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Quote of the week

As is his wont, Severian gives us a brief history lesson:

The original “reactionary,” [Joseph] de Maistre argued that there’s no such thing as a “rational” polity, because any attempt to frame one will always devolve into arguments about ends, means, and above all, legitimacy. This is because people are people and not cells on a spreadsheet. In other words, there are lots of individual men, and many different types of men, but no such thing as Man.

The Founding Fathers understood this. That’s why, even as they let Thomas Jefferson gas on about “all Men are created equal,” they designed a system specifically to safeguard man’s inequality. No, I don’t mean the 3/5 Compromise or any of that hooey. I mean federalism itself. Whether or not slavery was an integral part of being a “Virginian” in 1789 (it wasn’t), it was clear to everyone that Virginians and Massachussans were different — irreconciliably different — and that any political system which required them to be on the same page for any but the biggest of national questions would rapidly devolve into anarchy.

Words mean what they mean. “Unequal” doesn’t mean “inferior;” it means “not the same.” A man like Light-Horse Harry Lee would cheerfully agree that Virginians and Massachussans are “unequal,” but suggesting that Massachussans are therefore superior to Virginians would be met with an invitation to debate the issue with pistols at dawn. Everyone at the Constitutional Convention understood this, because they’d just fought a big nasty war together, and everyone there had seen the color of everyone else’s blood.

I rather miss the custom of pistols at dawn. Not only was it handy for settling disputes, it had the singular virtue of being singular: today, we’d have Twitter Mob One versus Twitter Mob Two, and no one would get a round in edgewise.

And frankly, “Massachussans” is a clumsy sort of construction at best; the government of the Commonwealth has declared “Bay Staters” as the official demonym, and I have yet to see anyone actually bound over for saying “Massholes.” It’s more of a New Hampshire thing, anyway.

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Quote of the week

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, September 1917:

A queer and almost mad notion seems to have got into the modern head that, if you mix everybody and everything more or less anyhow, the mixture may be called unity, and the unity may be called peace. It is supposed that, if you break down all doors and walls so that there is no domesticity, there will then be nothing but friendship. Surely somebody must have noticed by this time that the men living in a hotel quarrel at least as often as the men living in a street … These foolish people trace all the chances of war to the very thing which will always be the best chance of peace — men’s habit of dwelling in their own boundaries and minding their own business. The only hope of attaining amity lies, not in ignoring boundaries, but, on the contrary, in respecting them.

(Via American Digest.)

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Quote of the week

Francis W. Porretto on those people who insist that they are “woke”:

The suggestion that The Woke are sincere about the phantasm of “social justice” runs counter to the available evidence. If there are any in that community who genuinely do care about the persons they supposedly champion — and who are they, specifically? — what are they actually doing about it, other than preening about their superiority to the rest of us? What real-world results, measurable enough to register on some scale of acknowledged significance, can they show us?

The answer is unpleasant: They can show us nothing of the kind. The devolution of Wokeness from a putatively sincere concern with racial and ethnic exclusion, poverty, or other varieties of imagined “oppression,” into a competition for status has made objective gains of the sort others would admire, or at least respect as indications of sincerity, impossible. Today’s Woke are concerned solely with the status their methods can attain for them.

It is a mistake to attribute to The Woke any degree of sincerity or integrity, especially as the “causes” they champion are mere fantasies, without exception.

That middle paragraph reminds me of the inevitability, and the universal applicability, of Gresham’s Law: that which is good will in time be replaced by that which is not so good.

And to remind everyone: “social justice” is to justice what “social disease” is to disease.

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Quote of the week

Who threatens liberty? Looking at the label won’t tell you:

Neither communism, nor socialism, nor fascism, nor progressivism, nor liberalism, nor conservatism, nor any of a thousand different “isms” are the real threat to liberty. The people who adhere to one or more of those are threats to liberty, and yet, the communist is not a threat to liberty because he is a communist. The fascist is not a threat because she is a fascist. Certainly, those and other systems can give power to the ones who adhere to those political and/or economic philosophies. But they are not where the real threat, the most basic and fundamental threat, lies.

The threat to liberty is not determined by where a person or philosophy falls upon some modern version of a left-to-right political spectrum. The fundamental threat to liberty comes from neither the modern leftist nor the modern rightist. Instead, the threat to liberty comes from where it has always come. It comes from the authoritarian and the busybody. It comes from those with a fundamental need to tell others what to do. It comes from those with an unhealthy interest in the lives and activities of others. These are the people who threaten liberty. Regardless of party, regardless of political philosophy, regardless of ideology, these folks have always been and always will be threats to liberty.

Just make sure one of those folks isn’t staring back at you from the mirror.

(Via Pergelator.)

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Quote of the week

Severian, on a day when he “got nothin'”:

Fox News informs me that ‘Former Obama White House Counsel and Clinton-linked attorney Greg Craig may soon be charged by the Justice Department for engaging in illegal unregistered overseas lobbying.” Heh. Of all the lies we’re required to believe these days, perhaps the most galling is that Democrats are ever held accountable for anything. One of three things is going to happen to Greg Craig: 1) nothing, or 2) so much nothing that he’ll immediately be hired as an “expert analyst” by CNN. The only other possibility, 3), is that he already let something slip that Herself might consider damaging, in which case he’ll mysteriously commit suicide by shooting himself six times in the head, then jumping off a gorge for good measure.

I’m betting on 2), though, because the banana republicification of America is substantially complete. Coonman is still Virginia’s governor, Fairfax is still the Lt. Gov., Chiquita Khrushchev is still in Congress (even though it’s clearly in the Party’s best interests to kangaroo-court her ass into outer darkness asap), and so on.

Heh. “Chiquita Khrushchev.” This is even funnier than the cattle of Devin Nunes.

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Quote of the week

It’s all Caesarism, says Severian:

The mandarins have to maintain at least a sham of “democracy” to keep the plebs from burning things. They’re pretty bad at it now, but that’s because they’re stupid, out-of-touch, and old. Kids these days are better at working the Google machine than they are, so embarrassments like this, or supposed paragon-of-principled-conservatism Bill Kristol donating to Coonman the Babykiller over Gillespie (he of the $13 million in “single-issue” money), keep coming out. Eventually it will dawn on the mandarins that they have to be a bit smarter about covering their tracks, airbrushing away old photos and the like. Zuckerberg has already gotten a good start; they just have to capitalize.

In fact, Caesarism might well be the best case scenario, in that it’s always possible that the plebs will see through the sham and riot. The other possibility — the one I consider likeliest, natch — is that some of these seemingly ham-fisted ops are actually designed to get us into a state of learned helplessness. Does anyone, anywhere, think Ed Gillespie would ever have been allowed to run for anything if the situation had been reversed? These days, Twitter mobs form up over things college athletes tweeted when they were 14 years old; I wouldn’t be surprised if this kid ends up going undrafted — costing him millions of dollars — because teams don’t want to deal with the PR disaster of something he did when he was a freshman in high school. If there were photos of Ed Gillespie in blackface out there, they would’ve been found within 24 hours of him declaring his candidacy.

In other words, the message is: No one could possibly be squeaky-clean enough to escape punishment, if We decide you must be punished. Similarly, if We decide We like you, you can rise to a life of affluence beyond your wildest dreams, no matter what you did in the past.

Hey, it worked for Stalin, and he didn’t even have Facebook.

Or Twitter, where the following Stalinesque conditions prevail: the people who tweet the hashtag don’t decide what’s trending, the people who count the tweets do.

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Quote of the week

One Fine Jay, on one mostly-lousy year:

As a cultural observer, I can sum up 2018 as an immense dick measuring contest of public piety.

It wasn’t enough to be not racist; one was required to demonstrate how anti-racist one is. It wasn’t enough to to live a quiet life of virtue; one was required to demonstrate to that virtue in the name of public approval.

This pharisaism combined with the rat-race, competitive, and individualist nature of American culture led to the infamous Summer of Snitches in 2018: the Barbecue Beckys, Permit Pattys, Pool Pass Patricks, are all children of the same whore. They didn’t even care they were being filmed. In their minds they were doing the right thing.

Here in Baltimore we have someone who enters restaurants, engages the patrons as obnoxiously as possible, films their reactions, then claims to be a victim of racism as he earns money through his YouTube channel. His victims become targets of harassment from his followers.

I enjoy my time on social media but that’s because I have rules for myself and those whom I follow or engage. I’ve come around years ago that call-out culture is toxic and unhelpful. Outrage culture is just as bad.

I think that after the madness that 2018 felt like, it’s time we personally took steps to not feed that beast. If you kept in mind that no amount of good you do will inoculate you from attention to your negatives, perhaps you’ll learn to do good for its own sake, quietly and humbly, so as to not draw attention to yourself and your virtue. You can’t be milkshake ducked if you’re more a rumor than a legend.

But more importantly, the faux spirituality offered by social media engagement needs to be an idol we smashed, and to do that, we need to recognize that we have bowed to that idol more than we are willing to admit.

We need to rediscover the value in letting your neighbor be; and the value in being left alone. Public life through social media will draw us away from those values. It will demand we tell on our neighbors to draw attention away from our own faults. It’s already a totalitarian environment; we just tell ourselves it isn’t.

But remember this, for 2019: perhaps our greatest freedom is not from the government but from each other.

It might be worth trying. What else have we got to lose?

What, indeed?

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Quote of the week

You already know what I think about no-platforming. But just in case you haven’t caught on yet:

We often joke that Animal Farm, 1984, and Brave New World are not a three volume how to manual. For some people though, they are, we’ve got we’ve got fricking “Trust and Safety Councils” that turn anyone with the correct politics who hate the right people this minute into members of their little Stasi. With the power to control the information and to deny people financial services if they hold unpopular views, comes incredible power for mischief.

We’ve covered the Chinese Sesame Credit System before and that, I am convinced, is where many of the individuals behind this policing of speech want to be.

All it takes to bring about this dream of the anointed is for each of us to say “That guy’s an asshole! He deserves what he gets. That bitch over there had it coming too, serves her right.” and be silent, or smug, or report the asshole to the Trust and Safety Council. Then, because every one of us is an asshole to someone, we’ll be kept in our place by the very crab bucket culture we are nurturing while the archdukes and marquesses of Palo Alto tend their crop by cutting off any poppies that grow too high.

With that coming to pass, like the Greek City States before it, the 300 year aberration that is the enlightenment will disappear into the 300,000 year+ history of humanity as a short lived deviation from the mean. Things relating to freedom will go back to much as they were for the majority of that time, albeit with rather less ability to express heretical thoughts.

We’re going to Serf City, ’cause it’s two to one: two silencers for every voice.

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Quote of the week

Most of us don’t face much in the way of threats on a daily basis, and this costs us something in personal development:

I promise you, no medieval peasant ever lost a minute’s sleep asking himself what’s the meaning of life — when you’re locked in a desperate struggle for existence, day in and day out, the point of it all is pretty self-evident. Nowadays, you can get well into middle age before encountering death, and very few of us, I’d imagine, have actually seen someone die. Dying, in modern America, is a drawn-out, ritualized, abstract event, not a regularly-experienced part of life. We all know theoretically that we can get cancer, or die in a car crash, or get struck by lightning, but there’s no immediacy to it. Back in the days, death was all around, all the time. I’d bet good money that the average medieval peasant saw more death, even violent death, than the average American soldier, even in wartime.

I have seen someone die. But I wasn’t a soldier at the time.

We moderns, when faced with the question of life’s purpose — as anyone of sufficient IQ will be — have no answer that makes gut-level sense. In a world where death is a constant companion, where life’s fragility is daily hammered home, “live each day as if it were your last” is an expression of transcendental meaning. For us it’s a Hallmark card slogan. We need something, anything, to make us feel that any given day might, in fact, actually be our last. The medical term for this is hormesis — growth in response to non-lethal stress. We’re designed to optimize it — can’t live without it, in fact, which is why prosperity is lethal.

Hence, radical politics. Everyone who has studied Marxism, especially its modern oxides like “intersectionality,” knows that despite its formidable technical apparatus, it’s all just ooga-booga stuff. Marxism’s appeal is, and always has been, purely emotional. “Hate the man who is better off than you are” is the truest explication of Marx’s gospel, and since nothing stirs the blood like hate does, hating the man who is better off than you are — and who isn’t, at least in some sense, if you think about it long enough? — is easily mistaken for hormesis. The point of life is to create Utopia; the fact that Utopia (“no place” in Greek) doesn’t exist and can never exist is a feature, not a bug.

The problem, of course, is that you can never admit Utopia is impossible … which necessarily entails blaming some Other for Utopia’s failure to exist. That’s the richest part of the Marxist lexicon: The Enemies List. Wreckers, capitalist-roaders, right-deviationists, left-deviationists, kulaks, Trotsky, Lin Biao, Emmanuel Goldstein … Marxists have fantastic imaginations, and never more than when finding someone or something to blame. At one point, Mao himself blamed sparrows for sabotaging the Great Leap Forward.

And here on the cusp of 2019, everything is the fault of Trump, white nationalism, hate speech, Trump, the Republican party, voter suppression, sport-utility vehicles, and Trump. No arguments to the contrary can be accepted.

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Quote of the week

American elections send a variety of messages, and this one may be the most important:

[M]ost important of all as I consider it is the message our voting sends to the office holders and candidates whose names are on the ballots. The people who have sapped our phone minutes with robocalls. The people who have stuffed our mailboxes with campaign literature that used to be beautiful trees. The people whose television, radio and online ads filled every available nook and crevice like a foul sludge. The people who told us that they embodied all of the best of the wisdom of the great founders of our nation almost as though they were those very founders raised again to walk the earth. The people who told us that although they were not here to go negative, they did feel it was important to ask why their opponents could produce no evidence that they never played foosball with the bleached skulls of shelter puppies.

And the message we send to half of them is this: Leave us alone, and go get a job. To the other half we say: Leave us alone, and get back to work. After some six months or more of listening to them, we are finally able to make them listen to us, and it is a wonderful feeling indeed.

My condolences to anyone who’s been thrust into Recount City.

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Just like us

Henry Louis Mencken, from back in the day:

The state — or, to make the matter more concrete, the government — consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods.

(As quoted in Charting the Candidates ’72 (1972) by Ronald Van Doren, p. 7, and by Roberta X this week.)

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Quote of the week

Or maybe quiet of the week:

First, a Trump-loving Florida Man sends pipebombs (functional or not) to variety of Democratic politicians and media figures. Yesterday, a Trump-hating anti-Semite murdered 11 people in a synagogue during a bris.

While I’m sure that there will be all sorts of recommendations for how to prevent future tragedies, I’m going to repeat an observation and a prescription I’ve made here more than once. The observation is that in a country of 330 million people there are always going to be a certain number of crazy people and it doesn’t take much to set them off.

The prescription is lower the temperature and it’s addressed to people writing on social media, people writing for major news outlets, politicians, and, particularly, President Trump. Lower the temperature. Express disagreement without rancor, your concerns without heat. Whipping up the crowd may be an effective way of motivating your supporters but it also has consequences you may not foresee.

As Robert Stacy McCain reminds us: Crazy people are dangerous.

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Quote of the week

From Riverside Green commenter “dejal,” a Czech fable:

A poor farmer whose livestock is a single dairy cow goes to the field one morning to milk the cow and discovers that she’s dead. He falls to his knees and looks skyward, shaking his fists and cursing God for his misfortune. Suddenly a voice is heard from the heavens: “Your cries have reached me, my son. Tell me what you would like me to do.” The farmer gazes upward and says to God, “Please, Lord, kill my neighbor’s cow.”

A hundred years from now, this will be retold as an American tale.

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Quote of the week

“Party culture”? Totally a thing, says Fillyjonk:

I didn’t get invited to the parties. I didn’t get invited to do anything much. I had friends, but a lot of them were kids who lived out of town (one, in a trailer home in the next town over; she was the first person I heard the epithet “Trailer trash” applied to, and I found that both exasperating and confusing because she was one of the kinder and least-trashy people at that school). I had other friends who came from fairly strict or very devout and rather conservative-theologically (Protestant) families, so they would not have been involved in party culture.

Anyway: I was the weird, somewhat-immature kid who cared a lot about learning and who spent her weekends hanging out with her family and a few friends (but just during the day, except for v. rare sleepovers and then only with well-trusted friend-families) or sewing doll clothes or working on her dollhouse (to an embarrassingly late age).

I didn’t fit in. I SO didn’t fit in. And that pained me a lot. At one point — I know I’ve talked about this before — I tried to listen to either the local “Top 40” station or to WMMS (the “bad kids” listened to ‘MMS, the popular girls listened to Top 40) instead of WCLV, which was what I really liked and cared about. (But I still listened to “Adventures in Good Music” with my dad: we both liked it)

Belated conclusion:

So anyway. This is a longwinded way of saying all the gross stuff coming out in the news? Whether or not the parties in particular question were involved, I totally know that gross stuff happened in different places that had that kind of middle/upper-middle class milieu — the preppies. I heard rumors. I heard boasting. I saw the hungover people and heard the stories of people who wound up in hospital with alcohol poisoning.

And I had an enormous epiphany this morning:

My not-fitting-in may have saved me, in a way.

Because I was the weird kid who didn’t get invited to parties, who felt like the popular kids didn’t want her around, I didn’t get exposed to that stuff directly. (And I could mostly roll my eyes and laugh off some of the rumors as exaggeration, though I think there may have been less exaggeration than 15-year-old me wanted to believe.)

Life would be easier if we had had these revelations when we thought we really needed them, instead of three decades later — but as Sir Mick pointed out back in the day, if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.

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Quote of the week

The aphorism, says Gagdad Bob, is a sort of skeleton key: a key that has been reduced to its essentials so as to open many locks.

Samples thereof:

If words have no meaning, reality has no content.

If reality were socially constructed, man could never know it.

Liberalism was a fine idea until liberals got ahold of it.

If you’re really serious about eliminating inequality, you’ll abolish freedom and standards.

Without state-mandated discrimination, excellence would run roughshod over mediocrity.

If no culture is superior to another, then you can shut up about diversity.

Diversity is our strength so long as reality isn’t at issue.

Any idiot can survive poverty. The question for our time is whether he can survive affluence.

And any idiot can survive and even thrive in certain types of ignorance. But there is a serious question as to whether civilization can survive so many of its members attending college.

Junk food is designed to hijack certain innate preferences with hyper-palatable stimuli. Likewise, modern education hijacks the natural inclinations of the soul with intensely pleasurable substitutes that lead to spiritual and intellectual malnourishment.

Probably our spiritual decline would have arrived a century earlier had we not been disciplined by economic depression and global conflict.

Affluence is a terrible master. Its obnoxious spawn are entitlement, ingratitude, impatience, and boredom.

Convenience and instant gratification render the existence of time an intolerable imposition.

The ranks of the Resistance are filled with people who can resist anything but an impulse.

Female liberation is mostly a consequence of male technology. You’re welcome.

He’s good at these.

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Quote of the week

Aesop on that bit of police malpractice down in Big D:

So, a Dallas PD douchebadgette “walks” into the wrong apartment after her shift (we call that breaking and entering for mere mortals), gets into a verbal altercation with the rightful resident (disturbing the peace), shoots him (aggravated assault, assault with a deadly weapon), and he dies (murder in the second degree). That’s murder with a firearm during the commission of a felony, under color of authority, which invokes both special circumstances and federal criminal civil rights violations as well.

So DPD decides to see if she was high or drunk, and put her on paid admin leave.

Instead of, say, arresting her on the spot, booking her for felony murder, and setting her bail at about $1M, like they would have if the citizen of color she wrongfully murdered for being in not-her-apartment were the offending party.

Here, let’s break down the algorithm for that:

Did you shoot him? Yes.

Were you justified? No.

Were you then, in actual fact, in the act of committing a felony? Yes.

Okay, turn around, put your hands behind your back, you’re under arrest for murder. Easy peasey, just like it works everywhere else, for everyone else, going back some centuries, even several millennia. We call that quaint custom “justice.”

In case this wasn’t clear:

When the yakuza have more honor and discipline than the police in your (or any other) town, your civilization is completely FUBAR’ed, and riding an express train to a biblical level of resetting. That train will arrive. You heard it here first.

Being a cop is a tough job. It’s even tougher when you’re stupid. But it’s tougher for everyone, cop or not, when you commit murder, and then TPTB treat you with kid gloves for fucking up in the worst way legally possible, instead of justly hammering your ass for killing people because you’re too incompetent to be trusted with a firearm and a badge.

That means you get held to a higher standard of accountability than Joe Blow, not a lower one.

Crap like this has been going on for entirely too long, and for no good reason, it’s not been nipped in the bud.

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Quote of the week

Jack Baruth tells off a commenter:

When you use words and phrases like “horrible fascist regime” to describe the Trump Administration, you are wantonly destroying any power that those words and phrases might have to warn people of authentic NASDAP-style fascism in the future. The irony here is that Trump was elected because people like you used your “power words” like “racist” and “sexist” and “fascist” to describe people like GHWB and Mitt Romney and John McCain. You used those words so often that you effectively inoculated sensible people against them.

Twenty years ago, if I heard that someone was a “racist” I took that accusation seriously and it changed the way I looked at them.

Today, if I hear that someone is a “racist” I assume that it’s a hyperbolic accusation born from political differences.

You’re doing the same thing to “fascist”. You’re using it to describe a man who is to the left of Reagan. So guess what? In 2048 when some Generation Z fellow runs on a platform of racial purity and mass murder, everybody is going to shrug at “fascist” the way they shrug at “racist” and “sexist” now. Great work.

Furthermore, when you call Trump a fascist, you are spitting in the face of the six million Holocaust victims and all of the other people who were assembly-line murdered by an actual fascist regime. You are trivializing their deaths. You are making light of their suffering. Earlier this week I explained to my son how the Nazis melted the gold out of Jewish teeth before sending them to the camps. You’ve taken that horror and used it to score political points against somebody who campaigned with a rainbow flag, somebody who received the highest rating from Jesse Jackson, somebody who has donated his own money to democratic and humanitarian causes over and over again.

You don’t know what a Nazi is. You’ve never met one. All the real Nazis were handled for you well before you were even born. If you walked around the corner and met a resurrected 19-year-old blonde, blue-eyed corporal of the Waffen SS you would piss your pants and run away. You live in a cotton-candy padded-cell world protected on all sides by cops, soldiers, and other “fascists”.

And the distance imposed by the very nature of the Internet. Any idiot can tweet, and many do; but people who will actually put themselves at risk to “speak truth to power,” as the children say, are few and far between.

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Quote of the week

Severian on the necessity of trade schools:

Electricians, plumbers, machinists, masons, artisans of all stripes … these guys make nice middle class salaries, and they can’t be outsourced. Trump could use the bully pulpit to rail against this totally unfounded idea that only slack-jawed yokels go into the trades. It’s an easy sell — we’ve all been in a situation, I’m willing to wager, where we said “damn, if only we had a mechanic here!” I’d wager an equal amount that no one, anywhere, at any time in history, has said “if only we had someone with a BA in Intersectional Latinx Poetry!”

I might say it at some point, just for S&Gs. Or maybe not; I dislike sounding like an idiot, and one cannot pronounce “Latinx” without it.

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Quote of the week

From The Manual by The KLF (1989), some thoughts on money:

Money is a very strange concept. There will be points in the forthcoming months when you might not have the change in your pockets to get the bus into town at the same time as you are talking to people on the telephone in terms of tens of thousands of pounds. Some of the following might seem contradictory but in matters of money they often are. We spoke earlier of how being on the dole gives you a clearer vision of how society works. What it doesn’t do is give you a clear idea of how money works.

After you spend any time on the dole you either resign yourself to the economic level your life is at and cope — or things start to slide. The rent gets into the arrears. The electricity goes unpaid. The gas board threatens to cut you off. When this starts happening a paranoia begins creeping in telling you modern society is geared to working against the individual and YOU in particular. The late eighties reaction to this is invariably to realise that the only way out is for you to become suddenly very rich and none of this will matter any more. You will start to fantasise about becoming very wealthy and how very shortly it will happen to you. You only have to make the smart move, find the right key, make the right contact, be discovered for what you are. Your fantasy will be fuelled by everything.

Nobody wins the pools. There is no such thing as a fast buck. Nobody gets rich quick. El Dorado will never be found. Wealth is a slow build, an attitude to life. I’m afraid the old adage that if you look after the pennies the pounds will look after themselves is always true. That said, you must be willing to risk everything — that’s everything you haven’t got as well as you have got — or nothing will happen.

Nothing much has changed in three decades, has it?

Then again, as we were told, time is eternal:

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