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Showing posts from December 23, 2007

the naturalistic fallacy in three rounds

(From the Cites obscurs site) In John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography, he says a rather strange thing about happiness: “I never, indeed, wavered in the conviction that happiness is the test of all rules of conduct, and the end of life. But I now thought that this end was only to be attained by not making it the direct end. Those only are happy (I thought) who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness; on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit, followed not as a means, but as itself an ideal end. Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness by the way. The enjoyments of life (such was now my theory) are sufficient to make it a pleasant thing, when they are taken _en passant_, without being made a principal object. Once make them so, and they are immediately felt to be insufficient. They will not bear a scrutinizing examination. Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so. The only chance is to treat

Dispatch from Bozoland

In the last post, LI foreswore political commentary. This post will be full of political commentary. Consistency, as Emerson said, is something I’ll cram up your ass if you bring it around here again, got that sport? Or maybe it wasn’t Emerson who said that – that was a marginal note on a Scorcese script. Damn. Anyway, as I have pointed out and pointed out, the fraud of the GWOT, a fraud at the very root of the Bush administration response to 9/11, was eventually going to blow up in our faces. As we know from every testimony that counts, pre-9/11, the Bushies thought ‘terrorism’ was one of those stupid Clinton obsessions. After 9/11, especially after the nation turned a blind eye to the paniced and clueless president they saw buzzing around the country, the administration still didn’t understand the first thing about Al Qaeda, but they did understand that this was unparalleled opportunity for thievery, for invading countries, and for making political gains. So the laughable Afghan wa

There wasn't any joint: 2007

LI has been reading over our 2007 posts with some disappointment. In 2007, we were much more verbose and much less witty than in 2006. The main thematic difference between this year and previous ones is political. From 2001 until about June of 2007, we emitted a constant stream of howls. Notably, about Iraq, and the crimes and misdemeanors of the Bush years. But in June we looked back and realized that, for all the denunciation of the feebs, the psychos, the deepily and creepily murderous D.C. set, it mattered not a wit. When the Democratic majority calmly let itself be immobilized and zombified by the Petro Gun club, displaying the same kind of acumen and forward looking spirit which infused the halcyon days of Bremer’s rule in Iraq, it answered the question that foamed on our lips: can this governing elite be saved? At the moment, grassroots politics in the U.S. is a sick joke, if not completely dead. It consists of what, four vegetarian Quakers? It is scary how dead. The slack jaw

Recommend

LI’s advice of the day: if you want to understand what is happening in the markets right now, you will read John Lancaster’s LBR essay. Sample from the essay: Lancaster is talking to his friend, Tony, an investment broker or something – whatever that means nowadays. “My friend Tony, however, is sanguine. ‘Sorting out who’s in the shit is going to be a nightmare, but when it all shakes out, all it’ll mean is that credit is a little bit more expensive. That’s a good thing. It had got crazy. It was cheaper for companies to borrow money from other companies than it was for governments. That’s nuts. These things are cyclical, it had all just gone too far and we needed a correction.’ ‘So we’ll have to stop running around spending money like drunken sailors,’ I said. ‘Well, drunk sailors tend to be spending their own money,’ Tony said. ‘By contemporary standards they’re quite prudent.’” Oh, it hurts. It hurts!

Control and Resistance

One day in 1877, the pastor of a town in lower Silesia, Krummhübel, had a talk with a man named Lehnert. Lehnert was twenty seven. He’d served in the army. His father, a wheelwright, was dead. His mother had asked the pastor to have a little counseling session with her son, who’d spent two months in jail for smuggling. Lehnert had been making threats against the Forester, a man named Opitz. The pastor had taught Lehnert when he was a child, and had some affection for him, but he told the young man that frankly, these threats were getting to be too much. Also, he’d heard that Lehnert had been speaking of the ‘republic”, praising ‘happy America’, and seemed to have absorbed some of the radical phrases of the schoolmaster – and this, too, had to stop. Lehnert should stop treating the law as if it was “sinning against him.” Lehnert defended himself by pointing out that he had been a good soldier. He wasn’t disobedient by nature. But Opitz was jealous of him. He’d been jealous of him when t

io saturnalia

Io Saturnalia This is supposedly the cry on the lips of the slaves and plebes during the celebration of everybody’s favorite holiday dedicated to Saturn. Saturnalia is connected by ties of carnival and reversal to Matronalia, when the mistresses feasted the slaves, according to Livy. This is what Frazer says in The Golden Bough : “WE have seen that many peoples have been used to observe an annual period of license, when the customary restraints of law and morality are thrown aside, when the whole population give themselves up to extravagant mirth and jollity, and when the darker passions find a vent which would never be allowed them in the more staid and sober course of ordinary life. Such outbursts of the pent-up forces of human nature, too often degenerating into wild orgies of lust and crime, occur most commonly at the end of the year, and are frequently associated, as I have had occasion to point out, with one or other of the agricultural seasons, especially with the time of so

A Sepulchral Cry

Dickens was famous for his long walks. When, in 1845, he was writing Cricket on the Hearth for the magazine he’d started, he started feeling unwell. He knew the writing wasn’t up to his usual standard. Plus, as his biographer John Forster explained, one of his pet ravens died “unexpectedly before the kitchen fire. ‘He kept his eye to the last upon the meat as it roasted, and suddenly turned over on his back with a sepulchral cry of Cuckoo!’” Also, his Christmas story was at a deadlock. Dickens began in fact to feel a little like his raven. In a letter to Forster he wrote: “I have been so very unwell this morning, with a giddiness, and headache, and botheration of one sort or another that I didn’t get up till noon: and shunning Fleet-Street… am going for a country walk, in the course of which you will find me, if you feel disposed to come away in the carriage that goes to you with this…. There is much I should like to discuss, if you can manage it. It’s the loss of my walks, I suppose;