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Diary
By TheophileEscargot (Thu Oct 06, 2011 at 02:28:30 PM EST) Reading, Theatre, Watching, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "Defying Hitler". Theatre: "The Globe Mysteries". Watching: "The Roaring Twenties". Links.


What I'm Reading
Defying Hitler is an unfinished memoir by a German journalist/historian Sebastian Haffner, who left Germany in the late Thirties. He was not forced to leave, being apolitical and "Aryan", but was increasingly disgusted with the Nazi regime. The book was an attempt to explain what life was like, and the small ways in which people tried to resist. It was abandoned in favour of a less personal book when war broke out, and eventually published posthumously.

Quite an interesting account, though the setting is fairly familiar from books like "Diary of a Man in Despair" and "Every Man Dies Alone." Some parts of it seemed depressingly relevant.

Apart from the terror, the unsettling and depressing aspect of this first murderous declaration of intent was that it triggered off a flood of argument and discussions all over Germany, not about anti-Semitism but about the 'Jewish question'. This is a trick the Nazis have since successfully repeated many times on other 'questions' and in international affairs. By publicly threatening a person, an ethnic group, a nation, or a region, with death and destruction, they provoke a general discussion not about their own existence, but about the right of their victims to exist. In this way that right is put into question.

Suddenly everyone felt justified, and indeed required, to have an opinion about the Jews, and to state it publicly. Distinctions were made between 'decent' Jews and the others.

The book also has good accounts of the frenzied hyperinflation of the Twenties. He also has some interesting observations on how some responded to the Nazis with escapism, such as in literature.
Literary idylls suddenly sprang up and flourished everywhere. In the outside world, even in literary circles, it has gone unnoticed that, as never before, so many recollections of childhood, family novels, books on the countryside, nature poems, so many delicate and tender little baubles were written in Germany in the years 1934-38

...A whole literature of cow bells and daisies, full of children's summer holiday happiness, first love and fairy tales, baked apples and Christmas trees, a literature of obtrusive intimacy and timelessness, manufactured as if by arrangement in the midst of marching, concentration camps, armaments factories...

Overall, a pretty interesting and relevant book, but on a topic that's fairly familiar, due to the UK obsession with the Nazis.

Theatre
Saw the last performance of the Globe Mysteries. The original Mystery Plays were traditional amateur religious plays, that fell out of favour with the rise of Puritanism and Protestantism, but were a strong influence on the Elizabethan playwrights. These are a modern interpretation, in Northern-accented verse with some dialect, by poet-playwright Tony Harrison.

The sequence starts with the Creation, moves on through various incidents like Cain and Abel and the Flood, moves through the New Testament with a traditionally gruesome King Herod, and ends with a Judgement Day where the audience are literally divided into the Damned and the Saved (I was Damned).

Works very well, with some earthy humour and a great relish to the performances. Liked it a lot.

Watching
Saw 1939 gangster movie The Roaring Twenties on DVD on recommendation.

Good film. Has a stentorian narrative voiceover issuing dire warnings to future generations of the dangers of prohibition and stock market bubbles, that we've sadly completely ignored.

Tells the story of the rise and fall of three potential gangsters who first meet in World War One. Jimmy Cagney starts out as a nice guy and turns bad. Humphrey Bogart is an unpleasant psychopath. Jeffrey Lynn is a goodie two-shoes.

It's a little bit preachy as most of its equivalents were, but maybe less so than the first Scarface. Has a colourful background of speakeasies and moonshine plants. Especially liked the character "Panama Smith" based on Texas Guinan.

Well worth a look if you can handle films of that period.

Web
Socioeconomics. UK migrant numbers compared. "Peer benchmarking" and CEO pay rises. Will QE work?

Video. Stick bomb. Dog fears Julia Roberts.

Random. Triangular letters. Why Dr Who needs a Zetetic Elench.

Sci/Tech. How To Fool A Lie Detector Brain Scan (Old).

< Steve | And... >
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Sounds like a good book by duxup (4.00 / 1) #1 Thu Oct 06, 2011 at 03:02:48 PM EST
So little is said (at least that I see in the US) about the time before Nazi regime regarding what was happening in society.  Maybe we get a generalization about the economy and some political science junk, but for the most part it seems like an easy way to hate "Nazis" and absolve everyone else (as if all the Nazis were dead) after the war.   Like somehow everyone drank the bad water, Nazis appeared "took over" and then were gone.  

I did see a documentary that did try to explore the topic once.  They did a good job charting some of the conditions and events in society then, talked about some writers who opposed the Nazis and pretty well called them for what the were and knew what was going to happen, and even covered the early Nazi party's starts and sputters.  What was nice were some of the personal stories.  I recall a solider who talked about joining the party and his parents knew they were bad news.  He of course hated his parents for it and they tried to stop him, only years later on the eastern front does he realize what a mistake he made, not just that he was in a nasty war and didn't want to be, but the terrible things that were being done.  As he said in his own word "by then it was too late".   

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THe QE figures... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #2 Thu Oct 06, 2011 at 03:11:31 PM EST
Dillow puts together are actually better than I expected. If QE (assuming some more comes along in November, after Osborne's next economic suicide note) can have an effect on the order of 1% of GDP it might stave off recession...

Still seems a rather inefficient means of stimulus however... 

I think he's being a bit optimistic by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #3 Thu Oct 06, 2011 at 03:29:51 PM EST
He thinks the Bank's estimates of the financial impact are high, and that the employment effects will be even lower. I think he's giving a best case scenario.

I'm a bit skeptical about it this time round. I thought last time it was worth a shot with inflation low and the economy in actual recession. But now inflation is higher so the risks are greater, and there may be a "liquidity trap" so the banks just hoard the money anyway.

It's a bit annoying that there was all that shrieking about Zimbabwe and hyperinflation from the right-wing press back when the case for QE was stronger. Now their boy Cameron's in charge they they seem a lot quieter, though the case for it is weaker.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
The thing is by OAB (4.00 / 1) #4 Thu Oct 06, 2011 at 05:27:53 PM EST
It's unlikely to help, as the bank hoard the cash, but that also means it's unlikely to cause inflation, it's basically the BoE going 'look, we're doing something'. The differnece with Zimbabwe is that the Government was directly spending the printed money, I believe 'if we can't afford it, we'll just print more' was the basic line.


[ Parent ]
The other difference with Zimbabwe by ambrosen (4.00 / 1) #8 Fri Oct 07, 2011 at 03:58:29 AM EST
is that it's a small fraction of annual GDP that's being released by the Bank of England, and that there is a functioning economy. And inflating away household debt and unsustainably high house prices wouldn't hurt that much, either.

[ Parent ]
As Larry Elliot notes... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #5 Thu Oct 06, 2011 at 05:37:26 PM EST
 http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/oct/06/political-point-scoring-expensive-reality

"Quantitative easing is printing money by another name and is the last resort of desperate governments when all other policies have failed." Not my words, but those of George Osborne in early 2009 when he was still only shadow chancellor.


[ Parent ]
Larry Elliot in 2009 by OAB (4.00 / 1) #6 Thu Oct 06, 2011 at 07:30:06 PM EST
The second piece of good news is that, hard though it is to believe, 2009 could have been even worse. Deep cuts in interest rates, the £200bn of electronic money pumped into the economy through quantitative easing and the fast-tracking of public investment prevented this year's plunge in output from being even more severe.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/dec/27/economic-positive-predictions-2010

QE is still pissing in the wind, but Larry Elliot is a rubbish economics editor.

[ Parent ]
Migrant chart by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #7 Thu Oct 06, 2011 at 11:14:28 PM EST
I am not sure if I should be alarmed at the idea that 3% of the world's population are migrants...
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
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