Saturday, July 21, 2018

Seismic changes in the Conservative Party

Britain is witnessing the birth of a new political party, according to commentators on the Internet.
Insiders working in the remote Tunbridge Wells region of the UK say Brexit will eventually split the Conservative Party in two, though it will take about 10 years.
Used to understanding changes in Parliament on timescales of decades, the international team of commentators have seen amazing changes in the Tory party in the past few years, where the “natural party of Government” is cracking open, quite literally underneath their feet.
Hot, molten fury from deep within the membership is trickling to the surface and creating the split.
Underground eruptions are still continuing and, ultimately, the free-trading but patriotic elements of Conservatism will fall away and a new political party will form.
More here:

Friday, July 20, 2018


More Afro-Cuban music, this time from a younger generation. Twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz record together under the name Ibeyi which is the word for twins in the Yoruba language of West Africa.

Where older artists had been more 'showbiz' and entertainers, these two sisters have gone deeper into the roots of their music to produce a more soulful, spiritual sound mixed with a touch of modern 'electronica' and they have beautiful voices. So here is a varied selection of their music and the final video features their mother, Venezuelan singer Maya Dagnino, with a song about their late father, Miguel "Angá" Díaz who was part of the Buena Vista Social Club.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

JD: The fake wisdom of the elite

Responding to yesterday's post about doomster-prepper billionaires, JD says:

On 6th June 1968 (fifty years ago) John Lennon sat in a press conference at the National Theatre in London to talk about a new play based on his book "In His Own Write" As is the way of these things the conversation drifted into other topics. This is what Lennon had to say about the Government, all Governments:

Looking at the world of 2018, it appears that governments have become ever more remote from the citizenry who all, if only subliminally, agree that our leaders are even more insane than they were fifty years ago. Voters around the world have been rejecting the established political parties and have turned to alternatives. I am reminded of Chesterton's aphorism “When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.”  and that choice is also what our political 'leaders' have given us. We no longer believe in them and are casting around searching for something, anything which is not "more of the same."

It is not just politicians who are insane, our technological 'wizards' are also insane: "Men like Thiel (Paypal founder) or Amazon’s Jeff Bezos have invested millions in immortality projects; meanwhile Yudkowsky, the MIRI theorist, thinks anyone who doesn’t sign their children up for cryogenic freezing is a “lousy parent.” In that quest for an immortal soul, two things stand in the way: death and a revolt of the underclass. AI threatens to combine both—semiotically and, just perhaps, literally."

I have already made some observations on that subject in the second part of this post -
You have continued the theme in your recent post about the pessimism of the 'elite' They are not pessimistic, they are insane or, at the very least, they are lacking in imagination (something which also applies to the aforementioned 'techie geniuses', they have no practical expertise in or experience of anything)

John Cleese was right when he said in a lecture recently “If I can persuade you this evening to abandon this hope, you will find yourself a lot more relaxed, you'll worry less and laugh more.  I promise you that.”

Monday, July 16, 2018

The pessimism of the elite

"When the hedge funders asked me the best way to maintain authority over their security forces after “the event,” I suggested that their best bet would be to treat those people really well, right now. They should be engaging with their security staffs as if they were members of their own family. And the more they can expand this ethos of inclusivity to the rest of their business practices, supply chain management, sustainability efforts, and wealth distribution, the less chance there will be of an “event” in the first place. All this technological wizardry could be applied toward less romantic but entirely more collective interests right now.

"They were amused by my optimism, but they didn’t really buy it. They were not interested in how to avoid a calamity; they’re convinced we are too far gone. For all their wealth and power, they don’t believe they can affect the future. They are simply accepting the darkest of all scenarios and then bringing whatever money and technology they can employ to insulate themselves — especially if they can’t get a seat on the rocket to Mars."

These people are successful in a particular context. In a different one, maybe not.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Why China Will Never Rule The World

For a different take on China it is worth reading Troy Parfitt’s book - Why China Will Never Rule The World: Travels in the Two Chinas . This is not a book about facts and figures and neither is it a hymn to Chinese economic success. As the blurb tells us, the book is mostly travelogue told from an outsider's perspective, albeit an outsider who lived in Taiwan for ten years and who speaks Mandarin.

Three quotes may give a flavour of the writer’s standpoint. 

China is a nation of much fakery; there’s fake sushi, fake steak, fake gravy, fake music, fake goods, fake pharmaceuticals, fake news, fake weather reports, fake education, fake rights, fake laws, fake courts, fake judges, a fake congress, a fake constitution….

Unambiguous but not unconsidered. Parfitt thinks there are profound influences behind the fakery – a deep-rooted preference for appearances over reality. The second quote concerns a China Central Television (CCTV) show the writer watched from one of his hotel rooms.

That night on CCTV, a panel of Chinese scientists was explaining how the Americans had never landed on the moon. Not only were the lunar missions faked, they said, but the Apollo program itself was largely a matter of science fiction. The shadows were all wrong. Where were the craters? And just look at that ridiculous flag – not moving even with solar winds. Their tone was both mocking and disdainful, as if even having to explain why this was the biggest fraud of all time insulted their very intelligence.

CCTV is the main state broadcaster in China. The third quote is taken from a conversation with a taxi driver.

“Food in China is packed with shit – shit that will make you sick and kill you. I have a daughter, you know. I’m worried about what she eats. But what am I supposed to do? Complain? Yeah, right. The government would say, ‘Well, that’s very interesting, sir. Why don’t we take a walk and talk about it? Please, tell us whatever it is that’s on your mind.’ And then they’d shoot me in the back of the neck. Bang! And that would be the end of that.”

Obviously an entire country cannot be dismissed on the basis of a single taxi driver's complaints, however chilling they are. However there are many more examples highlighting what Parfitt sees as endemic weaknesses in Chinese culture. For example he sees Confucianism as a significant cultural problem with its emphasis on obedience and harmony.

The book is easy to read and although Parfitt can come across as someone who simply does not like China and the Chinese, he tells us quite clearly why that is. In so doing he provides an interesting and accessible cultural alternative to the usual facts, figures and technology.

Friday, July 13, 2018

FRIDAY THE 13TH MUSIC: Proms and Prokofiev (plus a swan), by JD

It's Friday the thirteenth! Unlucky for some, as the saying goes but it is also the First Night of the Proms. Everyone knows the Last Night of the Proms and everyone likes to sing along with the usual favourite tunes. However, the First Night is always more interesting and tonight it is an all British programme of music by Holst, Vaughan Williams and Anna Meredith.

Herewith a selection from those composers, plus an inquisitive swan who is lulled to sleep by a harp (video courtesy of Mr Sackerson who found it and sent it to me) and the final piece here is not British but is by Prokofiev by way of a consolation for the England team who didn't quite win their own 'battle on the ice' (yes, I know it is summer but suspend disbelief for the duration and for artistic licence!)

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Postwar Europe - secret struggles

Fascinating. Lord Walsingham (92 last year) is in his anecdotage - and none the worse for that, in his case - but some startling things jump out of the flow.

He worked for a time in 1950 in the German Department of the Foreign Office, and explains how the French and German governments were still secretly Nazi but were being used to hold back the threat of Communism (both within Western European nations and also of course from the Soviet Union, which had started the Berlin blockade in 1949.)

And he tells how MI6 discovered there were secret parts of the 1951 Coal and Steel agreement relating to mutual support by France and Germany of each other's industries, designed to weaken Britain's capacity for self-defence.

The UK Labour Government's Attlee and Bevin spotted the threat to Anglo-style democratic self-government and kept out of this "community".