the voice of humility

Not making a difference since 2006. Blog motto: Always be sincere whether you mean it or not.

Friday, February 05, 2016

SitRep 4th qtr

We cannot speak to how this fell into our hands.


Situation Report on The United States of America- Fourth Quarter 2015

To : First Commissioner
       Grand Commission
       Republic of Cubania

Sir:

I apologize that the fourth quarter report is late.  The exigencies of supporting myself as the Republic provides no subvention.

The situation to be reported in this country is the ongoing cold civil war of some of the population against a perceived class and racial enemy.

That enemy is always described as the Patriarchy.  It is characterized as a vast entity of elite caucasians.  In reality, it is the lower the middle of the middle class white males.  There is always the questioning of whether something is too white.

Though the enemy is always looked upon as the elite, they suffer few penalties.  Large banks and their less than competent management were bailed out from their disastrous policies.  Said management is almost all white but suffered nothing in real terms.  As far as is observable, there is no call for an infusion of African American corrupt bankers to level the playing field.

Out in Silicon Valley, an area of the State of California, vast wealth has been generated by men of some enterprise.  These males also tend to be Caucasian with some East and South Asians.  The men at the top are unassailable.  There fortunes are secure.

Still,  there is the hue and cry that some unfairness exists because the American hereditary non-white population and woman are not in lucrative positions in proportion to their portion of the population.

That no one stopped them is attributed to structural injustices that they had no control over.  It is considered bad form to speculate otherwise.

The great sin of the Caucasians is that they showed up.

The non-elite Caucasians are actively being replaced by South Asians who can be exploited as cheaper labor and are imported under visa programs that serve the purposes of the neo-plutocrats.

This explains the success of the Trump campaign and to a lesser extent, the Sanders effort.  Trump came out of nowhere to hijack the early season.  Up until then, there had been an unspoken non-gentleman's agreement to say nothing or speak in meaningless platitudes about immigration.

Mr. Trump swept that all aside by not merely noticing the elephant in the room, but bringing more lamps in to illuminate it.  In one moment, he changed the whole dynamic.  Hitherto, the whole dynamic of the so-called conservative movement was to collect money and get yes men elected from a swath of interchangeable blatherers who served interests alien to the party base.

One should not say the lower orders knew all along how they were being taken, but Trump's success is at least evidence that they sensed something.

Sanders is a little different.  His campaign, up until now, seems to be as Caucasian, though in the last week I have seen two black males sporting his tee shirts even though Hilary was thought to be the candidate with most appeal to African Americans.  Sans a black candidate, of course.

Whenever I've been out and Sanders' people have approached me, they have almost always been young, college age, or recent grads and female.  What this is about, I am not completely sure.  There are some thoughts however, and they are speculative at best.

The German general, Hammerstein-Equord, had a system for classifying officers: "I divide my officers into four groups. There are clever, diligent, stupid, and lazy officers. Usually two characteristics are combined. Some are clever and diligent -- their place is the General Staff. The next lot are stupid and lazy -- they make up 90 percent of every army and are suited to routine duties. Anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the intellectual clarity and the composure necessary for difficult decisions. One must beware of anyone who is stupid and diligent -- he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always cause only mischief."
The system he suggested does not apply exactly to the American presidency.  As deTocqueville noted, it is second raters at best, who seek the office.
That noted, Bill Clinton, according to the Hilary character in Primary Colors, was lazy compared to Hilary. It seems he was smarter.  It seems that she is not the genius she is made out to be, but is industrious.  The combination seems to make her less than attractive to the smart young women who support Bernie.
I continue to operate without detection.  This in spite of admitting to being Cubanian.  The reaction is always something along the lines of, "My cousin married a Cuban, great food, " or "What will happen after Castro dies?"  I proceed to tell them.
On the whole, Americans are incurious about the world.






Friday, January 29, 2016

The Sanders Campaign wins the Goebbels Prize for best propaganda





During the current pre-primary campaign season, we have been bombarded by the ads for the candidates who are fighting it out in our sister state to the north.  They bleed into each other.  Hilary and Jeb and Chris and Kasich and whatever, all the same.  They almost seem to suggest the Holy Father should be opening a case for canonization as the subjects are too good for earthly office.

If the pope sees them, of course, he will have to fight to stay awake.  The commercials are boring.

One ad has broken out and is inspiring or at least enjoyable.

I am old enough to remember when Simon and Garfunkel came on the scene.  Enjoyable enough and a bit more than elevator music.  their music has probably not crossed my mind in decades.  Simon, occasionally I'll think, "Hop on the bus Gus" but seldom is that.  His South African stuff, interesting but passé.

So another tv spot comes on.  The background music is America by S & G.  My first thought is what are they selling, Middle America.  No, they are selling Bernie to MA and they are doing it well.

If Goebbels could see this from hell, he'd be saying, "Perfect, Not the Horst Wessel Lied, but time and place, it works.  It got the jaded guy writing a blog to stir, at least a little.  They might not be yelling "Ein Reich, ein volk, ein Bernie" but it works."

And it does.

Don't get me wrong, Bernie is one of the better candidates even if I don't buy his socialism.  He is less likely than Christie or Hilary to start a war and he was and is right on the banks.

My problem is direct election of the president is the search for a führer   Actually, the would be führers are searching for a volk.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

As to Bowie, David was no Jim

The English writer, Theodore Dalrymple, has an article about the end of David Bowie that is excellent.  I urge you to read it.

Anyway, the man died and the encomia seemed unending, which leaves me at a loss.  From what i have gleaned, he wasn't a bad guy.

Like Dalrymple, I'm not a fan.  I've been aware of popular music for longer than most people alive today as I remember Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Eventually, I sort of moved on.  Every new band came along and at best I could say that's interesting and then would forget about it.  I wondered about myself.  My contemporaries were all obsessed with something and I didn't get it.

So along comes Bowie and he does not move the needle for me.  People I knew were excited and he was big and I yawned.

I am not sure when it was I heard Changes, but it was on the car radio.  I remember listening a few more times to make sure I got it and then forgot about it.

Ground Control to Major Tom may have been deep, but that voice was horrible, I hardly got through "Take your protein pills and put your helmet on."  Maybe I missed something profound and my life has been a desert and I don't know it.  So what.

I am stuck with the knowledge that either I am a buffoon who does not get it, or everyone I knew and grew up with is a dolt.  I'm not sure which I hope is true.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

No matter what FiveThirtyEight says, Pre-K is great, Just ask mom and dad

On January 5, Andrew Flowers posted Is Pre-K All It's Cracked Up To Be on the FiveThirtyEight quant website.Like any FiveThirtyEight article, it is well written and looks at both sides thoughtfully and does not get the big picture.  I mean the really big picture.

The best thing for mom and dad when considering education, is how much free time it gives them.  This does not mean they do not love their kids, it's that interacting with them is a lot of work.  Parents love the children.  They oft work long hours and move to boring places so the offspring will have a better chance.

No matter how much love they might have, the system works.  If it could be proved that the current system is harmful to the kids, and a regime of home instruction an hour a day would make them smarter, there would be no groundswell for closing the schools.

All that extra time spent with the juniors and juniorettes by the stay at home mom or dad, would not be welcome.  My parents loved me, but I drove my mom crazy.

The national mania for education is such that candidates have to talk about it, but they're not really talking about education.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Whatever happened to "Audrey Rouget"?: A screen biography of actress Carolyn Farina - The O'Dea Fixation

Here is the long, un-awaited review of Whatever happened to "Audrey Rouget"?: A screen biography of actressCarolyn Farina. Actually, it isn't a review, just a few rambling thoughts.

If you follow the blog of a fellow named Julian O'Dea, you might notice he has a tendency to write about an actress whose career as a star spans one movie. The obsession he has might lead one to think him a bit strange and well he might be.

The movie in question, however, is a jewel and said actress he has a thing for played her role to perfection.

Julian's blog ranges to a number of subjects from haiku, to art and nature and movies and women among other subjects. It is women and movies that he often dwells on, especially one.

The women thing is not something we who have only a superficial knowledge of the Aussie world understand. The men from down under have a rep as macho mateship types. As a rule, stereotypes can be relied on to a great extent, but those we get from movies and TV might not be too reliable.

Whatever happened to "Audrey Rouget"?: A screen biography of actress Carolyn Farina is a collection of information about the movie Metropolitan and the woman who played a, if not the, central role.

I can't say, I have the same fixation as Mr. O'Dea. There are other movies I like a lot, but would never read a whole e-book about, let alone write one.

That having been said, I must agree with the author that it is a great film. One I think about a lot, though differently in some ways. After all, it takes place in my country and in a city I've visited often.


Among the links about Metropolitan is one for Udolpho. The man had an interesting blog that I would read. The ebook link is now dead as the impresario of Udolpho has gone on to host a website called MyPosting Career that can be described as a club of folks frothing at the mouth. It can be interesting, but is unworthy of him.

On the Udolpho site, there was, if I remember correctly, an Amazon link to Metropolitan. Udolpho wrote about it with a lot of care and made me wish to see the movie, which I borrowed through our inter-library lending system.

It was back in 2007 and I wrote about it on this blog. Viewing the movie led me to concur with the man's thoughts, though at this remove, I can't say I clearly remember them all.
Another blogger, the Black Sea, commented that I should also watch Barcelona and though I liked it, it did not feel the same.

The Black Sea also noted the Whit Stillman interview with Charlie Rose. Stillman spoke of the self-sacrificing of the men of the upper-crust as the Titanic sunk and contrasted it with Cameron's view of the plutocrats in his movie. Stillman had it right, but today's. 001% probably would take a sauve qui peut attitude.


Now the ebook itself has value as the place to go to find out everything Mr. O'Dea has written about Carolyn Farina, the movie and the character of Audrey as well Whit Stillman and some tidbits about the other actors.

Mr. O'Dea also was influenced by the Udolopho blog. I was surprised that is where he found out about it.

Julian writes of Metroplitan, “It is a surprisingly hard film to parse and interpret. I think this is because it is hard to place it in time; it was a time of rapid change anyway; and Stillman’s intent, and his level of irony, are hard to determine.”

I suppose so. There are some markers of that dizzyingly rapid change that Americans from the Northeast of a certain age (mine) might get, but not many unless they were born into that life (I was not).

It is a tale of decline. The lads were sent to prep schools to become gentlemen and that is noble, but not much help on Wall Street. They, especially Charlie, know it. The boys might take solace from the fact that most of the villains of the 2008 crash were not high-Sassenach, but they probably are not hanging out at the Hamptons these days, let alone hitchhiking return trips.

The young ladies were also sent away to boarding schools, more probably to be “finished” rather than career women, other than, say, in publishing.

For the men, and women, as well as the rest of us, it is a different world now.

I've never read any of Jane Austen's books so I am at a loss for some of what Mr. Stillman is trying to convey. I do think I get it from the scene where Carolyn defends convention. It was an important part of the movie and I may not have got it had I not been prepped for it by Udolpho.

Audrey loves Tom.  This is the part I don't get.  Mostly what comes out of his mouth is drivel and he not especially forceful.  He comes into his own at the end, sorta.  His letters to Serena that came into Audrey's possession must have been brilliant.

In a not overly large e-tome. Mr. O'Dea has compiled as many links as he could as well as his own thoughts as gleaned from his own pages. This is not to say he is done. there are a number of entries on his blog about Audrey that were posted after the ebook came out. I for one encourage him to keep at it, otherwise it would probably be a life down at the pub with his mates.

Actually, that doesn't sound all that bad.




Thursday, December 17, 2015

Paul Graham is no gentleman

Paul Graham is a startup guru who writes about that culture and reveals something about himself and his class.  In a recent

post on his own site, he argues to let the floodgates open to talent.

He posits that as;

The US has less than 5% of the world's population. Which means if the qualities that make someone a great programmer are evenly distributed, 95% of great programmers are born outside the US.

Though he says if certain qualities are evenly distributed, he is not arguing whether or not that if is correct. Without doing that, there is no point in opening the sluices. Of course, as he has said the technology companies are right, so that implies he is using his words in the paragraph quoted as justification.

Now Mr. Graham is not so much an idiot to believe much is evenly distributed in this world.  It is possible that it was something off the top that he didn't pay much attention to.  Not a quality prized in someone in the business of choosing startups.

That is not the question the voice of humility wishes to address.  Rather it is that there is a class of vastly successful entrepreneurs who have no sense of fellow feeling for their countrymen.  They probably make some nice noises, but the general tenor is the lumpen Yank is slow and we can't do without the more advanced peoples from exotic locales.

Here at the tvoh we have looked askance at the antics of our foreign policy elite.  Even if our wish came true and the foolish overseas adventures ended, we would still need an army.  None of the startup class would rush to the colors.

this is the point, these men are not an aristocracy.  They are just smart guys who made big money on their ideas.  We are not without libertarian leanings and to a degree many of those who have done well have such a point of view.  One hardly has to agree with Liz Warren to think these guys want a bit of a free ride.

They may see their assets protected in Singapore and could possibly duplicate some of Silicon Valley culture there, but few other places would they feel safe.  The brainiac class depends on the goodwill of their lower orders more than they think.  That they have so little fellow feeling means the class lacks nobility.  That they don't seek out talent among American citizens is damning.  There is probably a pool of gringos out there who could rise to the higher level of programming Graham wants, but he ain't looking for it.

In Downton Abbey, the snobbish dowager says; "An aristocrat with no servants is as much use to the county as a glass hammer."  She knew that not providing employment for those she lived amongst took away some of the rationale for her class.  This doesn't mean I'm suggesting titles be given out, we hardly need Earl Paul of Central Square or Count Sergey of Mountain View.  It would be nice, however, if they felt themselves part of the nation.  Of course, one should not think they lack for servants.

The voice of humility is not against all immigration.  If Gupta is a true super programmer, let him in.  We have average enough that if he is run of the mill, let's not be overly ready.