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Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg)

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Hydrogen Peroxide - Medical Miracle
Hydrogen Peroxide - Medical Miracle
von William Campbell Douglass II
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 16,15

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4.0 von 5 Sternen The life is in the blood, 9. Februar 2010
This is a very revealing work on the health benefits and uses of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) which really ought to be called Hydrogen Dioxide. Clinical research on the substance stretches back to 1914; in chapter one the work of doctors Turnicliffe, Stebbing, Cantab, Oliver, Singh, Shah and Rannasarma is discussed.

HP is a generous contributor of oxygen as well as a potent oxidant that oxidizes both non-toxic & toxic substances like bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses. The body's most lethal germ killers, polymorphonuclear leukocytes, surround bacteria before killing them with a respiratory burst of H2O2. Species with high levels of the enzyme Catalase better tolerate H2O2 as the enzyme breaks it up into oxygen and water.

The author concentrates on intravenous administration and does not want to commit himself on whether it may be taken orally. He does recommend it as a mouthwash instead of using toothpaste. But he doesn't discuss the factor of metal teeth fillings and that H2O2 might corrode these and cause a person to swallow a heavy dose of heavy metal pollutants in the process. As far as taking it orally is concerned, other researchers and alternative healers recommend starting a strong anti-oxidant cocktail regimen in the form of supplements or green tea a couple of days before commencing oral ingestion of this miracle substance. That makes perfect sense and the author ought to have addressed this solution.

Hydrogen dioxide has been used against allergies, arteriosclerosis, arthritis, asthma, bronchiectasis, cancer, emphysema, influenza, multiple sclerosis, pneumonia, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, sinus infection, stomach ulcers, thyroid disease, varicose veins, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, yeast infection, warts & moles, gum disease, bad breath & to promote wound-healing. It has a host of household applications like surface disinfectant, laundry bleach and water purifier.

A chapter is devoted to criticisms of HP therapy and another to the experiments of Dr Charles H Farr and what they revealed of the close connection between HP and the immune system. Colloidal copper exponentially increases the germ-killing power of H2O2 whilst fluorescent light has an adverse effect on tissues exposed to the substance. Humans, horses & cats with their high catalase levels respond well to HP treatment. The author recommends Ozone (O3) for purifying municipal water as it also destroys harmful organisms and breaks down into water & oxygen.

The case histories provided are arranged alphabetically by disease; it should be noted that HP is effective in counteracting pesticide poisoning. The chapter titled Peroxide Therapy, Africa and AIDS deals with a visit to Uganda and also contains case histories. Questions and answers make up the final chapter.

Appendix I provides information on the International Oxidative Medicine Association, Appendix II lists the pathological conditions and infecting agents that are affected by intravenous HP therapy. The latter are classified into bacteria, fungi, parasites, tumor types and viruses. Appendix III examines the metabolic and physiological effects of peroxide healing, including the pulmonary, metabolic rate, enzyme systems and the vascular, granulocyte & immune responses.

The book concludes with notes arranged by chapter, an extensive bibliography and an index. I also highly recommend The Oxygen Prescription by Nathaniel Altman which investigates Ozone Therapy, Hydrogen Peroxide in Medicine and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in great detail.


I'm Not There [2cd]
I'm Not There [2cd]
Preis: EUR 72,67

4.0 von 5 Sternen Surprisingly good, 7. Februar 2010
Rezension bezieht sich auf: I'm Not There [2cd] (Audio CD)
The intricate guitar work on All Along The Watchtower makes Eddie Vedder's a respectable rock cover, while Sonic Youth's interpretation of I'm Not There has a vaguely menacing start that morphs into the melancholy; it's quite unusual to hear this band doing a tender ballad with such feeling. The style changes to appealingly arranged country-folk with Jim James & Calexico on Going Down To Acapulco and stays in that genre as Richie Havens performs a jittery take of Tombstone Blues.

Stephen Malkmus' mid-tempo Ballad of a Thin Man impresses with its instrumental flourishes, Cat Power's Memphis Blues likewise charms with its instrumentation and Yo La Tengo's Fourth Time Around is a sensitive understated gem. The mood turns exotic on Dark Eyes with its oriental-sounding percussion, then explodes exuberantly on Karen O's edgy Highway 61 Revisited. Roger McGuinn & Calexico does a subdued but moving version of One More Cup of Coffee whilst The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll gets a typical acoustic guitar singer-songwriter treatment by Mason Jennings.

I love the swirling, uptempo Billy by Los Lobos as well as Mark Lanegan's brooding Man in the Long Black Coat. Mira Bilotte takes a pop approach to As I Went Out One Morning but it pales beside Malkmus & Lee Ranaldo's brief but atmospheric Can't Leave Her Behind and Sufjan Stevens' memorable Ring Them Bells with its frequent tempo changes. Just Like a Woman is sung in a soft, whispery voice by Charlotte Gainsbourg while the ecstatic I Wanna Be Your Lover by Yo La Tengo stands out.

Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova's old-style folkie You Ain't Goin' Nowhere is quite appealing but Ramblin' Jack Elliott's bluegrass rendition of Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues is a real treasure, soulful and absorbing. The hard-rock Wicked Messenger and Tom Verlaine's sleepy Cold Irons Bound don't resonate much with me, nor does Mason Jennings' The Times They Are A Changing which attempts to imitate Dylan's original with harmonica and all.

It's a matter of taste; no tracks are really bad and there's plenty of variety. Overall, this is a surprisingly appealing album and a fitting tribute to Dylan. The most devoted fans and purists will probably reject the album outright but I've found many tracks of merit and as mentioned before, there's no total disaster anywhere. In its diversity, it brings to mind the Leonard Cohen tribute soundtrack I'm Your Man.


On Looking Into the Abyss: Untimely Thoughts on Culture and Society
On Looking Into the Abyss: Untimely Thoughts on Culture and Society
von Gertrude Himmelfarb
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 11,06

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Confronting intellectual and spiritual deception, 7. Februar 2010
With impressive scholarship, keen insight and courteous polemics, Himmelfarb challenges the intellectual arrogance and spiritual poverty of our era. Most of the essays examine the trash that's become intellectually fashionable since the1980s. The title essay braves the swamps of postmodernism haunted by the demons of nihilism, irrationality and immorality. She dissects deconstruction and related pseudo-philosophies particularly for their baleful effect upon philosophy, literary criticism and historical studies. In the madhouse of deconstruction, the interpreter takes precedence over the text that is interpreted, with comical or insane results. The objective is to undermine reality by denying that it exists.

She asks what happens to our respect for philosophy when we are informed that it has nothing to do with wisdom or virtue, that metaphysics is really linguistics, that morality is a form of aesthetics and that the best approach is not to take philosophy seriously? What happens to our sense of the past when we are told there is no past except that which the historian creates, or to our perception of the significance of history when we are assured that it is we who give it meaning, or to that terrifying historical event, the Holocaust, when it can be so easily be 'demystified' and 'deconstructed'?

Hegel deified Reason, arguing that every individual could rely on their own reason, accepting as true what seems rational according to individual judgment. Thus a train of thought was set in motion that led to Feuerbach representing religion as the failure of humanity's critical reason and Max Stirner claiming the Ego as the only reality. The destination becomes obvious. Himmelfarb shows up many contradictions in Marx: his habit of portraying his proletarian protagonist in pejorative ways, his counterfactual assertion that the needy would forever become poorer and the sinister sacrificial vision lurking behind his materialist interpretation of history. The author's epitaph for Marx has proved to be far too optimistic: the collectivist serpent returns from Hades again and again.

The essay on Liberty confronts the icon of modern liberalism, John Stuart Mill. She convincingly argues that his doctrine of the absolute freedom of the individual inevitably leads to relativism. And if truth can be relativized, morality will follow. She laments our materialist culture that bans unhealthy foods but not sadistic movies and forbids racial segregation but not moral degradation. Absolute liberty tends to subvert the very freedom it seeks to maintain as it grants itself the power to destroy its foundations. This was also clearly pointed out by Polanyi in his seminal work Science, Faith and Society.

The Dark and Bloody Crossroads Where Nationalism and Religion Meet includes a comparison between the newer versus the established nation states. As the newer ones become more assertive and brutal, the older nations are becoming spineless and passive, ashamed of affirming the legitimacy of their own benevolent expression of nationalism and afraid of challenging the legitimacy of the oppressive tribal mode. The same can be said for Western standards of decency and what's left of our religion. In this regard, The Return of History and the End of Dreams by Robert Kagan is most relevant.

Himmelfarb believes that the historian should be able to identify heroes and villains in history and judge their behavior. The denial of good and evil trivializes the Shoah/Holocaust and the Gulag. It is incumbent upon us to maintain the reality of the past. She maintains that professionalism in history respects the reader and our ancestors whilst upholding the credibility of the discipline. The practice of professionalism confirms the humility of the serious historian that rejects both the arrogant claim to exactly recapture the past and the ludicrous notion of the past's unreality.

Historians educated in the old school of footnoting is struck by the increasing number of academic publications that have no notes at all and even boasts about their lack of sources. The skeptic Voltaire called historical details "the pests that destroy books." His heirs the postmodernists have taken this disdain for research to extremes by denying truth itself. The fatuousness with which postmodernists proclaim the failure of beauty, truth and value contrasts sharply with the reverence of the modernists who defined it. Chantal Delsol sets out an interesting diagnosis of this affliction in her books Icarus Fallen and The Unlearned Lessons of the Twentieth Century.

Himmelfarb explains how postmodernist historians long to be considered creative and imaginative but by rejecting the causal and chronological narrative, they turn history into fiction. Like all honest historians, the modernists were aware that total objectivity is impossible but they still pursued it through the critical evaluation of evidence. They placed a premium on research and primary sources, the authenticity of documents, reliability of witnesses, the need to obtain substantiating and countervailing evidence, the accuracy of quotations and citations and prescribed forms of documentation in footnotes and bibliography.

Postmodernist philosophy holds truth in such contempt that one doubts the jokers themselves believe their assertions. Just like literary critics play with texts by twisting them in a myriad ways, so postmodern historians tell tales aimed at empowering whatever victim group is the flavor of the moment. Himmelfarb's abyss refers to the chasm of meaninglessness and despite her courtesy, at times a tone of exasperation and more rarely of revulsion surfaces in her writing. She takes on both the originators like Nietzsche, Mill, De Mann and Heidegger and their disciples such as Derrida, Foucault and Rorty amongst others.

I also recommend The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics by Mark Lilla, Last Exit to Utopia by Jean-François Revel, Explaining Postmodernism by Stephen Hicks, Why Truth Matters by Ophelia Benson & Jeremy Stangroom, Experiments Against Reality by Roger Kimball and the same author's Tenured Radicals in the 3rd edition of which he demonstrates how the trends he observed in the early 1990s had taken over the humanities and started to seep into popular culture within the space of a decade.


The Roads to Modernity: The British, French and American Enlightenments
The Roads to Modernity: The British, French and American Enlightenments
von Gertrude Himmelfarb
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 11,88

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5.0 von 5 Sternen The American, British and French Enlightenments, 6. Februar 2010
In this well-argued work Himmelfarb compares the nature and fruits of the British (Scottish-English), French and American Enlightenments. The bulk of the book deals with the British Enlightenment with reference to Adam Smith, Godwin, Hume, Hobbes, Locke, Newton, Wollcraftstone and Lord Shaftesbury plus, unusually, John Wesley and Edmund Burke. She assigns prominent roles to the social movement & philanthropy of Methodism and Evangelical Christianity. Thomas Paine and the Founding Fathers represent the American, whilst Diderot and Voltaire are covered as the main characters in the French Enlightenment. In every case there were exceptions, e.g. Locke and Newton had more in common with the revolutionary French whilst Montesquieu was closer to the evolutionary British.

The British "moral philosophers" differed from the French "philosophes'. What made them moral philosophers was their belief in a moral sense thought to be so deeply entrenched in the human soul as empathy/compassion as to have the same compelling power as innate ideas.The author views Lord Shaftesbury's Inquiry Concerning Virtue or Merit as the start of the British Enlightenment. Shaftesbury credited humanity with this innate moral sense. Adam Smith's laissez-faire economics and belief in natural equality expressed in On the Wealth of Nations mirrors Shaftesbury's concept of social affection. Smith believed that sympathy and benevolence were moral virtues inherent to the human condition.

Although formidable figures, Locke and Hobbes had little lasting influence on the issues that defined the British Enlightenment. According to Locke things could be judged good or evil only by reference to pleasure or pain, which themselves resulted from sensation. Shaftesbury disagreed - virtue did not derive from reason, religion, sensation or self-interest.These were instrumental in promoting or suppressing it but he saw the moral sense as the real source of virtue. This moral sense is the guide to distinguishing right from wrong. Shaftesbury did not shy away from discussing the baleful passions like envy, malice, cruelty and lust that torment mankind. He even warned of excessive virtue, since an immoderate degree of e.g. altruism could destroy the "effect of love," whilst excessive pity rendered a man incapable of remedial action.

For Shaftesbury, the sense of compassion & kindness were rooted in nature and instinct and preceded instruction and reason which were secondary, serving to determine the best way of promoting the good but not an end in itself. Thus the innate impulse to the good was the basis of the social ethic that informed British philosophical and moral discourse throughout the eighteenth century. Subsequent philosophers that followed Shaftesbury agreed on the moral sense as universal attribute and viewed it as a corollary of reason and interest, but independent of and prior to both.

Burke unfairly gained a Counter-Enlightenment reputation owing to his revulsion in the atrocities of the French Revolution but he was a supporter of American independence who urged the government to respect the rights and freedom of both Americans and Englishmen during the war of independence. Himmelfarb shows that his views never deviated from the notions about moral virtue that characterized the British Enlightenment.

John Wesley did not care only about the next life but was concerned about improving social conditions in this life. He argued that to renounce reason was to renounce religion, that religion & reason go hand in hand, and that irrational religion is harmful. Religion and reason combined were needed to improve society. The Methodists produced a vast corpus of educational material on medicine, literature, grammar, science, natural history and more. Himmelfarb observes that the endeavor succeeded in uplifting the common people. Evangelicals and Methodists distributed food, clothes and money to the poor, visited the sick and those in jail, ameliorated the plight of the unemployed and contributed to the abolition of slavery.

The French Enlightenment deified reason so the French Revolution turned against religion. Most of the leaders of the French Enlightenment were militant atheists and materialists. The worship of rationality contained a snobbish elitism and contempt for common people that contributed to the excesses of the revolution and later led to the dictatorship of Napoleon. Philosophes like Diderot and Voltaire despised the ordinary people for their faith and ignorance but there were noble exceptions like Montesquieu.

The Enlightenment in the American colonies closely resembled the British one. It was inspired by the moral and social philosophy of Smith, Hume and Burke with its humane and realistic social ethic. According to Himmelfarb, America has inherited and retained aspects of the British Enlightenment that the British themselves have discarded and that continental Europe never adopted. The combination of virtue and freedom produced a strange paradox: the USA is the most capitalistic and simultaneously the most moralistic of nations. American liberty is unique in that it's based on a virtue that was put into practice by British Methodists and Evangelicals whose traditions were cherished by their American counterparts.

As in Britain, the American Enlightenment harbored no antagonism towards religion. On the contrary, it was considered the source of morality. Although church and state were separated, church and society were intertwined; she claims the role of religion contributed to the success and endurance of American institutions. The Founding Fathers recognized the ability of religion to unite society even though two of them -- Franklin and Jefferson --were deists.

In conclusion, Himmelfarb claims that the American Enlightenment is thriving today whilst the British and French versions have petered out. There is some truth in this as in the late 20th century France became the breeding ground of irrational pseudo-philosophies like postmodernism and deconstruction but these have spread to, and to a large extent taken over, the humanities in American academia.

Yet France also preserved the evolutionary strain in the person of moral intellectuals like Jean-François Revel, Alain Besançon, Andre Glucksmann and Chantal Delsol. Having pondered Himmelfarb's informative analysis, it might perhaps make sense to divide the Enlightenment into Anglo-Saxon and Continental traditions which represent the evolutionary versus the revolutionary strains. The text is served by copious notes and this informative book concludes with an index.


La obsesión antiamericana : dinámica, causas e incongruencias (Tendencias)
La obsesión antiamericana : dinámica, causas e incongruencias (Tendencias)
von Jean-François Revel
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 17,00

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5.0 von 5 Sternen A disease, not a position, 1. Februar 2010
Jean-Francois Revel was one of those rare French philosophers - others include Andre Glucksmann, Chantal Delsol, Bernard Henri-Levy and Alain Besancon - who seek to clarify and elucidate rather than obfuscate. Revel's revelations and observations on anti-Americanism have since been confirmed by other intellectuals like Andre Markovits in his equally thought-provoking work Uncouth Nation which also demonstrates the phenomenon's intimate connection to Antisemitism.

Revel first examines the contradictory character of the diatribes against America, pointing out how the European elites that always blame the USA conveniently forget certain unpleasant facts: their own continent turned the 20th century into the most murderous in history through colonialism, genocidal ideologies like Communism and Nazism and two world wars. Bernard Harrison has identified and analyzed this sordid blame game of the elites - in the UK in particular - in the way it targets Israel and incites Antisemitism.

Revel then turns his attention to Antiglobalism, proving that it really is a struggle against classical liberalism of which the USA is a shining example. Not that the Left has anything against globalism, they just don't like the fact that individuals worldwide will be able to freely trade with one another with diminishing government interference and become prosperous in the process.

The mostly young antiglobalists are blind ideologues, remnants from a past of cruelty and bloodshed. Poor Third World countries want more international trade because that is the only way to escape from poverty, in the same way Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea and others have done and India is now doing. Only economic growth brings prosperity as has been demonstrated time and again.

Interesting historical trends are examined, like Régis Benichi's three waves of globalization. The first started during the 16th and 17th centuries, the second lasted from 1840 to 1914 and the third has continued since the end of the Second World War. This one has improved the lives of third world people in direct proportion to the individual countries' adherence to the rule of law and its measure of economic freedom.

Revel explores America's relations with the world in the chapter Hatreds And Fallacies, detailing the distortions from the left following 9/11 and the liberation of Afghanistan. The phobias and fallacies of old-style anti-Americanism and of Neo-totalitarianism greatly intensified at this time, as also observed by Nick Cohen in What's Left?. Nothing escapes Revel's scrutiny, as he provides evidence of the sinister alliance between Leftists and Islamists, a marriage of convenience based on mutual hatred.

In the next chapter The Worst Society That Ever Was, Revel ridicules the crude lies about American society invented by the French media. Exposing the deliberate distortions and contradictions, he observes that such mendacity can only emanate from sick minds. He compares health care in the USA and Europe, looks at literature, crime statistics and the American melting pot versus large non-integrated minorities in France as discussed in books like Menace in Europe and While Europe Slept. His revealing dissection of the French state-sponsored movie industry, including his hilarious opinion of the film Amelie, is a real treasure.

In the chapter Cultural Extinction, Revel considers popular culture in more detail, arguing that cross-fertilization benefits everybody whilst state protection of local culture leads to stagnation. Globalization is an engine of enrichment that enhances cultural diversity. He warns that anti-American phobias and antiglobalism might derail progress in Europe, referring to Guy Sorman's book Progress And Its Enemies. This is not an idea based on partisan ideology but a rational argument also supported by the socialist Claude Allegré.

In chapter 6: Being Simplistic, Revel demolishes the notion that poverty is the root cause of terrorism, asserting that the Jihadists perceive the secular character of the Western concept of human rights at the heart of liberal democracy as the real enemy. The Al-Qa'ida terrorists never even mentioned economic inequalities but reproach the West for contravening the fundamentalist interpretations of their religion's scripture.

In the last chapter: Scapegoating, Revel distinguishes between rational criticism of the USA that is based on facts, and the mental/spiritual disease that is Anti-Americanism. The second is a fanatical mindset that is also obviously idiotic in that it condemns America for certain behaviors (intervention in Kosovo) while simultaneously condemning it for the opposite (lack of intervention in Rwanda). He cites numerous instances where the French elites demonize America while much worse was happening in France, like the huge support for the extreme rightist Le Pen in the first round of the 2000 French presidential election.

Revel concludes that the lunatic ravings of hatred for America and the opinionated ill will in much of the European media will only lead to Americans rejecting the idea of consultation. He believes that the USA's mistakes should always be subject to vigilant criticism but that the gross bias currently reigning will only weaken its exponents and encourage American unilateralism.

The most important lesson from this book is that anti-Americanism is a disease, not a position. The prognosis is not good - Revel believes that countering this attitude with facts and reason will not work since the disinformation in question is not the result of honest, correctable mistakes, but rather of a squalid psychological need. Attitudes that were not formed by facts cannot be changed by facts.

For further light on the matter, I recommend Hating America: A History by Barry Rubin, a book that reveals the long history and the inherent irrationality of the phenomenon. Bat Ye'or reveals the identities, aims and achievements of certain elements within the Brussels eurocracy in her alarming work Eurabia. The fact that the project is doomed will not erase its unintended and disastrous consequences, some of which are already apparent.


Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education
Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education
von Roger Kimball
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 12,71

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Witty exposé of lunacy in academia, 28. Januar 2010
In the introduction to the 3rd edition of this classic analysis, Kimball notes that at the conclusion of the 1990s all the trends he identified in the first edition at the start of that decade now hold sway as orthodoxy. Although Tenured Radicals focuses on the grotesqueries in the humanities departments at universities across the USA, it also throws light on how contemporary culture is absorbing it.

Besides scrutinizing the books and articles emanating from these intellectual swamps, the author attended a large number of symposia with a tape recorder in order to capture the meaninglessness and the madness that have overtaken the departments of literature and the arts. A variety of academic institutions are represented here including Yale, Johns Hopkins, Duke, Princeton and the universities of Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Kimball first quotes the senseless blather then translates it into plain language and dissects it with hilarious results. The one-time custodians of knowledge have become purveyors of trash and conveyors of grievances under the guise of "Studies" or "Theory". These sophists are the academic equivalents of the Joker from the Batman movies with their political posturing, interest group politics, post-modernist, post-structuralist, post-everything jargon.

So those entrusted with educating the young have abandoned the quest for truth by denying its existence. They babble pompously about their narrow partisan "discourses" & "narratives" while heaping contempt upon the masterpieces of art and literature. Society, they claim, consists of groups competing for power; the notion of civil society is anathema and reality is a "social construct." In this regard, Stephen Hicks does a splendid job of explaining postmodernism in his book by that title.

Kimball examines the work of philosopher Richard Rorty and law professor Stanley Fish in detail, tracing it back to the Greek Sophists like Protagoras. Only power is left in the absence of truth so this revival of sophistry cheapens all intellectual activity. He warns that the very idea of literature as a unique form of expression with its own values and goals is undermined since the literary-aesthetic experience exercises an important claim on us only to the degree that it transcends time-bound political differences.

These intellectual impostors are really nothing but cynical and insincere parasites in the public purse. There's nothing genuinely radical about them as they infest public institutions where they enjoy job security unlike those who create wealth in the private sector. Demonstrating only disdain for our Hebrew, Greek and Roman heritage and the achievements of our civilization, they trample on notions of tradition, truth, rationality and the rule of law while promoting neo-tribalism.

Posing as dissidents and the champions of the downtrodden, they feed off the creation and achievements of others. Ideas matter and thoughts become things, so the Jokers are opening the gates to barbarism by their meaningless drivel extolling multiculturalism, postmodernism and relativism. In addition they have imposed politically correct speech codes to programme the young minds they are supposed to expand.

Based on a primordial lie that betrays the covenant between language and reality, the pathology of Leftism is forever attempting to suppress or subvert the Word. As Jean François Revel points out in Last Exit to Utopia, they have recovered from the shock of the Soviet Empire's collapse and are at it again. Kimball isn't optimistic about the possibilities of remedying the situation since the lunatics who control the humanities attract and hire their fellow ideologues and the academic institutions have vast monetary resources.

He recommends continued activism to try to bring about real diversity and in this and other books has provided us with a formidable arsenal to counteract the forces of disintegration. Further valuable works that expose intellectual deception include The Reckless Mind by Mark Lilla and Intellectual Morons by Daniel Flynn whilst Ophelia Benson & Jeremy Stangroom's Why Truth Matters provides further ammunition for defending and restoring truth.


Why Truth Matters
Why Truth Matters
von Ophelia Benson
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 26,74

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Defending the Enlightenment, 17. Januar 2010
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Why Truth Matters (Gebundene Ausgabe)
This elegantly argued work examines the reason why and the ways in which modern thought and culture dispensed with the primacy of truth, whether that of historical fact or science. Differences about the best way of discovering or defining truth are as old as civilization but the existence of truth itself was not in doubt. Benson and Stangroom defend objective truth, reason and rationality, making an inspired plea for restoring truth to a place of honor. Their arguments encompass examples from inter alia anthropology, psychology, feminism, politics and assorted philosophies.

The late twentieth century saw an assault on truth like never before. The legacy of the Enlightenment fell out of fashion and in its place came a bewildering tumult of irrational pseudo-philosophies like deconstruction, postmodernism, relativism and multiculturalism. A variety of ideological and political agendas gained prominence, various fundamentalisms resurfaced, pseudoscience & superstition sneaked into academia and the denial of historical fact became commonplace.

Seeking truth is a preference. Some people feel comfortable with ideological/religious authorities thinking for them. Others choose to inhabit a mental sphere where notions about truth are flexible and constantly shifting, mixed with emotion, wishful thinking and daydreaming. Then there are those who genuinely prefer to pursue truth even when it leads to the disturbing, painful or unpleasant. The authors argue that people who do not hold truth in high esteem are the ones most likely to believe that the ends justify the means.

The Enlightenment legacy is being challenged today by an array of fundamentalisms who wish to protect their doctrines/ideologies from critical scrutiny, by skeptics of the counter-Enlightenment who assert that myth, claims of revelation and even hallucination are the equals of rational enquiry and by obscurantist postmodernists who deny the existence of objective truth altogether.

In their discussion of philosophy, the authors point out postmodernism's origin in the skeptical tradition where reason and evidence were dismissed as mere custom. Divorcing truth from reason and reality, postmodernists claim that it is whatever a community considers socially acceptable. To them, everything is a "construct": science, law, art and rationality are illusions purveyed by rival interests in the pursuit of power.

Stephen Hicks' illuminating analysis Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault is highly recommended. Despite it having been mocked by amongst others Alan Sokal & Jean Bricmont in the Sokal Hoax and Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science, this mindset has made deep inroads in the humanities, media and popular culture. The sinister result is that the distinction between good and evil is simultaneously undermined, leading to indifference or even inversion.

It becomes impossible to discredit that which is harmful when solidarity displaces truth. And when emotion is raised above reason, civilization is disarmed of its most potent protection against the baser instincts: the shield of evidence. The book exposes a rat's nest of toxic thoughts espoused by the enemies of science from the romantic poets to the social constructivists like Richard Rorty and Bruno Latour.

The authors' observations on the interaction of ideology, science and politics encompass discussions of social Darwinism, eugenics and Holocaust denial with reference to the notorious David Irving. They explain why & how "Theory" courses based on conceptual or linguistic contortions multiply in academia, consider the many ways that truth can be distorted and examine some of the causes.

Postmodernists portray their anti-philosophy as a heroic struggle on behalf of the oppressed and non-western when it is really a betrayal, since reason, logic, evidence and the scientific method belong to all humanity. The actual tyranny is to permit authority to enforce its version of "truth" without reason or evidence, giving absolute power to tradition, instinct, tribe, nation, race or class. As for tradition, it has its merits as explained by Michael Polanyi in Science, Faith And Society.

Asserting that although truth is not demonstrable, Polanyi explains how it is indeed knowable. Because knowledge & understanding are filtered through language and culture we do not have simple access to objective reality. Benson & Stangroom advise those who think that matters of fact should be decided by evidence rather than ideology to view theories which establish a neat correspondence between the desired and the real with the utmost suspicion.

The authors conclude that truth matters because curiosity, interest, investigation, inquiry and enthusiasm are intrinsic components of human happiness. Humanity is the only species with the gift of conceptual thought. What a waste not to employ our capabilities in the pursuit of truth, which may be considered as both a goal and a search. The enemies of science accuse it of reducing the mysteries of life but the opposite is true -- it increases mystery by forever bringing new ones to light.

For further information on the intellectual enemies of the Enlightenment, I recommend The Reckless Mind by Mark Lilla, Experiments Against Reality by Roger Kimball and Last Exit to Utopia by Jean-François Revel.


Majory Razorblade
Majory Razorblade
Preis: EUR 12,85

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Chronicles of Despair, 12. Januar 2010
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Majory Razorblade (Audio CD)
Coyne's masterpiece has been enhanced by extra tracks. This obscure musician made some unforgettable albums, like Case History and this harrowing work. His themes are often very dark (fellow Brit Nick Drake's "Black Eyed Dog" comes to mind when I listen to Coyne), dealing with stuff like insanity, despair, alienation, abuse and all sorts of deviancies.

He was also a sharp satirist, as demonstrated by Dog Latin, This Is Spain and Good Boy, in which he respectively mocks organized religion, holidays in Spain and the public school system. Eastbourne Ladies also falls into this category. Everybody Says is a beautiful acoustic ballad and Mummy a sweeping wall-of-sound rocker. His voice is not unlike that of Van Morrison in its timbre and expressive range, but while Van's is affected by spiritual ecstasy, Coyne's tend to be twisted with rage, disdain or anguish as on the title track.

Marlene is a melodious number with gorgeous organ and guitar, a pulsating beat and sinister undertone. Talking To No One and House On The Hill are anguished ballads portraying alienation and insanity. Lonesome Valley is more of the same, but over an uptempo beat and complex vocal arrangement where his voice really soars. Other great songs include I Want My Crown, Nasty and Chairman's Ball.

With his chosen subject matter, it's no surprise that Coyne never gained a wide audience during his lifetime. Still, I think that fans of Nico, Leonard Cohen, Marianne Faithfull, the aforementioned Nick Drake, World of Skin, Lydia Lunch, Michael Gira and especially Swans, will find much here to appreciate.


The Heart of Saturday Night
The Heart of Saturday Night
Preis: EUR 5,00

3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Second album, released 1974, 11. Januar 2010
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Heart of Saturday Night (Audio CD)
On Waits' second album his poetic lyrics are wrapped in a variety of jazzy, bluesy and folk styles with a hint of the orchestral on two tracks. Diamonds On My Windshield and The Ghosts of Saturday Night are spoken recitals, a form he would later explore over entire albums.

The most outstanding tracks, lyrically and melodically, are the tender San Diego Serenade with its elegant strings, the soulful and melancholy Shiver Me Timbers and the title track which in sentiment and imagery brings to mind his much later composition Jersey Girl.

The jazzy numbers include New Coat Of Paint and Semi Suite; Fumblin' With The Blues represents that genre whilst Drunk On The Moon is somewhere in-between. Of the other ballads, Please Call Me, Baby is an orchestrated outing whilst Depot Depot has the most arresting saxophone solos.

The Heart Of Saturday Night provides a satisfying cross-section of all the different styles Tom Waits would develop in his illustrious career, including on masterpieces like Rain Dogs, Heartattack and Vine and Mule Variations.

For fans, I recommend the book Innocent When You Dream: The Tom Waits Reader which documents his life and music up to 2004 and is perhaps better than a formal biography as it provides various perspectives from many different writers.


The Only Superpower: Reflections on Strength, Weakness, and Anti-Americanism
The Only Superpower: Reflections on Strength, Weakness, and Anti-Americanism
von Paul Hollander
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 45,53

4.0 von 5 Sternen America and the intellectuals, 8. Januar 2010
This varied collection contains amusing essays on certain controversial aspects of western culture like celebrity worship, SUVs, consumerism, constant traveling and the infotainment trend in TV news; on the sad side there are absorbing accounts of the conforming non-conformist's search for companionship & the compulsive need for action instead of contemplation amongst older people. However its main themes continue the author's life work, i.e. analyzing anti-Americanism and the treason of intellectuals. The autobiographical conclusion ties in with this theme by revealing the reason for Hollander's dedication to liberty and the rule of law.

He draws a clear distinction between foreign and domestic anti-Americanism by discussing both differences and similarities. The foreign variety derives predominantly from ambivalent love/hate attitudes towards modernity of which the USA is emblematic. In second place is the emotion of envy. Abroad, the phenomenon is not confined to the intelligentsia and their audience; large sectors of a population may find in America a convenient scapegoat for their problems. The mixed fruits of modernity include secularization, industrialization, urbanization & mobility that undermine community, social cohesion and traditional religion.

In contrast, the American strain is almost completely restricted to the intelligentsia and rooted in idealism and failed expectations. The collapse of communism promoted the irrational aspects and emotional articulation of anti-Americanism. Hollander identifies the common experiences & traits of the domestics as: a belief in the perfectibility of human nature, a record of higher education in the humanities or social sciences, an inclination to personal dissatisfaction with life, disdain/envy of commerce & trade and difficulty in separating the personal from the political. Eric Hoffer's True Believer might be very helpful here as it provides more detail on the personality types likely to join mass movements.

Today's main varieties of anti-Americanism include
(a) the traditional anti-Western theoretical one that rejects Enlightenment values; it currently manifests as postmodernism and multiculturalism
(b) true-believer collectivism (the anti-capitalistic mentality)
(c) the cultural strain characteristic of nationalistic elites that hate American popular culture since it threatens their domain
(d) conservative anti-Americanism which distrusts innovation and worships tradition/religion.
Like André Markowitz, Robin Shepherd & Denis MacShane, the author is aware of the phenomenon's close ties to antisemitism/anti-Zionism.

Hollander has revised that part of his definition of anti-Americanism which implied that the phenomenon was mainly expressed verbally or by the type of violence that avoided mass murder; 9/11 changed all that. The Jihad against the West & India represents pure pathological hatred and the urge to dominate. For the rest, anti-Americanism resembles racism, antisemitism, sexism, homophobia & ethnic prejudice, employing like them the usual stereotyping, exaggeration, distortion, half-truths and deception. The phenomenon is of course hundreds of years old as Barry Rubin has proved in his book Hating America: A History.

Titled "Americana," part two explores inter alia celebrity culture, the decline of common sense, the deterioration of TV news, the need to rehabilitate great literature and the emptiness inside retired or aged people who think their worth depends on frantic activity. Michael Moore is identified as the new political celebrity that differs from the Chomskyan type in its lack of intellectualism or a countercultural background. The porcine propagandist purveys blue collar pretensions for self-promotion. Hollander's dissection of the personals in the New York Review of Books mocks the conformity of the atomized elitist for whom lifestyle becomes a deity.

Part Three is devoted to North Korea and its western fans, the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution, the Velvet Revolutions of Eastern Europe and the collapse of the Soviet Empire as well as encounters and travels in Amsterdam & Greece. After this overseas detour, Hollander returns to the USA to investigate the survival and persistence of the adversarial culture or blame-America-first crowd. These are the fans of Noam Chomsky, a stagnant mind who, gifted with a silver tongue, has been fluently and endlessly repeating himself since the 1960s. In a stream of articles, pamphlets & tracts notorious for cross-referential footnotes that never lead to verifiable sources Noamie has demonized Israel and America for decades whilst occasionally praising Pol Pot, Nasrallah, Saddam and sundry other butchers. In order to learn more about the psychological processes at work, I recommend Last Exit to Utopia by Jean-François Revel.

The description of the type of intellectual or artist who cannot quit his utopian addiction and the manner in which his hatred of America is expressed ("the impatient foot-stomping of the irrational child") closely mirrors the observations of Bernard Harrison and Chantal Delsol who points out that in Europe indignation has become the preferred vehicle of an insincere morality. Erupting in fits of rage, this postmodern piety's selectivity betrays it as contradictory posturing. When it comes to criticizing the West, the USA & Israel, moral absolutes suddenly replace the relativist platitudes harnessed to justify the murder of Israeli civilians.

Or one gets Chomsky showing solidarity with Hezbollah, an Iranian terror proxy in Lebanon whose members are not even Palestinian. The author explores at length the connection between the personal and the political, considers the case of Cuba, demystifies Marxism and revisits the utopian yearning of public intellectuals. In the final, autobiographical part, Hollander talks about his youth in Hungary, his escape to freedom at the age of 24 in the aftermath of the doomed 1956 revolution and his career in sociology. The Only Superpower is a lively and thought-provoking read. Quality works of related interest that I recommend are United In Hate by Jamie Glazov and Anti-Americanism by Jean-François Revel.


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