The Great Degeneration

(How Institutions Decay and Economies Die) (Niall Ferguson, 2014) This compendium of Reith Lectures by historian Niall Ferguson given in 2012 is no less topical a decade later. In fact it is a fortiori, given that the subsequent years have borne out many of the predictions made. For example, the author quotes ‘cliometrician’ Peter Turchin predicting “the next instability peak [of violence] should occur in the United States around 2020.” Orwell’s pigs have taken over Manor Farm: “What Charles Murray has called the ‘cognitive elite’, educated at exclusive private universities, intermarried and congregated in a few ‘super zip codes’, looks…

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Ode for Elizabeth

September 10, 2022 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, LIFE, Poetry |

Queen Elizabeth II (21 April 1926 – 8 September 2022) The argument from merit Casts us all in a harsh light, Elevation arbitrary Tends to set things right. A young girl, out of Africa Came home to wear a crown, She asked for peoples’ prayers So she would never let them down. And while her Empire crumbled She refused to do the same, Lack of power her super-power, ‘De-Colonize’ her name. Her race is run and she will lie The wrong side of the turf; As certain as the sunrise –  Timeless as the Earth.

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The Contrarian

(Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power) (by Max Chafkin, 2021) After reading this entertaining, rather facile book, Peter Thiel remains, at least to us, “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”  For a contrarian, he often went with the flow. He had at times a gift for successfully betting the other way, such as his heroic support of Mr. Trump in 2016. For someone who has acquired substantial wealth and significant power, he seems to unsure what to do with them. An introvert who craves attention, a control freak who at times throws caution to the…

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Me and White Supremacy

July 21, 2022 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Non-Fiction, POLITICS, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

“How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World” by Layla F. Saad (2020) This is the book for me: I am white and regard myself as Supreme, although not for that reason. So this “deep-diving self-reflection tool” sets a 28 day work schedule of “reflective journaling and inner excavation.”  I did the work: but an alternate journal is set out below. This one-of-a-kind personal antiracism tool, an activist education program for confronting white privilege and dismantling white supremacy, helps us honkys check our privilege and “take ownership of [our] participation in the oppressive system of white supremacy.”…

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Liberté! Egalité! Fraternité!

July 14, 2022 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, Non-Fiction |

July 14, 1789 We have spoken of the ‘glory’ of Bastille Day; let us instead hear more from Carlyle on how inglorious it really was: “…De Launay could not do it. Distracted, he hovers between two; hopes in the middle of despair; surrenders not his Fortress; declares that he will blow it up, seizes torches to blow it up, and does not blow it. Unhappy old De Launay, it is the death-agony of thy Bastille and thee! Jail, Jailoring and Jailor, all three, such as they may have been, must finish….For four hours now has the World-Bedlam roared: call it…

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