Archive for the ‘Decline and Fall’ Category

Anniversary and Remembrance

September 11th, 2013 No comments

Twelve years ago, I was watching the live television feed from NYC from the burning North Tower of the World Trade Center. At the time, as far as I knew, this might still have been a horrible accident.

Then, I saw a second airliner enter the picture and bank in order to hit the South Tower.  And I knew:

That was no accident.  An enemy is doing this.  We are at war.

That was Realization #1.  Unfortunately, it was followed almost immediately by Realization #2:

Somebody is going to get bombed. I hope it’s the actual perpetrators.

I am sometimes told that I am cynical. Well, there you have it. The Twin Towers hadn’t fallen yet, and my second reaction is to wonder what bloody wars of Empire we would get dragged in to by our “leaders” in Washington who no doubt were salivating already over having a slam-dunk reason to pursue every crazy military action and nation-building scheme they’d already dreamed up.

Twelve years have not given me any reason to be more confident.

Do I despair? Of our political class, yes. “Put not your trust in princes.” Of life? Hardly. I fully expect hard times ahead as the consequences of national folly unfold. That only means there’s a lot of work to do.  It will be “interesting times” and no one should have an excuse to be bored.

I just need to remember in the middle of it all that “Living well is the best revenge.”


Categories: Decline and Fall, Iraq, Land That I Love Tags:

The Second Coming

September 9th, 2013 No comments

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

W. B. Yeats

Categories: Decline and Fall, Poetry Tags:

Trial Balloon

June 11th, 2013 No comments


I had been thinking to myself earlier this year that we could know America had not quite yet degenerated into a full-blown police state.  Why?  Because we hadn’t reached the point where people worry about being “disappeared” if they offend the government.

Right on cue, we have a trial balloon testing this concept.  Will Americans be outraged enough that someone is actually fired (and finds it a Career-Limiting Move™, not just a prelude to promotion)?* Or will this blow over, leaving the effect that “disappearing” troublesome Americans is now thinkable, and part of the national consciousness?

I hope I’m wrong about which way this is going to go.

* Prosecuted would be even more appropriate, but I’ve already lowered my expectations.

Rule One

March 6th, 2012 No comments

Sometimes, I poke my head out of the ivory tower to check the weather

January 26th, 2012 No comments

Hat tip to Dale Price:

How Thick Is Your Bubble?

View user's Quiz School Profile
Score » 11 out of 20 (55% )

On a scale from 0 to 20 points, where 20 signifies full engagement with mainstream American culture and 0 signifies deep cultural isolation within the new upper class bubble, you scored between 9 and 12.In other words, even if you’re part of the new upper class, you’ve had a lot of exposure to the rest of America.
Quiz School Take this quiz & get your score

Not bad for a technocrat with pseudo-intellectual pretensions living in a homeschool bubble within the People’s Republic of Ann Arbor!

The quiz is in promotion of the new book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
by Charles Murray.

David French at National Review Online:

I taught at Cornell Law School for two years (until my wife declared Ithaca “too cold” for our southern blood), and during that time I was surrounded by faculty and students who talked incessantly about poverty, race, and class. Yet as they talked, I realized that few — if any — had ever spent significant time outside their own “superZIPs” (to borrow Murray’s term). They hadn’t seen how policies worked on the ground, they didn’t understand the real-life incompetence of anti-poverty bureaucracies, nor did they comprehend the tremendous social forces tearing at the fabric of poor families. In their well-meaning, wonkish minds, poverty was like a computer virus that needed just the right update to the anti-virus policy software.

Well worth reading are Charles Hugh Smith‘s thoughts on the new American divide, as well as Charles Murray’s Wall Street Journal essay introducing the book.  Smith, especially, has a good claim to bridge both sides of the cultural divide, since he has been both a construction worker and a student at the same elite prep school in Hawaii as President Barak Obama.

Categories: Decline and Fall Tags:

Remember: Socrates was executed for corrupting the youth of Athens

November 14th, 2011 No comments

Only virtual hemlock in involved in this story, but it would appear that Socrates has become unwelcome again:

Was This Professor Fired for Requiring Students to Think?

What was going on in Maranville’s classroom that generated such a backlash? He says he simply required students to do what most employers wish colleges would do: connect academic concepts to the real world. To facilitate that process, Maranville used the Socratic method, creating classroom dialogue by asking students open-ended questions that necessitated creative thought and participation—even if they hadn’t raised their hands. He also required them to work in teams and participate in small-group discussions during class time.

“I’m not in this business to just give degrees. I want students to learn,” Maranville told the The Salt Lake Tribune. “Students told me they had never been asked to do this kind of work before and weren’t about to do it now. They have families and jobs and don’t have time to do this.”

Michael Apple, a professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Wisconsin, told Inside Higher Education that the Socratic method is increasingly unpopular on college campuses “because we are in a test-based education system.” Students are no longer used to such a process-oriented way of learning, and are “increasingly impatient where the answer is not clear and when the professor is not giving it to them immediately,” Apple told the website.

Being called on in class without raising your hand!  The horror!

Further commentary on the decline of Western civilization would be redundant.

Categories: Decline and Fall Tags:

H. Ford on land

August 22nd, 2011 No comments

The land! That is where our roots are. There is the basis of our physical life. The farther we get away from the land, the greater our insecurity. From the land comes everything that supports life, everything we use for the service of physical life. The land has not collapsed or shrunk in either extent or productivity. It is there waiting to honor all the labor we are willing to invest in it, and able to tide us across any local dislocation of economic conditions. No unemployment insurance can be compared to an alliance between man and a plot of land.
— Henry Ford.

Quoted on the title page of Five Acres and Independence: A Handbook for Small Farm Management

Categories: Agrarian, Decline and Fall, Distributism Tags:

A Failure Of Leadership

July 19th, 2011 1 comment

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the US government can not pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government’s reckless fiscal policies. Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that “the buck stops here.” Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.
— Sen. Barack H. Obama, March 2006

As the French saying goes, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.


June 28th, 2011 No comments

Ilargi at The Automatic Earth writes about the Greek Debt situation:

Tanks in the street of Athens, and people throwing themselves out of windows. It’s come to this kind of threatening language, and in the next 48 hours or so it will only intensify, and financial markets will fluctuate because of it as if that’s their very and only purpose in life.

The words about the tanks and suicides come from one of Greece’s newly fangled fat twin political duo, Theodoros Pangalos, the deputy prime minister who appeared out of nowhere the past few days, as far as that is physically possible for someone his size.

Look, I’m not trying to make fun of fat people here, it’s just the irony that the fact that the “face” of Greece in the international financial media has overnight changed to these two huge guys that no-one outside of the country had ever heard about before. And that they’re the ones threatening the Greeks with hell and brimstone if they don’t agree to austerity measures that will make a substantial part of the population go hungry. “We all have to tighten our belts now”, that sort of thing. Well, those are quite some belts to tighten.

"it's as big as a whale, and it's about to set sail!"

Wow.  Looks like, for austerity measures, they could start with “think globally, act locally.”

While entertaining, why does this affect us (Americans, that is)?  Read on:

But yes, do ask yourself: what do you think would happen in New York, LA, Atlanta, Chicago, if those Greek austerity measures mentioned above would fall on the doorsteps of your community? Same question for those of you living in London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Montréal.

Maybe this is a good time to speak up. At least now you still can. Once there are tanks in the streets, that may prove to be not so easy anymore. Look, Greece is not the worst of the lot, or the biggest issue. As Jon Stewart pointed out last week, Greek debt amounts to some $44,000 per capita. In America, it’s $45,000.

We’re all in this together, believe it or not. US banks have exposure to Greece through credit default swaps to an extent that nobody can define. We do know, though, that it’s substantial. And that if the Greek austerity vote fails on Wednesday, those US banks will come looking for more bailouts. From a government that can’t even agree on a debt ceiling, because the debt is so monstruously high already there is no way out anymore.

I doublechecked — the quoted number is low.  As of today, the per-capita share of the U. S. debt is $46,027.83 (direct from the Treasury divided by the Census).

It’s also fun to compare Greek vs. U.S. unemployment numbers, but for right now, I will leave that as an exercise for my readers…

I Hate Being Right

December 11th, 2010 No comments

Looks like I called it right back in 2003:

Microsoft Opens Source to China
. Then think through the national security implications if Jim Allchin’s sworn testimony is actually true.

So, is Jim Allchin guilty of perjury, or is Bill Gates guilty of treason? You decide!

Fast forward to late 2010.  Now, due to Wikileaks, we know the following:

Chinese security firms with ties to the Chinese military have hired hackers, including the group responsible for the original Blaster worm, U.S. diplomats alleged in a 2009 cable published Saturday by WikiLeaks.

The companies also have access to the source code to Microsoft Windows.

According to the U.S. State Department’s daily security briefing of June 29, 2009, Topsec of Beijing had employed “a known Chinese hacker” from June 2002 to March 2003. Identified as Lin Yong, aka “Lion,” the hacker served as a senior security service engineer to “manage security service and training.”

America researchers and security analysts have long suspected that China’s military has extensive cyberwarfare capabilities. In 2007, a Department of Defense report claimed that the PLA had first-strike know-how, and had created military units charged with developing viruses to attack enemy computer networks.

Looks like we can clear Mr. Allchin of the perjury charge.

That leaves the treason charge against Bill Gates…

I eagerly await Sarah Palin to call for Bill Gates to be “pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders” for this “treasonous act” of compromising our military security with respect to a potentially hostile foreign power.

But I won’t be holding my breath.