I bought this book, despite its being written by an obvious leftist, because it looked like he was saying things I agreed with. To some extent, that is true. There are lots of passages in this book that I loved. He even treats the tea-partiers with some degree of respect. But there are just too many passages that are hopelessly flawed.
Recently, I became aware that a radical leftist I knew in high school and college had had a run-in with the police in Chicago because he had filmed them. I did a search on Instapundit, and sure enough, he was mentioned there. (See here.) It turns out he died just about a month and a half ago (here).
R.I.P., Chris. You always were a wild man, especially when you lived in that cave along the Mississippi River in the spring of 1970. I thank you for showing me that people interested in science didn’t have to be categorized as shy nerdy types, and also for telling me that it was quite possible for high school kids to sign up for classes at the University of Minnesota. You also took Arabic long before I or anyone else thought of doing it. However, I do think, based on the insights that I have gained by being self-critical, that if you had stuck with biochemistry, you would have had a more productive life.
Last night while doing a casual internet search on people I used to know, I learned that someone I met when I was in Cub Scouts had been abusing teenage boys when he was a minister (I’m not going to name the denomination except to say it is Protestant). D always seemed to me a well-adjusted kid (far more so than me) who was also bright, witty, and decent, so this is a total surprise. I knew him well from around ages 8 to 12, but after that would see him only occasionally. Now there are plenty of guys I've known that I might have expected to do this sort of thing, but he isn't one of them. I still can’t quite believe it. Since it seems to have happened in two different states involving several boys, that suggests that the internet report wasn’t about just one scuzzy person who had it in for him.
I’ve lost track of most of the seven or eight boys in my Cub Scout den, but aside from D, I know that one of the others committed suicide after a year of college. The statistics, to the extent that I know them, aren’t exactly uplifting.
Down in Rio de Janeiro, there has been yet another conference on “sustainability.” Do these idiots ever consider using teleconferencing as opposed to flying down to Rio? Anyway, there have been protests against the conference. (See here. Hat tip: Jame Drake) I doubt if I share much in common with the protesters, but anyone protesting against the green elites, even if it’s green non-elites, is something to be pleased about.
We are in Minneapolis visiting relatives, and it strikes me that outsiders like us can be clueless about driving in this town. For example, some freeways reserve the far left lane, according to their signs, for car pools, buses and motorcycles. They also have signs indicating a price that needs to be paid. Is the price to be paid by the three groups allowed into the lane? That is my interpretation, but my wife says it’s for others who want to use the lane. But really, if you say it is reserved for certain vehicles, then any price would seem to apply to those vehicles and not to those that can’t use the lane.
Then there are the ordinary streets that have bike lanes on the right. When making a right turn, does one stay in a car lane or move over into the bike lane? It’s not clear, and I’ve seen drivers doing both.
I say it’s up to a municipality to make these things clear in their signs because not everyone is a local who has heard what is supposed to be done.
I recently predicted that although Spain will dominate its games in Euro 2012, it won’t score much. I admit that they scored a lot against Ireland, but Ireland was the weakest team in the tournament. Against Italy they didn’t look very good in a 1-1 tie, and against Croatia, they managed one lone goal scored near the end of the ninety minutes. The “highlights” of this game were mostly of Croatia, which nearly scored a few times.
Lots of soccer fans admire the Spanish style and think it’s great that they’re so good. I think it’s terrible, and I hope they lose this tournament. The Spanish style is boring. Five hundred passes with very few attempts at goal isn’t so much soccer as keep-away. And since their shooting isn’t any better than any other team’s, it’s not like their few forays at goal are exciting. Face it, the Spanish style works because sooner or later even a fairly good team will make a mistake and allow the Spanish to slip in and score. However, because they score so few goals themselves, they are vulnerable to being scored on, which was the only good thing about watching the Spain-Croatia game the other day (that is, the hope that Croatia would score; sadly, they didn’t).
Today the Germans showed the Spanish how to do it. They dominated the game (against Greece) just as the Spanish usually dominate their games, but they had many, many attempts at goal. Eventually, they were rewarded with four goals against two for Greece. If a team dominates, then it should score, and the Spanish have brought us domination without much scoring. I hate it.
The Archbishop of Canterbury just couldn’t manage to keep his mouth shut during festivities for the queen’s diamond jubilee and insisted on talking about leftist issues instead of staying on topic. See here. What is it with these people that they feel they have to say things at inappropriate times? They all act as though no one has ever heard their message, even though they basically run the media and our schools and are saying this sort of thing all the time.
The New Young Turks: Leftist or Islamist or Both?
A new political group in Turkey, calling themselves Anti-capitalist Muslims, pose a puzzle in political classification. (See here.) Are they basically leftists who are also Muslims, or are they Islamists who are also anti-capitalist? The article at the link gives the following information: they are anti-capitalist, Muslim, not associated with the Turkish left (which is presumably secular), in favor of Kurdish rights, and against nuclear power, compulsory military service, Turkey’s siding with the United States, and any attempt by Turkey to dominate the region the way the Ottomans did. Where they stand on the rights of women, gays, and secularists is uncertain.
I’m guessing that they are more leftist than Islamist, but whatever the case, my plea to them is, “Let’s you and him fight.” That is, go ahead and have a battle with the ruling Islamic party.
Racism in European Soccer
Charges of racism continue to swirl around Euro 2012, especially among fans in eastern European countries. See here. This poses a puzzle for leftists since eastern Europe was part of the communist world where equality was supposed to reign more than it did in western Europe and of course America. Can it really be that the values instilled in these people have completely disappeared after just twenty years? I’d be more inclined to say that the supposed equality was just a mirage and that, yes, here in America we have been ahead of them for decades.
The Stupid Gambler
A man in Detroit was able to take out about $1.5 million from ATM machines due to a bank error, but instead of using that money to buy things or for travel or other pleasant experiences, he gambled it all away. See here. How pathetic. After all, what’s the point of gambling except to get lots of money, but if you already have lots of money, there’s really no need.
In preparation for a trip we plan to take to Prague this fall, I’ve been learning a little Czech – watch out for those impossible r-zh sounds! – and began reading The Good Soldier Svejk, which is a national classic. I had planned to read just a few pages each day, but the novel drew me in and I’m now over two-thirds the way through the 750 pages.
Svejk is set in World War I, and one of the underlying themes is the antagonism of the various nationalities that were part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. After a brawl between Czechs and Hungarians, a newspaper publishes an editorial about the need for harmony among nationalities in the empire that could have been written by any of the numerous diversity officers we now have in our colleges and universities. Despite this admonition, we know that in fact Austria-Hungary broke up after WWI into Austria, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, with the latter breaking up further into the Czech Republic and Slovakia twenty years ago. Plus, part of Austria-Hungary was joined with Serbia to create Yugoslavia, and with the demise of communism in eastern Europe we all learned what a wonderful entity that turned out to be. Face it, these experiments with multiculturalism and diversity didn’t work so well. Yet, there are idiots today who want an even grander entity, the European Union, which will comprise all of Europe as one big country. And we can see how that’s going, too. How much longer will the Germans put up with paying for the lazy lifestyles of the Greeks?
Reading up on WWI, I began to wonder, Why did the Central Powers, all of them Christian, ally themselves with the Ottomans? This account describes the reasoning as well as any, I guess.
It also strikes me that every account of WWI I’ve seen deals with its end and aftermath from the standpoint of Germany while utterly ignoring Austria-Hungary. We know all about where Germany’s troops were on the Western front, how the Germans expected a truce and instead were made to bear the brunt of the responsibility for the war, how Woodrow Wilson thought that the League of Nations would make everything all right, how the Germans had to pay reparations, how they had galloping inflation in the 1920s, how the pathetic Weimar Republic was dominated culturally by progressives, and finally how Hitler arose from it all to take over.
So where was Austria-Hungary in all of this? After all, they were the ones who started the whole conflict. How were their armed forces doing at the end of the war? (In fact, they faced four fronts during the war, according to Wikipedia: Russian, Romanian, Serbian, and Italian.) It’s easy enough to say that the interest in Germany is the result of Hitler, but in fact Hitler came from Austria-Hungary, and while I read hardly any of his Mein Kampf, what I did read included a fair amount of whining about how he thought that the ethnic Germans fared badly in this empire. (Svejk suggests the exact opposite.)
By the way, the reparations that Germany had to pay was something I thought had vanished ages ago, canceled by Hitler and then forgotten in the aftermath of WWII. To some extent that is true, but the Weimar Republic had issued bonds to pay for the reparations, and Germany finally finished paying those off just a couple years ago.