Authoritarian, fascistic personalities in need of strict-father figure?  

“The quality of a modern movie is inversely related to the quantity of money available to make it.” (Arguably The Revenant is an exception to this rule.)

demagogueWhatever. Ellie, Leary‘s second wife, soon extended her original natural law to describe political behaviour. She says that in so-called democracies — roughly speaking, systems of government incorporating elected representatives of the population — certain invariant laws and corollaries apply:

* The effectiveness of a political message is inversely related to the … Read more

Hot times: A weather forecast

Forecast: Cloudy times, with a good chance of precipitate moral outrage.

demagogue

chimp angryHere in Bangkok, and just about wherever else in this world you look, the moral warriors are out and about on all sides making angry chimp faces at each other. So what’s new, eh?

In the course of a recent archaeological investigation of my hard drive, I came across the following screed, composed sometime in the mid-1990s, judging by associated potshards of popular culture and carbon 14 dating of … Read more

Traitor, hero or some of each?

Government surveillance is a public service; E. Snowden is a self-serving traitor.

vs.

Government surveillance is evil; E. Snowden is a heroic champion of our individual freedoms and dignity.

xkcd atheists & fundmenalistsMaybe we should adopt a perspective superior to either of those.

The truth may well lie somewhere between two poles. At least if you acknowledge that we conduct healthy societies and polities in the tension between ideals of perfect security and perfect freedom, perfect harmony and a Hobbesian state of … Read more

Lexical entropy: Will meaning prevail? (Hopefully)

Only a year ago the forces of tradition prevailed (click on image):

 

 

Now the AP Stylebook has reversed its position. And in the streets there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth as right-thinking editors everywhere protest the onslaught of lexical entropy to the point, some fear, we’ll be left to describe human experience with nothing but “whatever” and “huh!”

In breaking news, Shakespeare has been disinterred by a team of archaeologists and mediums in search of … Read more

Reasons to live

The other morning I went to one of Bangkok’s leading hospitals to take advantage of nearly half-price super-deluxe five-star medical services that were still twice as expensive as any check-up your average Thai citizen has ever heard of.

But this extravaganza was supervised by my favorite doctor, someone who has overseen my gradual decay over the years, the very person who wrongly accused me of being pre-diabetic about a year ago (see “Sons of the Undead: Lives of the Read more

Entertaining war with the spin doctors

Last night I watched Fair Game with friends at RCA House. A thriller with real teeth, this film presents a barely fictionalized account of events related to how the Bush administration apparently lied on a massive, perhaps criminally reprehensible, scale regarding Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction program, seeking justification for America’s going to war with Iraq.

One of the most interesting things about Fair Game, for me, is how an entertainment based on actual events cycles back to … Read more

Hypotheses and certainties

Hypothesis: Education should aim at producing critical thinkers, citizens who can choose intelligently between competing claims regarding our proper ends and means as individuals and communities.

Really critical thinkers are in relatively short supply in any country. In Thailand, some would argue, there’s an actual cultural bias against critical thought. Questioning the way things are can easily become confrontational, and thus bad form. Impolite.  Such a taboo might explain why even today a lot of teachers react badly to … Read more

Apocalypses on all sides

Me again. It seems Thailand is having its own little Apocalypse, back there where you folks are now. What with the Red Shirts, and the Yellow Shirts and the Multi-colors and one thing and another. The past few days have seen the hopes of all right-thinking people taking a roller-coaster ride. Meanwhile, it’s plain to see some other people believe it’s to their advantage to have civil society explode into real strife, and to heck with the good of the … Read more

Buying congressmen, Constitutional conventions, living in China

This morning’s Slate carries the following item:

A Constitutional Amendment on Campaign Financing?”

“During his State of the Union last month, President Obama voiced his opposition to a recent Supreme Court decision to overturn campaign finance laws. He’s not the only one who doesn’t agree with the SCOTUS decision. Yesterday, academic and political activist Lawrence Lessig announced a call for a constitutional amendment to overturn it, launching the Web site CallaConvention.org. Lessig writes, “We should begin the long discussion … Read more