Showing posts from August, 2015

Doxa, doxa, doxa... and economics

One of the most important points Eric Voegelin stressed in his work was that it is always actual experiences that are fundamental: intellectual symbolisms of those experiences are secondary phenomena. And when those symbolisms take on a life of their own, divorced from the actual experience that engendered them, they become "hieroglyphs": the fossils of once living ideas.

So, some of my readers may be puzzled as to what I have been on about lately with my multiple posts on "doxa," and why I am using this Greek word to describe... well, what, exactly?

The thing is, I had known this term for perhaps a decade before I ever started using it. And for a decade, I was vague about what it meant... and then, about a month ago -- you can probably trace the exact date by looking at my blog posts! -- I suddenly saw what Plato and Aristotle were talking about when they used this term. Since then, I have been trying to present symbols of what the experience I had meant, but the…

We have enough racial problems in this country...

without making them bigger than they are:

"But it’s the sweltering guitar solo—so good it still moves people to tears—that brought the song into the upper echelon of stadium ballads. Purple Rain, the album and the film, were the magic results of Prince’s limitless imagination and bridged an invisible aural divide, premised on race, that, up until that point, only Michael Jackson had truly managed to transcend. And 'Purple Rain' the song is where it all came together in majestic fashion."

Only Michael Jackson?! What about Chuck Berry? Fats Domino? Jimi Hendrix? Harry Belafonte? Sly and the Family Stone? Sammy Davis? Bob Marley? Stevie Wonder? In my 70% white high school, I recall Innervisions being played in the cafeteria basically every single day of my senior year.

Look, we have plenty of racial problems, but "an invisible aural divide, premised on race," is not particularly high on the list: white people in America have listened to lots of "bla…

Why Not Be Cruel to Animals?

That we shouldn't depends on human duties, i.e., on the fact we are not "just another animal," notes Wesley J. Smith.

xkcd makes my point about sports commentary


Two wrongs don't make a right

I caught the opening to some television program about vengeance the other night. The voice over went something like:

"When we were young, we were taught that two wrongs don't make a right, which we naïvely took for granted. But as I gained experience, I learned that two wrongs don't make a right because they never equal each other."

The latter position is presented as be sophisticated view adopted by someone who has been around the block a few times. But it's only "sophistication" lies in rejecting the traditional view: it actually doesn't make a bit of sense.

In the tradition view, wrongs are like negative numbers: the more you add, the more negative the result. This "clever" overturning of that view suggests that if only you could get the two negative numbers to exactly equal to each other, then their sum would be positive.

In the world of doxa, so long as it's novel you will be thought clever for saying it.

J. S. Mill and doxa

"He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.…if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion." -- On Liberty

It is all a matter of "opinion," and one can't know there is a tree in the front yard without knowing the "reasons" the other side gives for why there is no tree there.

How can something be "spiritually true" but "historically false"?

Periodically, I like to drag a topic brought up in a comment because I think the response to the comment deserves more attention that it would get buried in a common thread.

And so now I address the topic, which has sorely puzzled one of our commenters, as to how something can be spiritually true while historically false. To provide a relatively straightforward example of this phenomena, I offer the Circe episode from the Odyssey.

As you might recall, Circe was a "sorceress" who offered Odysseus's men a "magical potion," which turned those who partook of it into "swine."

Now, I will be so bold as to assert that no actual witch ever existed who literally turned men into swine. But isn't it rather obvious that this story is a mythical symbol of the spiritual reality that there exist women who have a seductive charm that can lead susceptible men to "act like swine" in their presence? Is there anyone who has spent any amount of time in bars…

The Mystery of History

"(1) Why should there be epochs of advancing insight at all? Why is the structure of reality not known in differentiated form at all times?

"(2) Why must the insights be discovered by such rare individuals as prophets, philosophers, and saints? Why is not every man the recipient of the insights?

"(3) Why, when the insights are gained, are they not generally accepted? Why must the epochal truth go through the historical torment of imperfect articulation, evasion, skepticism, disbelief, rejection, deformation, and of renaissances, renovations, rediscoveries, rearticulations, and further differentiations?...

"Since the questions cannot be answered by propositions referring to events in the external world, an epistemologist of the positivist persuasion will dismiss them as pseudo-questions... Within the limits of the positivist horizon, the argument is valid; the questions can indeed not be answered by reference to the world of sense perception. The argument becomes inval…

The Aztecs

I spent an hour yesterday looking at artifacts from the very, very bloody Aztec empire. How to make sense of their passion for human sacrifice?

It seems to me they were coping with same problem as Anaximander; what the cosmos gives with one hand, it takes away with the other: "The origin of things is the Apeiron [unlimited]... It is necessary for things to perish into that from which they were born; for they pay one another penalty for their injustice according to the ordinance of Time."

I think the Aztec solution to the sense of tragedy this realization produces was to eagerly participate in the process themselves.

The hippie apocalypse

I've been discussing this with my son, and I think I will write a paper on it at some point, if I get the time. But the 1960s had a strong apocalyptic tinge to them that is probably worth exploring, in terms of how it was similar and how it was different from earlier apocalyptic movements.

"Hippie" song writers were self aware of this apocalyptic tendency to varying degrees. Joni Mitchell obviously sees its connection to earlier myths when in "Woodstock" she writes:

We are stardust
We are golden
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

I am sure you could come up with many other expressions of this sort of straightforward apocalyptic sentiment. But what is more interesting to me is the writers who were casting a skeptical eye upon such ideas almost as soon as they were being composed. So Blues Image sings:

Seventy-three men sailed up from the San Francisco Bay
Rolled off of their ship, and here's what they had to say
"We're callin' everyone…

Noetic consciousness

One of my upset Christian readers was a little bit dismissive of my use of the phrase "noetic consciousness." But Paul himself uses such terminology, saying things like "we... have the nous of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Just prior to that, Paul offers about as clear a statement of what I mean by "noetic consciousness" as I could hope for: "This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit."

The historical reality of the Resurrection

'But the questionnaire [of silly questions about God] is not a scurrilous exaggeration, rather it is a meiosis compared with the debates actually conducted about Christ as a "historical figure," and about the "historicity" of Incarnation and Resurrection... if any event… has constituted meaning in history, it is Paul's vision of the Resurrected. To invent a "critical history" that will allow us to decide whether Incarnation and Resurrection are "historically real" turns the structure of reality upside down…' -- Eric Voegelin, The Ecumenic Age, p. 308

Round trips to the moon

"But the concupiscential exodus must go on, and since it is become a bit silly to chase around the earth, one must engineer round trips to the moon. Moreover, since the center of the cosmic horizon is everywhere and nowhere, so that again one is thrown back to the earth as the physical center of meaning, the cosmos must be dotted with a few extra-ecumenes that will inject sense into concupiscential expansion. Hence, we live in the age of other worlds than our own, of invasions from Mars, and of flying saucers. Anything will do, as long as it puts off the confrontation with the divine mystery of existence." -- Eric Voegelin, The Ecumenic Age, p. 273

The Liberal Gospel

My friend Bob Subrick posted this article to Facebook today. Excerpt:

"There should never be any constraint on that sort of debate, however heated. We always need more speech rather than less to clarify arguments and to let people choose their own idea of the truth."

Where is the evidence that "more speech" "clarifies arguments"? Non-existent, I'd say: this is simply an article of faith declared by the prophet Mill and accepted without any evidence ever since.

When challenged on this point, liberals will sometimes point to science as  the model of discourse on which it is based. What nonsense!

Science works by ruthlessly filtering out nonsense speech from truth-seeking speech through the peer review process. Can you imagine a mathematician defending his disproven theorem by claiming it is "my own idea of truth"? Or physics journals repeatedly publishing papers on perpetual motion machines since we need "more speech" to "cl…

The end of history

"And yet, by its me a repetition, the sequence of the structurally equivalent symbolisms of the Deutero-Isaianic exodus of Israel from herself into an ecumenical mankind under Yahweh with Cyrus his Messiah, the Stoic exodus from the polis into the imperial ecumene of the cosmos, the Christian exodus into a metastatic ecumene providentially prepared by the imperial ecumene, the Hegelian ecumenic reconciliation and the Marxian ecumenic revolution, destroys the finality of meaning claimed by each member of the series singly. The final answer to the meaning of history has been given not once but several times too often." -- Eric Voegelin, The Ecumenic Age, p. 277

The Spiritual Nonsense of the Search for the "Historical Jesus"

Now, in the discipline of history itself, there is nothing problematic about trying to decide if "Jesus of Nazareth" was a real person. (And most historians have decided he was.)

But really, on the spiritual level, what difference does this make? From the point of view of noetic consciousness, it is clear that someone in 1st century Israel achieved a dramatic breakthrough. What if it turns out his real name was "Bill," or even that her real name was "Abigail"? How would that change the importance of that breakthrough?

UPDATE: this post is only addressing the attempt to dismiss Christianity with the claim "Jesus did not even exist." There are many, many other issues it is not tackling. Please do not think I am dismissing any of those things as valid concerns.

Bleg! Bleg! Bleg!

Do any of my loyal readers have any experience using git with Visual Studio? Because the combination is like the perfect storm of software obscurity!

I've succeeded in getting my project pushed up to github from one machine. But that machine is going with my son to university soon! And when I try to clone the project, Visual Studio says the project has been cloned, but it doesn't show up as a project I can open from the other machine! I don't understand at all: there it is sitting as a project in my "Team Explorer," supposedly all ready to go, but when I try to open a project, it is nowhere to be found.

If anyone has expertise in this area, I'm willing to pay for your time helping me with this!

UPDATE: There appears to be a solution file on disk. But when I try to open it, nothing happens.

UPDATE II: OK, it seems the repo was put in c:\Users\gcallah\Source\Repos\GenericVB, instead of in the Visual Studio project directory. Can I just copy it from there?


Murphy 8:16

Bob quotes John 3:16 at his blog. My recent terminology may seem obscure to some, so let me map what I have been saying onto John:

"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world,"


"but people loved darkness instead of light”

Egophany; doxa.

"because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light"

Demonic closure.

"for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

Openness to the transcendent ground of being.

Can this be real?

I watched almost the entirety of Jason Day's final round at the PGA tournament today -- the family was rooting for the Pinoy boy to finally win a major! -- and cheered his victory, but when I read this, I was a little sceptical:

"So poor that it wasn’t unusual for Jason to look outside and see his mother cutting the lawn with a knife because the lawnmower was broken and they didn’t have the money to fix it."

Cutting the lawn with... a knife? How the heck would you even do that? And couldn't you get a $5 used, manual weed whacker or something like that? (I have one of those: it's like a golf club with a blade on the end instead of a club face. And it would be a hell of a lot better for cutting a lawn than a knife!)

Update: a manual weed whacker:

And here is the outline for my new book...

My PyGotham Presentation

Generic Programming and Agent-Based Modeling, slide show here.


The realm of doxa, illustrated:

"But The New Republic‘s Moira Weigel retorts that such responses are reactionary, and part of dating battles that we’ve had throughout history. After tracing the history of such dating wars from the 19th century through the present, she adds, 'Even a short survey makes it clear that every generation has thought that the next generation was dating wrong. … The death of dating genre tends to treat each new form of courtship as a moral aberration. This is silly.'"

If kids today "date" through a series of fleeting sexual encounters while forming no lasting bonds, well:

"Young people today are told to be flexible and mobile in all other aspects of our lives; we are told to be eternal entrepreneurs of ourselves, and that we cannot count on steady gigs or fixed contracts or benefits. Why would this not apply to our love lives, too?"

Why not? After all, it's all just a matter of opinion, isn't it?

Consciousness is a unitary field

What follows is not a "doctrine," or a "personal interpretation." It is an attempt to symbolize a concrete experience. The symbolization will be inadequate, as it always must be.

Consciousness is a unitary field, which we will call the "noetic field."

But the field, while unitary, is not uniform. It is subject to deformations. Like the electric field, which contains eddies which we call charges, the noetic field too contains eddies. We call these "individuals."

The conditions of these individuals may be more or less open to the field as a whole.

The forces which produce openness we can call "philosophy," "myth," and "virtuous action."

The forces which produce closure we may call "sophistry," "doxa" (unfounded opinion), and "wrongful action." In the extreme, these forces may produce a state that we can refer to as "demonic closure," where the field has essentially formed a clo…

The appeal of traditionalism and progressivism

"The origin of things is the Apeiron [unlimited]... It is necessary for things to perish into that from which they were born; for they pay one another penalty for their injustice according to the ordinance of Time." -- Anaximander

Voegelin notes how strong is the resistance to the fact that nothing in the world of contingency lasts:

"The temptation to hypostatize historically passing societies into ultimate subjects of history is strongly motivated. At its core there lies the tension, emotionally difficult to bear, between the meaning of society has in historical existence and the never quite repressible knowledge that all things that come into being will come to an end. A society, one might say, has always two histories: (I) the history internal to its existence and (II) the history in which it comes into and goes out of existence. History I is greatly cherished by the members of a society; History II encounters emotional resistance and preferably should not be mentio…

Give credit where credit is due

Pope Julius II was primarily involved with the creation of the ceiling of the Sistine chapel at two moments: The fun part at the beginning, when he helped to conceive the project, and the easy part at the end, when he got to admire the finished product. But imagine if he had gone around continually telling everybody, "Michelangelo and I are really hard at work painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel!" Wouldn't this would be kind of a diss to Michelangelo, who after all was doing all the real work?

And that should explain why I am baffled that anyone should consider a guy claiming, "We are pregnant!" to be some sort of feminist or progressive statement. As I recall, when my wife was pregnant, I had been involved in the fun part at the beginning, and got to admire the final product, but it seems to me that she did all the hard work in the middle. How in the world it could be considered "feminist" for me to steal half the credit is beyond me.

You Can Run, But You Can't Hide

Perusing some Python documentation today, I came across:

"On the real line, there are functions to compute uniform, normal (Gaussian), lognormal, negative exponential, gamma, and beta distributions. For generating distributions of angles, the von Mises distribution is available."

The von Mises brothers will follow me forever!

Back in My Day, the Internet Was Usable!

I was just trying to use the Sports Illustrated Golf page, and on my laptop, I can't even fit 80% of one of their video windows on my screen, since they have taken up about a quarter of my screen with four (!) unwanted, unnecessary toolbars (in addition to the browser's toolbars) that apparently can't be dismissed, and won't scroll (they are pinned at the top of the page).

In the good old days, you just got a page of text, without 20 things popping up, buzzing, playing music, covering the text, monitoring your tastes...

And get off of my lawn!

Is there anyone in sports commentary who understands probability?!

I just heard an announcer pick Jason Day to win the PGA Championship because "No American has won all four majors since 1982."

And naturally, to his way of "thinking," if Americans have won the first three majors of this year, this raises some sort of probabilistic barrier to their winning the fourth one: the god of probability will swat their tee shots out of the air and push their puts off course.

The odds of hitting the lottery four times in a row, starting from having hit it zero times in a row, are miniscule. (For Powerball, it would be about 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, or one in one duodecillion.) But if you've just hit the lottery three times in a row, then the odds of hitting the lottery four times in a row are just the odds of hitting the lottery once. (For Powerball, about 1 in 175 million.)

Imagination Cut Loose from Experience

"Once imagination leaves the orbit of reality experienced, the imagery of a second reality can become grotesque. Nevertheless, in fairness to the ancients one must say that they were not more indulgent in this respect in the modern are in their comparably structured state of existential disorientation... Western society has descended to the vulgarian grotesque of flying saucers, an invasion from Mars, investment of public funds in listening to signals from other worlds… and in the industry of science fiction that is based on this conceit." -- Eric Voegelin, The Ecumenic Age, pp. 131-132

One such current grotesquery is the idea that "the universe is a simulation." This bit of nonsense simply assumes, without any reason or evidence, that the "things" in a simulation experience anything at all, and that for them the simulation "appears" real. This would mean that, for instance, if there are elements in a computer program which is simulating a hurr…


"An age of ecumenic imperialism throws up of necessity, it appears, the curious phenomenon that today is called "liberation," i.e., the replacement of an obnoxious imperial ruler buy another one who is a shade less obnoxious -- or at least nobody is permitted to say otherwise." -- Eric Voegelin, The Ecumenic Age, p. 226

Amor Dei and amor sui

Let us begin by again looking at the quote from Eric Voegelin with which we began part one of this post:

"Nevertheless, as early as the consciousness of autonomy becomes tangible at all there is also to be found the awareness of a crucial split in the psyche between spirit and power. As witnesses to this awareness I mention... finally the Christian climax in the Augustinian concepts of amor Dei and amor sui. However multifarious the desires may be, and however many of them may be distinguished by psychological description, they are overshadowed by the sense of a basic dualism in the psyche: autonomous man can order himself in society either by orienting himself toward transcendence or by emancipating himself as a world-immanent existence." -- Eric Voegelin, "What Is History?" The Collected Works, Vol. 28, p. 32.

Let us say that someone has no personal experience with transcendence: how is such an individual to choose between the two orientations? Here, history is…

Cicero: The Inventor of Religion

"It was the genius of Cicero to discern the forces of disintegration as well as the necessity of protecting the truth through language symbols, through a 'word' that incarnates the truth of divine presence in reality. In the pursuit of this problem, Cicero developed the older Latin term religio into the symbol that comprehends protectively both the truth of existence and its expression through cultic observance and doctrine...

"The awareness that religion is not an analytical concept of anything but a topical response to certain problems in the Roman subsection of an ecumenic-imperial society is practically lost... As a matter of fact, the Stoics could not turn to religion because religions did not yet exist..." -- Eric Voegelin, The Ecumenic Age, pp. 92-93

How Plots Can Emerge Out of Celluloid

Our distant descendants have forgotten movies. Upon discovering some buried in a vault, along with a projector, they are surprised to learn that they convey stories when watched. How do these stories "emerge" from celluloid?

At first little is known about film or projectors. But future scientists study these things, and gradually understand them better: it is re-discovered how images are created on celluloid, how they are projected, what frame rates are needed to show smooth motion, what chemicals make up celluloid: all interesting discoveries.

And thus, the scientists assure their compatriots, it will only be a very short time before it is discovered exactly which chemicals in the celluloid produce the plot of movies. After all, with all of their other new discoveries, it would be foolish to say that it won't be any day now that they will pinpoint the plot molecule (or network of molecules), and how celluloid produces plots will be fully explained.

We Need More of the Same!

A group of people are devoted to digging trenches. One day, they realize they would like to be able to sail from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean. They think, "Perhaps we could dig a trench between them." But at that point in their history, the job is too technically daunting for them.

However, a couple of centuries later, their trench building capabilities having increased greatly, so that they now can, and do, build such a trench (a canal, we call it).

Someone in the group turns his eyes then to the moon. "We shall go to the moon as well."

"How?" the others ask.

"We will dig a trench there!"

One of the group, a little timidly, demurs: "But that is not even conceptually possible!"

"Ha!" the trench advocate scoffs, "in the past, the nay-sayers also said that we wouldn't be able to dig a trench between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean! You will be proven just as wrong as they were!"

It should …

Atheist Camille Paglia scorches the "stupid atheist" camp

On Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris:
I regard them as adolescents. I say in the introduction to my last book, Glittering Images, that “Sneering at religion is juvenile, symptomatic of a stunted imagination.” It exposes a state of perpetual adolescence that has something to do with their parents– they’re still sneering at dad in some way...

Christopher Hitchens’ book God is Not Great was a travesty. He sold that book on the basis of the brilliant chapter titles. If he had actually done the research and the work, where each chapter had the substance of those wonderful chapter titles, then that would have been a permanent book. Instead, he sold the book and then didn’t write one–he talked it. It was an appalling performance, demonstrating that that man was an absolute fraud to be talking about religion. He appears to have done very little scholarly study. Hitchens didn’t even know Judeo-Christianity well, much less the other world religions. He had that glib Oxbridge debater style in p…


"The truth is that what we call Capitalism ought to be called Proletarianism. The point of it is not that some people have capital, but that most people only have wages because they do not have capital." -- G. K. Chesterton, The Outline of Sanity, p. 167

A true act of science

"Nevertheless, as early as the consciousness of autonomy becomes tangible at all there is also to be found the awareness of a crucial split in the psyche between spirit and power. As witnesses to this awareness I mention... finally the Christian climax in the Augustinian concepts of amor Dei and amor sui. However multifarious the desires may be, and however many of them may be distinguished by psychological description, they are overshadowed by the sense of a basic dualism in the psyche: autonomous man can order himself in society either by orienting himself toward transcendence or by emancipating himself as a world-immanent existence." -- Eric Voegelin, "What Is History?" The Collected Works, Vol. 28, p. 32.

Some people dropped basketballs off of a dam (weren't they littering?) and got to witness the "magnus effect" in a dramatic fashion. What caught my eye was the web site describing this as "a true act of science," as if somehow science …

The chief problem with "Mind is an emergent order"

Hardness is an emergent property of molecules when they join together to form a solid. But it is comprehensible how it emerges: the individual molecules bind to each other with a strength sufficient to prevent the easy incursion of an exterior object into the solid.

But we have nothing at all like that with mind: no one has the least idea, or even the hint of an idea, really, as to how neurons might interact to produce consciousness. Sure, many people have forwarded all sorts of theories as to how neurons form networks that handle inputs in various ways to produce some new output: Hayek's theory of the sensory order is just one example. One or more of these theories may be completely true; that is not the issue. The problem is, all of them just describe how some electro-chemical impulses are transformed into other electro-chemical impulses. We might achieve an extremely detailed map of just how a photon hitting the eye is transformed into something happening in the brain. But thi…

Noah Millman on the Iran Deal


"So why do I support the Iran deal, strongly? Because, from my perspective, there is a negative value to enmity with Iran and a positive value to an improved working relationship – independent of whether the deal is the best deal possible. Because I ascribe a very positive value to a deal that the arms control community in general considers quite strong, and exceedingly skeptical of criticism from quarters opposed to arms control in general. Because I’m aware that the track record of opponents to major diplomatic agreements is relatively poor in general. And because I think a war with Iran would be a catastrophic folly.

"That’s reason enough, no?"

Yes, Noah, it is.

Multilingual presidents

It turns out that Jeb Bush's Spanish is excellent. If he becomes president, he will join a long list of multilingual predecessors. Some curiosities from the list:

Martin Van Buren's native language was Dutch.

Herbert Hoover was fluent in Mandarin, and he and his wife would converse in it when they wanted to speak privately in company. He and his wife also spent five years translating a Latin mining text! (Why?)

John Quincy Adams translated a page a day of Dutch and Latin, and spoke German and French as well.

The multilingual champ seems to be Thomas Jefferson, who knew Latin, Greek, Italian, Spanish, and French.

Liberal education is toast

My son is heading off to the University of Vermont soon. I just received this in an email from them: "We invite you to encourage them to join a club or organization, visit their professor’s office hours, meet with their academic advisor, visit our experienced tutors, and start mapping their four year plan for career success."

Not a four-year plan for becoming well-educated. What would the point of that be?

Fouling is not cheating

At mass Sunday my priest gave a sermon on the general theme of "my kingdom is not of this world." His general point was very sound, but he got confused with an example he gave, one that got me thinking about rules.

He had been in a faith group at university, one that got involved in intramural sports. His friends were planning out their next basketball game, and talked turned to who would give intentional fouls at the end of the game if they were need.

At this, my priest took umbrage: "We're Christians: we shouldn't be breaking the rules in order to win!"

His friends said, "You don't understand basketball," and ignored him.

For him, this intentional fouling appeared to be a form of cheating, of "breaking the rules." But that is not right. And why it isn't right helps to clarify the differences between rules that declare certain actions impermissible and rules that allow actions but set a penalty for taking the action.

So, for in…

You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave

I have used many software programs over many years. Some start up slowly, some load swiftly. But I think in all my years involved with computers, I have only run across one program that takes far, far longer -- on the order of 10 or 20 times as long -- to exit as it does to start up: iPython. (Anaconda distribution, Mac OS X Yosemite.)

What in the world could cause this behavior? One would think that anything that has to be broken down on exit had to be erected at start up, and that generally the erecting takes longer than the breaking down. Any ideas?

Death to the triple enclave!

The world's only triple enclaveexpired last week.

There are apparently many more enclaves in the world than one would think. Life in them turns out to be fairly difficult. Which is why every government on earth could grant a right of secession down to the individual level tomorrow, and we would find that only very eccentric people would take advantage of this possibility, and only very, very wealthy ones could make it work. You see, it turns out that the latest findings of social science have discovered that man is a political animal.

A very nice review...

Apparently, "immigrant" is a synonym for "brown-skinned"

When I read this article, I thought it was interesting: "immigrants" is a term largely reserved for non-whites, while whites abroad are called "ex-pats". But it didn't really hit home until I wrote this post. In it, I described how, when I had arrived in London the very week that the events in the post took place, I went to a West Indian night club. Now, the main surge of West Indian immigration to Britain took place in the 1950s and early 60s, so it is likely that a good majority of the people in the club were born in England, and perhaps had never left it. (Plus, I was going into "their" night club.)

So you would think it would be pretty obvious that it was me, the person who had just arrived in the country that very week, who was the immigrant in my story, and that the people who had lived in that country their entire life were the native population. But a couple of my readers saw the crowd in the night club as the immigrants, and me as a... I don…