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“When future historians try to understand how Britain ended up with a choice between chaos and becoming a satellite of the European Union, one question will stump them. Were these people telling deliberate lies or were they merely staggeringly ignorant? Where does mendacity stop and idiocy begin? Historians generally have to assume that people in power have a basic grasp of what they are doing, that their actions are intentional. They may use deception as a tactic and they may be deluded in what they think they can achieve. But they must, at least at the beginning, have some grasp on reality – otherwise they would not have achieved power. Yet, for the poor historians trying to make sense of Brexit, this assumption will be mistaken.
There is, of course, plenty of straightforward mendacity for them to identify. Boris Johnson’s whole journalistic and political career has been driven by his talent for taking minor regulations and distorting them into wildly exaggerated claims of oppression by the Eurocrats. This can’t be done by mistake. For example, you cannot by accident take, as Johnson did, a Council of Europe (not EU) convention on the repatriation of corpses and turn it into a repeated claim that “There really is European legislation on the weight, dimensions and composition of a coffin”. There isn’t. This is not ignorance – it is a knowing falsification of the truth. So let’s leave that aside. Historians will know it when they see it.
Their problem will be, rather, with the shades of obliviousness. Here our future scholars will have to try to distinguish between three kinds of ignorance: deliberate unknowing, crass self-delusion and what we can only call pig ignorance. So, for their benefit, here is a brief spotter’s guide.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"Apple, Google, Starbucks, and companies like them all claim to be socially responsible, but the first element of social responsibility should be paying your fair share of tax."
"One problem with today’s polarized politics is that both parties don’t mind stretching constitutional limits to achieve their policy goals. Democrats cheered on Barack Obama’s legal abuses on immigration and so much more..."
"The Democratic Party has problems with Israel. But Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), the new members of Congress who have attracted attention with toxic tweets and support for boycott, are not the main protagonists."
"Chicago Police sources now suggest he staged what he says was a racist and homophobic attack on him. Smollett vigorously denies it. Whatever the truth, it's a moment to reflect."
"In talmudic tort law.. the responsible party must transfer to the plaintiff an area of his best land of equivalent value- rather than a larger area of low-quality land. From the standpoint of classical economics, such a requirement is nonsensical."
"“Alexa, can I use you on Shabbat?” The journalist spoke into a small glass-and-metal device he held in his hand, which connected him to a distant supercomputer in a place known only as “the Cloud.”"
"Racial capitalism is the process of getting some sort of social or economic benefit from someone else’s racial identity. In the United States, this usually, though not always, involves white people benefiting from nonwhite racial identity."
"A gay French writer has lifted the lid on what he calls one of the world’s largest gay communities, the Vatican, estimating that most of its prelates are homosexually inclined..."
"I’ll state the obvious and say that much if not all of the reason my life hasn’t changed is that I’m not a parent. Children are life’s great timekeepers, and when you don’t live with any, you’re at the mercy of your own internal clock..."
"...cooking without recipes is a kitchen skill same as cutting vegetables into dice. It’s a way to improve your confidence in the kitchen and to make the act of cooking fun when sometimes it seems like a chore."
"Psychedelics have frequently been maligned in both the scientific community and mainstream culture. But new medical research and a more capacious understanding of the drugs have started to shift opinions."
"The story of angels stretches all the way back to the opening sections of the Book of Genesis. There, God posts cherubs as sentries at the gates of the Garden of Eden, following Adam and Eve’s expulsion. "