From Jaltcoh: ‘Do Addicts Have Self-Control?’

Full post here.

Addiction is a disease?  Our author reviews a few reviews and discusses the following fallacy:

1. A certain behavioral/mental problem — call it “X” — is associated with brain activity in ways that can be observed and predicted.

2. Therefore, the solution to “X” must take the form of psychiatric/medical assistance; the solution cannot be individual free choice. (Indeed, even invoking that concept may be detrimental.)

There are other potential consequences:

‘…Satel also says that the people who came up with the idea that addiction is a disease and is incompatible with self-control were motivated by political and financial concerns (and probably emotional impulses)’

Worth pointing out.

Thursday Poem-Robert Frost

Acquainted with the Night

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

Robert Frost

Come What Will-Two Links On Brexit And One On Iran

Theodore Dalrymple on Brexit:

‘For a long time, Britons who wanted their country to leave the European Union were regarded almost as mentally ill by those who wanted it to stay. The leavers didn’t have an opinion; they had a pathology. Since one doesn’t argue with pathology, it wasn’t necessary for the remainers to answer the leavers with more than sneers and derision.’

All the howling, wounded idealism and doomsaying makes you wonder…

Brendan O’Neill at Reason takes a more populist right perspective, with which I find great sympathy: ‘Elitist Rage With the Pro-Brexit Masses Echoes Longstanding British Suspicion of Democracy:’

‘Hell hath no fury like an establishment spurned. If you didn’t know this already, you certainly know it now, following the British people’s vote for a “Brexit.”

That’s the NY Times for you…:

‘The disclosure that Thomas Pickering, a former State Department official who advocated the Iran nuclear deal, was also a paid consultant to Boeing creates a scandal for the New York Times.’

Some wide-eyed idealists don’t mind setting very bad odds for themselves. This blog remains deeply skeptical and highly concerned with the Iran deal.

The same people are in charge, and the possibility of deliverable nukes is still very, very real; an outcome with nearly no upside for American interests, and great danger for the world.

Iran, So Far Away?-Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Rhodes To Ruin’…

Henry Kissinger & George Schulz Via The WSJ: ‘The Iran Deal And Its Consequences’

Repost-Five Short Stories Likely Worth Your Time

I claim no special literary insight, other than these five short stories have stuck with me, as they have for many other readers besides. Links included.

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1. ‘Bartleby, The Scrivener: A Story Of Wall Street

Herman Melville

Catch-up with Turkey, Nippers, and Ginger Nut; their daily routines at the office.

Our narrator:

‘I am one of those unambitious lawyers who never addresses a jury, or in any way draws down public applause; but in the cool tranquillity of a snug retreat, do a snug business among rich men’s bonds and mortgages and title-deeds. All who know me consider me an eminently safe man. The late John Jacob Astor, a personage little given to poetic enthusiasm, had no hesitation in pronouncing my first grand point to be prudence; my next, method.’

We all want to be alone, and to be with others, and Bartleby…Bartleby would just prefer not to:

‘Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity!  ‘

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2. ‘An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge

Ambrose Bierce

As they were for many other high-school boys, the first lines were enough for me:

‘A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below. The man’s hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his neck.’

Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man?

———————-

3. ‘Everything That Rises Must Converge

Flannery O’Connor

O’Connor’s Southern Gothic style often flirts with the grotesque, and can traffic in the macabre, but there’s reason behind it, and a brilliantly skeptical, humane eye.  Few writers get so many things right, in my opinion.

The world is changing, and so is the South.

Julian’s mother is living in the past:

‘They had reached the bus stop. There was no bus in sight and Julian, his hands still jammed in his pockets and his head thrust forward, scowled down the empty street. The frustration of having to wait on the bus as well as ride on it began to creep up his neck like a hot hand. The presence of his mother was borne in upon him as she gave a pained sigh. He looked at her bleakly. She was holding herself very erect under the preposterous hat, wearing it like a banner of her imaginary dignity. There was in him an evil urge to break her spirit. He suddenly unloosened his tie and pulled it off and put it in his pocket’

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4. ‘A Distant Episode

Paul Bowles

A lot can be ‘swallowed’ up in the desert, lost in translation; across time, language and civilizations.

Things don’t always end well for the intellectually curious and naive…:

‘It occurred to him that he ought to ask himself why he was doing this irrational thing, but he was intelligent enough to know that since he Was doing it, it was not so important to probe for explanations at that moment.’

Let’s leave it at that.

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5. ‘Araby

James Joyce

To what does a man put his hopes?

But such wonderful writing:

‘When the short days of winter came, dusk fell before we had well eaten our dinners. When we met in the street the houses had grown sombre. The space of sky above us was the colour of ever-changing violet and towards it the lamps of the street lifted their feeble lanterns. The cold air stung us and we played till our bodies glowed.’

University Renewal, Freedom Isn’t Free & The Gobbler

Alan Jacobs at National Affairs: ‘Renewing The University’

‘For, whomever or whatever you might blame for the current state of affairs, the recent hostilities have been distinctly unfriendly to the creating and sustaining of intellectual energy. Universities need to get beyond these disputes, at least to some degree, if they are going to retain any meaningful chance to fulfill their social missions.’

Hmmm.  Many intemperate people with radical views have been rewarded, in many cases, for their intemperance and for their radical views.  I doubt many such people will be voluntarily returning any of the budget (the People’s budget!) anytime soon.

My two cents: Keep learning, aim for moral decency, and be reasonably open to new experiences and criticism.  On a daily basis you will often meet people smarter than you or better than you at something you thought you were good at (humbling, to be sure). Everyone knows many things you never will.

I’ve found that true-belief is everywhere, and people taken up into belief are often pretty clear about what’s not up for discussion.  Ideologues sometimes believe what they say, sometimes not.  In fact, go by what other people do, not what they say.

Once there is an apparatus of incentives, procedures, prestige and money set-up around a set of ideas and principles; such as found in universities, companies, organizations and bureaucracies, such things tend to keep going until they can’t any longer.

The worse the ideas and incentives are, the worse the people in them tend to behave.  So, aim to get into reputable organizations, and, should you find yourself within one, ask what you’re bringing to the table.

You probably believe in some ideas and principles yourself, right now, but as for that, keep thinking, and check often to make sure your head isn’t up yours or someone else’s ass.

There is very little evidence that life is fair.

P.S. Hey, have a little fun!


From The College Fix: This guy seems pretty reasonable, and he grew-up within the old Cold War structure in Romania (the cold makes you strong!).

He did leave…


Via Twitter, The Gobbler is back (we’ll see):

Click here to experience ‘The Gobbler.

‘If you’re ever wondering what the War Room of “Dr. Strangelove” would look like if the movie had been directed by Prince, here you go.’

After taking the photo tour, I remain convinced that ‘The Gobbler’ exists in its own realm of awesome badness.  Such a shag-covered, abandoned love-child of the late 60’s and early 70’s is challenging just what I thought I knew about American culture.

And while I can lounge in the bathos of this Wisconsin motor court/supper club’s global ambitions, and walk through the valley of the shadow of its modernist, U.N. international style, I still can’t fathom the intentions of its authors.

Why, Gobbler, why?

Want to lose an afternoon?  Visit Lileks.com.  A fine humorist with a sharp pen and a keen eye.  This is what the internet is for.

Additionally:  Donald Pittenger, at Art Contrarian, and formerly of 2 Blowhards, has been looking at modernism.  From the banner of his blog:

‘The point-of-view is that modernism in art is an idea that has, after a century or more, been thoroughly tested and found wanting. Not to say that it should be abolished — just put in its proper, diminished place’

Repost-Victor Davis Hanson Via Youtube Via Uncommon Knowledge: ‘The New Old World Order’

As posted 4 years ago, now!

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VDH was a supporter of the Iraq war as part of a larger war against “Islamic fascism.” He is registered Democrat but generally conservative (neoconservative?), and I suspect virtue, duty, and honor are central to a lot of his thinking as he is a military historian who’s written extensively about the Peloponessian wars.

As he points out, we are in an asymmetrical war against Islamic terrorists and also in potential conflict with the nations which actively support, harbor, or simply cannot control those terrorists within their borders.  He discusses some of the forces inside Muslim countries which help to produce these terrorists as he sees them:  anti-modernism, anti-Westernism, an Islamic resurgence whose sharp edge is going to drive the infidel and his Western influences from the Arabian peninsula and restore purist Islam.

In a democracy like ours (he no doubt sees parallels to ancient Athens) we generally don’t provide a lot of public support to a war unless we are in real danger as we were on 9/11.  This kind of ongoing conflict (USS Cole, embassy bombings, Ft. Hood, Times Square bomber) is a tough sell to Americans and VDH is generally suspect of our will to see the struggle through as for him it is a conflict to be won, military campaigns and all.

I’d add that as we speak, Obama’s liberal internationalist policy platform is pursuing a goal which I would support if I had more confidence it would reap reward without too much sacrifice and change to our own freedoms, traditions and institutions (and not lead us into the European multicultural solution which is in part relying on our military strength).

This goal is getting a plurality if not a majority of Muslims to stand up and say to those terrorists, Al-Qaida members, inflammatory Imams and radicals amongst them:  Stop it.  Your way is not our way.

On this view, to achieve this goal, you meet with these Muslims and their organizations where they are, and you try and punish/reward their political leaders who cannot be too far in front of their people.  You still try and install more Western democratic institutions and include the people under a set of ideals which you presume to be universal, but with as little military involvement as possible.  Now you have the “right ideas.”

According to liberal internationalism, curbing American force, withdrawing our military from Afghanistan and Iraq (but involving it in unforeseen ways in Libya, and leaving it out of Syria?) is the best way forward.  With carrots and sticks this will somehow, in the long run, lead toward peace by including and representing all parties without exposing them to the sharp edge of Western society.  The preferred ideals of women’s freedoms, human rights, and tolerance are often pursued most prominently.

As VDH points out, our enemies (Al Qaida, terrorists in general, Ahmadinejad, Hizbollah) see this approach as a sign of weakness, and will take any advantage they can which poses other risks to our security.  Our old enemies like Russia and unknowns like China will do much the same, and international institutions may not be the best way to handle any common interests.  The kinds of institutions which this worldview produces are like the relatively ineffective ones it has already already produced:  the U.N., the failures of the Eurozone and its top down class of bureaucrats, and the excesses of more indebted and unsustainable Western States whose people are being out-produced and out-reproduced.

There is a serious design flaw to such an approach, aside from the Rousseuian tendencies and the idealism inherent within it.

I’m not sure I’m totally on board with another military campaign in the Middle-East and I know many fellow Americans are not as well, so I’ll leave with this quotation by Samuel Huntington which I keep putting up:

“Although the professional soldier accepts the reality of never-ending and limited conflict, “the liberal tendency,” Huntington explained, is “to absolutize and dichotomize war and peace.” Liberals will most readily support a war if they can turn it into a crusade for advancing humanistic ideals. That is why, he wrote, liberals seek to reduce the defense budget even as they periodically demand an adventurous foreign policy.’

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.  Please feel free to highlight my ignorance.

Related On This Site:  The Clash Of Civilizations…The End Of History?:  From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s WorkFrom The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel HuntingtonFrom Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’

Back to 19th Century power politics since the end of history has not “materialized”?:  Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of DreamsRepost-Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: ‘Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy’

Is the End Of History contingent upon a perfectible State driven by a more moral bureaucratic class?:  Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Are we in decline?:  Fareed Zakaria BBC Interview: America In DeclineRichard Lieber In The World Affairs Journal–Falling Upwards: Declinism, The Box Set

It’s a big assumption to make: From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism….Daniel Greenfield definitely thinks Islam is the problem: From Sultan Knish: ‘The Mirage Of Moderate Islam’Repost-From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’

A Pretty Important Decision-Some Brexit Links

It seems Great Britain has decided to leave the EU.

I tend not to stick my nose into the business of others when they’re making these kinds of decisions.  Predictions are hard, especially about the future.

**Please see this appropriate response to the Guardian (G2) after they sponsored the ‘Clark County Project’ to stick British noses sniffing out the World Human Will into American politics.

I can’t help but think that the poorly-designed institutions arising out of a Western idealism I often criticize, are much to blame, and that a strengthened Anglo economic/trade org wouldn’t hurt, but can’t say I have anything better to offer.

-Walter Russell Mead at The American Interest: ‘Brexit And The Weakness Of The West

-Niall Ferguson was not so impressed back in April by Daniel Hannan’s arguments (Ferguson saw likely currency devaluation, and the downside of being subject to regulations of a big player next door with no say in the regulations)

-Tyler Cowen’s not so enthusiastic….

-Ian Bremmer says it’s a Throw The Bums Out mentality

I can’t help but think the tone and tenor of the arguments on both sides highlight many of the deeper splits:  Money, jobs, opportunity…but also, who are ‘we’ exactly ?-Nationalism vs. anti-nationalism, more open vs. more closed borders, local legal and political accountability vs international institutions and global markets.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.