An absolutely fantastic article about the horrors of contemporary architecture. Since when did it become wrong to want beautiful things?
I already knew from painful experience that decrepit, miserable Britain isn't a normal, functioning Western European country governed by rudimentary principles of justice, proportionality and fairness. But this obsequious kowtowing to the Americans and flagrant abuse of state power beggars belief. Assange published some documents. All of it screams "show trial." Why don't they just fly him surreptitiously to the States and be done with it? It's not like Tory voters give a toss.
Not exactly surprising but chilling never the less:
When considering the use of nuclear weapons, the majority of Americans prioritize protecting U.S. troops and achieving American war aims, even when doing so would result in the deliberate killing of millions of foreign noncombatants. A number of individual-level traits—Republican Party identification, older age, and approval of the death penalty for convicted murderers—significantly increase support for using nuclear weapons against Iran. Women are no less willing (and, in some scenarios, more willing) than men to support nuclear weapons use. These findings highlight the limited extent to which the U.S. public has accepted the principles of just war doctrine and suggest that public opinion is unlikely to be a serious constraint on any president contemplating the use of nuclear weapons in the crucible of war.
Saw this xkcd comic and immediately thought of Wittgenstein's oh-so-modest introduction to the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus:
On the other hand the truth of the thoughts communicated here seems to me unassailable and definitive. I am, therefore, of the opinion that the problems have in essentials been finally solved. And if I am not mistaken in this, then the value of this work secondly consists in the fact that it shows how little has been done when these problems have been solved.
Fjölmennur og hávær hópur fólks, í bæði kjöt- og netheimum, er sífellt að væla yfir því hvað allt sé með hæsta móti ómögulegt og hræðilegt á Íslandi, ráðamenn allir gerspilltir og vanhæfir, viðskiptamenn óprúttnir og gráðugir, menningarsnauður almenningur haldinn þrælslund og neysluhyggju, o.s.fv. Mér finnst borðliggjandi að hér er á ferðinni gamli mikilmennskubrjálaði frónski eyjaskeggjahugsunarhátturinn, að Ísland sé svo ótrúlega spes í öllu, fallegust per capita, sterkust per capita, spilltust per capita, gráðugust per capita.
Sannleikurinn er sá að ástand mála er almennt ekkert skárra annars staðar, síður en svo. Vissulega stela sjallarnir og vinir þeirra alveg heilmiklu, en ráðandi stéttirnar, kapítalistar og stjórnmálamenn í samkurli, stela auðvitað heilum hellingi í *öllum* ríkjum heims. Restin af heiminum er engin útópía. Ef það eru einhver ríki sem standa sig betur en Ísland þá eru það helst hin Norðurlöndin, auðugustu og best reknu þjóðríki heims. En við getum þá a.m.k. státað okkur af því að tala íslensku en ekki þessa hundljótu, afbökuðu skandinavísku.
Hot jazz, smooth jazz, acid jazz, snake jazz and now ... LIFE JAZZ!
"He who can destroy a thing, controls a thing."
- Paul "Muad'Dib" Atreides (Obligatory Dune reference)
Lately I've read lots of articles on the escalating tension between the US and Iran, but remarkably few commentators have drawn attention to Iran's ability to cripple global oil trade. It would be trivial for them to mine the narrow Straits of Hormuz. Around 20% of all traded oil and some 35% of seaborne oil shipments pass through the straits aboard enormous, highly vulnerable tankers. Even if Iran's military capabilities were miraculously nullified and the mines somehow cleared, the cost of insuring the tankers would skyrocket, driving up oil prices globally.
Iran could also use its long-range missiles and/or other methods to destroy major oil refineries and vital desalination plants on the Arabian peninsula, with ensuing chaos and shortages.
Even if the US were not still dependent on oil from the Middle East, all its major allies and trading partners are. The global economy needs a steady flow of oil from the Middle East, and the US economy is dependent on the global economy. War with Iran is madness any which way you look at it. The spines on this hedgehog are too sharp.
The Prussian general Kurt von Hammerstein may have made one of the most insightful observations of all time. This stuff is perennial:
I divide my officers into four groups. There are clever, diligent, stupid, and lazy officers. Usually two characteristics are combined. Some are clever and diligent — their place is the General Staff. The next lot are stupid and lazy — they make up 90% of every army and are suited to routine duties. Anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the intellectual clarity and the composure necessary for difficult decisions. One must beware of anyone who is stupid and diligent — he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always cause only mischief.
This is a very good point (old article from 2012):
The assassination strategy the US pursues is interesting, not in what it says about the US’s foes, but what it says about the American leaders... American leaders are obsessed with leadership because they lead organizations in whose goals no one believes. Or rather, they lead organizations for whom everyone knows the leadership doesn’t believe in its ostensible goals. Schools are led by people who hate teachers and want to privatize schools to make profit. The US is led by men who don’t believe in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Police are led by men who think their jobs are to protect the few and beat down the many, not to protect and serve. Corporations make fancy mission statements and talk about valuing employees and customers, but they just want to make a buck and will fuck anyone, employee or customer, below the C-suite... Making organizations work if they’re filled with people who don’t believe in the organization, or who believe that the “leadership” is only out for themselves and has no mission beyond helping themselves, not even enriching the employees or shareholders, is actually hard. People don’t get inspired by making the C-suite rich. Bureaucrats, knowing they are despised and distrusted by their political counterparts, and knowing that they aren’t allowed to do their ostensible jobs, as with the EPA generally not being allowed to protect the environment, the DOJ not being allowed to prosecute powerful monied crooks, and the FDA being the slave of drug companies and the whims of politically-connected appointees, are hard to move, hard to motivate, making it hard to get to anyone to do anything but the minimum.
So American leaders, and indeed the leaders of most developed nations, think they’re something special. In fact, getting people to do anything is difficult, and convincing people to do the wrong thing, when they joined to actually teach, protect the environment, make citizens healthier, or actually prosecute crooks, even more so. Being a leader in the West, even though it comes with virtually complete immunity for committing crimes against humanity, violating civil rights, or stealing billions from ordinary citizens, is, in many respects, a drag. A very, very well-paying drag, but a drag. Very few people have the necessary flexible morals and ability to motivate employees through the coercion required.
So American leaders, in specific, and Westerners, in general, think that organizations will fall apart if the very small number of people who can actually lead, stop leading. But that’s because they think that leading the Taliban, say, is like leading an American company or the American government. They think it requires a soulless prevaricator who takes advantage of and abuses virtually everyone and is still able to get people to, reluctantly, do their jobs.
Functioning organizations aren’t like that. They suck leadership upwards. Virtually everyone is being groomed for leadership and is ready for leadership. They believe in the cause, they know what to do, they’re involved. And they aren’t scared of dying, if they really believe. Oh sure, they’d rather not, but it won’t stop them from stepping up.
Ah, poor ol' Britain, ye did it again. Somewhere in a wood-panelled Georgian back office in London, the bloviated, pasty-faced, middle-aged stuffed shirts are laughing, exchanging chauvinist jokes and toasting: "Gentlemen! To Evil!"
The draw of the British Conservative Party never ceases to amaze me. It is such an unabashedly evil political party, packed with people of such obvious turpitude, that its electoral success can only be accounted for by the deficient moral character of some 40% of British voters.
"How to Behave in a British Pub": Hilarious US Army WWII Training Film from 1943.
"[These are] men and women ... who don't drink for the sake of drinking but for the company."
Well, that has certainly changed! But one can hardly blame the poor British for turning to the bottle. Forty years of Thatcherite neoliberalism have turned their country into a horribly dysfunctional, dystopian basket case.
Þegar frelsaðir bandarískir þrælar voru sendir til Líberíu á 19. öld gerðu þeir strax heimamenn, sem voru jú þeldekkri, að sínum eigin þrælum og komu á laggirnar kerfi keimlíku því sem þeir höfðu þurft að þola vestanhafs, nema með sjálfa sig sem „hvítu“ yfirherrana á plantekrunum.
Við Íslendingar máttum þola gerræði og rányrkju annarra þjóða á okkar fiskimiðum svo öldum skipti en nú, þegar við erum rík og þróuð og komumst upp með það, beitum við aðra sömu fólskunni.
History is an account of the exploitation of man by man, except sometimes it's the other way around.