Quotulatiousness

April 5, 2014

“They, and they alone, will decide who the Racists are”

Filed under: Football, History, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:53

Ace on racism and the unofficial deciders on who is a racist and who is not:

Karl Lueger was the mayor of Vienna at the turn of the century, whose populist politics were often riven with anti-semtism — so much so that he was cited as an inspiration by none other than Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf.

However, there’s a debate about how anti-semitic he actually was, and how much of an anti-semite he pretended to be for the sake of political positioning.

Lueger is famous for an answer he once gave on this issue. He was asked how he squared that fact that many of his policies were anti-semitic, while he counted many Jews among his close friends.

I decide who is a Jew,” he said, apparently creating his own definition of Judaism.

This flexible opinion on “who is a Jew” permitted him to both debase himself (and Vienna) with populist politics of hatred while simultaneously carving out a space for himself to consort with the Hated Other, as he might choose.

Similarly, today, White “liberals” have decided to sell out liberalism to the leftist, totalitarian goons of the Progressive Speech Police. They’ll join the Progressives’ hate campaigns against free speech and free thought — but only when those campaigns are directed towards non-liberals.

Playing to the Progressive mobs just like Luegar played to the Vienna ones, White Liberals reserve themselves the power to both traffic in hateful intolerance, and except themselves and their friends from the claims they otherwise inflict on others.

They, and they alone, will decide who the Racists are.

In the case of the campaign to get Dan Snyder to rename the Washington Redskins (because it’s an offensive, racist epithet), Ace points out that some racist terms are more equal than others:

Obviously no one names a sports club after something they think is substandard, or shoddy, or weak, or useless. People always object to the Redskins name by using the same example — “Well, what would you say if someone named his baseball team the New York N*****s, huh?”

But that’s stupid. No one does that. No one would do that. Because “N****r” is inherently a demeaning term, and a hateful one, and no one — no one — names their sports clubs after things they hate.

They name them after things they respect, or wish to emulate, or wish to associate themselves with. Thus the large number of teams named after great cats, and bears, and stallions, and even the gee-whiz technology of the 50s (jets, rockets).

And as for clubs named after types of people, all those people have a positive association; in football, especially, a martial-themed sport if there ever was one, those positive associations all have to do with virility and deadliness in battle:

Vikings.

Raiders.

Buccaneers.

Warriors.

Fighting Irish.

Spartans.

You do not see “The San Francisco Coolie Laborers” in the lists of any sports teams, nor the “Boston Drunken Irish Wife-Batterers.” All team names are tributes to the group in the nickname.

Some team names implicitly specify a race/ethnicity — Vikings, Fighting Irish. There is no commotion over this — people understand that when someone names a team the “Vikings,” they mean it a positive way. They are speaking of the fury of the Northmen — and not, for example, their propensity to rape and reduce much of Europe to a constant Twilight in which civilization could never advance too far before being pillaged and raped into rubble.

Nor does anyone seriously think “the Fighting Irish” is really about the Irish’s well-known tendency to over-indulge in alcohol and then get their Irish up. (Oh, what a giveaway.) And that one really does actually step right on up to the line of being a slur against the Irish — but we understand the intent behind it is playful, and positive. (Mostly.)

In fact, White Liberals currently on their jihad against the name “Redskins” make an exception for other teams with Indian nicknames — Braves, Chiefs, Indians, all okay. Not racist, the White Liberals have decided, although it’s unclear how they’ve come to this conclusion.

All three names, after all, do reference a specific race — Native Americans — just as surely as “Redskins” does, and for the exact same reasons.

But White Liberals know the difference. White Liberals can tell you who the Racists are.

January 6, 2014

Austria, the “laboratory of the Apocalypse”

Filed under: Europe, History — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:25

Bethany Bell in Vienna writes about Austria just before the start of the war in 1914:

Across the road, a crowd had gathered outside a large, late 19th Century building. I walked over to have a look. It was the Embassy of what was then still Yugoslavia. An official had just pinned to the door two notices about the war that was, at that time, raging in Bosnia. Two men in front of me were talking about the siege of Sarajevo.

I shivered. History suddenly seemed very close.

A few months ago, a Viennese friend frowned as he stirred his coffee. We were sitting in Cafe Griensteidl, in the centre of town.

I’d just told him that, even after 15 years of living here, I’m still haunted by Vienna as it was just before the outbreak of World War One, before the defeat that led to the collapse of the rotting Austro-Hungarian Empire.

“But don’t lots of periods of history feel close in Vienna?” he asked. “You’ve got Mozart and the Baroque, you’ve got the 19th Century and the Ringstrasse, you’ve even got the Flak towers of the World War Two… Why not focus on them?”

I looked around at the cafe with its marble-topped tables and high white ceiling. Among the visitors and tourists, I recognised several senior Austrian civil servants, a couple of foreign diplomats and one of the country’s most distinguished historians.

“It’s partly the idea of cafe society,” I said lightly. “Just think who might have been sitting here back then!”

At the end of the 19th Century, Cafe Griensteidl was at the heart of Vienna’s dazzling intellectual life, patronised by people such as Arnold Schoenberg and Theodore Herzl. Sigmund Freud is thought to have preferred the nearby Cafe Landtmann.

“Ah, you have bought into the romance of fin-de-siecle Vienna!” he exclaimed. “You know that it was encouraged by some of Austria’s leaders after 1945. They wanted people to look back at a period of history they could be proud of — not like World War Two.”

He looked up at the Jugendstil mirror above our table.

“Even this cafe isn’t really genuine,” he said. “The original Griensteidl shut down in 1897 — this place was re-opened in the 1990s.”

“You know better than me that lots of traditions and places have survived,” I replied. “It’s not all fake — just look over there,” and I pointed through the window at the bank opposite. Built by the Modernist architect Adolf Loos, around 1910, the building had caused a scandal because of its severe lack of decoration.

“I think what haunts me is something a bit different,” I said.

“It’s the thought that this exquisite, civilised place didn’t seem to be able to stop its own collapse — and that it unleashed so many destructive ideas and people that tore Europe — and the 20th Century apart.”

The writer Karl Kraus had a phrase for it. In his obituary for Franz Ferdinand, he called Austria the laboratory of the Apocalypse.

My friend smiled wryly. “Ah, yes,” he said, “the Viennese, dancing towards destruction.”

December 23, 2012

Goldbugs, behold the CombiBar

Filed under: Business, Economics, Europe — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:48

If you’re a big gold fan, you might want to look at the CombiBar, which is a gold wafer that can easily be broken down into one-gram portions:

Private investors in Switzerland, Austria and Germany are lining up to buy gold bars the size of a credit card that can easily be broken into one gram pieces and used as payment in an emergency.

Now Swiss refinery Valcambi, a unit of U.S. mining giant Newmont, wants to bring its “CombiBar” to market in the United States and build up its sales presence India — the world’s largest consumer of gold where the precious metal has long served as a parallel currency.

Investors worried that inflation and financial market turmoil will wipe out the value of their cash have poured money into gold over the past decade. Prices have gained almost 500 percent since 2001 compared to a 12 percent increase in MSCI’s world equity index.

[. . .]

The CombiBar is particularly popular among grandparents who want to give their grandchildren a strip of gold rather than a coin, said Andreas Habluetzel head of the Swiss business of Degussa, a gold trading company.

Other customers buy gold for security reasons.

“Demand is rising every week,” Habluetzel said. “Particularly in Germany, people buying gold fear that the euro will break apart or that banks will run into problems.”

H/T to Tyler Cowen for the link.

August 20, 2010

A different (but not completely wrong) way to view Europe in 1914

Filed under: Britain, Europe, History, Humour — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 21:33

Jon, my former virtual landlord, sent me this link while I was on vacation (and generally unable to stay connected to the internet for more than minutes at a time). If you’ve already seen this, my apologies for being late:

The First World War, explained as a pub fight…

    Germany, Austria and Italy are stood together in the middle of the pub, when Serbia bumps into Austria, and spills Austria’s pint.

    Austria demands Serbia buy it a complete new suit, because there are splashes on its trouser leg.

    Germany expresses its support for Austria’s point of view

    Britain recommends that everyone calm down a bit.

    Serbia points out that it can’t afford a whole suit, but offers to pay for cleaning Austria’s trousers.

    Russia and Serbia look at Austria.

    Austria asks Serbia who it’s looking at.

    Russia suggests that Austria should leave its little brother alone.

    Austria inquires as to whose army will assist Russia in compelling it to do so.

As Jon pointed out, the key comment is “And when Germany wakes up, it goes out to its car, gets the gun out of the glovebox and heads back inside…”

July 22, 2010

First results from new study around Stonehenge

Filed under: Britain, Europe, History, Science — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 07:27

A new study of Stonehenge by the University of Birmingham and Vienna’s Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology has made its first major discovery:

Archaeologists have discovered a second henge at Stonehenge, described as the most exciting find there in 50 years.

The circular ditch surrounding a smaller circle of deep pits about a metre (3ft) wide has been unearthed at the world-famous site in Wiltshire.

Archaeologists conducting a multi-million pound study believe timber posts were in the pits.

Project leader Professor Vince Gaffney, from the University of Birmingham, said the discovery was “exceptional”.

The new “henge” — which means a circular monument dating to Neolithic and Bronze Ages — is situated about 900m (2,950ft) from the giant stones on Salisbury Plain.

I imagine, given how many times Stonehenge has been mucked about with by earlier enthusiasts, there must be much misleading data has to be sifted and re-sifted before any definite discoveries can be announced. Stonehenge has been fascinating people for centuries and there are probably lots of amateur investigations that may well have made the situation more confusing (think of a sixteenth century equivalent of Indiana Jones or Lara Croft with a nose for treasure).

June 24, 2010

Tempest in a wine glass

Filed under: Europe, Law, Wine — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:47

The most recent issue of OntarioWineReview included a snippet from an article originally published in Decanter on the outcome of a legal tussle between Reidel and Eisch over the term “breathable glass”:

Austrian glassmaker Riedel has declared victory in its lawsuit against its rival Eisch Glasskultur over false claims for breathable glass.

Riedel, Nachtmann and Spiegelau filed suit in Munich, Germany alleging that Eisch’s advertisement boasting ‘breathable glass’ constituted false advertising.

On 19 January the two parties agreed to settle after Eisch’s claim that its ‘breathable’ glasses were made using a secret process that ‘opens bouquet and aromas within 2 to 4 minutes’ was not supported in court.

The court ordered Eisch to cease claiming its glass is ‘Breathable’ or ‘Opens bouquet and aromas within 2 to 4 minutes’, or face penalties of up to €250,000, or imprisonment of up to six months for senior directors.

A few years ago, Elizabeth and I bought a set of the Eisch “breathable glass” wineglasses and actually tested them. I doubted the claim, as I couldn’t think of a way that glass could be altered to allow air to pass through that would not also change other characteristics like clarity. Later that evening, we sat down with our friend Brendan and tried to determine if there was any difference between the “breathable” and ordinary glasses.

It may just have been our willingness to believe, but we each thought the wine in the breathable glass was better than the same wine in an ordinary wine glass. That being said, we didn’t think the degree of improvement was enough to justify replacing all our Riedel glasses.

December 6, 2009

Farewell to the Orient Express

Filed under: Economics, Europe, Railways — Tags: — Nicholas Russon @ 00:32

Economic times are hard on non-essential services, and the luxury train called the Orient Express faces cancellation:

Its name evokes images of glamour and mystery and has provided authors including Agatha Christie and Ian Fleming with perfect backgrounds for their tales of intrigue and suspense.

But now the Orient Express is to be cut from Europe’s rail timetables. Next weekend, the service — which runs only between Strasbourg and Vienna — will be scrapped, a victim of high-speed railways and cut-price flights.

“The name the Orient Express will disappear from the official timetables before the year is out, after more than 125 years,” says Mark Smith, the rail expert who runs The Man in Seat Sixty-One website.

Only travellers who can afford lavish private trains — such as the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express and the Danube Express’s Istanbul Odyssey — will be able to enjoy the service’s former glory.

Of course, it’s hard to believe that Vienna qualifed as an “oriental” destination . . .

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