The Stupidest Link of the Month

For your entertainment, I wanted to share this completely bizarre rant from somebody who is beyond clueless:

That said, it’s difficult to say that Francis is wrong about any of this. Virtually no European countries are replacing their populations through natural means, achieving a birth rate of 2.1 live children per woman to even maintain their populations, while several EU members are near the 1.2 rate signalling “death spiral,” i.e. the birth rate at which the population cannot recover. The reasons for this are many and varied — birth rates among native-born Americans are hardly better than in the EU, while the lowest rates on earth are found in East Asia, especially Singapore, Japan, and South Korea, indicating that there’s more than a European problem here — but it can be safely said that the Catholic Church’s ban on birth control is being widely ignored in countries like Italy, Spain and Portugal, which have among the fewest babies in Europe, per capita, yet which a generation or two ago were still strongly Catholic and impressively fecund.

While Francis’s analysis of Europe’s population problem, which is really a deep crisis of civilizational pride, identity and meaning, manifesting in a lack of will to even reproduce, is difficult to refute, it was his proposed remedy that received the most comments.

Native-born Americans, deep crisis of civilizational pride – who is this sad fuck?

It’s a long rant, and every paragraph is more idiotic than the one before.

Vampire Eye

There was so much sneezing, coughing and dedicated nose-blowing during my most recent bout of illness that I popped a vessel in my right eye. This isn’t particularly dangerous but it looks frightening, especially since the Halloween is long gone. The really obnoxious part is that the blood-shot eye will take up to 3 weeks to go back to looking normal, and I have to be at work on Monday. This means I will have to wear sunglasses.

In the popular imagination, sunglasses at 9 am on a December Monday are associated with two things: alcoholism and domestic abuse. So I’m resigning myself to the narrative of “these Russians kept boozing all the way through the long weekend and then beat each other black and blue” being attached to me. Especially since something possessed me to post a picture of Stoli (of which each of us only had a single celebratory shot) on my blog. This is precisely the image of myself I wanted to cultivate as my tenure case was making the rounds.

Adventures with the Canadian State Apparatus

So my sister bought a house in Montreal. It’s a big, beautiful, expensive house. She paid the so-called “Welcome Tax” (I kid you not) in the amount of $10,000. She also paid a boatload of other taxes. She is a hard worker, so there are lots of taxes. That’s all she ever seems to do: work, hand over the money, work, hand over more money. Obviously, she never gets anything back, but it isn’t like she is hoping to. 

Before moving in, she hired workers to paint the rooms, change the old bathroom faucets, install new lighting fixtures – in short, everything people do before they move into a new place.

Yesterday, however, she heard that, in her absence, a state bureaucrat entered the house, photographed all of the remodeling supplies she had bought (with her own money that she had left after paying the ridiculously high taxes), calculated their value, and placed an injunction on her. The injunction prohibits her from doing any painting or other work inside her own house. It turns out that people are not allowed to do home repairs in that municipality if the repairs are done for the amount greater than $2,000. 

When people start doing repairs, these bureaucrats penetrate into their houses (without asking permission), conduct what amounts to warrantless searches, and forbid the repairs until a special permit is obtained by the owners. The owners are also fined $500 per day for painting the walls inside of their own houses.

Obviously, after the injunction is placed, these bureaucrats become impossible to locate. It isn’t like you can call them on the phone, write them an email, or just come an see them to find out when you will be able to continue the remodeling. They disappear, they drag things out, they stay hidden as long as possible. In the meanwhile, the workers one has hired to do the remodel can’t continue the work, the new bathroom fixtures and furniture can’t be delivered, and the move-in date has to be shifted again and again.

Of course, it is important to give “work” to the perennially unemployable, so they are herded into these bureaucratic positions with the state. Sadly, however, they can’t just stay in their offices, drinking tea and staring stupidly at their Facebook pages. They need to get out in the world and make themselves noticed. And that’s when complete insanity begins.

Spain’s Third Option

As a response to the crisis, Spain attempted to abandon its two-party system. Both major parties, the conservative Popular Party and the liberal Socialist Party, showed themselves incapable of doing anything of value about the crisis. So finally, Spaniards moved ahead on introducing a third option.

Of course, there were always other parties on the scene. But they never had enough support to turn into major players in the political arena.

The new third option in Spain is a young leftist party called “Podemos” (translated as “We Can.”) At first, the party sounded quite radical, proposing, among other things, to lower the retirement age to 60 and to refuse to pay Spain’s foreign debt. The wave of enthusiasm for these ideas made the party unexpectedly and massively successful at the European elections of 2014.

However, now that the specter of Spain’s internal elections has appeared on the horizon, the new party has significantly toned down its dramatic proposals. Now it’s all about restructuring the debt, rather than refusing to repay it, and holding on to the retirement age of 65 is presented as a major, if unlikely, achievement. The idea of the basic income (which many people, as weird as it sounds, consider a progressive measure) is being abandoned, as well.

This means that Spain’s new progressive party has moved to the center before it has even had a chance to try itself out in internal elections. Even though the party’s early success was predicated precisely on not being like the boring old center-left Socialist Party, Podemos is turning itself into a copy of the establishment party.