Sunday, December 18, 2011

Spengler hits another one out of the park

The best quote:

"the transformation of universities into Maoist re-education camps with beer kegs"

I'm struggling thorough Goldman's 'It's not the end of the world, it's just the end of You' and finding it a little too theistic but the learning, the breadth and the one-liners are amazing to behold.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Arab hunger

Spengler, once again, nails the essence of what is really going on in MENA. Implosion, in a word. These countries will simply become flyover territories. But short-term, they're gonna generate a world of refugee pain for the Eurozone and any other country unlucky enough to border them.....

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mushy Peas

Read the comments thread - LOL.

Disclaimer: I did not have English Peas for my evening meal.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Has Bin

'Spengler' pulls another superb grain of wheat from the mass of chaff being talked about OBL's demise. To precis: the poor old chap was thrown under the bus - a victim of the various Arab upheavals which have yet to run their course.

AQ had been more use to the Iranian cause of late, and the Saudis took a dim view of That, as the Yemeni buffer zone to their south is visibly disintegrating by the day. And as the Saudis both spawned and bankrolled OBL, they were certainly in a position to decide when the thread holding the sword over his head, should be snipped.

Yer won't hear much of this in the MSM of course. They're still veering between horror and delight. And there's no body, so the conspiracy theories are already running hot. Panem et circenses....

Friday, March 25, 2011

Reynold's Law and Christchurch

Reynold's law (bolded in the quote below) is one of those delightful discoveries that one stumbles across. Reynolds argued that societies often fail to understand the drivers of success and conflate its accidents with its essence. So when they want more of the essence they invest in more of the accidents.

The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle-class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle-class people. But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class. Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them.

One hopes against hope that, in rebuilding Christchurch, Reynold's Law is duly observed. After all, it's not hard to guess that, in order to rebuild in the first place, the efforts of builders, quarrymen, drivers, surveyors, engineers, geologists, welders, foundrymen, miners and roofers, are going to count just a tad more than those of aromatherapists, journalists, garage bands, kapa haka morris dancers, or barista.

But a glance at what's being churned out of our Places of Higher Learning, at great unit cost and a swingeing student loan burden to add to the frisson, and one must temper one's hopes with reality. As another of Reynolds' pithy references has it, the Higher Education Bubble is in full swing.
"...setting aside the technical professions (medicine, engineering, etc.) the cost of a bachelor’s degree is exploding just as its value in the marketplace is declining"

And a more sobering appraisal here...

Because, talking of subsidizing markers rather than building traits, our glorious Christchurch City Council has had an excellent track record of subsidizing stadia, community development advisers, flower festivals, and assorted other accidents.

One hopes aginst hope that Learning will Occur.

But the CCC tends to an Absence of Essence.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Artists as canaries in the coal mine

This was one of Kurt Vonnegut's phrases from his later years. But I've realised that it has a major flaw: 'artist' is a much misused word.

My own favourite artists in music are Tom Waits (check this clip for a wonderful mixture of vid and aud), Bob Dylan, Chris Rea.

If you look at Dylan's 'World Gone Wrong' cover notes from 1993, my take is that he spotted the coming shitstorm and nailed it in a few characteristically obtuse phrases, ostensibly about the music. Same with Tom Waits - Bone Machine and The Black Rider, also from the same period. Chris Rea - Road to hell or Expresso Logic.

All these guys sensed something in the atmosphere, and reacted in their own ways. Not necessarily in a form that could be consumed instantly, or even comprehended at all. But in the 20/20 basilisk stare of hindsight, man, did they all make sense.