Cringe-worthy

I cringe every time I hear a politician, usually a Democrat (in the USA) or Leftist, began a sentence “We need to have a conversation…”.

It’s like someone wanting “dialogue “ with their spouse, after they’ve hired an attorney and filed papers for divorce. They’re serious about only one track for the dialogue to run on.

But you knew that.

Mittwoch

A lovely day, indeed. The sun is warm. The breeze is gentle, persistent, pleasant. I just watched a press briefing from a high level White House official promoting NATO membership for Sweden and Finland, as if surrounding Russia with NATO allies, will decrease, rather than increase, the likelihood of a war with Russia.

Nobody in Washington perceived Russia as a threat when the Obama Administration authorised the sale of our uranium stockpile to Rosatom, the Russian energy company owned by the Russian government. What happened?

Meanwhile, I watched an interesting video on YouTube about a Hindu temple renowned for its erotic relief sculptures. The video put the sculptures into a necessary context for us Westerners who have a very adolescent understanding of the erotic and human sexuality. Our values stand in contrast to the early Jesuits’ attitude to understand different cultures before they evangelised. Still a good idea.

Czar vs. President

In 1914 a terrorist act plunged the entire globe into a war, the likes of which the world had never seen before. Diplomacy failed and treaty obligations set two chain reactions in motion that could not or would not be stopped.

Nicholas Alexandrovich Romanov was Czar of the Russian Empire. His military was beset with massive corruption in the supply services and incompetence in the field command, with the significant exception of Marshall Brusilov. Rather than shift blame, Czar Nicholas eventually took direct command of the military. The losses forced his abdication. He ultimately paid with his life and the lives of his family members.

Imagine paying for the failures of government with one’s life. It is extreme, to be sure. Today the Czar would probably get a book deal, a spot on a talk show, and invitations to all the right parties.

I’m not expecting any American politician from President on down to take responsibility for the spectacular failures we have endured in the past seventeen months. But avoiding even the mention of failure does nothing to mitigate the magnitude of our losses.

It is easier to fire a football coach than it is to sack an incompetent President. Oh well.

Feeling Old

I feel old whenever I walk, or sit, or lie down for too long.

I feel old whenever my wife shows no interest in sex.

Sometimes I just feel old.

So I have to force myself to do youthful things, like engage with the culture.

Progress?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Progress. A little over a century ago, the Progressive movement advocated sterilising the “feeble-minded”, against their consent. The forced sterilisation concept started not in a totalitarian dictatorship but in states of the United States, in the exercise of popular, “democratic “ will. The goal was Progress. Weimar Germany, and its Nazi successor regime got the ideas of eugenics from us.

Today we consider eugenics barbaric, unless parents choose to abort a foetus determined to have a genetic condition like Down Syndrome. Then that bit of barbarism is understandable and excusable. Still the utopian/dystopian vision of a managed future continues to compel and repel us.We may change the goals, e.g. controlling the population of poor people that filled the dreams of Margaret Sanger and Marie Stopes in the 1920’s to Al Gore’s vision of controlling carbon emissions in the 2020’s.

Paul Ehrlich wrote an influential book around 1970, The Population Bomb, warning of the dangers of human overpopulation. His answer was Zero Population Growth. Family size should be limited to two children, replacing the parents who begat them. Government policy or economic pressures would further compel families to have only one child, in China, for example. Now, demographers warn of demographic (population) collapse, in Japan, Italy, France, and, ironically, China herself. So much for the Population Bomb.

We love to think we are steering the ship of human destiny. The Soviet Russian Communists were eager to control the population and “liberate” women. So they legalised abortion, even inventing the vacuum aspirator, used in the surgical abortion procedure. When Communism collapsed, the succeeding Russian Federation changed the abortion laws to make abortion illegal after the fourteenth week of pregnancy.

Progress, choice, material prosperity and comfort motivate us today. Or so we are told to want material goods, to become wealthier in order to be happy. Of course, the end of human activity postulated as the acquisition of goods is a goal in direct contrast to Judaeo- Christian principles. “Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind and strength. And love thy neighbour as thyself.” My paraphrase of the shema from Deuteronomy and repeated by Our Lord in St Matthew still remain the guiding principles of millions today.

The manufacturers of stuff, huge corporations that they are, have an upper hand in the quest for our hearts and dollars. And we must always remember that we humans aspire for both the material and the spiritual simultaneously. It takes money to build beautiful things, whether a cathedral, mosque or temple on the one hand or a bridge or a skyscraper on the other. Because that desire for transcendent values like love, truth and beauty always persists.

Morning, The Second Of May

Last night, earlier this morning really, I attempted to fall asleep. The pain in my back raged and a cold pack soothed me. I slept for awhile, awoke, made coffee, then considered the collection of unfinished books gathered about my chair.

Stalingrad was the winner. I restarted it, as much to refresh my memory of what I had read so far of Vasily Grossman’s work. This is the epic novel of the epic battle that determined the outcome of that cluster of simultaneous wars that we call World War Two. Just as we cannot escape Sarajevo twenty eight years previous to this calamity, we live with this catastrophe even today.

Stalingrad, the battle, was fought by hundreds of thousands of ordinary people. Invading Germans, their Ukrainian Hiwis, ( Hilfswilliger), volunteer support troops, faced Russians and other ethnicities of the Soviet domain.

I think of Stalingrad today, nearly eighty years later, as Russians and Ukrainians face off , yet again. Not that far West, past the Don, are these eternal killing fields, where the Slavic world bleeds herself out.

Pick a side. Either one will do. Cheer on this ghoulish festival. Get bored eventually. Then go back to the NBA playoffs, or the NHL playoffs. Perhaps cricket in India is more to your liking. The deaths will continue, even after you’re bored.

I Fell Today

So I am an old guy. Things happened with my ability to move gracefully, quickly and without pain. Now I can’t and don’t move those ways.

I went to my neighbourhood cricket ground and watched live cricket for the first time. It was fun until… a ball came in my direction. I got out of the way, but fell on my face, and, well, it isn’t bad, but it isn’t without pain. That and the fact that my lack of agility could get me in even bigger trouble, if I don’t deal with it.

Pain is keeping me awake and I’m obsessing on the mess in Ukraine. Both sides can’t just stop. Barbarism must be dealt with through more barbarism. That will fix it. The USA will continue to supply Ukraine with weapons and Ukraine will supply the cannon fodder. But this situation will persist until it … Who knows?

I was watching a Daffy Duck cartoon wherein he’s fighting the Nazis. Now there’s a cartoon about why it’s a smart idea to re-enlist in the 1950’s Army. Not bad. This was between Korea and Vietnam. There was plenty to do. A commercial came on touting the glories of Door Dash.

I’m not sleepy yet, but I am bored.

Nonbinary Geopolitics?

Ever since I don’t know when, human beings have been dividing the world into the Us’s vs. the Them’s. Here are just a few of the binaries(1/0): Greeks vs. Trojans, Persians vs. Greeks, Germans vs. Everybody Else, Commies vs. Free World. Now we have the Russians vs. the Ukrainians, and, by extension, Us.

If you believe Joe Biden and/or Sean Hannity, you trust their analyses of geopolitics to know that the corrupt oligarchs of Ukraine are the Good Guys. They bribe the Bidens, and make possible contracts to the armaments industries to restock the Defence Department’s warehouses. They give the media talking heads a chance to air out the same talking points of the Foreign Policy/War template that they’ve used since Pearl Harbour. The other pole of the Them’s has a new name tag (Russians). Everything else about the game is the same.

We don’t understand that the Ukrainians pose an existential threat to the survival of Russia and her culture. By getting chummy with the agnostic, morally flaccid West, the Ukrainians are importing the materialist values that, in the hands of Lenin, Stalin, et. al., nearly destroyed Russia in the Twentieth Century. Marxism was, and is, a Western secularist and atheist philosophy that posits an eternal struggle, with redemption made manifest only in murder “revolution”, starting with the martyred Romanovs.

Think about this. Other nations/cultures might not want what we have to offer. As outsiders, our critics notice the free exchange of ideas has become a joke in the USA. If one disagrees with the CDC, Fauci, Barack Obama, the Clintons, you are giving out disinformation or misinformation. You must be censored, so that the “free exchange” of ideas may continue. It’s another version of burning the village to save it. We talk a good game of freedom, but all that freedom jive is over at the tip-off.

We all know what a sonofabitch Putin is. Just don’t talk about our January 6 political prisoners, who killed Seth Rich, the Hunter Biden laptop, just for starters. Washington is a degenerate, and decadent court. Pseudoscience reigns, as transgender ideology, and climate science resist any legitimate scrutiny or debate. Do what a Yale educated lawyer, (John Kerry), says around climate change. Nobody believes that down means up any more or that 2 + 2 = 5. At least outside the Beltway, they don’t.

The conceit that we are the good guys in all our secular, agnostic, licentious,promiscuous, materialistic, militaristic glory just doesn’t cut it any longer. And if our pole of the binary is false, why are we even playing the game?