Bret Easton Ellis, British Labour in the Wilderness, and Barszcz Czysty Czerwony (Polish Beet Soup)

by Daniel A. Kaufman

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Terrific interview with Tom Stoppard, one of our greatest living playwrights.

https://www.spectator.co.uk/2019/12/i-aspire-to-write-for-posterity-an-interview-with-tom-stoppard/

A pretty fascinating dialogue between Bret Easton Ellis and Eric Weinstein on Los Angeles and Generation X.

Matthew Goodwin, Professor of Politics at the University of Kent, offers an excellent analysis of Labour’s historic loss in the recent UK election.

The bizarre and terrifying case of Maya Forstater

https://www.spiked-online.com/2019/12/23/maya-forstater-a-champion-of-democracy/

…and the effort to “cancel” J.K. Rowling for supporting her

https://www.spiked-online.com/2019/12/20/the-witch-hunting-of-jk-rowling/

I used to enjoy Ukrainian Borscht at this time of the year.  Indeed, some years ago, we threw a big Chanukah party, and I served Borscht along with potato latkes.  Making Borscht, however, is very labor intensive and takes a long time, so this very close, and much easier to make Polish variant – Barszcz Czysty Czerwony – may be something you’d like to give a try.

https://www.thespruceeats.com/polish-beet-borscht-soup-recipe-1137127

20 Comments »

  1. Thanks for the recipe of the borscht soup, I’ll give it a try.
    But one teaspoon of sugar? Beets already are very sweet. Sounds like an unnecessary and regrettable concession to modern preferences.

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  2. That’s nice timing on the recipe. I’ve been making more bread this fall which got me thinking that I should start looking at more soup recipes. I doubt I would have ever thought of beets.

    The recipe page has a link to a buttermilk rye bread recipe but clicking on through, I see they also have a sourdough rye. Earlier this week I read some advice that rye flour is very good for creating a new sourdough starter. I haven’t had a starter for a few years but might get one going soon. Sourdough rye bread and beet soup sound pretty good.

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  3. Just listened to the Matthew Goodwin conversation and found it very interesting. You had linked to his earlier appearance on that show? I had listened to that too, and a link from you is the most likely reason I would have found it.

    I wish they had spent some time talking about the role of media. For instance, Simon Wren-Lewis writes frequently about the peculiarities of the media in British politics. His most recent post is a sketch of how the discrepancy between perceived and actual policy position has played out since Blair.

    https://mainlymacro.blogspot.com/2019/12/can-we-think-about-politics-from-blair.html

    I’ve got a picture of how media works in the US and UK and to a much less extent, Australia. But I don’t have much sense of the media elsewhere in Europe. One thing I liked about Goodwin’s presentation is that he thinks it is important to try and avoid provincialism by doing things like comparing to other Western countries. I ought to try to expand my media view out beyond the Anglo countries.

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  4. What Matthew Goodwin is saying is common sense about the legitimate fears of the plain people of European countries. He is not a voice crying in the wilderness. In fact he is consulted by the great and the good who having heard what he says, nod and continue on doing what they were doing even, as he maintains, doubling down by promoting policies which lead to defeat. A partial reason other than native stupidity is fear of negative media reaction. I mean here the traditional media which is insulated from common sense. ‘Fail on, fail better’.

    My own prediction is that in next Springs’s election in Ireland with the P.R. system of multi seat constituency the final seat will be taken by disruptive candidates presently traduced as racist and of course ‘fascist’.

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  5. What the left hasn’t understood properly since the late 1990s, is that the majority is socially conservative, even the majority of their traditional voters.

    The last social democrat I know who did understand it, was the mayor of the place I live in (he’s 81 now and still tough as nails. He was also a very good mayor, who left the place with sound finances).

    When gay marriage was legalized, he said in a great Bill Clinton-moment (I’m paraphrasing): “It’s OK with me, but don’t expect me to like it.”

    He was severely ridiculed by what is commonly called the left-wing intelligentsia, but I’m convinced nobody did more for the acceptance of gay marriage than he did with that statement. He expressed the opinion of the silent majority, and what’s even more important: he knew that the most stupid thing one could do, was alienating huge parts of the population by calling them primitive brutes and basket cases.

    About ten years after the legalization of gay marriage, the mayor of a rural village married her girlfriend. The whole village threw a big party and she won the local elections with a landslide. I don’t know if she send a letter to thank this tough old-school socialist, but she should have done it.

    Another thing the modern progressive left doesn’t understand, is that in a democracy, people vote. And if they don’t feel you understand what worries them, they won’t vote for you.

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    • Something I overheard a few days ago should be committed to memory by all of the Democratic candidates:

      “People might vote for someone they don’t like, but they will never vote for someone who doesn’t like them.”

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      • Or, if we repeat it often enough we can con some folks in an informational silo that folks who merely disagree with them hate them. Far more vitriol is directed right to left then vice versa.

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          • “Categorically” is too strong a claim. Unless we play in identical sand boxes there is no way that applies. I have no problem calling a spade a spade but I don’t get personal and I try to stay on point. I’ve had my death gleefully imagined on a religious blog for simply pointing out that the Schaivo case was based on an edited video and that folks should have the final call on their care. I’ve been banned on conservative blogs for merely (and without invective) pointing out factual and logical errors. Commie, baby killer, Stalinist, etc.

            The “hate” meme is usually asserted with little or no evidence and generalized beyond all reason. Read Dreher’s blog at The American Conservative. This is a common assertion designed to rile folks. Example: was listening to the local Catholic station on the radio and a segment involved a group of Catholic girls who were talking about being persecuted at their university in the Midwest. That’s not right, thinks I, so I listen. Turns out they were asserting X and others were asserting not – X. That’s disagreement, not persecution. There are conservatives, especially social and religious conservatives who are so sure that they are correct that any disagreement must be based on something deeper and darker. I read a lot of stuff on the left and see very little “hate.”

            Your mileage will vary, of course, depending on your circumstances. As you are in academia, you may see a slice of life alien to moi. There are, of course, jerks on the left – I’d be interested on what you base your claim? My personal memory goes back to Joe McCarthy. I used to read The American Mercury and the Cross and the Flag. I remember being informed that Eisenhower was a commie and the New Deal was “twenty years of treason.” Ever read “Keynes at Harvard” or anything by Skousen? The tendency of elements on the right to lie and vilify hasn’t changed over the decades.

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          • Perhaps I wasn’t clear. The right hasn’t changed in its willingness to lie and vilify – I was merely pointing out continuity. A good recent example is the recent changes and proposed changes in the abortion laws in New York and Virginia which were widely described as infanticide on the right. Merely reading the texts showed that to be not the case. I’m curious why you believe otherwise.

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          • I was referring to the effects of the laws not the nature of a fetus which is another topic and not a productive one re: public policy. The claim which was termed “infanticide” was that the proposed changes would allow elective abortions at any point in the pregnancy. The laws did no such thing. The New York law was housekeeping in the wake of likely SC decisions and the Virginia bill eliminated medically unnecessary procedures. However strongly one believes, feels, whatever about something, one has an obligation to be truthful. The right routinely misrepresents (i.e. lies) about reproductive issues, environmental issues, etc.

            To be clear, I’m sure that many, perhaps most, folks on the right believe what they hear and having lives don’t bother to check things out – that and tribal signaling. Note that Chuck Todd seems to have finally figured things out.

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    • On many issues, disagreement is likelier to be explained in terms of the opponent being morally suspect by people on the left than the right today. On issues that are highly religiously charged, this is probably far less true, but it remains that political ideology by itself is doing for contemporary leftists what religious fundamentalism does for social conservatives

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  6. This podcast is one reason I object to “the NY – LA will rule us all” meme. Beach – mountain – desert is a Southern California (not just LA) thing – ski in the morning and surf in the afternoon (my life for a couple of decades or so), what’s not to like? The rest of the interview is a couple of elite middle aged dudes who won the genetic lottery (mazel tov) playing profound.

    Natural born talent and parental units with the resources to set one up in Sherman Oaks and The Buckley School isn’t the typical “LA” experience. There is no such thing anyway – the area is too large and diverse. “Manhattan” and the Velvet Underground (I date myself) are what comes to mind when I hear “New York.” I don’t believe that has anything to do with actual New York.

    The experiences they had are the sort available to kids most everywhere if they won that lottery (“Last Picture Show”). “Chinatown” (everything in the West resolves to water) and Film Noir captures LA to an extent but that was over before they were born.

    Eric Weinstein has a PhD in mathematical physics yet he manages a venture capital firm. That sentence captures why we all are likely screwed. This is a Weinstein quote from a Vox interview:

    “I believe that once our top creative class is unshackled from those impediments which are socially negative, they will be able to choose whether capitalism proceeds by evolution or revolution, and I am hopeful that the enlightened self-interest of the billionaire class will cause them to take the enlightened path toward finding a rethinking of work that honors the vast majority of fellow citizens and humans on which their country depends.”

    What could go wrong?

    At least Goodwin mentions global warming. Otherwise Haidt has sent lots of folks down a values rabbit hole. Australian economist John Quiggin recently had a post over at CT titled “Russia or California?” which actually sets out the choices Democratic nations face.

    This occurred to me after the UK elections: In 1945 UK voters elected Labour in a landslide. The next year US voters gave Republicans overwhelming control of the Congress which coupled with racist/conservative southern Democrats stalled the New Deal and led to the override of Truman’s veto of Taft Hartley. (Our present discontents are largely rooted in that election.)

    Anyway, it’s way too early to bury Labour (but not Corbin and his cult) and perhaps we have a leading indicator for our coming election.

    The center-left/left parties actually got a majority of the votes cast and I went through a number of Seats in Parliament (sort of cool – some have been sending MPs since the 13th century) and quite a few depended on the UK’s first past the post system – one that also plagues us.

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