Sunday, May 26, 2019

The great city

From time to time in the history of the world, one city emerges which is the intellectual and cultural centre of its world.  New Yorkers tend to think NYC is but that is disputable. Going back in time, one thinks of Babylon at the height of Mesopotamian civilization,  Athens, Ancient Rome and then Byzantium. Byzantium  kept learning alive throughout most of the "dark" ages.  It lasted 1,000 years. But what comes next?

For another thousand years (c. 800 AD to 1800 AD) the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation was at the centre of European affairs.  As wits say, however, it was neither Holy nor Roman nor German. 

Its emperors were however for a long time crowned by the Pope; it did include a lot of Germans and had considerable but varying political power. For most of the time however it was a loose confederation rather than a unitary state.

For most of that empire's existence, Vienna (Wien in German) was influential and that influence not only continued but grew after the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire by the Emperor of Austria. 

As Wikipedia says: "Austria played a central role in European History from the late 18th to the early 20th century." And Vienna was the capital of Austria. And the Austrian empire, later the Austro/Hungarian empire, was one of the major states of Europe.

And Austria was where the fate of post-Napoleonic Europe was decided.  In Congress of Vienna of 1814 the potentates of Europe arrived in Vienna and decided what to do about Napoleon's conquests after he had finally been defeated.  France lost everything except the Hexagon and the great powers of the day sliced up everything else between them.  Austria gained ownership of Venice and much of northern Italy. That the congress took place in Vienna showed how central to Europe Vienna had become by that time

For my purposes I will primarily be discussing the period from 1814 to 1914

Throughout the 19th century and earlier, people of talent began to move to Vienna, with Beethoven being perhaps the greatest of those. He moved to Vienna at the very beginning of that period, in 1791. And even before Beethoven arrived Vienna was probably already the headquarters of music, with court composer F.J. Haydn being well-known, among many others. And the prolific Franz Schubert and many others in Vienna followed on after him.

Rome was not built in a day nor was Vienna but gradually, Vienna emerged from a long history as the great city, with its influence extending far and wide in most fields of human endeavour.  Eventually, at its very height of eminence it started a world war (WWI), which ended most of its influence. 

During the 19th century and early 20th century, however, Viennese lived at the heart of an enormously rich civilization.  Vienna before WWI was not only a great and rich imperial capital with many nations under its rule but it was also at the cutting edge culturally and intellectually. It was advanced in most things and first in some.

It was, for instance, the time and place of the immensely influential Sigmund Freud, by far the leading psychologist of the time, who still has many followers today. He moved to Vienna as a young man in the 1870s. He was a great observer and I  quote him occasionally still. And Freud inspired rivals such as Carl Jung in Switzerland and Alfred Adler in Vienna who are also still influential. Vienna was a ferment of psychological thought.

And in economics the luminaries of the prewar Austrian school (Carl Menger; Eugen Böhm Ritter von Bawerk etc.) are honoured to this day -- though not among Leftists.  Eugen Böhm even had charge of the economics portfolio of the Austrian government for a time, during which Austria flourished.

And Vienna saw the birth of much in modern analytic philosophy. The immensely influential Vienna Circle was mainly a  phenomenon of the 1920s and '30s but meetings on philosophy of science and epistemology began in Vienna as early as 1907, promoted by Frank, Hahn and Neurath, who later arranged to bring Moritz Schlick to Vienna, around whom the Vienna Circle formed

In architecture and the decorative arts there was the Jugendstil movement, a German term for the well-known "Art Nouveau".

In literature there was the prolific Johann Nestroy, sometimes called the Austrian Shakespeare.  He wrote in a lighthearted tone that clearly set the scene for the emergence of operetta late in the 19th century.

And, musically, Vienna started out on top -- with the enormous heritage of the great Austrian composers -- Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert etc -- so any new compositions had a lot to live up to.  And the wonder is that some late 19th century composers stood out even in that environment -- with Strauss II being merely the best known of many.  The great Viennese waltzes come from that period

And there were vast numbers (some say 1,000) of innovative Viennese artists too, largely led by Klimt in particular.  There is a long list of them here.  Klee and Schiele are also well-known.

So the Viennese had it all. And what you want when you have it all is entertainment.  And to be entertaining to such an indulged and sophisticated audience you had to be pretty good.  And what emerged on the music scene at that time was operetta. So I see the lightness and frivolity of operetta not as trivial but as a major cultural achievement.

And operetta was one cultural element that even survived WWI for a time. His songs were so popular in Germany generally that Adolf Hitler offered to make Kalman, a prominent operetta composer, an Honorary Aryan.  Kalman was Jewish.  He wisely emigrated to America instead.

So let's look for a moment at a famous operetta that is all about Vienna -- Wiener Blut.  Its theme song tells us what the Viennese spirit at that time was all about. "Voller Kraft, Voller Glut! ... Was die Stadt Schönes hat, In dir ruht! Wiener Blut, Heisse Flut. (Roughly: "unique, full of fire, full of power, hot and flowing").  The idea is that the great city is embodied in its people. It basically means "high-spirited" -- bright and lively -- perhaps "gay" in the old meaning of that term

It was a very rich and sophisticated society so it was a great privilege to be there at that time. It has no obvious successors.

My interest above is in the human environment of prewar Vienna so I have so far said nothing about the politics of the period.  For the most part, Austria was very badly governed.  Hitler used to sit in the public gallery of the Reichsrat of the parliament and wonder at the chaos that prevailed there. In spite of interminable and loud debate nothing seemed to get done. It was the foundation of his belief in the Fuehrerprinzip -- that democracy was no good and a strong leader was needed to get things done

My libertarian view is that it is a great advantage to a society if the politicians are so disunited that they cannot put any of their schemes into action. Vienna certainly flourished in such an environment. And there are more recent examples of advantageous government immobility.  See here

Current American Congressional politics also seem to be stalemated at the moment, which leaves Mr Trump as the sole mover and shaker, which he is very good at -- JR

We Don't Have a Problem with White Supremacy. We Have a Problem with Leftist Supremacy

The left is obsessed with white supremacists the way that children are obsessed with Santa Claus, and for more or less the same reasons.

You see, if they manage to convince people that the alternative to their own crazy, race-obsessed, power-centralizing, socialist policies is white supremacy, then they get everything they ever wanted, plus a pony.

In an America as mixed as we are, the idea that white supremacists are the only ones who will do well is scary to most people. Beyond that, it is the most antithetical thing to American beliefs you can imagine. The nation that banned nobility of birth, and which fought a war to free slaves would never codify a regime where your genetics at birth determines what kind of happiness you can even think of pursuing.  In America, equality under the law has always been the goal, even when honored in the breach.

Fortunately, we don't have any need to worry about real white supremacy. Just like you don't have to worry that Santa Claus is watching you, or has put a spy bug in your bedroom.

This is the problem the left has.  And their response to it is to launch a brainwashing/gaslighting campaign to find white supremacy where there is none.

Also, unfortunately, as with all these things the left engages in, it causes more harm than... well, than even I can imagine, and I write some pretty dystopian stuff.

So, just like their attempt to define "patriarchy" has led them to make it impossible for business women to have closed-door meetings with male bosses or mentors, their definition of white supremacy is making it impossible for any minorities or, for that matter, under-privileged white people to improve themselves or create a better future for their descendants.

For instance, according to the New York Post, this is what passes for fighting white supremacy in NYC schools: Richard Carranza held ‘white-supremacy culture’ training for school admins.

We'll pass over the point that defensiveness is supposed to be a matter of white supremacy, okay?  Apparently, when you're being accused of horrible stuff, you're not supposed to be defensive. Yeah. That's interesting.

Instead, let's consider that individualism is now supposed to be white supremacy, and if you like working on your own, or dislike group work (remember group work from school? Almost anyone competent hated it) you're supposedly a white supremacist.

Let's consider instead stuff like perfectionism -- you know, trying to make things as perfect as possible and calling out people on their f*ck ups. Or a sense of urgency -- or as we call it around here, having your work done on time. Or what they call "worship of the written word," which apparently is the ability to express yourself in writing. Or objectivity, which they define as BELIEVING THERE'S AN ULTIMATE TRUTH.

Supposedly all of these things -- things that are absolutely required for any kind of workplace to get any kind of, you know, work done -- are toxic whiteness and signs of white supremacy.

So, the left, in teaching people to avoid white supremacy, assumes that minorities cannot express themselves in writing, can't get things done on time, and won't try to make the work as good as possible.

In other words, the left are in fact the white supremacists who believe any virtue that contributes to civilization must be white. The fact that they then want to suppress it -- in everyone but themselves -- is probably part of their plan to concentrate power.

Also, it's the reason why every institution taken over by leftists falls apart and dies.

And they have not the slightest bit of care for the people -- minorities and non-minorities -- this nonsense hurts.  Because in their minds, the more other people are hampered, the more power they get in their grubby little hands.

We don't have a problem with white supremacy. We have a problem with Leftist Supremacy.


The Left's Battle Against 'Inequality' Leaves Out One Critical Factor

By Larry Elder, who is black

In his book Discrimination and Disparities, economist Thomas Sowell notes that a disproportionate percentage of first-born siblings become National Merit scholars compared to siblings born later, presumably because the first-born starts life with no sibling competition for parental attention. This, says Sowell, illustrates the absurdities of expecting equal results when equal results do not even occur within the same family among siblings raised under the same roof with the same parents.

When I was growing up in South Central Los Angeles, one of my closest friends was "Paul." We met in the second grade and attended the same elementary school, middle school and high school. Not only did we take many of the same courses with the same teachers, our houses were identical.

When I first invited Paul to my home, about a half-mile from his, he was astonished. "Whoever built your house," he said, "built mine, too." He was right. When I visited his house, I found that the only difference was that my house had one tiny additional window that his did not. Same schools. Same teachers. Same neighborhood. Same house design.

Paul was a gifted athlete. Name the sport, he excelled. He was a starting pitcher for the baseball team, the starting shooting guard for the basketball team and the starting quarterback for the football team. He picked up a tennis racquet, hit balls against a backboard for a few weeks and then made the tennis team.

His parents were divorced, making Paul was one of the few kids in the neighborhood at that time to come from what my parents called a "broken home." Paul saw his dad infrequently. He rarely spoke about him. When he did, it was not positive.

Paul had a problem with anger. For the smallest offense, he could tell someone off, friend or foe, sometimes even his basketball coach. One time, after Paul came late to practice again, his basketball coach threatened to bench him the following game. Paul barked back, "Either I play or we lose." He played. They won.

When the coaches from major colleges came to see Paul play basketball, his best sport, they were impressed. But then they asked the high school coach about Paul's character, whether he was "coachable." Paul's coach, concerned about maintaining his reputation with college coaches, told the truth. Paul, he said, was a "coach killer." Bye-bye, Notre Dame. Bye-bye, Duke. Bye-bye, UCLA.

Paul ended up going to a small local college, not known for basketball. Did he double down, get better in hopes of transferring to a powerhouse basketball school? Hardly. Paul sulked, blamed racism and spent his first year of college playing basketball halfheartedly -- that is, when he wasn't smoking dope and opining on "the oppression of the black man in America."

I went off to college in the East. When I returned during the summer, I visited Paul, who by then had changed his name to "Jamal" to distance himself from the "slave" religion of Christianity. When I informed him that Arab slavers took more blacks out of Africa and transported them to the Middle East and to South America than Europeans slavers took out of Africa and transported to North America, he told me to stop reading "the white man's history." He insisted "racism" had wrecked his basketball career, a career he argued that, but for the racism he encountered, was destined for the NBA. "Paul," I said, "you and I lived in the same neighborhood, in houses designed by the same builder, went to the same schools, took the same classes, had the same teachers. Why didn't 'racism' stop me?"

When I was in law school in Michigan, I visited my aunt who lived in a suburb of Detroit. During one visit, a friend of hers stopped by. He was a black man, about 40 years old. He sat near my aunt and me as we discussed my law school classes. Suddenly, the man began to cry. I could not imagine what I'd said that could've caused such a reaction. "Sorry," I said, "did I say something to offend you?" He gathered himself. "No," he said. "I wanted to go to law school and become a lawyer. But I got sidetracked with 'jackassery,' hung around with a bunch of knuckleheads and just wasted my time."

It doesn't have to be like this. My father always told my brothers and me the following: "Hard work wins." "You get out of life what you put into it." "You cannot control the outcome, but you are 100% in control of the effort." And "before you complain about what somebody did to you, go to the nearest mirror and say to yourself, 'What could I have done to change the outcome?'"

And finally, my dad said: "No matter how good you are, bad things will happen. How you respond to those bad things will tell your mother and me whether or not we raised a man."


Australia: Worker wins unfair dismissal case after refusing to hand over biometric data

Privacy rights cited

Most of us don’t think twice about using our fingerprints — but Jeremy Lee isn’t most people.

The Queensland sawmill worker was so passionate about protecting his biometric data he refused to accept a new security process which used employee’s fingerprints to sign on and off at his company, Superior Wood.

He was sacked for his stance last February, after being given a series of verbal and written warnings.

Mr Lee suggested a compromise which would allow him to keep his job, but also hold onto the ownership of his biometric data, which was refused.

The Queensland man ended up losing an unfair dismissal case when it was first heard by the Fair Work Commission last year, with a commissioner at the time ruling Superior Wood’s policy was “not unjust or unreasonable” because it improved workplace safety, the efficiency of the payroll system and that the company “had the right to manage its affairs”.

But during the entire battle, Mr Lee argued the policy was a breach of the Privacy Act, claiming he owned his own biometric data, which he considered to be “sensitive personal information”.

He said his workplace was not entitled to that personal information, and that refusing to follow the policy was not a valid reason for his dismissal.

Mr Lee decided to appeal the decision — and represent himself.

And on May 1, the commission eventually ruled in his favour, finding he had been unfairly dismissed.

Jeremy Lee represented himself — and won. Picture: iStock
Jeremy Lee represented himself — and won. Picture: iStockSource:istock

In documents seen by, the commission ruled Superior Wood “did not have a valid reason for the dismissal which related to Mr Lee’s capacity or conduct”.

“ … on balance we find that Mr Lee’s dismissal was unjust. It was unjust because Mr Lee was not guilty of the conduct alleged,” the documents state.

“As the direction was unlawful he was entitled to refuse to follow it. Mr Lee was unfairly dismissed.”

As for what happens next, the case is being referred to Commissioner Simpson to decide “what remedy, if any, should be ordered”.

But Mr Lee told RN’s The Law Report he was already happy with the win, after claiming his company had “tried to coerce” him into something he wasn’t comfortable with.

He said he did not have a police record or any other reason to fear using his fingerprint, but that he was simply concerned about the misuse of his personal data.

“If someone else has control of my biometric data they can use it for their own purposes — purposes that benefit them, not me. That is a misuse,” he told the ABC.

“My objection was that I own it. You cannot take it. If someone wants to get it or take it they have to get my consent.”

The case is the first unfair dismissal decision of its kind in this country, and one that’s likely to pop up again in future.

“It shows that employment law is at a crossroads with technology, and these kinds of issues are going to continue to come up as technology rapidly advances,” Shine Lawyers’ employment law expert Will Barsby told

“We are in an era where we are paying for a coffee with a mobile phone and we open our phone using our fingerprint, so it stands to reason we will see the same kind of tech advances in workplaces soon.

“Mr Lee’s concerns are genuine as we have seen so many hacks where personal data was misused.”

But Mr Barsby said the case did not actually set a legal precedent, as it was based around whether it was unreasonable to dismiss the worker for not complying with the request for his fingerprint.

“The case doesn’t change the general rule that an employer can dismiss an employee for not complying with a reasonable and lawful direction,” he said.

“Dismissal cases generally fall on their own facts, in this case the employer was not able to demonstrate compliance with the Australian Privacy Principles. There had been no process under the requirements to obtain an employee’s consent.”



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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