That's about the only "good" thing I can manage to say about the death of Fidel Castro. As expected, there is the usual hagiographic bullshit flying about all over the place. My particular attention, however, was on the people running the News Lens International up in Taipei; their very brief obituary, posted by Edward White, and which consisted largely of iconic photographs, remarks that "views on his decades in power and ongoing influence in the country remain mixed".
That asinine remark aside, what was remarkable about that "photo essay" were the textual omissions. In particular of course is the omission that Castro persecuted homosexuals and other minorities by rounding them up and having them sent to labour camps, which one might think is a rather peculiar omission for a media outlet that has so published so many articles and reports on LGBT issues and whose chief editors - Edward White himself along with J.M. Cole - were the authors of those pieces. Of course Castro also jailed journalists who dared to criticize his regime in ways he disapproved of. Quite why such crimes as these and others should be ignored or glossed over on his death is unclear, though the obvious conclusion is that it is because he was an anti-capitalist thug, and thus a darling of leftists everywhere.
There were also, of course, a good many other omissions from that photo essay; no mention was made of the people Castro had summarily executed after the 1959 revolution; no mention was made of the people Castro had "disappeared" under his regime; nor was there any mention made of the Cuban refugees who fled Cuba for Miami during his rule. Yet perhaps the most serious omission was the socio-economic strangulation of Cuban society under the socialist Castro regime. Using the Maddison database of international dollars adjusted for both geography and inflation, we can see that in 1959, Cuban GDP per capita stood at US$2,067, and yet by 1999, nearly half a century later, GDP per capita in Cuba had hardly improved and stood at US$2,307. All other Latin American nations had improved considerably during that period.
The objection to this point will always be that Cuba's economic plight was caused by the U.S. trade embargo. Yet Cuba was still free to trade with all other nations, and of course had the tremendous Socialist advantage of localizing all production rather than relying on international trade. Somehow, however, neither of these points will be remembered.
That Castro is finally dead is good, but the manner of his death is disappointing and the destruction he was able to wreak on an entire people for half a century is an especially unpleasant mountain of crimes. Perhaps the only consolation is the knowledge that he lived long enough to see Communism and Socialism fail everywhere, though I suspect he would only have regarded the collapse of their grip on power as failures, and not the human expense of that power.
Sunday, 27 November 2016
Saturday, 26 November 2016
|There is still water in the northeastern corner of the reservoir despite the drawing down underway at the southwest.|
|There is now an outline etched onto the concrete dressing for the new sluiceway tunnel.|
|The irrigation outlet, delivering water to the farms and helping to draw down the reservoir to help with construction of the new sluiceway tunnel.|
|Once again I was there very late in the afternoon (sometime after 4pm), and the weather and light was pretty bad this time.|
Friday, 25 November 2016
This is why political correctness is the developed world's most serious problem; it both deters people from making rational public criticism for fear of legal and social reprisals, and at the same time it renders that criticism deficient and defective by relegating it to the outskirts of public discourse where it cannot be heard, let alone taken seriously. I don't imagine I agree with Geert Wilders on everything, but in this he is doing brilliant work and is worth supporting.
Thursday, 24 November 2016
I would have commented on this article by J.M. Cole on the current gay marriage protests in Taipei, but comments are only permitted from faceborg accounts, so I comment here instead. There are a couple of problems with Cole reporting on this topic and they are (1) he is an LGBT activist himself, and (2) he is an advocate of hate speech legislation, which together indicate that he would prefer that the protesters he is reporting on were silenced by the State.
As a member of the self-appointed Opinion Police, he cannot therefore be trusted to report on the anti-gay marriage protests accurately and honestly.
Specifically, he fails to report on whether the protesters hold the one objection to gay marriage with which I would agree and that is the infringement upon freedom of association in the form of anti-discrimination laws under which churches could face legal action for refusing to marry homosexual couples. Note that this point is not an objection to the legalization of gay marriage per se, but to the particular form such legislation would take, specifically the anti-discrimination corollary.
Instead, Cole merely attributes to the protesters a list of dubious arguments against gay marriage so that readers may dismiss them as bigots, which is no doubt the purpose of his report. I do not agree with those arguments and have no objection to gay marriage itself, but only to the anti-discrimination laws that go with it and the underlying and entirely asinine claim that marriage is a "human right", just because the U.N. says so. Moreover, Mr Cole's unsuitability to report on this particular subject without strict editorial orders about balance is an indication that the Hong Kong Free Press is about as flaky and untrustworthy as the New York Times proved to be in its' 90+% near-certainty that Hillary Clinton would win the recent U.S. presidential election.
Update: more here, with a comment from me under the article.
Update: more here, with a comment from me under the article.
Wednesday, 23 November 2016
I've watched a few of this fella's videos now and he's doing good work. In particular, his point about racism being far more easily found among so-called "liberals" than among conservatives is something that deserves further attention in broader aspect because I think it's a symptom of a more general tendency toward "projection", of accusing conservative opponents of harbouring the characteristics that "liberals" hold themselves. I put the word liberal in scare quotes as always because the U.S. corruption of this term should not be allowed to stand.
Tuesday, 22 November 2016
My comment on this post at stalwart Samizdata (fifteen years!), on the UK government's "anti-extremism unit", intervening in a Kent school's decision to invite Milo Yiannopoulos from giving a talk...
"As the word “extreme” is simply an adjective without reference to any standard until applied to one, so a “counter-extremism unit” within the central government can only be, in both name and function, a deliberate nonsense intended to impeach effective criticism whilst concealing any objective standard, precept or principle against which “extremism” could be measured, thus impeding further criticism."
Sunday, 20 November 2016
|In front of the Mudan reservoir spillway, yesterday morning.|
|Stitched panorama shot overlooking the reservoir from the north at some time after 9am.|
|One of my favourite reservoir views in all Taiwan, though this shot isn't nearly as good as the ones I managed in 2012 and 2013.|
|The now fully repaired and expanded check dam on the reservoir's northern feeder river.|
|Another view over the check dam; all but one of the weir openings is still blocked up.|
|This second check dam is obviously similar to the first one in layout.|
|However, it differs in being built out of stacked gabion baskets rather than the brick-like appearance of dressed concrete. The same is true for the retaining walls on either side.|
|Although the main check dam and its retaining walls are built from stacked gabion baskets, the prefacing wall for the stilling basin is dressed concrete.|
|View upstream from the second check dam.|
|Looking back downstream at the second check dam; it is strewn with dead driftwood.|
|The muddy sediments deposited over the years; the purpose of the check dams is to slow the river and minimize the quantity of sediment to reach the reservoir itself.|
|Vast cakes of the stuff, just baking under the late morning sunshine.|
|Looking downstream across the silt-pans toward the second check dam.|
|A parting shot south toward the dam.|
|A waste of energy.|
|Standing next to the stilling basin at the end of the spillway.|
|Erosion marks from leaking water underneath the spillway.|
|Stitched panorama shot looking north over the reservoir from the approximate center of the dam crest.|
|What is this tunnel for?|
|Two pressurizing pumps serving to pipe water downstream to a treatment facility.|
|The exception to the rule: Mudan's old fashioned radial tainter gate controlled spillway.|
|Telephoto shot of the dam from a shoulder of the 199 as it winds its' way uphill eastward. All dams should be photographed from exactly this kind of elevation and perspective - it is perfect.|
|The final view before the long, exhausting drive north back to Tainan city.|