Minutiae
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"Chuck Norris doesn't read books; he stares them down until he gets the information he wants out of them."
- ChuckNorrisFactsdotcom

Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Um well, in a quiet sort of way I suppose.
You Are Opium!

You like to have fun and enjoy life. Reeeeeally enjoy life. If it isn't fast, loud, or extreme forget it. You value friendship and are loyal and will not hesiste to go off if someone crosses you.

What Naughty My Little Pony Are You?


posted by Rachel 6/28/2005
. . .
Sometimes I'm so good it scares me. On
June 13th I said: "BALANCE. That's the word that will enable both individuals and systems to survive this century. That and protection of private property. The lack of same will lead to suffering."

10 days later the SCOTUS ruled that private property has no protection anymore. Whee.

posted by Rachel 6/28/2005
. . .
"But for an intellectual, transference has an important function which I have already mentioned shortly in connection with Chesterton. It makes it possible for him to be much MORE nationalistic--more vulgar, more silly, more malignant, more dishonest--that he could ever be on behalf of his native country, or any unit of which he had real knowledge. When one sees the slavish or boastful rubbish that is written about Stalin, the Red Army, etc. by fairly intelligent and sensitive people, one realises that this is only possible because some kind of dislocation has taken place. In societies such as ours, it is unusual for anyone describable as an intellectual to feel a very deep attachment to his own country. Public opinion--that is, the section of public opinion of which he as an intellectual is aware--will not allow him to do so. Most of the people surrounding him are sceptical and disaffected, and he may adopt the same attitude from imitativeness or sheer cowardice: in that case he will have abandoned the form of nationalism that lies nearest to hand without getting any closer to a genuinely internationalist outlook. He still feels the need for a Fatherland, and it is natural to look for one somewhere abroad. Having found it, he can wallow unrestrainedly in exactly those emotions from which he believes that he has emancipated himself. God, the King, the Empire, the Union Jack--all the overthrown idols can reappear under different names, and because they are not recognised for what they are they can be worshipped with a good conscience. Transferred nationalism, like the use of scapegoats, is a way of attaining salvation without altering one's conduct.

INDIFFERENCE TO REALITY. All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage--torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians--which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by 'our' side. The Liberal NEWS CHRONICLE published, as an example of shocking barbarity, photographs of Russians hanged by the Germans, and then a year or two later published with warm approval almost exactly similar photographs of Germans hanged by the Russians.[Note, below] It is the same with historical events. History is thought of largely in nationalist terms, and such things as the Inquisition, the tortures of the Star chamber, the exploits of the English buccaneers (Sir Francis Drake, for instance, who was given to sinking Spanish prisoners alive), the Reign of Terror, the heroes of the Mutiny blowing hundreds of Indians from the guns, or Cromwell's soldiers slashing Irishwomen's faces with razors, become morally neutral or even meritorious when it is felt that they were done in the 'right' cause. If one looks back over the past quarter of a century, one finds that there was hardly a single year when atrocity stories were not being reported from some part of the world; and yet in not one single case were these atrocities--in Spain, Russia, China, Hungary, Mexico, Amritsar, Smyrna--believed in and disapproved of by the English intelligentsia as a whole. Whether such deeds were reprehensible, or even whether they happened, was always decided according to political predilection.

***

The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them. For quite six years the English admirers of Hitler contrived not to learn of the existence of Dachau and Buchenwald. And those who are loudest in denouncing the German concentration camps are often quite unaware, or only very dimly aware, that there are also concentration camps in Russia. Huge events like the Ukraine famine of 1933, involving the deaths of millions of people, have actually escaped the attention of the majority of English russophiles. Many English people have heard almost nothing about the extermination of German and Polish Jews during the present war. Their own antisemitism has caused this vast crime to bounce off their consciousness. In nationalist thought there are facts which are both true and untrue, known and unknown. A known fact may be so unbearable that it is habitually pushed aside and not allowed to enter into logical processes, or on the other hand it may enter into every calculation and yet never be admitted as a fact, even in one's own mind.

Every nationalist is haunted by the belief that the past can be altered. He spends part of his time in a fantasy world in which things happen as they should--in which, for example, the Spanish Armada was a success or the Russian Revolution was crushed in 1918--and he will transfer fragments of this world to the history books whenever possible. Much of the propagandist writing of our time amounts to plain forgery. Material facts are suppressed, dates altered, quotations removed from their context and doctored so as to change their meaning. Events which it is felt ought not to have happened are left unmentioned and ultimately denied[Note, below]. In 1927 Chiang Kai Shek boiled hundreds of Communists alive, and yet within ten years he had become one of the heroes of the Left. The re-alignment of world politics had brought him into the anti-Fascist camp, and so it was felt that the boiling of the Communists 'didn't count', or perhaps had not happened. The primary aim of propaganda is, of course, to influence contemporary opinion, but those who rewrite history do probably believe with part of their minds that they are actually thrusting facts into the past. When one considers the elaborate forgeries that have been committed in order to show that Trotsky did not play a valuable part in the Russian civil war, it is difficult to feel that the people responsible are merely lying. More probably they feel that their own version was what happened in the sight of God, and that one is justified in rearranging the records accordingly.

***

All of these facts are grossly obvious if one's emotions do not happen to be involved: but to the kind of person named in each case they are also INTOLERABLE, and so they have to be denied, and false theories constructed upon their denial. I come back to the astonishing failure of military prediction in the present war. It is, I think, true to say that the intelligentsia have been more wrong about the progress of the war than the common people, and that they were more swayed by partisan feelings. The average intellectual of the Left believed, for instance, that the war was lost in 1940, that the Germans were bound to overrun Egypt in 1942, that the Japanese would never be driven out of the lands they had conquered, and that the Anglo-American bombing offensive was making no impression on Germany. He could believe these things because his hatred for the British ruling class forbade him to admit that British plans could succeed. There is no limit to the follies that can be swallowed if one is under the influence of feelings of this kind. I have heard it confidently stated, for instance, that the American troops had been brought to Europe not to fight the Germans but to crush an English revolution. One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool. When Hitler invaded Russia, the officials of the MOI issued 'as background' a warning that Russia might be expected to collapse in six weeks. On the other hand the Communists regarded every phase of the war as a Russian victory, even when the Russians were driven back almost to the Caspian Sea and had lost several million prisoners. There is no need to multiply instances. The point is that as soon as fear, hatred, jealousy and power worship are involved, the sense of reality becomes unhinged. And, as I have pointed out already, the sense of right and wrong becomes unhinged also. There is no crime, absolutely none, that cannot be condoned when 'our' side commits it. Even if one does not deny that the crime has happened, even if one knows that it is exactly the same crime as one has condemned in some other case, even if one admits in an intellectual sense that it is unjustified--still one cannot FEEL that it is wrong. Loyalty is involved, and so pity ceases to function."
-
George Orwell


Truly, there is nothing new under the sun, just endless refinement of existing ideas.

posted by Rachel 6/28/2005
. . .
What I was trying to say.

posted by Rachel 6/28/2005
. . .
If the idea of Supreme Court dissents on t-shirts doesn't alarm you... well.

I think that this decision has the potential to edge people into outright rebellion against the govt. Though only if they feel that they have no further recourse. Right now there's still a window for congress and state legislatures to explicitly prohibit tax-revenues inclusion in the definition of public use. If congress doesn't explicitly limit public use to projects that are open to the public and financed with tax dollars, people may get very angry.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Then there's the little question of how any compensation to an unwilling seller can possibly be just. Things like schools and roads require the balance between absolute property rights and public needs. That was recognized as a bad but necessary limitation on that right in the freakin' constitution.

The idea of forcing an old woman from the home she's inhabited fo 50 years...
The idea of forcing the owner of a successful home-based business out of both their home and their livelihood...
The idea of condemning family homes to build a campus for a multibillion dollar medicine company...

The people who wrote the constitution went to war with the superpower of the day over less. This is dangerous ground for rulers to tread. Pull back!

posted by Rachel 6/28/2005
. . .
I also predict that men's hats will make a big comeback.

posted by Rachel 6/28/2005
. . .
So lemme get this
straight...

The total value of residential property on the planet has risen from $40 trillion dollars to $70 trillion dollars in 5 years.

So the growth in value of residential real-estate over the past 5 years is equal to the entire global growth in GDP, 100%.

One third of new mortgages this year are interest only. 25% of all buyers made no down payment.

Over the last 4 years consumer spending and residential construction have made up 90% of GDP.

The stock bubble in 1929 was roughly equivalent to 55% of GDP.

The stock bubble from 1995-2000 took up 80% of GDP.

Real estate investment is at a 40 year high while the growth in number of households is at a 40 year low. Yet builders are still way outpacing demand, because after all, good times never end.

So the housing market bubble looks to be the biggest and most widespread price bubble in the history of the planet.

What fun. There isn't anywhere left to deflect the horrific imbalances in the economy.





All that said, once the herd has thoroughly turned to doom and gloom, ignore them. Life is going to be shitty for a decade. This is the global equivalent of climbing out from under $20,000 in credit card debt. It won't be fun at all. It will seem to take much much longer than it did to rack up those balances, but it'll really be about the same amount of time. Though afterward, consumers will be much less likely to assume any debt at all, and so the credit required to grow the economy again will be choked for a few years.

The economy grows in a fractal pattern. 5 steps forward followed by 3 steps back. Since the last 5 steps have been the biggest in history, it naturally follows that the next 3 steps will be equally huge in the other direction. Once we hit rock bottom and hang there for a few years, things will turn back around and life will proceed again. Actually, expect biotech and alternative energy research to stall, but once there's any venture capital back in the system, expect amazing new progress. They knew about penicillin back in 1928, but it wasn't until the end of WWII that the technology was really able to take off to the point that it was widely available. Expect similar outcomes for cancer treatments, alternative energy developments, and private space flight. Also expect China to blame us for the collapse that's about to take them out too and get really militant. Like early 30's Germany militant.

posted by Rachel 6/28/2005
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