The joke’s on us

1984 was the most visionary, prescient book ever written. “He who controls the past controls the future.” Joe says he never said it and therefore he didn’t, even if he did.

Same with the millions he and his son took from the Chinese, Ukrainians and others. If Joe says he never took a cent, then you can have all the laptops full of documents you wish, and not a dollar went into his pocket. As in: NPR tells readers the Hunter Biden story is a ‘waste’ of time and a ‘pure distraction,’ so they’re not reporting on it. Did an event that was never reported ever happen?

And do you really want to bet your career and future on saying anything else?

Saving Grace

I will begin with a single statement: if you do not already subscribe to Quadrant, then you should; it is the best political magazine of conservative thought in the world and I read them all. Subscribe here. Here is only part of the reason why.

Both TAFKAS and myself wrote posts in reaction to a Weekend Australia article by Katrina Grace Kelly: Public safety becomes a casualty to the culture wars. This was his: Safety, and this was mine: Australians watching American politics according to The Oz. To understand what she wrote, I will provide the following from Spartacus:

In her piece this past weekend, titled Public safety becomes a casualty to the culture wars, Kelly writes some “unusual” things.  To start with, it was a very odd mashing of Covid management in Australia, the US and the performance of President Trump.

This aside, it is Kelly’s closing paragraph that got to TAFKAS:

“Voters expect politicians to do everything to keep them safe, and many will vote along these lines.”

I just shortened her argument to, “Save me, she begs, save me.” You get the idea.

Then I turned to my latest October Quadrant which I go through end to end and read through every article that interests me, which most do. But not everything, and this was an article I expected to pass over, titled: The Sea. Turned out it was an investigation of the literature in relation to The Sea as a metaphor of danger. And then in the midst of this wonderful article, there was a passage from The Book of Common Prayer, which brought me back to that pathetic article by Princess Grace:

“O most powerful and glorious Lord God, at whose command the winds blow, and lift up the waves of the sea, and who stillest the rage thereof; We, thy creatures, but miserable sinners, do in this our great distress cry unto thee for help; Save, Lord, or else we perish.”

I am afraid Ms Kelly is a lost soul. She has lost touch with G-d; she can think of no other to save her woebegone self from the dangers of life but the Government. There are many lost souls such as herself who seek salvation in the hands of government from whom no salvation can ever be found. She turns to Joe Biden instead. If it weren’t so tragically sad it might be funny. She is a metaphor for our times.

Our 40th anniversary is tomorrow

Tomorrow is our 40th wedding anniversary and other than in dwelling on how many years have gone by, I could not be more happy. When I was young, teenager-ish, I came across an article about Charles Boyer’s own 40th anniversary.* Boyer was the ultimate French luuver, and there he had been married to one person, rather than being a man with many women, as is the ideal in these decadent times of ours. And in reply my mother said that the true sign of a great lover is that he can keep the same woman happy for the whole of her life. In fact, literature up until that time was about finding and winning the perfect girl. Today, such a notion would not work for Hollywood nor for most “romantic” fiction. Certainly very few boys would buy into it. It is numbers that matter, a Don Giovanni type love-life that counts as the standard of excellence. A bad standard since it is one that leads to so much unhappiness and discontent. Marrying your high school “sweetheart” is the last thing on anyone’s mind for virtually everyone in our Western world today. And not until I have arrived at this moment myself did it really occur to me that this truly is the ideal, just as my Mother had said all those years ago, bless her.

So here we are at 40 years. Alas, were these normal times we would be having a big, big party, bringing together all of our friends, and with it being a Sunday we could have started early and gone on all day and into the night. But being in the odd times we are, it will just have to be a catered romantic dinner for two around our kitchen table.

The story of how we met I have told many times so will tell it again. It was at a Fancy Dress party – on April Fools Day, in fact. I had been invited by an old friend I used to know from my early days in Melbourne. It was a Saturday night and I came dressed as an American tourist, in a Hawaiian shirt, shorts, thongs and a roll of toilet paper in my back pocket. And into this room came the prettiest, most engaging girl I had seen in a very long time who was easily the most enchanting woman I had ever come upon. Upbeat, happy, full of laughter and adventure. She came as a 1920s flapper which she was the perfect embodiment of. She worked the room coming towards where I was, and finally made it to me after about an hour. My eyes had, of course, never left her – and as she tells it herself, she was working her way towards me since I, bless my soul, was her perfect type, at least from a distance. 

We then sat and chatted, talked about this and that – I actually still remember the conversation surprisingly well – and then I offered to drive her home when it was all over, in my beat up 25-year old Cortina. Which would have been fine except that the car would not start and needed a push-start from everyone else to finally get the engine to turn over. She was definitely not looking for wealth and status. So we drove out to the airport and back to charge the engine, and then after a night of more chat and more coffee and cake, we went on the Sunday morning to see her best friends to see how I would fit into her life, and then we went to see my best friends, so that I could do the same. And then we met again on the Monday in the city since we were both working not all that far from each other.

But this morning at work was the moment that mattered. I told the story at our wedding and a number of times since. It is known, and I do mention it from time to time, that before I became the sober man of the right and a proper bourgeoisie, I had been a long-haired hippy new-left loon, even having gone so far as to live in a “commune” in Vancouver, hanging out with all forms of disreputable types, of whom I was amongst the more disreputable. This, mind you, when I had already become a B.A./M.A. I was at work in the morning in the Economics Department of one of our Big Four banks, and I went to the chap who did the mining analysis and forecasts and asked to borrow his copy of the I Ching. The I Ching, if you don’t know it, is an ancient Chinese “oracle” to which you can pose various questions about what to do, and which will provide answers that usually requires a certain kind of wavering judgment and careful interpretation to make sense of. My friend David used the I Ching, along with his astrological charting plus numerology, to make his forecasts for the mining industry. Bear that in mind next time you think about buying shares, whether bank shares or mining shares. I might just mention that he eventually left the bank because he was sure that there was going to be a California earthquake as foretold by Edgar Cayce, that would send a tidal wave across the Pacific leading to mass drownings in Melbourne. David therefore sold up his beautiful house in Carlton and moved to Nimbin. I only once again ever saw him, at an economics conference, where he presented a paper on the use of astrology in making economic predictions.

But on this day, being already very familiar with the I Ching from my earlier days, I asked to borrow his copy, which is the last time I ever used it or any other form of forecasting technique, other than, of course, economic theory. And I asked David for the book and put the fateful question: Should I marry this girl? I might also here mention that I introduced these devices to my children by telling them that they are a fun part of life, but the moment you find even the slightest tweak of a notion entering their heads that these things will accurately foretell anything, they must be discarded and never be used again. That is my advice to everyone. Now let me return to that moment in 1978.

And here was the point about the question. I was a young lad, only just having turned thirty. I was living the life that many young lads at that time of life foolishly prefer to live. And having met the perfect girl, the reason I was going into this further investigation of the proper course of action was, I am ashamed to admit, so that I might find some reason, anything at all, where is that straw for me to grasp, not to continue along this path towards marriage, but so that I could have some reason not to. And as you might know with all of these devices, there is a certain fuzziness that allows you to read things in many different ways. An easy way out, right?

I tossed the coins and then the most astonishing thing happened. And this was the only time this had ever happened. It gave me an absolutely clear answer that was unambiguous in stating without any possible way to equivocate: YOU SHOULD MARRY THIS GIRL!

And it was even worse than that. The way the oracle works is that there are almost always “Change Lines” in the result so that what might be the advice at the moment of consultation will over time slither into its opposite or at least towards some other answer. But here, for the first and only time in all the times I had used the I Ching where there were no Change Lines. How it was on that day in 1988 would be how it would be for all times. Honestly, I was truly amazed since nothing like it had ever happened before. It is a rare occurrence, I can tell you.

And so it has turned out. The entire universe in its cosmic unfolding had told me in no uncertain terms that this was the girl I must marry if I sought happiness and a blessed life of marital contentment that would continue forward exactly how it had  begun. I now know this is the only form of true happiness, the only one that counts. The greatest of all of G-d’s blessings is a happy marriage. 

I will add something else which I have only found out recently, but which when I read turns out to have been exactly what I did in wending my way towards that moment. And in its own way this is as mystical an approach, and no doubt about as accurate as my tossing the coins to consult the I Ching. This time, however, it is by using advanced statistical methods to find your one true love and companion for life (I think this may only works for males, by the way, but perhaps not). Let me quote from the text. This is from Amir D. Aczel: Chance: A Guide to Gambling, Love, the Stock Market & Just about Everything Else, p86):

“You will maximize your probability of finding the best spouse if you date about thirty-seven percent of the available candidates in your life, and then choose to stay with the next candidate who is better than all the previous ones.

“This is, indeed, a strange-sounding rule. But mathematicians have proved it works better than any other. The number thirty-seven percent is an approximation of the exact number 1/e, where e is the base for natural logarithms, or 2.71828.” 

The science is settled, and you don’t want to go around arguing with science, do you?

We have had a remarkably friction-free 40 years, although I do have to say there is that one area where we do not perfectly line up, and as with many couples, it is with politics. We have managed to work it through, but as it turns out, of the two of us, she is the more conservative, the most hardline on the right. I may waver here or there, but she never, and apparently from a very young age. 

There we are in the photo below, me looking as cheerful and debonair as ever.

The only lesson I feel I have learned in all this time is that what is best in life is to turn seventy and find you have been happily married to the same person for the previous forty years.

 

* Charles Boyer was the husband of British actress Pat Paterson, whom he met at a dinner party in 1934. The two became engaged after two weeks of courtship and were married three months later. The marriage lasted 44 years until her death.

The Battle of Salamis 2500 years ago this month

Western civilisation has been put to the test many times but this may have been the most critical, and it happened exactly two and a half millennia ago. Here is a memorial to that day: Freedom, Barbarism, and Triremes. It begins.

Twenty-five hundred years ago this month, a Greek naval armada, composed largely of Athenian ships led by the brilliant statesman Themistocles, won a decisive victory over the massive navy of the Persian king Xerxes in the straits of Salamis. This victory effectively ended a decade of Persian efforts to subjugate the autonomous cities of ancient Greece to barbarian rule.

Commemorating this event is not antiquarianism. By preserving the freedom of the Greeks, the victory at Salamis made possible a period of human flourishing in the arts, sciences, philosophy, and politics that the world has rarely seen, one that would prove foundational to Western civilization and whose rival for significance might only be found in the Italian Renaissance. In remembering it, we remind ourselves of what makes the West both so distinct and so fragile.

When I, as a professor of political science, teach my students about an event so critical to our shared history, I try to show them how the texts of the ancient world convey both the dramatic urgency of political life and the human wisdom inherent in learning about its affairs. In reading accounts of the battle by Herodotus, Thucydides, Aeschylus, and Plutarch, I’ve often wondered about that morning two and half millennia ago—about what Themistocles was thinking in the hours and minutes leading up to a battle that he had engineered. After all, the placement and timing of this battle were largely his own doing; through subterfuge practiced on both the Persian king and his own allies he manufactured a battle on which the liberty of Greece rested.

The Melbourne Syndrome in pictures

It would be much funnier if it weren’t actually true.

AND THIS FROM TODAY’S FINANCIAL REVIEW: Mask crackdown mad, health experts warn. Their headline, with this text:

Asked why he would require Victorians to wear masks when there is no health purpose, Mr Andrews dismissed the question. “That’s an esoteric debate, isn’t it? Maybe there will be a time when we have the luxury of having those sorts of debates.”

Maybe there will be a time! “Mad” is just the word.

And indeed, Andrew Bolt now specifically asks

Has Daniel Andrews gone mad?

I cannot tell if this is just hyperbolic exaggeration or is meant literally. To me, it could be either, but what if it’s literally true? I keep coming back to The Caine Mutiny and Captain Queeg. The Caine is a US battleship during the war in the Pacific. Captain Queeg is its captain who has gone insane. The leader of the mutiny is Maryk.

Maryk keeps a secret log of Queeg’s eccentric behavior…. Soon afterward, the Caine is caught in a typhoon, an ordeal that sinks three destroyers. At the height of the storm, Queeg’s paralysis of action convinces Maryk that he must relieve the captain of command to prevent the loss of the ship. Willie, as Officer of the Deck, supports the decision. Maryk turns Caine into the wind and rides out the storm.

The political works of Gary Saul Morson

We have previously drawn attention to Professor Gary Saul Morson’s New Criterion essay “How the great truth dawned,” Professor Morson’s New Criterion lecture “Leninthink,” Professor Morson’s New York Review of Books review “The horror, the horror,” and Professor Morson’s book Narrative and Freedom: The Shadows of Time (Steve wrote about it here).

To these I now want to add Professor Morson’s First Things essay “Suicide of the liberals.”

His Wikipedia entry.

It is about human rights, you dimwit

He really is the most ignorant, not to mention outright stupid politician I have ever witnessed. A straight out Stalinist who knows only the logic of force. This is the essence of Andrews.

I’m always happy to have a debate but ultimately our policy will not be changing.

What he really said is that he is not in the slightest interested in having a debate, his mind has been made up and the personal freedoms of others have no meaning to him. More here: Daniel Andrews dismisses human rights complaint over Melbourne Covid curfew.

On Thursday, The Australian reported that Liberal Party MP Tim Wilson had written to the Human Rights Commission, urging it to examine the curfew on the basis that “citizens’ rights and freedoms [are] being limited based on the ease and efficiency of the powers of the state against the rights and freedoms of Victorians”.

Wilson has asked the commission, which he once headed, to examine whether it had grounds “to take action in light of the significant limitation on the rights and freedoms imposed on Victorians by the curfew for the ease of government interests”.

But Andrews dismissed that complaint on Friday, saying the curfew was “not about human rights. It is about human life.”

“That is my answer to Mr Wilson. And what he chooses to do with his time is a matter for him. Police need rules they can enforce,” Andrews said.

A complete disgrace. If he is remembered at all it will only be for the warning he has provided to future generations about the dangers of totalitarian evil that can easily seep in through the cracks in some Parliamentary socialist sewer.

And then, of course, there are the economic effects. This is from the PwC report to Melbourne City Council on Cost of Pandemic.

A vicious cycle of higher debt and lower growth has commenced. Higher debt means less control over events; a government facing debt pressures will be unable to use fiscal policies to the same extent. A reduced ability to service that debt will leave less for other services.

Federal government transfers represent 50% of Victorian government revenue. Transfers will fall as GST collections fall. With a dramatic fall in employment in the state, numbers in the Victorian public service must fall. It had employed 9.4% of the Victorian workforce but will increase to 12.4% in two years, an unsustainable level. State taxes will need to increase by prospectively 25%.

A downgrade in credit rating of Victorian debt is inevitable. Net debt will increase to 20% of GSP and net interest will exceed 6% of revenue. Interest rates on debt will increase as spreads widen. Victoria’s population will at best be static. If overseas students are hesitant to enrol with universities in Victoria, a declining population will emerge and there will be fewer taxpayers.

We’ll see how much the folks in Victoria will love Dan the Man then. What a reckless thoughtless incompetent fool.

Liar Dan and the fine art of casuistry

This is the front page of the Oz: Andrews letters: PM’s offers met by silence. And then see precisely what Silent Dan says:

Revelations of the Prime Minister’s offers of help to Mr And­rews came as the Premier said on Wednesday that he stood by his statement to a state parliamentary committee hearing last month that it was “fundamentally incorrect to assert that there was hundreds of ADF staff on offer and somehow someone said no”.

Get it. No one said no. What a disgusting weasel. Responsible for hundreds of deaths and he wants to start defending himself by parsing the meaning of words. Will accept no responsibility for the catastrophe he has overseen and largely caused by his incompetence.

As for casuistry, perhaps he learned it when studying the classics, one of the fine arts of dishonest politics:

the use of clever but unsound reasoning, especially in relation to moral questions; sophistry.
“the minister is engaging in nothing more or less than casuistry”

I wonder if he was crossing his fingers when he said what he said. I also notice that on the new citizenship test there is this question:

Should people’s freedom of speech and freedom of expression be respected in Australia?

I wonder how Dan would go with that.

LET ME ALSO ADD THIS: Despite 10,000 new cases a day, the French are embracing life – not imposing new rules.

The cafes of Paris are packed

No one is dying from the Covid any longer. The contrast between Melbourne and Paris is incredible.

AND FROM THE COMMENTS:

The 20 traits of a psychopath

The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) is composed of 20 salient traits that a psychopath may have:
1. Pathological lying
2. Glib and superficial charm
3. Grandiose sense of self
4. Need for stimulation
5. Cunning and manipulative
6. Lack of remorse or guilt
7. Shallow emotional response
8. Callousness and lack of empathy
9. Parasitic lifestyle
10. Poor behavioural controls
11. Sexual promiscuity
12. Early behaviour problems
13. Lack of realistic long-term goals
14. Impulsivity
15. Irresponsibility
16. Failure to accept responsibility
17. Many short-term marital relationships
18. Juvenile delinquency
19. Revocation of conditional release
20. Criminal versatility

The Hare Psychopathy Checklist categories four major traits. These traits are Interpersonal, Emotional, Lifestyle, and Antisocial. Here are the discussions of each trait.

1. Interpersonal Traits
Pathological lying is one of the most salient characteristics of psychopaths. They use lies to cover up their true purpose. By using the charm that they have, psychopaths win over their target victim.

Their high self-worth makes them crave for more power. As a result, they want to maintain the authority and power they have.

2. Emotional Traits
Psychopaths lack remorse and guilt. Consequently, it is easy for them to manipulate or inflict pain on their victims. They will simply get away with the crime they commit.

The lack of empathy makes the psychopaths unaware of their victims’ emotional or physical turmoil. They never hold the responsibility of their acts.

3. Lifestyle Trait
Psychopaths are impulsive and irresponsible. They typically have no long-term and realistic goals.

4. Antisocial Traits
Psychopaths always have difficulties in controlling their behaviour. As a result, developing a social relationship is a constant and huge challenge for them.

Although psychopaths are rare, they are difficult to spot. You have no idea whether one of your co-workers, classmates, or friends is a psychopath. The 20 traits of a psychopath listed in the scale (PCL-R) will help you assess the suspected person.

The help of a mental expert may aid the assessment process. Like other psychological disorders, diagnosing psychopathy is also a tricky thing to do. It requires expertise and experience.

Being stupid is not a barrier to political success

Let me add a bit more on Daniel Andrew’s lack of intelligence. Being stupid does not mean one does not have other attributes that might make for political success. The school bully is seldom the same person who sits on top of the Honour Role.

When I say he is stupid, what I am saying is that he is unlikely to be able to make sense of complicated arguments. You will not be able to reason with him since he has his own agendas, he is too thick, not just to follow what others are saying, but is bored by such things.

We policy types like to sit and discuss ends and means with a specific matrix of theoretical and practical considerations that lead to various conclusions that are embedded in policy proposals which are then implemented. Daniel Andrews has never shown the slightest ability or interest in any of that. He’s a brute with his own ideas of what to do, who wants his own way at all times and is determined to get it, however much harm he may do. He is a far-left Marxist-Leninist without the slightest interest in creating an environment in which the private sector can succeed. And he is as dumb as a box of rocks as well.

Reading the comments from the previous thread brought two things to light of particular interest to me. This was from Rohan:

In fact, Daniel Andrews has botched every single thing he has done. He has not had a single success in anything he has done since becoming premier. Try to find anything he has achieved with all the billions he has gone through. Victoria was already bankrupt even before the virus arrived. Dwell on this from the link.

It wasn’t just his current stint as Premier either. Remember the ER waiting times where people were waiting over 24 hours on gurneys to be admitted as a patient, when he was health minister?

Remember how he told the bureaucrats to fudge the figures so he wouldn’t look bad but the front line ER docs blew the whistle?

Remember how he never addressed the root cause of the problem and it only got better after the LNP won in 2010?

Because he can’t solve problems. But he has rat cunning, is a master in the art of bullying, obfuscation and lying his arse off to cover for his lack of intelligence and practicality and common sense.

Then there is this from Tim Neilson commenting on the six years it took for Andrews to get through his pass degree at Monash in politics and classics. I was surprised by the classics which does show some intellectual interest but see below:

He is of above average intelligence by today’s standards. He has a BA, majoring in Classics and Politics. Granted, that is not what it used to be, by a long shot, but stupid people don’t earn such degrees, even today. There is real work and intelligence required, even today.

It’s pretty difficult to fail an Arts subject if you hand in assignments and turn up to exams.

The Classics should have more rigour than some pseudo-disciplines. However, Andrews would have had the Classics belted into him at his Catholic school. Then he could go back to square 1 at Uni and get a Classics minor in his pass degree pretty much just off what what the Brothers had strapped into him.

As for a Politics major, if you think pass marks in that required anything much more than “four legs good, two legs bad”, you’re sadly overestimating Australian universities.

Yes, he’s not full illiterate level stupid, but his pass degree in the Arts doesn’t mean that he’s got any real intellectual ability.

He has superficial polish and a determined ruthlessness which work for him. He is also well supported by the many many standard-issue cliches of the left on being kind and caring and the evils of capitalism. I am only pointing out his vast intellectual limitations to help explain the predicament we are in. And how useless it would be to try to talk him out of the kinds of things he is doing that are ruining the State.

I don’t say that intelligence is the be all and end all of political ability or even common sense. Universities are filled with people whose political views are unbelievably idiotic. What I am saying is that Andrews stands out as much stupider than the average and his limitations are having a terrible effect all over the place. He is certainly doing much to ruin the Labor brand in Australia.