Saturday, February 18, 2012

Do they Realize that this Involves Genetic Modification?

They tried to give us “the new man,” and it failed. Now they’re working on “the new cow.”
Scientists from across Europe are gathering in Aberdeen this week to draw up a programme of research aimed at mitigating some of the causes of climate change, as well as benefiting rural communities and addressing global food security.

The € 7.7 million, four-year project is a partnership between 11 European organisations, and will be coordinated by Professor John Wallace of the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, UK.

The demand for livestock products is growing, and the health of the farming industry is vital to the sustainability of rural communities. Farm animals are however significant contributors to the emission of the ‘greenhouse gas’ methane, but there is still much uncertainty around how this happens.

Professor Wallace explains the aims of the collaboration as follows: “Ruminomics aims to increase the efficiency – and decrease the environmental footprint – of the farming of ruminant livestock, and to significantly advance current knowledge in this sector.

“The project will exploit state-of-the-art technologies to understand how ruminant gastrointestinal microbial ecosystems – called microbiomes – are controlled by the host animal, and by their diet, and how this impacts on greenhouse gas emissions, efficiency and product quality.
Evidently the methane-producing capacity of German beer has yet to be exploited as “untapped potential”.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Portrait of European Sophistication

AKA: A Sad Tale of Ill-Timed and Awkward Smarminess

Unlike Americans, a great many Europeans who should know better are prone to leaping to compare present day Germans to the Nazis. That is, when they weren’t quietly wishing that they had “finished the job,” that is.

Bernd Ulrich wrote in Hamburg’s Die Zeit:
At a book reading in Portugal the sensible East German writer Ingo Schulze was even asked if the Germans intended to take with the euro what they had failed to take with their panzers, i.e. become the masters of the continent. From Greece we can hear the same sort of remarks every day, often put more dramatically.

Elsewhere the reproach is dressed up with more gentility, when for example Germany’s current austerity policy is compared with that of Reich Chancellor Brüning, whose successor was Adolf Hitler. Frequently, too, German’s “special path” is brought up, as when the Merkel government fails to print as much money as the others are demanding. The so-often quoted “special path” ends where, historically? In Auschwitz, of course. Thus is the circle closed.
And that’s just a normal daily tidbit from the paper, so you can imagine what chatter among bar patrons and neighbors to whom Euro-Ur-man regularly grumbles recreationally with must be like.
It does not take long, really, to work out the riddle of why the Nazi comparisons are being flung about so thick and fast. It’s because for the first time since 1945 Germany is back at full strength, not because it wanted to be, but because the European debt crisis has left it the economically strongest and politically most powerful country in Europe. German interests now reach deeply into the internal affairs of other states.
In other words, like the United States they are through the underperformance, negligence, and dependency of others, the only entity left among their allies with enough power to be begged, or beggared as the case seems to be.

Ulrich recognizes the need for realism, not just in outlook by Europeans in vaunted “national imagery,” but in simple understanding of other humans:
What should we do now? Ask the others to quit this Nazi crap, to please insult us Germans in every imaginable way but that one? Yes, that could be done. The Germans could also admit that they want to be loved, much more than the French or the British, who already love themselves very well indeed. However, the Germans cannot deny themselves out of the sheer need for love, if only because the others would despise us even more.
It’s a silly thing to have to waste time on to repair the public regard of Germany when those who need to learn the lesson are broke, saddled with delusions about economics, and pusillanimously paralyzed by their own envy-laden forms of national cultural identity.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Big Issue Overshadowing the US Presidential Election in 2012

The President believes that the Government creates success and that private enterprise creates poverty. This makes his goals no different than that of a Marxist-Leninist, and makes his opponents the calm, caring, mild voice of common sense.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Is New Age Fluff Another Form of Naziism?

You bet, Cha Ca, only a lot more buffoonish, historically ignorant, and almost as morally bereft.

The article quotes fillum maker David Lynch’s blindingly bad, but banal in its’ predictability:
"What do you mean by this concept of invincibility," asked an onlooker from the audience, made up mainly of film students with a smattering of meditation devotees. "An invincible Germany is a Germany that's invincible," replied a Delphic Schiffgens, who was dressed in a long white robe and gold crown. Adolf Hitler wanted that too!," shouted out one man. "Yes," countered Schiffgens. "But unfortunately he didn't succeed."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ship of Tools Adrift at Sea and Longing to be Heard

This man is indicative of why Europeans generally don’t get the global economic crisis, or Europe’s own debt crisis. There has been so much babble, spin, and talking in circles, that he doesn’t realize that there was much of a “French-German Axis” to begin with. It was the case that the two conferred because they were the only large economies remaining who were marginally serious about dealing with the EU’s issues within the EU.
One may think that in these difficult times, the renewed Franco-German axis is a good thing. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Today, it is the “total collaboration” between Merkel and Sarkozy that is driving Europe into the catastrophe.
Really? What’s the alternative? Who’s coming forward? You guessed it: no-one.

In fact the other large economies in the Eurozone as well as the small ones, when they aren’t begging special deals of one kind or another from France and Germany, have become inept enough to believe that they could just punt for some kind of politically CYA freebies from the IMF and Washington, and somehow remain a union.
Sarkozy’s opponent François Hollande has become the lone challenger to Mrs. Merkel. “Socialists live in Europe” he has declared and he has vowed to re-negotiate the fiscal pact by which Merkel hopes to germanify Europe. This fact explains why the German Chancellor has thrown her weight behind Sarkozy, the conservative candidate; even if her foreign minister was quick to point out that party support was not in the interest of the German state. It will be harder for Merkel to dominate a socialist government in France than a weakened Sarkozy.
And no, the entire world, let alone the western Europeans, do not believe that everything that happens is a form of palace intrigue. Nor are the charged exchanges between the Europeans genuinely serious for the outside world or even the rest of Europe for that matter.
Where does that leave France and Germany? National identities have a long shelf-life. Fois gras and Schweinshaxe will not disappear; nor will the different models of organising the welfare state. What is needed is a new political consensus that allows citizens to assume responsibility for their common affairs, and both France and Germany can contribute to making it happen.
Which is being expressed HOW exactly? What is being proposed or volunteered in the hinterland other than pot-banging, destroying property, and rioting? Zip.

The dramatization and personalization of the whole thing gives me a sense that those who indulge in it have such a shaky understanding of economies and markets, that it appears to be a defensive act – one meant to let one hear the sound of ones’ own voice and pretend to have a grip on things. It’s no wonder most of it comes from either leftists who wish private markets didn’t exist (possibly out of an inability to understand why prices can’t be controlled and fixed), and the neo-fascist “far-right”, the one with leftist platitudes when it can come up with economic pronouncements, one of which was this pointless pearl free of the burden of prescience or even tolerance for his fellow Europastani tribesmen:
Is Germany a normal country?
...and other rude assumptions made just before uttering the obvious about the political behavior of national government heads. Remember, that kind of callous crap is supposed to offer the already intelligent an even more-super-special insight.

Typical of the high quality and informative commentary in the continent available these past 4 years, it even pretends that you haven’t heard the pathetic theories based on one nation or another’s “national persona” which even among Europeans inevitably devolves into a Russ Meyer style German she bitches, cartoon Italians playing the accordion, and a beret-clad lout canoeing a unfiltered cloc that’s stuck to his lower lip representing the citizens of the republic.
Where does that leave France and Germany? National identities have a long shelf-life. Fois gras and Schweinshaxe will not disappear; nor will the different models of organising the welfare state.
As opposed to, say, a saucisson or Eisbein, which a twit unfamiliar of whom he speaks might pretend to know, if they can’t find a real sporting of real lifestyle analogy that post-dates the 19th century.

So beware the idea that you can understand economics by trying to force it through the cheesecloth of politics or culture, especially the politics and culture or what you THINK YOU KNOW. After all, through the fog and muck, there is a little voice saying to all of us something we don’t want to hear: you’re all broke, you filthy moochers.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Yet another Guilt Trip for Parents, Founded on Some Feeble Notion of ‘Cultural Superiority’

Much has been made lately of an article by Pamela Druckerman on claims of the “superiority” of French parents, and it’s hard to make inferences of that kind without plainly telling the reader that the statement was founded on the writer’s limited observation of a few isolated days with the sort of French families that she would have as friends and acquaintances, and is also very much the case of an American who only seems to know Americans like herself:

Soon it became clear to me that quietly and en masse, French parents were achieving outcomes that created a whole different atmosphere for family life. When American families visited our home, the parents usually spent much of the visit refereeing their kids' spats, helping their toddlers do laps around the kitchen island, or getting down on the floor to build Lego villages. When French friends visited, by contrast, the grownups had coffee and the children played happily by themselves.
If I might add an opinion here based on observation – a lot of it – Druckerman’s thesis is completely specious. Parents in any society are broadly varied in their ability, and that’s reflected in children’s behavior. What the writer observes are small piece of things that are present everywhere in the world. I can tell you quitter plainly that there is no shortage of trashy parents, indifferent parents, confused parents, over-active parents, meddlesome parents, good parents, and utterly helpless parents in France or anywhere else.

Druckerman’s assumption is reminiscent of a 1972 comment by Ney York film critic Pauline Kael, where she is reputed to have wondered aloud how Richard Nixon could have won since no one she knew voted for him. Yet while armed with that received wisdom, Richard Nixon won.

A French-American friend wrote me with a rather different view from her experience teaching in France:

I have taught French schoolchildren, teens and young adults.

The 9 - 13 year olds were hell. Complete and total hell. Not that each individual on his/her own was not, in general, a nice enough kid. But as a group, trying to teach them was a major effort and discipline was THE problem.

The 1 - 3 year olds were fine because they were in an English-language group all day with English-language educators and, so, we ran a tight ship, so to speak. When we walked across the hall to the French-language group, it was like walking into a zoo. The noise was unbearable. And the educators were standing around drinking coffee and chatting amongst themselves and just letting the kids behave that way. The German-language group was similar to our group but even quieter.

The older students I taught, when they had been to Catholic schools, were fairly well-behaved. The ones from public schools were not.
So the fact Druckerman decries that non-French children don’t behave like painter’s subject should be taken for what it’s worth: shallow intercultural babble dressed up as yet more meddlesome unsolicited advice offered to parents of young kids.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Un Message Pour Les Toujours Courageux Pédés-Bloggeurs Franchouilles

Contrary to popular received wisdom among intelligent Europeans, we do not languidly pass our evenings by firing weapons in the air while barefoot and wearing bib overalls.

That's just to let you know.

Seen at CPAC

Plus: my entry for the CPAC contest:
Why Am I a Conservative?
— explained in 60 seconds or less