Archives for category: The kind of world we live in

The internet is full of articles attempting to understand Putin’s motives starting from what he had said about the subject.

Here’s but the last I’ve read.
Why has Russia invaded Ukraine and what does Putin want?

Nothing special inside but it illustrates well enough the point I’m trying to make.

At first, Putin’s words are summarized and then proven ‘wrong’. Misleading. Or plain false.
In the next section of the article, the author – Paul Kirby, like many more before him, attempts to divine what Putin will do. Starting from the same words which have just been proven false and/or misleading.

?!?

No, the author is not ‘dense’.
He simply does what he was trained to do.

We, here in the land of democracy, understand language as a medium for negotiation.
And negotiation as an exchange where we let our needs be known, in earnest. As an exchange where we ‘trade’ information with the goal of finding the best mutually acceptable solution for whatever problem we attempt to solve.
In this sense, a negotiation is a form of cooperation. And compromise is something which both sides find beneficial.

For people conversant in ‘dictatorian’, ‘compromise’ is something to be shoved down the throat of the weaker side. The bigger the power differential, the harder to swallow becomes the ‘compromise’.

Doesn’t make much sense?
To us, democrats?
Because we know that shoving things down the throat of now weaker people doesn’t work on the longer time frame?

‘Assuming’ is the worst thing a negotiator may make.

We keep assuming that dictators are rational. Even worse, that they follow the same ‘ratio’ as we do.
That we – as in we and them, see the same world and have ‘slightly’ different goals.
And express those different goals in the same manner. Using the same kind of language.

We are wrong.

We, the democratically minded, are trained – conditioned is a truer word, to consider ‘the other’ as being equivalent to us.
At least some of the others, but that’s another discussion.
We actually ‘know’, in our bones, that we cannot ‘do’ anything by ourselves. That we exist only in cooperation with those around us. That everything we have ever accomplished was the result of a common effort.

People conditioned in dictatorial regimes see things rather differently.
They don’t cooperate, they just obey.
Their existence does not stem from the common effort but from following orders.
Language is not at all a medium where information is being passed between equivalent agents but a two way conduit. Orders are flowing from top to bottom and acknowledgments crawl from bottom to the top.

‘And what about ‘information’?!?
How does it travel among those people?’

Piecemeal.
Exclusively on a ‘need to know’ basis.
Nobody ‘volunteers’ any information unless expressly asked about it by a superior.

This is why dictatorships end up crumbling under their own weight.

That’s why we don’t understand, for real, what Putin attempts to communicate.
That’s why he is extremely annoyed right know.

Putin no longer understands what’s going on.
Let aside the fact that nobody around him dares to volunteer any information – which would be contrary to what Putin wants to hear.
My point being that Putin had been accustomed to having his way.

I’m not going to enumerate all the things he had done. Things we should have reacted against…
As in ‘reacted’, not meowed meekly.
As a consequence, he had grown accustomed to shoving things down our throats…

Suddenly, we have stopped swallowing!
Without giving him a ‘reasonable’ reason…
A reason he could understand!

Do you remember what I’ve told you?
A few moments ago? That dictators don’t care about those who are weaker? Nor about the long term consequences of their decisions?
That dictators are concerned exclusively with their own survival?

Savvy?

“You have a right to defend yourself, be armed, be dangerous and be moral.”
Madison Cawthorn, Representative for NC

In the context of Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial, a friend asked me ‘which right takes precedence?’

A ‘right’ can be understood in two ways.

As something granted to somebody by somebody else.
Or as a consequence of modus vivendi. A consequence of how people interact among themselves.

People who see it in the first way, will ‘fight’ to establish that ‘precedence’.

Those who understand rights as being a consequence of social evolution will negotiate among themselves about the order in which rights should be exerted.

Hence my assertion. No guns should be present at a ‘peaceful’ manifestation. Where people come to manifest their grievances. Where a car or two might get torched. Where a window or two might get smashed.
But where – if things go as ‘planed’, nobody will loose more than a couple of teeth. No matter what!

But as soon as guns are brought along, the ‘atmosphere’ is changed. People start loosing their lives.
And while a car, or a window, can be replaced… lost life cannot be brought back!

And for me, life takes precedence over property. I would aim a gun – If I had one, at somebody trespassing through my bedroom but I would not shoot at them unless my – or others, life was in danger.

So yes, Rittenhouse was right to defend himself but he shouldn’t have brought that rifle to a manifestation. No matter how riotous. It wasn’t his job to police the town. A town which wasn’t his home, where he owned no property… but where he eventually had taken two lives while ‘protecting property’. While asserting “his right to bear arms“.

Kyle Rittenhouse: Calls for calm after US teen cleared of murder.
These Are the Victims Killed in the Kyle Rittenhouse Shooting in Kenosha.
A Tale of Two Shootings.
St. Louis couple who brandished guns at protesters plead guilty.

Let me put this another way.

Nobody can survive alone.
Not for a considerable amount of time, anyway.

“It takes nothing to join the crowd”.
To join, maybe… but if you choose to remain, you must ‘follow the rules’.

So yes, it takes everything to stand alone… Your very life!
And the ‘membership price’ is your ‘absolute’ freedom…

Hard to make up your mind, eh?
Then let me raise up a few points.

I started this argument by mentioning that nobody can live alone. Not for long and not very comfortably. No matter how hard you may prepare yourself.
Don’t kid yourself. All those hermits and preppers you hear about – on ‘social media’!, are able to do that because of modern technology. Which technology has been developed by somebody else…
On the other hand, most individuals are able to survive, alone or in small groups, while jumping from ‘one boat to another’. Think emigration, for instance. Or ‘acculturation’.

But no crowd will ever survive its members leaving in droves!

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As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
And to provide for my family.
Earning money takes time.
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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.

One of my FB friends shared this meme and created the ‘opportunity’ for an interesting conversation.

“Say the same about the antics of parading gay pride activists…if you dare.”

I couldn’t resist:
“Gay activists parading peacefully are no threat for anybody. ‘Activists’ who actually whip other ‘activists’ during a parade… Same thing here. You really want/need to make your point? OK, take your 9mm Beretta for a walk. But an AR-15?!? Common…”

I have the ‘bad’ habit of proofreading my comments before hitting enter…

That was when it hit me!

‘Is this for real?
Was the guy actually ‘open carrying’?
Was it staged?
Could it be that the guy just bought it? Had it repaired? Or any other situation, but trying to make a fool of himself?’

OK, open carrying a gun in a public setting is… an exaggeration. For me, at least.
But this is besides the point.

The point being that we’ve reached the stage where appearance is more important than substance.
The point from which we no longer carry guns for protection but to make a point.
The bigger the ‘gun’, the more important, for us, the point we’re trying to make.

The more preposterous the meme, the more convincing we feel ourselves to be…

I’m afraid FB got us where it needs us to be!

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And to provide for my family.
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Your contribution will be appreciated!
Another very efficient way to help would be to share my posts.

As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
And to provide for my family.
Earning money takes time.
If you’d like me to write more, and on a more regular basis, hit the button.
Your contribution will be appreciated!

As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
And to provide for my family.
Earning money takes time.
If you’d like me to write more, and on a more regular basis, hit the button.
Your contribution will be appreciated!

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More than 200 rockets fired toward Israel since Monday

Gaza Strip has a 10 miles border with Egypt – which, for a while, kept Hamas at arm’s length.
Some 30 miles of Mediteraneean beach. Heavily guarded by the Israelian Navy…
And 50 odd miles of border with Israel.

Where did all those rockets come from? How did Hamas lay their hands on those missiles?
Built them from scratch?!?

Regardless of their origin, would Hamas have used them if not offered an ‘occasion’?

How wise is it for people to hold their ‘own’ agendas as being more important than the ‘underlying’ problems?

https://www.timesofisrael.com/supreme-court-delays-session-on-sheikh-jarrah-evictions-amid-jerusalem-tensions/
https://www.dw.com/en/jerusalem-tensions-death-toll-rises-amid-rocket-fire-and-airstrikes/a-57490697
https://www.jpost.com/arab-israeli-conflict/analysis-is-iron-dome-era-dominance-over-667908

LE
https://apnews.com/article/middle-east-evacuations-27d7ad6c70fabe0ad34e37013a364ca4

This book represents Djuvara’s thesis for his 1974 Doctorat d’Etat.

There are two main ideas which are to be pointed out here.
A first one hidden under the distinction he identifies between ‘culture’ and ‘civilization’.
The second being the bread and butter of his thesis. That civilizations are initiated in one place, diffused/exported for a while and then replaced – or led further, depending on how one chooses to interpret the facts, by people until then living somewhere on the fringes of the civilization they are replacing/refurbishing.

Nothing really new, right?
‘Cyclical History’ wasn’t invented yesterday. And certainly not by Neagu Djuvara.

Well, Djuvara’s ideas – like everybody else’s, are nothing but ‘overgrowth’. Things which sprung in people’s minds ‘on top’ of what those people had already learned. Found out. Or, of course, both.

In a sense, what I’ve said in the previous sentence is the very condensed abstract of Djuvara’s second ‘main idea’.
The first, the ‘hidden’ one, – again, in an extremely abridged version, being that ‘history, as a narrative, is nothing more and nothing less than what historians choose to make of the facts they had learned about’.

Too blunt?
Well, first and foremost, I’m an engineer. Not a fancy pen-pusher…

OK. Let’s go further.
I’m going to illustrate, briefly, Djuvara’s main thesis by presenting his version of what had happened in Europe. What had started as an European phenomenon, more precisely.

The Roman civilization had grown at the periphery of the Ancient Greece. And, eventually, took over more ‘space’ than the Ancient Greeks.
The Russian civilization had grown at the periphery of the Byzantine/Orthodox one and eventually took over. Or, at least, attempted to…
The Holy Roman Empire of German Nation ‘recycled’ – or, at least, attempted to, the ‘ancient’ values and traditions.
Great Britain had grown at the periphery of Europe until it took over the whole world. At least for a while…
The US, which had started as a British colony, had grown into the most powerful nation known to man.

‘OK, I understand what you meant by trailers and trailblazers. Some of those who trail might end up trailblazing.
Do you want to add anything?
Is there an actual point to your post?’

Yep.
As they say about the market, ‘past performance is no guarantee about the future’.
The fact that things have happened as they did is no guarantee that they’ll keep unfolding in the same manner.

In a sense, Fukuyama was right, after all…
Even if not in the sense he thought it!

According to “The end of history” people – all over the World, had realized the relative merits of ‘liberal democracy’ and ‘capitalism’. Which were going to be put in practice, effectively marking ‘the end of history’.
Thirty years past that moment, it seems that things aren’t going in that direction.

I’m I contradicting myself? Who’s right, after all?
Djuvara? Since history doesn’t seem to have stopped?
Or Fukuyama, but for some other reason? Than the one advertised by him?

‘History, as a narrative, is nothing more and nothing less than what historians choose to make of the facts they had learned about’

Then, if history is ‘man made’, what about the future?

Can we really make it? Predict it?

‘Make it’, for sure!
If not us, then who?!?

‘Predict it’… that’s something totally different!

There are signs, though.

First of all, Djuvara had described something which can be compared with fire burning in a savannah. It starts in one place, burns for a while… and then starts up some place else. Until now, no fire – no fire known to man, had burned any savannah so thoroughly that nothing was left for a ‘second’ fire.

Secondly, Fukuyama said that history will end when all humankind will sync. When all ‘civilizations’ will be run according to the same paradigm. According to the liberal democratic and capitalist paradigm, in Fukuyama’s vision.
We’re still far from that.
Only there is one paradigm which is willing to play that role! To fill those shoes…

The ‘greed is good’ paradigm!
Or, if you don’t like to think in ‘monetary’ terms, the ‘my version is the only right one’ paradigm.

The problem being that these two work in concert.
They are two facets of something called ‘intellectual arrogance’.

I’ll come back to this notion sometime in the future.
Now I’ll end up telling that there’s not much left of the ‘savannah’.

When things were unfolding as Djuvara described them, the planet itself was more or less ‘virgin’. Unexploited. Unoccupied.
Human culture used to be diverse. Ideas were developing. Traded. From one place to the other. From one culture to the other.

Nowadays, much of the planet – our home, is occupied by the, more or less, same civilization. And by an increasingly similar culture.

Nothing inherently good nor bad here, mind you!

If we still have no definitive history, then the future hasn’t been written yet.
It’s up to us to choose the right trail.
For no other reason than the fact that there are very few trails left for us to burn!

You have to give this to the guy.

You really have to give it to him.
He was absolutelly right about his supporters being loyal.
‘No matter what’ kinda loyal…

“”Most Americans want neither inaction nor retribution,” McCarthy said, despite surveys showing a majority of the country in favor of impeaching and removing Trump from office. Most Republicans do not, however.
“They want durable, bipartisan justice. That path is still available, but is not the path we are on today. That doesn’t mean the president is free from fault. The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.
“These facts require immediate action from President Trump — accept his share of responsibility, quell the brewing unrest and ensure that President-Elect Biden is able to successfully begin his term. And the president’s immediate action also deserves congressional action, which is why I think a fact-finding commission and a censure resolution would be prudent. Unfortunately, that is not where we are today.””

““Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” Trump said, according to lawmakers who were briefed on the call afterward by McCarthy.”

As for the fact finding mission… I wonder!
Given the amount of loyalty extended to Trump by Kevin McCarthy, how many years might pass before the facts will be ‘found’?

5?!? And who would be fingered for ‘starting the whole thing’?

Imagine an ‘outside observer’. From, say, Sirius.
Who had just arrived. Didn’t have enough time to become familiar with what’s going on here.

Thailand.
Ballots had been cast in November. A party had lost. And pretends, without proof, that the elections had been rigged.

“In his first public comments after the coup, Gen Hlaing sought to justify the takeover, saying the military was on the side of the people and would form a “true and disciplined democracy”.” GETTY IMAGES

When the parliament was about to be convened, and the electoral results formally confirmed, the backers of the loosing party – which had happened to be the army, declared martial law and annulled the electoral results. The leading general announced in public that the measure had been adopted in pursuit of a ‘real and disciplined democracy’.

The US.
Ballots had been cast in November. The looser pretended, without proof, that the elections had been rigged.

When the parliament was convened to certify the results, a mob had stormed the House of the Parliament, at the bidding of the loosing President. Order was finally restored and the dully elected President installed into office.

What would the ‘outside observer’ think about our planet? About us…

What if their job is to asses whether we should be allowed to roam the Galaxy?
To be entrusted with some very powerful technological ‘secrets’. Which would help us solve some of our very stringent problems. Feel free to name a few…

Trump summoned supporters to “wild” protest, and told them to fight. They did

One of my high-school mates had emigrated to Canada. From Romania. He’s been living there for 25 years now. We keep in touch. A few years ago, he told me:

“We come from their future. I currently experience things which had already happened in Romania.”

His prophecy had been fulfilled, and then some, yesterday. The sixth of January, 2021.

1991, Romanian miners occupying the Romanian Parliament.

The differences between the two instances exist and they are not insignificant.

Both Trump and Iliescu – the Romanian president at that time, had been democratically elected. Both on populist platforms, even if the concept wasn’t as widely used in 1991 as it is now.

Only 1991 wasn’t the first time the miners had come to Bucharest.
In 1990 Ion Iliescu – the ‘cripto’ communist leader who had risen to power as a consequence of the 1989 uprising, had ‘thanked’ the miners for quelling a ‘festering’ anti neo-communist protest organized mainly by students.
In fact, this had been yet another precedent. ‘Occupy’ Piata Universitatii 1990 versus Occupy ‘Everything’ 2011.
In 1991, the miners had, again, ‘occupied’ Bucharest. Again, ‘supposedly’, under their own volition. The then prime minister, Petre Roman, had adopted some very stringent free market reforms. Which had fallen foul of both Iliescu and certain swaths of the population. Hence the miners had not been driven back to Valea Jiului until Petre Roman had been revoked from office.

And 1991 wasn’t the last time the miners had attempted to make themselves noticed…
As the old saying goes, it’s harder to quiet down a hornet’s nest than to stir it up!

We’ll see, as the blind man always says.

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