Friday, August 19, 2011

Hawaiian Statehood Day

On this day in 1959, the United States annexed Hawaii as a state, with the connivance of a considerable and varied immigrant population who wanted to claim it for their own purposes, and without the consent of the native population.

I would say that we are now being properly rewarded.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

My grandmother just told me an amusing story about Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII which she read in the papers many years ago. First she started explaining the abdication to me, and I was able to assure her that I already know all about Wallis Simpson.

So after the abdication, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were having dinner together in some kind of formal setting, talking quietly to each other. A reporter managed to get close enough to overhear their conversation.

The scoop? They were telling each other the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Apparently they didn't have anything to converse about at the moment and didn't want people seeing them and saying, "Look at that, they aren't even speaking to each other!"

Friday, April 1, 2011

My sentiments exactly.

Florence King opens her Diary

Being an English-American can be depressing. For years I thought about giving up my American citizenship and becoming a Brit to get my blood and my nationality lined up without the interference of a hyphen, but then something made me change my mind with a vengeance: Princess Diana’s funeral. I spent three stunned days staring at the TV screen and thinking My God, they’ve turned into us! It wasn’t England any more, just a sceptre’d loony bin set in a sea of rotting flora, a UK of Utter Kitsch where the crud de la crud built teddy-bear temples to a gilded hysteric who resembled nothing so much as Judy Garland with a title.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Democracy Is No Panacea

Universally, democracy is being exalted.

Everywhere one turns, one hears of its virtues: how democracy ensures human rights, fosters prosperity and shepherds in modernity.

Yet democracy represents nothing more than the tyranny of the majority. In other words, contrary to the ideals of western liberalism, democracy does not ensure that the smallest minority, the individual is protected.

In the vast majority of circumstances, people free to choose their government get the government they desire. In Russia, the people have chosen again and again to elect KGB criminals. In Gaza, the people have chosen to elect either Hamas or Fatah, terrorist parties in perpetual war. Democracy does not a free society ensure.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Haunted Bookshop

I have just discovered this classic by Christopher Morley. I cannot believe no one brought it to my attention sooner; it is essentially a love letter to books, a tome every bookworm must read. The plot - a spy story and a romance - is really just a framework on which to hang the central character's rhapsodies about the sacred calling of bookselling and the merits of great books.

Alas, this book was written and set at the end of the Great War, and Mr. Morley was one of the many who was misled by the horrors of the Great War into even worse naive folly. Regard this passage, from a letter the bookseller protagonist is writing to his brother-in-law:

You will not agree with me on what I am about to say, for I know you as a stubborn Republican; but I thank fortune that Wilson is going to the Peace Conference. I've been mulling over one of my favourite books--it lies beside me as I write--Cromwell's Letters and Speeches, edited by Carlyle, with what Carlyle amusingly calls "Elucidations." (Carlyle is not very good at "elucidating" anything!) I have heard somewhere or other that this is one of Wilson's favourite books, and indeed, there is much of the Cromwell in him. With what a grim, covenanting zeal he took up the sword when at last it was forced into his hand! And I have been thinking that what he will say to the Peace Conference will smack strongly of what old Oliver used to say to Parliament in 1657 and 1658--"If we will have Peace without a worm in it, lay we foundations of Justice and Righteousness." What makes Wilson so irritating to the unthoughtful is that he operates exclusively upon reason, not upon passion. He contradicts Kipling's famous lines, which apply to most men--


Very rarely will he squarely push the logic of a fact
To its ultimate conclusion in unmitigated act.

In this instance, I think, Reason is going to win. I feel the whole current of the world setting in that direction.

It's quaint to think of old Woodrow, a kind of Cromwell-Wordsworth, going over to do his bit among the diplomatic shell-craters. What I'm waiting for is the day when he'll get back into private life and write a book about it. There's a job, if you like, for a man who might reasonably be supposed to be pretty tired in body and soul! When that book comes out I'll spend the rest of my life in selling it. I ask nothing better!


Of course, we have seen how that worked out.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Must-read blog post

Democracy and Universalism by Fjordman

One of the developments that took place during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries following the American and French Revolutions was the spread of democracy in the Western world. In Antiquity and plainly up until the American Founding Fathers, “democracy” was never seen as anything self-evidently good. Plato and Aristotle were quite critical of it, although the democratic system in ancient Greece was rather different from the modern one.

As John Dunn says in his book Setting the People Free: The Story of Democracy, a title he admits carries some degree of irony, in the Athens Assembly citizens had the right not merely to vote on all proposals coming before it and thus to determine together its outcome, but also to address it themselves. This fierce directness of Athenian democracy contrasts sharply with the more indirect system often called “representative democracy” that is practiced in the modern West. Indeed, the two systems are so different that calling the latter “democracy” would have caused confusion among leading figures from Athens during the Hellenic age....

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thursday, March 4, 2010