Archives for category: Politically induced fragility

More than ten years ago I was preparing my thesis.
To get a ‘title’ – BA in sociology, in my case, each Romanian student must submit a paper to a commission. To help them, students are allowed to chose a Professor.
My choice had been Petre Anghel.
We had many interesting ‘exchanges’. Before, during and after preparing my thesis.
One of the most interesting ones had been about education.

Education is, maybe, the most ‘conservative’ things known to man.
The transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next one is the single thing which allows a society to survive.
And to thrive, if each successive generation diligently improves
what has been bestowed upon it!

Petre Anghel

Fast forward to right now.

The US is the current ‘top dog’.

According to my Teacher, for a nation to reach this ‘stage’ it needs a smooth flow of knowledge from one generation to the next one. And a strenuous effort to improve that knowledge made by each successive generation.

Nowadays, both current generations – the one trying to pass over its knowledge and the one at the receiving end of the process, are dissatisfied with the current ‘education system’.
Many belonging to the ‘mature’ generation are obsessing about ‘who runs the system and towards which end’ while the ‘learning generation’ is buckling under the costs incurred during the process.

Do I need to remind you that it’s the conservatives the world over who are whining about this?

OK, I understand the whiners living in failed states. Afghanistan, Somalia…
But those enjoying the perks of living in the ‘civilized’ world?
What are they complaining about?
Weren’t they in charge while the current education system had been put in place?
Aren’t they the parents, and educators, of the current student generation?

What’s going on here?!?
Why are the American Conservatives, living in the most advanced country of the world – no doubt here!, the most vocal critics of their own education system?

What, and why, went wrong?

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Twenty years ago I was watching, on TV, the towers being destroyed.

I still remember, vividly, the people falling from the buildings I had visited 6 short years before they been torn down by terrorists.
The buildings which were replaced by a huge gap in the Earth when I took my family to visit New York. The only other place in the world where I would live beside my home town, Bucharest, Romania.

I’m watching now desperate people trying to board a plane in Kabul’s airport as the American troops are pulling back.

This instantly brought back to my memory another famous image.

We can discuss at nauseam about the significance of these pictures.
Because significance is something we attach to things and we impart to events.

I prefer to turn my attention to realities.

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, in 2018.

The only difference between Afghanistan and Vietnam being that the Viet-Cong were communists.
And the link between them the fact that the American planners have understood nothing from the first debacle.

And yes, parallels are also something which is up to us to notice. Us, who have witnessed the events and who are free to attach significance to each of them.

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You can’t have religion without faith.
But not all faith is beneficial to the believers…

Religion is when a community comes together/works better because its members share a common set of beliefs. Of explanations about how the world works. Of ‘values’ which guide day to day life.

Faith, on the other hand, is unchallenged belief in a narative. Can be good – as the Christian faith had been so useful for the Northern Atlantic area of the Earth until recently, but it can also be bad.

It’s not as much the content of the belief which is bad but the fact that the content is unchallenged. Sacrosant!
Christian faith had been good because it had taught us that we were both equal and of divine nature – made in the image of God, and had become bad when nobody was allowed to challenge it. When people were literally burned at stake after being perceived as challenging the established order.

As it had happened to William Tyndall.
For translating the Bible into English…

William Tyndall, Biography of the Father of the English Bible.
https://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1501-1600/translator-william-tyndale-strangled-and-burned-11629961.html

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I’m not OK with businesses refusing flowers/cakes for gay marriages but I can understand their owners’ point.
On the other hand, I also understand people who don’t want to wear masks. I’m not OK with it but I understand their quest.

What I don’t understand is the insistence with which some people want to ‘discriminate’ between these two situations.
Why should a business be able to refuse to serve a gay couple but not able to refuse to serve those who refuse to wear masks?!?

How can people discriminate between liberties? What makes a liberty more valuable than the other?
Specially when love between two people sharing a similar sex is still love while sharing viruses is potentially deadly…

And what’s so ‘progressive’ in calling other people ‘assholes’?!?

When are we going to cool down and start making some sense of what we’re living through?

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Bill Cosby was released from prison Wednesday after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his 2018 conviction for sexual assault,

Let’s recap the events, as described in the NY Times article.

2004 – Ms Constand was raped by Mr. Cosby.
According to the 2018 sentence!
Please note that the Pennsylvania High Court didn’t say the 2018 jurors had ‘seen things”. Only that the trial shouldn’t have taken place!

2005 – The district attorney prosecuting the case “announced in a news release at the time that after an investigation he had found “insufficient” evidence. He later testified that he had given Mr. Cosby the assurance to encourage him to testify in a subsequent civil case brought by Ms. Constand. (A civil suit she filed against Mr. Cosby was settled in 2006 for $3.38 million.)”
As he was convinced he didn’t have enough evidence to make a penal case against Mr. Cosby, the prosecutor promised the defendant he will not be further prosecuted if he testified (a.k.a. ‘told the truth’) in the civil suit.
“In that testimony, Mr. Cosby acknowledged giving quaaludes to women he was pursuing for sex.”

2006 – The civil case was settled for $3.38 million. As in Bill Cosby agreed to pay that amount of money for something the prosecution wasn’t sure that it was able to convince a jury that he had actually done it.

2015 – The next district attorney reopened the case. And got a conviction. Despite the fact that the ‘main’ evidence had been provided by the defendant himself. Given after he was promised he wasn’t incriminating himself in a penal way.

2018 – Mr. Cosby is convicted for something he had done 14 years ago.

2021 – The Pennsylvania Supreme Court decides that Mr. Cosby had been practically duped into incriminating himself, found this to be unacceptable and released the former prisoner.

What are we, ordinary citizens, to make out of all these?

Be glad that our individual rights have been upheld?
It makes a lot of sense!
After all, upholding individual rights is what makes the difference between a free society and an authoritarian one.
Between people being free and finding themselves at the whims of the government.

Ask ourselves ‘what about the individual rights of the victim’?
That also makes sense.
But my experience of living under a dictatorship strongly suggests that letting some guilty people walk free is a small price to pay for making resonably sure that a government – any government, doesn’t accrue too much power over the individuals making up the people.

Ask ourselves ‘what happened to us’?
What drives so many of to use constitutional rights as loopholes?
Is this OK?

No legislation will ever be perfect!
That’s why verdicts are given by ‘peers’, judges are given so much ‘leeway’ and why, in general, the law is administered by highly trained responsible people and not by ‘machines’.

After all, how we use whatever we have at our disposal – legislation included, speaks more about ourselves than about the things we use and the circumstances in which we make our choices.

Now, not to mention her in the same breath, but Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy,” he said. “I finished it. I finished it. You know what I mean, President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period. Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again. Thank you.

Thank you everyone for your support and prayers as Candy and I battled COVID-19…. I have several co-morbidities and after a brief period when I only experienced minor discomfort, the symptoms accelerated and I became desperately ill. President Trump was following my condition and cleared me for the monoclonal antibody therapy that he had previously received, which I am convinced saved my life. President Trump, the fabulous White House medical team, and the phenomenal doctors at Walter Reed have been paying very close attention to my health and I do believe I am out of the woods at this point. I am hopeful that we can stop playing politics with medicine and instead combine our efforts and goodwill for the good of all people. While I am blessed to have the best medical care in the world (and I am convinced it saved my life), we must prioritize getting comparable treatments and care to everyone as soon as possible.

Lewandowski is the latest person to test positive for the virus after attended last week’s Election Night party at the White House. His diagnosis follows chief of staff Mark Meadows and Housing, Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and several White House staffers.

“Don Jr is the second of the president’s children to test positive.”

Romanians have a proverb.
‘Each of us makes his own bed’.
Like all other popular sayings, this one is only partially true.
In many cases – in most, actually, our individual ‘leeway’ is limited by those who are higher than us.
In many cases, again, those decision makers have climbed there with our full ‘blessing’.
In a sense, the above mentioned proverb is true on more than one ‘levels…’

Just came across this story:

A king had 10 wild ferocious dogs.

He used them to torture and kill any minister that misguided him. A minister once gave an opinion which was wrong and which the king didn’t like at all. So he ordered that the minister to be thrown to the dogs. The minister said “I have served you loyally for 10 years and you do this?”

The king was unrelenting.

Minister pleaded “Please give me 10 days before you throw me to the dogs”.

The king agreed. In those 10 days the minister went to the keeper of the dogs and told him he wanted to serve the dogs for the next 10 days.

The guard was baffled, but he agreed. So the minister started feeding the dogs, caring for them, washing them, providing all sorts of comfort for them.

When the 10 days were up the king ordered that the minister be thrown to the dogs as sentenced. When he was thrown in, everyone was amazed at what they saw. The dogs were wagging their tails playing with the condemned minister, licking his feet.

The king was baffled at what he saw.

“What happened to the dogs?!” he growled.

The minister then said “I served the dogs for only 10 days and they didn’t forget my service. I served you for 10 years and you forgot all at the first mistake!”

The King realised his mistake and replaced the dogs with crocodiles!

As soon as I finished reading, I started to wonder…

Who, in their right minds, would accept to work for such an ’employer’?
After all, sooner rather than later, everybody makes mistakes!
And if the penalty for the slightest mistake is being thrown to a pack of wild dogs…

On the other hand, who – in their right minds, would treat their employees like that?
Given the fact that no right minded people would accept – as per my previous observation, to work under such ‘constraints’.

And, even more interesting, who – as an ‘owner’, would hire such a ‘manager’?

Two Republican senators are criticizing President Donald Trump and his team for their efforts to pressure state and local election officials to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victories in several closely contested states.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, one of Trump’s most vocal GOP critics, tweeted Thursday, “It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American President.”

Romney accused Trump on resorting to “overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election.”

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., went after Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who held a press conference Thursday presenting a list of far-fetched, thoroughly debunked claims on the 2020 election.

Sasse tweeted: “Rudy and his buddies should not pressure electors to ignore their certification obligations under the statute. We are a nation of laws, not tweets.”

Given what’s currently going on in the most powerful democracy on Earth, it becomes obvious why Putin had helped Trump’s 2016 campaign to become POTUS.
Remember Ulises’s Trojan horse?
OK, it’s impossible to know for sure whether Trump and Putin actually ‘negotiated’ anything.
The point being that for a seasoned judge of people Trump behaving like an elephant in a china shop after being sworn in office was a no-brainer.
Putin could not know exactly what Trump was going to do. But he was certain that it would not end well…. For America!

Now, that Trump is throwing democracy to the dogs simply because the process didn’t end up the way he wanted, Putin must be gloating in front of the biggest mirror in Kremlin!

How does it work and what are the consequences.

To cut a long story short, some 25 years ago I started trading on the Bucharest Stock Exchange. The market had been freshly reinstated after the fall of the communist regime and most of us so called investors were quite naive. Due an incredible amount of luck and a small but very useful spark of intelligence I made a fair amount of money. For that time…
In an attempt to maximize my profits, I went back to school.
Where I learned the difference between fundamental and technical analysis.

I’m not going into details. It’s enough for you to know that no matter how different they are, both fulfill the same psychological function.
They ‘clean up’ the slate. They help the decision makers distance themselves from the objects they have to decide upon.

What?!?

A stock – or any other tradable item, is no different from a bicycle.
We, human beings, become attached to things we already have in our possession. We find it harder to divest ourselves from something than to buy into something new. We tend to procrastinate when having to choose between multiple opportunities to buy and to ‘defend’ an already made decision. An already acquired possession.
Fundamental and technical analyses do nothing but bridge these two ‘chasms’. Help us across.

OK. But has any of this to do with propaganda?

Well, market analysis is a tool used by the decision maker himself.
Propaganda is a tool used by somebody who intends to influence the decision maker. Using the same psychological mechanisms.

While market analysis attempts to clear the ‘sentimental fog’ which distorts the factual information available to the decision maker, propaganda works its way in the opposite direction.
Facts are presented in such a way as to ‘smuggle’ them, below the radar, into the minds of the intended targets.
While market analysis is meant to help decision makers overcome their biases, propaganda is meant to fine tune those biases towards ‘encouraging’ the decision makers into adopting the decision coveted by the propagandist.

Somebody sent me this picture.
See how things work?
Most people consider themselves as being free from racism.
Also, most people consider that other people – namely the politicians and the journalists, have ‘vested’ interests. And that these ‘other’ people use ‘divide and conquer’ to maintain their grip on power.

The key word here being ‘other’. It’s the others who engage in such heinous acts. Never ‘our’ people.

But do you know what bothers me most?
I’ve been subjected to communist propaganda for the first 30 years of my life.
I’ve never dreamed it would take me another 30 years – and a stint of daily trading on the Stock Market, to figure out how propaganda works. Only to find it being used by people who declare communism to be the scourge of the Earth.

Well, since communism actually is a scourge, how about we NOT using the same tool as those who try to infect our minds with it?
For no other reason than propaganda yielding communism having been a complete failure….

I’ve always been fascinated by quotes which are ambiguous enough to be simultaneously wrong and right.

In this situation, the ambiguity comes from ‘government’ covering three ‘patches of ground’.

‘Method of running a place/country’. (Self)Organized versus chaotic.
‘System in place’ which is used in running a country.
A particular group of people who man, at any given moment, the above mentioned ‘system in place’.

Now, which of the three meanings was at the top of Reagan’s mind when he was uttering those ‘famous’ words?

All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptable(sic). Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted.

Frank Herbert

The way I see it, government ‘as a manner of running things’ is a very powerful method. Which had served us rather well, on aggregate. Only it is not fail-proof. Or, more exactly, fool-proof.
Government as a ‘system in place’ is a work in progress. We’ve been improving it since we’ve invented government as an alternative to chaos. Only we need to be very careful. As a man made system it will always be far from perfect. It has not been perfect in the past and, no matter how much effort we’ll put into it, it will always remain perfectible.
Finally, government as ‘the team temporarily in charge’ ‘suffers’ mainly from being composed of humans. Hence both corruptible and attracted to power. Hence liable to do everything to maintain their positions.

‘Liable to do everything to remain in power’.
Which means that it’s our job to keep them on the straight and narrow.
We, The People, are the first to experience the consequences of their decisions. Hence we, all of us, are those who need to keep Government – ‘the team in charge’, on a short leash.
If they want to remain in power, they need to keep us ‘alive’.
They need to keep the system in shape. Working good enough for the vast majority, not for just a few of us. For a few of them, to be more precise.

Otherwise ‘government as a manner of keeping chaos at bay’ would have failed.


Until thirty one years ago, the Eastern half of Europe was self isolated behind the Iron Curtain. Which had suddenly disappeared in a matter of months.

Nowadays, when SARS-CoV-2 has forced each of us to shelter in place and our nations to self isolate behind the borders, we have not only the opportunity but also the obligation to re-evaluate our take on many of the things we took for granted.

The most important one being our Weltanshauung. The way we see the world.
The fact that we have convinced ourselves – simply because our lives have been good enough, that we’ve been doing things the right way.

Marx’s communists had been convinced that dialectic materialism – supposedly backed up by science and a generous political doctrine, was the way in which humankind was going to built its future.
Not the best way, the only way!
For which reason, no transgression from the official line was allowed.
Solutions were to be found only where the official doctrine mandated that answers might have existed.

Communism had fallen. Mostly from within.
Which has prompted those on the other side of the fence to consider that their vision had been better. Which was obviously true.
Slowly, people on both sides of the previous fence have started to convince themselves that their vision was the only correct one. The only alternative had proven itself to be a failure, didn’t it?
Which seems also true. I know of no better alternative. For us. I know of no alternative which would be more helpful for us. Only the fact that I’m not aware of an alternative doesn’t mean much. The alternative might as well exist. Or not….

And here’s the problem.
Marxism had failed for no other reason than those who followed it behaved as if they were convinced that Marxism was perfect. They were implementing the Marxist doctrine by the letter. Not that its spirit was any good… long discussion. My point being that arrogance was built in the Marxist spirit. Marx had actually given carte blanche to his adepts to impose communism, by force, to the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, the last 30 years had convinced me that many individuals belonging to the dominant culture, to any dominant culture, have a hard time keeping their cool.
Too many of them reach the conclusion that ‘theirs’ is the best way. That all the rest are wrong.
Which conviction has a malignant consequence. It makes them deaf. They no longer consider any other option but theirs.
They no longer hear anything but their inner voice.

For all it may be worth, here’s what I learned about liberty during the last 30 years.

Liberty as breadth.
Liberty is the breadth of the opportunity field where we might search solutions for our problems. But no matter how large that breadth might become, we’re never ‘out of the woods’.
Liberty is but an opportunity, never a guarantee.
We are the ones still responsible for the solutions we pick. For the simple reason that we’re going to bear the brunt of the consequences.

It is easier to search for solutions in a freer environment. Hence better solutions might become available sooner. But it’s still our job to look for them. To experiment. To widen our scope.

Liberty as a form of social interaction.
We can relate to freedom in at least two manners.
As an individual goal – ‘I want to be free’/’I want freedom for my people’, or as a ‘manner of doing business’.
We are free, together, because we respect, and trust, each-other. We are free, together, because generations and generations of us have build a social arrangement based on mutual respect. A social arrangement which includes certain mechanisms which attempt to bring things back on track whenever disturbances appear.
Some of which mechanisms have been put into formal law, while others have remained in the ‘public domain’.

When we put these two visions together, the ‘binocular’ image starts to develop ‘depths’.

A social group may enjoy freedom – a wider opportunity field, only as long as its individual members – all of them, enjoy their individual freedoms. For only as long as all individual members are free to roam the entire opportunity field discovered/maintained by the community.
And as soon as some individual members start to corner portions of the opportunity field for themselves… the whole social mechanism will grind to a halt.

Sooner rather than later.
The more intense the desire of the individual members to increase their ‘own’ individual liberty, the narrower the aggregated opportunity field becomes.
Each of the individuals guarding their plot means each of them staring at their feet. Individuals become more interested in guarding their fences rather than in raising their eyes to the horizon.

People obsessively defending their past will never be ready for the future.
Meanwhile individuals charging ahead with no consideration for the rest of the team will soon find themselves stranded on thin ice. With no one around to help.