humour

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Gaslighter in Chief

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 15/09/2021 - 6:44am in

Something for which he doesn’t even seem to need a hard hat…... Read more

True Red Bus message….

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/09/2021 - 8:34am in

Being of the view that Brexit is a useless disaster, I did appreciate this ‘redesigned’ red bus:... Read more

Coffee prices…

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/09/2021 - 8:42am in

I did enjoy this. While the British will still generally apologise to the door they bump in to, the French are, I suggest often prone to peremtoriness – so this, from a bar in Normandy much appeals: That is a tariff I think I’d be quite happy with, thank you very much – or even... Read more

The Great Covid Panic: now out!

It’s here, the booklet I am sure you have all been waiting for. The one which Gigi Foster and Michael Baker slaved over for 10 months. It is also on Kindle. It is dedicated to all the victims of the Panic, in poor countries and rich countries. They include our children, the lonely, and the poor.

The short publisher blurb: How to make sense of the astonishing upheaval of Spring 2020 and following? Normal life – in which expected rights and freedoms were taken for granted – came to be replaced by a new society as managed by a medical/ruling elite that promised but failed to deliver virus mitigation, all in the name of public health. Meanwhile, we’ve lost so much of what we once had: travel freedoms, privacy, a democratic presumption of equality, commercial freedoms, and even the access to information portals. Something has gone very wrong.

The longer blurb that our publisher chose for it is over the fold! There is also a website that will tell you where book launches will take place, which bookstores sell it, and who has liked it sofar.

To make sense of it all, the Brownstone Institute is pleased to announce the publication of The Great Covid Panic: What Happened, Why, and What To Do Next, by Paul Frijters, Gigi Foster, and Michael Baker. Combining rigorous scholarship with evocative and accessible prose, the book covers all the issues central to the pandemic and the disastrous policy response, a narrative as comprehensive as it is intellectually devastating. In short, this is THE book the world needs right now.

In the Great Panic of early 2020, nearly every government in the world restricted the movement of its population, disrupted the education of its children, suspended normal individual liberties, hijacked its healthcare system, and in other ways increased its direct control of people’s lives. Attempts to control the new coronavirus in most countries made the number of deaths from both the virus and other health problems rise. Some countries and regions snapped out of the madness in early 2021 or even before. Yet other governments, still in 2021, were ever more fanatically obsessed with control.

Why did 2020 become, so suddenly and so forcefully, a year of global panic over a virus that for most people is barely more dangerous than a standard-issue flu virus? This book reveals how the madness started, what kept it going, and how it might end. This is also a book about stories and experiences, some real and some fictionalized to protect identities. Join Jane the complier, James the decider, and Jasmine the doubter, the three core protagonists of the narrative part of the book. Their experiences illustrate what happened to individuals and through them to whole societies, telling us — if we care to listen — how to avoid a repeat. This literary presentation is mixed with detailed reports of the actual data and deep research that has generally been obscured in the midst of media madness and obfuscation by public-health authority.

“A tour-de-force on how the pandemic response was driven by fear, crowd thinking, big business and a desire for control, rather than by sound public health principles. This is bound to be a classic.” ~ Professor Martin Kulldorff, Harvard Medical School

“When I received the manuscript, I was hooked from the first page and knew then that I would miss a full night’s sleep. I did indeed. My heart raced from beginning to end. As the publisher, I must say that this book is a dream for me, the book I never thought would exist, the book that I believe can change everything.” ~ Jeffrey Tucker, Founder Brownstone Institute.

Fresh out of sovereignty

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 26/08/2021 - 6:55am in

With grateful acknowledgement as ever to Cold War Steve.... Read more

Midnight’s Library

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/08/2021 - 11:49pm in

Tags 

humour, philosophy


The graphic from the nifty NYT review.

On the strength of nothing more than the fact that it’s Audible’s free book of the month, I’ve started listening to Midnight’s library. It’s fun and engaging. I’ll copy and paste a review with which I broadly agree and then copy and paste the most enjoyable scene so far. I hope you enjoy it.

It is no secret that Matt Haig has mental health issues, dogged by the darkness of depression that has taken its toll on his life. His acute observations and experience of his condition informs this exquisite, inspiring, compassionate and empathetic novel where he creates the concept of the midnight library, to be found in the spaces between life and death, to explore life, the issues that afflict our world, through philosophy and more, endeavouring to tease out what might make life worth living and a joy and what gives it meaning. The device used to implement his goal is the ordinary Nora Seed, who has lived her life trying to please others, who has hit rock bottom, suffering the loss of her cat, her job, overwhelmed by the burden of a lifetime of regrets, seeing no light in her life whatsoever. She is tempted by thoughts of suicide that has her ending up at the midnight library.

The midnight library is magical, for a start, the library has a limitless number of books, and these books are far from ordinary, Haig sprinkles gold dust in each book, offering Nora the opportunity to see how her life would have turned out if each and every decision at every point in her life had been different. The books illustrate the endless possibilities that life holds for Nora and all of us. Nora explores each book, with inquisitiveness and curiosity, the widely disparate lives that could have been hers, no easy task as she has to slip into each new life with the complications of being unfamiliar with it and do so without alerting the other people present. It soon becomes clear that there are pros and cons to each book/life, to each decision and choice made, each life containing its own mix of despair, pain and regrets that must be accommodated and handled.

Haig offers a touching narrative that speaks of the joys to be found in living, attained through Nora’s eyes as she tries to untangle what really matters in life, putting life in context and perspective with all its ongoing changes, complexities, and an understanding no life is perfect in itself. In some ways, this is a version of It’s A Wonderful Life, a favourite film for so many people. What I was so struck by is just how many readers might find this helpful for our lock down times, so many have suffered unbearable losses and illness, have had to face not seeing all those we love and mean so much to us, whilst being weighed down with worries and concerns about how to cope with fears regarding jobs, childcare, money and more. A beautifully nuanced novel that I am sure many will love as much as me. Highly recommended.

In the third book she chooses — her third alternative life, Nora is an Olympic gold medalist. Each of her lives start out with the same plot as a “Thank God you’re here”. The protagonist has to pass into a world in which all those around her have been living and she has not. A lot of winging it goes on. In any event, in this one, she arrives in the world and is about to give a motivational speech. It wasn’t ‘realistic’ at least given my psychology for her not to freak out about what she was going to say, unprepared. But the novelist takes it as an opportunity for a bit of comedy in which she tells us all what she’s learning from her experience (and from the librarian in the Midnight Library — her old school librarian Mrs Elm).

‘Hello,’ she said nervously, into the microphone. ‘It is very nice to be here today . . .’

A thousand or so faces stared, waiting.

She had never spoken to so many people simultaneously. Even when she had been in The Labyrinths, they had never played a gig for more than a hundred people, and back then she kept the talking between the songs as minimal as possible. Working at String Theory, although she was perfectly okay talking with customers, she rarely spoke up in staff meetings, even though there had never been more than five people in the room. Back at university, while Izzy always breezed through presentations Nora would worry about them for weeks in advance.

Joe and Rory were staring at her with baffled expressions.

The Nora she had seen in the TED talk was not this Nora, and she doubted she could ever become that person. Not without having done all that she had done.

‘Hello. My name is Nora Seed.’

She hadn’t meant it to be funny but the whole room laughed at this. There had clearly been no need to introduce herself.

‘Life is strange,’ she said. ‘How we live it all at once. In a straight line. But really that’s not the whole picture. Because life isn’t simply made of the things we do, but the things we don’t do too. And every moment of our life is a . . . kind of turning.’

Still nothing.

‘Think about it. Think about how we start off . . . as this set thing. Like the seed of a tree planted in the ground. And then we . . . we grow . . . we grow . . . and at first we are a trunk . . .’

Absolutely nothing.

‘But then the tree – the tree that is our life – develops branches. And think of all those branches, departing from the trunk at different heights. And think of all those branches, branching off again, heading in often opposing directions. Think of those branches becoming other branches, and those becoming twigs. And think of the end of each of those twigs, all in different places, having started from the same one. A life is like that, but on a bigger scale. New branches are formed every second of every day. And from our perspective – from everyone’s perspective – it feels like a . . . like a continuum. Each twig has travelled only one journey. But there are still other twigs. And there are also other todays. Other lives that would have been different if you’d taken different directions earlier in your life. This is a tree of life. Lots of religions and mythologies have talked about the tree of life. It’s there in Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity. Lots of philosophers and writers have talked about tree metaphors too. For Sylvia Plath, existence was a fig tree and each possible life she could live – the happily-married one, the successful-poet one – was this sweet juicy fig, but she couldn’t get to taste the sweet juicy figs and so they just rotted right in front of her. It can drive you insane, thinking of all the other lives we don’t live.

‘For instance, in most of my lives I am not standing at this podium talking to you about success . . . In most lives I am not an Olympic gold medallist.’ She remembered something Mrs Elm had told her in the Midnight Library. ‘You see, doing one thing differently is very often the same as doing everything differently. Actions can’t be reversed within a lifetime, however much we try . . .’

People were listening now. They clearly needed a Mrs Elm in their lives.

‘The only way to learn is to live.’

And she went on in this manner for another twenty minutes, remembering as much as possible of what Mrs Elm had told her, and then she looked down at her hands, glowing white from the light of the lectern.

As she absorbed the sight of a raised, thin pink line of flesh, she knew the scar was self-inflicted, and it put her off her flow. Or rather, put her into a new one.

‘And . . . and the thing is . . . the thing is . . . what we consider to be the most successful route for us to take, actually isn’t. Because too often our view of success is about some external bullshit idea of achievement – an Olympic medal, the ideal husband, a good salary. And we have all these metrics that we try and reach. When really success isn’t something you measure, and life isn’t a race you can win. It’s all . . . bollocks, actually . . .’

The audience definitely looked uncomfortable now. Clearly this was not the speech they were expecting. She scanned the crowd and saw a single face smiling up at her. It took a second, given the fact that he was smartly dressed in a blue cotton shirt and with hair far shorter than it was in his Bedford life, for her to realise it was Ravi. This Ravi looked friendly, but she couldn’t shake the knowledge of the other Ravi, the one who had stormed out of the newsagent’s, sulking about not being able to afford a magazine and blaming her for it.

‘You see, I know that you were expecting my TED talk on the path to success. But the truth is that success is a delusion. It’s all a delusion. I mean, yes, there are things we can overcome. For instance, I am someone who gets stage fright and yet, here I am, on a stage. Look at me . . . on a stage! And someone told me recently, they told me that my problem isn’t actually stage fright. My problem is life fright. And you know what? They’re fucking right. Because life is frightening, and it is frightening for a reason, and the reason is that it doesn’t matter which branch of a life we get to live, we are always the same rotten tree. I wanted to be many things in my life. All kinds of things. But if your life is rotten, it will be rotten no matter what you do. The damp rots the whole useless thing . . .’

Joe was desperately slicing his hand in the air around his neck, making a ‘cut it’ gesture.

‘Anyway, just be kind and . . . Just be kind. I have a feeling I am about to go, so I would just like to say I love my brother Joe. I love you, brother, and I love everyone in this room, and it was very nice to be here.’

And the moment she had said it was nice to be there, was also the moment she wasn’t there at all.

‘Vaccine’ Spells ‘Satan’ When You Rearrange All The Letters And Replace Them With New Ones, Conspiracy Theorist Says

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/08/2021 - 9:33am in

Tags 

Comedy, humour

The evidence that vaccines are the work of the devil is right there in front of your eyes, an anti-vaxxer says, pointing out that the word ‘vaccine’ actually spells ‘Satan’ when you swap the ‘V’, ‘C’, ‘C’, ‘I’ and ‘E’ for an ‘S’, ‘T’ and ‘A’.

“Like everything in life, the truth is hiding in plain sight, but only if you’re prepared to look for it,” self-educated free thinker Ralph Degraves says.   

“Replace the ‘V’ with an ‘S’, keep the ‘A’ right where it is, swap the two ‘Cs’ for a ‘T’, and the ‘I’ for an ‘A’. You don’t even have to move the ‘N’. And what do you get? ‘S. A. T. A. N. E’. Oh yeah, you have to remove that last ‘E’. What do you get? ‘SATAN’. Coincidence? I think not”.

He said once you started opening your eyes, the truth was everywhere. “You don’t believe Bill Gates is spreading COVID through 5G? It’s right there in front of you. His first initial ‘B’ is the second letter of the alphabet; Gates has three children. Two plus three equals five. ‘G’, obviously, stands for ‘Gates’. 5G: Bill Gates. Check mate”.

Policing by numbers

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 05/08/2021 - 9:29am in

I much enjoyed this tweet from David Schneider: At a time when many of us are paying increased council tax for extra police simply because government cannot allegedly, afford them – shooting ourselves in the foot seems now to be a government precondition….... Read more

Look No Chains

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 28/07/2021 - 7:09am in

Cold War Steve’s take on the Bullingdon Club and others’ high viz payback routine:... Read more

Unseen trends and the society we are becoming.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 21/07/2021 - 5:49pm in

Societies are evolving and complex, which often makes it hard to see at any moment where things are going. It was thus with the move of Northern European countries towards democracy in the 19th century, which seems inevitable and clear in hindsight but blurred at the time by lots of other developments that have now been forgotten, such as an increase in Protestant fanaticism and an anti-technology (Luddite) movement. In the last few decades there have also been many trends, some already waning, like the increase in international migration, and some on a seemingly unstoppable growth, like increased inequality. As in previous centuries, events like covid-mania accelerate some previous trends, like state surveillance, and reverse others, like the growth of international tourism.

Many commentators have rushed towards applying a particular label to the developments of the last 50 years. One hears about neoliberalism, financialization, or unsustainable growth. Though they make things sound neat and simple, such labels immediately make things moral and political, forcing people to take sides, which obscures the breadth of changes and makes a calmer assessment impossible. Let us thus look here at some of the less noticed trends which do not easily fit into existing labels. In this short post I just want to flag some trends in the Western world and briefly mention some instances of misperceptions of trends, leaving analysis for later. I will deliberately not show any statistics, forcing you to engage with the ideas rather than be a ring-side observer. See what you yourself make of these issues.

One major trend is the stark increase in the volume and extent of state regulation ever since the early 1970s, under any political leadership, pretty much everywhere in the Western world. From a few hundred pages of regulation per year, our bureaucracies and parliaments are now producing hundreds of thousands of pages of regulation per year. This rise makes a mockery of the idea that we are in a period of neoliberal deregulation, which is pretty much the exact opposite of the true direction of travel. The change defies any simple left/right or neoliberal/socialist label. It is a rise in bureaucracy. It has many causes, including meddling bureaucrats looking to expand their sphere of influence, but also the demands from large corporations for regulations that make life harder for the small business competition. The rise in regulation thus does not fit existing labels.

Another major trend is the decrease in IQ of the population in the Western world, probably due to increased use of mobile phones and social media. The mayor loss is the reduced capacity for abstract thought and seeing the interconnections between events. This is a profound dumbing down of the population with effects on every sphere of life, ranging from the quality of our institutions to the types of art enjoyed. Again, this trend is hardly known though it has been clear from the late 1990s. The phenomenon furthermore is not easily given a political label. It is neither pro-environment nor anti-environment, liberal or anti-liberal, woke or populist. Yet it is deeply worrying as a dumber population is less productive and easier to mislead.

Another such trend is the move towards monoculturalism in many areas of life, including politics, media, corporations, entertainment, academia, and commerce: the people, the manners, and the morals in these spheres all look the same. The gradual increase in similarity between people in the same sphere was noted a long time ago by Ortega Y Gasset (1930s) and Theodor Adorno (1960s), and has now reached a zenith: the coffee shop in Berlin is pretty much the same as in Melbourne or Los Angeles. The coffee shop is furthermore pretty similar to the movie theatre or the truck hire company: similar protocols and staff manners. The left-wing politician in Sydney is pretty much the same as the right-wing one in Ontario, using similar language and media methods. Italian artists differ in the language from the famous Polish or Kiwi ones, but the sounds, images, and personalities are very similar. Once again, such a trend is not so easy to put into a political or moral box. But it is a profound change with many consequences.

Let us then briefly mention the issue of misperceptions in trends.

There are the slow changes that are talked about in particular circles, but hardly known by a wide audience. A big one is the changes in demography. As they say, demography is destiny, so any observer of politics and international relations should have a good grasp of what is happening with demographic trends. But how many truly do? How many know whether fertility rates in the Muslim world have remained steady or are decreasing? How many know if the population of Latin America is still expanding or stabilising? Who would know if and when India will overtake China as the most populous country? The answers are ‘decreasing’, ‘still expanding but at a slowing rate’, and ‘in the next 10 years’. Did you know and do you see the great significance of such trends for analyses of the future? Once again, such trends are not so easily put into a political or moral box.

There is also the converse, which is trends large parts of the population believe are immense which are in fact relatively minor compared to other factors. For instance, if one were to ask a random person in the West whether the food security of Africa is more threatened by climate change than by reversing economic growth, I bet many would say ‘climate change’. Don’t even get me started on the magnitude of the threat of covid as compared to that of lockdowns! A sense of real proportions is thus rare because moral and political imperatives increasingly distort our view of things, which is itself an important trend.

A final trend that is hardly known I wish to alert you to is the major reduction in autonomy among workers in the West. Since about the 1980s more and more workers, even the well-paid ones, are spending their working lives surrounded by tight protocols and schedules, with increasingly less discretion over what they do and how they do it. It has been a creeping change wherein labour is more and more shackled to processes and compliance mechanisms. It is an explosion in regulation inside both private and public workplaces. Being bossed around in every aspect of life is now a lived reality for most of us, but who realises this or minds? What effects will the increased habit of obedience have on our societies?

There are hence many profound changes that have been brewing for decades, changes that defy easy political or moral labels. ‘We’ are becoming more regulated, dumber, similar to others, obedient, and ignorant of demographic and social realities.

What kind of society are we then moving towards? I am not sure. Are you? Do put your views in the comments!

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