Saturday, August 16, 2003
HTMLery and a tiny initial rant

And now for something completely... profane. It's been HTML-exploration and implementation day for me today, I confess that I had (nearly) no idea about it before starting this blog, but in the last two days my HTML knowledge has virtually exploded (well... compared to what existed before, of course). I'm just trying to adapt the template to my wishes, which is extremely tricky at times, and I already have discovered a little inconvenience with blogspot: there seems to be a problem with permalinks, i.e. they do not seem to work reliably; other blogspotters may know what I refer to. And I'm just looking for some other webspace where I can deposit pictures, which isn't possible on a free blogspot account (I played around for 2 hours with one of those free webspace domains, only to find out that they will not let their bandwidth be stolen, i.e. obviously one cannot link to pictures deposited on that server). Anyway, I'm glad that a large part of the work has been accomplished, I'll adapt only a few things in the future. And then, I can finally start a fine rant, I've been thinking about one topic all the time: the influence of Leo Strauss, a great teacher of political philosophy, on current US policy, and the large asymmetry of his ideas' famousness between the US and Europe (this asymmetry in famousness is similar to that of Ayn Rand and Objectivism) - and the consequences. It might sound like a simplisme, but at times the frames within which our thoughts and attitudes reside are so broad that they are not immediately discernible, which might lead to "proxy-wars of content": one knows there is a disagreement, but it cannot be clearly paraphrased, so the discussion of a certain topic cannot be easily resolved because the latent structures that cause the conflict are unknown. Oh man - I sound like a psychiatrist now, it was obviously a too long day.

P.S.: Thanks to all who have posted here recently! It helps to keep up the motivation when HTML is interfering...

Thursday, August 14, 2003
Do "die Zeit" and "der Spiegel" approach the Clue™?

Having a bit too much time recently, I find myself trodding on old paths - reading die Zeit, a weekly German paper which is moderately left (apart from political orientation, it's fine journalism though, and they occasionally put down their tin-foil hats, as Stefan Sharkansky has already noted). One article by Richard Herzinger is the best I've read there in a long time (in German): Der Moralismus des Zynikers (the moralism of the cynic). Here, we find the following interesting statement:

For the Middle East, a historical window has opened, and this opening must now be utilized. A substantial part of German intellectuals is not bothered though. They bade farewell from reality in Iraq and in the Middle East a long time ago, as well as from any political reality, and they indulge in being sardonic, bitter know-it-alls, who base their whole self-confidence on the hope that the hated Bush-Americans learn a bloody lesson in Iraq. It is also particularly contemptuous that they try to sell this doggedschadenfreude as a sign of a morally superior position.

Now, that comes like a bombshell to the self-important traditional lefties who expect die Zeit to produce some genuine sophisticated criticism of the home of capitalism, doesn't it? But the thing is: the rest of the article is also spot on; the razor-sharp dissection of the entangled web of idiotarian weltanschauung continues. Herzinger writes:

The "opponents of the war" - with which [Ivan] Nagel [a former artistic director and super-Idiotarian] means the German and French government, who wage war at several scenes of the globe - were, according to Nagel, requested to repair "the damage of the war". Actually, the most important aim in Iraq right now is the recovery of the damage of a totalitarian dictatorship lasting 35 years, which transformed a once economically blossoming country into a social cemetary, by horrible wars outward and uncontrolled terror within. It is characteristic that the "moralist" Nagel forgets to mention this not completely insignificant point. Further, the damage of an embargo lasting 12 years is to be eliminated, which was imposed by the United Nations, and for which France and Germany likewise carry responsibility [...]. Nagel should express as well what the "reliable" European statesmen Schröder and Chirac had to offer as an alternative to the American-British war: nothing but the perpetuation of devastating sanctions, from which the Iraqi civilian population had to suffer terribly, not the regime however, which plundered everything at its desire.

The rest of the article hits the Nagel auf den Kopf (nail on the head :) as well. I rejoice at the dawn of reason and rationality in some German papers here, who were very critical of the war and at times approached open, vile anti-Americanism (e.g., during Iraq war, one German paper writing about George Washington began its article with "George Washington, first president and slave-owner..." - the fact that he was a slave owner had nothing to do with the purpose of the rant though). Further, it seems to me that the instinctive recoil from everything related to "war" here in Germany, which is comprehensible if one regards our past, is slowly being replaced by a more balanced, less fundamental view (which does not equal the former German belligerent policy of course). And even der Spiegel (a paper that bashed America par excellence during Iraq war), though mildly criticizing Bush for not kneeling before the UN, remarks on Dean (in German): Gang war against Dr Dean, in which the pre-election fight within the Democratic party is highlighted in detail (usually, the Democrats get a better press in der Spiegel). After the smoke of diplomatic and armed battle has settled and the trans-atlantic rift has closed a bit again, some heated debaters in the press here obviously are approaching the Clue™. They have still a long and stony way ahead though.

Deus ex Machina?

"My name is Arnold and I am strong." Those were about the only English words Arnold Schwarzenegger could produce when he arrived in the US in 1968. Today, after being Mr Olympia for seven times and becoming one of the most famous male Hollywood actors (I admit I'm an Arnie fan - T2 is, at least for me, the epitome of an action film), he not only considers nails as not a necessary part of a balanced breakfast, but he also runs for governor in the state of California, after becoming a US citizen in 1983. And his chances of winning the election are quite good, according to recent polls.
Arnie always got along quite well with the Bush family. After being a fitness advisor for President Bush Sr., current President George W. Bush recently said Schwarzenegger would be a good governor. Arnie will probably win this election, I bet he is the most famous candidate by far, which might lead to a "mere exposure effect" known from psychology: "mere repeated exposure of the individual to a stimulus is a sufficient condition for the enhancement of his attitude toward it" (Zajonc, 1968). Further, he is associated with masculinity and determination, which are not only popular in the US as a whole, but especially in California if we regard the current state of affairs. "Somebody is needed to clean the house" is probably exactly what most Californians feel when they think of Grey Davis.
Let us now consider Arnie had already won this election. On the one hand, he might be considered the deus ex machina (Rise of the Machines ;) by some Republicans, a political wunderkind who secures them the important state of California one year before presidential elections. A Cimmerian election victory in California would be a dire blow to the Democrats, because the Republicans then would have a firm grip on Washington for a longer time; this probably is not what the nine mortals doomed to die (well... politically) dream of.
On the other hand, Arnie has some very moderate opinions that do not necessarily make him popular with the Neocons. Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff mentions in die Zeit (in German) that Arnie killed 383 persons in his films and even was pregnant, which not necessarily supports the Republican campaign against a loss of values and violent TV. And how will the Republicans continue their campaign against the Kennedy family if one of their (then) important persons is married to a Kennedy? And what about Arnie stating he was ashamed of being Republican in 1999 because of Clinton's impeachment due to sexual peculiarities? And I did not mention Arnie's positions concerning weapons, gays, and abortion yet...
Kleine-Brockhoff poignantly states that Arnie - by being moderate - has good chances to win in California, but that he also is the price the Republicans have to pay for staying in power for a longer time.

It's always the problem with those dei ex machinae - once they have been summoned and proven they are very useful, they are difficult to control. Let's see how president Bush handles his looming Faustian experience...

Wednesday, August 13, 2003
Man: fail, dog: pass

So, I've just decided in a wild mood swing to join the realm of bloggers, although I'm not yet quite sure what incremental benefit may arise from this. I'll try to comment on things from a German perspective, because I have experienced that there are some German blogs investigating current political developments and international affairs, but they mostly do so from an Idiotarian perspective which isn't mine (well, not anymore ;). I'll try to not focus on political and economic rants exclusively though, there are enough oddities and peculiarities here that most readers from the Anglosphere will not know of. Let's start with one I discovered today: Man: fail, dog: pass.

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German man of Polish origin lost his driving license after failing an alcohol test but his dog passed with flying colors, police in the western city of Koblenz said on Wednesday.

Police said the 47-year-old man failed to perform any of the required actions, only to be upstaged by his West Highland white terrier who executed all of the commands given perfectly, including a 360 degree turn as his master staggered and fell.

At the conclusion of the uneven contest, the supervising doctor announced, "Man: fail; dog: pass."

Great. The question remains whether this nicely trained dog actually drove his master home as well. As there are war-dolphins trained to attack divers, I wouldn't be too flabbergasted at car-driving dogs.

"Hey Hans, your dog alright?"
"Yup, I just had to punish him for messing up my portfolio."
"Nevermind. Mine went into politics..."