitutional.

To rattle off just a random fistful of the federal government’s unauthorized undertakings and entities — brace yourself — there is zero constitutional authority for the Social Security, Medicare, federal drug prohibitions, the Small Business Administration, crop subsidies, the Department of Labor, automotive fuel efficiency standards, climate regulations, the Federal Reserve, union regulation, housing subsidies, the Department of Agriculture, workplace regulations, the Department of Education, federal student loans, the Food and Drug Administration, food stamps, unemployment insurance or light bulb regulations. Even that sampling doesn’t begin to fully account for the scope of the unsanctioned activity.

Don’t let your affinity for any of those enterprises short-circuit your intellectual honesty: Even if you view some of them as benign, that doesn’t render them constitutional. And if you’ve ever invoked the Constitution to spotlight a different kind of government overreach, it would be hypocritical to nod approvingly when it’s violated in ways where you deem the result beneficial.

So how did we get to this place where the intended relationship between federal and state powers has been completely inverted — with a federal government wielding powers that are now “numerous and indefinite” rather than being “few and defined”?

Much of the current state of affairs has been driven by the Supreme Court’s extreme and expansive interpretations of certain clauses of the Constitution. Among the most significant are the General Welfare and Commerce clauses.

The General Welfare Clause, found at the start of Article 1, Section 8, says:

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States…

Embedded in a clause focused on the power to tax, the words “general welfare” were meant to ensure that Congress’s taxation and spending would be confined to purposes that were broadly beneficial, rather than catering to narrow or localized interests.

The clause’s language was copied from the Articles of Confederation, where, as Madison explained, “it was always understood as nothing more than a general caption to the specified powers.” Indeed, he said, it was copied for the very reason that its prior use and understanding would hopefully minimize the risk of it being misinterpreted as a grant of power.

It flies in the face of reason that the drafters of the Constitution would take pains to carefully list the Congress’s specific authorities, yet simultaneously say Congress could also do anything it thinks generally beneficial.

Countering those who sought to interpret the clause that way, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “To consider the…phrase…as giving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please, which might be for the good of the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless.”

Clearly, based on context and history, those two words, general welfare, do not bestow an authority. Indeed, they’re present to limit an authority — the power to tax and spend.

The forces seeking to reshape the federal government by exploiting those two words were held at bay, but only for so long. In 1937, the Supreme Court used the imaginatively expansive interpretation of the General Welfare Clause to turn back a constitutional challenge to the Social Security Act — and to set a precedent that would fundamentally change the nature of our federal government.

That decision — Helvering v. Davis — came as the court was under intense institutional duress. Following a wave of high court decisions rightly striking down various pieces of New Deal legislation as unconstitutional, President Roosevelt — emboldened by his massive landslide reelection in 1936 — pushed a legislative scheme that would enable him to appoint as many as six more justices to the Supreme Court.

Whether to derail that plan or to merely cave to the overwhelming public opinion manifested in FDR’s jaw-dropping 523-8 electoral college landslide, the court — thanks in great part to swing-vote Justice Owen J. Roberts — began stamping its approval on New Deal legislation, with Helvering among the first.

Fittingly for a ruling that eviscerated limited government in America, Helvering’s very language had its own air of authoritarianism:

“Congress may spend money in aid of the ‘general welfare.’ There have been great statesmen in our history who have stood for other views. We will not resurrect the contest. It is now settled by decision.”

As if that proclamation didn’t do enough to demolish the concept of limited federal government, the court proceeded to amplify the damage. While acknowledging that determining what falls under “general welfare” requires discretion, the court declared, “the discretion…is not confided to the courts. The discretion belongs to Congress.” Thus, the court not only granted broad new power to Congress, but also limited the extent to which that power would be subject to checks and balances.

We don’t have to imagine how the “Father of the Constitution” would feel about the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the welfare clause. In 1792, Madison wrote, “The federal government has been hitherto limited to the specified powers…If not only the means, but the objects [purposes] are unlimited, the parchment had better be thrown into the fire at once.”


While the Welfare Clause has been abused to expand federal spending power, Commerce Clause abuse has unleashed sprawling federal regulatory power. As with the Welfare Clause, what was meant to curtail government intrusion into the lives of Americans has perversely been used to expand it.

The Commerce Clause gives Congress the power to “regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.” The Supreme Court’s sham interpretation focuses on “among the several states.”

It’s important to consider that the Constitution was drafted to replace the Articles of Confederation. Among the woes that prompted that evolution was the imposition of tariffs by individual states against other states. The Commerce Clause was intended to enable a free trade zone within the union, by empowering Congress to bar interstate tariffs.

“It grew out of the abuse of the power by the importing States in taxing the non-importing,” wrote Madison, “and was intended as a negative and preventive provision against injustice among the States themselves, rather than as a power to be used for the positive purposes of the General Government.”

Those working to expand federal authority have argued that “commerce” doesn’t merely apply to trade, but also encompasses manufacturing and agriculture or even “all gainful activity.”

However, in the constitutional ratification debates, the word “commerce” uniformly and narrowly referred only to mercantile trade or exchange — not to manufacturing, agriculture or retail sales, much less to any gainful activity.

Thomas Jefferson underscored the intended scope of the clause:

“The power given to Congress by the Constitution does not extend to the internal regulation of the commerce of a State, (that is to say of the commerce between citizen and citizen,) which remain exclusively with its own legislature; but to its external commerce only, that is to say, its commerce with another State, or with foreign nations, or with the Indian tribes.”

However, the Commerce Clause is now used to justify federal regulation of nearly every aspect of our existence, including activities that happen entirely within a single state. On this front, the Supreme Court did its greatest harm with its 1942 decision in Wickard v Filburn.

In a move that would leave founding farmers aghast, the federal government had fined Ohio farmer Roscoe Filburn for growing more wheat on his small farm than allowed by the Agriculture Adjustment Act of 1938.

Filburn wasn’t even growing the wheat for sale — only to feed his own family and animals, and for future planting. This clearly wasn’t commerce as meant by the Constitution’s authors and ratifiers, to say nothing of the fact that Filburn’s activity lacked any interstate character whatsoever.

That didn’t stop the Supreme Court from upholding the law on Commerce Clause grounds. The court creatively declared that, by choosing not to buy wheat in the marketplace, individuals like Filburn could collectively have a substantial effect on interstate commerce.

As Rand Paul wrote in a 2012 Supreme Court amicus filing, “Wickard stands for the sad proposition that Congress can prevent a man from feeding his family in his own home with food he grew himself.” Of course, it does far more than that, serving as a key precedent that subjects any activity to the federal government’s control and punishment. All that’s needed is a theoretical, tangential link to the economy — something every single aspect of life has to some degree.


We’d be far better off had the founding arrangement endured. The decentralization of power and governance reduces political discord and results in more people being governed in ways they find agreeable. If our federalism matched the constitutional design, we’d see citizens focusing most of their political energy on state and local governments — where they have far more meaningful representation compared to the federal legislature, which now has the average House member representing 761,000 people.

If state law, rather than federal law, were preeminent on the vast majority of topics, we’d also see sharper differentiations in what life is like in each of the 50 states. Americans would be presented with a more diverse selection of places to live, while enjoying the freedom to choose the one that best comports with their views on how things should be.

As it is, the Supreme Court-enabled concentration of power in Washington locks us all into a massive, winner-take-all steel-cage match, forcing us to fight over who gets to impose their philosophy on 332 million people across 3.8 million square miles of territory.

Even when the states comprising the union were far fewer in number and occupied far less territory, the prospect of centralized government was anathema to the likes of George Mason. At Virginia’s ratifying convention, he asked“Is it to be supposed that one national government will suit so extensive a country, embracing so many climates, and containing inhabitants so very different in manners, habits, and customs?”

How can we close the Pandora’s box the Supreme Court has opened? Though HelveringWickard and similar decisions are objectively outrageous, it’s hard to imagine the Supreme Court setting things right by overturning them.

There’s another long-shot avenue — amending the Constitution. Under Article V, a constitutional amendment convention must be convened if two-thirds (34) of the state legislatures call for one. Such a movement is already underway: As I previously covered, 19 states have now requested a convention, with one of the goals being to limit federal jurisdiction and power.

If we don’t bend the union back into proper shape, it will surely break under the pressure of intensifying discontent with concentrated power and one-size-fits-all governance. Barring a burst of constitutional-amendment momentum, expect the country’s simmering secession movements to grow far more substantial and numerous.

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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2076087 2024-01-16T14:50:14Z 2024-01-16T14:50:15Z Sloshing Them With Martinis

Today's selection -- from Ghosts of Empire: Britain's Legacies in the Modern World by Kwasi Kwarteng. Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener gained everlasting British military fame in Sudan in the Battle of Omdurman when his forces lost fewer than 500 men while killing—some would say slaughtering—about 11,000 and wounding 16,000:


“As head of the Egyptian army, Kitchener was the only candidate for the command of the force which would reconquer Sudan. His hour had come. As Lord Cromer remembered, Kitchener at forty-six was 'young, energetic, ardently and exclusively devoted to his profession'. He also observed, as many others did, that the Sirdar's qualities did not inspire love among his troops. According to Cromer, the 'bonds which united' Kitchener and his subordinates were those of 'stern discipline'. Kitchener had a 'strong and masterful spirit', which he used to dominate his men and bully them to submission to his will, instead of obtaining from them 'the affectionate obedience yielded to the behests of a genial chief'. Kitchener left as little ‘as possible to chance’ and was, in the language of the period, a ‘rigid economist’, which meant that he was very careful with money, suppressing with ‘a heavy hand any tendency towards waste and extravagance’. 


“The most famous description of Kitchener from this period comes from the stirring account of the Sudan campaign written by G. W. Steevens, entitled With Kitchener to Khartoum, which was a bestseller in 1898. A brilliant Oxford Classics graduate, Steevens was a journalist of genius who worked for the newly founded popular newspaper the Daily Mail and wrote with a vividness and fluency which brought him early fame as a war correspondent, before he died in South Africa at the premature age of thirty. His sketch of Kitchener included the line: ‘You feel that he ought to be patented and shown with pride at the Paris International Exhibition. British Empire: Exhibit No. 1 ... the Sudan Machine.’ The ‘Sudan Machine’ was a name that stuck. Steevens referred to the Sirdar's ‘unerring precision’, and it was clear that his characteristics were beginning to fascinate the wider public, as the final resolution of the Sudan conflict became more widely anticipated. A great popular journalist, Steevens appreciated the Victorian public's appetite for supermen and imperial heroes. For him, Kitchener was quite simply ‘the man of destiny’. Against such a man, with the backing of the resources of the imperial government in London, the Khalifa and his followers, it was believed, stood little chance. Lord Cromer had mentioned the inevitability of a British triumph in a letter to Lord Salisbury written in 1892: ‘The very name of England is far more feared by the Khalifa and his Beggara than either Turkey or Egypt, and it is practically admitted that they cannot hope for success in fighting against the British.’

A portrait of Field Marshal Kitchener in full dress uniform taken shortly after being promoted to the rank


“The details of the Sudan campaign, which were recounted in numerous memoirs and descriptions, were once familiar to the British public. The one episode that is still renowned is the Battle of Omdurman, the final stand of the dervishes, made famous by the Charge of the 21st Lancers, the last occasion on which the British army made use of a cavalry charge in battle. Winston Churchill, a young cavalry officer who had cajoled and bullied his way on to Kitchener's campaign, would refer to the charge frequently as one of his repertoire of dinner-table anecdotes. It has become part of British military folklore. The Battle of Omdurman itself, which took place on 2 September 1898, was a heavily lopsided affair: at about six in the morning, the dervishes began their advance on the British position. Their ‘array was perfect’, and a great number of their flags, which had been covered with texts from the Koran, were visible on the horizon. To the young Churchill, ‘their admirable alignment made this division of the Khalifa's army look like the old representations of the Crusaders in the Bayeux tapestry'. The outcome of all this medieval pageantry and theatre was grisly, and, in accounts of the battle, one can almost detect the sense of wonder and shame the British felt in inflicting so much damage on a brave enemy, since the Victorian cult of the hero was more than matched by a passion for 'sportsmanship' and 'good form'. These were, after all, times when the veneration of cricket was perhaps at its height, when the cricket legend W.G. Grace was arguably the most famous man in Britain. The dervishes had been sportsmen: 'our men were perfect, but the Dervishes were superb', recounted Steevens. Churchill admitted that the 'Dervishes fought manfully'. The famous charge, in which 400 cavalrymen of the 21st Lancers attacked a force of what turned out to be 2,500 dervishes, made very little difference to the outcome of the battle, though it led to the award of three Victoria Crosses. In reality the dervishes were 'swept away in thousands by the deadly fire of the rifles and Maxims'. Their losses were 'terrible': out of an army whose strength was estimated at from 40,000 to 50,000 men, some 11,000 were killed, and about 16,000 wounded. The British casualties had been negligible: twenty-two men and NCOs killed, and a hundred wounded, while only two officers lost their lives, one of whom, Lieutenant Robert Grenfell, had been the 'life and soul of the joyous Christmas festivities' at Lord Cramer's house in Cairo the year before. Grenfell had been killed by a 'Dervish broadsword' while taking part in the charge. Colonel Frank Rhodes, a Times journalist and Cecil Rhodes's elder brother, was also wounded in the battle. The Khalifa struggled on for another year before being killed in the Battle of Umm Diwaykarat in November 1899.


“The Battle of Omdurman marks the end of an era of military adventurism and battlefield heroics. It was a day of frightful carnage for the dervish tribesmen, but it would, perhaps ironically, be dwarfed by the 20,000 dead the British themselves suffered on the first day of the Somme, less than eighteen years after Omdurman. Later observers reflected on this macabre symmetry. The constant theme of the battle is the contrast between what the British called civilization, on the one hand, and barbarism on the other. Churchill summed this up when he described Omdurman as the 'most signal triumph ever gained by the arms of science over barbarians.'"

Ghosts of Empire: Britain's Legacies in the Modern World
 
author: Kwasi Kwarteng  
title: Ghosts of Empire: Britain's Legacies in the Modern World  
publisher: PublicAffairs  
date:  
page(s): 227-229
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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2072526 2024-01-09T12:45:52Z 2024-01-12T23:49:05Z The Romans Conquer Sicily

“From Messena the Romans proceeded, logically enough, to the Aeolian Islands. For a couple of centuries the people of the little town of Lipari had been living prosperously and quietly, but as the Romans drew closer the Aeolians allied themselves to the Carthaginians. General Hannibal won a victory here over the Roman fleet. In vain, for in 252 the Romans occupied the obsidian islet. 


“Lilibaeum's thwarting of Pyrrhus was a tiny hors d'oeuvre to the Carthaginians before the Romans swept down to devour them. For over two hundred years, ever since a treaty of 508 between Rome and Carthage, the two powers had observed an understanding with regard to the North African coast and nearby trade routes. Since then the military environment had changed in two relevant ways. First, in the Battle of Himera in 480 the Greeks had triumphed over the Carthaginians — true, that was two centuries before, but the Carthaginians had never regained their aura of invincibility. Second, the Romans had grown into a powerful nation; now they controlled virtually all the Italic peninsula. Their next logical move would be to cross the strait. Carthage, with a military presence on Sicily, was the most powerful city in the western Mediterranean, and Rome took that as a challenge. 


“From Messena the Roman legions spread relentlessly south and west. In 263 they made a puppet of Siracusae's ruler. The same year they conquered Katane, and then, moving westward into the interior, they won the alliance of Centuripe, and in 258 they sacked Enna. On the south coast, Akragas was now a town of the Carthaginians; the Romans besieged Akragas for six months in 262-61 and finally conquered the city. East of Akragas, the Romans in 258 stumbled on the largely destroyed Camarina, and with equipment supplied by Siracusae flattened what little was standing there. 


“The Romans, rapid and ruthless on land, recognized their inferiority to the Carthaginians on the sea. In 261 an opportunity came to the Romans and they seized it: they captured a Carthaginian ship (a quinquereme, with five levels of oarsmen) and had their carpenters duplicate it exactly, a hundred times ... in just a couple of months. Now the Romans had a fleet worthy of them. 


“On land the Romans continued their advance. Compared to their progressions in the east and south, they encountered greater resistance as they moved westward along the north shore, that is, as they moved closer to the Carthaginians. Still, the Romans conquered: in 252 Thermae Himerae and the following year Panormus, heretofore central to the Carthaginian defenses. In 250 the Romans arrived in great force at Lilibaeum and surrounded her by land and sea. Then they discovered that they absolutely could not breach that famous wall. 

Hannibal Crossing of the Alps


“The Romans established a naval blockade; which they maintained for a year until they lost ninety ships in a defeat up north and decided to leave Lilibaeum temporarily. Roman soldiers found it impossible to reach Lilibaeum by land because of the Carthaginian guerrillas in the interior; from 247 to 242 the Carthaginians were under the command of the skillful Hamilcar Barca from his nest in the hills northeast of Lilibaeum. The Romans renewed their blockade in 242, with two hundred ships, new or newly equipped. 


“The Carthaginians brought in reinforcements. The Romans may have had two hundred ships, but the Carthaginians had twice that number, which they deployed to the west and north of Lilibaeum. 


“Over the waters, dense with ships out to the Egadi Islands, the captains communicated with each other by using smoke signals. Although the Carthaginian ships were bigger and swifter than most of the Roman, the Carthaginians needed more room to maneuver. Bringing in their ships from the north, the Romans immobilized the Carthaginians between the Roman ships and the land. Most of the Carthaginian ships were sunk or captured in this Battle of the Egadi, which the Romans won on March 10, 241 B.C.


“Lilibaeum was now a Roman city. It was clear to all concerned, Romans and Carthaginians alike, that the sea too was now Roman, and therefore also the Sicilian shores where the Carthaginians had a few remaining strongholds. From their redoubt at Eryx, their leader Hamilcar Barca sued for peace. The ensuing treaty gave to Rome all the Carthaginian territory in Sicily and its minor islands, and huge reparations. The Romans had won all of Magna Graecia; here on the west coast of Sicily the Romans grasped the Mediterranean world.

The Carthaginians, now effectively dead as a people, wrote no history.”


Author: Sandra Benjamin
Title: Sicily: Three Thousand Years of Human History
Publisher: Steerforth
Date: Copyright 2024
page(s): 72-74
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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2071907 2024-01-08T01:17:25Z 2024-01-12T23:49:15Z Plagiarism and AI

Harvard University President Claudine Gay, left, testifies at a congressional panel about antisemitism on college campuses in Washington, D.C., Dec. 5, 2023.
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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2071295 2024-01-06T13:44:40Z 2024-01-12T23:49:23Z Dark Waters: How a Round-The-World Boat Race Turned To Tragedy

Screen shot 2015-09-02 at 16.53.41 2
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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2070998 2024-01-05T12:40:59Z 2024-01-12T23:55:40Z A Dress That "Shimmered Like The Scales Of A Serpent" -- 1/5/24

Today's encore selection -- from Sargent's Women by Donna M. Lucey. John Singer Sargent was the greatest American portrait painter of the late 19th and the early 20th centuries. Dame Alice Ellen Terry was a famous Shakespearean actress in Britain in the 19th century. She was a star! And for her soon-to-be-legendary performance as Lady Macbeth, costume designer Alice Comyns Carr created a dress that "shimmered like 'the scales of a serpent" and inspired one of Sargent's most esteemed paintings.

"Ellen Terry, [was] the greatest stage actress and celebrity [in the late 19th century]. Born into a theatrical family, Terry made her stage debut at the age of nine. She married three times, had a series of lovers ... and gave birth to two children out of wedlock. This sort of behavior by a woman did not generally go over well in Victorian England, but in her case, it added to her fame. (She was eventually appointed a dame of the British Empire.)

"[John Singer] Sargent had painted the forty-two-year-old actress the previous winter. She was then starring as Lady Macbeth in a controver­sial London production. Sargent, an avid theater fan, took in the open­ing performance on December 27, 1888, and audibly gasped upon the actress's first entrance. That dress! It shimmered like 'the scales of a ser­pent,' and hugged Terry's figure like 'soft chain armour.' That had been the intent of the costume designer, Alice Strettell Carr, a friend of both Sargent and Terry. ...

Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth

"But the dress hadn't come easily. Carr couldn't find any fabric in England to cre­ate the sensuous yet metallic look she had in mind. She imported fine yarn from Bohemia -- strands of green silk twisted with blue tinsel -- and then crocheted the yarn into a dress based on a thirteenth-century design. It was floor length with large sweeping sleeves, but still lacked the theatri­cal brilliance to project to the final row of the theater. Inspiration came in the form of luminous insects. Carr had countless iridescent beetle wings sewn all over the dress. In a finishing touch, she arranged rubies and diamonds along the edges of the costume to create Celtic-style patterns.

"Upon seeing Terry in that fabulous dress with her hair hanging to her knees -- 'magenta hair!' Sargent exulted in a letter to the art collec­tor Isabella Stewart Gardner in Boston -- Sargent knew that he had to paint her in full costume. It took some arm-twisting, but Terry finally relented and arrived by carriage to Sargent's Tire Street studio one soggy morning. (Across the road, Oscar Wilde was riveted as he looked out his library window to witness 'the vision of Lady Macbeth in full regalia magnificently seated in a four-wheeler.' Such 'wonderful possibilities' the street now possessed, Wilde mused.)"

Sargents Women Four Lives Behind the Canvas
 
author: Donna M. Lucey  
title: Sargent's Women: Four Lives Behind the Canvas  
publisher: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.  
date: Copyright 2017 by Donna M. Lucey  
page(s): 4-5  

 




 





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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2070570 2024-01-04T09:43:40Z 2024-01-04T09:43:41Z Time Bandits

Albert Einstein in 1954 with Kurt Gödel
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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2070062 2024-01-03T07:39:25Z 2024-01-03T15:26:22Z We'll Meet Again - Godel and the Argument For Life After Death
https://aeon.co/essays/kurt-godel-his-mother-and-the-argument-for-life-after-death
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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2069281 2024-01-01T13:00:58Z 2024-01-01T15:24:57Z The New Weimar

December 28, 2023

Hitler and Goebbels visit UFA, 1935

Hitler and Goebbels visit UFA, 1935

Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1990-1002-500 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Living as we are under the collective inferiority of the West, and humbled as we are when faced with the cultural achievements of tribal Africans, primitive Amazonian tribesmen, Saudi Arabian witch doctors, and savages in general, I was relieved to see that Hollywood is hard at work in maintaining the myth that everything that the West has achieved since the Greeks was due to the white man’s cruelty and ability to steal from the Dark Continent.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I don’t watch the drivel that Tinseltown puts out nowadays, but a bad case of bronchitis had me in bed high up in the Alps, with a cough of a Volga boatman and a high temperature. There was nothing to do but watch TV, as I could not focus on the written word. And what I saw only made my temperature go up—actually, it made me so angry I got better. I will not mention the serial except that it’s been very successful. It takes place out west and the cowboys are all bad, bullies, criminals, sadists, and worst of all, white. The few black cowhands are wise, introspective, and very perceptive with their advice. The victims are the red Indians, sorry, Native tribesmen. One pretty Indian girl teaches history class, and her opening remarks to a new class are what a major criminal Christopher Columbus was. But the best part is the utter awfulness of the whites. They’re greedy, cowardly, murderous, bullying, dishonest, and I’m talking only of the men. The white women are drunks, sleep with everything that walks but the horses, and are very greedy and vengeful. My only thought was thank God I’m watching this in my own bed. In a movie house I’d probably be lynched once the lights went on. Mind you, I only watched less than a segment, and I’m told the characters improve later on.

“Hollywood is at present doing the work UFA films did for Hitler in the ’30s.”

Hollywood is at present doing the work UFA films did for Hitler in the ’30s. Back then, in film after film, the “International Jew” was portrayed as conspiring against Western interests, institutions, and Christian mores. By the time war broke out, there were few Germans who weren’t convinced that the Jews had conspired against them. Now our Jews in Hollywood are doing something along the same lines against the white man, white males having replaced on screen at least the “International Jew” as figures of hate.

Is America going the way of Weimar? Our Jews in Hollywood are not Hitlers, some of them are even nice guys. But they lack talent and courage, they love money, and the easiest way to get it is to follow the woke agenda, it’s as simple as that. Their grandfathers were Mittel-European Jews, uneducated and unsophisticated, but they learned quickly, could spot talent, used it well, and, when war broke out, turned Hollywood into a PR firm for Uncle Sam. These new Harvard guys are smart, well educated, but greedy, cowardly, and willing to debase themselves for woke ideology.

The verdict of history is always too late for those who correctly predict how it will turn out, hence the greatest Greek writer since Homer will abstain. One thing is for sure: Sub-Saharan Africa passed the one billion population mark in 2015, and it is going to more than double to 2.12 billion by 2050. By then it will be ten times what it was when I first visited Africa in the ’50s. The stance of some conservative politicians in Europe to counter an inevitable invasion from Africa is seen as fascist, and politicians who warn against unlimited African immigration as the embodiment of the Duce, if not the Führer. Woke is like the snowplow that opens the road after a heavy snowfall. Why should the whites have Europe to themselves? What have they done to deserve it except enslave people and profit from it? And what about America? The country is too big for a few rich slobs with large yachts and big private planes. Land and wealth need to be redistributed, and now.

The funny thing is, that show I watched while coughing my poor lungs out is all about this: one man with a large ranch, and many without large ranches who want to take it away from him because he did bad things in order to keep it from them in the past. Oy vey, as a Jewish granny would say. But here’s an idea for you Hollywood types. Why not make a movie about one of the bravest men alive, a man who saw action with the famous Rhodesian Light Infantry, acquired a law degree, wrote four well-received books including Men of War and on the Rhodesian SAS We Dared to Win, is a big-game hunter and conservationist, and survived a goring that ended with him operating on himself without anesthetic; a man who was mistaken by the doctors in Nairobi for Mel Gibson and, most important, a 14th-generation African—but white. He’s my dear friend Hannes Wessels, and the Hollywood bums should be filming his life. If they’re interested, he lives in the Cape of Africa and is known to everyone.

Theodore Acopulos

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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2068506 2023-12-30T14:28:28Z 2023-12-30T14:37:09Z A Long Read From The Guardian



Fish and chips at the Anstruther Fish Bar in the East Neuk of Fife in Scotland
Fish and chips at the Anstruther Fish Bar. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

A funeral for fish and chips: why are Britain’s chippies disappearing?

Plenty of people will tell you the East Neuk of Fife in Scotland is the best place in the world to eat fish and chips. So what happens when its chippies – and chippies across the UK – start to close?

Thu 20 Jul 2023 04.15 EDT

O

ne summer ago, before the region’s fish and chip industry was shaken by closures, before a death that was hard for people to bear, a lorry heaped with the first fresh potatoes of the season drove along the east coast of Scotland. This lorry wound its way along the East Neuk of Fife, dodging washing lines, mooring bollards and seagulls, parking with impunity to make deliveries. There was an understanding in the East Neuk that nobody would ever get angry and honk at the inbound “tattie” lorry, fish and chips being a staple meal, vital to the region’s economy. Tourists come shocking distances to sit on old harbour walls and stab around in takeaway trays with wooden forks. The fish and chips sold in the East Neuk might be the best in the British Isles and because of that (it follows) the best on the planet. Even so, by July 2022, local friers were finding it harder and harder to balance their books.

The driver of the tattie lorry, a red-cheeked Scotsman named Richard Murray, carried keys for most of the businesses on his route, to save from waking any tired friers who’d been up late the night before, poring anxiously over their sums. War in Ukraine coupled with ongoing complications from Brexit had driven up prices of almost all the goods that fish and chip shops depended on, from live ingredients to oil and salt to packaging. More distressing was the problem of rising energy costs. This meal is prepared using a great guzzler of a range cooker that must be kept on and roiling at all hours of a trading day. As the price of gas and electricity threatened to double, then triple, through 2022, friers were opening their energy bills with gritted teeth. A trade association called the National Federation of Fish Friers said that as many as a third of the UK’s 10,500 shops might go dark, warning of a potential “extinction event”.

It was about 8am when Murray drove his tattie lorry into a village called Pittenweem. He was met on the road by Alec Wyse, a skilled frier, 59 years old and known as Eck, who ran a takeaway called the Pittenweem Fish Bar. The tiny shop had been bought by Wyse’s father using money from the sale of a family fishing boat. There were nautical portraits on the walls. A peg-letter menu listed eight unchanging menu items, one of which was described in its entirety as “FISH”. Working together, Wyse and Murray unloaded sacks of potatoes from the lorry, carrying them inside on their shoulders.

A mile along the shore from Pittenweem, in the smarter harbour town of Anstruther, Murray parked his lorry outside a fish and chip shop called the Wee Chippy. Founded by Ian Fleming, a 64-year-old seafood trader with a tattoo of a shark on his forearm, the Wee Chippy stood across from a seaweed-covered strip of beach and a cobbled jetty. Fleming later told me it ruined his marriage, this fish and chip shop. “The hours,” he growled in explanation. Daily operations had long since passed to his business partner, a chef in his 40s called Chris Lewis. But Fleming kept a close eye on the Wee Chippy, which had absorbed such a big part of his life.

Leaving Anstruther behind, the tattie round almost done, Murray swung his lorry inland, in the rough direction of Dundee and a fish and chip shop called the Popular. Bright and cramped, the Popular had an eye-catching facade that was painted brown and baize green, making it resemble a snooker table turned on one side. A family concern, the Popular was staffed six days a week by a man called Graham Forbes, his wife Angela, and their two adult children. Though Forbes was in his mid-70s, he was the one who rose early to let the tattie man in. He liked to get started at about the same time the sun came up, feeding potatoes into the Popular’s rumbling peeler.

The harbour in Anstruther Fife Scotland UK
The harbour in Anstruther. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

These three businesses – the Pittenweem Fish Bar in Pittenweem, the Wee Chippy in Anstruther, the Popular in Dundee – shared not only a potato supplier but the near-religious devotion of the communities they serviced. They were run by men and women who had thick skins, literally so when it came to their fingertips, which had become so desensitised to heat that they could be brushed against boiling oil to better position a fillet of frying fish or test the readiness of chopped potatoes as they fizzed and crisped. But these people were not invulnerable to strain. By the following summer, two of the three businesses would be gone, forced to close against their owner’s will.

I visited the East Neuk several times during that difficult year: in high tourist season, in the eerie quiet of winter, in the limbo between. As a national industry foundered, I wanted to document what it was like for a group of friers as they were brought to the brink, competing against each other even as they helped each other out, always prepping for tomorrow, cooking for today, running their numbers at night, trying not to become yet another fish and chip shop that disappeared. Between July 2022 and July 2023, things got tougher and sadder in the East Neuk than anybody predicted they would. By the time I made my last visit, people were in mourning, having said goodbye to a beloved local figure who gave their all to a cherished, suddenly endangered trade; and it was no longer so difficult to imagine a world without fish and chips.


T

he origin question, wrote the historian John Walton in his definitive history of the dish, “is a matter of murky and probably insoluble dispute”. Should Londoners take the most credit for its creation and proliferation, or Lancastrians? The textile towns around Manchester or the fishing ports of Scotland? Undoubtedly, fish and chips is immigrant food, imported, perfected and perpetuated by a mish-mash of refugees and others originating from Portugal, Spain, eastern Europe, Italy, Cyprus, Greece and China. The method of deep-frying white fish in a liquid batter made of flour and egg or milk was likely brought over to London by Jews in flight from Catholic inquisitors. Walton and other food historians have identified chipped potatoes “in the French style” being sold from carts in the industrial Pennines as early as the 1860s.
Baked cheese glazed sausages and veggie dip Yotam Ottolenghis easy recipes to usher in the new yearMeera Sodhas vegan recipe for ram-don noodles from Parasite with black garlic leek and Tenderstem  The new veganWhere chefs let their freak flag fly Grace Dents favourite restaurants of 2023What will we be drinking most in 2024  Fiona Beckett on drinkBenjamina Ebuehis recipe for pear and praline millefeuille  The sweet spotRavinders New Years Eve feast scallops cheesy pie and poached quince

Whether styled as chippy, chippie, chippery, chipper, fishery, fish bar or fish restaurant, whether given cheerful punning titles (the Haddock Paddock, the Plaice to Be) or rootsier names that acknowledged their founders (Jimmy’s, George’s, Low’s, Long’s), these shops proliferated through the 20th century, carpeting the land from the northernmost – Frankie’s, up in Shetland – all the way to the Smugglers, down on the tapering tip of Cornwall. The fundamental cooking method is always the same. Fillets of white fish, usually haddock or cod, are slapped about in a viscous yellow batter before being dropped into 180C baths of oil. An experienced frier will tend their bubbling fillets compulsively, using a metal strainer to turn and tease the food as the batter flares and hardens, basting with twitches of the wrist. After about five minutes, the battered fish will be golden, curved in on itself like a banana, firm enough to be set atop chips without surrendering its shape.

As for the chips, these are made from white potatoes, peeled and cut to the thickness of thumbs, then placed in a steel basket and submerged in the same hot oil until they will crack apart when squeezed. There is resistance in Scotland towards the frying of cod, which is seen as an English lunacy, but it is generally accepted that potatoes grown in the drier soil of England do better when fried, being lower in glucose and less likely to caramelise. National pride stretches so far. Only not so far as brown chips.

Chips from Murray Camerons chip van in Fife Scotland
Chips from Murray Cameron’s chip van. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

Ideally, just after eating a portion of fish and chips, you should be aware that what you’ve put inside your body was prepared using ungodly quantities of grease, yet you don’t yourself feel greasy. This paradoxical richness without grossness, an angelic lightness of touch in preparing one of the heaviest meals on Earth, sets the better shops apart. At the Golden Galleon in Aldeburgh, takeaways are lined up in paper pouches on the counter, the fish tumbled in with the chips, all to be eaten with a rooting fork. At the Ashvale in Aberdeen, the hungriest diners can order a “whale” portion, so huge that anyone who finishes it unassisted wins a prize. Along a particular stretch of pavement in Holborn in London, pedestrians walk headlong into a bubble of airborne fat that seems to enclose a shop called the Fryer’s Delight. They fry in beef dripping at the Delight, not vegetable oil, creating a flavour that is fattier, more unctuous.

At the Popular in Dundee, Graham Forbes and his family cooked using beef dripping as well. Sit-in diners at the Popular huddled into wooden booths, sometimes packing so close, Forbes told me, that if those at table #1 were talking politics, those at tables #2 and #3 were inevitably talking politics as well. He tended not to think of the Popular as a business. It was a little world. And like any world, it had its points of pride, its stubborn habits.

One day I spoke to a man up the supply chain who oversaw the weekly tattie runs through the East Neuk. His name is Conor Booth. He works for a Scottish company called John Callum Potatoes. Booth explained that the top fish and chip shops are kept consistent by generations of rolling tradition. But many of those traditions (the dawn calls to prep ingredients, the midnight equipment-scrubbing, the reliance on inefficient cookers) have made willing staff scarcer and costs harder to bring down. “Every industry has to adapt to survive,” said Booth. “Unfortunately, in fish and chips, there’s only so much you can do while keeping it traditional. The potatoes need their peeling. The fish needs its frying.”

Last year, as trading conditions worsened, proprietors were giving interviews to local newspapers, explaining the pressures they were under. These communications tended to have the tone of panicky messages scribbled by hostages. At the Crispy Cod in Worcester, they said: “It feels like we have no control.” The Gipsy Lane Chippery in Leicester: “It’s scary.” Paddy’s Plaice in Criccieth: “Need help.” In the town of Macduff in Scotland, a shop called the Happy Haddock received a bill that put up its energy costs from £600 a month to £2,000. The Happy Haddock closed. Roughly the same thing happened at the Fryar Tuck in Belfast, then at Barnacle Bill’s in Somerset, and Chip Ahoy on the Isle of Wight. At Chung’s Chinese Chippy in Lancashire, a note to customers appeared in the window, similar in substance to the messages put on display at Stefano’s in Glasgow and chalked on a blackboard outside Jones Plaice in Caldicot: “Due to excessive price increases in all areas, raw materials, labour, fuel and utilities, we have decided to close.”

At the Popular in Dundee, the Forbes family issued a plea to customers via Facebook: “Use us or lose us.” Graham Forbes’s son Lindsay had already given an interview to a Dundee newspaper that amounted to a forewarning of closure. A clipping of this article (“CHIPPERS ARE BATTERED BY SOARING COSTS”) was pinned to the Popular’s fridge on the summer day the family huddled to make a decision. “This is the end,” Graham said, “isn’t it?” They telephoned the Dundee newspaper again, which published a story confirming the Popular would close after 35 years. Graham’s daughter Gaynor put an announcement online. The next day, “as soon as we opened the doors at 11.30am,” Graham said, “we were mobbed. Generations of customers. Grandparents. Grandkids. People asked, why? I told them the enjoyment had gone out of it, from worrying all the time. I told them, if you’d kept coming, even just once a fortnight, it might have been different.”


B

efore the main danger to fish and chip shops was the quarterly energy bill, it was sudden fire. Ignored for a moment, the hot cooking fat can get too hot, rising to an auto-ignition point and exploding. In a single year – 2018 – there were serious fires at Old Salty’s in Glasgow, the Admiral in Overseal, Mr Chips in Fakenham, the Pilton Fryer in Pilton, the Fish Bar in Fenham, Crossroads in Kingstanding, Graylings in Fremington, the River Lane Fish Bar in Norfolk, the Portway Fish Bar in Rowley Regis, Bruno’s on Canvey Island, Jimmy’s Palace in Liverpool, Scoffs in Paignton and Moby Dick in Shirley. “Doesn’t matter how experienced you are,” said Chris Lewis, one of the owners of the Wee Chippy in Anstruther, “if something mechanical goes, or something catches, and you haven’t seen it – that’s it, that’s your time.”

The Wee Chippy’s time came on Remembrance Sunday in 2018, in the middle of a lunch service. A frier was distracted; the oil in the range ignited; a huge ball of fire was sucked into the Wee Chippy’s ventilator, leaving just enough time for staff and customers to flee before the ground floor was thick with smoke. In the subsequent blaze, unpeeled potatoes from the tattie lorry blistered and shrunk in their sacks. About 100 North Sea haddocks cooked inside a fridge. Jars of pickled eggs boiled and burst. Lewis and Ian Fleming, who both live nearby, came running. They watched from across the harbour road as the glass in the windows of their shop began to melt and pulsate. Jets of orange flame licked out the chimney pots.

The Wee Chippy Anstruther in 2023 after it reopened following a fire in 2018
The Wee Chippy, Anstruther, in 2023, after it reopened following a fire in 2018. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

Fleming (he of the shark tattoo) had opened this fish and chip shop in 1999, in perverse defiance of the fact that there was already a popular alternative, the Anstruther Fish Bar, just a short way along the harbour road. After the 2018 fire, Fleming’s insurance claim was rejected. “We were classed as having a flammable material behind the plasterboard,” he told me. He talked it over with Lewis and they decided to spend their own money on a refurbishment, if only to give the insurance company as well as their rivals in Anstruther “a kick in the nuts”, as Fleming put it. Between them they spent nine months and a six-figure sum getting the Wee Chippy back open in summer 2019.

Now, in summer 2022, conditions were tougher than Fleming had ever known them. As consumers battled rising costs of living at home, they were eating out less. Because they were eating out less, proprietors were being forced to charge more, right when they could least afford to discourage custom. There is a fish bar in Cardiff, John’s, that shut in 2001 and has never been bought or altered since. A decaying menu at John’s still advertises a takeaway portion of fish and chips for the unthinkable price of £2.45. Two decades later, the same meal cost £9.40 at the Wee Chippy. Few proprietors dared breach the holy barrier of £10. In fact, the owners of a shop called Café Fish in Belfast had done some honest maths and concluded that, given prevailing costs, fish and chips ought to be selling for about £15 per portion. “Who would pay it?” Fleming wondered.

If motivation ever flagged at the Wee Chippy, Fleming and Lewis only had to think of their nearest rivals up the road. For decades the Wee Chippy had been engaged in a losing battle with the Anstruther Fish Bar, which had achieved outsized fame since it opened in the 1980s, doing much to establish the East Neuk as an area of excellence for fish and chips. Prince William was a customer there during his student days. His stepmother Camilla later stopped a royal motorcade on the harbour road and sent in a security guard for takeaways. The Anstruther Fish Bar had won every industry award going. It was celebrated in guidebooks and travel pieces. Sometimes, Fleming and Lewis watched through the windows of their shop as tourists parked on the terrace outside, wandering along the harbour to eat at the Anstruther Fish Bar, later compounding the insult by putting their scraped-clean takeaway trays in the Wee Chippy’s bins.

Murrays Chippy a fish and chip van owned by Murray Cameron
Murray’s Chippy, a fish and chip van owned by Murray Cameron. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

Over time there had been squabbles between the two neighbouring businesses over property, parking, staffing, branding, packaging, naming rights, as well as dibs on who could sell which variety of savoury pudding. Such rivalries were quite common, I learned. One day I got talking to an East Neuk man called Murray Cameron, a former fisherman who now ran a mobile fish-and-chips service out of a modified Vauxhall Movano van. Cameron had his own beef with the Anstruther Fish Bar. And with the Wee Chippy. Cameron said he had spent years perfecting the precise blend of flour and grains he put in his batter mix; and because of this he tended to hide his empty packaging in the bottom of his bins, fearful of his secret getting out. In every corner of the country there are friers who fret about their nearest rivals, hourly remaking the same dish until they are tweaking it minutely, improving the batter-cling, the chip-give, vying to be thought of as number one.

By now I’d spent enough time in the East Neuk to notice that whenever friers complained about each other, there was one family – the Wyses of Pittenweem – they exempted from criticism. Eck Wyse and his relatives had run the Pittenweem Fish Bar since the 1980s, taking it over from the Baird family, before them the Smalls. This was a seriously adored village hub, one of the few places in Pittenweem that remained open after dark. The Wyses’ ancient cooker, wide as the room that contained it and submarine-like in appearance, turned out takeaways that were passed to customers the old fashioned way, wrapped in paper. Though the Pittenweem Fish Bar wasn’t often included in tourist books or internet must-try lists, people in the region knew how rare and special it was, an inexpensive gem that seemed to stand outside of time.

When the Pittenweem Fish Bar burned down at the end of summer 2022, it was a trauma felt for miles.


T

he fire started on a Tuesday afternoon, hours after the tattie lorry passed through on a run. Flames massed in the cramped interior of the shop, burning up the net curtains, popping out windows, sending a shaft of dark smoke over Pittenweem’s church and towards the sea. A passing neighbour rushed in to drag out Wyse, who had been cooking at the range and, according to a later account by an eyewitness, was dazed by smoke. Fire engines were on the scene for hours. By morning the shop was unrecognisable, its painted sign gone, the front walls blistered and cracked.

When he drove through Pittenweem again in October 2022, Richard Murray slowed down his tattie lorry to pass the ruined shop. He turned off his music. “Devastating,” he muttered. Arriving in Anstruther soon afterwards, Murray parked near the seaweed-covered beach as usual. He fell into conversation with Ian Fleming, who was waiting in the chill outside the Wee Chippy, peering along the harbour road. “Town’s quieting down,” Fleming observed. Murray nodded.

As they started to unload sacks of potatoes, the two men chatted about the terrible frequency of fires in their industry. In former times, Fleming said, you could try to rebuild after a fire, just about trusting that the fish-and-chip economy would support you. Even after the Wee Chippy was denied its insurance payout back in 2018, the market seemed stable enough to make the risk of reinvestment worthwhile. Now, in 2022, when uncertainty prevailed, would it even be possible to bring a burned fish and chip shop back?

“That’s where you worry about Eck,” Murray said to Fleming.

“Aye,” growled Fleming.

“Seen him?”

Fleming shook his head. “I texted.”

A lot of people in the East Neuk had been sharing memories of the Pittenweem shop, using Facebook forums to gather anecdotes and photographs. Former employees at the fish bar spoke of after-school jobs peeling or cleaning. Customers memorialised favourite orders. That autumn, when I visited an East Neuk seafood business run by a family called the Wilsons, the two married owners reminisced about a courtship spent eating unimprovable Pittenweem takeaways. People stood in queues so long, Wendy Wilson remembered, the line would snake away from the Wyses’ door, beyond the local bank, wrapping around the village church. Since the fire, the village had lost something irreplaceable: a queue to join, a set of flavours and smells, an illuminated place to go after dark, a takeaway to eat on a sea wall.

Fish and chip diners in Anstruther
Fish and chip diners in Anstruther. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

It is an article of faith that fish and chips tastes better – best – when eaten by the sea. I’ve agreed with this sentiment all my life, without wondering why it might be so, except to think that being near a shoreline must equate to freshness of fish. It did used to be the case that many East Neuk villages could support their own seafood markets. When the Pittenweem Fish Bar first opened in the 1980s, haddocks were bought off the boats in Pittenweem harbour. Today, an auction house in Peterhead on the north-east tip of Scotland is all that’s left on one whole side of the country. Almost every haddock that is fried in the East Neuk has been trucked 100 miles south from Peterhead first.

Why, then, should fish and chips by the sea taste special? In a place like this, I think it must be the continued intimacy between fish as a trade and fish as a meal. As well as part-owning the Wee Chippy, Ian Fleming is a seafood trader. He is the son of a seafood trader. Before he became a frier, Eck Wyse was a fisherman, the son of a fisherman. Down on Pittenweem harbour, two bronze statues – a mother and a daughter – face the choppy water, memorialising all the local people who have tried to make a living from the sea, as well as the 400 or so who have died trying since the 1800s. Decades ago, Fleming’s father-in-law drowned in a fishing accident. Many, many people in the East Neuk have lost a friend, an uncle, a cousin. Fishing is a serious matter here. Fish and chips is a serious meal.


I

t was December 2022. The Pittenweem Fish Bar had burned down. The Popular in Dundee was closed. The Wee Chippy clung on, though tourists would not visit the East Neuk in any sort of number again until the spring. After about 5pm, the whole coast could seem abandoned, just the tide audible in the dark as well as the grumble of salt lorries as they gritted the roads in case of a freeze. When I visited Fleming at his house on the outskirts of Anstruther, he opened his ledger to see how many haddocks they were getting through at the Wee Chippy in the offseason. Not so many haddocks, he frowned, putting aside the book. “We’re telling ourselves that business is down because of the frozen roads. That might be denial.”

In Dundee, the Forbes family had stripped and emptied the Popular, selling off a fridge, a chest freezer, a bain marie, two menu boards, as well as their till and the small paper rolls that were meant for future receipts. Tables #1, #2 and #3 were uprooted and taken away for use in a restaurant in Inverness. Lindsay Forbes accepted a job with a wholesaler. Graham and Angela Forbes retired. The next time Graham walked by the Popular, around Christmas, there was a “To Let” sign in the window. He could still see his own tacked-up notice to customers, explaining the closure. “No other option,” Graham had written.

In Pittenweem, charred wood and plaster were heaped on the pavement outside the ruined fish bar. Cones and metal fencing stopped passersby getting too close. The scene appeared frozen in time since the fire, even though months had passed, even though the Wyse family had written a message to customers saying they hoped to “rise from the ashes” if they could. Murray Cameron, the mobile frier who travelled around the villages of the East Neuk in his van, had never once encroached on Wyse’s territory in Pittenweem. It was his tribute to Wyse, his show of confidence that one day Wyse would bring this business back.

Behind the scenes, as a member of the Wyse family later told a local newspaper, Eck was taking the closure badly. “Like losing a limb,” said his wife, Anna. As more and more weeks went by without the fire damage being cleared, Fleming began to doubt the prospects of a revival. He had experienced a blaze at first hand. He remembered how crushing it was, waiting weeks and months to get answers from an insurance company – all for nothing in the end, because the Wee Chippy’s claim was refused. As 2022 turned to 2023, and another month passed without the wreckage outside the Pittenweem Fish Bar being cleared, Fleming worried more and more about his friend.

Elsewhere around the country, a fish and chip shop called the Little Fryer in Southampton had to close. Unsustainable costs. The Dolphin in Belfast closed, as did the Seafarer in Northwich and the High Plaice in Alston. The owners of Simpsons in Quedgeley felt they were busy, thriving even. But their energy bill had quadrupled, so it closed. Staff at the Whieldon Fish Bar in Stoke-on-Trent told their local newspaper they were clinging on by leaving the lights off whenever they could. Simeone’s in Glasgow was listed for sale, along with about 700 other fish and chip shops including the Ocean King in Gosport, the Haddock Paddock in Cumbria and Ightenhill Traditional in Burnley. Smarts in Abingdon closed.

At the end of January 2023, Fleming received a text message from a friend. He was told that Eck had died that day. It was sudden. The police were not treating the death as suspicious. The family put out a photograph, online, that showed Eck behind the range at his old fish and chip shop. “Where he was happiest,” they wrote, “where he belonged.”


T

here are fancier meals than fish and chips. There are bigger-ticket meals, those we put on bucket lists or pencil in for birthdays. We look to fish and chips for something different, which I think of as constancy, a firm handrail to our pasts. As a schoolboy I often bought lunch from Andrews in Enfield, where they would douse a takeaway with the leftover brine from pickled gherkins. Later I went to university in Yorkshire. The taste of sweet curry sauce over chips will forever turn me 18. My parents’ parents were from different backgrounds. Every spring, at Passover, my maternal family would gather to eat fried fish from a London takeaway. Every autumn, we would drive 500 miles north to visit my paternal family in Aberdeen. My Jewish grandma and my Protestant gran were very different people. Both put absolute trust in fried fish as a food that would unite and enthuse a bunch of disparate relatives.

The same as hearing a Beatles tune, or rewatching The Snowman at Christmas, or raising up a pint of foaming beer, fish and chips is a national pleasure we expect to repeat and repeat. Impossible to imagine eating this meal for the last time. When a shop called Kong’s in Greater Manchester announced it would close, following so many others, people massed outside as if for a wake. There was a one-hour wait to get inside, then a two-hour wait. In the queue they joked about buying extra portions, to freeze them and sell them on to anybody suffering Kong’s withdrawals. We don’t expect these takeaways to be taken away. We imagine dining-in in perpetuity.

Fish in the fryer at the Anstruther Fish Bar
Fish being fried at the Anstruther Fish Bar. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

In spring 2023, the Lowford Fish Bar in Bursledon closed, its owners describing the decision as the hardest of their lives. At around the same time, Jack Spratt’s Superior in Oldham closed after 25 years of continuous trading. Skircoat Green Fish Bar in Halifax closed after 40 years. Jackson’s Chippie in Ilkeston closed after 62 years. The owner of Sam’s Fish Bar in Fenton said he was moonlighting as a delivery driver to stay afloat. Pawsons Golden Plaice in Chorley closed.

Earlier this month, I was back on a tattie run through the East Neuk. The weekly delivery was no longer being driven by Richard Murray. It was no longer weekly. With fewer businesses to sell to, potato orders in the region were often so reduced that Murray’s boss, Conor Booth, could handle a delivery using his pickup truck. Booth met me in the truck and we thundered along the coast road. It was raining, “a real dreich”, Booth said. As we went, he talked about potato prices, twice what they were a year ago and causing yet another threat to businesses. There had been a weak seasonal yield. It was unfortunate timing. In fish and chips, Booth said, “if there wasn’t bad luck, there wouldn’t be any luck”.

Booth had a one-month-old baby waiting for him at home and he was eager to finish the delivery run and get back. Parenthood had brought up a confusion of memories, he said, as well as premonitions about the future. He had been remembering driving around with his granddad when he was small, hearing about vanished local businesses, some of which were impossible for him to picture. That used to be a boot-maker, his granddad would say, pointing. That used to be a knife-sharpener. Booth wondered if he would drive a grandchild of his own along this coast; if he would have to explain, there used to be these places we called fish bars.

It stopped raining. Booth delivered some final potatoes, then let me out of the truck at Pittenweem cemetery. As the sky brightened overhead, the damp reddish gravel of the cemetery paths started to dry, getting its crunch back. The night before Wyse’s funeral in February, there had been a great spectacle in these skies – an aurora that flared purple and green. The following morning there was another extraordinary sight in Pittenweem. The village was full of people, not only Wyse’s family and friends but his customers, hundreds of whom had turned out to say goodbye. There were so many mourners that the church did not have enough pews. They ran out of standing room. Mourners left outside started to line the route to the cemetery and later joined the funeral procession as it passed. Wyse was buried next to his father, who had run the family shop before him.

After paying my respects, I walked along the coast to Anstruther. It was teatime. The harbour was busy with boats. Riggings clacked and hissed in the breeze. A dad on a bench fed his toddler, one scrap of batter at a time. A middle-aged couple sat in their car. They had a tray propped between them, two teas in china cups, cutlery from home, and steaming takeaway boxes on their laps. At about 6pm, I met Ian Fleming outside the Wee Chippy. They had a good number of customers in the dining room. The shop was enjoying a bit of a summer-season revival, Fleming said. They had recently won a Scottish catering award, beating their rivals up the road for once. The Wee Chippy would abide through another summer at least. We waited and got a table. The waitress asked, do you want fish and chips?

 This article was amended on 20 July 2023 to replace a map which misspelt Kirkcaldy.

 Follow the Long Read on Twitter at @gdnlongread, listen to our podcasts here and sign up to the long read weekly email here.

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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2068030 2023-12-29T12:31:24Z 2023-12-29T12:31:25Z Doug Casey on What Really Happened in 2023 and What Comes Next

by Doug Casey

2023 in review
 Subscribe to International Man

International Man: As we approach the end of the year, let’s take a step back, look at the Big Picture, and put 2023 into perspective so we can better understand what may come next.

Significant financial, economic, political, cultural, and geopolitical developments occurred in 2023.

On the cultural front, 2023 may be the year that the tide started to shift against the woke insanity.

BlackRock’s Fink dropped ESG. Woke movies continue to bomb at theaters. Bud Light, Target, and Disney continue to feel the pain of deliberately alienating their customer base.

What’s your take on the cultural developments in 2023?

Doug Casey: There are always reactions to major trends. These things are worth noting, but considering the virulence of the woke movement, the reaction has been tepid. There’s always a rearguard fighting for things as they are. And that’s wonderful because the Wokesters want to overturn the entire culture much the same way as the Jacobins overturned it in revolutionary France, the Bolsheviks overturned the culture in Russia, the Red Guards in China, or Pol Pot did in Cambodia.

The Wokesters are potentially just as dangerous because their way of thinking is everywhere in the West. They’re similar to the movements I’ve just mentioned in that they’re stridently against free speech, free thought, free markets, tradition, and limited government—nothing new there. But they’ve weaponized gender and race as well. They’re virulent, humorless, and puritanical. They see themselves as the wave of the future, but they’ve only repackaged the notions of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler.

My view is that the Wokesters hate humanity and hate themselves. They’re dishonest, arrogant, and entitled. Look at the current scandal involving the diversity-hire presidents at Harvard, Penn, and MIT. They’re shameful embarrassments. The fact their boards of trustees installed these fools shows how deep the rot goes.

The Woke have ingrained psychological/spiritual aberrations. They don’t just control academia, finance, entertainment, and the media. They also dominate the State’s apparatus. Which means they basically have the law on their side.

Perhaps ESG is being de-emphasized by Blackrock, the new vampire squid, but that’s only because they fear losing money more than they value their beliefs. The more pernicious DEI remains a major cultural trend.

Where will it end?

Wokism is more than a passing fad. There’s a good chance it will end with a violent confrontation between people who have culturally conservative views and those who want to destroy Western Civilization and upset the nature of society as we know it.

International Man: 2023 was a year of major geopolitical developments.

It became evident to even the mainstream media that the war in the Ukraine was not going well for NATO.

There was also the Hamas attack and the Israeli invasion of Gaza.

Azerbaijan defeated Armenia to reclaim a long-disputed territory.

Saudi Arabia welcomed Syria back into the Arab League, ended the war in Yemen, restored diplomatic relations with Iran, joined the BRICS countries, and expanded its economic ties with China.

These are just a few of the most prominent geopolitical events of 2023.

What do you make of the geopolitical situation and where things are heading?

Doug Casey: The end of US hegemony over the world in all areas is becoming obvious. The world resents being bullied and controlled by Washington, DC.

They realize that the US government is bankrupt and is living entirely on printed money. Its military is bloated and more expensive than the US can afford.

While it’s bloated, it’s also being gutted, unable to recruit new soldiers and sailors. It’s easy to see why that’s the case. They see pointless wars fomented everywhere. The type of people who traditionally join the military are disgusted by the woke memes circulating through the services. White males, who have always been the backbone of the military, are appalled at being actively discriminated against.

US hegemony is ending financially, economically, and militarily.

It’s obvious when you see that Biden and Harris, two utterly incompetent, ineffectual fools, are the nominal heads of the government. Not to mention all the degraded and psychologically damaged people in the cabinet. Of course, nobody has any respect for the US anymore.

The US hegemony of the last hundred years is on its way out. And as the old order changes, there are going to be upsets. The US will leave a vacuum that will be filled by other forces.

In fact, the US Government is the biggest danger to the world today. It’s not providing order. By sticking its nose into everyone else’s business everywhere, it’s promoting chaos. Its 800+ bases around the world are provocations. The carrier groups that it has wandering around are sitting ducks with today’s technology. The US is the main source of risk in the world, not safety.

US military spending is really just corporate welfare for the five big “defense” corporations, which build weapons suited for fighting the last war or maybe the war before the last war. For instance, a missile frigate or destroyer guarding a carrier might carry 100 vertically-launched anti-aircraft missiles at $2 million each. Each missile might succeed in shooting down a $10,000 drone. But what happens when the enemy launches 200 drones at once? The chances are the US loses a $2 billion destroyer, if not a carrier.

The US government is finding that they’re not only disliked but disrespected by countries and people all over the world. They’re increasingly viewed as a paper tiger. Or the Wizard of Oz. When they lose the fear factor, it’s game over.

International Man: In 2023, the US continued the trend of more political polarization.

What were the most consequential events on the US political front, and what do you think comes next?

Doug Casey: Let me reemphasize that the Jacobins who control Washington, DC, have the same psychological makeup as past revolutionaries I’ve mentioned. These people are incapable of changing their minds or reforming. I think they’ll do absolutely anything they can to retain power.

Meanwhile, traditional Americans in red states see that Trump is being railroaded with lawfare to derail his campaign. They’re angrier than ever, justifiably. The red people and the blue people really hate each other at this point—and can’t talk to each other.

The country has been completely demoralized as traditional values have been washed away. It’s now very unstable.

The coming election, should we actually have one, will be not just a political but a cultural contest. Culture wars are especially dangerous in the midst of a financial collapse and economic collapse.

International Man: The projected annual interest expense on the federal debt hit $1 trillion for the first time in 2023.

Americans are still paying for the rampant currency debasement during the Covid hysteria as the price of groceries, insurance, rent, and most other things continued to rise in 2023.

It looks like a recession is on the horizon.

What are your thoughts on economic developments in 2023 and your outlook for the months ahead?

Doug Casey: As an amateur student of history, it seems to me that the US has been moving away from the founding principles that made it unique for over a hundred years. I’m 77. I’ve watched it happen firsthand for much of that time.

The trend has been accelerating. The country is heading towards a massive crisis because it’s lost its philosophical footing. The result is going to be a really serious depression. I call it the Greater Depression.

The spread between the haves who live in multi-million dollar houses and the have-nots who live in tents isn’t new. After all, Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you.” What’s new is that the middle class is being impoverished. What’s left of the middle class is deeply in debt—student debt, credit card debt, car loan debt, mortgage debt. And if they’re not lucky enough to have a house with mortgage debt, they’re renting. And rents have gone up so rapidly that if the average guy has an unforeseen $500 expense, he can’t pay it.

That augurs poorly for consumption. It’s said, idiotically, that the American economy rests on consumption. It’s idiotic because it should be said that it rests on production. But I’m not sure the US produces that much anymore. Most of the people who “work” basically sit at desks and shuffle papers. Few actively create real wealth.

On top of that, the country is vastly over-financialized.

The bond market has already largely collapsed, but it can get a lot worse as interest rates head back up to the levels that they were in the early 1980s and beyond.

Much lower stock prices are in the cards, both because of high interest rates and because people won’t be consuming such massive quantities of corporate produce.

The real estate market rests on a foundation of debt. It can easily go bust as interest rates go up. We’re already seeing this with office buildings across the country. And, of course, these office buildings are financed by banks. Banks are going to see a lot of defaults on loans they’ve made.

Meanwhile, bank capital invested in bonds has eroded because bond prices fall in proportion to the degree rise in interest rates, which have gone from close to zero to 5% or 6%. If banks had to mark their loans and capital investments to the market, most would already be bankrupt.

Can the government paper all these things over by printing yet more money? I suppose. But at some point very soon, the dollar will lose value very rapidly; it will be treated like a hot potato. They’re caught between a rock and a hard place.

International Man: This year, we saw the price of gold hit a record high, uranium reached $81.25 per pound, and Bitcoin more than doubled as it entered a new bull market. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 is up around 21% year to date as of writing.

What are your thoughts on what happened in the financial markets in 2023 and what could come next?

Doug Casey: Unfortunately, the US central bank, the Fed, has a gigantic amount of influence over the markets. They can employ “quantitative easing,” which means printing money—and “quantitative tightening,” which means decreasing the money and artificially raising interest rates.

They have many hundreds of Ph.D. economists on staff, but all these people operate on phony Keynesian theories of the way the world works. The consequences of building an economic system on a foundation of paper money and gigantic amounts of debt are potentially catastrophic.

At this point, the economy’s on the razor edge. If they push the print button and hold it down too long, we could go into a runaway inflation. Or, to tamp down inflation, they might raise interest rates and contract the money supply, which might set off a 1929-style credit collapse.

We’re caught between Scylla and Charybdis at this point. And I don’t believe it’s a question of a soft landing or a hard landing. It’s a question of how devastating the crash landing will be.

I hope they can wring one more cycle out of all this because I personally prefer good times to bad times, even if they’re artificial good times, because the bad times are going to be very real.

Editor’s Note: Doug Casey’s forecasts helped investors prepare and profit from: 1) the S&L blowup in the ’80s and ’90s, 2) the 2001 tech stock collapse, 3) the 2008 financial crisis, 4) and now… Doug’s sounding the alarms about a catastrophic event. One he believes could soon strike. To help you prepare and profit, Doug and his team have prepared a special video. Click here to watch now.

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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2067151 2023-12-27T15:17:13Z 2023-12-27T15:47:39Z March 9-10, 1945: The Night Of The Black Snow

WORLD WAR II TOKYO 1945 Aerial view of Tokyo Japan after heavy American bombing 1945

 
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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2067092 2023-12-27T13:17:02Z 2023-12-27T13:17:02Z General Washington's Christmas Message

General Washington’s Christmas Message for Those Complying with the Great Reset

Keeping in mind the above, imagine sitting at a desk peering into a high powered microscope and discovering a universe, then as you adjust your lens you see this tiny planet. As you adjust further, you see this tiny little world with this thing we call civilization. The apparent infinite number of subatomic particles and infinite solar systems, galaxies, and so on, that exist to support this thing called life, is both a miracle and absurd at the same time. Yes, I know the Cosmos and the subatomic world can be considered alive too, but let’s not digress.

As you adjust your microscope further, you see a battle initiating on Christmas night 1776.

Why not? Why should you be bound by time in this thought exercise?

General George Washington was leading his troops undetected across the Delaware river launching a bold surprise attack on British occupied Trenton. This bold attack initiated on Christmas night was a deliberate attempt to catch the Hessians (German Mercenaries) off guard after a day of Christmas drinking and celebrating.

This bold attack on Christmas night was born out of necessity. British troops occupying America had reached 43,000 soldiers.  To make matters worse, a once 25,000 soldier strong Continental Army, had dwindled to 4,300. As if this was not bad enough, on December 31st most of the Continental Army’s enlistment terms would end. This would of course mean the end of the American Revolution and likely the end of a rope for Washington and the Patriots that were signatories to the July 4th Declaration of Independence.

Arguably the most underrated general in history, General Washington was an American Caesar, and as such, would not allow for failure. Delayed by weather, Washington led 2,300 men across the Delaware, and what was supposed to be a predawn invasion, occurred at 8 AM. Some American soldiers had no shoes and left a bloody trail as they marched through the snow on their way to the battle. An hour later, 900 of the 1500 unsuspecting, and mostly hung over, Hessians, were killed or captured on the morning of December 26th.

This was the first victory for the Americans and the turning point of the war. The Continental Army remained intact and eventually swelled again.  James Madison, John Marshall, Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton, and James Monroe, who was severely injured, all participated in the battle. Some of the Hessian prisoners were later paraded through the streets as evidence of the Continental Army’s victory.

George Washington was an indispensable man. General Washington did not win every battle and often his battle plans were too complex. He was no Napoleon. Napoleon, was also, no Washington. Our view of Washington is largely influenced and skewed by the aged portrait rescued by Dolley Madison. General Washington was a commanding figure at six foot four at a time when such a height was very uncommon. Washington formed a Continental Army when a continental government did not exist. He held this army together and eventually won the war. An American Caesar, Washington did what no other man has ever done, he denied the crown and retired from public life after two terms as president. We could attribute this to his old age at the time and no heir. Still, like winning the war, he did it. This too was a miracle.

In the current unrestricted war by globalists seeking to dismantle human civilization, there may be no indispensable men at this time. Or at least none has arisen. I’d have to imagine if Washington were alive today, he’d have organized a sort of Continental Army by now, and we’d know who he is. Soldiers marched barefoot and bloody, at the tail end of the mini ice age, into the battle of Trenton. We aren’t seeing that type of courage yet. Although, there have been some heroic medical doctors that have resisted at great expense.

Read the Whole Article

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tag:para-rigger.posthaven.com,2013:Post/2067032 2023-12-27T09:04:58Z 2023-12-27T09:20:08Z 52 Interesting Things I Learned in 2023
https://kottke.org/23/12/52-interesting-things-i-learned-2023

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