The EU as an Apex Marine Predator

Few things in the world as useful as metaphors. They have a fairly restricted range of application but nothing is better at helping people understand something new than metaphors (relating said something new with something familiar) or in understanding the familiar in new ways.

The EU preparing for another round of enlargement….

Back in the late 80s or early 90s I came across a metaphor that helps more than anything else explain what’s wrong with the European Union (nb I’m a big supporter of some aspects of the EU but it has serious problems that need to be addressed…. and aren’t).

As I was saying the metaphor involved a certain section of EU officials and nationalist leaders and it goes like this (paraphrasing): EU integration is like a shark if it’s not constantly moving forward it dies.

This explains why the EU’s response to every crisis is more integration and why it keeps pushing ever closer integration far past the point that most citizens want or need. It’s why their reaction to citizens saying they don’t want more integration is…. more integration! It’s why their response to a country wanting to leave is…. more integration. Monkey see, monkey do from now until eternity.

Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania different crops in a garden

Another approach?

They need a new metaphor to help them perceive the real needs of the EU in a more productive light. I might tentatively suggest: “The EU is a garden” it requires a certain amount of maintenance and care but there’s no need to plant everything at the same time and different plants require different conditions to flourish and there’s no reason to plant tomatoes between the cabbages. There might be hidden traps there (there almost always are with metaphors) but so far I like it.

It can’t be worse than what we have now with an ever widening gap between the shark tenders in Brussels and the fishing villages wanting to safeguard their waters.

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Dope Nation

It’s very distressing to realize that my country of origin is now filled with so many stupid people, so many…. The very idea that less than 15 years after the obvious (to anyone with a brain I would have thought) swindle of the War or Terror and Weapons of Mass Destruction a substantial part of the country would fall for yet another obvious (to anyone with a brain) swindle using the same goddamned tactics is just too much to be calm about.

The only consolation is that at least the second swindle wasn’t as catastrophic as the first. The con men that whored themselves out for the Weapons of Mass Destruction and those 2who supported them have the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people on their conscience (or would if they had consciences…). Those who whored themselves out for non-existent ‘Russian collusion’ just look like the dumb yokels they’re fond of ridiculing.

I guess it’s true – first time tragedy, second time farce.


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Future Markets in the Future have no Future

When all is said and one, people have no way of extrapolating out from one reality and predicting what another reality will be like. Think of the poor Kremlinologists who spent countless hours studying the Soviet press and painstakingly noting the seating arrangements in pictures form official functions and size of official pictures and slight discrepancies in different printed versions of speeches by those in the Kremlin in order to predict what the USSR would do next… and they were almost never right.

Area specialists had 44 years to theorize about what would happen when Iron Curtain socialism finally fell and almost none of the theories panned out. Once the Soviet Union announced it wouldn’t engage militarily in the satellite countries reality changed and none of the theories that relied on Soviet militarism in Europe were worth anything.

That’s why I’m skeptical of exact predictions whether about climate change or demographic dynamics or political realignment. Once a key event takes place that fundamentally changes the dynamics that predictions are necessarily based on then all bets are off and all people can do is be ready.

Of course it’s a good idea to have ideas about what might happen and how but it’s dangerous to get too attached to any of them – when the status quo fundamentally changes they’re all so much smoke and memories.

Be prepared to be surprised and to get over the surprise in a hurry….

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No Change on Not Changing for Climate Change

No matter what people say, no significant actions on climate change will be made. The main reason for this is that almost no one wants to change their own behavior. In sociological terms this is called the Desirable (that iswhat other people should do) while the Deisred (what people really want) is to not change themselves.

Every single proposal I’ve seen (even if accepted and implemented this second) would be insufficient. No plastic straws? Well howdeedoo and merry christmas! There are rivers all over the third world where the water is hidden from view under piles of plastic bottles and other garbage and no more straws won’t change that.

Carbon offsets? Enough to make a maggot puke – IIRC just a couple of hours of jet travel a year to completely overcome an individual’s efforts to lessen their carbon footprint.

The only strategy with any chance of success in terms of climate would involve wrenching changes to almost everyone’s quality of life and of course no one wants that. Who wants no possibility for travel beyond walking, horses, bikes and electric mass transportation?

Who wants having to spend hours every day cultivating small gardens to make up for not being able to fly vegetables across the continent?

Who wants to have to learn to use looms or foot powered sewing machines to make clothes because container ships from China use too much oil?

There’s no way to significantly curtail carbon consumption without forcing vast track of humanity into semi-permanent peasanthood – tilling the soil and doing without. I’m no exception, I don’t want to live like a medieval peasant for the sake of an uncertain future – but I realize and accept my limitations and don’t expect others to be ready to make sacrifices I don’t want to make myself.

There’s always the chance of a miraculous technological breakthrough which will make today’s concerns irrelevant, but without that climate change will happen and all people can do is… be prepared (as if you could be prepared for a new reality).

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Twittered Rage

Twitter outrage mobs (all social media outrage mobs) are manifestations of collective narcissistic rage. Even more or less sane people when united with others are prone to dehumanize themselves and join the yapping dog pack in its mad rush to rip the fox to shreds. The presence of anyone with different opinions or values is enough to set them off and when there’s a spark (and there will always be sparks) they’re off to the races.

They should be dealt with the same way that narcissists should be dealt with (my strategy is to avoid them as much as possible and to be polite and distant and emotionally disengaged when it’s necessary to interact with them).

There is not a single case of apologies helping diffuse a twitter mob’s rage so no effort should be made to listen or interact with them beyond a polite variation of “I don’t care what you think”. In real life, dealing with an enraged narcissist this is not advised (and could lead to violence) but online it’s more than the mob deserves. The optimal strategy is to ignore them and let them rage to each other until they wear themselves out and have to take a collective nap.

Disclaimer: The one and only social media I can identify with at all is Twitter. That doesn’t mean I find it valuable most of the time (it does have its uses). But it’s often amusing; the short format, at its best, is ideal for honing clever one liners and as such it’s a bit like a newer, much, much bigger and meaner Algonguin Round Table (with a bunch of unclever boobs sitting in and getting in the way of the venomous darts flying around and or taking it seriously and harshing everybody’s vibe).

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Destructive Narcissism

(CN: extreme vagueness in the interest of anonymity for all concerned… as much as possible)

The place I work was officially… ‘abolished’ in late December. This has been followed by a whole bunch of tedious time-wasting meetings dealing with the fallout. My employment has never been an issue (as one colleague put it: I’m not worried about my job, I’m worried about who I’ll be working for…). As far as can be told, the entire affair was caused by a single narcissist involved in a personal dispute with the head of the department (rough translation Polish university divisions have almost nothing in common with American ones).

After the latest meetings last week, and talking to a few people Friday I have an idea that things will probably be resolved relatively soon with the place being reconstructed in a very similar form which raises the question… what all that fuss was about (apart from creating a set of deep personal and professional rifts in what had always been a pretty nice place to work). If that doesn’t work I’ve gotten a few offers for a place within a newer entity that might take its place and which would likely allow me to not have anything to do with the characters that brought all this about.

The whole thing has been a lesson on how to never underestimate the damage a single malignant narcissist can do (especially when there is a perfect storm of poor administrative decisions  (the administrator who ‘abolished’ the unit has as much as admitted it wasn’t the best option) and a couple of opportunists who think they can use the narcissist for their own… incomprehensible purposes (no one I’ve talked to has any idea what the motivations of another key administrator can be beyond destruction for the sake of destruction).

It’s been an education… of sorts.

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The Limits of Toleration

I’m very late with this but want to comment on it nonetheless. One of the things it took me a very long time to realize is that people can become addicted not only to substances but to… behavior and reactions from other people. This is why when the boundaries of tolerance begin expanding, it seems to create increased unhappiness. Many people assume identities as much to provoke reactions in other people as to express themselves. Lots of people are, in essence, addicted to disapproval and if you express tolerance for their latest foolishness it just provokes them to adopt even more outlandish behaviors so they can get the hostility that they crave.

Note in this incredibly stupid example that the grave error committed by the racist knitter was…. being excited and happy about the chance to go to India. For the author a white person expressing interest in India is a grave insult. This is clearly an unstable personality that wants and needs white disapproval of India so she can savor the sweet, sweet feeling of self-righteous anger. Absent real colonial discourse and repression she has to latch on to preople expressing the wrong positive emotions or expressing the right emotions in the wrong way.

This raises the question of what the knitter could have said that wouldn’t anger the vox writer…. Maybe expressing solidarity with the brave resisters of colonialism (after all it only ended just over 70 years ago…).

It’s also an another example of how diversity is a generally rotten idea. You can maintain diversity only by maintaining strict walls between groups and the easiest way to do that is to be generally unpleasant to outsiders and no fun to be around.

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