Zum Leben

Bean Sprouts

Posted in Uncategorized by Schopenhauer on June 11, 2011

If bean sprouts were nuclear power, organic farms would have been shut down in a half dozen European nations by now.


Ratzinger is the better Pope

Posted in Uncategorized by Schopenhauer on April 11, 2010

In a NYT op-ed, Ross Douthat argues that Ratzinger is a better Pope than John Paul II when it comes to sexual abuse scandals in the Church.

The more recent smoking guns, though, offer more smoke than fire. The pope is now being criticized not for enabling crimes or covering them up, but because in the 1980s and 1990s the Vatican’s bureaucracy moved slowly on requests to formally laicize abusive priests after they had already been removed from ministry.

But the smoke is damaging enough. “The Failed Papacy of Benedict XVI,” ran a recent headline in Der Spiegel, the newsmagazine of the pope’s native Germany. If you judge a pontiff on his ability to do outreach, whether to lukewarm believers or the secular world, this is probably accurate. Amid the latest wave of scandal, Catholicism needed the magnetic John Paul, master of bold gestures and moving acts of penance. Instead, the church is stuck with Benedict, bookish and defensive and unequal to the task.

But there’s another story to be told about John Paul II and his besieged successor. The last pope was a great man, but he was also a weak administrator, a poor delegator, and sometimes a dreadful judge of character.

The church’s dilatory response to the sex abuse scandals was a testament to these weaknesses. So was John Paul’s friendship with the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ. The last pope loved him and defended him. But we know now that Father Maciel was a sexually voracious sociopath. And thanks to a recent exposé by The National Catholic Reporter’s Jason Berry, we know the secret of Maciel’s Vatican success: He was an extraordinary fund-raiser, and those funds often flowed to members of John Paul’s inner circle.

Only one churchman comes out of Berry’s story looking good: Joseph Ratzinger. Berry recounts how Ratzinger lectured to a group of Legionary priests, and was subsequently handed an envelope of money “for his charitable use.” The cardinal “was tough as nails in a very cordial way,” a witness said, and turned the money down. [Honest men don’t make great politicians.]

This isn’t an isolated case. In the 1990s, it was Ratzinger who pushed for a full investigation of Hans Hermann Groer, the Vienna cardinal accused of pedophilia, only to have his efforts blocked in the Vatican. It was Ratzinger who persuaded John Paul, in 2001, to centralize the church’s haphazard system for handling sex abuse allegations in his office. It was Ratzinger who re-opened the long-dormant investigation into Maciel’s conduct in 2004, just days after John Paul II had honored the Legionaries in a Vatican ceremony. It was Ratzinger, as Pope Benedict, who banished Maciel to a monastery and ordered a comprehensive inquiry into his order.

So the high-flying John Paul let scandals spread beneath his feet, and the uncharismatic Ratzinger was left to clean them up. This pattern extends to other fraught issues that the last pope tended to avoid — the debasement of the Catholic liturgy, or the rise of Islam in once-Christian Europe. And it extends to the caliber of the church’s bishops, where Benedict’s appointments are widely viewed as an improvement over the choices John Paul made. It isn’t a coincidence that some of the most forthright ecclesiastical responses to the abuse scandal have come from friends and protégés of the current pope.

Has Benedict done enough to clean house and show contrition? Alas, no. Has his Vatican responded to the latest swirl of scandal with retrenchment, resentment, and an un-Christian dose of self-pity? Absolutely. Can this pontiff regain the kind of trust and admiration, for himself and for his office, that John Paul II enjoyed? Not a chance.

But as unlikely as it seems today, Benedict may yet deserve to be remembered as the better pope.

Another critique of Democracy

Posted in Uncategorized by Schopenhauer on March 25, 2010

Divine-right monarchy for the modern secular intellectual over at Unqualified Reservations:

….All these objections are neatly summed up in Churchill’s famous aphorism, if it is really Churchill’s. Democracy, whose flaws are not in any way secret, appears to you as the worst of all systems of government, except for all the others. And what do you know of all the others? Nothing at all, of course. (Or at least, nothing nonmagical. [Magical thinking is encouraged by the nature of democracy because there is a payoff for convincing people of crazy things.]) Hence the statement sounds true, because it is true. So far as you know. That migraine spot again!….As a people, we believe insane things, because democracy has driven us all insane. After all, it’s had two hundred years to do so. Its edifice of magical thinking is a wonderful thing, ornate as a Disney castle, more worthy of admiration than destruction. Sadly, it is the castle of evil, and God’s sweet fire will melt it in a flash.

Moldbug goes on to suggest that it is democracy that has brought about (directly or indirectly) the great tyrannies of the 20th century. His point is that dictators with unstable power bases tend to rise out of democracies. This sort of dictator tends is much more dangerous (to himself and others) than a dictator with a stable power base.

Socrates thought something similar. The Republic claims that Oligarchy gives rise to Democracy, which in turn gives rise to Tyranny.

All this is cheering. Democracy is bad. It has made everyone crazy. And what is coming is worse.

Health Care

Posted in Uncategorized by Schopenhauer on March 21, 2010

Politicians in a democracy are fundamentally non-serious:

The White House announced that after passage of the health-care legislation, President Obama would sign an executive order that will reaffirm the measure’s “consistency with longstanding restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion.”

In other words, “if you promise to tell us that this law doesn’t say what it says, we’ll pass it.”


Posted in Uncategorized by Schopenhauer on March 21, 2010

Cherished beliefs of Smart People from Sonic Charmer

I also came across this summary of mobster entertainment in the blog:

  • The Godfather pitch: You can understand, given circumstances, why criminals do criminal things.
  • The Sopranos pitch: Criminals are, in many ways, a lot like you normal people.
  • The Breaking Bad pitch: You normal people are, in many ways, a lot like criminals.

Religion and Patriarchy

Posted in Uncategorized by Schopenhauer on March 21, 2010

Novaseeker comments over at The Spearhead:

The thing is, for you all so smart-assed atheists, is that religion is the one common narrative that brought men together in the past.

All of you post-Enlightenment-worshipping motherfuckers can bleat on as much as you like about blah blah and so on, but not one fucking one of you can ever come up with a unifying paradigm for men that is as powerful as partriarchal religion. Because there ISN’T one.

If you’re trying to do what you’re doing without an overarching narrative with *authority*, you’re pissing into the wind just like Tony Judt is doing.

Religion = patriarchy.

Why do you think the fembots agree with you about religion? You’re idiots if you think otherwise. Complete idiots.

Religion = patriarchy = civilization? Possibly. At the very least, the same sorts of things that erode religion in modern society also erode family structures. The politicization of the common man was a mistake. Democracy provides far too many incentives for getting average people to believe crazy things, with the result that some large proportion of the population now believes a number of crazy things.

The political advantage of mobilizing women as a potent electoral force led to all the craze and excess of feminism, not anything in the Zeitgeist. Similarly, religion has died because the average man’s brain has only so much meme-space and the ruling class needed to take it over to get ‘votes.’ The spirit of the age did not do this. Myth and superstition are as prevalent in our Enlightened times as ever. Modern myth and superstition simply carry more political content.

Democracies do not build social capital (socially beneficial traditions and institutions), they spend it. Ledgers must be balanced afterward.

The Modern Puritans

Posted in Uncategorized by Schopenhauer on March 21, 2010

Dalrymple complains about our “contemporary sanctimony.”

Quite often these days I receive emails asking me to consider the environment before I print them. They are quite right of course: my study is already horribly littered even without print-outs of more emails.

But this, I suspect, is not at all what they mean: they mean the Environment with a capital E, in the Mother Earth, Gaia, or Pachamama sense of the word, a sense that always makes me feel slightly queasy, as Wagnerian opera does. If people really care about the environment, why don’t they campaign against rock music in public places, a vastly greater threat to civilization than a mere rise in global temperature and sea levels could ever be? [Dalrymple seems to be trending right on a lot of issues nowadays. That wasn’t always the case.]

Now that you’ve got me going on the subject of contemporary sanctimony, how about this for a provocation? I received today an email from a very large and successful firm of lawyers asking me for my opinion in a medico-legal case. Appended to the email (after the obligatory bit about the environment, the whales, the dolphins, and the worms) was the following nauseating statement:

Out partnership is committed to eliminating discrimination
and promoting equality and diversity in it own policies and
procedures. This applies to the firm’s dealings with
employees, clients and other third parties.

Now it used to be alleged against Dickens that his characters were mere one-dimensional caricatures, that for example such grotesque hypocrites as Pecksniff or Podsnap could not possibly have existed in reality. But reading the statement reproduced above, who would now venture such an opinion? Who would dare laugh at the Victorians for their prudery and their bowdlerism? [The Victorians weren’t such bad sorts, really. They had as much sex as anyone, but didn’t think that it deserved much space in the public eye.] Is it only in sexual matters that a man can be a hypocrite?

Let us remind ourselves that a statement such as the one attached to the lawyers’ email did not get there spontaneously; someone, and quite possibly some committee, had to write it and decree that it should be appended to all the emails that the company sent. Indeed it probably took many sessions over breakfast or lunch to hammer it out.

What, actually, does it mean? Does it mean, for example, that the lady who cleans the offices at night after the partners have gone home, will henceforth be paid the same as the partners, that is to say hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars a year, because of their commitment to equality? Good luck for her if so, but I suspect not. Does it mean, either, that when someone applies for a job the firm will take no notice whatever of the person’s past record of achievement and ability, and will not discriminate in favor of an applicant with superior ability? Again, I suspect not; [sometimes it does] I would certainly hope not if I were a client of the firm’s.

There is a wonderful passage in Martin Chuzzlewit in which Pecksniff introduces his two daughters to a third party.

“Charity and Mercy,” he says. “Not unholy names, I think?”

If he were living today, now that we have made so much progress, he would say:

“Equality and Diversity. Not unholy names, I think?”

My emphasis in black, my comments in red.

And swear, nowhere lives a woman true and fair.

Posted in Uncategorized by Schopenhauer on March 20, 2010

In Mala Fide wants his readers to read The Sexiest Poem Ever.

John Donne’s ode to his mistress’ nakedness may be qualified for Mala Fide’s praise. However, the best verse from Donne can be found in his Song.

 And swear,
 No where
 Lives a woman true and fair. 

 If thou find'st one, let me know,
 Such a pilgrimage were sweet;
 Yet do not, I would not go,
 Though at next door we might meet,
 Though she were true, when you met her,
 And last, till you write your letter,
 Yet she
 Will be
 False, ere I come, to two, or three.

Aphorism-lite #1

Posted in Uncategorized by Schopenhauer on March 20, 2010

Ronin, commenting over at Citizen Renegade (Roissy): “Women don’t like men. Queers like men. Women like money.”

The Disappointment of America

Posted in Uncategorized by Schopenhauer on March 20, 2010

At Unqualified Reservations, Mencius Moldbug writes:

“The basic grim truth that Americans need to face up to is that American successes and victories in the 19th and 20th centuries did not happen because of America’s unique political system. They happened despite America’s unique political system. America became great not because American democracy was great, but because America was a great people in a great place. As such, it was uniquely resistant to the poison of democracy, and alone survived its own disease. [The world’s democratic cargo cultists find it bizarre that their new American-style democracies do not bring American-style prosperity.] Now that the bloom is off the continent’s youth, we can see how well American democracy works in a normal country. Others have experienced this disappointment; now, it is our turn.”

My emphasis in black, my comments in red.