I've been a pessimist from an early age. I can remember making the decision to become one. It seemed to me that if you were a pessimist you could never be disappointed: if the worst happened, it would be just as you expected; if the worst didn’t happen, it would be a pleasant (if rare) surprise! Now that I am, to coin a phrase, in my later years I find myself very fortunate in many ways, so the argument could be made that my decades of pessimism were unjustified. Pessimism is, however, a very hard habit to break.
I can still remember my feeling of elation in 1997 when Tony Blair’s Labour Party had its landslide victory over the Tories. Sadly, Blair proved a bit of a disappointment, and in the UK it currently feels as if we have always had a Tory Government. In the USA, I and many others have watched with horror the effects of 4 years of the odious Donald Trump. I had been aware of what an unpleasant creature he was long before he became President, but it was truly terrifying to see him in charge of the most powerful country on the planet! It will take many years to undo the damage that he has caused. Like numerous others around the World, I was extremely pleased when it was finally concluded that Joe Biden had defeated Trump. However, although I would have found another term of Trump almost unbearable, I didn’t feel the same elation that I felt in 1997. This is not just because (a) I am not a US citizen, and (b) the Orange Monster has not actually conceded defeat yet!
Read more Why Biden’s Presidency May Be A Disappointment: A Pessimist’s View
Like many other European countries, the UK is seeing a rapidly increasing number of COVID infections at present. The national lockdown earlier in the year was very effective in suppressing spread of the virus, but governments are aware of the very severe effects that the lockdown had on the economy, and on the mental health of many in the population. The Westminster Government was, by all accounts, surprised at the degree of compliance of the population with full lockdown, but there is growing evidence that a significant sector of the population is unwilling to comply with the various measures now being proposed to slow the spread of the disease.
Read more The Problem With COVID International Comparisons
My previous posts have dealt with the fact that, even in the midst of a catastrophic pandemic, the ultra-rich are getting richer. However, it is well known that many of these obscenely wealthy people have given millions, and in some cases billions, to “good causes”. Surely this makes up, at least to some extent, for worsening global wealth inequality? In my last entry I made the point that the ultra-wealthy are, as a group, highly competitive: even to the extent of, in some cases, competing regarding how much of their wealth they give away!
Read more Why Philanthropy Doesn’t Compensate For Obscene Wealth Inequality
I first wrote a blog post about schadenfreude on 31 May 2007 (see “Die reinste freude ist die schadenfreude”). As I stated then, a good translation of the German word is “the malicious glee experienced as a result of someone else’s misfortune”. I made the point that it was, at that time, by far the most popular word listed on Wordie (a fabulous website devoted to words and language which, sadly, no longer exists), and that it forms the basis of much of what we think of as humour. I also expressed the opinion that schadenfreude is one of the main reasons that people still buy our doom laden newspapers.
Read more Schadenfreude Revisited
For years now UK politics has been like this: whatever the Conservative Government says I assume is a lie until proven otherwise. I find this to be a significant source of stress. There are numerous examples of the UK Government lying to the public in the last few years, but perhaps the most outrageous recent examples are the lies they have told over the preparation for, and management of, the current COVID Pandemic.
Read more Tory COVID Lies and Incompetence
President Donald Trump has made a number of references in the past, and made a few more in his recent 4th July Address to the Nation, to the fact that SARS-CoV-2 originated in China. He always makes these remarks in a way that suggests (a) that China deliberately, or by negligence inflicted the virus on the World; and (b) that such a thing would never happen in the United States of America.
Read more Viral Origins: Past and Present Part 1
“Capitalism will always be racist and sexist, because it has to mystify its core contradiction - the promise of prosperity vs the reality of widespread poverty - by denigrating the 'nature' of those it exploits: colonial subjects, women and the dispossessed."
# Permanent link to Capitalism will always be sexist and racist…
I am not a reader of the Daily Mail or the Mail on Sunday, but Twitter drew my attention to an article in the latter “newspaper” with the headline “Man of the people? New Labour leader Sir Keir owns land worth up to £10m”.
Read more The Mail on Sunday’s Best Shot?
On November 2 2006 I wrote a blog post entitled "Where Have All The Heroes Gone?". It followed a visit to Paris, during which we had visited the Hotel des Invalides.
I noted that the dome of the Eglise du Dome took over 20 years to build and houses the tomb of Napoleon, whose remains are encased in 5 coffins and a sarcophagus of red porphyry. The remains of some other state heroes are also located there, including Ferdinand Foch.
My point in 2006 was that I couldn't think of a single politician or military leader in the World then that would be so revered by the general public that they would support a memorial on this scale. The question is "Eleven years down the line, has anything changed?".
Read more Still No More Heroes