Thursday, 31 August 2017

Cats' eyes

Liebnitz thought it a proof of the existence of God that cats have holes exactly where their eyes are. 

Or so I remember reading in my teens.

Angela Merkel was a loyal communist

Angela Merkel is not a conservative. She was a loyal communist almost up until the time the Berlin Wall fell and her father, 'Red Kasner', who left West Germany for East Germany in the fifties, remained a Stalinist until his death. She was brought up as a Christian Marxist and her left-wing Lutheranism informs her policy now.

On the other hand her calamitous decision to allow over a million young men from a Middle Eastern war zone to settle in Germany, if they could reach Germany, was a clever calculation, which convinced left-wing and liberal voters that her heart was as soft as

Pro-Europeanism became a proxy for the fusion of economic and social liberalism

This passage interested me, from an otherwise not especially remarkable 'long read', entitled "How remain failed: the inside story of a doomed campaign" by Rafael Behr, published in the Guardian two weeks after the Brexit referendum result, on 5 July 2016. 
Pro-Europeanism became a proxy for the fusion of economic and social liberalism that had been a dominant philosophy of the political mainstream for a generation, although its proponents were scattered across partisan boundaries. These centrists were the ruling class of an unrecognised state – call it Remainia – whose people were divided between the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems; like a tribe whose homeland has been partitioned by some insouciant Victorian cartographer.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Is Japan doing better than the USA and Western Europe?

This is a very interesting essay on Japan by Michael Auslin in American Affairs. I am not convinced that Japan is suffering during her great recession that started back in 1990. Perhaps they are doing much better than the Western world.

"It is an almost heretical thought, but maybe Japan has made better national choices since the 1990s than we have given it credit for. It has succeeded in providing a stable and secure life for its people, despite significant economic challenges and statistical stagnation. It has done so in part by maintaining cohesion at home and certain barriers against the world. By comparison, America and Europe appear increasingly confounded by their failures to
ensure sociocultural integration, keep their economies growing equally for all, and provide security in the heart of their great cities. When historians look

'The ominous political genius of Steve Bannon'

This is a brilliant article by James Kirchick in The Spectator, about Steve Bannon, who is a very clever man. It quotes words by Bannon that struck me, when they were first said, as very illuminating and true.

‘The Democrats, the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ‘em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.’
Actually, the 'Muslim' travel ban was obviously pointless and got only just over 50%

Donald Trump and the Russian secret service

This is an interesting interview with John le Carré and a writer whom I hadn't heard of, Ben Macintyre, who has written a history of spying. Ben Macintyre is asked

Do you think the Russians really have something on Trump?
and replies:
I can tell you what the veterans of the S.I.S. [the British Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6] think, which is yes, kompromat was done on him. Of course, kompromat is done on everyone. So they end up, the theory goes, with this

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Young and Innocent

Travelling around rural England put me in mind of Enid Blyton and many 1930s children's stories, but most of all it continually put me in mind of this wonderful Hitchcock filmYoung and Innocent (1937), which I (who almost never have the patience to watch even a short video clip) loved rewatching last night. 

I know England wasn't really quite like that but it's my imaginary homeland. Pleasant avuncular bobbies, the upper classes in charge, tramps are sweet-hearted and public spirited, men (except tramps) wear ties all the time. But even here murders happen and lawyers are avaricious.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Seamus Milne regrets the end of Communism

I learnt here today that Seamus Milne thinks the end of Communist regimes in Eastern Europe in 1989 was something imposed by counter revolutionaries on ordinary people. He is now the chief adviser to British leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, who no doubt thinks the same and might be British Prime Minister.

Communist genocide in Ukraine?

Anne Applebaum has been my absolute bete noir for some years. She is ardently opposed to Brexit, seems to want Nato to wage a proxy war against Russia while wanting Europe to take as many refugees from the Middle East as possible, hates the immigration policies of Poland and Hungary and thinks abortion is a human right. 

But this post on Facebook just now is another thing. It sounds very interesting. 

She has written a book saying that the Ukrainian famine was genocide. This is much disputed, especially by left-wing historians who are happy to compare slavery in America with Auschwitz.

Enid Blyton's England still exists

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Jenni Russell wrote in The Times on Thursday about how danger and novelty make time slow down. We all know this and it has been investigated in a book called The Brain, by scientist David Eagleman. 

He has proved, she said,

that we don’t actually slow down our perception of time in a crisis because he tested that by giving volunteers digital wrist displays and inducing terror by dropping them backwards into a net down a 150 ft shaft. If they could slow time they could have read the rapidly changing displays. That proved impossible.
So it just seems that time slows down or speeds up. And the best way to make time seem to slow down, short of feeling in danger, is by new experiences, such as new places. 

Graham Greene wrote a short story about a dying man who moved his bed in his large house from room to room to make his remaining time seem longer.

I always knew that contrast is the stuff of life. This has a large bearing on the question of whether to relax on holiday in the same place, not doing much, or to cram in a lot. I do the latter and today I feel, after three weeks away, that I've had about ten holidays.

And zig-zagging around Southern England by train from far west to far east I saw that England is the loveliest of all countries (Italy and Romania perhaps excepted). Outside a few tourist traps it has almost as few foreign tourists as Albania and is delightfully cool in

Sunday, 20 August 2017


"The consent of peoples and nations keeps me in the Church; so does her authority, inaugurated by miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by love, established by age. The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection, gave it in charge to feed His sheep, down to the present episcopate. And so, lastly, does the name itself of Catholic, which, not without reason, amid so many heresies, the Church has thus retained; so that, though all heretics wish to be called Catholics, yet when a stranger asks where the Catholic Church meets, no heretic will venture to point to his own chapel or house." 

 St Augustine

"To be deep in history, is to cease to be Protestant." 
John Henry, Cardinal Newman

"Do remember that dishonesty and cowardice always have to be paid for. Don’t imagine that for years on end you can make yourself the boot-licking propagandist of the Soviet regime, or any other regime, and then suddenly turn to mental decency. Once a whore, always a whore." Orwell, "As I Please", Tribune, September 1944

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Albert Einstein

Monday, 14 August 2017

Death in Charlottesville

A killing took place in Charlottesville and a man has been charged with murder. This case is sub judice. A lot of scuffles and violent incidents took place for which left wing protesters may be to blame. Again sub judice. Yet the bias against President Trump,  from the BBC and Jon Sopel etc., because he condemned extremism and violence without singling out the far right, beggars belief. 

I have absolutely no time whatsoever for Sir Oswald Mosley, but, according to Lord Skidelsky's biography, most of the violence in the Battle of Cable St was committed by communists, not fascists. I remember saying that to a man at my college, who gave me a look of absolute hatred.

The Scilly Isles are heaven and it is always 1952

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The Scilly Isles, even more than the rest of Cornwall, is an Enid Blyton book come to life. The couple I chatted to on the boat had bought the whole Famous Five series for their daughter. (Aren't there at least thirty books?) They told me St Michael's Mount is the original of Smugglers' Island. Another young father was reliving his childhood holidays with his children.

It's 1952 England here with Mr Churchill back and the socialists out. It feels virginal. I am tucking once more into a Cornish cream tea, i.e. scones, jam and cream, though I forbore to ask for lashings of ginger pop.

As I was going to St Ives

I went to St Ives for the Tate Gallery and the Hepworth sculpture garden. The first had a wonderful restaurant, wonderful views of the sea and two uninteresting exhibitions. The Hepworths were forgettable too. But the town itself is a wonderful work of art and nature.

I used to like abstract sculpture or persuaded myself I did (Henry Moore and others), but the mediaeval church tower is so much more beautiful than anything by Dame Barbara Hepworth. 

I wonder what the Queen thinks of the people she knights. 

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St. Ives is heaven.

I once more failed to resist a scone, cream and jam.

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