Wednesday, November 18, 2015

ISIS: Click here for a brilliant article on this gang of criminals. Incidentally, I read the other day that the twisted ideology of these people is still a form of Islam, albeit heretical to all other Muslims. But they're not apostates, so can't be killed for that. And there's no such thing as excommunication in Islam. All of which tends to stand in the way of condemnation from the global "Muslim community". Not that there really is one. Click here for a (pre ISIS) amusing take on the subject of Muslim sects. First sentence: "With all due respect to everyone involved, you can't throw a rock into a crowd of Muslims without hitting someone whom all the other Muslims consider a heretic".

THE (OVER) REACTION TO EVENTS IN PARIS: At the end of this post, there's a sensible article, for which I have to offer an HT to my friend, Dwight. Or was it Peter? From the NYT, I believe.


SPANISH CUSTOMER SERVICE: As this hasn't much improved in the 15 years I've lived here - from a low base - I sometimes wonder how the Spanish manage to achieve any exports. And what the economy would look like but for the totally dependent - and cost-free - sun. Perhaps we'll find out if global warming drives this ever further north and turns Spain into an extension of the Sahara desert. 


HOMEOPATHY: If, like me, you don't believe in this - except as a placebo - click here for a wonderful refutation of it. If you do believe in this nonsense, you might want to take your homeopathic blood pressure pill before reading it. Not that it'll do you any good. 


MISCELLANEOUS: 
  • This morning I invented Thai porridge. Out of ordinary milk, I decided to use coconut milk. I expected something delicious but it wasn't. So I've disinvented it. And, still without milk, will use water later this morning.
  • Occasionally, Spanish can be shorter than the English equivalent. So a Nobel prize winner becomes 'un nobel'. 
  • I've no real idea what Linkedin does but I spent a pleasant 15 minutes last night sending connection requests to every one of my friends already on it. But not to those to whom I was asked to send an invitation to join. Didn't want to be a nuisance to anyone. 
FINALLY . . . A STING IN THE TAIL: I duly rang Telefónica yesterday and they confirmed I'd been renting the handset for 15 years at 7 euros a month. Do the maths. And they confirmed that I had to take it to the same shop as I'd already taken the modem. Or, rather, I didn't - as I really had 2 options. In either case, I'd be fined €10 euros for going beyond 15 days after I'd ended the contract[!]. But, if I took it back to the shop, they'd charge me €10 in cash and take and keep the handset for themselves. Whereas, if I did nothing and just kept it, Telefónica would simply deduct €10 from my bank account. Welcome to Spain.

THE PARIS KILLINGS

One has to pity—a little—politicians obliged to react publicly to events such as those on November 13 in Paris. They can’t pass over them in silence: but what can they say that does not sound banal, hollow, and obvious? They can only get it wrong, not right. That does not excuse inexactitude and evasion, however.

French president François Hollande called the attacks cowardly, but if there was one thing the attackers were not (alas, if only they had been), it was cowardly. They were evil, their ideas were deeply stupid, and they were brutal: but a man who knows that he is going to die in committing an act, no matter how atrocious, is not a coward. With the accuracy of a drone, the president honed in on the one vice that the attackers did not manifest.

This establishes that bravery is not by itself a virtue, that in order for it to be a virtue it has to be exercised in pursuit of a worthwhile goal. To quote an eminent countryman of the president, Pascal:Travaillons, donc, à bien penser: voilà le principe de la morale.. Let us labor, then, to think clearly: that is the principle of morality.

President Obama was not much better. He made reference in his statement to “the values we all share.” Either he was using the word “we” in some coded fashion, in spite of having just referred to the whole of humanity, or he failed to notice that the attacks were the direct consequence of the obvious fact that we—that is to say the whole of humanity—do not share the same values. If we shared the same values, politics would be reduced to arguments about administration.

Politicians are not the only ones, however, to utter worse than clichés (which have at least the merit of being true): the Irish pop star turned guru, Bono, said that the events on November 13 were an attack on music. Mr. Bono might as well have said that this was an attack on restaurants, or even on Cambodian cuisine, or for that matter on football. Apparently, in his view, if only the French government outlawed music, the terrorists would achieve their ends and would therefore desist from future attacks.

On the night of the events, I followed the coverage in the Guardian, the British liberal newspaper whose website is one of the most popular of its type in the world. When the acknowledged toll of the attacks was still “only” 40, the paper published an article saying, en passant, that the vast majority of Muslims abhorred these attacks. I do not exclude the possibility that this is so, but we do not know, and can probably never know, that it is so: for if Queen Elizabeth I had “no desire to make windows into men’s souls,” we have no ability to do so, certainly on this question. But the Guardian wanted it to be so, and therefore, to its own satisfaction, it was.

This is a kind of magical thinking that persists in a supremely scientific age, and is dangerous because completely ineffective.

If ever there were a time to keep Pascal’s words in mind, this is it.

7 comments:

Diego said...

If you decide to take the phone back please ask for a receipt, signed and rubber stamped. Keep this with your most valuable documents, Spanish companies have a tendency to forget after a while that equipment was returned.

Your 7€ a month is peanuts, a year ago i sold a flat that was mortgaged, as is customary here i had to buy life insurance for the total amount of the loan at the time i signed the mortgage, this is not modified taking into account the reduction in the total amount owed as years go by.

Long story short, a year after selling it i noticed that i was still being charged monthly for the insurance policy, When i complained to the bank i was told that i had to cancel the insurance as it was not cancelled automatically, funny thing is this policy was "linked" to the mortgage so, i could not cancel it while paying the loan.

I told the lady at the bank that this mas miserable behaviour to cheat me out of 500€ to which she replied that i had been enjoying -disfutando- a life insurance.

I told her that in order for me to enjoy a life insurance i had to die first.

Who was the beneficiary of my insurance? well, Banco Santander of course.

Q10 said...

Colin, You promise "At the end of this post, there's a sensible article, for which I have to offer an HT to my friend, Dwight." But I could not find it.

However, you are forgiven everything for this paragraph :-

On the night of the events, I followed the coverage in the Guardian, the British liberal newspaper whose website is one of the most popular of its type in the world. When the acknowledged toll of the attacks was still “only” 40, the paper published an article saying, en passant, that the vast majority of Muslims abhorred these attacks. I do not exclude the possibility that this is so, but we do not know, and can probably never know, that it is so: for if Queen Elizabeth I had “no desire to make windows into men’s souls,” we have no ability to do so, certainly on this question. But the Guardian wanted it to be so, and therefore, to its own satisfaction, it was.

What a joy. I see my patience is being rewarded, your form is returning.

Having been downtrodden for centuries, I propose that it is more likely that most Muslims inwardly rejoiced at the Paris attacks, as you imply by your objection to the Guardian's assertion. You are right to say we will never know - But you and I know and nudge-wink agree completely on this matter. Herein lies the problem for Europe, with their doors fully open to welcome the Migrants\Immigrants\Asylum Seekers\Refugees\IS infiltrators\Fifth columnists.

There will be tears before bedtime, as Elvis Costello once said.

Alfred B. Mittington said...


My dear Q10,

Unfortunately, it falls to me, yet once again, to break the bad news and impersonate Reality as it comes knocking cruelly on the door.

The article that Colin copied was not brought to his attention by his friend Dwight, but by me. Of course, Colin would never admit to that, since for some reason - might it be spite, could it be jealousy? - he wages a personal vendetta against my humble and very able self.

The article was included, even though that is not altogether clear from the lay-out. It starts with the title 'The Paris Killings'.

The article was not Colin's (and I admit he never pretended that it was), but a piece by Theodore Dalrymple in City Journal of 15 November last. Of course, Colin might have mentioned that, but what do I know what his blogger policy is in these matters?

Lastly: Colin will of course wallow in the praise you bestow upon that paragraph, even though it is not his. What stopped him, I wonder, from correcting your mistaken assumption himself? Might it be vanity, could it be wishful thinking?

Yours, sincerely,

ReAlistic

Alfred B. Mittington said...


My dear Diego,

Although I admit it is a little odd, not to say: wrong, that the bank did not at least ask you if you wanted to continue or cancel the life-insurance associated with your mortgage when you sold your house, I assure you, from personal experience, that obliging home-owners to contract such a life insurance is sound policy and in their own interest.

This life insurance is meant to protect the heirs of the home-owner from very nasty and unpleasant surprises in case the home-owner dies. In the absence of such an insurance, those heirs - usually spouse and children - might find themselves unable to come up with the monthly payments of the mortgage, while Hacienda demands a huge deposit for succession rights over the value of the house. In many cases this would result in them having sell and leave the house, often for a very depreciated price.

The life insurance takes care of this. Let's say the homeowner took out 100,000 euros in mortgage, and at the time of death still owes 60,000. The life-insurance, which usually covers the same amount of money, then pays the remaining 60,000 debt to the bank, which is the 'first' beneficiary, leaving the house debt-free for the heirs; and the remaining insurance money of - in this example - 40,000 goes to the 'second' or 'subsidiary' beneficiary, usually the spouse and/or the child(ren). What - without the insurance - would have turned a vast loss into a financial tragedy, now leaves the heirs with a debt-free house and a very welcome sum of extra money.

I can't see how anybody could really object to this set-up.

Yours,

FinanciAl.

Colin Davies said...

It's a question of time and priorities, Mr Mittington. I owe Q10 a lot of responses. Including the one you imply.

I wasn't sure he thought I'd written it. As you say, I didn't claim this. And I couldn't afford to backtrack and see where it came from. I'd failed to put Dalrymple's name at the end of the text when I copied it from whatever you sent me. And had deleted your email to me.

Given your fondness for mind-numbing pedantry, I assume you don't know the meaning of the word 'priorities'.

Have a nice day, you old bore.

Colin Davies said...

While I'm on . . .

@ Diego. Many thanks for that nice example. The devil take the hindmost. Laissez-faire. "It's your responsibility to constantly check whether we're misleading, cheating or even defrauding you. Becaue it's in our DNA".

Diego said...

FinanciAL,

I don´t mind taking the -expensive- insurance policy, i do mind the sneaky way they did not ask me if i wanted to keep it.

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